Despite being a scourge of your adventures as a child the stinging nettle is misunderstood. Full of healthful nutrients, this mainstay of the UK countryside has been credited with reducing blood pressure and inflammation, boosting testosterone and, in a recent study, blocking fat.
Researchers at the University of Maryland found that mice fed on a high-fat diet for 12 weeks gained less weight if they consumed nettle extract as well. They discovered that eating nettles activates a hormone in cells known as FIAF (short for fasting induced adipose factor, in case you were wondering), which not only accelerates the conversion of fats into energy, but seems to protect your vital organs from absorbing too many fatty acids. The amount of nettle extract needed to achieve these beneficial effects would equate to around 100g a day in humans – conveniently, about as much as you’d get in a bowl of nettle soup.
To make a batch, wear gloves and a long-sleeved top and collect 400g of nettle leaves (about as many as you’d fit in a supermarket salad-bag) from a spot away from the roadside or other polluted areas. Wash them thoroughly before adding to your soup stock, boiling away the plant’s stinging hairs; the leaves will wilt just like spinach, which they taste similar to as well. Alternatively, you can put the whole plant through a juicer and add an antioxidant-packed shot to your morning smoothie. Either way, you’ll move the needle on your weight loss progress.
More Seasonal Foods With Health Benefits
A few timely additions to your menu this month will afford you a harvest of new health benefits
Oyster Mushrooms: Add to soups or stir fries, lower cholesterol
Damsons: Great for jams, aids digestion
Mussels: Steam in seawater for 2-3 minutes, improve brain function
Hazelnuts: Crush and sprinkle on ice cream, high in protein
Dandelions: Use roots for coffee, full of antioxidants
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