You know that saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? That needs to be adapted, and the type of apple needs to be specific. I just finished reading the book Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, and it’s a tremendously eye-opening book.
You think an apple is an apple is an apple, right? Well, that’s not the case. There are very significant differences in nutrition between say a Golden Delicious apple and a Granny Smith apple or a crabapple. In fact, in one study, researchers compared 2 groups. In one group, overweight men with high LDL cholesterol and triglycerides were told to eat one Golden Delicious apple per day for two months. The other group didn’t change anything in their diet. To everyone’s surprise, the group that ate the Golden Delicious apple had higher levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. In other words, their risk of cardiovascular disease increased from eating Golden Delicious apples. Whod’a thunk it?
There are significant differences in nutrition between apples that came from the top of a tree, compared to apples that were hanging lower.
There are significant differences in nutrition between an apple with its skin and an apple without its skin.
In Eating on the Wild Side, Jo Robinson teaches you how to get the most possible nutrients out of your fruits and veggies. Here are some extremely interesting things I learned in this book:
- When agriculture started (about 10,000 years ago), farmers started altering wild plants to make them easier to eat and harvest. Along the way, we’ve lost nutrients.
- Dandelion greens, compared to spinach have eight times more antioxidants, two times more calcium, three times more vitamin A, five time more vitamin K and five times more vitamin E
- With greens, the deeper the colour, the greater the phytonutrient (that means nutrients that come from plants) content. Ironically, the most nutritious “greens” are the grocery store are actually red, purple, or reddish-brown.
- One week of spinach storage decreases its antioxidants by 50%.
- Boiling spinach for 10 minutes will decrease its antioxidant content by 75%.
- By contrast, boiling artichokes increases their antioxidant content.
- Garlic can be stored for 1-2 months before losing its nutritional value
- Microwaving freshly-chopped garlic for 30 seconds reduces its cancer-fighting ability by 90%. But microwaving garlic 10 minutes after it’s been chopped doesn’t have this effect.
- Colourful potatoes are more nutritious than plain white potatoes
- Ever seen purple carrots? Those are the most nutritious.
- Cooking carrots and then slicing them is more nutritious than slicing carrots and then cooking.
- One study compared the endurance of fit men and women who ate beets to fit men and women who didn’t. The group that had beets every day for a few days before the test improved their endurance more than the group that didn’t. The difference would have been enough to take 41 seconds of a 5K run.
- Beets are more nutritious when steamed, microwaved or roasted.
- Steaming, roasting and baking sweet potatoes doubles their nutritional value. Boiling potatoes decreases their nutritional value.
- To the rule that processing food makes it less nutritious, there are exceptions. One of them is that canned tomatoes are more nutritious than raw tomatoes.
- Another exception: tomato paste has as much as 10 times the lycopene (it’s a type of antioxidant) content of a tomato.
- Raw broccoli has 10 times as much as much sulfurophane (a strong anti-cancer antioxidant) compared to cooked broccoli.
- Black-eyed peas have 5 times more antioxidants than regular green peas.
- For your reference, the beans that produce the most gas are Lima beans, pigeon beans and kidney beans. The beans that produce the least gas are lentils, navy beans and great northern beans. You’re welcome. Thank me later.
- When dried beans are canned, they become more nutritious
- Freshly-picked asparagus has 4 times more natural sugar than asparagus that’s a few days old. But this sugar does not elevate blood sugar.
- The nutritional value of avocados drops rapidly after 2 days.
- Freezing blueberries has negligible effects on nutrient losses.
- Thawing blueberries in the microwave helps them retain twice as many nutrients, compared to thawing them in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Another exception to the rule.
- Cooked blueberries are the most nutritious. Then canned blueberries, and only then fresh blueberries. One more exception.
- Apricots have 3-8 times more phytonutrients than peaches and nectarines.
- Cherries can speed up recovery after intense exercise.
- Oranges that aren’t ripe should be green. But there’s a process called “de-greening”, where oranges that aren’t ripe are still orange. Manufacturers do that by exposing oranges to ethylete gas.
- In one study, 57 heart patients underwent a grapefruit study. All the patients were people for whom triglyceride-lowering drugs were not working. The patients were divided into 3 groups: control group; one group that consumed white grapefruits; one group that consumed red grapefruits.
- Both grapefruit groups showed reductions in cholesterol, but only the red grapefruit group showed a reduction in triglycerides.
- If you buy green bananas, you can get them to ripen faster by putting them in a paper sack with an apple. The ethylene gas from the apple speeds up the ripening process.
- Dark red watermelons have 40% more lycopene than tomatoes. How awesome is that?
I read a lot of books, but I’ve never read a book like this Eating on the Wild Sidebefore. I ended up taking 11 pages of notes on this book, but I’ve extracted the ones that I thought would be more interesting to you. Enjoy!
You can get a free downloadable version here.