It’s February, less than a month from my due date with baby no. 2, and my new(ish) fascination with food and nutrients hasn’t abated. (Also, I’m nesting: The baby is doing full, uncomfortable turns inside of me). And now, I can’t contain myself: I need to share what I’ve learned. Do you ever have that feeling? You read something and you feel like everyone needs to know it now.
The book Eating on the Wild Side by journalist Jo Robinson, published last year, is filled with information about nutrients in our food. It’s information she gleaned from thousands of journal articles.
Here are a few things that have surprised me:
- If you want to reap the benefits of garlic, you need to peel and either mince, chop or press garlic and let it sit for 10 minutes before adding it to heat. Garlic contains the ingredients to make allicin — a cancer-fighting agent — but they’re in separate compartments and need to interact with each other to turn into allicin. If you don’t let it sit and throw it in your frying pan, you get merely flavoring and zero of the garlic’s benefits. Crazy, no?
- Canned tomatoes have more lycopene (from the heating process in canning) than fresh tomatoes.
- Canned beans have more antioxidants than bagged beans (and here I thought I was somehow harming my family because I was relying on the convenience of the cans).
- Don’t peel (organic) carrots. If you do, you lose 1/3 of their nutrients.
- Blueberries have four times more antioxidant activity than any other fruit and 10 times more than most vegetables. Cooked blueberries are even better for you than fresh blueberries.
- Steam or cook your broccoli immediately. The longer it sits in your fridge, the more nutrients it loses. Also, raw broccoli contains up to 20 times more sulforaphane (a cancer-fighting agent) than cooked broccoli.
- Adding avocado to a salad can increase the amount of beta carotene and lutein from the greens by as much 1500 percent.
I’m learning how best to store vegetables and fruits and grains. I’ve given up white rice, white pasta and most bread, have cut down on my sugar (I’m using honey to bake and on my oatmeal), have cut out my every-other-day bacon habit and I’m trying tofu and soy sausage.
The Midwesterner in me is shocked at how my time in the desert has altered my food habits. Or maybe it’s California. Or maybe it’s the baby in utero. A. recently said to me, in jest: “You are not the woman I married who craved chicken pad thai and bulgogi weekly.” Regardless, it’s fun, for now. And — besides being 8 months pregnant and tired — I have been feeling great.