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       Volume I - February 20, 2009

Steamed or Raw Vegetables?
by Patty Liston

We came across this article from Real Age and learned some things we were not aware of. We love vegetables and now know that a little steaming is actually quite good for them—and for us!

From Real Age

Recent studies have shown that steaming vegetables could actually be better for you than raw as this treatment might improve the cholesterol-lowering capabilities of some produce.

Lost in Digestion
When researchers tested the digestive effects of both raw and steamed veggies - beets, okra, carrots, eggplant, green beans, asparagus, and cauliflower - something interesting happened. It’s not clear why, but the steamed veggies did a better job of binding to bile acids. And that’s a good thing. It means more bile acids get excreted, which in turn means the liver needs more bad LDL cholesterol to make bile - which means there’s less LDL circulating in your body.

Veggie Contingency Plan
Raw or steamed, your goal is to eat at least five servings of vegetables every day. But if you don’t always hit that goal, here are some ways to make sure that every bite of vegetables is working hard for you.

A bit of unsaturated fat can help your body better absorb the fat-soluble nutrients in your vegetables. Here are three different looks to try:

1. Skip the fat-free ranch dressing. Instead, toss your greens with an olive-oil-based dressing like balsamic vinaigrette.
2. Make your fat crunchy. Season peppers, corn, carrots, or squash with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and then top with slivered almonds or toasted sesame seeds.
3. Go Thai. Create the Spicy Peanut Sauce that follows this article, for dipping lightly steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

In a recent study, people who tossed their salads with a dressing that had some fat in it absorbed more carotenoids from the vegetables than the people who used a nonfat dressing.

Carotenoids are potent antioxidants found in brightly hued produce - think red, orange, and yellow. But the small intestine needs a little fat to absorb these power nutrients. So do several other fat-soluble vitamins, including:

Vitamin E (found in spinach and broccoli)

Vitamin K (found in cabbage, cauliflower, and turnip greens)

Vitamin D (found in some fish and in fortified dairy)

Remember, just a little will do—think teaspoons rather than large tablespoons. For instance, a little dribble of olive oil on a sliced tomato or a smattering of chopped walnuts on your spinach salad. Or a bit of Thai peanut sauce on your steamed broccoli. Check out this spicy peanut sauce recipe below.

Spicy Peanut Sauce

2 tablespoons smooth natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons "lite" coconut milk
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste

Whisk together peanut butter, coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, and crushed red pepper in a small bowl until smooth.

  Download this recipe.

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