Polyphenols are compounds that give a plant its color and help to protect it from various dangers. When you eat plants with polyphenols, you also reap the health benefits.
These polyphenols, which are in a group of over 500 phytochemicals, are essential to our bodies and our health. Research has found that polyphenols can help lower cholesterol and 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, breaking down the polyphenols. There may be no nutritional benefit to cutting if you do not devour your greens. 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 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 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 the oven to 400 F.
- On a baking sheet, place individually wrapped beets.
- Place sheet in oven and roast for 50 – 65 minutes. The knife should be able to pierce beets easily for tenderness.
- Unwrap beets and allow them to cool. About 10-15 minutes. They should still be somewhat warm.
- Peel beets. You may want to wear gloves and cover the cutting board to stop staining.
- Set aside.
- Add vinegar, olive oil, mustard, mustard, salt, and pepper to a medium-sized bowl.
- Whisk to combine all ingredients.
- Set aside.
- Cut beets into wedges or pieces. 6-8 per beet.
- Add the beets and toss with 1/2 of dressing in a large mixing bowl.
- Season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
- Add arugula and dressing to moisten the leaves in a large mixing bowl. Toss to ensure all leaves are moistened.
- Add beets and toss.
- Top with almonds and feta.
- Drizzle with extra dressing if desired.