It’s an exciting change that’s on the wind, the movement from simply eating for convenience — all that fast food, junk food and nutritional bland processed garbage — to eating both for what actually tastes best — vibrant, fresh food — and what provides us with the vitamins, minerals and health boosters we need. Thus, it is important that we get the very most from what we are eating.
The funny thing about vitamins and minerals and all that jazz, is that it’s not always as straightforward as it seems. Now, truth be known, if we cook for ourselves, if we eat fresh and organic as much as possible, if we minimize on processed food, we are all likely to be okay. But, for the sake of getting more bang out of each meal, it’s good to know that some foods work differently and are a bit persnickety when it comes to delivering the goods.
Here are some great tips for how to get the most out of some of the best healthy foods that aren’t always as straight forward as they seem.
Flaxseeds, also know as linseeds, are incredibly powerful seeds, cited for fighting off heart disease, cancer and diabetes, possibly the three largest health concerns in the modern world. Flax is high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants and several important minerals. The thing that is often overlooked is that flaxseeds must be ground or at least cracked in order for us to get the benefits. If the seeds go into our system unbroken, then they will remain so, the hard shell encapsulating all those nutrients.
Tomatoes are deserving of every bit of nutritional praise they get. They have a special antioxidant known as lycopene, as well as a bevy of vitamins and minerals that help maintain a healthy heart and blood. The thing is, despite all the benefits of eating raw food, studies have suggested that tomatoes actually do more for us when cooked. The heat helps to breakdown cell walls and helps our bodies absorb the nutrients better.
Of course, the other side of the coin, chocolate is one of the foods that you should eat raw when you get the chance. By now, most of us have picked up on the fact that chocolate can be considered health food, but it’s also important to realize that, while dark is good, raw is best. It’s one of the richest sources of antioxidants, potassium, selenium, magnesium and so on, but heat and processing destroys some of that. Try cacao nibs or raw cacao powder.
Fruits and Veggies
For some reason, at some point, people became accustomed to taking the skin off of their fruits and vegetables, even when it was perfectly edible. What a foolish thing to do! Much the same — but not nearly as bad — as rice, flour and other overly processed things, this practice of removing the outermost layers is stripping away the parts with the densest nutrients. It’s good practice to wash fruits and vegetables well, but leave that potato in its skin, let that carrot be, and don’t toss away those outermost leaves of cabbage or lettuce. They call all be used in a variety of recipes that you don’t even have to cook, from Sweet Potato Salad, carrot juice, and homemade sauerkraut, just to name a few ways.
Most plant-based eaters quickly fall into a love affair with legumes, safe in the knowledge that they are protein-packed and full of healthy stuff like fiber. The thing about legumes, however, is that they also have health inhibitors, such as phytic acid, that make mineral absorption more difficult. So, as many of us already know, namely those of us who regularly deal with dry beans, soaking legumes is the big answer for getting the most of their nutrients. Not only does it reduce cooking time (and, thus, saves energy), but it also helps to do away with those unwanted inhibitive elements.
What a great start! Just knowing all this information makes a humble author feel healthier, and putting it all into practice has had me on the upswing for years now. What’s more, recipes only benefit, both the flavor and health impact, from making the most of this tips.
Lead Image Source: Butter Bean Parcels/Flickr