If you haven’t heard of mesonutrients, don’t worry as the term is relatively new for public consumption. With that said, if you research mesonutrients, you’ll find countless articles proclaiming it as the new health trend of 2019. Why are mesonutrients flooding the health scene? This subsection of nutrition focuses on the active compounds within superfoods. Meaning, if you want to pack a punch of deep nutrition, mesonutrients may be the way to go!
While finding a tried and true source of mesonutrients is currently championed by supplement companies, incorporating raw forms of foods with the mesonutrients you want is also a great way to access them.
Let’s take a deep dive and learn a bit more about mesonutrients.
We’ve all heard about macronutrients — three calorie-rich nutrients called fat, protein, and carbohydrates that supply our bodies with energy — and micronutrients — essential vitamins and minerals that “produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for healthy growth and development” — but most of us haven’t heard about mesonutrients.
Mesonutrients are the active natural compounds within the superfoods we eat that provide us with those wonderful benefits we so crave. First for Women explains mesonutrients best, “Within each superfood are particular ‘mesonutrients’ (‘meso’ means ‘middle’ in Greek), and it’s these little guys that are responsible for the health benefits of our favorite treats.” Mesonutrients can be consumed simply by eating superfoods, yet, sensing the growing demand, supplement companies have begun providing mesonutrients in easily obtainable pill form for more powerful and direct effects.
The best way to understand these essential and powerful compounds is by taking a deeper dive into individual mesonutrients and the roles they play in human health. Below are a few of the most popular and accessible mesonutrients currently available in health food stores or online.
The best place to start is with turmeric, which happens to be one of the hottest superfoods. Turmeric is widely recognized for its health components including managing inflammatory conditions and metabolic syndromes. Yet, it’s not the turmeric root that offers these health benefits, but the mesonutrient or active compound within the root called curcumin. This mesonutrient has been coveted for thousands of years, from ancient cultures who used it as a cloth dye to culinary dishes around the world to an Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani, and traditional Chinese medicine healing spice.
While consuming turmeric in its raw form is the best way to obtain the curcumin mesonutrient naturally, there are a few roadblocks. First off, “the turmeric root contains only about two to five percent of the curcumin molecule.” Secondly, the human “gastrointestinal tracts have a hard time absorbing the agent.”
The secret to activating the curcumin mesonutrient naturally is to combine your turmeric with freshly ground black pepper, which has been shown to help the body absorb curcumin. With that said, in order to get the most out of your curcumin, it’s recommended to go the supplement route. Make sure to look for curcumin supplements that also include Bioperine, also called black pepper, such as this NatureWise Organic Curcumin Turmeric or this Superfood Harvest Organic Turmeric Curcumin with Bioperine.
Most of us are familiar with a spice called saffron — a vibrant reddish orange spice with a slightly sweet flavoring — which can be used for its subtle flavoring or to simply give a dish a bit color. Saffron is also known for its many health benefits including promoting mental health, decreasing risks of macular degeneration, boosting heart and digestive health, preventing hair loss, alleviating premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and even relieving bodily pain.
Yet, what is it about this spice that gives it such a powerful superfood-type quality? You probably guessed it, saffron has a mesonutrient called saffronal.
This particular mesonutrient has risen in the ranks due to research expounding upon its many health benefits such as its antidepressant and appetite suppressant effects, and even its ability to boost libido. As is the case with curcumin, it’s best to ingest this mesonutrient via a supplement such as this iPro Organic 100% Pure Saffron Extract or these vegetarian Pure Saffron Extract supplements.
Green tea is one of the most popular teas in the world and for good reason. This slightly caffeinated drink is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants and it has been linked to various health benefits including “improved brain function, fat loss, and a lower risk of cancer,” to name just a few.
Green tea gets its power from a mesonutrient called Epigallocatechin Gallate, most commonly referred to simply as EGCG.
Epigallocatechin Gallate refers to “one of a group of plant phenols commonly described as tannins since some of these compounds have long been used to tan hides for leather.” Most likely, you’ve been ingesting this powerful mesonutrient without knowing it. With that said, one of the best ways to get EGCG is through matcha powder. This powder is sourced from tea plants, which are covered “20-30 days before harvest to avoid direct sunlight,” which “increases chlorophyll production, boosts the amino acid content and gives the plant a darker green hue.” Matcha powder is easily accessible at your local grocery store, as well as online, such as this Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder, and is just as easy to prepare using a few teaspoons and some hot water.
Cooking with Mesonutrients
While current research propounds on the best effects stemming from supplements, you can still receive those health benefits via the natural source through cooking. The best way to get the most powerful form of the mesonutrient is by consuming the main source on a routine basis. Here are a few ways to incorporate these powerful mesonutrients into your daily meal planning.
Turmeric Falafel/One Green Planet
Turmeric root and dried turmeric powder are incredibly diverse. Turmeric has a very mild, earthy, and nutty flavor, which means you can pretty much add it to any dish without overpowering the other spices. The root can be minced or shredded and used in the same way as ginger or garlic in flavorful recipes such as this Coconut Turmeric Dal, Roasted Cauliflower Steak With Turmeric White Bean Dressing, Turmeric Falafel, or this Tender Turmeric and Squash Soup. Turmeric also makes great drinks such as this Warm Ginger Turmeric Milk, Golden Chaga Latte, or this Golden Latte.
Saffron is incredibly mild, yet the flavoring that it does offer is slightly sweet making it a great addition to sweet and savory dishes such as these Persian Saffron Rice Cakes. Yet, saffron can also be a great colorful addition to spicy stir-fry’s such as this Vegetable Stir-Fry with Bengali Five-Spice and Split Pea, this Sweet and Sour Tempeh, or this Buckwheat Noodle Stir-Fry. Due to saffron’s sweetness, it also is a great ingredient to make your favorite hot weather drink such as this Saffron Pear Iced Tea.
Matcha Latte With Coconut Milk/One Green Planet
Out of the three highlighted mesonutrients, matcha is probably the most diverse. Not only can you make a super simple tea with hot water and a few teaspoons of the powder, but you can also create creamy hot drinks and add the powder to more complicated recipes. One of my favorite matcha latte recipes is this Café Style Matcha Tea Latte, which is an excellent way to start the day. Yet, matcha powder is also a great ingredient for baking recipes such as this Raw Matcha Raspberry Cheesecake With a Raisin-Walnut Crust, these Matcha-Cream Shortbread Cookies, or this Matcha Swirl Loaf.
Looking to get more mesonutrients in your diet? We highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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