Our bodies produce something called pancreatic lipase (PL). It’s an important enzyme that helps us digest, having a special knack for breaking down fats.
PL is secreted by the pancreas, and one of its main responsibilities is to help digest triglycerides. Without this enzyme, triglycerides can’t be absorbed by the intestines. With this in mind, researchers have been studying the inhibition of PL, theorizing that its suppressed activity may decrease fat absorption.
Studies have been done on animals and humans, and while there isn’t concrete evidence to suggest PL inhibition is a natural anti-obesity agent, certain foods have been shown to have the ability to suppress PL. More specifically, the plant compounds epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), kaempferol and quercetin have each been identified as potent PL inhibitors.
Green, black and oolong teas are an excellent source of EGCG; kale, beans, endive, leek, tomato, strawberries, grapes, Brussels sprouts, apples and grapefruit are rich sources of kaempferol, and red wine, broccoli, fennel and hot yellow and green peppers are all sources of quercetin — the latter being the inspiration for my absolutely delicious and refreshing smoothie recipe, below.
So, whether you’re seeking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, incorporating a variety of deeply-pigmented fruits and vegetables into your diet have benefits; washing them down with tea or red wine isn’t a bad idea, either. And if you’re like me with a taste for the piquante, you’ll enjoy getting your daily dose of quercetin from the jalapeño I snuck into this shake. ¡Buen provecho!
TINA’S JALAPENO-MINT SMOOTHIE
This surprising smoothie really isn’t hot at all; it’s just loaded with flavor. It makes a great snack or post-workout pick-me-up.
1/3 c fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and sliced
1 ¼ T light agave nectar
½ t lime juice
2 c plain, 0% Greek yogurt
Mint leaves for garnish (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a blender and whirl until smooth. Don’t be surprised if the mixture doesn’t combine, when you turn on the blender. Just stir it with a spoon to loosen it, then try and blend again. Repeat that exercise until the mixture is smoothie-smooth. Garnish with mint leaves, if desired. Serve immediately.
Makes 2, 1-cup servings