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    Archive for the ‘lutein’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Arugula

    arugula1219364897There are few things I love more than arugula salads.

    Is arugula as healthy as other leafy green vegetables?

    — Dan Christom
    (Location withheld)

    I, too, love arugula’s peppery flavor.

    Something else worthy of affection?  Its stellar nutritional profile!

    A cup and a half (the amount typically used as a salad base) offers 15% of the Daily Value of vitamin A and almost half a day’s worth of vitamin K.

    Arugula also delivers decent amounts of folate and vitamin C.

    Remember, however, that vitamins and minerals are only half the tale.

    Arugula is a very good source of many phytonutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin (two powerhouses that fight macular degeneration).

    Another bonus?  Arugula belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family (where it counts broccoli, kale, and mustard greens as relatives).  High intakes of these vegetables (five to six times a week) are associated with reduced risk of cervical, colon, lung, and prostate cancer.

    PS: I often like to add a small amount of arugula to pesto for a unique flavor boost!


    You Ask, I Answer: Avocado Oil

    avocadoAs far as nutrition is concerned, is dressing a salad with avocado oil the same as adding sliced avocado to it?

    — Jennifer Garvez
    (City withheld), CA

    Absolutely not.

    Although avocado oil is a wonderful source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (especially oleic acid), slices of avocado provide a lot more nutrition.

    A 120-calorie tablespoon of avocado oil contains vitamin E, lutein — a carotenoid that helps combat macular degeneration — and unique phytonutrients that, in preliminary clinical studies, have been found to significantly slow down — and in some cases halt — the growth of certain pre-cancerous cells.

    Half an avocado, meanwhile, clocks in at 115 calories and provides all those components along with:

    • 4.5 grams of fiber
    • 18% of your vitamin K needs
    • 15% of your daily folate requirement
    • 10% of your vitamin C and potassium needs

    You Ask, I Answer: Egg Yolk

    I heard somewhere that you should keep the yolk when eating eggs as you don’t absorb the protein without it.

    I know the yolk has the highest concentration of protein but I always assumed that egg whites are also a source of protein, albeit less than a whole egg.

    Can you clarify?

    — Lori (last name withheld)
    Ottawa, Ontario

    Although egg yolks contain some protein (approximately 42% of an egg’s total protein content), egg whites contain more.

    Additionally, whereas egg yolks are a mix of protein and fat, egg whites are almost entirely made up of protein.

    You do not need to eat egg yolk in order to absorb the protein in egg whites.

    That is not to say the egg yolk is useless. It’s a wonderful source of folate, vitamin A, choline, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.


    Numbers Game: Answer

    Researchers at England’s Institute of Food Research concluded that our bodies absorb 500 times more betacarotene from cooked carrots than raw carrots.

    (NOTE: “Cooked” mainly refers to steaming, which retains more nutrients than boiling).

    Although certain cooking processes — mainly boiling and frying — can deplete some nutrients, quicker methods which do not place food directly in contact with water, like steaming, increase many nutrients’ absorbability.

    Phytonutrients like lutein and lycopene, for instance, are more absorbable in cooked, rather than raw, vegetables.

    It is believed this is due to cell walls — which contain many of these compounds — breaking down when exposed to high temperatures.

    Don’t get me wrong. Raw vegetables are still nutritious and should be part of a healthy diet.

    However, the raw food’s movement claim that cooked vegetables are “nutritionally inferior” is completely misguided.


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