Tomato Health Benefits

Tomatoes are a staple food item in our household. On days when I am busy or simply feeling a tad lazy to cook veggies, I will place a bowl of raw cherry tomatoes along with cucumbers on the dining table, just so the kids have their daily consumption of fiber and raws. This fruit that acts like a vegetable is loaded with health properties. Yep, tomatoes are citrus fruits, not veggie as many have mistaken.

My girls love tomatoes, fortunately! They like tomato omelette, tomato and beef bolognese, raw tomatoes, tomato soup and tomato rice. Yesterday, I whipped up a whole tomato rice dish in the rice cooker. A one-pot meal, that is. It is very very easy to cook and tastes very very good too, if you use the right ingredients.

My one-pot tomato rice — food ‘decor’ done by the drama queen :)

 

Just throw in a few whole tomatoes into your rice cooker and whatever ingredients that you fancy and walaaa… you get a very wholesome pot of yummy-ness!  See, you do not even need to peel the tomato skin. Save the skin as it contains high concentration of  carotenoids.  And if you can afford it, get organic ones.

Don’t you just love the bright colors in this pot of rice? It even has shiitake mushrooms, another super food like the tomato.

 

Tomato Benefits

Tomatoes contain all four major carotenoids: alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene. These carotenoids may have individual benefits, but also have synergy as a group (that is, they interact to provide health benefits).

In particular, tomatoes contain awesome amounts of lycopene,thought to have the highest antioxidant activity of all the carotenoids.

Tomatoes and broccoli have synergy that may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. One study showed that prostate tumors grew much more slowly in rats that were fed both tomato and broccoli powder than in rats given lycopene as a supplement or fed just the broccoli or tomato powder alone.

Tomatoes are rich in potassium, a mineral most of us don’t get enough of. A cup of tomato juice contains 534 milligrams of potassium, and 1/2 cup of tomato sauce has 454 milligrams.

When tomatoes are eaten along with healthier fats, like avocado or olive oil, the body’s absorption of the carotenoid phytochemicals in tomatoes can increase by two to 15 times, according to a study from Ohio State University.

Tomatoes are a big part of the famously healthy Mediterranean diet. Many Mediterranean dishes and recipes call for tomatoes or tomato paste or sauce. Some recent studies, including one from The University of Athens Medical School, have found that people who most closely follow the Mediterranean diet have lower death rates from heart disease and cancer. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, who followed more than 39,000 women for seven years, found that consumption of oil- and tomato-based products — particularly tomato and pizza sauce — was associated with cardiovascular benefits.

The tomato has been referred to as a “functional food,” a food that goes beyond providing just basic nutrition, additionally preventing chronic disease and delivering other health benefits, due to beneficial phytochemicals such as lycopene.

Tomato peels contribute a high concentration of the carotenoids found in tomatoes. The amount of carotenoids absorbed by human intestinal cells was much greater with tomato paste enriched with tomato peels compared to tomato paste without peels, according to a study from Marseille, France. The tomato skin also holds most of the flavonols (another family of phytochemicals that includes quercetin and kaempferol) as well. So to maximize the health propertiesof tomatoes, don’t peel them if you can help it!

 

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Training and Education for Caregivers and Patients

One glaring discovery of healthcare reform has been the importance of education and training for both patients and healthcare workers. Medical corporations, insurance providers and regulatory agencies have realized that healthcare quality improvement depends on the willingness of everyone to learn more about patients and the systems that are designed to service them. As a result, training and development have become priorities for organizations making long-term investments in healthcare delivery.

Educating Medical Professionals and Caregivers
The typical medical professional has spent a number of years learning his job. Many recognize their learning must be ongoing. They enroll in continuing education courses yearly, some of which are required for renewed licensure.

Those who excel at their jobs have an even broader motivation for learning. They serve the patient of the 21st century, one who is often knowledgeable about his condition just by having Internet access to reputable sources. Healthcare workers have to stay educated in order to stay prepared.

Educating the Patient
Despite wider access to healthcare knowledge, the average patient may still need more training and development. For some who are coping with newly diagnosed illnesses, an educational component is vital to treatment. Successful education and training programming considers this need and integrates it into healthcare delivery.

Because the Affordable Care Act has made more people aware of their options, healthcare providers must expand training offerings in order to stay connected to its patient base. At its best this training makes room for patients and caregivers to be both learners and teachers. This approach keeps healthcare systems constantly evolve.

 

 

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Healthy Salad For A Health Freak Mommy

Here’s what I had for lunch yesterday…

Onion and alfalfa sprouts with cherry tomatoes, Japanese kyuri, green grapes, Korean seasoned seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, fried shallots, 1/2 hard boiled egg and a small portion of pork chop (to bring my iron level up a few notches).  I can very well do without any meat these days but I need to up my iron level, so am forcing myself to eat more red meat these days, though at times, this makes my tummy churn — feeling is like heart burn when I overdo on meat.

The natural sweetness  from the green grapes adds so much yummy-ness to my salad. Even without any salad dressing, I can graze my greens away with so much delight!  Best of all, grapes are au naturel (just make sure you wash them thoroughly) , definitely way better than a bottle of processed salad dressing.

 

This is so refreshing, so filling and it’s nutrients dense.  It’s also high in fiber, high in protein and low in carbs and calories.  Just perfect for a health freak mommy! :D

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Coconut Meat Health Benefits

As I was enjoying my packet of fresh coconut meat after gulping down the coconut water just now, I was wondering whether coconut meat/flesh is an empty calorie food or otherwise .  I have heard and read so much on the health benefits of extra virgin coconut oil, which is now touted as a super food.   In the past, coconut oil and coconut meat had been reputed as a ‘bad food’.  But in recent years,  there has been so much hype on the myriad of health benefits of  coconut oil and coconut products.

 

Spooning

 

Coconut is one of those foods that seems to ping-pong between the ‘good food’ and ‘bad food’ list.  Coconut and the products derived from it like coconut meat have been for years wrongly deemed as an unhealthy type of food because of its long known high saturated fat content. However, a growing body of recent studies have shown that the type of fats present in coconut meat are in fact medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). When you eat coconut meat, the MCTs it contains are transported from the intestinal tract to the liver and immediately transformed into fuel. This then means there is very little MCTs left to circulate and deposit in fat tissues in the body

Meat from young coconuts or (a.k.a green coconuts) is very creamy and gelatinous. It looks and feels like jelly because you can eat it with a spoon. This is the type that is often fed to babies as they are weaned from their mothers’ breast. Young coconut meat spoils more quickly than mature meat. This is why it’s rare to find it outside of tropical locales. However, for those of you living in the States, they can be found in some stores during the summer months.

Meat from mature coconuts is white, much harder and has a slightly sweet and nutty taste. As the coconut matures, the quantity of oil in the meat increases too.   Mature meat has high levels of fiber and oil which help it function like a probiotic. Probiotics are very beneficial for the digestive system because they feed the good bacteria in the intestines.

Fresh meat from coconuts is considered a functional food. By eating it you accomplish two important things for your body. You feed the body a high quality food source.   It functions in specific ways once inside the body (i.e. feeds the good bacteria in the intestines).

A few of the health benefits that can result by consuming fresh meat consistently are:

  • It helps to regulate digestion and elimination.
  • It assists in weight loss.
  • It’s a powerful germ fighter.

Almost half the weight of fresh meat comes from water. It also contains less sugar than meat from other fruits like oranges or apples.

The mineral levels of iron, phosphorous and zinc are high.
While coconuts and coconut liquids are full of saturated fats, not all of it is bad for you. Much of the saturated fat content is lauric acid. This beneficial saturated fat can actually help boost your high-density lipoprotein, the “good” cholesterol that reduces your risk of heart disease. HDL cholesterol tends to bring LDL molecule levels down, by transporting them to your liver for deconstruction and removal. But the maximum amount of lauric acid from coconuts you can have before it stops being beneficial is unknown, the Harvard School of Public Health warns. Because too much saturated fat in general is harmful for heart health, don’t go overboard on your servings of coconut products.

So once again, the rule is take everything in moderation! :)

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Anemia Caused By Heavy Menstruation

Lately, I feel more anemic than I was before. From a powerful horse who could run at least 5km everyday and sweat buckets come rain or shine 7 days a week, I have now reduced on  my running.  I do more  brisk walking (outdoor)  and air-walking in the gym 5x a week. Running zaps up too much of my energy and causes shortness of breath and lightheadedness. I was chatting with my friend the other day and realized that my aggravated lethargy is most likely caused by heavy and prolonged menstruation every month caused by the fibroid in my uterus. My friend had uterine fibroids too and she had gone through 2 surgical procedures to have the most problematic fibroid removed. As for me, I think my situation is not as bad as my friend. I will continue with the bi-yearly vaginal ultrasound scans to monitor the fibroid, speaking of which, I am due for my first check up for this year anytime now!

To beat iron deficiency anemia, I am now taking Sangobion (iron tablets) everyday. I also eat 2 free range chicken eggs a day and try to include red meat and red beans in my diet everyday.

 

 

Anemia symptoms vary depending on the cause of your anemia but may include:

Fatigue
Weakness
Pale skin
A fast or irregular heartbeat
Shortness of breath
Chest pain
Dizziness
Cognitive problems
Cold hands and feet
Headache

I can tick 8 of the above symptoms for my own anemia.

Causes and Complications of Anemia

Causes of Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body doesn’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the part of red blood cells that gives blood its red color and enables the red blood cells to carry oxygenated blood throughout your body. If you aren’t consuming enough iron, or if you’re losing too much iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin, and iron deficiency anemia will eventually develop.

Causes of iron deficiency anemia include:

Blood loss. Blood contains iron within red blood cells. So if you lose blood, you lose some iron. Women with heavy periods are at risk of iron deficiency anemia because they lose blood during menstruation. Slow, chronic blood loss within the body — such as from a peptic ulcer, a hiatal hernia, a colon polyp or colorectal cancer — can cause iron deficiency anemia. Gastrointestinal bleeding can result from regular use of some over-the-counter pain relievers, especially aspirin.

A lack of iron in your diet. Your body regularly gets iron from the foods you eat. If you consume too little iron, over time your body can become iron deficient. Examples of iron-rich foods include meat, eggs, leafy green vegetables and iron-fortified foods. For proper growth and development, infants and children need iron from their diet, too.

An inability to absorb iron. Iron from food is absorbed into your bloodstream in your small intestine. An intestinal disorder, such as celiac disease, which affects your intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients from digested food, can lead to iron deficiency anemia. If part of your small intestine has been bypassed or removed surgically, that may affect your ability to absorb iron and other nutrients.

Pregnancy. Without iron supplementation, iron deficiency anemia occurs in many pregnant women because their iron stores need to serve their own increased blood volume as well as be a source of hemoglobin for the growing fetus.

Complications 
Mild iron deficiency anemia usually doesn’t cause complications. However, left untreated, iron deficiency anemia can become severe and lead to health problems, including the following:

Heart problems. Iron deficiency anemia may lead to a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Your heart must pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen carried in your blood when you’re anemic. This can lead to an enlarged heart or heart failure.

Problems during pregnancy. In pregnant women, severe iron deficiency anemia has been linked to premature births and low birth weight babies. But the condition is preventable in pregnant women who receive iron supplements as part of their prenatal care.

Growth problems. In infants and children, severe iron deficiency can lead to anemia as well as delayed growth and development. Additionally, iron deficiency anemia is associated with an increased susceptibility to infections.

 

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Dragon Fruit Smoothie Ice Lolly

It’s the most dreaded time of the year again. The time when it is sweltering hot and water rationing looms again.  Yours truly, the ‘puteri lilin’ gets nauseous each time she comes back from the outdoors, after getting grilled by the murderous heat.  This afternoon I made a mistake and brought the girls to the open-air coffee shop to eat piping hot bitter gourd pork noodles. Gawd, I could feel the hot soup burning my innards, causing steam to emit from my nostrils! And I was soaking in my own sweat under the canopy outside the coffee shop. I was rushing the girls to finish off their bowls of hot noodles before we made a quick dash into the nearby supermarket to enjoy the air cond to cool down before getting into our sauna car!

Here’s a little simple, refreshing and healthy cool treat I made for the girls with my Blendtec smoothie maker to chill  them down…

 

Ice lolly made from dragon fruit + organic Juliet apple + orange smoothie…

The girls love it and have been indulging in them everyday.

 

Tomorrow, I shall get a pineapple to make pineapple + orange smoothie ice lolly.  It is so much fun creating healthy ice lollies for the girls. They are free from sugar, preservative and food additives. Only goodness in every lick and good to the last drop! :)

 

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Washing Hands Before Meals

From the three days that I spent in school at the start of the school term recently, I noticed that Cass did not wash her hands before she ate during recess.  From my observation, 9 out of 10 kids do not wash their hands before they eat and I am appalled.  I am appalled as I get to see for myself where these kids put their hands and what they touch the moment they reach school.  Kids are made to sit on the floor at the lobby of the school – one of the dirtiest places as people walk in and out.  I also see many kids sitting on the floor just right outside the stinky toilets!  You would know how filthy, wet and stinky Malaysian public school toilets are if you have attended one yourself.  Next, the wooden desks inside the classrooms. I see dirt stains on the desks and chairs and I doubt that they are ever wiped.  The other thing is the stairs railings. Most kids sweep their hands on the railings for support  when they go up and down the stairs and I doubt that these railing are ever cleaned.  What I am totally against is that kids are made to sit on dirty floors everywhere in the school — lobby/entrance of the school, hall, classrooms and outside toilets. OMG!!  I also saw kids sitting on pee-stained toilet seats and then dashed out of the toilet without washing their hands, GAWD!  My jaw almost dropped when the OCD me saw it!    And I have not once seen any teacher reminding these kids to wash their hands before they eat.   No wonder Sherilyn had hand-foot-mouth disease once, when she just started primary 1.

Since the start of school, I have been reminding Cass to wash her hands before she eats but each time she returned from school, I found out that she had forgotten to wash her hands before and after her recess.

So this is what I did – by putting a stick-on note pad on her lunch box as reminder.  This note is always in her lunch bag.  I hope this will serve a good reminder to her. I know soon she will ignore this yellow sticker and that is when I am going to change the color or design of the stick-on note pad! :D

 

Do you find out from your kids if they wash their hands before and after their meals in school?

 

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Our Sunday – 26 January 2015

Some new gym equipment arrived at the gym of our condo last week. One of the new equipment is a water rower.   I told the girls about this new cool equipment and they were excited to try it!

After dinner at the Japanese restaurant of our condo last night, I brought the kids to the gym for them to try out the Water Rower…

Water rowers use only water, which swishes around a drum at the front of the machine. This mimics the natural dynamics of a boat moving down a river which makes for a more even rowing experience, like rowing on real water. It simulates the ‘real’ feel of the oar locking onto moving water. How cool is the machine!   I had a hard time getting Cass off the Water Rower and promised her that I would bring her to the gym again this week.

A trip to the gym is never complete with a walk or run on the treadmill.

 

And so the girls managed to melt away all the calories from the rice and udon that they walloped at the Japanese restaurant after a 20-minute workout… while me, err, I skipped exercise yesterday. I was busy gossiping with another resident (my fellow gym gossiper, LOL!) … about this b*tchy control freak in our block who acts like she is the manager of the condo!

 

 

 

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The Emergency Room Or Urgent Care

There are emergency rooms and urgent care offices in almost every city in the country. You might think that you can get by with going to an urgent care location, but your symptoms might require the attention of immediate medical care at a hospital. There are a few ways that you can determine the difference in the kind of help that you need to seek.

If you are experiencing any kind of severe pain, especially in the chest or abdomen, then a visit to the emergency room would be beneficial so that any tests of scans can be done to rule out anything serious. An immediate medial care situation often involves bleeding that won’t stop, difficulty breathing or seizures that occur that haven’t been present. If you have a cold or virus, then an urgent care office can write you prescriptions so that you can get better. The office assists with minor cuts, burns and other injuries that might occur at home, school or work. A fever that doesn’t have a rash present can likely be treated at an urgent care facility. Tests can be done to determine if you have a urinary tract infection, strep throat or the flu. An urgent care facility is a place to go so that the emergency room isn’t overwhelmed with people who don’t have medical emergencies.

 

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Healthy Smoothie For Breakfast

While everyone was still dreaming in bed early this Sunday morning, I got up early to do some chores as usual, and then whipped up smoothie for everyone!

Orange + apple + fresh coconut water smoothie for the girls and hubs.  Avocado + milk + orange apple coconut shake for moi!

There were a total of 3 bottles +  1 glass of fruit smoothie and a glass of avocado milk shake.  This would have cost at least RM60 if we were to buy them from juice and smoothie bars outside.  But my cost is not even RM20!  Can you see how much profit these juice and smoothie bars reap??  This always gets me thinking that I should  open my own health food and juice bar too some day!

 

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