Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Strawberry spice smoothie + superfood facts

First of all, I'd like to wish all of my readers a wonderful, peaceful Holiday season! I hope you keep up the good work and choose flavorful raw desserts over the generic boxed chocolates and sugary baking. It is still good to remember that Christmas is a great opportunity to gather around the people you care about and enjoy delicious food. It is OK to indulge, but even during the Holidays moderation is the key. If you plan on eating heavier tomorrow, today may be a good idea to eat lightly: consider eating "just" smoothies, raw soups and salads. This post is not really a Xmas post, instead I chose to talk about the new up-and-coming health food bee pollen and share a recipe, which includes it.

Why is bee pollen considered a superfood?
I'm sure many of you have heard that bee products (honey, pollen, propolis) have antibiotic properties and that they are loaded with nutrients. Well, I decided to dig a little deeper before believing this and this is what I discovered:

Nutritional content:
Data: Lauks Testing Laboratories, Inc., Seattle, Washington. Tables formatted by myself.

- Pollen is the main source of protein for the bees and for many other insects living in the colonies
- Phytosterols have been reported to promote health of the male prostate and female ovaries and breasts by reducing cancer risk and slowing down the aging process. They also have clinically proven to help lower cholesterol and therefore prevent cardiovascular disease. Preventative action against lung and stomach cancer has also been observed. This is because of the inhibition of carcinogen production, cancer-cell growth, angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), invasion and metastasis, and through the promotion of apoptosis ("suicide") of cancerous cells.
- Pollen stimulates immunity and has been demonstrated to double the lifetime of test mice with lung cancer
- Bee pollen has also been demonstrated to improve liver health because it helps detoxifying the body from industrial toxins
- Bee pollen also contains flavonoids, which are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and/or antimutagenic

What happens in your body when you ingest bee pollen?
It begins to swell and the water in your body will cause it to become enzymatically active. First the external layer, the material in the walls of the pollen grain (pigment, enzymes, allergens) are leached out. Then the acidic environment in the stomach will cause the intine or the inner layer of the grain to come apart. The enzymes in the stomach start to digest pollen proteins, polymer carbohydrates and lipids. Other unbound elements such as sugars, amino acids, vitamins and fatty acids are absorbed as they are.

The pollen may directly enter the blood stream in the gastrointestinal tract (more likely for higher doses). Studies on digestibility both in vitro and in vivo (in a dish and in test mice) showed that digestion is time dependent. Substances located in the external surface as well as the inner layer are however easily reached by the enzymes and digested. No animal can enzymatically digest the sporopollenin, which is why we can only use the soluble substances and submicroscopic areas of the grain's walls as foodstuff. Though there is a need for further studies, there is also reason to believe that nutrients in bee pollen are in fact well digested and absorbed by humans.

Always consume organic pollen from a reliable source!
1) The palynological composition of bee pollen is very specific to region and the local flora surrounding the bees

2)The specific effects of pollen are influenced by various components and may have different mechanisms of action which depend on the season and the method of gathering. Ideally pollen is best when it is collected by hand, but this is not commercially attractive.

3) Scientists have succeeded in extracting chloramphenicol (CAP) from bee pollen. CAP is considered a broad-spectrum, bacteriostatic antibiotic which functions against both Gram- and Gram+ bacteria as well as other pathogenic micro-organisms. It inhibits protein synthesis, which means it makes it impossible for the bacterium to reproduce. This is not naturally present in bee pollen. Japan, EU and the US have set a zero-tolerance for CAP residues in food. It can be dangerous especially to individuals with health problems, as it can for example trigger aplastic anemia in susceptible individuals.

Note: If you are suffering from allergies, consuming bee pollen regularly may help ease symptoms of hay fever and other floral allergies in spring time. At the moment the mechanism is not fully understood nor proven beyond a doubt, but with caution and starting with small doses experimenting is relatively harmless. Start with 1/4tsp/ day or even less, gradually move up to around a 1tsp if possible.

Now for the recipe. Although I usually don't post smoothie recipes because I think everyone likes to improvise their own, I had to share this one because it was so yummy. Good way of eating pollen, maca, parsley and turmeric!

Strawberry spice smoothie
3 large glasses

2 ripe persimmons
1 banana
2 apples
1 ruby grapefruit
1 C frozen strawberries
collard greens & fresh flat-leaf parsley (use as much as you can enjoy!)
0,5tsp turmeric (or more, to taste)
3tbsp soaked chia seeds

Optional nutritional boosts:
bee pollen granules
maca powder

Peel grapefruit and banana, but leave the peel on for the persimmons and apples. Depending on your blender's processing power, you may want to chop up some of the fruit before tossing it in. Blend with water to desired consistency, add turmeric. Finally add the frozen strawberries and taste. Be creative! I also added 3 tsp bee pollen (for three adults) and 3 tsp maca. You really need to listen to your body and especially if you are new to these "superfoods", start with small amounts.

This smoothie is so delicious, it is almost like a dessert. It also reminds me of summer, probably because of the strawberries.. which was nice, considering it just snowed like 5 inches last night and it is freezing outside.

"Phytosterols Added to Foods Work to Cut Bad Cholesterol. " Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter May2009, Vol. 27 Issue 3, p8-8. ISSN: 15260143.
Woyengo, T. A.,Ramprasath, V. R. & Jones, P. J. H. "Anticancer effects of phytosterols". European Journal of Clinical Nutrition Jul2009, Vol. 63 Issue 7, p813-820.
Furusawa E, et al. Antitumor potential of pollen extract on Lewis lung carcinoma implanted intraperitoneally in syngenic mice. Phytother Res 1995;9:255-9.
Ceglecka M, et al. Effect of pollen extracts on prolonged poisoning of rats with organic solvents. Phytother Res 1991:5;245-9.
H. F. Linskens & W. Jorde. "Pollen as food and medicine—A review". Economic Botany Volume 51, Number 1 / January, 1997.
Burdock GA. Review of the biological properties of propolis and toxicity of bee propolis (propolis). Food Chem Toxicol 1998;36:347-63.
"Determination of Chloramphenicol Residues in Bee Pollen by Liquid Chromatography/TandemMass". Journal of AOAC. International Sep/Oct 2008, Vol. 91 Issue 5, p. 1103-1109. ISSN: 10603271.
P. Carrión et al. "Classification of honeybee pollen using a multiscale texture filtering scheme". Machine Vision and Applications Volume 15, Number 4 / October, 2004.


Anonymous said...

i think add, whipped cream is very good choice

Yaelian said...

I also use pollen often in my smoothies.Some time ago I visited a bee farm,where I purchased very very fresh pollen, it was wonderful!
A very Merry and Peaceful Christmas to you and yours, Aletheia!

Aletheia said...

Strawberry-dessert-recipe, thank you for your comment. My blog is a health food blog and I both personally and professionally strongly recommend not consuming any milk products. For this reason I do not use any cream in my recipes.

Yaelian, bee pollen makes a nice addition to smoothies because of its flavor as well. I'm sure it (like almost all other things) is best fresh, and certainly most nutritious. Where was this bee farm? I wonder if any farmers in Finland sell the pollen, because it would be ideal to buy it locally. Thank you for the xmas greetings, I wish you and your family a wonderful, flavorful holiday season!

Yaelian said...

This bee farm was here in the northern Israel.There are many small farms there (cooler weather than here at the coastline) that produce lovely things, like dairy (goat/sheep) ,honey,wine, cosmetics, etc etc, and luckily many are organic. I hope you can find some farm in Finland that has fresh pollen.

ylimuuli said...

Mistä hankit siitepölysi? :-)

Aletheia said...

Hei, ylimuuli. Toistaiseksi on tätä Now Foodsin tavaraa (, koska sain sitä lahjaksi isältäni useamman purnukan. Se on mielestäni oikein hyvä tuote, etenkin hinta-laatusuhde kohdallaan. Toki ostaisin mieluummin kotimaista luomupölyä, jos sitä löytäisin. Seuraavaksi ajattelin testata tämän luomusiitepölyn:

ylimuuli said...

Ok, kiitos. :-)

Oma ainokaiseni on Hakaniemen torin markkinoilta löydetty, Mesikämmen-niminen tuote, valmistaja Kirkkonummen mehiläistuote (, ohjautuu --> Mutta en tiedä, aionko metsästää lisää...

Ootko huomannut olossa tms. vaikutusta käytön aloittamisen jälkeen?

Aletheia said...

Olen käyttänyt pölyä noin kuukauden, eikä se kyllä mitään maata järisyttäviä muutoksia ole saanut aikaan. Väittäisin kuitenkin, että päivittäisestä annoksesta smoothien mukana saan energiaa. Se on myös jonkinlaista aivoravintoa, tuntuu että aamuluennoilla olen ehkä astetta valppaampi :) Selkeimmät erot on olleet miehellä, jolla on allergiaa. Hän on keväisin yleensä aika jumissa, ja aluksi jo pari murua pollenia veti kurkun melkein umpeen. Nyt annos on jo 1 tl, eikä allergiaoireita enää tule. Jonkinlaista siedätystä on siis tapahtunut, ja luultavasti keväälläkin on sitten helpompaa. Myös allergiatukkoisuudesta johtunut kuorsaaminen on kadonnut (tuskin tosin johtuu pelkästä bee pollenista).

Uskon siis sekä kokemukseni että opiskeluni perusteella että siitepöly on hyödyllinen luonnollinen lisäravinne, ja tehokkain varmasti jo muuten oikein koostetussa ruokavaliossa.

Kiitos linkistä. En itsekään kyllä vakuuttunut siitä, miksi juuri tuosta tuotteesta pitäisi maksaa niin paljon. Onhan se kotimainen, vaikka amerikansuomalaisena myös se Now Foodsin on minulle "kotimainen" tuote. Eniten kaipaisin ihan aidosti luomua tavaraa, joka olisi kerätty mehiläisiltä, joita on ruokittu korkeintaan raakaruokosokerilla.

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