Spermidine: A Surprisingly Common Ingredient with Big Health Benefits
When I eat a meal that I know is rich in nutrients that benefit and protect my health, I get even more enjoyment from it than if I were to just eat a tasty meal without knowing what health boosting and age-defying ingredients it contains. Real food is delicious and nutritious, especially when it’s packed with not just one, not even two, but several delicious nutrients for your health!
I bet you’d never guess that something with a name like spermidine could actually help your cells function better, translating to better health as you age. Not only that, it’s in some of the most delicious and nutritious foods you are probably already eating every day. I know, it sounds like something that your kids would learn about in sex education class, but that’s only because of where it was first discovered. First isolated from semen, spermidine is a polyamine — which are simply organic compounds with more than two nitrogen groups that have important roles in biological systems, found in cells and living tissue — not just semen!
One of its most interesting functions is the role it plays in longevity. In laboratories, studies show that spermidine has the ability to protect cardiac cells, neurons and has anti-cancer effects. In human epidemiological studies, dietary intake of spermidine is associated with a reduced risk of cancer-related mortality and cardiovascular disease. One of its major mechanisms is through autophagy.
If you’re familiar with Glow15, you know it’s my passion to educate our community on the simple ways to activate our body’s natural process of cleansing and repair at the cellular level. Otherwise known as autophagy, this system is built into every one of your cells and has the ability to help you optimize cellular function — this means better health and energy levels, improved mood and memory, even beautiful skin, all while slashing the risk of the major chronic inflammatory diseases that plague us today. Spermidine helps activate autophagy, your body’s own self-cleaning mode where old cellular debris that could be toxic and pose risk for your health, gets broken down and removed from your body.
To learn more, here’s my recent interview with Dr. Mercola where we talk about all the ways to enhance autophagy, a key to living a healthier, happier and longer life. He is someone always on the cutting edge of advancements in health and medicine so it was an honor and a treat to collaborate on bringing more awareness around spermidine.
It’s possible you’re already eating spermidine-containing foods every day without even knowing it! You’ll find this autophagy-activating compound in a variety of foods like: beef, chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, nuts and seeds, green peas, lentils, mushrooms, red beans, grapefruit, pears and fermented foods like cheese, miso, soy sauce, vinegar and alcohol.
I love where the science of nutrition meets the enjoyment of food right on your dinner plate! Eating in a way that supports your highest cellular health should be about pleasure, not about depriving yourself. Take this salad, it’s loaded with ingredients that all contain spermidine — chicken, blue cheese, hazelnuts and even the pear. And because anything tasty is going to be carried by good fats, I use a mixture of olive and MCT oils to add a luscious texture and of course metabolic benefits as well. Make this for a quick lunch or even dinner and save the leftover chicken for an easy grab and go lunch the next day.
Arugula with Toasted Hazelnuts and Blue Cheese Chicken Salad
1 pound roast chicken (mixture of dark and white meat), cubed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon MCT oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup full-fat, unsweetened yogurt (sub coconut yogurt if you don’t tolerate dairy)
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
12 ounces arugula
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Toast hazelnuts until aromatic and slightly golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. To prepare chicken: Place cooked chicken in a large mixing bowl. In a medium mixing bowl, or a food processor, combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil, MCT oil, vinegar, blue cheese, yogurt, tarragon, salt and pepper until combined. t’s okay if it’s not completely smooth.
3. Spoon blue cheese sauce over chicken and stir to combine.
4. To plate salad: Divide arugula onto four plates. Evenly top with red onion and toasted hazelnuts. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Place a scoop of the chicken salad over each salad and serve immediately.
Nutrition Facts: (serving size: 1/4 salad) Fat: 35 g Protein: 40 g Fiber: 4 g Carb: 13 g Net Carb: 9 g