I began growing micro-greens this year. They are 10 times a nutritious as sprouts and very easy to grow. See Using Microgreens in Your Diet.
December 14, 2016
American Chemical Society
Microgreens are sprouting up everywhere from upscale restaurants to home gardens. They help spruce up old recipes with intense flavors and colors, and are packed with nutrients. Now testing has shown that for mice on a high-fat diet, red cabbage microgreens helped lower their risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease and reduce their weight gain.
Microgreens are sprouting up everywhere from upscale restaurants to home gardens. They help spruce up old recipes with intense flavors and colors, and are packed with nutrients. Now testing has shown that for mice on a high-fat diet, red cabbage microgreens helped lower their risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease and reduce their weight gain. The report appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Microgreens are tender, immature plants and herbs that take only a week or two to grow before they’re ready for harvesting. A growing body of research suggests that microgreens could offer more health benefits than their mature counterparts. And since previous studies have shown that full-grown red cabbage can help guard against excessive cholesterol, Thomas T.Y. Wang and colleagues wanted to see if red cabbage microgreens might have a similar or even greater effect than their larger counterparts.
To test their hypothesis, the researchers used mice that were a model for obesity. These animals also tend to develop high cholesterol and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The team divided 60 of these mice into different diet groups. They received food low in fat or high in fat, and with or without either red cabbage microgreens or mature red cabbage. Both the microgreens and mature cabbage diets reduced weight gain and levels of liver cholesterol in the mice on high-fat diets. But the study also showed that microgreens contained more potentially cholesterol-lowering polyphenols and glucosinolates than mature cabbage. The baby plants also helped lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol and liver triglyceride levels in the animals.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society
Everything in moderation—it seems like such a good idea. It “feels” right because it promotes the idea of a balanced approach to nutrition in a nice, neat, simple saying. But does it help us or hurt us?
Let’s look at the term moderation, which is defined as: restraint; avoidance of extremes or excesses; temperance. Is this really how most people act out moderation with nutrition?
For many people, moderation looks like this:
- Day 1: A doughnut at the office
- Day 2: A low-fat pastry with their “coffee” (meaning a couple shots of espresso in a heated milkshake of ingredients)
- Day 3: Pizza night
- Day 4: Cupcakes at the birthday party at the office
- Day 5: A handful of chocolates from the candy dish
- Day 6: A couple glasses of wine at a wine and cheese party
- Day 7: Hot wings and a couple beers watching the game with friends
It’s been more than a week since this person had that doughnut, so those wings and beers a week later “feels” like moderation. But it isn’t. When you are eating something from the same category of non-health foods once day, it’s not a treat—it’s a habit. And your body is built on your habits. Having any type of junk food once a day isn’t moderation, it’s a lifestyle.
Superfoods and Supervillians
There’s this relatively modern concept of “superfoods,” but there’s really no such thing. For most of human history, food was just food. There have been no newly discovered foods that act like nutritional superheroes in our bodies. Yes, kale is healthy, but it is healthy in the standard ways our bodies expect and it’s always been healthy. It hasn’t become “Kale the Superfood” in the last decade. Healthy food should be our normal. It’s not super; it is what is expected.
In contrast, on the junk-food side of things, there are countless new and sometimes very distorted freaky foods that act like “supervillains” in our bodies. There are no superheroes in the world of food—just a lot of very good but ordinary people, along with a number of supervillains. It takes a lot of work and time by a lot of good, ordinary people to fight the destruction caused by just a few supervillains. While everything in the ”healthy” category is normal, in the ”unhealthy” category, most foods have significant, powerful, deleterious effects that are not solved simply by eating healthy food at the next meal.
The major problem is that there are all kinds of weird “food” products (they might be edible, but they aren’t really food) with harmful chemicals, sugars, and fats that can disrupt your physiology. And the resulting dietary imbalances rapidly generate inflammation and a kind of hormonal static that can take weeks or months to clear.
If you eat healthfully most of the day, but have a treat each day, you’re actually creating an imbalance. And this leads to another problem.
I’ve Been Good, Now I Can Be Bad
When you feel like a saint, the idea of self-indulgence doesn’t feel wrong. It feels right—like you earned it. “Moral licensing” is a dangerous phenomenon. When you do something good, you feel good about yourself. This means you’re more likely to trust your impulses, which often means giving yourself permission to do something bad. If you tell yourself that you’re “good” when you eat healthfully and “bad” when you don’t, then you’re more likely to eat junk tomorrow if you ate good food today.
We need to stop self-judging our morals based on our food choices—it destroys our ability to have a healthy relationship with food. If you eat a healthful food, you are getting more healthful—you are neither a good nor bad person.
It’s Not Just You
I have learned too much about how the brain and body work, and coached too many people over the years, to accept “everything in moderation” as a workable concept. Like any overly simplistic attempt to reduce a complex aspect of human physiology to a simple rule, it just does not work for the majority of people.
And the continued belief in outdated, ill-conceived concepts like this one results in massive psychological damage to people struggling to find health: If it’s so simple, yet elusive for you, there must be something wrong with you. The lack of progress can get internalized as a personal flaw when it is really a conceptual flaw arising from simplifying something that just isn’t that simple.
What it all boils down to: We need copious amounts of healthy food and a small amount of food with little to no value. Moderation as it is commonly used will result in moderately unhealthy people instead of thriving people.
Each day we walk through a world that presents us with dozens or even hundreds of temptations and visual triggers for junk foods. We can’t escape seeing it and the constant visual stimuli can weaken our resolve. If we only eat an unhealthy food once instead of the other 99 times we’ve come across it every day, it may “feel” like moderation, but your physiology works the way it works. Consuming junk food daily—which is not moderate, by definition—erodes health and counteracts many of the other healthy choices (like exercising) you may be making on a regular basis.
This post is a guest post written by Jonathan Ross that originally appeared on ACEFitness.org. Named the 2010 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, Ross serves as ACE senior consultant for personal training.
Every eggplant recipe I’ve ever encountered has instructed me to salt the big purple fruit before cooking to “draw out bitter compounds,” but it turns out that’s not really necessary.
According to Epicurious, this thinking is leftover from a time when eggplants were much more bitter than what you’ll find in the store today; the bitterness has been bred out of them.
Full disclosure: I’ve only ever salted eggplant once before I’ve cooked it, the first time I cooked it. I had never tasted a difference between salted and not, but it’s nice to have my sloth validated.
By Jessica DeCostole, RDN
First came the popular trend of baby spinach and kale, and now the world is turning its attention to even younger seeds called microgreens—the first shoots of leafy plants that are less than 14 days old. You may have spotted them at your local farmers market or caught a celebrity chef garnishing a meal with them on the Food Network.
These tiny plants are packed with BIG nutrition. In fact, a recent study published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that microgreens from 25 nutritious vegetables (such as cilantro, celery, red cabbage, green basil and arugula) contained higher concentrations of disease-fighting Vitamins E and K and carotenoids than fully mature varieties.
So how do these infant greens develop become so nutrient-dense in such a short period of time? Microgreens are planted in soil and absorb its minerals as they grow which increases their nutritional content (unlike sprouts, for example, which are grown only using water). Here are three easy ways to start working these tiny but mighty greens into your diet. They’ll not only add flavor to your meals, but tons of vitamins too!
Play with garnishes
These greens look beautiful atop a caprese salad of mozzarella and tomatoes, or served with a piece of chicken or fish. It just adds a touch of color as well as a very strong and concentrated taste of the original vegetable. And as the fall approaches, don’t forget to add microgreens to complete a creamy soup like butternut squash.
Make a windowsill garden
While microgreens are starting to be sold in large supermarkets, you may still need to head to your local farmers market to get them—or you can grow your own! Check out this six step how-to guide. Since microgreens are cut as soon as the seeds sprout, you will see the fruits or ‘greens’ of your labor quickly and be able to enjoy what you grow.
Switch up your lunch
While it would be hard to make a whole salad base with microgreens, you can easily mix some in with your baby spinach or romaine lettuce base to add unexpected flavors to your lunch. The tiny leaves and stems also make a great extra topping on all types of sandwiches and add a nice crunch.
Jicama, Red Pepper Salad with Toasted Cumin Dressing
Serving Size : 4
1 large jicama
1 jar roasted red pepper — sliced
1 medium red onion — thin half moons
1 bunch scallion — thin diagonal cut
1/4 cup cilantro — chopped
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon cumin — toasted
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper — to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1) Peel jicama and slice in to medium matchsticks. Cut red peppers into matchsticks.
2) Blend all dressing ingredients in the blender.
3) Combine all ingredients and let stand for about 20 minutes before serving.
USDA researchers recently published a study assessing the nutrition content of 25 commercially available microgreens, seedlings of vegetables and herbs that have gained popularity in upscale markets and restaurants. Just a few inches tall, they boast intense flavors and vivid colors, but what about their nutritional content? No one knew until this new study came out.
We’ve known that baby spinach, for example, have higher levels of phytonutrients than mature spinach leaves, but what about really baby spinach, just a week or two old?
Microgreens won hands down (leaves down?), possessing significantly higher nutrient densities than mature leaves. For example, red cabbage microgreens have a 6-fold higher vitamin C concentration than mature red cabbage, and 69 times the vitamin K.
Microgreens are definitively more nutrient dense, but are often eaten in small quantities. Even the healthiest garnish isn’t going to make much of a difference to one’s health. And microgreens may go for $30 a pound! But BYOM—birth your own! You can have rotating trays of salad you can snip off with scissors. It’s like gardening for the impatient—fully grown in just 7 to 14 days! If that’s too long, what about sprouting? See my video Antioxidants Sprouting Up.
Homemade sprouts are probably the most nutrition-per-unit-cost we can get for our money. See Biggest Nutrition Bang for Your Buck, where they beat out the previous champ, purple cabbage (Superfood Bargains). Broccoli sprouts are probably the best.
I’ve posted before about green smoothies and the fact that it is far better to put your greens in a smoothie than in juices.
I found this great article on NutritionFacts.com;
Transcript: Green Smoothies: What Does the Science Say?
As I’ve explored previously, drinking sugar water is bad for you. If you have people drink a glass of water with three tablespoons of table sugar in it, which is like a can of soda, this is the big spike in blood sugar they get within the first hour. The body freaks out, and releases so much insulin we actually overshoot, and by the second hour we’re relatively hypoglycemic, dropping our blood sugar below where it was when we started fasting. In response, our body dumps fat into our blood stream as if we’re starving, because our blood sugars just dropped so suddenly. And the same thing happens after drinking apple juice.
Here’s what happens to your blood sugar in the three hours after eating four and a half cups of apple slices: it goes up and comes down. But if you eat the same amount of sugar in apple juice form, about two cups, your body overreacts, releasing too much insulin, and you end up dipping below where you started. The removal of fiber in the production of fruit juice can enhance the insulin response and result in this “rebound hypoglycemia.” What would happen though, if you stuck those four and a half cups of sliced apples in a blender with some water and pureed them into an apple smoothie? It would still have all it’s fiber, yet still cause that hypoglycemic dip. The rebound fall in blood sugars, which occurred during the second and third hours after juice and puree, was in striking contrast to the practically steady level after apples. This finding not only indicates how important the presence of fiber is, but also, perhaps whether or not the fiber is physically disrupted, as happens in the blender.
Let’s play devil’s advocate, though. Eating four and a half cups of apples took 17 minutes, but to drink four and a half cups of apples in smoothie form only took about six minutes, and you can down two cups of juice in like 90 seconds. So maybe these dramatic differences have more to do with how fast the fruit entered in our system rather than the physical form. If it’s just the speed we could just sip the smoothie over 17 minutes and the result would be the same, so they put it to the test. Fast juice was drinking it in 90 seconds, but what if you instead sipped the juice over 17 minutes? Same problem—so it wasn’t the speed, it was the lack of fiber. What if you disrupt that fiber with blending, but sip it as slowly as the apple eating? A little better, but not as good as just eating the apple. So eating apples is better than drinking apple smoothies, but who drinks apple smoothies? What about bananas, mangoes, or berries?
There was a study that compared whole bananas to blended bananas and didn’t see any difference, but they only looked for an hour, and it was while they were exercising. Bananas in general though may actually improve blood sugars over time. The same thing with mangoes—and this was with powdered mango—can’t get any more fiber disrupted than that. It may be due to a phytonutrient called mangiferin, which may slow sugar absorption through the intestinal wall.
Berries help control blood sugar so well they can counter the effects of sugar water even when they’re pureed in a blender. Add blended berries in addition to the sugar water, and you don’t get the hypoglycemic dip; you don’t get that burst of fat in the blood. Drinking blended berries isn’t just neutral, but improves blood sugar control. Again, thought to be due to special phytonutrients that may slow sugar uptake into the bloodstream. Indeed, six weeks of blueberry smoothie consumption may actually improve whole body insulin sensitivity.
So while apple smoothies may be questionable, a recipe like Mayo’s basic green smoothie recipe, packed with berries and greens, would be expected to deliver the best of both worlds, maximum nutrient absorption without risking overly rapid sugar absorption.