Nutrition 101 – Glossary – M


MaculaDefinition – A small area in the center of the retina needed for sharp, central vision. The macula is damaged in age-related macular degeneration. Relevance – A healthy macula is needed for reading, driving and recognizing faces. A healthy dietary pattern rich in dark leafy greens and other colorful vegetables is associated with reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration.

MagnesiumDefinition – Magnesium is a mineral found in green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains that is prevalent in the body and contributes to teeth and bone composition. Relevance – Magnesium in necessary for all organs of the body and activates more than 300 enzymes, regulating blood sugar, blood pressure, nerve function, muscle function and calcium levels.

ManganeseDefinition – Manganese is an essential trace mineral that prevents manganese deficiency and is sometimes used in osteoporosis treatment. Relevance – Manganese is found in nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, green leafy vegetables and tea; it is also sometimes used in treatment of PMS symptoms and anemia.

Masked hypertensionDefinition – High blood pressure that’s not detected when checked in the clinic. Relevance – Because you may not know you have it, masked hypertension puts you at increased risk of heart disease and premature death. If suspected, your doctor may ask you to wear a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours.

MelanoidinsDefinition – End-products of the Maillard reaction, which is a “browning” reaction between certain proteins and sugars during heating. Relevance – Melanoidins increased through roasting coffee beans (resulting in the characteristic roasted coffee flavor and color) may be associated with cardiovascular benefits.

MethaneDefinition – A greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Relevance – Food in the landfill decomposes and releases methane.

METsDefinition – a MET, or metabolic equivalent, measures the energy cost of a given activity. Relevance – a MET is the ratio of working metabolic rate to resting metabolic rate; one MET is 1 kilocalorie per kilogram per hour, which is comparable to the energy spent sitting quietly.

MicrobiomeDefinition – The genes of the microbiota (bacteria and other microbes). Relevance – Microbial genes determine what functions microbes perform, which have the potential to benefit us. For example, microbes’ products may support our immune system or quell inflammation.

MicrobiotaDefinition – A community of microbes (bacteria, virus, fungi and archaea). Relevance – The microbiota of humans has become an area of extensive scientific research due to its potential to benefit health. Many factors affect the makeup of our microbiota, such as what we eat and where we live.

MicrogreensDefinition – Mini leafy greens that are harvested even earlier than “baby” greens. Relevance – These greens tend to have more intense flavors but more tender textures than mature greens. Microgreens often contain significantly higher amounts of many vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals per serving than the mature leaves and vegetables of the same plant.

Moderate alcohol intakeDefinition – Defined as no more than 1-2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. Relevance – Some studies suggest moderate alcohol intake is associated with decreased heart disease risk. But, given other risks of drinking alcohol, no research suggests a non-drinker should start drinking to decrease risk of heart disease.

Moderate-intensity physical activityDefinition – Aerobic exercise performed at a pace where you can talk, but not sing, during the activity. Relevance – The government’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend you do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or at least 75 minutes a week (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

MonosaccharidesDefinition – Monosaccharides are the most basic units of carbohydrates and the simplest form of sugars. Relevance – Glucose is a monosaccharide that is essential for brain and nervous system function as their primary fuel source; monosaccharides are the building blocks of more complex disaccharides, like sucrose, and polysaccharides, like cellulose.

Monounsaturated fatDefinition – Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs) are fats that contain one double bonded (unsaturated) carbon in their chemical backbone and are usually liquid at room temperature and solid when chilled. Relevance – In moderation, MUFAs like olive oil can help reduce blood cholesterol and decrease risk of heart disease and stroke, especially when they replace saturated fats and trans fats in the diet, and they are also high in Vitamin E.

MRI Definition – Magnetic resonance imaging. It’s a noninvasive diagnostic technique that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce computerized images of the organs and tissues of the body. Relevance – An MRI can be used to look at any number of things in the human body, but without the damaging ionizing radiation of a CT scan or X-ray.

MucilageDefinition – Mucilage is a gel-like substance secreted by plants, like cacti, and helps the plant store and maintain water and food. Relevance – Mucilage is used as a glue or adhesive and medicinally to decrease gastrointestinal inflammation; it is readily found in cacti, flax seeds, alue vera, chia seeds, and other plants.

MyricetinDefinition – Myricetin is flavonoid compound found in many plant-based foods. Relevance – Myricetin is found in tea, berries, fruits and vegetables and is considered an antioxidant; it has been shown in studies to have protective effects against skin cancer and inflammation.

MyristicinDefinition – Myristicin is an active compound found in parsley and nutmeg. Relevance – Myristicin is widely accepted as the compound in nutmeg that is responsible for its psychoactive properties at high doses; it is also a natural insecticide.