Don’t Discount Your Micronutrients

Assorted Fruits and Vegetables Background

With all this talk about macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat), it’s easy to forget about just how important micronutrients are for our health.

Micronutrients are the nutrients your body needs, which includes all vitamins and minerals. Humans must obtain micronutrients from food, since the body can’t produce them on its own.

Micronutrients are important for all the reasons you’d expect them to be important: getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals is vital for healthy immune function and metabolism, aids in the prevention of diseases, optimizes brain health, and a host of other Very Important Reasons. HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR MICRONUTRIENTS!:

Eat locally grown fruits and vegetables. Shop at farmer’s markets when you can, buy organic, and buy seasonal fruits and vegetables during their season!

LOOK TO TRADITIONAL OR ANCESTRAL CUISINES FOR CUES. Arctic cultures eat fish liver to provide enough Vitamin D during long, cold, sunless winters. South Asian dishes make ample use of anti-inflammatory turmeric and fresh ginger. It turns out that beyond tasting delicious, traditional cuisines are also incredibly healthful.

TRY ANIMAL SOURCES, IF YOU CAN. Animals typically have more bioavailability than plant-based sources, meaning the vitamins and minerals from animal sources are readily available for us to absorb. If you are exclusively a plant-based eater, you can still get those nutrients from plants, but it takes a lot more steps to what our bodies prefer. Remember, you are also what your food eats! A cow provided a diet of corn and soy will have less nutrients that will be carried on to you when you eat beef than a cow provided a diet of grass.

Some foods are best consumed raw (like bell peppers), while some foods are best consumed lightly cooked (like tomatoes). Some foods release more of their nutrients when crushed (like garlic) or cut, while other foods’ nutrients are most available when combined with other foods (like combining spinach with lemon)! Your best bet? Vary the way you prepare your foods and what you pair them with!

Store vegetables, fruits, and herbs properly. Poor storage will degrade their nutrients.

SOME IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NONE. Don’t opt for no vegetables at all just because you’ve been told that frozen vegetables have less nutrients than fresh from the ground.

CHOOSE A VARIETY OF PLANT FOODS AND ANIMAL FOODS (and experiment with eating different parts of the animal, too!). You’ve heard it before, but “eat the rainbow” in fruits and vegetables has more benefits than making your food look more appealing to eat (which is still a neat bonus).

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