Today we have a guest post by qualified Naturopath, Natalia Vandermeulen. Natalia practices Naturopathy in North Perth, and has shared with us a nutritional perspective on some of the ingredients used in Coastal Crunch Granola and why they're so important for the body. Read on to discover the benefits:
To get the most out of your breakfast and your day, your morning meal needs to be filling and nutrient dense (also delicious). It should keep you feeling satisfied for the next 2-3 hours.
Lupin is the king ingredient here - which is just super, because it contains a high proportion of protein. This matters because protein is what keeps us satiated, and prevents blood sugars levels from spiking and/or bottoming out. It actually maintains stable blood sugar levels, and therefore maintains a stable supply of energy too. Lupin is a legume, and therefore a cousin of the peanut. Lupin is filling and tasty, and should keep you from craving that sweet snack shortly after breakfast is over.
Quinoa flakes are obtained by compressing raw quinoa (which is classified as a seed), which means they both contain the same goodies. When we talk about protein, we’re really talking about a combination of amino acids. Every protein source is made up of a combination of amino acids, but the body needs all of them to function. Some foods are particularly special because they are what we call ‘complete proteins’- they contain every different amino acids, and quinoa is one of these. This little seed not only adds to your protein intake, but provides every amino acid the body needs before mid morning!
Buckwheat has been around forever, but only more recently has become popular in its raw, unprocessed form as an addition to breakfast cereals. Buckwheat is another lovely source of protein, and also contains a decent dose of a range of B vitamins - particularly B2, B3 and B6. B vitamins play a role in mood regulation, neurotransmitter production and stamina (to name a few). Buckwheat is also a complete protein!
Coastal Crunch contains a range of seeds – pepitas, sunflower, chia, linseeds, poppy and sesame. This is a lovely serving of fibre to start the day on, playing a role in healthy digestive function by and maintaining a diverse gut environment. Most exciting though is that our gut bacteria ferment fibre in the colon to create short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which go on to assist in a long list of roles such as blood glucose stability, modulating cholesterol levels in the blood, and increasing energy supply.
Pepitas (otherwise known as pumpkin seeds) are a brilliant source of zinc. Australian soils are naturally very low in zinc, however it is a hugely important nutrient for every cell of the body. To give some examples, zinc is involved in ensuring optimum thyroid function (and the thyroid is involved in almost every function of the body), maintaining reproductive health, and keeping the immune system on its toes. This nutrient is easily depleted due to high demand, and it is found highest in foods that people don’t often eat. Pumpkin seeds are one of the most effective ways to increase zinc in your diet short of taking a supplement.
Chia seeds contain omega 3’s, which are ‘essential fatty acids’ – in other words, the body needs them but cannot make them itself. Omega 3 has many jobs in the body, from making supple, nourished skin, right down to the level of gene expression and cell signaling. It’s also a very gentle fibre for the digestive tract. Keep in mind that chia absorbs liquid and swells, so it’s best to let your breakfast absorb some of the liquid in the bowl before you eat it (as opposed to the chia absorbing it from your body instead).
The best kept secret - sesame seeds can rival milk for the calcium content! And we all know that strong bones and teeth require calcium. It’s also essential to allow our muscles to contract smoothly and painlessly, and hence has a role to play in treating menstrual cramps in women. It even influences the beating of our heart, since our heart is a muscle too.
Research over the last couple of years has shown us how harmful sugar is to the body, which has led to a much greater awareness about where our sugar comes from and how much of it we are consuming. Although still a sugar, coconut sugar is obtained from pure coconut nectar, and contains an impressive amount of nutrients (zinc, iron, potassium). It also contains a prebiotic fibre called inulin. Inulin is not digested in the small intestines unlike most other foods, hence it begins to ferment early on in the digestive process. This fermentation provides a source of food for some of our resident bacteria – a strain known as Bifidobacterium bacteria. In feeding this bacteria, inulin aids the proliferation of beneficial gut flora.
Matcha powder is a potent antioxidant, but additionally contains an amino acid called L-Theanine. At our clinic we prescribe L-Theanine as an acute remedy for anxiety and stress - therefore as you can probably imagine, green tea and green tea powder (matcha) elicit a similar effect.
Cinnamon has always been touted as having blood sugar regulating action, and research is now proving that this is true. It also contains a high essential oil content, giving cinnamon antibacterial qualities too.
Cacao nibs are the dried and fermented parts of the raw cacao bean. This is chocolate in one of its most unadulterated forms – and at breakfast! Cacao nibs have been such a hit because they are very rich in magnesium, antioxidants, and rate highly as a source of flavonoids. Flavonoids play a role in regulating cholesterol, supporting nervous system function and increasing blood supply around the body.
Almonds are a source of what are commonly known as ‘healthy fats’ – fats which are necessarily for making hormones and repairing cell walls, as opposed to fats which actually cause harm to the body’s functioning. The combination of fat and protein contained in almonds also contributes to satiety, ensuring that the body has the nutrients it needs for the next few hours. Almonds boost the fibre content of this breakfast by their presence, and contain vitamin E – used to protect our cells from oxidative damage.
Natalia van der Meulen practices at Perth Naturopathic & Herbal Clinic. For information and bookings, contact the clinic on (08) 9228 1833, or visit their website at www.pnhc.com.au.