It may have been a while since high school biology … so … what are mitochondria?
Mitochondria are “power plants in the cell that turn your food and oxygen into energy in the form of ATP.” While they’re most well-known for their energy-producing gifts, mitochondria have also been linked to the proper functioning and health of your brain and they may also play a role in “a lot of the age-related diseases, like heart disease, diabetes, and neurogenerative diseases.”
Given the importance of these teeny little organelles, it’s curious why we don’t think about them more when it comes to our health, especially when it comes to diet.
Specifically, how do we feed our mitochondria?
There are a few dietary changes we can all make to give our mitochondria a boost.
Of course, always speak with a medical professional before switching up your diet!
First and foremost, cut sugar and grains — grains “turn to sugar in the bloodstream,” which means if you’re cutting sugar then you might as well cut grain. Sugar, in particular fructose found in artificial sweeteners and fruit, has been found to “damage the mitochondria found in the liver.”
Another tip is to try a low carb diet, as carbohydrates can also be loaded with sugar, depending on the type, and create more free radicals when processed, which damages mitochondria as well.
Next, integrate foods that feed your mitochondria including healthy fats, — such as “walnuts, avocado, coconut oil, and MCT oil” — and phytonutrients — which are found in colorful vegetables.
Looking to get a head start? Here are a few recipes loaded with mitochondria-loving foods!
We also highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help you get healthy! And, don’t forget to check out our Whole Foods Archives!
1. Sauerkraut Lasagna
Sauerkraut Lasagna/One Green Planet
If you’re looking for a one-two punch for both your mitochondria and your gut think about integrating some cabbage … specifically, fermented cabbage, also known as sauerkraut! This Sauerkraut Lasagna recipe by Peffe Stahl is the perfect way to get your daily dose of mitochondria-loving sulfur!
2. Wild Rice and Sauerkraut Salad
Wild Rice and Sauerkraut Salad/One Green Planet
Not down with a lasagna based around sauerkraut? Give this Wild Rice and Sauerkraut Salad recipe by Health Thomas! Thomas fills this salad with a mixture of savory and sour sauerkraut and sweet apple!
3. Almond Cashew Coconut Energy Bites
Almond Cashew Coconut Energy Bites/One Green Planet
Magnesium is yet another great nutrient that mitochondria thrive off of! Nuts, such as the almond and cashews used in this Almond Cashew Coconut Energy Bites recipe by Laura Nockett, are rich in not only magnesium, but also healthy fats, another mitochondria-loving food!
4. Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup
Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup/One Green Planet
Greens are an excellent source of a variety of nutrients, yet when it comes to mitochondria, they supply yet sulfur and small amounts of vitamin B. Collard greens are an excellent way to mix up your weekly diet, yet it’s important to know how to cook these oftentimes bitter greens! Try this Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup recipe by Rachel Hanawalt in order to fully appreciate these greens.
5. Winter Salad With Apple and Pomegranate
Winter Salad With Apple and Pomegranate/One Green Planet
Pomegranates are a great sweet treat that also offers phytonutrients, antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. They are a perfect mitochondria-food option! This Winter Salad With Apple and Pomegranate recipe by Daniela Modesto isn’t just great for the winter, but can also be a refreshing mid-day summer meal!
6. Green Pea Fusilli Salad with Orange Citrus Vinaigrette
Green Pea Fusilli Salad with Orange Citrus Vinaigrette/One Green Planet
This Green Pea Fusilli Salad with Orange Citrus Vinaigrette recipe by Julie Zimmer makes the list not only because it’s super nutrient-dense, but also due to the fact that the vinaigrette calls for a half cup of extra virgin olive oil! This incredibly healthy plant-based fat is a great option for feeding those mitochondria.
7. Immune Boosting Lemon and Greens Juice
Immune Boosting Lemon and Greens Juice/One Green Planet
This Immune Boosting Lemon and Greens Juice recipe by Nikki and Zuzana not only boosts your immune system, but it’s also a great way to boost the health of your mitochondria from that magnesium-rich spinach!
8. Kale and Avocado Salad
Kale and Avocado Salad/One Green Planet
Avocado is one of the most nutrient-dense, plant-based foods available! Yet, this Kale and Avocado Salad recipe by Rouxbe makes the list for avocado’s high healthy fat content. Plus, this superfood is paired with yet another superfood, kale, for a delicious salad to boost your mitochondria health.
9. Lemon Olive Oil Cake Baked Oatmeal
Lemon Olive Oil Cake Baked Oatmeal/One Green Planet
While olive oil may be used most commonly in savory recipes, you can most definitely switch it up and use this healthy, mitochondria-loving oil in a sweet recipe. This Lemon Olive Oil Cake Baked Oatmeal recipe by Lauren Smith is a super unique way to start your day with a bit of natural sweetness and lots of healthy fat!
10. Pumpkin Pie Roasted Almonds
Pumpkin Pie Roasted Almonds/One Green Planet
If you’re not a nut fan, but you still want to benefit from those magnesium and healthy fat nutrients, give this Pumpkin Pie Roasted Almonds recipe by Robin Runner. These sweet treat almonds are a wonderful snack to have on hand!
11. Chickpea Broccoli Curry
Chickpea Broccoli Curry/One Green Planet
Broccoli is one of the best sources of plant-based sulfur! With that said, this cruciferous veggie can be somewhat hard to eat on a regular basis. Make sure to cook broccoli gentle and use lots of flavoring, like in this Chickpea Broccoli Curry recipe by Hayley Canning.
12. Blue Raspberry Overnight Oats
Blueberries are known as an antioxidant powerhouse, plus they “support healthy blood sugar levels, due to their low glycemic index, and high amount of fiber.” This Blue Raspberry Overnight Oats recipe by Lauren Smith is the perfect way to enjoy a healthy dose of antioxidant-rich, mitochondria-loving blueberries!
13. 10 Minute Seitan ‘Beef’ and Broccoli
10 Minute Seitan ‘Beef’ and Broccoli/One Green Planet
Another great broccoli recipe! This 10 Minute Seitan ‘Beef’ and Broccoli recipe by Kristen Genton is super fast, super easy, and filled with mitochondria-feeding sulfur.
14. Pomegranate Guava Smoothie
Pomegranate Guava Smoothie/One Green Planet
This Pomegranate Guava Smoothie recipe by Viktoria Radichkova provides yet another creative and super yummy way to get those antioxidant and phytonutrient-rich pomegranates into your diet! Whip this up in the morning and enjoy a sweet treat for lunch.
15. Blanched Collard Wraps
Blanched Collard Wraps/One Green Planet
If you’re still down to try those collard greens, why not swap out that sugar-rich tortilla or grain-based wrap and use collard greens instead? This Blanched Collard Wraps recipe by Molly Patrick is a super-easy way to enjoy mitochondria-loving collard greens for lunch all week long!
Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home!
Avocado Nori Snacks/One Green Planet
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.
For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some great resources to get you started:
For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!