Tag Archives: Oats

4-ingredient brownies

In an earlier post, I wrote about how easy it is to make 2-ingredient, nutrient-rich chocolate (https://michaellustgarten.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/homemade-chocolate-in-2-minutes/).

Occasionally (~1x/week), I modify that recipe to make 4-ingredient brownies! The recipe includes 40g of raw, organic cacao beans, 20g oats, 70g Medjool dates, and 1 large egg.

First, I grind/blend the cacao beans and oats into a pine powder. Then, I add the dates and powder into the food processor to mix them. I put this mixture into a small bowl, where I add the egg and thoroughly mix it all together. Last, I put this into the oven at 325F for 35 minutes. After it’s cooked, I wait 15 minutes for it to cool down, then I eat it. It’s soft, and delicious!

brownie

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In search of optimal nutrient density: veggies or whole grains?

In previous articles I’ve written about the heath benefits of eating whole grains, which have been shown in large epidemiological studies to be associated with reduced all-cause mortality risk. Based on this data, the USDA’s MyPlate recommends a minimum of 3.5 oz, up to 7 oz. of whole grains on a 2200 calorie diet. 3.5 servings of barley yields 350 calories, whereas 7 oz. yields 700. In terms of percentage of total calories, MyPlate recommends that 16-32% of daily calories should come from whole grains.

In terms of vegetables, MyPlate’s recommendations are shown below. They recommend 3 servings of vegetables per day, with these amounts varied between green vegetables (and other vegetables), red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and starchy vegetables. For ease of calculation I grouped ‘other vegetables’ with green vegetables. Based on the recommended weekly servings for each group and representative foods, I calculated weekly calorie amounts for each group. Average veggie calories per day = 187. Divided by 2200 calories, that equals 8.5% of total calories.

myplate

So clearly MyPlate wants us to eat between 2-4 fold more whole grains than veggies, in terms of total daily calories, but why is that? In a meta-analysis of 7 studies including 660,186 subjects, increased vegetable consumption is also associated with reduced mortality risk, as shown below:

veg mortality

Maybe whole grains are superior to veggies in terms of nutrient density? To see if that’s true, in the Table below I compared the nutrient composition of broccoli, spinach and romaine lettuce against barley (the king of grains for fiber), whole wheat spaghetti and oats. How do they compare in terms of macronutrients, when each has 100 calories? First, it should be obvious that to get 100 calories of veggies (see the serving column), you will eat significantly more food. To most, this will seem like a bad thing. But more chewing for the same amount of calories may end up in eating less, an important fact because of the worldwide explosion in obesity rates. Second, each of these veggies have 2-3 fold more protein and 3-4 fold more fiber than than whole grains. So far, veggies are far superior to whole grains.

vegc1

What about vitamin content? As shown below, veggies crush whole grains for vitamin content. Whole grains are not better than veggies in terms of vitamin content for any category.

vegc vitamins

Maybe mineral content is better in whole grains? As shown below, they’re not. Veggies are much better in 9/10 mineral categories, with whole grains having marginally more selenium than veggies.

vegc miner

Based on these data, I have now dramatically increased my daily vegetable intake, while reducing my whole grain intake. Shown below is a snapshot of today’s veggie (and some other foods, too) intake, and it’s also important to mention that this amount is now representative of my daily vegetable intake. I haven’t eliminated whole grains, only minimized them.

veggies cal

My total veggie intake between carrots, beets, green peas, corn, asparagus and 1 pickle spear is 50.6 oz, or 1416 grams. Considering that 1 serving of vegetables = 80g, I ate 17.7 servings of veggies today. That amount is almost equal to what MyPlate recommends to eat in 1 week!

If you’re interested, please have a look at my book!

References:

Nutrition data from ndb.nal.usda.gov

Wang X, Ouyang Y, Liu J, Zhu M, Zhao G, Bao W, Hu FB. Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causescardiovascular disease, and cancersystematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studiesBMJ. 2014 Jul 29;349:g4490.

Wild Rice: The protein-rich grain that almost nobody knows about!

In an earlier article I wrote about which grain is the best source for total protein, essential amino acids, branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine; BCAA) and arginine, from a list of grains that included oats, quinoa, corn, brown rice, potato, barley and millet (https://michaellustgarten.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/which-grain-is-the-best-source-for-protein-essential-amino-acids-bcaa-and-arginine).

However, I have recently discovered that wild rice is also a high-protein containing grain, comparable to that of oats and better than quinoa. In this article I will compare total protein, essential amino acids, BCAA, arginine and glutathione precursor amino acid (glutamate, cysteine, glycine) content of wild rice to that of oats, quinoa and corn.

How does wild rice compare with oats, quinoa and corn in terms of total protein content (in grams, g) per 100 calories? First, it is important to mention that the serving size needed to yield 100 calories is shown in all tables: oats, 25.7g; wild rice, 28g; quinoa, 27.2g; corn, 116g. As shown in Table 1 below, oats are best, with 4.34g of protein per 100 calories. Although oats have more protein than wild rice, wild rice has more protein than both quinoa and corn (4.1g, wild rice; 3.84g, quinoa; corn, 3.79g)!

Table 1.

t1

How do these grains rank in terms of total essential amino acid (EAA) content? As shown in Table 2, oats are best, with 1.551g of EAA per 100 calories. Second, and better than quinoa once again is wild rice, with 1.488g of EAA.

Table 2.

t2

What about BCAA content, which is well known to stimulate protein synthesis (Blomstrand 2006)? As shown in Table 3, amazingly, corn contains more BCAA’s than any of the other grains, with 769 mg. Second are oats, with 749 mg, then wild rice at 698 mg, and finally, quinoa, with 527 mg. Once again, wild rice beats quinoa!

Table 3.

t4

What about arginine content? Arginine is the precursor for the production of nitric oxide, which has been claimed to promote vasodilation in active muscle during exercise, thereby improving strength, power and recovery (Alvares et al. 2011). In terms of arginine content, wild rice is best, with 318 mg per 100 calories. Second are oats, with 306 mg. Third is quinoa with 297 mg, followed by corn, with 152 mg. Once again, a solid showing by wild rice!

What about amino acid content for glutamate, cysteine and glycine, the precursor amino acids for the formation of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH)? GSH is the most abundant antioxidant in our cells, and therefore, supplying its precursor amino acids will yield maximal GSH production (Sekhar et al. 2011). In Table 4 we see that oats contain the most combined glutamate, cysteine and glycine, with 1275 mg per 100 calories. But, once again beating quinoa is wild rice, with 955 mg. Corn (915 mg) and quinoa (751 mg) bring up the back of the list.

Table 4.

t5

In sum, quinoa is well-popularized to be a protein-rich grain. However, in a previous analysis, oats were found to be better than quinoa in terms of total protein, EAA and BCAA content, and, arginine. Results from this analysis show that wild rice is also better than quinoa in each of these categories, and, has a higher amount of precursor amino acids needed for GSH synthesis.

So, go get some wild rice!

If you’re interested, please have a look at my book!

References
Álvares TS, Meirelles CM, Bhambhani YN, Paschoalin VM, Gomes PS. L-Arginine as a potential ergogenic aid in healthy subjects. Sports Med. 2011 Mar 1;41(3):233-48.

Blomstrand E, Eliasson J, Karlsson HK, Köhnke R. Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):269S-73S.

Nutritional data provided by http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/

Sekhar RV, Patel SG, Guthikonda AP, Reid M, Balasubramanyam A, Taffet GE, Jahoor F. Deficient synthesis of glutathione underlies oxidative stress in aging and can be corrected by dietary cysteine and glycine supplementation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Sep;94(3):847-53.

Which grain is the best source for protein, essential amino acids, BCAA and arginine?

Listed below are total protein, essential amino acids, branched chain amino acids, and arginine content for quinoa, oats, corn, millet, barley, brown rice and potato. The values provided are for 100 calories, for each respective grain.

Let’s ask some questions:

1. Is there a difference in protein content among these 7 grains?

Yes, there is a difference. Per 100 calories, oats are king, containing more than 2x the amount of protein in barley, the lowest ranking grain on this list. In fact, oats, quinoa and corn each have approximately 2x more total protein than each of the lowest ranking grains, potato, brown rice and barley. Millet is intermediate, at 2.95 grams of protein per 100 calories.

Table 1 Grains

2. Can these grains be considered as “complete protein”?

A “complete protein” is defined as containing all of the 10 essential amino acids (EAA). As shown in the table below, each of the 7 grains contains all of the 10 essential amino acids. Oats contain the greatest amount of essential amino acids (Total EAA), followed by corn and quinoa.

Table 2 Grains

3. Which grain contains the highest amount of branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine)?

The branched chain amino acids (BCAA) leucine, isoleucine and valine are well documented to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (Blomstrand et al. 2006). Oats, corn and millet contain the highest amounts of total BCAA, followed by quinoa, brown rice, potato and barley.

Table 3 Grains

4. Which grain is highest in arginine?

Arginine is the required precursor for the production of nitric oxide (NO), which has been claimed to promote vasodilation in active muscle during exercise, thereby improving strength, power and recovery (Alvares et al. 2011). As shown in the table below, once again, oats contain the highest amount of arginine, followed by quinoa and brown rice.

Table 4 Grains

Conclusions:

1) Oats contain the highest amount of total protein, relative to the other grains on this list.

2) All of the 7 grains on this list contain milligram amount of all of the 10 essential amino acids, making each of them a complete protein. Oats contain the highest total amount of essential amino acids, relative to the other grains on this list.

3) Oats also contain the highest amount of branched chain amino acids and arginine, when compared with all the other grains on this list.

If you’re interested, please have a look at my book!

References:

Álvares TS, Meirelles CM, Bhambhani YN, Paschoalin VM, Gomes PS. L-Arginine as a potential ergogenic aid in healthy subjects. Sports Med. 2011 Mar 1;41(3):233-48.

Blomstrand E, Eliasson J, Karlsson HK,Köhnke R. Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):269S-73S.

Nutritional data provided by http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/