Foods with anabolic steroids:

The most affordable and accessible foods with the highest concentrations of phytoecdysteroids are spinach, quinoa, and suma root.  These plants contain high amounts of a powerful and naturally occurring form of phytoecdysteroid known as b-ecdysterone or 20-hydroxyecdysone.  Yes, you read correctly, it’s a steroid.  There’s no need for alarm though – I’m not pushing any strange drugs to help pay for my master’s degree.  Actually, after researching phytoecdysteroids, I’m convinced that these little molecules are something we should have more of in our diets.  Some of the claimed benefits of phytoecdysteroids include: anabolic, adaptogenic, hepatoprotective, and hyperglycemic effects.  Below are the approximate amounts of b-ecdysterone contained in the richest food sources:

Spinach:          .01% of fresh weight = 45 mg b-ecdysterone in 450g spinach [1]
-Spinach is also rich in a vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and naturally occurring nitrates.  Plant-based nitrates can be converted by the body into nitric oxide, which is used to relax the blood vessels and improve blood flow.  Bodybuilders often take nitric oxide supplements to support muscle growth and athletic performance. 

Quinoa:           .037% of dry weight = 18.25 mg b-ecdysterone in 50g quinoa [2]
-Quinoa is a relative of the spinach plant and is high in minerals, protein, and fiber.  It can be used like a grain but is gluten-free.

Suma root:      .66% of dry weight = 26.4 mg b-ecdysterone in 4g of root powder [3]
(pfaffia paniculatta) The suma plant, also known as Brazilian Ginseng, is a traditional medicine in Brazil.  It’s known to be effective at alleviating so many health problems that it’s called “para todo” – for everything.  Suma is high in a number of powerful compounds including beneficial saponins.  You can get a 1lb bag of suma powder from  Epic Herbs.

When the word “steroid” is heard or read, it’s usually associated with the synthetic, anabolic-androgenic steroid that some athletes use to build muscle or improve performance.  There are many other steroids, however, that are naturally produced in the body and required for proper health: cholesterol, testosterone, and estrogen are the most well known.  Steroids are simply hormones that send messages to the body’s cells.  Different steroids produce different responses.  Humans, animals, and plants all use a number of varoious steroids.

Some plant-eating insects produce and use a group of steroids called ecdysteroids.  Yet, too much of the hormone can cause them problems.  Plants such as spinach, quinoa, and suma, use this biological principle to their advantage.  These plants contain high amounts of hormones that are nearly identical to ecdysteroids (known as phytoecdysteroids) — consequentially, insects that eat these plants can experience a hormonal overload that disables and deters them from continuing to eat the same plants.

In mammals, however, phytoecdysteroid consumption appears to have primarily highly positive effects.  In the 1970s and 80s, Soviet scientist were the first to study the effects of phytoecdysteroids in humans, and it’s suspected that a few Soviet athletes benefited from their findings.  Today, American scientists are performing further phytoecdysteroid studies and beginning to unlock the mysteries of how these powerful hormones work.

In a study done at Rutgers, rats given food containing Spinach extract (containing the equivalent of 50 mg 20-hydroxyecdysone/kg of body weight) had 24% stronger gripping strength at the end of 28-days than rats fed the same food without spinach extract. The rats fed the spinach extract also had slightly stronger gripping strength than rats given traditional anabolic-androgen steroids (the type often used by bodybuilders)!  The same study also used human muscle cell cultures to determine how the cells would respond to phytoecdysteroids.  Treatment with 20-hydroxyecdysone resulted in up to a 20% increase in protein synthesis and also caused decreased protein degradation (which can help improve overall protein gains in muscle).[4]

The greatest concern for most people, when talking about steroids, is the negative androgenic side effects associated with other anabolic (muscle enhancing) steroids, such as prostate growth and breast tissue development in men, and voice deepening and hair growth in women.  Common experience with phytoecdysteroids indicates that while they have powerful anabolic activity, they don’t have the negative side effects associated with anabolic-androgen steroids. Moreover, in the Rutgers study mentioned above, it was found that 20-hydroxydysone did not cause prostate growth like synthetic anabolic steroids did.  This may be attributed to phytoecdysteroids having a shape that prohibits them from binding to cells’ androgenic receptors (the receptors that trigger prostate and hair growth, etc).

At any rate, spinach, quinoa, and suma are all incredibly safe, whole foods! Several studies in addition to the Rutger’s study indicate that phytoecdysteroids have many promising health benefits.  Not only have they been show to increase strength and anabolic activity in mammals, they may also improve insulin sensitivity, reduce visceral fat, aid memory, and improve wound healing efficiency.  The good news is that many of the effects of phytoecdysteroids appear to be achieved at relatively low daily doses: between .5 and 5/mg of 20-hydroxydysone per kg of body weight.  Also, you would have to eat over a hundred pounds of spinach per day before you consumed potentially toxic amounts. On the other hand, if you want to supplement with 20-hydroxyecdysone, there are a number of 20-hyroxyecdysone powders and capsules available.[5][6]

So, while the evidence for phytoecdysteroids is still unfolding, it seems like Popeye was right after all… “Eat your spinach kids!”

Related Products: Suma, Spinach Powder, QuinoaEcdysterone, Creatine, Whey Protein, Glutamine

[1] Phytoecdysteroids: Understanding Their Anabolic Activity by Jonathan Gorelick-Feldman at Rutgers
[2] Ecdysteroids from Chenopodium quinoa Willd., an ancient Andean crop of high nutritional value
[3] Level and distribution of 20-hydroxydysone during Pfaffi glomerata development
[4] Phytoecdysteroids: Understanding Their Anabolic Activity by Jonathan Gorelick-Feldman at Rutgers
[5] Effects and applications of arthropod steroid hormones (ecdysteroids) in mammals.
[6] Practical uses for ecdysteroids in mammals including humans: an update

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Originally posted 2011-09-28 17:46:00.

Vegetables High In Calcium

We are all aware of the importance of calcium, the benefit it has for our body and that it cannot function without it. Calcium is found naturally in dairy products and is added to a plethora of common foods such as orange juice, cereal, soy milk and breads. Most recommendations to add calcium in your diet will point you towards dairy products, but, a common question for many vegans and vegetarians who don’t eat dairy products is, “What vegetables are high in calcium?”

Before we get into specific vegetables and their calcium content we need to look at the difference in absorption of calcium from foods. Calcium is absorbed far better from dairy products than vegetables. Moreover, vegetables that are high in calcium but are also high in oxalic acid, such as spinach, sweet potatoes and beans, don’t provide the body as much calcium as they contain. The Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium states, “In comparison to calcium absorption from milk, calcium absorption from dried beans is about half and from spinach is about one tenth.” Oxalic acid essentially blocks calcium absorption. Protein and caffeine may also have a negative impact on the retention of Calcium. This must all be taken into account when choosing plant-based calcium sources.

The following chart has vegetables categorized by oxalate content, “Low” to “Very High.” Within those categories each vegetable is listed in order from highest calcium content to lowest. As you’ll see, spinach has the highest calcium content, but since it has a “Very High Oxalate” content it is not a good choice for calcium. Be sure to choose from the “Moderate” to “Low” oxalate categories to maximize calcium absorption.

 

Food

Serving SIze

Calcium (mg)

% DV

Calories

Oxalate Content

Dill

2 tsp

63.67

6.37

12.8

Low Oxalate

Basil

2 tsp

59.16

5.92

7

Low Oxalate

Oregano

2 tsp

57.49

5.75

9.5

Low Oxalate

Broccoli

1 cup raw

42.77

4.28

30.9

Low Oxalate

Brussels Sprouts

1 cup raw

36.96

3.7

37.8

Low Oxalate

Romaine Lettuce

2 cups

31.02

3.1

16

Low Oxalate

Cabbage, Green

1 cup raw

28

2.8

17.5

Low Oxalate

Kale

1 cup cooked

93.6

9.36

36.4

Moderate Oxalate

Thyme

2 tsp

52.92

5.29

7.7

Moderate Oxalate

Cinnamon

2 tsp

52.1

5.21

12.8

Moderate Oxalate

Asparagus

1 cup raw

32.16

3.22

26.8

Moderate Oxalate

Fennel

1 cup raw

42.63

4.26

27

Moderate Oxalate

Collard Greens

1 cup cooked

266

26.6

49.4

High Oxalate

Turnip Greens

1 cup cooked

197.28

19.73

28.8

High Oxalate

Mustard Greens

1 cup cooked

103.6

10.36

21

High Oxalate

Celery

1 cup

40.4

4.04

16.2

High Oxalate

Spinach

1 cup cooked

244.8

24.48

41.4

Very High Oxalate

Swiss Chard

1 cup cooked

101.5

10.15

35

Very High Oxalate

Sesame Seeds

0.25 cup

351

35.1

206.3

Very High Oxalate

Leeks

1 cup raw

52.51

5.25

54.3

Very High Oxalate

 

Works Cited for “Vegetables High in Calcium:” 

  1. O’Connor, H. The Oxalate Content of Food. http://www.ohf.org/docs/OxalateContent092003.pdf
  2. National Research Council. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1997.
  3. Agricultural Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Release 26. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list

Photo Source: Kale

Originally posted 2013-12-20 15:29:11.

Foods That Release More Nutrients When Cooked

 

It might seem counterintuitive that some foods release more nutrients when cooked.  After all, when it comes to getting the most nutrition from your meals, everyone knows that consuming food in its purest form (raw) trumps cooking it every time. And indeed, some nutrients in food can be lost during the cooking process. Water-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamins B and C, are destroyed in food when heated, along with omega-3 fatty acids and some antioxidants. Some minerals can also be leached in water. So to get the most bang for your whole foods buck, you should just stick to chomping raw meals and never cook anything when you can possibly help it, right?

You might not want to throw out all your pots just yet. Some foods actually release more nutrients when cooked. Here’s a list of common foods that supply you with more health-boosting benefits after they’re heated:

Eggs: Egg whites provide biotin, a nutrient that promotes healthy bones, skin and hair. Avidin, a protein in raw eggs, renders biotin inactive. Cooking denatures, or changes the shape of avidin. Once denatured, avidin will not bind to biotin, thereby allowing it to be digested. So to enjoy the benefits of this protein, you need to add some heat!

Tomatoes: Lycopene gives tomatoes their bright red color and also provides the human body with an antioxidant that fights free radicals (which damage cells) and also helps reduce your risk of stroke. A study published in the             Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry demonstrated that tomatoes actually produce more lycopene after they are heated, due to the fact that the cooking process helps release some of the antioxidants that are bound to the plant’s walls.

Carrots: Another study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry indicated that boiling carrots helped preserve higher levels of carotenoids, an antioxidant that provides Vitamin A, fights free radicals and helps reduce the risk of eye disease, heart disease and some types of cancer.

Spinach: Spinach serves up a higher iron volume when cooked as opposed to raw. Iron is a mineral vital to your health; it helps transport oxygen to your blood cells, promotes immune system function and assists in energy production.

Other vegetables, like mushrooms, cabbage, peppers and spinach have been shown to release more antioxidants when cooked. Boil or steam your food to avoid the higher rates of oxidation associated with frying, which promotes free radical production.

The good news is that you don’t have to eschew cooking to reap some serious health benefits from some of your favorite foods. So fire up the stove and enjoy a nice hot meal of steamed spinach, boiled carrots and more, served up with an extra boost of nutrients!

References: Linus Pauling Institute (eggs), Journal Of Agricultural and Food Chemistry  (tomatoes), Harvard Health (tomatoes), Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (carrots), Linus Pauling Institute (carrots), PubMed (carrots), Ohio State University (spinach); University of Missouri 

Originally posted 2013-10-18 11:18:16.