Moringa over matcha for muscles
Matcha is a popular form of powdered green tea that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. People consume matcha for its delicious flavor and its potential to prevent many diseases and support cognitive health.
But there’s a new leaf giving matcha a run for its money that isn’t so new to India and Africa—moringa. This plant has been used in traditional medicine, and while pharmacological studies on humans are lacking, it has promising benefits for us and the planet.
The seeds of this plant are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as proteins high in amino acids. These nutrients are essential for making proteins and building muscle.
Plus, moringa trees grow rapidly in subtropical and tropical areas, even during prolonged drought, making them another great eco-friendly option.
So, how do you use this plant? One of the most common forms is powdered, just like matcha!
Barley for sustainable milk
Soy, almond, pea, oat … you’ll find these plant-based alternatives to dairy milk pretty much everywhere. But there’s a new player—barley milk.
Barley is an excellent source of dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and phenolic and phytic acids. (Those last two help with iron absorption.) It’s also a whole grain, though not gluten-free.
When comparing water usage for crops, almonds need 1,900 gallons per one pound of nuts. An entire field of barley, on the other hand, needs only 171 gallons per pound.
Plus, some barley milk companies are getting deep into sustainability and using alcohol company’s byproducts in their milk! Starch from barley grains goes into the beer in the brewing process, but leftover fiber and protein are highly perishable. Most breweries are left with no use for these parts of the grain—until now.
The next time you’re browsing the milk section, try something new. Ditch the almond milk and branch out into barley!
Fungi for your thoughts
Medicinal mushrooms have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, with reports of their benefits stretching back for centuries. More recently, scientific reports have shown promising benefits for the brain.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted in Japan showed consumption of the mushroom known as lion’s mane (pictured) for 12 weeks improved cognitive function and helped prevent deterioration—meaning it might eventually prove to be a safe and convenient method for preventing dementia and cognitive decline. This could be due to the shaggy mushroom’s ability to stimulate the production of a substance called “nerve growth factor,” which supports brain cell health.
Psilocybin mushrooms (more commonly known as “magic mushrooms”) have recently been studied for their effectiveness in treating depression. In one small study of people with major depressive disorder, a treatment of two doses of psilocybin along with psychotherapy appeared to reduce depressive symptoms, with the beneficial effects being felt for four weeks afterwards.
Watermelon seeds for a healthy snack
When it comes to roasting your own seeds, many people think pumpkins and fall—but how about jazzing up your seed game all summer long with something different?
Watermelon seeds may soon rival trusty pumpkin seeds as your favorite crunchy (and nutritious) topping. Watermelon seeds are now widely available by the bag in health food stores. Alternatively, you can dry and roast them yourself next time you have a watermelon. All the seeds need post-roasting is a light seasoning. Try olive oil, chili, and black pepper … or coconut oil with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Perfect scattered over salads, soups, or even breakfast bowls, roasted watermelon seeds are also ideal as a grab-and-go snack.
Watermelon seeds are a good source of magnesium, iron, healthy fatty acids, and zinc, which contribute to the normal functioning of the digestive and nervous systems, immunity, and heart health. A handful of the little guys contains just 23 calories!