These days, there’s a lot of hype about organic, raw food.
But is it really all it’s cracked up to be? It sure is! There’s a reason naturopaths and the health conscious are paying more attention to how they prepare and cook their produce. It all comes down to a phytonutrient called bioflavonoids (also known as flavonoids). These are mainly found in the natural pigments that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant color. Flavonoids are decomposed over time, and this process is accelerated by cooking. This is why “fresh is best” is more than just a catch phrase. It’s imperative for getting the most from fruits and vegetables.
World’s Healthiest Foods says that up to 80 per cent of flavonoids can be lost in the cooking process.
So, what’s so good about flavonoids?
These naturally occurring substances are an antioxidant superpower. They help the body absorb vitamin C and protect your cells from free radical damage.
Dr. Gary Heiting says that flavonoids, combined with vitamin C can:
– prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and infections
– reduce the harmful effects of diabetes
– have certain anti-ageing effects
-improve blood circulation and liver function
– decrease blood cholesterol
There are currently 6000 different flavonoids.
Some of the best ones are Quercetin which prevents seasonal allergies, Rutin which helps ease bruising and other bleeding abnormalities, Apigenin which may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and anthocyanins which has potential eye benefits.
These magical disease-fighting machines can be found in most fruits and vegetables but as a general rule, the more colorful the food is the higher its bioflavonoid component. Foods that are blue or purple like blueberries, blackberries and red cabbage are very rich in flavonoids. However, they’re also found in dull colored foods such as onion, garlic and buckwheat. The best news of all is, red wine and dark chocolate are full of flavonoids too!
The bad news is that cooking can decompose the flavonoids, leaving your fruits and vegetables drained of their nutrients.
The way to tell if your food is losing nutrients is by its color. Your food is losing its phytonutrients if its normally vivid colors start to fade while being boiled or cooked.
The more fresh fruits and vegetables are the better. If you look at the cultures that live the longest, their cuisine celebrates fresh, locally grown, seasonal ingredients rather than the imported and packaged. For example Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world. Chiyo Miyako just died last year as the oldest person in the world at 117 years old.
We can also be wary of how we prepare our food.
The skins of fruits and vegetables are often where the flavonoids are concentrated. So, to help retain the flavonoids, it is better not to cut up fruit, which damages the skin, until you are ready to eat it.
We don’t all have the time or the means to grow our own produce or the money to buy organic food from health stores. This doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t get the most out of our fruits and veggies. Little things like cooking veggies and cutting fruit less can ensure we’re getting the most flavonoids food has to offer. Healthy is being mindful.
As a naturopath, I am so passionate not just about helping people get balanced and healthy but also education.
So many people I meet don’t know about bioflavonoids. Many are not sure how to practise healthy eating habits that keep these valuable sources of nutrition in tact, it’s all about getting the most from our food. But it is also about identifying when you are lacking them as well so you can remedy the body and bring it back into health.
Susan Byrne is absolutely passionate about health and wellbeing with a focus on people being empowered and lifted in the knowledge that they are healthy and happy. Susan specializes in women and children’s health. Susan has over 20 years health experience and in-depth qualifications in Nutritional Health, Herbal Medicine, Supplementation and Flower essences including a Bachelor of Health Science, Dip. Herbal Medicine and Dip. Nutrition as well as being a member of the NHAA. She is a well known public speaker on Naturopathic subjects and is an advocate for women’s welfare. Click here to speak with her about your health needs.