Nutrition Week 3 Little Known Nutrients

Believe it or not dietitians do not have a food encyclopedia in their head ( at least this dietitian doesn’t) but we do probably know a bit more than the average Joe about the incredible benefits of eating well.   Nutrition Month often gives  me the opportunity to look up nutritional facts and functions that I haven’t had to think about in a few years.

For instance the nutritional  function of copper, which is found in good amounts in this week’s fruit opportunity, mangoes. Mangoes are a terrific source of the usual nutritional stars, like Vitamin C and A but mangoes also provide a good amount of vitamin B6 and copper. The nutritional value of  vitamin B6 and copper is not so well known or do I dare say, appreciated.

We don’t need a lot of copper, so it is described as a trace mineral in nutrition circles, but the little we do need provides us a lot of service. Copper is an important part of the process that produces hemoglobin, the substance in blood that carries oxygen to all your vital parts. Copper acts as anti-oxidant as well, ridding you of those nasty free radicals that cause celluar damage and copper plays an essential role in maintaining a healthy immune system,  sound nerves and blood vessels.

B6 is also known as pyridoxine and like copper is involved in the formation of hemoglobin and plays a role in the production of neurotranmistters which go on to influence hormones like serotonin that is important in regulating moods and sleep.

All this should make mangoes an easy pick for nutrition-wise eaters this week.

Now the real vegetable  opportunity this week is BEETS!

If you are Australian or from the UK or just about anywhere but the U.S., you have probably been eating beets all your life and won’t find having beet salad or beet slices on your burger a challenge this week. This is one vegetable that most Americans rarely think about adding to the meal. I am not sure why this is so ( that is a blog for another day…).

But they should think about beets because while beets are not green and leafy they do offer a considerable amount of nutritional benefit. Another low GL food, beets offer a good amount of fiber to your day as well as iron, which is not often found in vegetables. Beets also have plant sterols, these organic substances are thought to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in blood.
Along with potassium and magnesium , great for controlling blood pressure, beets are a rich source of manganese, another trace mineral that is essential to the smooth operation of many body processes and systems. Manganese helps the body form connective tissue ( think cartilage and ligaments) sex hormones  and synovial fluid in the joints, something you definitely need as you age. Along with many other benefits, manganese will aid blood clotting and is necessary for the absorption of calcium,helping to keep those bones strong. The best way to get manganese is through your food, and this week that includes BEETS!

Live Well, Eat Well, Have Fun!