Monday, March 24, 2008

oxalic and phytic acid - natural chemicals that need attention

I can't wait for spring. Oh wait, it is spring. The vernal equinox was this past Friday but somehow even though I have been running for three days in a row - today in booty shorts, I don't quite feel the wrath of winter is over. Also, I have not yet seen my favorite local greens at the farmers market. In my practice, I instruct on the importance of eatings greens: mustard greens, collard greens and kale. These are wonderful, vitamin rich, nutrient dense foods. Great for me as a runner. My favorite greens - and yours probably too: Spinach, swiss chard and the lesser known beet greens however are high in oxalic acid - a chemical that makes the vegetable selfish - inhibiting the absorption of the very calcium it contains. Yet in moderation and with fat and protein such as tofu/tempeh or for those of you not-sensitive to gluten, seitan, those greens can also be delicious and nutritious. It is troubling to me however that nature does not allow us to absorb the very chemicals we want to in food. It is so interesting to learn that the once all powerful spinach, that made popeye strong just isn't that great for us nutritionally despite its lovely green color. The kale and the collards are the good stuff.

Another lovely plant chemical that inhibits us from absorbing many vitamins and minerals from foods is phytic acid. Phytic acid coats many nuts and seeds hence the practice of soaking beans, nuts and grains by many raw foodists. This practice of soaking the beans or grains - even my all time favorite grain of quinoa makes a lot of sense and although requires some extra time will benefit the eater in the long run.

So eat your collard and soak your grains! Popeye should have read his nutrition books ;)

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