Rhythms of Nature -Vegetable Happy Hour

Biological ClockAyurvedic wisdom places great emphasis on living in accord with the natural cycles of life. We are all a part of nature, and if we tune ourselves to its workings, nature will nourish and nurture us.

Of all the cycles of nature, the most important one is the rhythm of the day, which expresses itself in the qualities of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It may sound like a commonplace, but Ayurveda recommends sleeping during the night and being active during the day. These cycles of the day are referred to as circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are our internal clocks which regulate the systems in our bodies. A recent study has found that fruit and vegetable plants also have circadian rhythms.

There are certain vegetables such as cabbage, which contains cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates. Studies have shown that glucosinolates secrete enzymes that can remove carcinogens.[1] As vegetables go from the field, to the store, to our plate, the levels of these compounds begin to fizzle out. A study published in Current Biology[2] finds there may be a way to boost some of the beneficial compounds in plants by simulating the light-dark cycle after crops are harvested.

Researcher Janet Braam[3] found the beneficial compounds were “significantly higher in the day,” about twice as high. It was as if the plants were still alive, even though they’re no longer attached to their roots or the earth. “This very much surprised us,” Braam says. Her team found similar responses with a range of crops including lettuce, spinach, sweet potatoes and blueberries.

Or maybe it’s time for a vegetable happy hour: eating our produce in the hours before dusk when some of the most beneficial compounds are at their peak.

1. How Circadian Rhythms Give Vegetables A Healthy Boost NPR June 20, 1913
2. Goodspeed D, Liu JD, Chehab EW, Sheng Z, Francisco M, Kliebenstein DJ, Braam J. Curr Biol. 2013 Jul 8;23(13):1235-41. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.05.034. Epub 2013 Jun 20.
3. Braam J. Rice University Houston, TX

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