Learn why beets and ginger are staples in my medicine cabinet.
Last week I pleasantly surprised my senses with this spur-of-the-moment, disease-fighting smoothie. Read on to learn why beets and ginger are staples in my medicine cabinet.
Beets offer many health benefits due to their numerous antioxidants. For starters, they contain betalains which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, therefore, promoting cardiovascular and metabolic health. Betalains have even been shown to help suppress tumor growth in studies on multiple cancer cell lines and animal models. Other antioxidants found in beets include manganese, which helps regulate glucose metabolism, and vitamin C (in the greens). Beet greens also contain lutein which is known for maintaining eye health. For women who are pregnant or trying to conceive, beets’ folate, vitamin B and iron content makes this vegetable a worthy smoothie addition. Finally, betaine, an amino acid found in beets, can act as an antidepressant.
Ginger has been used as a herbal medicine for years and is currently one of the most researched spices. Last year a study reported that daily ginger consumption lowered fasting blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes. Previously, a randomized controlled trial demonstrated that ginger decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These promising results demonstrate how beneficial ginger may be for women with PCOS.
3 small fresh beets (steamed or raw) or 6 small canned beets (I store prepped beets in the freezer for a thicker smoothie)
Add all ingredients to blender and go for a whirl! If it is not blending easily add more coconut water or water.
beets = good source of folate, anti-inflammatory, helps lower blood pressure, may help lower cholesterol, shown to reduce cancerous tumors in various animal models, beet leaves are high in iron (eat in moderation due to high oxalate content which can worsen gout and kidney stones)
ginger = anti-inflammatory, may help decrease fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, cholesterol and triglycerides
hemp protein = helps decrease high cholesterol and manage insulin resistance, helps build lean muscle mass
Matcha madness is everywhere! Try matcha and spearmint tea in a smoothie.
Mounting evidence of tea’s health benefits recently inspired me to replace lackluster water in my smoothies with tea! This smoothie fights PCOS with a one-two punch from spearmint and matcha tea. In a randomized controlled trial, 41 women with PCOS drank either 2 cups of spearmint or herbal tea (placebo) a day. After 30 days, free and total testosterone levels of the spearmint tea drinkers were significantly decreased (with a slight reported decrease in hirsutism). Previously, the same antiandrogenic effect was shown in an animal study. Although the literature is limited, the potential benefits of drinking spearmint tea likely outweigh the risks.
Some benefits of sipping green tea include stabilizing blood sugar levels and reducing high blood pressure. Matcha tea is a powdered form of green tea reported to have a much greater antioxidant content. Last month a study conducted in rats demonstrated that matcha may prevent blood glucose and lipid accumulation. Unfortunately, matcha has yet to be studied in humans.
Wajihah Mughal, my friend and fellow doctoral student, recently wrote about the matcha tea trend on her blog Re-Spect Science. Our conversations about its promised health benefits (including the likely false claims) stirred us to take a closer look at the research. Read her post about the matcha hype, then give my recipe a shot!
Steep spearmint tea bag in hot water for 5-10 min and then let cool in fridge.
Pour cooled tea into blender and add spinach, oats, matcha, banana and ice cubes.
Blend and serve topped with cocoa powder.
spearmint tea = may decrease androgen levels and increase FSH & LH in women with PCOS (avoid consuming large amounts if you are pregnant, anemic, have a kidney disorder, or liver disease)
matcha tea = very high in catechins which are antioxidants that help remove free radicals from the body preventing disease, may prevent blood glucose and lipid accumulation, contains L-theanine which may relieve stress and improve cognitive function
There is something sweet and elegant about the combination of raspberries and chocolate. I love drinking this protein shake after hitting the gym. Although the jury is still out on whether timing protein intake around resistance training in fact leads to greater strength gains, evidence does suggest that our overall daily protein intake plays an important role in building muscle and strength (1, 2). My experience with plant-based protein powders has confirmed they aren’t the most appealing supplement (so gritty!). Over time I have mastered masking the unpleasant flavor and texture by making shakes like this one. Simply toss all the ingredients in a blender and you are done!
raspberries = low glycemic load, high in antioxidants, high in fibre, may help lower inflammation and prevent cancer
cocoa = high in antioxidants, may lower LDL cholesterol, can reduce high blood pressure, and may act as an antidepressant
plant-based protein = helps decrease high cholesterol and manage insulin resistance, helps build lean muscle mass
Saris, W. H. M., et al. “Protein Supplementation Augments the Adaptive Response of Skeletal Muscle to Resistance-Type Exercise Training: A Meta-Analysis.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 96.6 (2012): 1454-64.
Schoenfeld, Brad Jon, Alan Albert Aragon, and James W. Krieger. “The Effect of Protein Timing on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 10.1 (2013): 53-65.