polyphenol bomb – halloumi & pomegranate salad

Polyphenols are abundant micronutrients in our diet, and studies show that they have an impact in prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases is emerging. Polyphenols act as antioxidants, decreasing oxidation in the body and protecting cells from free radical damage. But their health effects depend on the amount consumed and on their bioavailability. Several thousand molecules having a polyphenol structure have been identified in higher plants (means all the plants that can be “planted”), and several hundred are found in edible plants (some of them are: flavonols, flavones, isoflavones, flavanones, anthocyanidins, and flavanols). This subject is very wide and complicated, and scientists still have not found complete knowledge about them.

What’s important, although polyphenols that are the most common in the human diet are not necessarily the most active within the body, either because they have a lower internal activity or because they are not fully absorbed from the intestine, highly metabolised, or rapidly eliminated. It doesn’t mean though, that we should stop consuming foods that contain these important components. According to this article published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there is couple factors we have influence on:

  • storage – may affect the content of polyphenols that are easily oxidized. Such changes may be beneficial (as is the case with black tea) or harmful (browning of fruit) to consumer acceptability. For example after six months of storage, wheat flour contained the same phenolic acids in qualitative terms, but their concentrations were 70% lower. On the other hand, cold storage did not affect the content of polyphenols in apples, pears and onions. At 25°C, storage of apple juice for nine months results in a 60% loss of quercetin and a total loss of procyanidins, despite the fact that polyphenols are more stable in fruit juices than is vitamin C
  • preparation – for example, peeling of fruit and vegetables can eliminate a significant portion of polyphenols because these substances are often present in higher concentrations in the outer parts than in the inner parts. Cooking may also have a major effect. Onions and tomatoes lose between 75% and 80% of their initial quercetin content after boiling for 15 minutes, 65% after cooking in a microwave oven, and 30% after frying
  • industrial food processing – highly processed foods contain much less polyphenols, than unprocessed ones
Conclusion?
Always the same: fresh, unprocessed foods are always more healthy and contain more nutrients than, processed, chemically preserved foods with a long shelf life.

The types of fruit and veg having the highest content of polyphenols you can see here in the table, prepared by the authors of the article published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Today I prepared for you real polyphenol bomb 🙂 Quick and easy halloumi and pomegranate salad. All you need is 4 ingredients, and 2 of them are rich in polyphenols: pomegranate and mung bean sprouts.

Pomegranate.

The antioxidant capacity of pomegranate juice was shown to be three times higher than that of red wine and green tea (122 phytochemicals found in pomegranate juice). It was also shown to have significantly higher levels of antioxidants in comparison to commonly consumed fruit juices, such as grape, cranberry, grapefruit, or orange juice. Although, 92% of the antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice and are concentrated in the peel, membranes and piths of the fruit. So in the parts of fruit that we don’t consume. Commercial pomegranate juice is made by pressing whole fruit and its peels, although anyway the content of polyphenols depends of the fruit itself, processing and storage we’ve been talking about.

Studies showed, that consumption of pomegranate juice has anti-inflammatory effects, also therapeutic effects in diabetes and atherosclerosis (cardioprotective benefits by decreasing or reversing the progression of ischemic lesion areas, as well as having a beneficial effect on intimal media thickness and systolic blood pressure).

Pomegranate is good source of folate and potassium, and very good source of vitamin K, vitamins E, B6, C and pantothenic acid.

Mung bean sprouts.

Mung beans has a long history of usage as traditional medicine in Asia. It’s a great source of protein, dietary fibre, minerals (phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron), vitamin B, and significant amounts of bioactive compounds, including polyphenols, polysaccharides, and peptides. Mung beans may be cooked, fermented, parched or sprouted. Sprouting process results in improvement in vitamin content, also eliminates anti-nutritional factors in the mung bean like phytic acid (sprouting makes phytic acid contents lowered by 76%, and bioavailability values of zinc and iron increased were 3.0 and 2.4 times higher than that of raw mung beans). Sprouting improves the amounts of polyphenols – the total contents of phenolic acids and flavonoids, in the mung bean sprouts were significantly increased, up to 4.5 and 6.8 times higher than that of raw mung bean seeds. Mung beans sprouted for 3-4 days results in higher content of ascorbic acid (from 30 to 54 mg/kg to 73 to 383 mg/kg). Also quality of proteins after 60 hours of sprouting was also improved. So they are great source of protein for all vegans, or simply for those whose economic situation does not allow to consume necessary protein from animals. What’s interesting, in many studies, the mung bean was recommended as a supplement for preparing an infant’s weaning food because of its high protein content and hypoallergic properties.

If you’re interested in this subject and you’d like to read some more about it, you can have a look on the articles I’ve linked below.

Now lets jump to the recipe.

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halloumi & pomegranate salad

INGREDIENTS for one portion:

  • handful of rocket
  • handful of pomegranate seeds
  • handful of mung beans sprouts
  • piece of halloumi cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • good pinch of lemon pepper (or coarse pepper and a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice)

DIRECTIONS

Preparations are as easy as you can imagine:

Just heat a frying pan and toast halloumi pieces couple minutes on each side, until they get crispy and golden. Take your favourite plate, grab a handful of rocket and place it in the middle. Then grab some sprouts and pomegranate seeds and toss all over. Arrange couple pieces of toasted halloumi, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with generous amount of lemon pepper. If you don’t have lemon pepper, take some coarse pepper and 1 teaspoon of lemon or lime juice.

Enjoy!

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Source of knowledge:
https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/79/5/727/4690182#109820542

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/23790554_Pomegranate_juice_A_heart-healthy_fruit_juice

https://crec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/pomegranates/health.shtml

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627095/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232167161_Nutritional_Value_of_Sprouted_Mung_Beans

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