Glutamine is the most abundant of the amino acids that serve as building blocks for protein in the body. It plays an important role in a number of biochemical processes. Foods with high levels of protein, such as meat and dairy products, contain the highest glutamine content, but there are also several good vegetable sources. Proper preparation of these glutamine-rich vegetables can contribute to good health by increasing glutamine bioavailabity.
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Benefits of Glutamine
Glutamine helps maintain the health of the digestive system. It is a critical factor in cardiac functioning and in keeping the circulatory system in good health. Glutamine also supports proper neurological functioning, and it is associated with improvements in mood, concentration, and memory. Glutamine helps build up and maintain muscle mass, and it can be used as a source of additional energy when blood sugar is low. This makes it valuable to athletes and bodybuilders.
In most healthy people, glutamate is manufactured by the body in adequate quantities, and it is not required in the diet. When there is severe illness, injury or other conditions leading to depletion of stored glutamine, however, there is a need for the dietary supplementation. Indications for introducing more vegetables with high glutamine content into the diet include hyperacidity, gastritis, having an immunodeficiency condition, heavy athletic training, high stress levels, ulcers and recent surgery.
Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils are high in protein and provide a rich source of glutamine are the high-protein ones. Other glutamine-rich vegetables include spinach, parsley, cabbage and beets. High cooking heats can break down glutamine, so it is best if these vegetables are consumed raw in order to maximize their glutamine content and increase bioavailability. Using raw vegetables on a consistent basis in the diet requires a little extra thought and preparation, but it well repays the effort.
Prepartion and Serving
Juicing is a good way to get glutamine from vegetables. The concentrated juices of raw spinach, parsley, cabbage, or beets can be taken as a 1 to 2-oz. shot. A more palatable beverage can be made by diluting those juices with pure water or with apple, carrot or celery juice. Raw spinach and parsley or shredded raw beets and cabbage can be used as glutamine-rich additions to salads or side dishes. Fermented vegetables dishes such sauerkraut or kimchee supply glutamine in a highly absorbable form.