Old Fashioned Super Foods

Recently I became a grandmother. The event made me reflect on my first pregnancy, which is now the reason for giving birth to this post.

I was with an obstetrician who only wanted me to gain twenty pounds during the entire pregnancy. When I arrived at this number after only three months, she ordered me on a strict diet.

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I owned a health food store at the time and, of course, I was “into” the health movement of organic and wholesome. Instead of following her rules, I changed to another doctor who asked me for a list of the foods I ate. When he saw how I supplemented my meals, he said to come back when the baby was due and not to worry about weight.

My supplements were brewer’s yeast, blackstrap molasses, lecithin and wheat germ. No prenatal vitamins in capsules, which were unheard of thirty-seven years ago. Only two  companies manufactured vitamins at that time.

My pregnancy was uneventful. I had loads of energy and worked until the baby announced itself. I was back at work a short time later only going home to nurse. I nursed for two years and working full-time thanks to my supplements of brewer’s yeast, blackstrap molasses, lecithin and wheat germ. Being in the business of health and nutrition was an advantage because there was so much I could learn.

Based on my experience and what I have learned, I will introduce the super foods to you or refresh your memory should you know of their value but have forgotten. Their nutritional benefits are worth playing back.

Nowadays, with so many vitamin brands and sometimes low quality products to choose from, it is better to use true and tried alternatives instead. The body recognizes those as natural to its needs, but it does not see encapsulated vitamins that way.

Nutritional Yeast/Brewer’s Yeast

Brewer’s yeast is a byproduct of brewing beer and wine making. It tastes bitter. Nutritional yeast is denatured, which means the bitterness was removed. It is grown on molasses or beets. It can grow on other mediums, but the yeast grown on the former are preferable. Brewer’s and nutritional yeasts are the same strain of yeast; sacharomyces cerevisiae.

Their nutritional profile is quite similar. The only difference is that brewer’s yeast contains more chromium. Both have all essential amino acids, B complex and minerals. Neither has B12 naturally. This is added to yeast. Yeasts are low in sodium, fat and have no sugar. Both yeasts are  high in fiber, potassium and selenium. Although high in phosphorus, which conflicts with a lack of calcium, manufacturers now add calcium to the yeast. Too much phosphorus without calcium causes an imbalance and is detrimental to bone health. Check labels.

Nutritional yeast tastes nutty or a little like cheese. It is perfect for popcorn, soups, sauces, baking, scrambled eggs or sprinkled on top of vegetables with flax seed oil.

Both, a few tablespoons of Brewer’s and nutritional yeasts, provide a day’s worth of vitamins. Pregnant and nursing mothers can take them to supplement their nutrition. It is less expensive than vitamins and better absorbed. It is an important protein source for vegetarians.

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses is the last extraction from sugar cane. All sugar is removed and the residues are minerals inherent to sugar cane. Refining sugar cane into the white sugar makes a nutritious plant into a nutritional desert, bare and without value.

At least left-over blackstrap molasses provides a huge benefit. It is a black, thick, syrup-like substance but not sweet since there is no sugar left.

It contains calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, potassium and selenium as well as vitamin B6.

Blackstrap molasses is an amazing, non-constipating blood builder. For anemia, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar added to two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses mixed into a little water guarantees absorption of this natural iron supplement.

Magnesium and potassium are good for the heart. Manganese ions function with enzymes for cellular absorption of nutrients. These minerals are also good for the nervous system, bones, hair, skin and nails.

Blackstrap molasses can be used in baking, to make a hot drink or added to chocolate milk, or used as tonic by just taking a spoonful every day.

Wheat Germ/Wheat Germ Oil

Wheat germ and wheat germ oil are priced as super foods. Wheat germ oil contains both, Omega 3 and Omega 6. It is unrefined and should not be used in cooking, but taken by teaspoon is a wonderful nutrient as well as a tasty addition to salad dressings or drizzled on food.

Wheat germ is high in folic acid, vitamin E, B complex, vitamin A, chromium and manganese. It also contains calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc as well as phytonutrients.

Wheat germ flakes can be used in baking, but some of the value is lost through heat. It is better to add to breakfast cereal after cooking.

Wheat germ needs to be stored in the freezer since it turns rancid quickly. Buy it vacuum-sealed.

Lecithin

Lecithin is derived from soy, eggs and sunflower seeds. It contains choline, an essential vitamin, which is a precursor to acetylcholine, instrumental in transmitting nerve impulses. Lecithin, as phospholipid, is important for all cell functions. It is beneficial for the liver, lowers high cholesterol since it is an emulsifier and is considered a brain food as it increases cognitive function. Lecithin is recommended for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It is an important nutrient for healthy myelin sheaths that insulate the axon part of a neuron.

To add to the diet, put into smoothies, oatmeal, soups or sprinkle on salads. At least two to four tablespoons a day are recommended. I spiked home made ice cream with lecithin; my children never knew the difference.

It is much better to give the body real food and not some concentrated powder mixed with binders and fillers in a capsule. This does not imply that supplements should be entirely avoided. When necessary to target a health issue, one has to resort to a concentrated form of the healing substance and for that there are many excellent products  from reputable companies available.