So I was listening to NPR on the way home from the grocery store yesterday (okay, yeah, I listen to NPR), when an interview came on that got my attention. Specifically, Dave Davies of Fresh Air was talking with Jo Robinson, a health writer who recently published a book called Eating on the Wild Side.
Well, I’d never heard of the book, but they started talking vegetables right out of the gate, so immediately I was intrigued. From what I could gather, the book’s premise is that the wild fruits and vegetables that we ate in prehistoric times were far healthier than those we buy in the grocery store today.
Having just dropped a chunk of change at Whole Foods, that also got my attention.
Early on in the interview, Robinson stated that dandelion greens, the things that my parents had me painstakingly rip out of the lawn by hand as a kid (not that I’m bitter…), have, and I quote,
“…twice as much calcium, and three times as much vitamin A, five times more vitamins K and E, and eight times more antioxidants [than spinach].”
My weeds are healthier than spinach? Why did I not know this?
But wait, there’s more..
Rip it up, quadruple up
Later in the interview, she also shared the following tidbit:
“If you take your lettuce right from the store and rinse it and dry it and then, if you rip it into bite-sized pieces before you store it, you’re going to increase the antioxidant activity … fourfold. The next time you eat it, it’s going to have four times as many antioxidants.”
So by doing what I should be doing anyway—washing and prepping my lettuce in advance—I’m actually quadrupling the antioxidants in my greens. Win!
By what voodoo magic does this happen? Apparently the lettuce, which is still alive (a bit macabre, no?), thinks that it’s under attack when you tear it up. Which, I suppose, it is. As a result, the beleaguered leaves churn out antioxidant compounds designed to protect the plant—compounds that, perversely enough, our bodies love.
Needless to say, I’ll be tearing up my lettuce in advance from now on.
I’ll also be reading Eating on the Wild Side and reporting back soon!