Nutraceuticals: 6 common errors that compromise the richness of their therapeutic contents
This strange term is an “old neologism” born of nutrition and pharmaceutical crasis. Its creator, a certain Dr. Stephen De Felice, having understood the therapeutic importance of certain foods, drew up a list according to their function.
Nothing new under the sun, as ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Indian medicine had been based for millennia on the miraculous properties of some of our foods: therefore only an eccentric way of describing things already known. I personally share the healing power of food and the importance of spreading awareness of it in our food choices.
In the group of nutraceuticals we find antioxidants, essential fatty acids, enzymatic complexes, probiotics and of course vitamins.
The antioxidants such as quercetin, catechins, tannins, etc.. (part of the flavonoid group) or resveratrol (non-flavonoid group), are mostly found in fruits and vegetables.
Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 in blue fish and oil seeds.
Enzyme complexes such as Q10 Coenzyme exist to a large extent in fatty fish, but also in wheat germ and dried fruit.
Among the probiotics we naturally have yoghurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, kombucha or fermented pickles such as sauerkraut, fermented cheese and the probiotic par excellence sourdough starter.
Finally, vitamins such as A, C, D and E, just to name a few, exist in a wide variety of foods.
The 6 most common errors
1) You put flax seeds in the salads, but without grinding them
Almost everyone knows the importance of Omega-3 and many know that flax seeds are rich sources of these essential fatty acids. But in order to access their content we would have to digest them first!
In fact, when swallowed whole, or at most two to three pieces, because of the inefficient chewing action, we can’t get anything from these seeds: if you think about buying ground seeds, you are on the wrong track and you would be making another mistake. Omega-3 fatty acids are precious but they are still fat; and like all fats in contact with oxygen they become rancid in a short time. So the best solution to get the maximum concentration available to us would be to buy them whole, keep them cool and use a coffee grinder or food processor to grind them only when you are about to consume them.
2) You buy the fish two times a week, but eat only the fillet
Fish, especially fatty fish, is the richest and most bio available source of Omega-3 fatty acids, whose therapeutic properties are numerous. We are emptying the sea to get more and more fish to get more and more Omega-3, but mindlessly, as almost nobody gets the whole Omega-3 content as nobody eats fish with its skin: it is here that one-third of these essential fats are deposited.
Furthermore, the cooking methods used also influence the final concentration of the Omega-3 remaining in the fish: the higher the temperature, the lower the quantity.
So cooking errors such as frying, barbecue or baking, although they can make the meal delicious, kill much of what defines fish as ‘superb’: it is believed that frying can even damage 80% of its treasure.
Don’t worry, I’m certainly not advising you to follow the example of “Gollum” (a character from the movie “Lord of the Rings”, who is a lover of raw fish), but for example to adopt steam cooking, or simply blanching; bake briefly in the oven at a maximum of 180°C; saute quickly in the pan or grill. These are the only alternatives available to us to get the maximum quantity of Omega-3 from our fish.
3) Eating turmeric, but without its boosters
Although turmeric fever seems to have subsided in recent months, it still holds its position in the ‘top ten’ of the nutraceuticals.
Turmeric is a food extremely rich in antioxidant actions but not only; wrapped in that beautiful orange texture there is a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and immunostimulant behavior.
But we need to know that in order to access these important characteristics, we must first absorb the curcumin; to do so and to improve its bio availability we will have to ingest the turmeric together with its absorption stimulators (boosters), otherwise it would be metabolized quickly, turning into a “waste” to bin.
These stimulators are the piperine contained in black pepper, the bromelain of pineapple; the quercitin, contained in onion, citrus fruits, avocado, celery, apples. Since curcumin is fat-soluble, it tends to “not dissolve” and therefore not be absorbed by the body, except in the presence of a fat; you will achieve this by simply adding a drop of oil.
Usually it is recommended to take it in the morning on an empty stomach; but in order to assimilate the maximum of its properties my indication is to wait for the main meals, so that you can make a nice mix of all the ingredients just mentioned.
Also in this case, buying turmeric powder will only give you the sensation of having included a super food in your diet: the concentration of curcumin, like the other precious elements present in turmeric, we find it in greater quantity and bio availability through the fresh product, to be grated or crushed with a mortar as needed.
4) Red fruits consumed as an ingredient of industrial products
It is known that red fruits are rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and vitamins, plus they are low in sugar and very tasty. But in order to have access to these substances of high biological value, red fruits do not have to undergo industrial transformation processes.
So the fruit juice “with red fruits” or the snacks “with red fruits” that you buy to have an extra gear, have nothing to do with what fresh fruits or even frozen fruits can give you: I stress it, they are useless if not to pay more.
Not even the dry ones are welcomed, if produced by drying at high temperatures, because obviously the functional molecules are denatured; moreover, their coveted characteristic of low sugar content would be lost, since the drying can only take place with higher concentration of sugar which means… with the addition of sugar! In the end it would become a food paradox: sugar causes free radicals, and those few antioxidants left inside the fruit barely serve to neutralize the new “oxidants” just taken.
So red fruits are good for you and can perform all the roles of nutraceuticals, only if they are eaten fresh in season or at least frozen.
5) Tomatoes with “haute cuisine” criteria
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene which is a carotenoid, a powerful antioxidant useful in the battle against free radicals.
But do you know where most of the lycopene is? In the peel of the tomato.
So don’t listen to the chefs when they advise you to remove the skin, just to avoid the dish being too rustic.
Kids being picky? It’s certainly not their fault, and it’s up to you to make it up to them: now you know that without lycopene the tomato remains only a color ingredient.
To keep its concentration at the top, we should keep the tomatoes at room temperature and never in the fridge. But we can do something more to get the most out of the lycopene contained in this fruit loved by all: the key is in cooking, which catalyzes its absorption.
So the good old sauce made from fresh tomatoes, or that of tomato paste, is the best way to get lycopene; if you also add a drizzle of oil, maybe raw, you will be sure to have absorbed all the lycopene present, since the lycopene is also fat-soluble.
6) Garlic yes, but only as an aroma
It is a must-have of vegetarian and vegan diets, because it makes every recipe tasty and it is also very cheap.
This food with a pungent taste is packed together with a good dose of antioxidants, also called polyphenols: they protect our skin from free radicals, harmful for collagen. Moreover, thanks to its allicin content, with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-thrombotic properties, it is a real natural antibiotic. Allicin is activated from alliin thanks to its enzyme, alliinase, which is made available to us when we crush garlic and break the cell walls that preserve it.
Allicin itself is resistant to high cooking temperatures, only the activating enzyme already deteriorates with just one minute of cooking! In order to take full advantage of the properties of garlic, you must first crush it, wait about 10 minutes for the enzyme to allow the formation of allicin and then cook as you like.
Those just described are just a few examples of how we ruin the power of our nutraceutical food: with unconscious habits.
But rest assured, CHE Food Revolution will continue to keep you informed on a regular basis on how to prevent some trivial mistakes from undermining the benefits of the super foods.
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