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Health

By Kerri-Ann Jennings

Move over spirulina, there's a new algae in town—chlorella. This nutrient-dense algae has been receiving a lot of buzz for its health benefits.

Furthermore, as a supplement, it has shown promise in improving cholesterol levels and ridding the body of toxins.

This article tells you all you need to know about chlorella, including what it is, the research behind its health claims and how to take it as a supplement.

What Is Chlorella?

Chlorella is a single-celled, green freshwater algae (1).

There are more than 30 different species, but two types—Chlorella vulgaris and Chlorella pyrenoidosa—are most commonly used in research (2).

Because chlorella has a hard cell wall that humans cannot digest, you must take it as a supplement to reap its benefits (3).

It's available in capsule, tablet, powder and extract form (3).

In addition to being used as a nutritional supplement, chlorella is also used as a biodiesel fuel (4).

Interestingly, studies indicate it can have many health benefits. Here are nine of them.

1. Very Nutritious

Chlorella's impressive nutritional profile has led some to call it a "superfood."

While its exact nutrient content depends on growing conditions, the species used and how supplements are processed, it's clear it packs several beneficial nutrients.

They include:

  • Protein: Chlorella is 50–60 percent protein. What's more, it's a complete protein source, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids (3, 5).
  • Vitamin B12: It's also a great source of vitamin B12. An analysis of one chlorella variety found each gram contained more than 50 percent of an adult's daily need (6).
  • Iron and vitamin C: Chlorella can be a good source of iron. Depending on the supplement, it may provide anywhere from 6–40 percent of your daily need. It's also an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps you absorb iron (1, 3, 7).
  • Beta-carotene: It's an excellent source of beta-carotene, meeting anywhere from 30–60 percent of the recommended daily intake (6).
  • Other antioxidants: In addition to beta-carotene and vitamin C, these tiny green cells provide a wide range of antioxidants (1, 3).
  • Other vitamins and minerals: Chlorella provides small amounts of magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, calcium, folic acid and other B vitamins (1, 3, 6).
  • Omega-3s: As with other algae, chlorella contains some omega-3s. Just 3 grams of chlorella delivers 100 mg of omega-3s (6).
  • Fiber: In large quantities, chlorella can be a good source of fiber. However, most supplements don't provide even 1 gram of fiber per dose (1, 6).

Summary: Chlorella contains many nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and omega-3 fats. Exact quantities may differ among brands.

2. Binds to Heavy Metals, Aiding Detox

Chlorella has gotten some buzz for its ability to help the body "detox."

In fact, studies have shown that it's effective at helping remove heavy metals and other harmful compounds from the body (8, 9, 10).

Heavy metals include some elements that are essential in small amounts, such as iron and copper, but these and other heavy metals like cadmium and lead can be toxic in larger amounts.

While it's rare for people to have dangerous levels of heavy metals in their system, people can get exposed to heavy metals through pollution or certain jobs such as mining (11).

In animals, algae, including chlorella, has been found to weaken the heavy metal toxicity of the liver, brain and kidneys (12).

One way it does this is through its chlorophyll and vitamin B12 content. These nutrients help produce glutathione, a compound that acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body against toxicity and disease (1, 13, 14, 15).

Furthermore, chlorella has been shown to help lower the amount of other harmful chemicals that are sometimes found in food. One of these is dioxin, a hormone disruptor that can contaminate animals in the food supply (16, 17).

Based on this evidence, it seems that chlorella could help enhance your body's natural ability to clear toxins.

Summary: Chlorella may help the body detox by binding to heavy metals and other toxins.

3. Could Enhance Your Immune System

Your immune system helps keep you healthy by fighting off infections.

It's a complex system made up of multiple mechanisms and cells that get into gear when an invader enters your body.

Chlorella has been found to enhance the immune response in both animal and human studies, although the evidence so far is limited.

In one small study, men produced more antibodies when taking chlorella than when they took a placebo. Antibodies help fight foreign invaders in your body, meaning this finding is quite promising (18).

In another small, eight-week study, healthy adults who took chlorella showed markers of increased immune activity (19).

Nevertheless, findings have been mixed, with some studies showing little to no effect.

For instance, one study found that chlorella supplements enhanced immune function in participants aged 50–55, but not those over 55 (20).

So it's possible that chlorella may have immune-boosting effects in some populations and age groups, but not in all. More and larger-scale studies are needed.

Summary: Chlorella may bolster immune function by increasing the activity of various parts of the immune system.

4. May Help Improve Cholesterol

Several studies have suggested that chlorella supplements may help lower cholesterol (5, 21, 22).

Specifically, several studies have shown that taking 5–10 grams of chlorella daily lowered total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in people with high blood pressure and/or slightly elevated cholesterol (5, 21).

Chlorella's content of the following may help improve blood lipid levels:

  • Niacin: A B vitamin known to lower cholesterol (1, 23).
  • Fiber: A cholesterol-lowering agent (1, 24).
  • Carotenoids: Have been shown to naturally lower cholesterol (21, 25, 26).
  • Antioxidants: Help prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is known to contribute to heart disease (27).

Summary: The nutrients found in chlorella, including niacin, fiber, carotenoids and antioxidants, may help lower your cholesterol levels.

5. Acts as an Antioxidant

Chlorella contains several compounds that are considered antioxidants, including chlorophyll, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein (28).

These antioxidants can help fight many chronic diseases (28).

Some of these antioxidants seem to reduce the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which drive many of the complications of diabetes (1, 29).

In animals and lab studies, chlorella has interfered with the way genes age (1, 30).

Also, a human study showed chlorella supplements increased antioxidant levels in chronic cigarette smokers, a population at a higher risk of oxidative damage (31, 32).

Although much of this research is promising, it is still preliminary.

Summary: Chlorella's antioxidant content may provide some protection against chronic disease, but more human studies are needed to confirm this.

6. Helps Keep Blood Pressure in Check

Chlorella supplements could help promote heart and kidney health, which is essential for normal blood pressure.

In one study, people with mildly high blood pressure took four grams of chlorella daily for 12 weeks.

By the end, these people had lower blood pressure readings than participants who took the placebo (33).

Another small study in healthy men showed that taking chlorella supplements was linked to less stiffness of the arteries, a factor that affects blood pressure (34).

One theory to explain this is that some of chlorella's nutrients, including arginine, potassium, calcium and omega-3s, help protect arteries from hardening (34, 35).

Summary: Some research on chlorella has pointed to a blood pressure-lowering effect. Many of its nutrients have been shown to prevent arteries from hardening.

7. Could Improve Blood Sugar Levels

Some research shows that chlorella may help lower blood sugar levels (1).

One study found that taking chlorella for 12 weeks lowered fasting blood sugar levels in both healthy individuals and those at high risk of lifestyle-related diseases (22).

Other studies have shown that supplementing with chlorella improves blood sugar control and increases insulin sensitivity in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (36, 37, 38).

There isn't enough research yet to say that you should take chlorella to manage blood sugar, but it may help when combined with other therapies.

Summary: Taking chlorella supplements may help lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

8. May Help Manage Respiratory Diseases

Managing respiratory diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often requires controlling inflammation (39, 40).

Chlorella has some components that can help reduce inflammation, including its many antioxidants (1, 41).

One study found that chlorella supplements improved antioxidant status in COPD patients, but that didn't translate into any improvements in breathing capability (42).

More studies are needed to determine its true effect on respiratory conditions, but chlorella might help with inflammation.

Summary: The antioxidants in chlorella may have anti-inflammatory effects, which can possibly improve asthma and other respiratory diseases.

9. May Enhance Aerobic Endurance

Only one study has looked at chlorella's effect on aerobic endurance, but it showed a positive effect.

Researchers gave a group of young adults six grams of chlorella or a placebo daily for four weeks.

At the end of the study, the chlorella group showed a significantly improved ability to saturate their lungs with oxygen, which is a measure of endurance. The placebo group did not experience any changes in endurance (43).

This effect may be due to chlorella's branched-chain amino acid content.

Branched-chain amino acids are a collection of three amino acids that have been found to improve aerobic performance in various studies (44, 45).

Summary: Chlorella may improve your aerobic performance, although scientific support for this benefit is limited.

Other Potential Benefits

Many other possible benefits have been proposed, but there's little research to support these claims.

Here are some of the main health claims, along with any reasoning to support them:

  • Promotes eye health: Chlorella contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that protect the eye and lower the risk of macular degeneration (46, 47, 48).
  • Increased energy levels: This proposed benefit is likely related to chlorella's vitamin B12 content, though B12 supplements typically only increase energy when people are deficient in it (49).
  • Supports liver health: Chlorella supplements have been shown to improve markers of liver health in people with liver disease. However, it's not clear whether there's a benefit for healthy people (36, 37, 38, 50).
  • Improved digestion: Many sources claim chlorella eases digestion, reduces bloating and acts like a probiotic. However, no studies have assessed these proposed benefits.
  • Relieves PMS: Anecdotal evidence says that chlorella can relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It could be a stretch, but chlorella contains calcium and B-vitamins, both of which have been shown to reduce PMS (51, 52).

While there's no specific research to back up these claims, chlorella's nutrient content could, in theory, have these benefits (53).

Summary: Chlorella has been claimed to improve energy levels, liver health, digestion and symptoms of PMS. Nevertheless, scientific evidence is currently lacking to directly support these claims.

Potential Concerns

Chlorella has been deemed "generally recognized as safe" by the FDA (1, 54).

However, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering chlorella supplements:

  • Possible side effects: Some people have experienced nausea and abdominal discomfort (55).
  • Lack of regulation: Some countries, including the U.S., do not regulate supplements and you can't be sure you're getting what the label says.
  • Inconsistent products: The nutrition content of chlorella supplements may vary, depending on the algae species, growing conditions and processing (56, 57).
  • Immune effects: Since chlorella affects the immune system, it may not be appropriate for people with immunodeficiency or on immune system medications.

Furthermore, it's important to keep in mind that dietary supplements may interact with some medications.

While chlorella is generally recognized as safe and few side effects have been reported, it might not be appropriate for everyone.

Summary: For most people, taking chlorella supplements doesn't seem to pose any serious risks.

How to Supplement With Chlorella

The current scientific literature on chlorella doesn't specify a specific dosage.

This is because there's insufficient evidence to determine the amount needed to see therapeutic effects (1).

Some studies have found benefits with 1.2 grams per day, while others looked at doses of 5–10 grams per day (5, 21, 36, 37, 38).

Most supplements indicate a daily dosage of 2–3 grams, which seems about right considering the research.

Moreover, it's important to find a quality supplement. The best way to do this is to look for one that has a quality assurance seal from third-party testing.

Additionally, some product descriptions mention testing for quality assurance, as well as the source and growing conditions of the chlorella.

Try to find chlorella supplements from a supplement brand you trust.

Summary: Look for a quality assurance seal to ensure you're getting what you pay for. The dose of 2–3 grams indicated by most supplements seems appropriate, given the doses used in studies.

The Bottom Line

Chlorella is a type of algae that packs a big nutrient punch, as it's a good source of several vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

In fact, emerging research shows that it could help shuttle toxins out of your body and improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels, among other health benefits.

For now, there doesn't seem to be any harm in taking chlorella supplements and they could support your health.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

Health
Photo credit: Shutterstock

By Dr. Mary Jane Brown

Goji berries have gained popularity in recent years, often promoted as a "superfood."

They're thought to help prevent premature aging, boost the immune system, have benefits for diabetes and protect against heart disease and cancer (1).

But do they really live up to the hype? This article explores nine benefits of goji berries that are actually backed by science.

What Are Goji Berries?

Goji berries, scientifically known as Lycium barbarum, are also known as wolfberries, fructus lycii and gougizi. These dried red berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years (2).

They have a sweet taste and can be eaten raw or consumed as a juice or herbal tea. They can also be taken as extracts, powders and tablets.

All dark blue or red berries, including goji berries, contain high levels of antioxidants, which may help protect the body against damage from free radicals.

What's unique about goji berries is that they contain specific antioxidants called Lycium barbarum polysaccharides, which are thought to provide a variety of impressive health benefits.

In addition, goji berries provide 11 essential amino acids—more than other common berries (3).

Read on for 9 evidence-based health benefits of goji berries.

1. Very Nutritious

The nutritional content of goji berries is thought to vary widely depending on the type, freshness and how they're processed.

As a rough guide, ¼ cup (85 grams) of dried goji berries has about (4):

  • Calories: 70
  • Sugar: 12 grams
  • Protein: 9 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Vitamin A: 150 percent of the RDI
  • Copper: 84 percent of the RDI
  • Selenium: 75 percent of the RDI
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 63 percent of the RDI
  • Iron: 42 percent of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 27 percent of the RDI
  • Potassium: 21 percent of the RDI
  • Zinc: 15 percent of the RDI
  • Thiamine: 9 percent of the RDI

In addition, they are packed full of powerful antioxidants, including carotenoids, lycopene, lutein and polysaccharides. In fact, polysaccharides make up 5–8 percent of dried goji berries (5).

By weight, these berries contain about as much vitamin C as fresh lemons and oranges (5).

For a fruit, goji berries are relatively high in protein and fiber, two nutrients that may help keep you fuller for longer.

A 100-gram serving of goji berries provides around 11 grams of protein, compared to just 1 gram of protein in every 100 grams of blueberries or raspberries (4, 6, 7).

Goji berries are also rich in copper, iron, selenium and zinc.

These minerals are essential to the function of all your organs, protecting your cells and helping optimize metabolism (8).

Summary: Goji berries are very nutritious. They are high in fiber, protein and a range of vitamins and minerals including iron, copper, selenium and vitamins A and C.

2. Excellent Source of Antioxidants

Antioxidants protect against free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can damage your cells.

Goji berries have a high oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) score of 3,290. This rating indicates the quantity of antioxidants in certain foods.

The ORAC score of goji berries is much higher than the scores for bananas (795) and apples (2,828), but slightly less than the scores of blackberries (4,669) and raspberries (5,065) (9).

Keep in mind that ORAC values are determined in test-tube studies, so these fruits may not necessarily have the same effects in the human body. However, there is other evidence that goji berries can boost antioxidant levels in humans.

Antioxidant markers increased by more than 8 percent among 50 healthy adults who drank 4 ounces (120 ml) of concentrated goji berry juice a day, compared to those who did not drink the juice (10).

One study in healthy elderly men and women found that taking a milk-based goji berry drink daily for 90 days increased levels of the antioxidant zeaxanthin by 26 percent and increased overall antioxidant capacity by 57 percent (11).

This is good news, since antioxidants consumed through the diet are thought to be important for health and protection against chronic diseases (12).

Summary: Regularly consuming concentrated goji berry juice can boost antioxidant levels in the body.

3. May Have Anti-Aging Benefits

Antioxidants like those in goji berries may help fight aging by preventing free radicals from damaging collagen in the skin (13).

Some small studies have also shown that goji berry extract may help delay the aging process in cells.

One study in mice showed that goji berry extract inhibits glycation, a process that ages the skin (14).

Another test-tube study found that goji berry extract boosted DNA synthesis in certain cells, protecting them against aging caused by DNA damage (15).

Consuming a wide range of foods high in antioxidants is thought to help protect against premature aging.

These preliminary results are promising, but human studies are needed.

Summary: Goji berry extract has been shown to protect against cell damage in test-tube and animal studies. This may protect against premature aging, but more research is needed in humans.

4. May Help Prevent Cancer Growth

Goji berry extract has been linked to anti-cancer activity in both animal and human studies (16).

Test-tube studies have shown that goji berry extract hinders the growth of cancer cells, preventing them from spreading and even destroying them (17, 18).

One study in rats found that a regular diet of goji berries inhibited the progression of cancerous tumors. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, noni fruit and açaí berries were equally effective (19).

The potential tumor-inhibiting effects of goji berries are likely due to their ability to boost levels of antioxidants and reduce levels of inflammatory cytokines IL-5 and IL-8 in the blood (19).

A study in 79 people with advanced cancer found that those who were given immunotherapy plus concentrated goji extract experienced a 25 percent higher rate of cancer regression compared to those who received immunotherapy alone (20).

These anti-cancer effects are likely due to the antioxidants found in goji berries.

Nevertheless, keep in mind that most of these studies used only extracted and concentrated parts of the berries, not just goji berries alone.

Summary: Goji berry extract may inhibit or slow down the growth of cancer cells and may even actively destroy them.

5. May Improve Blood Sugar Control

Animal and test-tube studies have shown that goji berry extract may have positive effects on blood sugar control (21, 22, 23, 24, 25).

One study gave goji berry polysaccharide extract to rats with type 2 diabetes for four weeks. The researchers found that blood glucose levels decreased in nearly 35 percent of the rats (23).

Another study found the same thing. Rats with type 2 diabetes that consumed goji berry extract daily for three weeks had lower blood sugar levels after eating, as well as increased insulin sensitivity (25).

These positive effects on blood sugar are strongly linked to the antioxidant activity of goji berry extract.

Studies in this area have shown that goji berry extract promotes insulin sensitivity by increasing the absorption of glucose into cells through the transporter molecule GLUT4 and by boosting insulin secretion by the pancreas (26).

However, these studies are limited to animals, so it's not clear if humans would experience the same positive effects. More research in humans is needed.

Summary: Test-tube and animal studies show that goji berry extract improves blood sugar control by increasing insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion by the pancreas.

6. May Boost Energy Levels

Consuming concentrated goji berry extract or juice has been linked to improved energy and feelings of overall well-being.

When mice were given goji berry extract, they adapted more quickly to particular exercises. They also showed improved performance and better recovery after an exercise test (27).

It's thought that goji berry extract could enhance the creation of muscle and liver glycogen, a storage form of glucose that helps you maintain physical activity.

It may also speed up the clearance of blood urea nitrogen, a waste product your body produces after strenuous exercise (27).

Similar results were found in humans. In one controlled study, 34 healthy men and women consumed 4 ounces (120 ml) of concentrated goji berry juice for 14 days.

As a result, they reported increased energy, better exercise performance, improved quality of sleep and reduced stress and fatigue compared to before they began consuming the juice. They also reported feeling happier and more content (28).

Summary: Regular consumption of goji berry extract may improve energy levels, exercise performance and overall feelings of well-being.

7. May Help You Lose Weight

Goji berries have certain properties that may make them weight loss friendly.

For example, they are high in fiber, which can help control blood sugar and appetite, helping you feel full for longer (29).

Goji berries also have a low glycemic index (GI).

The GI value for a particular food or drink indicates the effect it will have on your blood sugar levels once you eat it.

Because low-GI foods release sugar more slowly into the bloodstream, they're thought to help improve feelings of fullness and reduce cravings (30).

There is some evidence that goji berry juice may aid in weight loss by increasing metabolic rate.

One study found that when healthy overweight men and women consumed a single 4-ounce (120-ml) dose of concentrated goji berry juice, their ability to burn calories after one hour was 10 percent greater than in those who didn't consume the juice (31).

When participants consumed goji berry juice over 14 days, their waist circumference decreased by an average of 1.9 inches (4.7 cm) compared to the control group (31).

However, these studies are small and more research needs to be done to determine if consuming goji berry juice definitely results in weight loss.

Summary: Goji berries are low-GI and high in fiber, which can help with weight loss. Concentrated goji berry juice may promote weight loss through increased calorie burning.

8. May Improve Cholesterol Levels

Animal studies have shown that taking goji berry extract may have positive effects on cholesterol levels.

When rabbits with high cholesterol were treated with goji berry extract for 10 days, their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels decreased and their "good" HDL cholesterol increased (23).

The authors of the study suggested the improved cholesterol levels were likely caused by the antioxidant polysaccharides and vitamins in the goji berry extract.

In another study, when diabetic rats consumed 10 mg of goji berry extract daily for three weeks, they showed decreased triglyceride levels and cholesterol (25).

Summary: Animal studies have shown that goji berry extract may help lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increase "good" HDL cholesterol.

9. May Help Boost the Immune System

Goji berry extract may help boost immune function (32).

One study in 60 healthy older adults found that taking 3.4 ounces (100 ml) of concentrated goji berry juice daily for 30 days led to improved immune function (33).

More specifically, it boosted lymphocytes, white blood cells responsible for protecting the body from harmful bacteria and viruses (33).

Some animal studies support these findings, showing that goji berry extract enhanced the production of T-lymphocytes (34).

Summary: Goji berry extract may help boost the immune system by increasing the white blood cells responsible for protecting the body against harmful bacteria and viruses.

Are They Really as Healthy as People Say?

Goji berries are packed with many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

They're associated with many health benefits, including improving blood sugar control, helping with weight loss, fighting aging and protecting against cancer.

Nevertheless, more human studies are needed. Most of the benefits also seem associated with concentrated juice or purified extracts, both of which have higher levels of active compounds than you would get from fresh or dried goji berries.

In addition, goji berries and their products can be costly.

Overall, it makes sense to include them as part of an overall healthy diet involving a range of other fruits and vegetables.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

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I'm often asked by my patients, "What superfoods are most important to stay healthy?"

I like to think that everything I eat is a superfood. When I walk into the grocery store, which I call the "Farmacy," I like to seek out powerful foods that are going to provide the right information for my body.

Here are my top superfoods:

1. Plant Foods

The vast, colorful array of vegetables represents more than 25,000 beneficial chemicals. Research shows the synergistic balance of these chemicals provides numerous health benefits. I recommend a diverse diet with numerous, colorful, fresh veggies and fruits. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate well more than 800 varieties of plant foods. Today, we don't consume anywhere near this amount. Make that extra effort to include as many varieties of these colorful superfoods as you can.

2. Eat From the Rainbow

Every fruit and vegetable color represents a different family of healing compounds. Red foods (like tomatoes) contain the carotenoid lycopene, which helps eliminate free radicals that damage our genes. Green foods contain the chemical sulforaphane, as well as indoles that inhibit carcinogens to protect against cancer. Simply put: The more color you incorporate, the more health benefits you'll receive.

3. Mushrooms

While visiting China, I discovered folks there knew more about food's medicinal properties than I did even after many years of research. Medicinal foods are a part of their everyday diet and mushrooms play a huge role within Chinese medicine. Reishi, shiitake and cordyceps contain powerful healing properties that boost your immune system and support healthy hormone production. Mushrooms are anti-viral and anti-inflammatory to support healthy liver function, optimized cholesterol levels and anti-cancer benefits. I use them often: I make a reishi tea, cook with shiitake mushrooms and make mushroom soup.

4. Healthy Fats

Healthy cell walls made from high-quality fats are better able to metabolize insulin, which keeps blood sugar better regulated. Without proper blood sugar control, the body socks away fat for a rainy day. The right fats also increase fat burning, cut your hunger and reduce fat storage. Eating the right types of fats makes you lose weight, while eating excess sugar and the wrong types of fat make you fat. So again—avocados, nuts and seeds, wild fatty fish, grass-fed meat, extra-virgin olive oil—these are all superfood fats.

5. Seeds

My three favorite seeds are chia, hemp and flaxseeds. You can add all three super seeds to smoothies, puddings or on top of coconut yogurt with berries. Let's look at their benefits.

  • Chia seeds provide an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that have numerous benefits, including glowing skin and mental clarity. Just one ounce of chia seeds packs a whopping 10 grams of fiber. Its insoluble fiber acts as a prebiotic that feeds friendly gut bacteria and ferments into short-chain fatty acids to support gut health. Chia seeds also contain more protein than most plant foods. And they contain more calcium than milk.
  • Hemp seeds provide healthy omega-3 fats, protein, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and iron.
  • Flaxseeds are another great source of omega-3 fats, dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Flaxseeds have powerful, anti-cancer, hormone-balancing phytonutrients called lignans. Freshly ground flaxseed sprinkled into a smoothie is an excellent way to ease constipation.
Health

By Taylor Jones

Quinoa is an ancient South American grain that was largely ignored for centuries.

Interestingly, it was only recently noticed by the rest of the world and hailed as a "superfood" due to its high nutritional content.

Quinoa is an ancient South American grain that was largely ignored for centuries.iStock

It is now considered a specialty food by foodies and the health conscious.

This article takes a look at what quinoa is, where it comes from and why it's so good for you.

What Is Quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is the seed of the Chenopodium quinoa plant.

Botanically speaking, it's not a grain. However, it's often called a "pseudograin" because it's similar in nutrients and eaten the same way as cereal grains (1).

Quinoa was first grown for food 7,000 years ago in the Andes. The Incas called it "the mother grain" and believed it was sacred (2).

Although it's now grown around the world, the majority is still produced in Bolivia and Peru. It was largely unknown to the rest of the world until very recently (1).

Since then, it has experienced a huge surge in popularity because of its high nutrient content and health benefits. It is also easy to grow in a range of conditions.

In fact, the year 2013 was named "The International Year of Quinoa" by the UN because of its valuable qualities and potential to fight world hunger.

Quinoa is also popular because it's a gluten-free grain. This means people with celiac disease, wheat allergies or those who avoid gluten can consume it.

Bottom Line: Quinoa is a seed classified as a pseudograin. Nutritionally, it is considered to be a whole grain and is also gluten-free.

Types of Quinoa

There are more than 3,000 varieties of quinoa (2).

However, the most widely grown types are red, black and white. There is also a tricolor variety, which is a mixture of all three.

This is what the three types look like:

Quinoa can also be rolled into flakes or ground into flour, which can then be used for cooking and baking.

White quinoa is the most commonly consumed variety and is what you'll usually find at the store. Interestingly, the different types also have varying nutrient contents.

A study examining red, black and white quinoa found that while black quinoa has the lowest fat content, it has the highest omega-3 fatty acid and carotenoid contents (3).

Red and black quinoa also have nearly twice the vitamin E content of white quinoa.

The same study analyzed the antioxidant content of each type and found that the darker the color, the higher the antioxidant capacity.

Bottom Line: There are many types of quinoa, but red, black and white are the most popular. They vary in both color and nutrient composition.

Quinoa Is Loaded With Nutrients

This grain is also popular because it's very nutritious.

It's packed with vitamins and minerals and contains more protein, fiber and healthy fats than other grains.

Just one cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa is a great source of the following nutrients (4):

  • Manganese: 58 percent of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 30 percent of the RDI.
  • Phosphorous: 28 percent of the RDI.
  • Folate: 19 percent of the RDI.
  • Copper: 18 percent of the RDI.
  • Iron: 15 percent of the RDI.
  • Zinc: 13 percent of the RDI.
  • Thiamin: 13 percent of the RDI.
  • Riboflavin: 12 percent of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B6: 11 percent of the RDI.

The same cup provides only 220 calories, in addition to 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat and at least 5 grams of fiber.

Adding quinoa to your diet is a great way to increase your daily intake of important vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Bottom Line: Quinoa is loaded with vitamins and minerals and contains more fiber and protein than most other grains.

Quinoa Contains Complete Proteins

Proteins are made of amino acids, which can either be made by your body or found in certain foods.

Nine of the amino acids are essential amino acids, meaning your body cannot produce them and you must get them from your diet.

Complete proteins contain all nine amino acids in significant amounts. While all animal sources of protein are complete, the majority of plant proteins are not. As a complete plant protein, quinoa is one of the exceptions.

This is one of its most unique qualities and makes it a very valuable source of protein, especially for someone whose diet is mostly plant-based.

While it's possible to get all of the essential amino acids from a plant-based diet, it does require eating a variety of plant-based proteins.

Quinoa is especially high in lysine, methionine and cysteine, which are some of the amino acids that plant foods are frequently low in (5).

Bottom Line: Quinoa is one of the few plant proteins that is a complete protein. This means it contains all of the essential amino acids you need.

It Contains Beneficial Plant Compounds

Quinoa is very high in beneficial plant compounds. Some examples are saponins, phenolic acids, flavonoids and betacyanins (6).

Many of these compounds may act as antioxidants, which means they can neutralize the free radicals that damage your body on the molecular level.

One study examined 10 types of grain from Peru. It found that quinoa had an antioxidant capacity of 86 percent, which was higher than all the other grains analyzed (7).

While all varieties of quinoa are high in antioxidants, the darkest seeds contain the highest amounts. This means black quinoa contains more antioxidants than white (3).

Also, sprouting the seeds can increase the antioxidant content even further (8).

However, a high antioxidant capacity in the lab does not necessarily translate to a higher antioxidant capacity in your body.

Nonetheless, one study found that consuming 25 grams (just under 1 oz) of quinoa daily increased levels of the important antioxidant glutathione by 7 percent (9).

This shows that it really can help your body fight oxidative damage from free radicals.

Bottom Line: Quinoa contains beneficial plant compounds. Many of them act as antioxidants and protect your body from free radicals.

It May Improve Blood Sugar Control

Quinoa is considered to be a whole grain.

Several studies have linked whole grain intake to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and improved blood sugar control (10).

One large review found that consuming just 16 grams of fiber from whole grains per day was linked to a 33 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (10).

However, there aren't many studies on the specific health effects of quinoa.

Nonetheless, one rat study found that it could reverse some negative effects of a high-fructose diet, including high blood sugar (11).

This could be because it contains phytoecdysteroids, which have been shown to lower blood sugar in mice (12).

It also appears to contain compounds that inhibit alpha-glucosidase, one of the enzymes involved in digesting carbs. This could delay the breakdown of carbs, causing a slower release of glucose into the blood stream (13).

Quinoa's high fiber and protein content may also contribute to its positive effects on blood sugar. However, it is a grain and is still relatively high in carbs (7).

Bottom Line: Whole grains like quinoa appear to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Quinoa may also help with blood sugar control.

Other Health Benefits

Quinoa may also have benefits for metabolic health, inflammation and more.

May Improve Metabolic Health

Quinoa is a good choice for people who have high blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides).

One study found that eating 50 grams (1.7 oz) daily for 6 weeks lowered total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (14).

However, the effects were small and it lowered the levels of the "good" HDL cholesterol too.

Another study compared quinoa and corn flakes. It found that only quinoa significantly reduced triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (9).

This is preliminary, but suggests quinoa could help improve metabolic health.

May Help Fight Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is involved in a wide range of diseases, from type 2 diabetes to cancer and heart disease (15).

Although studies have not shown consistent results, a diet high in antioxidants is thought to help fight inflammation in the body (15).

Quinoa appears to be very high in antioxidants, yet may help fight inflammation in other ways as well.

Saponins are one of the plant compounds found in quinoa. They give it a bitter taste and some people rinse or soak quinoa to try and remove this taste (16).

However, saponins also seem to have some positive effects. In addition to acting as antioxidants, they appear to have anti-inflammatory effects.

One study found that saponins could inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory compounds by 25–90 percent in isolated cells (16).

Read this article for even more information about the health benefits of quinoa.

Bottom Line: Quinoa appears to help lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides. It may also reduce inflammation.

It Does Contain Some Antinutrients

Certain foods, such as grains and legumes, contain antinutrients. Saponins, phytic acid and oxalates are the most common antinutrients found in quinoa (5).

However, quinoa is very well tolerated and antinutrients are not a big concern for healthy people with a well-balanced diet.

Saponins

Saponins can have both positive and negative qualities.

On one hand, they have beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Some saponins have even been shown to help reduce blood cholesterol levels (5).

However, saponins also have a bitter taste and can prevent the absorption of certain minerals, such as zinc and iron.

Some varieties are lower in saponins than others. Rinsing, scrubbing with water or soaking can also help reduce their levels if desired.

Oxalate

Oxalate is a compound found in several foods, including spinach, rhubarb and buckwheat. It can decrease the absorption of some minerals and can bind with calcium to form kidney stones (5).

While oxalate does not cause problems for most people, those who are prone to developing these types of kidney stones may want to avoid foods that are high in it.

Phytic acid

Phytic acid is found in a range of foods, including nuts, seeds and grains (17).

It can also be both positive and negative. On one hand, phytic acid has antioxidant effects and can block kidney stone formation.

On the other hand, it can also block mineral absorption. This might raise the risk of deficiencies in an unbalanced diet.

Bottom Line: Like other grains and legumes, quinoa contains some antinutrients. However, they do not cause problems for most people.

How to Eat Quinoa

Quinoa is very versatile and easy to prepare. It has a nutty flavor and a chewy, fluffy texture. You can cook it just like rice, with two parts liquid to one part quinoa.

Simply bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Fluff and serve.

Try using broth instead of water or adding different seasonings for even more flavor.

Watch the video below for a demonstration of how to cook quinoa:

Quinoa can be used like any other grain. It can be served plain, as a side dish or incorporated into other recipes. Quinoa flour can also be used in baking.

Here's a list of some ways to enjoy quinoa:

  • Mix with chopped vegetables, served warm or cold.
  • Season and serve as a side dish.
  • Cook into breakfast cereal with bananas or blueberries.
  • Mix with veggies and stuff into bell peppers.
  • Add to chili.
  • Toss into a spinach or kale salad.

Take Home Message

Quinoa is a delicious whole grain packed with nutrients, fiber, protein and plant compounds. It has a unique flavor and is an easy way to add variety to your diet.

It's particularly great for vegans, vegetarians and people on a gluten-free diet.

However, its impressive nutrient profile and health benefits make quinoa an excellent addition to any diet.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

Sponsored

By Josh Chamot

Seaweed is an acquired taste, but rich in nutrients and cheap to produce, and it could replace carbon-intensive foods on menus everywhere. With that in mind, Lisette Kreischer and Marcel Schuttelaar wrote Ocean Greens, a guide to cooking with seaweed. Kreischer shared her insights on seaweed with Nexus Media, along with two of her best recipes.

What are the advantages to harvesting vegetables like seaweed from the oceans?

This little green plant can save our planet. It's a high quality source of protein, its cultivation doesn't take up agricultural land and it hardly uses any fresh water. However, as the seaweed market grows, we don't want to make the overconsumption mistakes of the past, mistakes that have caused so much destruction to our planet and harmed creatures great and small. Eating a plant-based diet can make meals so much more pleasurable, not only for people, but also, of course, for animals. Change is always in our power and now is the time to change our choices about the way we eat and produce our food.

Lisette Kreischer

With Ocean Greens, we emphasize sustainable production of seaweed. Companies like Zeewaar and The North Sea Farm Foundation in The Netherlands are showing us beautiful examples of a holistic way of producing food while respecting nature. This is what my collaborators and I also propose with The Dutch Weed Burger, a vegan burger alternative. The plant based diet has been proven very efficient when it comes to the use of precious water and agricultural land—and it produces lower CO2 emissions and has the potential to feed everybody. As the climate continues to change, as oceans warm and acidity changes, this will have a huge impact on all life that depends on the sea. We're not going to find another planet to eat off of.

Lisette Kreischer

Seaweed and sea vegetables are a big part of some cultures' diets—but not in the U.S. What's the key to getting Americans excited to eat these particular greens?

It's just such an adventurous new kid on the food block and it can make your taste buds rock!

As the environment changes and we're faced with new challenges like the growing population and rising temperatures, we have a responsibility to look at food differently from how we have the last 60 or so years. Food production has just cost too much on so many levels and because of the conditions animals endure, this is a painful subject we all have to eventually face. With such challenges, we have to start making different choices now for food production and choice. We have to start looking at nature, to work with her instead of against her.

Fortunately, there are delicious options available. Seaweed can play a big role in that transition. As a new commodity crop, it's produced in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. That is why we wrote Ocean Greens.

Lisette Kreischer

What inspired you to cook with ocean greens?

I became fascinated and intrigued with food when I was 10 years old. At about that time, I developed a conscious mind and noticed how food impacts everything—starting with the animal that used to be on my plate every night.

But it didn't stop there. Not long after, I took a closer look at everything I ate. I had to know what was hidden behind my daily food intake: what was in it, how it was made, where it came from. The more I learned about the background story of my food, the more I felt the need to change. The fact that a living animal lived—and died—solely to feed me did not feel right. As a result, I quit eating animal-based products. Soon afterwards, I discovered the diversity and variety within the plant kingdom. I got excited about plants, nuts, grains and legumes. Not only did I enjoy the taste, I also liked the way it made me feel: healthy.

Lisette Kreischer

I refocused towards those positive feelings and developed a sense of passion, excitement and joy for food, which I had not felt before. I started to bake pies without eggs, French stew without meat—but with lots of wine—and tuna salad without tuna. Cozy and Burgundian, I relished it!

After that transition, people were constantly asking me, "So … What do you actually eat?" The simple answer is I fell in love with this wonderful, colorful, diverse, plant-based kitchen. It helped me learn about my body and strengthened my immune system and it enriched my taste buds. The extensive variety of herbs, greens, nuts, grains, fruits and superfoods gave my creativity an amazing boost. But there was something missing. I noticed that however great my story about the vegan kitchen was, people appeared to be so afraid of it. Afraid to not get enough protein, afraid to change what they have been doing for so long. Afraid to lose something.

The answer was seaweed and my connection with Roos Rutjes. He and I found each other through our mutual love for sustainability and the plant-based kitchen. In 2006, we were both studying at the Styling-Academy in Amsterdam and our partnership blossomed into an eco-fabulous lifestyle agency, Veggie in Pumps, with the motto: "Enjoying in style with respect for people, animals and nature." To this day, this is still our guide.

Lisette Kreischer

Inspired by a beautiful and impressive lecture from ocean protector Dos Winkel, we began a mission to make the plant-based kitchen—and seaweed—more appealing to the masses. Winkel's message was that the ocean is dying. The beautiful closed-loop system that supports our lives is falling apart and he called on us to stop eating fish and discover plant foods from the ocean. It was a real lightbulb moment. The plant-based kitchen, enhanced with seaweed, could be an answer to big global challenges and create a way of more equally dividing food resources. And, such a kitchen is very effective in using natural sources, cuts out a lot of animal suffering—hopefully all of it—and provides tremendous support to the human body, especially the protein, iron and calcium from seaweed.

Then in 2012, my good friend Mark Kulsdom and I developed the Dutch Weed Burger, a 100 percent plant-based burger enriched with seaweed. The burger came out of a documentary we produced in New York City and the combination of plant power and seaweed turned out to be a huge success. Roos and I saw a huge possibility from this: Because of our love for all those beautiful nuts, grains, legumes, seeds, vegetables, fruit, herbs and algae that are around, we started to long for making a beautiful book about algae and seaweeds.

Nice thick pancakes filled with pumpkin and layered with seaweed pesto and fresh purslane. Lisette Kreischer

We were both using seaweed more and eating a lot of Dutch Weed Burgers of course, so we felt it was time to take it up another level. After a lot of experimentation in the kitchen and taste tests with seaweed, we knew that we had to make a cookbook filled with delicious recipes that would subtly introduce readers to unique kinds of algae and seaweeds. In a powerful meeting with Marcel Schuttelaar and Koen van Swam of the North Sea Farm, we developed a way to combine our vision with scientific knowledge from their side and I got to pull together my first book of food photography: Ocean Greens was born.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Nexus Media.

Health

By Jordyn Cormier

No food deserves the proclamation of "superfood" so much as sprouts. They are a sustainable, living food, loaded with highly bioavailable nutrients. They are easily digestible nutrition, yet they are also incredibly affordable. In this age where many of us have trouble affording or consuming all of the veggies we need in a day, sprouts are awaiting your discovery.

No food deserves the proclamation of "superfood" so much as sprouts.Care2

I had the opportunity to chat with the CEO of Sprout Brothers, Ari Meyerowitz, to learn a little more about the benefits of sprouts and sprouting. Here's Ari had to say about why sprouts are a superfood:

"Sprouts are the most bioavailable, nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Because of their ability to be grown year-round and their incredible potency, growing your own sprouts can turn your kitchen into your very own, living 'farm-acy.' Sprouts are living medicine."

Because sprouts (aka baby plants) are so easily digestible and affordable, consuming them can act as preventative medicine. Many sprouts are scientifically known to contain anti-cancer properties, like broccoli sprouts, in quantities you could never ingest were the sprout fully grown into the mature plant. They are high in protein and proportionally more nutrient-dense than their mature counterparts. Oh, and you can grow them right in your kitchen!

Unlike the hoards who suggest growing your sprouts in a glass mason jar, the Sprout Brothers try to dissuade their customers from doing this. The lack of air flow can encourage the growth of mold. Instead, they recommend specially woven hemp bags, which mimic the air flow and water retention of a sprout's cozy natural habitat—soil. What's more is that one bag, if taken care of, can easily last a lifetime. Here's what Ari had to say about it:

"A mason jar was never designed as a sprouting tool. Sure people have invented tops that make them workable, and sure people have mason jars laying around, but this does not make it any more ideal. Look at the environment plants grow in naturally. Soil is porous and naturally aerates. Water is held by the seedling and then dissipates. The sprout bag is designed as a sprouter. I get calls and emails daily with peoples sprouting problems. 9 times out of 10 it is either bad seed, or a bad grower. Good seeds and a good grower and sprouts will grow themselves!"

Once you begin sprouting, you'll find it's incredibly easy. In fact, growing sprouts make it possible for you to have fresh produce in your kitchen year-round, no last minute grocery excursions required! But what do you do with all of your sprouts? Well, you can make a delicious and highly nutritious sprout salad, toss them on top of stir frys or dehydrate them for a crispy snack.

Since there is relatively little information on dehydrating sprouts on the web, I've compiled a few of my favorite sprouts along with some tips for dehydrating them:

Radish sprouts. High in vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium, radish sprouts are incredibly pungent with a delightful radish intensity. Dehydrating them can extend their shelf life significantly. Once mature after 5 to 6 days of sprouting, spread your radish sprouts out in a single layer on a dehydrator tray at 115 degrees F (or, in a pinch, use a cookie sheet with the oven at its lowest setting, keeping the door slightly ajar). Let dehydrate for 2-3 hours or until crisp.

Broccoli sprouts. Known to have potent anti-cancer properties, broccoli sprouts are a personal favorite. There is also evidence that they can help with estrogen dominance by supporting the body in processing excess estrogens. Since our environment is rampant with xenoestrogens, this can be an important food for women and men of all ages. After sprouting for 5 to 7 days, set the sprouts in a single layer on a dehydrator tray set around 115 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 to 3 hours, much like radish.

Wheatgrass. There is a lot of confusion about wheatgrass, so I am going to take a moment to clear some of it up. Unfortunately, dehydrating wheatgrass sprouts is a bit of a waste. Your body cannot digest wheatgrass—we do not have ruminant stomachs as cows do. So, to reap the incredible benefits, we juice it. Dehydrating the wheatgrass would simply leave all of the undigestible bits and take out all of the juice, rendering it fairly inedible. Wheatgrass powders are made by freeze drying the fresh juice, not by dehydrating and powdering the wheatgrass sprout itself. Also, for all those concerned, know that wheatgrass itself contains no gluten. The green stalk that we use to juice is gluten-free. Gluten in stored in the seed itself and absolutely none of it resides in the luscious green stalk.

Lentil sprouts. Move over beef! These powerful sprouts are 26 percent protein. While lentil sprouts can be eaten raw or cooked once sprouted, they actually can make a tasty dehydrated snack as well. To begin, lentils take 4 or 5 days to reach peak nutrition, so pop them into a hemp bag or automatic sprouter and just make sure that they are watered ever morning and evening. Once they are done, spread the sprouts out onto a dehydrator tray at 115 degrees Fahrenheit and dehydrate for about 4 hours or until crisp. Store in an airtight container. Once you get the basics down, feel free to marinate the sprouts beforehand in some onion powder and tamari and ginger powder for a flavor packed, nutritious snack! If you marinate them, dehydrate them at 125 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 to 8 hours.

When cooking sprouts, it's always best to cook low and slow to preserve their nutrient density. Dehydrating is a great way to extend your sprout harvest and get a little more creative with your snacks, crackers and breads. You'd be surprised at how easy it his to "cook" with sprouts. You can even begin to experiment with sprout cookies and sprout veggie burgers to increase the bioavailability of your treats and meals:

Sprout Burgers (adapted from Sproutman's Kitchen Garden Cookbook)

2 cups sprouted lentils
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
5 Tbsp. miso
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Simmer sprouted lentils in water on low heat for an hour or until soft.

Process in a food processor with tahini, sunflower seeds, miso, garlic and spices.

Form into patties, using a little corn meal if the patties seem a little too wet or sticky.

Place on parchment paper and bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy!

Sprouts are a diverse wonder food! If you are new to the sprouting game, I recommend getting started by reading Sprouts: The Miracle Food. It is a wonderful book that covers everything you've ever wanted to know about sprouts and sprouting: germination, mixing and matching seeds, nutrition, health benefits and so much more. Once you know the basics, begin to experiment with your own dehydrated creations. Get ready to enter a new, sproutful world of nutritious possibilities!

Reposted with permission from our media associate Care2.

Sponsored
Health

By Lauren Kessler

True, food isn't everything, but much of the hope (and hype) surrounding the anti-aging movement is focused on food and in particular on what are being called "superfoods." This is not a scientific term. It is not a term used by dietitians or nutritional scientists.

A superfood is a food particularly rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes and other essential nutrients with proven health benefits. It has more of the good stuff per calorie than other foods and fewer (or none) of the properties considered to be negative.

And when it comes to your skin, these are the top 10 foods you should always eat:

Broccoli

Blueberries

Salmon

Almonds

Spinach

Beans

Sweet Potatoes

Greek Yogurt

Quinoa

Apples


Adapted from Counterclockwise.

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Rodale Wellness.

Health

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

While most people probably think of parsley as nothing more than a garnish served alongside their restaurant meals, this herb warrants greater inclusion in our diet and natural medicine cabinet. Not only is parsley packed with nutrients, it helps prevent diabetes, prevent and treat kidney stones and is a proven all-natural anti-cancer remedy. It's definitely time to rethink this humble and overlooked herb.

Not only is parsley packed with nutrients, it helps prevent diabetes, prevent and treat kidney stones and is a proven all-natural anti-cancer remedy.

Native to southern Europe, parsley has been in use for more than 2,000 years and is used all around the world. According to the Roman statesman Pliny, "not a salad or sauce should be presented without it."

While we tend to think of parsley primarily as food, our ancestors thought of it primarily as medicine. It was in this capacity that they used parsley to treat many conditions including: gallstones, arthritis, insect bites—even as an aphrodisiac and to curb drunkenness. When it came to alcohol consumption, ancient people believed that parsley could absorb the intoxicating fumes of wine so it could not cause drunkenness.

Here are a few reasons to love parsley along with some ways to incorporate more parsley into your diet:

Nutrition Boost: Parsley is high in many nutrients, including: vitamins A and C, as well as the minerals iron and sulfur, making the dietary addition of this versatile herb a simple and delicious way to boost the nutrition content of almost any meal or fresh juice.

Anti-Cancer Powerhouse: A new study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that parsley has potent anti-cancer properties and works against cancer in four different ways: it acts as an antioxidant that destroys free radicals before they damage cells, protects DNA from damage that can lead to cancer or other diseases and inhibits the proliferation and migration of cancer cells in the body.

Diabetes Prevention: Exciting new research in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating foods high in a naturally-occurring nutrient known as myricetin can decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26 percent. Parsley is one of the best sources of myricetin, containing about 8.08 mg of the medicinal nutrient per 100 grams of parsley.

Kidney Stones: In a study published in Urology Journal, researchers found that ingesting parsley leaf and roots reduced the number of calcium oxalate deposits (found in kidney stones) in animals. Additionally, the researchers also found that ingesting parsley leaf and roots helped to break down kidney stones in animals suffering from the painful condition.

How to Use Parsley:

Parsley leaves and stems can be chopped and added to soups, stews, salads, pasta dishes, fresh juices and more. Try making the Middle Eastern favorite tabbouleh—a combination of couscous, parsley, chopped tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. You can substitute quinoa for a gluten-free, whole grain option. Parsley is also an excellent addition to most tomato sauces and chopped salads.

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