It’s responsible for our every little movement and it’s all thanks to a particular organelle within our cells.
Have you ever heard of the little energy powerhouses in our cells called the mitochondria? These guys are responsible for over 95% of the energy produced in the body – from your fingers typing away on a computer to a 100-meter sprint, our mitochondria is the little train who could.
The cell is an amazing living and breathing organism that works full-time, around the clock, ensuring all systems are running smoothly in our bodies. They’re our biggest fans and hardest workers. Within each cell, floating around with all the other organelles, are our mitochondria – over 300 actually! In fact, in highly active cells (heart, brain, liver, etc) we can find hundreds of thousands of mitochondrion! The more important the cell type – the more energy it needs!
So what is a mitochondria and what does it do? Mitochondria are our energy powerhouses. They produce a molecule called ‘ATP’ (adenosine triphosphate), which is a fancy word for energy. From doing a set of pushup’s to running to pop the toast out of the toaster, ATP is what’s getting you there.
The body creates energy by using glucose molecules. What is glucose? It’s sugar! Through a string of chemical reactions, the body uses enzymes to covert sugar into different molecules at different stages to produce ATP. Have you ever seen supplements labeled as energy enhancers, or heard that B-vitamins will do the trick? Ever wondered why?
B-vitamins including B1, B2, B3, and B5 all serve as precursors to cofactors needed in energy production. In other words, B vitamins are used in the mitochondria to produce energy!
These reactions are all happening at a blink of an eye – literally! Again, every little movement we make is because of this speedy process in the body. So, in order to keep our energy up, we want to properly nourish our mitochondria. Energy starts with what you put on your fork.
Top 5 Plant-Based Foods For Energy !
Sunflowers are indigenous to North and South America and have been cultivated by Native Americans for nearly 5000 years. The seeds from this cheerful flower are rich in nutrients including vitamin B1, B5 and B6, magnesium and selenium. The Standard American diet (SAD), is often deficient in these main nutrients found in sunflower seeds. In just 1/3 cup, sunflowers seed deliver over 11 grams of protein!
Try out my Homemade Sunflower Butter that takes 20 minutes to make and is jam-packed with nutrients.
Close cousins to the peach and apricot tree, almonds, too, have an outer flesh layer and inner pit. Once the fleshy layer toughens with age, the hull is formed. When cracked open, this oval-shaped sweet nut awaits. Almonds are an amazing source of heart-healthy fats, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamin B2. A small handful offers 9 grams of protein and 24 grams of fat. Don’t be scared by the fat content though! Almonds contain monounsaturated fats, which the body easily burns for energy!
Try out my Za’atar-Spiced Almond Crackers that are made using leftover almond milk pulp! No dehydrator is needed! Just a good old-fashion oven. 🙂
This popular grain comes in all shapes and sizes, colours and flavour profiles. From short and sticky to long and light, rice has been a staple ingredient in Asian cultures since 7000 B.C.E.. Just like other grains, it’s healthier to chose the unprocessed brown rice. White rice has been stripped and polished and (by removing the bran and germ) is robbed of it’s natural nutrients. Rice in general is rich in all the B vitamins (B1, 2, 3 and 6), as well as manganese, iron, selenium and trace minerals. Rice is packed with fibre helping to keep a healthy digestive tract. When paired with legumes or other grains, rice becomes a complete protein making it a favourable vegetarian protein source.
Want to spice up your weekly dinner options? Try out my Twisted Thai Peanut Curry Bowl made with fresh veggies and whole-grain brown rice.
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, is a staple food in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. And for good reason! This versatile little bean come in different colours (beige, black, red, etc.) and can be transformed into many dishes. From hummus and falafel to curries and soups, chickpeas are a vegetarians best friend. They are an excellent source of molybdenum, a trace mineral needed to detoxify sulfites from the body. Sulfites are found in wine, processed meats and packaged dried fruit. Chickpeas also contain folic acid, B-vitamins, copper and iron.
Warm up to a bowl of this Curried Red Lentil & Potato Soup with Roasted Chickpeas.
Oats are a popular grain in the vegetarian world and rightfully so! When hulled and not processed, it allows them to maintain their nutrient profile, fibre and protein content. Oats can come in different forms – oat groats, steel-cut oats, old-fashioned oats, quick-cooking oats, oat bran and oat flour. It’s no surprised that the less processed the oat is, the more nutritious it remains. Therefore, choosing steel-cut oats or old-fashioned (rolled) oats is an excellent choice. Oats are rich in B-vitamins, manganese, selenium and phosphorous. They’re low on the glycemic index, which means it’s a slow-releasing glucose and won’t spike your blood sugar levels. Gradually, glucose is released into the bloodstream and readily used for energy.
Start your mornings off with this Pumpkin & Maple-Spiced Granola that’ll keep you satiated until lunch.