By Jeanne Petrucci MS, RDN and Emily DaCosta, Nutrition Intern
Enzymes help ensure that every chemical process in the body gets completed accurately and efficiently. Each enzyme has an individual function and is an activator for a very precise process. These processes include absorption of nutrients, removal of toxins, energy production, hormone regulation, battling infection, etc. Digestive enzymes are vital for the breakdown of foods we eat into a form that can be absorbed by our bodies.
Certain foods can boost the digestive process helping with bloating and providing fundamental enzymes used in triggering our body’s metabolism. Below are some foods that are very rich in digestive enzymes:
Avocados – Avocados contain lipase, a fat-digesting enzyme that is essential in the metabolism of fats. Enjoy by adding a ¼ of an avocado to your smoothie or topping your salad with cubed pieces.
Bananas – Amylase is an enzyme responsible for the breakdown of carbohydrates making them readily available for digestion. Bananas are best consumed before their sugars develop to form brown spots on the skin. Eat or freeze your bananas when they are just ripe enough to consume.
Pineapples –Bromelain is a compound found in pineapple that is the source of many enzymes useful in protein digestion. Research has shown that bromelain contains anti-inflammatory properties as well. Add ½ cup of pineapple to your green smoothie to mask the strong flavor of cruciferous greens such as kale. A pineapple is ripe when the bottom yields to some pressure and is very fragrant.
Papaya – Papain is an enzyme in papaya that works to break proteins into their most basic form so we can utilize them to aid in the healing and growth of our bodies. Need proof? Mash some fresh papaya and apply to your face. In minutes the enzyme will breakdown the dead surface skin [protein] and leave you with a fresh glow!