MyMT™ Blog

The MyMT™ Kitchen: BEETROOT HUMMUS on your Mediterranean Platter

Diet is established among the most important influences on health in modern societies and none more so, than in mid-life. With increasing inflammation from not sleeping, too much or not enough exercise, the wrong diet for our health as we age, becoming overweight and of course, from the incredible changes to our liver, gut and muscles during menopause, these are all detrimental to our ageing. Inflammation speeds up the rate of ageing.  

The good news is, with the right approach to your lifestyle in menopause, you can ‘age-well’ and slow down the rate of inflammation in your blood vessels. One of these compounds is beet or beetroot. It contains betaine and I tell you about this in the video. 

The other type of food that is evidenced to reduce depression are chickpeas. Yes! I talk about these in the video below and I explain why chickpeas help to improve serotonin production in the brain. Good to know if you are on menopause-related anti-depressants. 

The MyMT™ Kitchen: BEETROOT HUMMUS

  • 4 medium cloves of garlic (sliced)
  • 2 spring onions (scallions) chopped
  • 2 cans of chickpeas (or use dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked) – make sure you drain and rinse the canned chickpeas.
  • handful of parsley and I added 3 Kale leaves (medium)
  • 6 tablespoons of tahini (this is crushed sesame seeds, so I used 1/4 cup of sesame seeds that I had in the pantry).
  • Juice of 2 freshly squeezed lemons
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I used organic iodised sea salt not Himalayan salt).
  • 4 small-medium beetroot, baked with a small amount of olive oil on low heat until soft. Then cooled.
  1. Place the garlic, spring onions, parsley and kale (optional) in the food processor or blender. Mince this up.

  2. Add the rinsed chickpeas, tahini (or sesame seeds), lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the lemon-infused olive oil) and salt. Then the cooked beetroot. Puree until it becomes a thick paste.

  3. Cut up carrot sticks, celery, red peppers and place on a plate to serve with the hummus and yes, some organic corn chips as well.

Could consumption of tryptophan-rich foods play a role in reducing the prevalence of depression and aggression?
 
The question above was posted in an article written by Dr Simon Young (PhD), over there in McGill University in beautiful Canada (hi to you all over there!).
 
“This may sound exaggerated” he mentioned in his article on lifestyle solutions to increase serotonin levels in the brain, “but positive mood within the normal range is an important predictor of health and longevity and better mood is associated with higher blood levels of serotonin. As such, there are lifestyle solutions that can be put into place to boost serotonin levels, including foods that supply tryptophan, which helps the brain to make serotonin.”
 
If you have some hummus in the fridge, or you like to make your own, (as I managed to do in the photo attached), then you are doing a wonderful job of increasing your serotonin levels.
 
I’m sharing this insight with you, because according to the research by Dr Young, there are two foods that are the most powerful to increase a protein (amino acid) called tryptophan, which, unlike other proteins, actually gets across the blood-brain barrier to where we need it the most. These foods are:
 
1. Chickpeas.
2. Milk.
 
Turkey and bananas also contain tryptophan, but the knowledgeable Dr Young says that in higher protein foods such as turkey, chicken and other meat proteins, there is too much competition from the various amino acids in these foods, for tryptophan to get into the brain. Which is where it’s needed for boosting serotonin production. As he mentions:
 
There is competition between the various amino acids for the brain transport system. So, after the ingestion of a meal containing a large amount of protein, the rise in plasma level of the other large amino acids will prevent the rise in in the plasma tryptophan from increasing brain tryptophan.”
 
Tryptophan helps to make serotonin.
 
As many of you know, serotonin is one of our mood hormones that gets out of balance in menopause when oestrogen levels decline. Hence, one of the lifestyle solutions we can all put in place, is to have good quality sources of tryptophan in our diet.
 
I talk about tryptophan in the optional module in my programmes called ‘Lifestyle Solutions for Women on Menopause-related Anti-depressants’. The thing about chickpeas (from which hummus is made), is that the tryptophan is in a different form, compared to turkey and other animal proteins. Almost 2/3 of the tryptophan in chickpeas is in ‘free form’, a term which means that it is separated from the main protein and therefore, gets across the blood-brain barrier. How amazing for us to know this!
 
I think we all know the effect of mood swings on our energy levels and motivation as we move through menopause don’t we? But numerous studies now suggest that low mood is related to low serotonin levels.
 
Hence, strategies such as changing our diet can help us at a time in our lives when we are most vulnerable to changing moods. If you have grumpy, moody daughters, and they are in the part of their menstrual cycle when oestrogen is lowest (usually days 1-2 of bleeding), then you might also want to leave a plate of hummus on the bench for her. 
 
This week in my coaching group, I’ve been having a focus on menopause and depression and the foods that are evidenced to boost our mood. If you’ve been feeling a bit low too, then hopefully you can add my beetroot hummus to a vegetarian meal, or you can buy some hummus to dip some carrot and celery sticks in, or make your own from the recipe above. Adding chickpeas to your diet, is a powerful way to boost your mood with food.
 
Wendy 

 

References:

Hobbs D., George T., & Lovegrove J. (2013). The effects of dietary nitrate on blood pressure and endothelial function: a review of human intervention studies. Nutr Res Rev. 26(2):210-22. 

Young, S. (2007). How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. J Psychiatry Neurosci., 32(6): 394-9.

“If you have ever wondered if there was a clear easy plan to follow to sleep all night, reduce hot flushes and prevent or reduce your weight gain during menopause, then ‘welcome’ – you’re in the right place now.”

Discover how either of my two Menopause Transformation programmes might help you too or take my Symptoms Quiz below… 

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