Very traditional practices Costa Ricans use in the kitchen to make their typical food may be losing valuable nutrients.
For example celery leaves typical get tossed and they utilize only the stem, when the leaves are the more antioxidant. The same happens with beet leaves or pumpkin seeds.
Also, Costa Ricans consume less natural condiments with high levels of antioxidants (such as sweet pepper or coriander) to make way for condiments processed without nutrients and in fact have loads of MSG like Maggi products.
This comes after nine years of research in the Institute for Research and Education on Nutrition and Health (incenses) and the Faculty of Public Health Harvard University in USA. UU.
Rafael Monge, the incenses, and Hannia Campos, Costa Rican researcher at Harvard, were given the task of creating a composition table of antioxidants in Costa Rican food.
“We wanted to see how are the Ticos food antioxidants and how they form part of our nutrition and health. It is not the same as compared to other countries tables. Here we have own crops like peach, ripe plantain or banana, not in other tables, ” said Monge.
“Moreover, the quality of the soil, the temperature and the amount of light that reaches the crop alters its composition and nutrients,” he added.
After the analysis, peppers, celery, cilantro, spinach, carrot, tomato, mustard and soy oil were with the most antioxidants recorded.
How did they do it? Experts traveled to different markets and supermarkets in the Central Valley and collected one to three kilos of each food.
“Based on surveys, we saw what were the types of foods consumed in Costa Rica, and those were the ones selected,” said Campos.
They searched, nine families of two antioxidants: carotenoids (six types) and tocopherols (three types). According to the researchers, these antioxidants have anti-cancer properties and protection from diseases like hypertension, diabetes and stroke, and prevent evil in the sight.
We studied carotenoids lycopene, lutein, cezantina, criptoxatina, alpha and beta, and tocopherols: alpha tocopherol and gamatocoferol betatocoferol.
For nutritionist Nancy Murillo, who was not involved in the study, these antioxidants are vital to the health of the person.
“Antioxidants help us counteract the ‘oxidation’ of the body. This is part of the deterioration of the body through the process of aging or unhealthy practices such as smoking. Antioxidants help slow the deterioration of these cells, “said Murillo.
Subsequently, the products were prepared in the way we normally eat in Costa Rica, raw, cooked in sauce or some kind of preserves.
Then the samples were studied, and sent to Harvard for analysis of antioxidants.
“So we determined the amount of each antioxidant each food and create the table,” said Monge.
This information will help create policies to encourage consumption of these foods.