There’s some amazing research now on the health benefits of sulforaphane, a powerful antioxidant associated with cruciferous vegetables, with the highest concentration in broccoli sprouts. It is linked to preventing and reducing cancer cell growth, among other things.
The hitch is that it is not actually found IN the vegetables; the precursor is. The amazing power of this healing compound is only created when our saliva interacts with the vegetables through chewing.
This has some far-reaching implications, including that your green smoothie isn’t giving as many health benefits as you might have thought. Try taking smaller sips and “chewing” them to activate saliva.
In addition to the nutritional benefits of copious chewing (and there must be many more foods where saliva is the key that unlocks nutritional benefits), chewing also signals your brain about satiety. The more you chew, the more satisfied you will feel. And if you’re feeling satisfied, you may not overeat.
Do you remember hearing that you’re supposed to chew your food 30 times? That seems to be a common number out there, but clearly it will depend on what you’re eating. Generally speaking, you want to liquify your foods as much as possible.
Since chewing is so important to extracting nutrients for human health, I wonder if that could be a litmus test for nutritious foods: if it doesn’t need to be chewed much (ice cream, cookies, etc.) then it isn’t nutrient-dense? Hmmm.
As we head into the holidays, try to keep chewing in mind. Your body will thank you.
PS: It would be really hard to get 30 chews out of a piece of cake…but no matter, there aren’t any nutrients in it anyway ;-).