Friday, February 7, 2014

Broccoli - a little green miracle?

I just learned some amazing things about broccoli. I never knew it was such a great addition to my diet and actually influences weight gain.

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and legumes such as chickpeas and beans all contain oligosaccharides, which protect cells from free radicals that can lead to cancer. In addition, oligosaccharides act as decoy molecules to attract infectious bacteria. The bacteria is locked in and ushered out of the body through the digestive system. One study noted that a diet high in oligosaccharides helps prevent tumor formation.

In order to get the benefits, you do have to eat the broccoli. A typical Western diet free of crunchy plants leads to a unique situation in your gut. The several trillion good bacteria that live inside you will shift from a population of mainly Bacteriodetes, which convert plant matter to food, to a population of Firmicutes, which love sugar & flour. A gastrointestinal tract populated mainly by Firmicutes is associated with quicker weight gain and also makes it harder to get the weight off. Lean people have gastrointestinal tracts that are mainly full of Bacteriodetes and obese people have gastrointestinal tracts that are mainly full of Firmicutes.

What you eat quickly creates an ecosystem inside you, which in turn influences your health. It's been determined that if you start eating crunchy high-fiber vegetables today, your gut inhabitants will start to repopulate in a direction favoring Bacteriodetes in as little as 24 hours.

Add some crunchy veggies to your diet this week. Sugar-snap peas, green beans, cucumber slices and Belgian endive leaves are great options in addition to the other green miracle workers already mentioned.

As always, enjoy your food!

2 comments:

  1. That's very interesting. I had no idea! Now, I'm wondering, do I need to eat it raw in order to maximize its nutritional value?

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    1. The article did not indicate that it needs to be raw. It mentioned eating cooked dishes as well. Another article noted that when roasting broccoli, be sure to drizzle a little olive oil on it. This will help your body absorb all the vitamins and minerals.

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