Reasons to Add More Garlic to Your Diet
March 4, 2015
Garlic makes your breath smell funny, but that’s just a small inconvenience compared to the health benefits that come with it. You actually have a lot of reasons for adding garlic into your recipes.
It makes you more resistant to colds.
Garlic contains compounds that fight bacteria and viruses. There’s a reason why naturopaths use it as a germicidal ointment for different types of skin infections. What most people don’t know is that garlic can enhance immune function. A robust immune system has greater resistance to cold and flu viruses.
It packs a lot of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are important to your health. They keep good brain function. They optimize immune system function. They keep aging at bay. Antioxidants fight chemicals that cause cellular damage, which leads to premature tissue damage and aging.
It’s good for your cardiovascular health.
Garlic has potent sulfur compounds that regulate your blood pressure and cholesterol. These compounds bind with red blood cells to produce hydrogen sulfide, which causes dilation of blood vessels. Expansion of blood vessels results in lowering of the blood pressure. Moreover, garlic has compounds that lower blood cholesterol, thus preventing buildup of plaques inside arteries. Thus, your risk of atherosclerosis is lowered.
It fights cancer.
Garlic contains natural substances that stop the formation of certain types of cancer. These substances work by blocking carcinogens in the body.
It relieves pain and inflammation.
Garlic is a natural remedy for many skin diseases. Sulfur compounds in garlic can stop inflammation. For instance, applying garlic on psoriasis has been known to curb inflammation. Also, garlic has pain relieving properties. You can apply it on bites and wounds to reduce pain. You can also apply crushed garlic on an aching tooth.
It fights bacteria.
Potent compounds in garlic fight Staphylococcus, E. coli, Campylobacter, and Salmonella. These types of bacteria can cause different types of infections and diseases. In some cases, natural antibacterial substances in garlic work better than conventional antibiotics. This is why garlic has considerable effectiveness in treating food poisoning or sore throat. Moreover, the combined antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic is effective in treating cold sores.
It treats fungal infections.
Have you heard of people using crushed garlic to treat ringworm and athlete’s foot? Again, garlic owes its antifungal properties to its sulfur compounds. There’s no need for complicated preparations. All you need to to is crush and apply it over the affected area of the skin.
It fends off bugs.
If you want to keep pesky insects off a vicinity, scatter some crushed garlic over the area. You can also apply some garlic on exposed skin to keep insects off.
It has other health benefits.
Research continues to identify other health benefits of garlic. One of the surprising research findings is the ability of a compound found in garlic to treat hair loss. This compound is called allicin, which gives garlic its characteristic odor.
6 Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts
January 19, 2015
Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients and should therefore be included in the diet. Brussels are one of the members of this family and something you should consider eating as part of your healthy diet. Three one-and-a-half-cup servings of brussels sprouts a week are good enough for you to get the following benefits.
Brussels sprouts contain glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are compounds that fight carcinogens, and there are different types of glucosinolates in brussels sprouts, making them a potent detoxifying agent.
Brussels are also rich in sulfur, which is required for detoxification. You can actually smell the sulfur aroma when cooking the sprouts, more when you’re overcooking them.
2. Antioxidant Supply
Brussels sprouts are also rich in different kinds of antioxidants. Vitamins A and C, flavonoids, and polyphenols are present in them. Vitamins A and C are known to fight free radicals. But more than that, the antioxidant content of brussels sprouts exceeds that of other cruciferous vegetables, making it one of the best choices for detoxification and cancer prevention. Furthermore, brussels have better combination of antioxidants.
Antioxidants fight oxidative stress, something you get from many things like bad food, pollution, and unhealthy lifestyle. It’s a process that gradually damages healthy cells and causes premature aging. Oxidative stress is also a contributing factor to cancer.
3. Inflammation Reduction
Exposure to irritants and infectious agents causes inflammation. When you expose yourself to pathogens and toxins, your body responds by fighting them, an action that also gives rise to inflammation. However, there are instances wherein inflammation is just more of a nuisance than a necessity. Keeping inflammation at bay is one of the good effects of the nutrients found in brussels sprouts. In fact, the substances that provide detoxifying benefits are the same substances that work to reduce inflammation. In addition, brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin K, which directly controls inflammation.
Another important component in reducing inflammation in the body is omega-3. You may be surprised, but omega-3 fatty acids do have a role in fighting inflammation. Brussels sprouts surprisingly contains considerable amounts of omega-3. A serving of 1-1/2 cups has nearly 500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 is better known as the good fat that lowers LDL and keeps your heart healthy.
5. Healthier Heart
The ability of nutrients in brussels sprouts to control inflammation indirectly reduces inflammation that affects the heart and the arteries. Researchers have been studying the role of inflammation in the development of cardiovascular diseases, and they have found a connection between the two. Certain types of glucosinolate in brussels trigger the body’s defenses against unwanted inflammation, particularly in the circulatory system.
Moreover, the sprouts also have compounds, like the omega-3 fatty acids, that lower bad cholesterol, which as you know gets deposited on the walls of arteries.
Fiber in brussels sprouts also help lower blood cholesterol by binding with bile. Your liver produces bile using cholesterol. If fiber binds bile, the liver then produces it using existing cholesterol in the body.
6. Proper Digestion
Fiber in brussels sprouts also promote good colon health and good bowel movement. Also, their sulfur compounds help control bacterial population in the digestive tract.
For tips on eating these delicious veggies, check out the simple recipes here.
Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget
January 14, 2015
The media has misled people into believing that healthy food is expensive. The truth is healthy food or a healthy lifestyle does not have to be expensive at all. In fact, going healthy in the kitchen could mean curbing your budget for groceries. The secret is to be in control of your menu.
Here are quick tips.
1. Stop buying junk food.
2. Stop buying alcohol and soda.
3. Reduce trips to fast food chains.
4. Limit sweets.
5. Watch what you eat.
Check your grocery expenditure after a month. You will notice how much you have saved nixing all unnecessary fattening, sugary, and unhealthy stuff. Plus, you will see less clutter and trash in the kitchen. You see, eating healthy, in fact, will make you spend less.
Start by learning to cook your food.
You don’t need to be a culinary arts graduate to learn how to cook. Simple recipes that are healthy are available everywhere. By doing your own cooking, you control what you put in your food. You control the amount of sugar, salt, and fat you put in it. You control your intake of the macro-nutrients–carbohydrates, protein, and fat. When you buy prepared food, you don’t know how much trans fat or simple sugars you’re consuming.
Prepare your weekly menu.
Plan your menu for the entire week. That includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you have little time cooking food during weekdays, look for easy-to-prepare recipes. There are easy meals that require just a few ingredients and are healthy. One of your assignments now is to search for easy to cook recipes.
Stock ingredients for cheap, quick recipes.
Quick recipes are usually cheap. They require just a few common ingredients, and you can cook them in 10-30 minutes. No lavish preparations are needed. No waiting for several hours. These recipes are great when you are preparing quick breakfasts or packed meals for lunch. What are the usual stuff for these recipes?
1. Eggs. Eggs are great. You can boil them for 5 minutes, and you have a nutrient-rich meal good for breakfast or for snacks. You can eat them alone or with brown rice. Omelets are quick breakfast choices too. Just use olive oil.
2. Rice. It doesn’t matter whether you choose white or brown. Both are good choices. Some say brown is healthier, but research has debunked that. Both are excellent sources of carbs, which you need as an energy source. Just eat a cup per meal, and you should be fine. You can mix them with veggies and green peas if you want to be more creative.
3. Beans. Another cheap ingredient for quick recipes are beans and lentils. You can never go wrong with these protein rich goodies, which can complement rice and veggies.
4. Veggies and fruits. Vegetables are excellent sources of fiber and micronutrients. They should be part of your meal. They are very cheap, so you have no excuse for skipping them. Fruits are excellent alternatives to junk food as snacks.
5. Lean meat. Lean meat should be part of your grocery budget. It’s your excellent source of protein, B-complex, and iron. Meat can be grilled or stewed. Look for inexpensive cuts.
6. Fish. This is another excellent source of protein, plus good fat. Buy raw and cook it yourself. Look for simple recipes online. Fish dishes at restaurants are much more expensive.
7 Reasons to Add Chia Seeds to Your Diet
January 4, 2015
You have probably heard of chia seeds, or not. Chia, a flowering plant that is native in Mexico and Guatemala, was not known in North America until the recent decades. The tiny white or dark brown seeds don’t look anything special, but they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which we know to be beneficial to the heart. Unlike other types of seeds, you don’t need to cook chia seeds to be edible. Like nuts, they can be eaten raw.
Here are different benefits of chia seeds:
Although researchers are still studying the potential effects of chia seeds on blood sugar regulation, there’s already a huge number of people who have experienced the benefits of consuming them. Moreover, many experts have pointed out chia seeds as a natural treatment for type 2 diabetes. They have found out that chia can stabilize the blood sugar levels and prevent insulin resistance.
Every 10 grams of chia seeds has about 4 grams of fiber. That makes the wonder seeds one of the best sources of fiber. In fact, an ounce of them gives you roughly one-third the amount of fiber you need in a day. Fiber is good for proper digestion and colon health.
Omega-3 seems to be the most popular type of fatty acid. It’s known to be the heart-friendly fat. It’s not found only in fish. An ounce of chia seeds has 5 grams of omega-3. You can snack on them and get your dose of fatty acids that help fight heart disease.
Minerals for Bones and Teeth
Another reason you should be munching on chia seeds is because of their calcium content. Calcium is an essential mineral for bones and teeth. A good supply of calcium helps prevent osteoporosis and early bone density loss. An ounce of chia seeds gives about 10% of your daily calcium needs.
Chia seeds also contain manganese, another mineral that’s good for bone health. Aside from that, manganese is also necessary in the absorption of thiamine.
Another mineral present in chia that’s good for bone health is phosphorus. An ounce of chia seeds has 27% the amount of phosphorus you need in a day. Take note that this mineral is also needed in protein synthesis.
Vegans should consider chia as one of their protein sources. An ounce of chia seeds yields 10% the amount of protein needed daily. This is cholesterol-free protein.
Helping yourself to a serving of chia seeds helps you control your food intake so that you tend not to overeat. Thanks to tryptophan, which helps control appetite and mood.
Good for the Heart
Chia seeds do not only keep your blood pressure within normal. They also regulate your bad cholesterol. Thanks to chia’s omega-3 and other components, which lower LDL and triglycerides.
Adding chia seeds to your diet shouldn’t be much of a problem. The seeds are tasteless and so won’t alter the taste of your dishes. Mix them with your salads or sprinkle them on your cereal or yogurt.
Learn more about this superfood at chia seeds vs flax seeds.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
December 14, 2014
Coconut oil is possibly nature’s greatest creation. Why not? It’s a superfood. It has a lot of health benefits. Here are some of them.
It prevents Alzheimer’s disease.
Coconut oil contains MCTs or medium-chain triglycerides, which are different from the usual long-chain fatty acids. The body metabolizes MCTs differently. Upon entering the bloodstream from the digestive tract, they are transported to the liver, where they are turned into ketones that fight Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders.
There is a long held belief that saturated fat causes heart disease. However, recent studies show this may not be the case. It’s the trans fat that’s bad for your cardiovascular system. This vindicates coconut oil from the old myth that its saturated fat makes it a bad choice health-wise.
It makes your body burn more fat.
Again, coconut oil owes its fat-metabolizing property to its MCTs, which increase the amount of calories you burn on a daily basis. Consuming 15-30 grams medium-chain fatty acids a day boosts the amount of burned calories by 5 percent.
It helps you lose weight.
Aside from making you burn more calories, MCTs suppress hunger. This is why people who consume coconut oil tend to eat less than people who don’t. As a result, they consume less calories, which aid in losing weight.
It prevents heart disease.
Do not worry about the saturated fat content of coconut oil. As mentioned earlier, studies have already disproved the supposed bad effects of saturated fat on the cardiovascular health. In fact, the fatty acids found in coconut oil reduce chances of getting heart disease by reducing the amount of bad cholesterol in the body and raising levels of good cholesterol.
It helps you fight infection.
One of the components of coconut oil is lauric acid, which kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The antimicrobial properties of lauric acid is still under research. But numerous published studies have already provided significant information about the antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties of lauric acid. This is why coconut oil has become a popular natural remedy for throat infection, gum disease, athlete’s foot, and other common infections.
It has cosmetic properties.
Coconut oil locks in moisture to the skin and helps keep it from drying. A thin layer of coconut oil on the skin protects it from sun damage. In so doing, it helps delay signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. Your hair can benefit from it too. It also acts as a protective layer on the hair, not only keeping it sleek and shiny but also protecting it from harmful UV radiation from the sun.
Consumption of coconut oil has many other benefits. It aids digestion. It helps you get rid of belly fat. There are also studies that suggest it has anti-cancer properties. If you have food allergies, you may want to 3 tbsp of coconut oil every day, ideally spread out on every meal. That’s 1 tablespoon every meal.
According to some research, coconut oil also has antiparasitic effects. People in India use it to combat tapeworms and eliminate head lice. There are also studies that show it works against Giardia.
So there you go. With all these benefits from coconut oil, you probably should include it in your daily health regimen.
Good Sources of B12 for Your Diet
December 11, 2014
Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is involved in many physiological processes. The body uses it to produce red blood cells, neurotransmitters, and energy. This is why when you run low of this vitamin for a long time, you tend to suffer from anemia, fatigue, neuropathy, and even brain damage. A balanced diet should provide you with enough Vitamin B12, but some people (especially vegans) tend to miss this micronutrient.
The type of your diet plays a major role in whether you are getting enough B12. People who include fish and meat in their diet most likely do not have any problem getting enough of this vitamin. In fact, if you’re not a vegan, you have nothing to worry about because you’re likely getting enough B12.
But what if you’re not getting enough of it? Here are some foods to check out.
Cooked clams, oysters, and mussels have lots of this micronutrient. For instance, 100 grams of cooked clams has 98.9 mcg of B12. That’s 16 times the daily recommended intake. That makes clams the best source of this vitamin in terms of density. No other food source yields the same amount of cobalamin per serving. The same amount of oysters yields about 28.8 mcg of this vitamin; mussels, about 24 mcg.
Beef liver also tops the list for having the most B12 per mass. Cook a hundred grams of beef liver, and it will give you 83.1 mcg of this B vitamin. That’s more than 13 times the amount you need for a day. But don’t worry. Your body tends to store the rest in case you run low of it in the coming days.
Fish is a good source of so many macro and micronutrients. If you’re concerned about its B12 content, worry not. Mackerel, for instance, has 19 mcg per 100-gram serving. The same amount of smoked salmon has 18 mcg; tuna, 10.9 mcg; herring, 13.1 mcg; and trout, 7.5 mcg. Even canned sardines is rich is B12. A 100-gram serving has 8.9 mcg.
Don’t even ignore caviar (fish eggs). A hundred grams gives you 20 mcg. That’s nearly twice the amount of B12 you get from the same amount of tuna!
Lean beef and lamb are good sources of B12 too. A 100-gram serving of lean beef has 8.2 mcg of B12, while lean lamb has 3.7 mcg.
It seems that the best sources for Vitamin B12 come from the sea. Crustaceans also top of the list of the best sources of this vitamin. A hundred grams of crab meat gives you 11.5 mcg of cobalamin. That’s almost twice the amount you find in 100-gram serving of red meat. Other crustaceans are shrimp (1.7 mcg per 100 grams) and lobster (1.4 mcg per 100 grams), but as you see they have significantly lower amounts of cobalamin per serving.
Eggs are a nutrient-dense food. One reason you may want to include them in your diet is because of their B12 content. A 100-gram serving gives you 2 mcg of B12.
For even more food ideas, check out this list of sources of B12.
What You Need To Know About Juice Fasting
December 8, 2014
Juice fasting is gaining steady popularity among health enthusiasts because of its colon cleansing and fat busting benefits. But this form of fasting takes a lot of patience. A lot of people quit after a day or two because they are not used to it.
Why juice fast?
People who juice fast have different reasons for doing so. Many of them want to lose weight, and juice fasting seems the ideal way for them to shed off pounds. Other people simply want to detoxify their bodies for a few days. Others find his form of fasting as a great way of resetting their metabolism and cleansing their digestive system.
For beginners, being on fruit and vegetable juices and shakes can be off-putting. Many people don’t last longer than a day. It’s a complete challenge, taking much willpower. It’s not for the faint-hearted. But once you get used to it, the benefits are awesome. It’s actually really good for your body.
What are the benefits anyway?
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories but high in amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You get a lot of benefits while taking a respite from your regular meals. You allow your digestive tract to take a break from the hard stuff that keep it worked up constantly every day. It’s like allowing your stomach and intestines to lay low for a while. This type of fasting also puts your body into less stress because you introduce less sugar, less fat, and less protein. Your liver and kidneys are going on a sabbatical for while.
According to proponents of juice fasting, it has a slew of awesome benefits, including skin hydration, body rejuvenation, cellular detoxification, and reduced inflammation. Read what one doctor has to say about it.
Basics of Juice Fasting
You can buy pre-processed, ready-to-consume juices or shakes, but they are expensive. You have to prepare them yourself. Buy raw fruits and vegetables. Remove the pulp and other unneeded stuff. Chop them or dice them. Then put them in a juicer. That’s it, pretty simple. You can put the shakes into a jug and take it with you at work. During your juice fasting week, you will not consume anything aside from the juices to ensure the effectiveness of the fasting.
The length of time you fast depends on your goals and experience. Beginners should try doing it for 2 days, preferably during the weekend. This site has some good tips for beginners. Some people go for a month on a juice fast, but it’s not usually recommended, as your body gets depleted of the macronutrients, which you get from regular food sources.
Downsides and Precautions
1. Seriously low calories. That means you will be on an energy slump during the duration of the fast. So make sure you don’t do it on hectic weeks.
2. Fruit and vegetable juices are not complete in macronutrients. You don’t get lots of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They are good for weight loss and occasional detox, but not as your everyday source of energy.
3. Some preparations remove lots of fiber. Fiber is a great cleansing agent. Removing it removes much of the benefits of juice fasting.
4. It shocks your system. So go easy and start slow!