Polyphenols are compounds that give a plant its color and help to protect it from various dangers. When you eat plants with polyphenols, YOU reap the health benefits as well.
These polyphenols, which are in a group of over 500 phytochemicals, are important to our bodies and our health. Research has found that polyphenols can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, decrease the risks of diabetes or cancer, and may lead to a longer life.
Recent studies suggest that if you prepare your greens in a certain way you will BOOST the polyphenol power of your greens.
Don’t slice or cut your greens with a knife
Tearing the leaf is similar to what can happen to a leaf in nature, therefore the leaves release more polyphenols than when greens are sliced. Another reason to tear your leaves is that slicing and chopping will brown leaves faster which breaks down the polyphenols. There may be no real nutritive benefit to cutting if you do not eat your greens quickly. The knife you use can also cause browning quicker. A blunt knife or a knife with copper can increase the browning process which reduces the benefits.
Research shows that ripping your greens versus chopping, slicing or cutting with a knife boosts the health benefits of greens. When greens are cut or torn, the leaf creates more polyphenols to “defend against more damage”. When we rip into the greens, the plant thinks it’s under attack and sends out polyphenols. Polyphenols are slightly bitter and that bitterness is a protection against animals eating the plant – the plant’s natural defense mechanism is creating this bitter taste to stop the attack. Some nutritionists believe that the greens are still alive and as a result send out more of the polyphenols designed to protect the plant which in turn actually power up their nutritional value and help our bodies.
Arugula and Beet Salad
Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
10 medium beets, remove tops, scrubbed
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
7 oz. baby arugula
1/2 cup almonds toasted
6 oz. feta cheese
Preheat oven to 400 F.
On a baking sheet, place individually wrapped beets.
Place sheet in oven and roast for 50 – 65 minutes. Knife should be able to pierce beets easily for tenderness.
Unwrap beets and allow to cool. About 10-15 minutes. They should still be somewhat warm.
Peel beets. You may want to wear gloves and cover cutting board to stop staining.
In a medium-sized bowl, add vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper.
Whisk to combine all ingredients.
Cut beets into wedges or pieces. 6-8 per beet.
In a large mixing bowl, add the beets and toss with 1/2 of dressing.
Season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
In a large mixing bowl, add arugula and dressing to moisten the leaves. Toss to ensure all leaves are moistened.
Add beets and toss.
Top with almonds and feta.
Drizzle with extra dressing if desired.