Have you ever wondered why to most of us vegetables just don’t taste good? Many of the healthiest vegetables taste un-appetizingly bitter because of natural chemicals that give them their healing properties.
Human taste buds are wired to detect minute amounts of bitterness in foods, a trait that stopped cave dwellers from dining on poisonous wild plants. But thanks to a genetic quirk one in four adults is a “super-taster”. These people are particularly sensitive to bitter chemicals – even if they’re good for you. As a result, these people frequently skip proven heart-protecting, cancer-defying foods like beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, kale, and spinach – all of which earned high marks on official lists of high antioxidant vegetables.
The solution if you are one of these “Super Tasters”? Try some of these ideas!
Beets. Mix grated raw beets with lemon juice, golden raisins, and celery. Or roast them with balsamic vinegar. In animal studies the pigment responsible for the beet’s purplish- red hue, called betacyanin, disarmed cancer-triggering toxins. The earthy taste of beets comes from geosmin, a type of chemical that also has cancer-fighting powers.
Broccoli. Mash steamed florets with potatoes or shred peeled broccoli stems and saute with garlic and a dash of olive oil. One antioxidant that makes broccoli bitter, called sulforaphane, whisks cancer-promoting substances out of the body. Another, dubbed indole-3-carbinol by scientists, discouraged tumor growth in lab studies and reversed suspicious precancerous changes inside cervical cells in women.
Brussels Sprouts. Roast them with onion chunks, then toss with rice vinegar. These broccoli cousins have plenty of bitter sulforaphane as well as compounds called isothiocyanates, which detoxify cancer-causing substances in the body before they can do their dirty work. In one Dutch study, guys who ate brussels sprout daily for three weeks had 28 percent less genetic damage (gene damage is a root cause of cancer) than those who didn’t eat sprouts.
Cabbage. Cook red cabbage, chopped apples (leave the skin on for more antioxidant power) and raisins in apple juice. Season with ground cloves. Eating cabbage a few times a week can cut your risk of cancer of the breast, prostate, lungs, and colon. In one study of 3oo Chinese women, those with the highest blood levels of cancer-fighting isothiocyanates (found in cabbage) had a 45 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels.
Eggplant. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with oregano, and grill or broil. All types of eggplant are rich in Vitter chlorogenic acid, which protects against the buildup of heart-threatening plaque in artery walls (and fights cancer, too!) Say USDA scientists in Beltsville, Maryland. In lab studies, eggplant lowered cholesterol and helped artery walls relax, which can cut your risk of high blood pressure.
Kale. Braise in ciderto offset the bitterness. Kale has compounds called glucosinolates that seem to fight cancer by activating liver enzymes that help disarm carcinogens.
Spinach. Eat it fresh and raw. Create a salad dressed with pureed raspberries (defrost frozen raspberries first), balsamic vinegar, and a dash of canola or olive oil. Possibly the healthiest vegetable in the world – thanks to high levels of vitamins A, B6, C and K and riboflavin plus generous amounts of manganese, folate, magnesium, iron and calcium – spinach also contains the antioxidant lutein, which protects the retinas in your eyes from damage or vision loss.
Try a few of these ideas above, and you just might start Liking vegetables!
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