Health and Nutrition

Why Choose Plant-based Complete Proteins?

Gregg Carroll - Thursday, January 24, 2013

Protein is one of the major nutrients required by our bodies that participates in biochemical reactions such as energy production and hormonal functions. Protein is part of every cell, enzyme, and hormone system. Approximately 10,000 different protein molecules form the human body's structural components. It is constantly used for growth, repair and maintenance. The American Heart Association recommends that protein should constitute 15-20% of calories in our daily diet.

Protein is Everywhere

Lysine, an essential amino acid.

Protein is made up of smaller units called amino acids that form the structure of your hair, nails, muscles, cartilage, bones and even blood. A deficiency of this major nutrient manifests itself in excessive hair loss, thinning or brittle hair, skin rashes, ridges in finger and toe nails, feeling weak, muscle soreness, frequent cramps, slow wound healing, sleep issues and depression. Our bodies do not store proteins like they stores carbohydrate or fat, and therefore protein needs to be consumed everyday in the diet.

Nutritional science has identified 21 amino acids - 12 are produced by the body, called "non-essential" amino acids, and 9 that need to be supplied in our diet, called "essential" amino acids. Although most food sources provide protein, not all proteins are created equal. Those foods that provide all 9 essential amino acids in adequate quantities are called complete protein foods. It is generally considered that proteins from animal sources such as eggs, red meat, and dairy are complete protein foods. Although not all plant sources are complete protein foods, certain plant foods like spirulina, hemp, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are all complete protein foods.

What Do Complete Proteins Do?

The 9 essential amino acids work in combination with non-essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals to perform vital functions in our body. These functions are either hindered or incompletely performed in the absence of essential amino acids in our diet. Complete proteins have the following functions in our body:

• They help in synthesis of neurotransmitters

• Maintain muscle health and neuro-muscular co-ordination

• Maintain hormone balance and aid in hormone synthesis

• Essential for cognitive health

• Support body's endogenous antioxidant system

How to Choose a Healthy Complete Protein?

While choosing protein rich foods it is important to consider the other nutrients that come along with them. These include the calories associated with the protein rich food, fats, vitamins, minerals and other nutritionally beneficial compounds. Examples of such healthy protein choices include all plant-based sources, such as grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy. Unlike some animal protein sources such as eggs and milk, plant-based foods are not a source of saturated fat and cholesterol.

For many years, protein from animal sources were preferred due to the presence of both essential and non-essential amino acids. However, a growing body of research in the past decade has shown that protein from plant sources are superior, as they provide relatively more nutrients gram per gram. Furthermore, plant-based proteins are an excellent source for beneficial phytonutrients that have remarkable disease-protecting effects. Nutritionists recommend that consuming a combination of proteins such as beans, legumes, and including a variety of plant-based protein, is key to getting optimal protein in the diet. Research suggests that this combination is not necessarily required to occur in the same meal, but can be consumed in two separate meals on the same day.

Here is a quick snapshot of the advantages of complete proteins from plant-based foods versus the animal foods.

Nutrients Plant Protein Animal Protein
Proteins Provides complete proteins Provides complete proteins
Fats Provide healthy essential fats Provides saturated fats and essential fats that largely depends on the food consumed
Fiber Richest source No fiber
Phytonutrients Richest source No phytonutrients
Carbohydrates Complex carbohydrates and beneficial compounds such as fructo-oligosaccharides No carbohydrates
Calories* Lower in calories, nutrient-dense Generally higher in calories
Cholesterol Plant sterols that lower blood cholesterol High cholesterol source that elevates blood cholesterol
Antioxidants Rich in antioxidants Absence of antioxidants

*Protein always has 4 calories per gram, regardless of its origin;
the carbohydrate (4 calories per gram) and fat (9 calories per gram)
content of the foods make up the rest of the calories.

 

Health Benefits of Plant-based Proteins

• Protects against heart diseases

• Lowers cholesterol

• Lowers high blood pressure

• Aids in weight management

• May help reduce the risk of most cancers

• Most plant proteins also provide antioxidants and phytonutrients

• They also provide alpha-linoleic acid, one of the essential fats

• Most plant proteins acts as immune boosters

• Aids in maintaining body weight

• Better glycemic index and management of diabetes

Consuming a diet that includes a variety of protein sources such as nuts, seeds, legumes, as well as fruits and vegetables, helps our bodies to get all the essential and non-essential amino acids. At Blue Mountain Organics™ we strive to offer the best of plant proteins in the form of raw nuts, seeds and spouted flours and plant-based protein powders. Our Better Than Roasted™ process maximizes the bioavailability of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in our raw organic nuts, seeds, grains and beans. We begin with the best premium ingredients, and hand sort, soak, rinse, and dry them at a low temperature, not exceeding 108° F, which preserves temperature-sensitive enzymes and nutrients.

Plant-based protein rich recipe:

Quinoa Salad (serves 2)

½ cup Love Raw Foods™ quinoa

1 cup water

½ cup red bell pepper

½ cup yellow pepper

½ cup tomatoes

¾ Love Raw Foods™ black beans, cooked

2 Tbsp. onions

¼ tsp. ground cumin

¼ ground coriander

Salt to taste

juice of lemon, for garnishing

cilantro, for garnishing

1 green chili, slit lengthwise (optional)

black pepper, to taste

Love Raw Foods™ walnuts, chopped, for garnishing

olive oil

Preparation:

Add quinoa to 1 cup of water. Cover and simmer about 10-15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool. Alternatively if you have a rice cooker, you could also use a rice cooker for the same. Combine the rest of the ingredients with a drizzle of olive oil. Add cooled quinoa, salt and pepper to taste. Toss. Serves two.

Sprouting: The Life Force of Plants

Gregg Carroll - Thursday, January 10, 2013

Did you know eating a cup of sprouted foods every day keeps your immune system strong, fights off fatigue and decreases the risk of cancer? Many studies have shown that sprouted foods have multiple health benefits for our bodies.

Among all the foods that were analyzed for their nutritional profile, sprouted foods were found to be some of the most wholesome and complete foods. No wonder sprouts are called the "Life Force." Although sprouts have gained popularity in the West only in recent years, many ancient cultures have appreciated their nutritional significance for centuries. Sprouts have been part of the Chinese cuisine for many years, and have been worshipped in some Asian cultures for their resilience and healing powers.

What is Sprouting?

Sprouting is a process of soaking and germination. Seeds, nuts and grains are a condensed source of many nutrients, and the sprouting process enhances these nutrients significantly. The process of soaking and rinsing seeds eliminates the natural enzyme inhibitors and awakens the dormant seeds to grow into a plant. When this occurs, the nutrients in seeds break into simpler components, resulting in enhanced nutritious and fiber-rich foods. Sprouted foods are the quickest and easiest way to pack wholesome nutrition into any meal. Sprouted foods are versatile and can be added to smoothies, salads, breakfast porridge and many other dishes.

What is So Remarkable About Sprouted Foods?

The three distinct benefits to sprouted foods are:

• Rich food enzymes

• High nutritive value

• Nullified anti-nutrients

Sprouting and Food enzymes: Our bodies are dependent on enzymes for performing many biological actions such as digestion and the uptake of nutrients. Many factors such as aging, consuming processed foods, and the overcooking of foods depletes our body of natural enzymes. Furthermore, consuming less plant-based, enzyme-rich meals puts a heavy burden on our digestive system. Research indicates that sprouting remarkably increases natural enzymes in food which aids in digestion and the breakdown of nutrients. Carbohydrates are broken down to simpler sugars, complex proteins are broken into simpler amino acids, and fats into beneficial fatty acids. The process of “pre-digestion" that occurs during sprouting preserves the body's digestive enzymes and prevents enzyme depletion, which progresses with the aging process. All sprouted nuts, seeds and grains are pre-digested foods, which put less demand on our digestive system as a whole.

Improved nutrition: Sprouting improves the important nutrients such as vitamin C, folate, B vitamins, fiber and essential amino acids. Sprouts absorb minerals from the water used for sprouting and form digestible complexes called chelates making it convenient for the body to utilize the nutrients. The nutrients in living, sprouted food can continue to build right until they are eaten or processed.

Suppresses anti-nutrients: Sprouted foods also increase the bio-availability of nutrients as well as neutralizing the effect of anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are compounds that bind with minerals and make them unavailable for absorption during digestion. Sprouting cancels out the harmful effects of such anti-nutrient and improves the absorption of nutrients.

Research On Health Benefits of Sprouting

Maintains blood glucose levels: A study showed that sprouted chick pea (garbanzo) exhibited improved antioxidant activity and inhibited key enzymes associated with type 2 diabetes. The study concluded that sprouted chick peas could be effective as an anti-diabetic agent.

Sprouted brown rice improves memory: A study that evaluated the learning and memory of mice fed with sprouted brown rice versus mice fed with polished rice showed that learning and memory improved significantly. The study suggested that sprouted rice may help to prevent Alzheimer's disease.

Higher antioxidant content: Studies confirm that sprouted grains have higher antioxidants than non-sprouted foods. The activity of antioxidant enzymes catalase and peroxidase were significantly higher in wheat sprouts. Similarly, sprouting mung beans were found to increase the concentration of phenolic and flavonoid compounds (powerful antioxidants) to a significant degree.

Sprouting nuts, seeds and grains is a time-consuming process where attention to the details is very important. At Blue Mountain Organics™, through our Better Than Roasted ™ process we make it easier for customers to enjoy the benefits of sprouted foods. We do the “sprouting" for you, so that you can enjoy nutritious and delicious foods and have more time for the important people and activities in your life!

Click these links for more raw and cooked, or sprouted flour recipes.


Sprout Supreme Salad (serves 2)

Dressing

½ Tbsp. tamari

½ tsp. honey or agave or coconut sap

½ Tbsp. raspberry vinegar

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Cucumbers, sliced

Vegetables

½ Romaine lettuce, chopped coarsely

½ lb. sweet potato, evenly sliced to short strips of 1" thickness

1 scallion, finely chopped

½ avocado, diced

olives, pitted & chopped

¼ cup baby spinach

1 cup grocery store fresh salad bag

1 cup Love Raw Foods™ mung sprouts

Garnish

1 tsp. Better Than Roasted® black sesame seeds

1 tsp. Better Than Roasted® flax seeds

2½ Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. Better Than Roasted® walnuts or macadamia nuts, chopped (optional)

Preparation:

Toss cut sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread them as an even layer on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Season with salt and bake for about 12 minutes in a preheated oven at 450 degrees.

Prepare the dressing by combining lemon juice, tamari, honey, raspberry vinegar, salt and rest of the oil. In a small bowl toss the sprouts with a tablespoon of dressing and allow them to absorb the flavors for about 10 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cucumbers olives and other veggies, toss well with the dressing. Serve this mixture in a salad bowl and top with baked sweet potatoes and marinated sprouts. Garnish with black sesame seeds, flax seeds before serving. You may also choose to top with dry nuts of choice.


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