Category Archive: Nutritional Information On Vegetables

Wasabi Health Benefits

Have you ever wondered why raw sashimi and sushi are always eaten with wasabi? I have never really given it a serious ponder, as I thought that it’s been the practice of the Japanese for ages.

The answer lies in the antibacterial properties of wasabi.  Firstly, wasabi is effective in suppressing microbes and bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Secondly, wasabi helps to soften the fishy smell of the raw fish and thirdly draws out more of its flavor. So if you’re worried about eating your food raw, bear with the spiciness of the wasabi and getting teary eyed and watery nose.

File:Sashimi with Wasabi.jpg

 

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The powerful, natural components of wasabi have been shown to fight off bacterial infections.  In a recent study of the antibacterial properties of various foods and vegetables, wasabi ranked as the most successful antibacterial food against E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus (Staph infections). This means that food poisoning and other unfortunate conditions can be prevented by maintaining levels of isothiocyanates in the diet through the consumption of wasabi. Again, the isothiocyanates were proven to be the vital component that neutralized these potentially deadly bacteria within the body.

Some companies have begun to include trace elements of wasabi extract in their antibacterial creams and gels to boost their strength and effectiveness!

Wasabi

If you are a culinary purist, be sure to buy the real thing when shopping for wasabi. It is popular, but it is not cheap, and is not a widely exported product from Japan. Therefore, many companies create imitation wasabi from mustard, horseradish, and other components. The effect on your nose might be similar, but it is not a true wasabi experience, and it doesn’t give you all the same health benefits as true wasabi. High-end or traditional Japanese restaurants will typically have the genuine article, as well as specialty or import food stores.

 

Health Benefits of Wasabi

1. Kills Harmful Food-Borne Bacteria

Studies show that wasabi provides a powerful punch when it comes to protection against some bacteria. One study conducted at Chiba University’s Laboratory of Plant Cell Technology in Japan notes that using wasabi on potatoes made them more disease-resistant.

2. Prevents Tooth Decay

Due to its ability to eliminate bacteria, it’s a natural antimicrobial agent often used with raw fish. This is mainly because of the isothiocyanate vapors wasabi produces. These vapors help deter the development of yeast, mold and bacteria. Interestingly, it can also help prevent tooth decay by destroying the bacteria that may cause it.

3. Kills Cancer Cells

Wasabi contains powerful phytonutrients, or phytochemicals, called isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates are sulphur-containing phytonutrients with strong anticancer effects. They occur naturally as glucosinolate conjugates in cruciferous vegetables, like wasabi. When the raw vegetables are chewed, the plant cells are broken down and an enzyme called myrosinase converts into isothiocyanates.

Their anticancer effects occur as they neutralize carcinogens — therefore, reducing the negative impact of the poisons. Studies have shown that isothiocyanates may help prevent lung cancer and esophageal cancer and can help lower the risk of other cancers, including gastrointestinal cancer.  That means you can add wasabi to the list of cancer-fighting foods.

4. May Help Reduce Pain Caused by Inflammation

The compounds in wasabi might also help scientists develop a new treatment for pain. Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco studied isothiocyanates in wasabi that trigger a reaction in the TRP receptors, which are responsible for sending a pain signal to the brain, in the nerve cells in our tongues and mouths.

A scientist bred mice that lacked one type of TRP receptor and found that the mice didn’t react to compounds that contained isothiocyanates. As well, evidence shows that the receptor is responsible for inflammation, which means the isothiocyanates may have blocked that receptor — which in turn could make for a useful painkiller.

5. Improves Gut Health

Studies have shown that the root has characteristics that may suppress bacteria found in the gut, such as gastric inflammation and possibly even stomach cancer. It’s possible that it can prevent food poisoning, which is one of the reasons it’s served with raw fish.

Wasabi peas are a great option for the intestinal tract since they help remove toxic substances from your body by helping eliminate the possibility of getting diverticulitis complications. The detox happens because the peas are high-fiber foods. That fiber is needed to help push stool forward and ready for expelling. Without fiber to add bulk to the stool, the colon has to work harder than normal, and the pressure from this may cause pouches to form in weak spots along the colon, creating discomfort and potentially contributing to leaky gut syndrome.

 

A Healing Condiment

Wasabi is a potent vegetable with impressive healing potential. Continued research on its natural compounds may lead to new treatments for many common and serious illnesses. With studies varying in their methods -such as some using quality wasabi while others use powder- it’s important to consult with your doctor before using wasabi to treat or prevent any illness.

Wasabi – Health Risks

Liver damage – Although the health benefits of wasabi seem overwhelming, there is one very important thing to remember. If you consume too much wasabi, in an effort to supercharge your body against cancer or heart disease, you may actually destroy your liver. It has a chemical component called hepatotoxin, which is fine in small doses, but if you flood your body with wasabi, the body won’t be able to process the toxin and it can lead to severe liver damage. Remember! Moderation in all things is important to maintaining a healthy body and mind.

 

Allergies – As always, avoid foods that you are allergic to, and if you are consuming a unique food like wasabi for the first time, be aware of the potential effects it may have on you. Consult your doctor for a full allergy panel to have a more comprehensive view of your allergies!

 

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Chives Health Benefits

Chives, just like its cousin – spring onions, are one of our favorite vegetables.   We love chives cooked in any way.  Chives pair well with many dishes, especially those with eggs and cheese such as omelets, scrambles, quiches and frittatas. They’re also great with creamy vegetable dips and as a topping for soups and salads. They taste great when stir-fried with meat and also go well with noodles.

 

Chives are part of the allium family of vegetables and herbs, which also includes garlic, scallions, onions and leeks. Allium vegetables have been cultivated for centuries for not only their characteristic, pungent flavors but also for their medicinal properties.

Nutritional breakdown of chives

Chives are a nutrient-dense food, meaning that while they are low in calories they are high in beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One tablespoon of chopped chives contains 1 calorie and 0 grams of fat, 0 grams protein and 0 grams of carbohydrate while providing 3% of the daily value of both vitamins A and C. One serving of chives also contains a small amount vitamin K, folate, choline, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

Chive Buds

Possible health benefits of consuming chives

Chives are a nutrient-dense food, meaning that while they are low in calories they are high in beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Cancer: Allium vegetables have been studied extensively in relation to cancer, especially stomach and colorectal cancers. Their beneficial and preventative effects are likely due in part to their rich organosulfur compounds. Although the exact mechanism by which these compounds inhibit cancer is unknown, possible hypothesis include the inhibition of tumor growth and mutagenesis and prevention of free radical formation.

Prostate cancer: In a study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers used a population-based, case-controlled study to investigate the relationship between allium vegetable intake and prostate cancer. They found that men with the highest intake of allium vegetables had the lowest risk for prostate cancer.

Esophageal and stomach cancer: Frequent intake of allium vegetables such as chives has been inversely related with the risk of esophageal and stomach cancer.  Several survey-based human studies have demonstrated the potential protective effects of consuming alliums, as well as reports of tumor inhibition following administration of allium compounds in experimental animals.

Sleep and mood: The choline in chives is an important nutrient that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.6 Folate, also found in chives, may help with depressionby preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but also sleep and appetite as well.

Digestive Issues: The allyl sulfides and other unique organic compounds found in chives deliver similar benefits to the body as garlic, and as such, can effectively ease digestive discomfort. Furthermore, chives have natural antibacterial qualities that can eliminate a wide range of bacteria, particularly those in the salmonella family, which can wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal system. More specifically, chives can increase the nutrient uptake efficiency of your gut, ensuring that you get as many of the nutrients from your food as possible.

Image below shows a sauteed garlic chives bud dish with minced meat that I dished up yesterday.  Chives are inexpensive and easily available in our country.

 

A Final Word of Warning: Chives are not typically considered to be an allergenic substance and very few reports of negative reactions exist. However, an excessive amount of chives, with a high concentration of powerful organic compounds, can cause stomach discomfort. If you are allergic to onions or other members of the Allium genus, consult a medical professional before adding chives to your regular diet.

 

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Aubergines Are The Next Big Superfood

Aubergines are one of our favorite vegetables in the nightshade family.  Aubergine is a fruit used as a vegetable when cooked.  Eggplant (Solanum melongena) or aubergine is a species of nightshade grown for its edible fruit. Eggplant is the common name in North American and Australian English but British English uses aubergine.  It is known in South Asia, Southeast Asia and South Africa as brinjal.  I love aubergines cooked in any way, in particular roasted, stuffed with fish meat and other meat, stewed, braised and even steamed and seasoned with soy sauce and fried garlic.

I read a very interesting article from The Telegraph UK today on aubergines.   It says that the superfood avocado has now been replaced by the unsung hero: the humble aubergine.

Indeed, aubergines are so in vogue right now, vegans are using them to make (pardon the ghastly portmanteau) “fakon”, or fake bacon.  See various health freaks on Instagram for artfully-filtered photographic evidence.  Some popular cafes that I go to use tastefully grilled aubergines as meat replacement for their gourmet vegan burgers.

 

Grilled Eggplant Recipe

But how healthy are they? Purple fruit and veg in general are beneficial- think beetroot, blueberries, plums, red cabbage – because the anthocyanin which provides their colour is a powerful antioxidant. Aubergine skin is also high in phytonutrients and chlorogenic acid. As neuroscientist Dr James Joseph famously said: “If I could eat only one colour per day, it would be purple.”

Aubergines also form part of a Mediterranean diet, which recent research suggests could be better for the heart than taking statins. Redolent of sultry summer holidays, they can be stirred in ratatouille, mashed in baba ghanoush, layered in moussaka or baked in Tony Soprano’s favourite: parmigiana di melanzane, aka “parmi”.

 

Nutritional highlights

Aubergines are an excellent source of dietary fibre. They are also a good source of vitamins B1 and B6 and potassium. In addition it is high in the minerals copper, magnesium and manganese.

 

Aubergine growing

 

Aubergines are rich in antioxidants, specifically nasunin found in aubergine skin – which gives it its purple colour. A potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger, nasunin has been found to protect the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. Cell membranes are almost entirely composed of lipids and are responsible for protecting the cell and helping it to function. The lipid layer is crucial for letting nutrients in, wastes out and receiving instructions from messenger molecules that tell the cell what to do.

Aubergines are high in fibre and low in fat and therefore recommended for those managing type 2 diabetes or managing weight concerns. Initial studies indicate that phenolic-enriched extracts of eggplant may help in controlling glucose absorption, beneficial for managing type 2 diabetes and reducing associated high blood pressure (hypertension).

Aubergines may also help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. These positive effects are likely to be down to nasunin and other phytochemicals in aubergines.

Safety

Aubergines are a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), which includes bell peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. Research suggests a link between aggravated arthritic symptoms and the consumption of these types of foods. Although no case-controlled studies confirm these findings, some individuals consuming nightshade-family vegetables experience an aggravation of arthritic symptoms and may benefit from limiting or avoiding these foods.

Aubergines contain significant amounts of oxalate. Individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid overconsuming them.

 

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Onions Health Benefits

Onions are a staple in our kitchen. The kids and I LOVE onions of all types. We add onions to almost all our dishes. Onions are inexpensive and I use them generously in my dishes.  For fried rice and noodles, I sometimes skip the meat and flavor the dish with loads and loads of onions, garlic, scallions, eggs and vegetables. The pungent aroma of the onions and garlic give an appetizing lift to the fried rice and fried noodles.

Onions are part of the allium family of vegetables and herbs, which also includes chives, garlic, scallions and leeks.

Allium vegetables have been cultivated for centuries for not only their characteristic, pungent flavors but also for their medicinal properties.

Onions can vary in size, shape, color and flavor. The most common types are red, yellow and white onion. Flavors can vary from sweet and juicy with a mild flavor to sharp, spicy, and pungent, often depending on the season in which they are grown and consumed. It is estimated that 105 billion pounds of onions are harvested each year worldwide.

 

Cry me a river…

Onions are nothing to cry over — these flavorful bulbs are packed with nutrients, though I will shed loads of tears when I peel onions.  To reduce the production of this compound, chill the onions for half an hour or so before cutting to reduce the activity of the enzyme.

The onion’s revenge…

The smell of onions can be a problem, both on the hands and on the breath. After chopping onions, try rinsing the hands with cold water, rubbing them with salt, rinsing again and then washing with soap and warm water. To remove the smell from breath, eat a few sprigs of parsley or an apple to help conceal the odour.
Health Benefits

The possible health benefits of consuming onions include lowering the risk of several types of cancer, improving mood and maintaining the health of skin and hair.

Cancer: Allium vegetables have been studied extensively in relation to cancer, especially stomach and colorectal cancers. Their beneficial and preventative effects are likely due in part to their rich organosulfur compounds. Although the exact mechanism by which these compounds inhibit cancer is unknown, possible hypothesis include the inhibition of tumor growth and mutagenesis and prevention of free radical formation.

Onions are also a source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C that helps to combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.

Colon cancer: High fiber intakes from all fruits and vegetables are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.

Prostate cancer: In a study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers used a population-based, case-controlled study to investigate the relationship between allium vegetable intake and prostate cancer. They found that men with the highest intake of allium vegetables had the lowest risk for prostate cancer.

Esophageal and stomach cancer: Frequent intake of allium vegetables has been inversely related with the risk of esophageal and stomach cancer.  Several survey-based human studies have demonstrated the potential protective effects of consuming alliums, as well as reports of tumor inhibition following administration of allium compounds in experimental animals.

Sleep and mood: Folate, found in onions, may help with depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but also sleep and appetite as well.4

Skin and hair: Adequate intake of vitamin C is needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair.

Grilled Red Onions

 

Health risks

While not especially serious, eating onions can cause problems for some people. The carbohydrates in onions may cause gas and bloating, according to National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Onions, especially if consumed raw, can worsen heartburn in people who suffer from chronic heartburn or gastric reflux disease, according to one 1990 study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Eating a large amount of green onions or rapidly increasing your consumption of green onions may interfere with blood thinning drugs, according to the University of Georgia. Green onions contain a high amount of vitamin K, which can decrease blood thinner functioning.

It is also possible to have a food intolerance or an allergy to onions, but cases are rare, according to an article in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. People with onion allergies may experience red, itchy eyes and rashes if an onion comes into contact with the skin. People with an intolerance to onions may experience nausea, vomiting and other gastric discomfort.

 

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Sweet Corn Health Benefits

My lunch today consists of an ear of bi-colored sweet corn that I had just bought from the supermarket. The bi-colored sweet corns are the premium selection of sweet corns produced from a local farm.  The sweet corns were so fresh and sweet that I ate half an ear raw and the other half briefly steamed.

 

 

My kids and I love sweet corns.   Lately, I have been doing quite a bit of research from the internet on sweet corns. I am sure you’ve heard that sweet corns are bad for you. But are sweet corns really that bad or just a myth?  Many people have convinced themselves that sweet corn is bad. That’s a shame. It’s easy to take a few real nuggets of fact and use them to come to a distorted conclusion about this super-delicious and sweet veggie.

Here are some of the biggest myths about corn which I had read from Barry Estabrook’s feature in July / August 2012 issue of EatingWell.  Barry is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured in publications including the “New York Times Magazine”, “Reader’s Digest” and the “Washington Post”.

Myth #1: Most sweet corn is genetically modified.
Truth: A lot of people mix up “sweet corn,” the vegetable you buy to eat, and “field corn”—the virtually inedible commodity crop used to make everything from livestock feed to ethanol to high-fructose corn syrup. While most field corn is genetically modified, most sweet corn is not. Last year only 3 to 4% of the sweet corn grown in the U.S. was GMO. Food-giant Monsanto hopes to change all that this summer, however. For the first time, farmers are planting Monsanto’s newly approved, genetically modified Performance sweet-corn seeds. A representative from the company wouldn’t divulge how much will be planted this year. One way to try to tell whether the sweet corn you’re holding is GMO is to ask the farmers you buy from if they plant GMO corn. (Syngenta’s Attribute and Monsanto’s Performance are the two varieties sold in North America.) Another way: choose USDA organic corn. GMO crops are forbidden under organic standards.

Myth #2: Corn is fattening and sugary.
Truth: An ear of corn has about the same number of calories as an apple and less than one-fourth the sugar. In other words, it can be one of the healthier foods at the cookout! Just remember: while sweet corn is healthy, some of the toppings people like to put on it aren’t. So don’t assume an ear of corn slathered in butter and doused in salt is still a healthy option.

Myth #3: Cooking corn makes it less nutritious.
Truth: Antioxidant activity, which helps protect the body from cancer and heart disease, is actually increased when corn is cooked.

Myth #4: Corn has no healthy benefits.
Truth: Sweet corn is loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that promote healthy vision. A midsize ear also offers a helpful 3-gram dose of dietary fiber.

Myth #5: The best way to choose corn is by the color of the kernels.
Truth: Although corn lovers often profess to have favorite varieties, farmer Kevin Smith, interviewed by Estabrook for the story, says variety is far less important than freshness. “Any corn can be ruined if it’s old,” he says. Nor is color a key to quality. Yellow, white, bi-color—it doesn’t really matter. Preferences vary from region to region. Avoid corn with dry, pale husks and silks that are desiccated where they enter the cob. If pricked, kernels should squirt whitish juice. As for choosing the best-tasting corn, abide by Smith’s “one-day rule.” Don’t buy a cob that’s more than 24 hours out of the fiel

 

Nutritional Value of Sweet Corns:

Sweet corn is very rich in vitamin B1, vitamin B5, vitamin C, phosphorus, manganese, folate and dietary fiber. Because of the vitamins contained in sweet corn, many health benefits can be associated with the consumption of this delicious vegetable.

 

Sweet Benefits of Sweet Corns:

1  Cancer Prevention

Sweet corn contains a chemical known as beta cryptoxanthin. Beta cryptoxanthin is chemically similar to the well known chemical beta carotene. The human body converts beta cryptoxanthin to vitamin A when consumed in foods. According to a study performed by Jian-Min Yuan published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, there is an inverse relationship between consumption of beta cryptoxanthin and lung cancer development. This means the greater amount of beta cryptoxanthin that is consumed, the lower the prevalence of lung cancer development.

2  Memory Enhancement

Sweet corn contains high levels of thiamine, or vitamin B1. According to WHFoods.org, thiamine is an essential nutrient required for brain cell and cognitive function. Consumption of thiamine is necessary for the body to produce acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is essential for the maintenance of memory capabilities. One of the primary factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease is low levels of acetylcholine.

3  Vision Protection

According to AusFoodNews.com.au, sweet corn contains the antioxidant zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin is the yellow pigment that naturally occurs in sweet corn. Consumption of zeaxanthin can have a protective effect against age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration. In addition, sweet corn also contains folate and beta carotene, which also may protect against macular degeneration.

 

Useful Tip

Avoid corn with dry, pale husks and silks that are desiccated where they enter the cob. If pricked, kernels should squirt whitish juice.

 

 

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Portobello Mushroom Health Benefits

Portobello mushrooms are another staple item in our refrigerator.  Everyone in our family loves fresh portobello mushrooms. We can eat them everyday, cooked in different styles and never get fed-up of them.  Our girls love them grilled in the oven with freshly chopped garlic, ground black pepper and olive oil.  We also love portobello soup and adding these mushrooms into our omelette, pasta and as toppings on pizza.

 

Add portobellos to your diet for a change of pace.

 

Aside from being delicious, portobello mushrooms are a nutritional powerhouse and low in calories. Portobello mushrooms are a great substitute for meat.  They provide antioxidants which may protect our body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Portobello Fun Facts

The macronutrients consist of fat, carbohydrates and protein. Portobellos have a balance of protein and carbs, and they are low in fat. A 100-gram grilled serving contains just over 3 grams of protein, about 4 1/2 grams of carbs and just over a 1/2 gram of total fat. The recommended intake of protein is 46 grams a day for women and 56 grams a day for men. Both men and women should strive for at least 130 grams of carbs daily. Using a portobello as a side dish with a source of animal protein like lean beef or a chicken breast will boost the protein content. Putting a portobello in a bun to make a sandwich boosts the carb content.

Portobello mushrooms are a good source of fiber, with 11 percent of the daily value, and they contain a lot of water, making them low in energy density. Foods that are low in energy density, which means they don’t contain many calories per gram, can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. You can eat a large volume of these foods without consuming very many calories. For example, a whole cup of sliced, grilled portobello mushrooms has only 35 calories.

Portobello Mushroom Healthy Recipes

 

Low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber, Portobellos are an excellent source of copper, which your body needs to produce red blood cells and carry oxygen through your body. They also offer three important B-complex vitamins: riboflavin for maintaining healthy red blood cells; niacin for supple skin and properly functioning digestive and nervous systems; and pantothenic acid, which aids in the release of energy from the fat, protein, and carbohydrates in the food you eat.   Portobellos are also an excellent source of copper.

Just one cup of mushrooms has the potential to release at least 15 different vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. A single Portobello contains more potassium than a banana – 630 mg per serving – which helps maintain normal heart rhythm and muscle and nerve function, as well as a balance between your fluid and minerals. This in turn helps control blood pressure.

Use as Part of a Healthy Diet

Adding mushrooms to your diet can help increase your fiber intake and lower your risk for heart disease, high cholesterol and digestive conditions, such as constipation and hemorrhoids. Grill portobello mushroom caps and eat them like hamburgers; chop them up and use them to replace part of the meat in meat sauces; or add them to pizzas, soups or fajitas.

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Pumpkin Health Benefits

The humble pumpkin is a staple item in our household.  Pumpkins are such versatile vegetables. Well, they can be labeled as a fruit too. They  are both dependent on what definition you use.  They are fruit because they are the part of the plant that contains and protects the seeds. They are vegetables because they are eaten cooked, not raw (one of the definitions) and because they belong to the vegetable kingdom.

Everyone in our family loves pumpkin, except the littlest one but she is slowly learning to acquire the taste and texture. I am sure she will soon grow to love pumpkin too, just like our 2 older girls who didn’t like pumpkin when they were little but have grown to appreciate it now.

Our favorite type of pumpkin is the organic Japanese pumpkin as the flesh has a very creamy and smooth texture.  We have tried other types of pumpkins but didn’t really like those as the flesh tends to melt and turns watery when cooked too long.

Pumpkin Japanese (Organic) 500g

 

Here are some key points about pumpkin:

  • Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E.
  • Pumpkin is one of the best-known sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene.
  • The potassium contained within pumpkins can have a positive effect on blood pressure.
  • The antioxidants and vitamins contained within pumpkins could prevent degenerative damage to the eyes.
  • Pumpkin is an extremely nutrient dense food, meaning it is high in vitamins and minerals but low in calories.
  • According to the USDA National Nutrient database, one cup of pumpkin, cooked, boiled, drained and without salt contains 49 calories, 1.76 grams of protein, 0.17 grams of fat, 0 grams of cholesterol and 12 grams of carbohydrate (including 2.7 grams of fiber and 5.1 grams of sugar).

Pumpkin Queso Fundido

 

Here are some of the possible health benefits of pumpkin

1) Keep eyesight sharp
Pumpkins are also rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give the gourd their bright orange color, including beta-carotene, which the body converts into a form of vitamin A for additional peeper protection.

2) Aid weight loss
Pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber, but with three grams per one-cup serving and only 49 calories, it can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories.

3) May reduce cancer risk
Like their orange comrades the sweet potato, the carrot and the butternut squash (to name a few), pumpkins boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute.

One particular type of cancer where research has shown a positive benefits of a diet rich in beta-carotene is prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition. Beta-carotene has also been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population.

4) Protect our skin
The same free-radical-neutralizing powers of the carotenoids in pumpkin that may keep cancer cells at bay can also help keep the skin wrinkle-free.

5) Good for your heart
Eating pumpkin is good for the heart! The fiber, potassium and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health.

Nuts and seeds, including those of pumpkins, are naturally rich in certain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been shown in studies to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.

6) Fertility
For women of child-bearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources such as spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes and beets appear to promote fertility, according to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications. The vitamin A in pumpkin (consumed as beta-carotene then converted to vitamin A in the body) is also essential during pregnancy and lactation for hormone synthesis.

7) Protect Your Package
Pumpkins, especially the seeds are rich in beta-carotene and other antioxidants with cancer protective properties. And pumpkin seeds could be especially healthy for men. Researchers in Taiwan found pumpkin seed oil blocked unhealthy prostate growth in male rats. A quarter cup of the seeds also contains about 2.75 mg of zinc (about 17 percent of the recommended daily intake for adults), which contributes to male sexual health.

In the early twentieth century, people used pumpkin seeds to treat enlarged prostate symptoms. They contain protective compounds called phytosterols, which may help shrink the prostate.

8) Pumpkin seeds treat intestinal worms
Pumpkin seeds can also help your body get rid of nasty gut parasites that can make you sick, according to registered pharmacist Debbie Edson in Living Well Magazine. They have traditionally been used for this purpose by Native Americans. Even today, pumpkin seeds are used to treat tapeworms in some parts of Africa.

There are many interesting ways of incorporating pumpkins into your diet. Pumpkins are so choke-full of nutrients, they taste delish and  are inexpensive. I like my pumpkin roasted, steamed, braised, added into breads and buns and I heart pumpkin desserts and pumpkin chips! I just Googled ‘pumpkin recipes’ and in 0.62 seconds, 17,100,000 search results popped up!

 

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Capsicum Health Benefits

Today we met up with some close family friends for lunch. Over lunch, our friend, a man in his early seventies casually told us how he managed to bring his cholesterol level down naturally by consuming raw green capsicum for dinner every night.  I was intrigued to hear that and this is what I am planning to do now to bring down my cholesterol level.

To recap, I was diagnosed with genetic high cholesterol in June last year.  I managed to bring down the reading from 6.4 to 5.8 after 8 months of altering my diet. I also include Izumio hydrogenated water and carotenoid supplement (Super Lutein) in my diet everyday.

Capsicum is not something that I would buy on a regular basis as it is not my favorite kind of vegetable. I dislike the pungent taste. But oh well, snacking on raw capsicum is definitely way better than popping statin.  Whether I like it or not, I will have to give it a try. I have nothing to lose by including this bell shaped peppers into my diet.

Apart from imparting flavor and attractiveness to bland dishes, bell peppers are loaded with nutrients like vitamins A, C and K, carotenoids and dietary fiber which makes them immensely beneficial for the overall good health. Bell peppers also have vitamin B6 and folate that help to lower homocysteine levels, thus reducing the risk of heart disease.

Some of the health benefits of bell peppers are given below:

1)  Cardiovascular Benefits

Red bell peppers are rich in lycopene, thus making them excellent for a healthy heart whereas green bell peppers are a good source of cholesterol lowering fiber. Increased homocysteine levels can lead to a higher risk of heart disease. Bell peppers contain vitamin B6 and folate which help to lower homocysteine levels. In addition to these, the powerful antioxidants vitamins A and C present in these vegetables help to wipe out free radicals. Potassium contained in bell peppers lowers about 162 milligrams of blood pressure which is also beneficial for heart.

 

2)  Anti-Cancer Benefits

Being rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, bell pepper provides several anti-cancer benefits. The risk of cancer increases due to chronic excessive inflammation and chronic unwanted oxidative stress. These factors can be offset with regular intake of phytonutrients having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, bell peppers also contain health supportive sulphur compounds. The enzymes in bell pepper help to prevent gastric cancer and esophageal cancer. The carotenoid lycopene is found to be effective in the prevention of prostate, bladder, cervix and pancreas cancer.

 

3)  Burns more Calories

Red bell peppers help in activating thermogenesis and increase the metabolic rate. Capsaicin which is responsible for increasing the hotness of other peppers is found in bell peppers in very small amounts. Thus, they have a mild thermogenic action that increases the metabolism without increasing the heart rate and blood pressure unlike hot peppers. Hence, they can support weight loss.

4)  Good for Eyes:

Being high in vitamin A, red bell peppers help to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision. They are a rich source of a carotenoid called lutein that helps in lowering the risk of macular degeneration of the eyes. Macular degeneration of eyes is the most common cause of age related visual loss. Bell peppers also protect your eyes from cataracts due to their high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin C

 

5) Reduce Risk Of Diabetes And Obesity

A new research has claimed that eating yellow and red bell peppers, commonly known as capsicum, can reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity.

The study shows that yellow and red bell peppers slowed down the digestion of carbohydrates and lipids which in turn reduce the chances of developing hyperglycaemia and hyperlipidemia.

In the study, the scientists examined the impact of the bell peppers on nutrition digestive enzymes-carbohydrate cleaving enzyme alpha- glucosidase and lipid-slicing enzyme pancreatic lipase.

They found that yellow capsicum inhibited the activity of alpha-glucosidase and lipase as compared to green capsicum.

Capsicum - Chocolate Beauty

6)  Cures Iron Deficiency

Red bell peppers provide almost 300 percent of the daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C is essential for the proper absorption of iron. Thus, those suffering from iron deficiency should consume red peppers.

 

7)   Benefits of Capsaicin

Capsaicin is found in the white membranes of peppers which is responsible for imparting heat to the seeds as well. It lowers the cholesterol levels and triglycerides. It kills the ulcer causing bacteria in the stomach and boosts immunity.

 

8)  Enhances Hair Growth & Health

Applying bell pepper on hair can be effective in triggering hair growth through the improvement of blood circulation in the scalp. Boil a few dry red bell peppers in water and leave it for 5 to 6 minutes. After cooling it, massage it on your scalp with the help of a cotton pad and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes. Then wash off the hair. This should be done twice a week for best results. The spiciness of bell pepper enhances the growth and health of the hair.

 

9) Fights Oxidative Damage

Red, green and yellow bell peppers are rich in vitamin C which helps in the production of collagen. Collagen keeps the skin firm and protects the cells from further damage. It increases the ability of the skin to fight against oxidative damage.

 

10)  Reverses Signs of Ageing

Consumption of bell pepper juice helps in reversing the signs of ageing due to its high antioxidant levels. Bell peppers protect the skin from damage-causing free radicals, thus promoting healthy and younger looking skin.

 

11)  Clears Skin Blemishes & Rashes

A mixture of carrot and green bell pepper juice can be very effective in clearing blemishes and rashes on the skin.

I’ll bet you never knew what capsicums can do for your health. So the next time you go grocery shopping, pop some capsicums into your shopping cart and start reaping their wholesome health benefits!

 

 

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Beet Root Health Benefits And Liver Cleanser

If you have high cholesterol, diabetes, are obese or are a heavy drinker (alcoholism), your liver is at risk.   If you have these conditions, you will most likely have fatty liver.

Fatty liver, or steatosis, is a term that describes the buildup of fat in the liver. While it’s normal to have some fat in your liver, more than 5 to 10 percent of your liver weight is fat in the case of fatty liver.  Fatty liver is a reversible condition that can be resolved with changed behaviors. It often has no symptoms and typically does not cause permanent damage.

Excess fat can cause liver inflammation. If your liver becomes inflamed, you may have a poor appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, weakness and confusion.

As I have genetic high cholesterol, my liver is at risk of being fatty and inflamed.  To reduce putting the stress on my liver, I have reduced my meat intake and increased my fruits (especially grapefruit, which cleanses the liver) and vegetables intake.  And of course, I drink extra packets of Izumio hydrogen water everyday to help bring down my cholesterol reading.  Hydrogen is an antioxidant that zaps free radicals  from the body and it nourishes the liver and kidneys.

My latest addition to nourish my liver  is beet root.

One of the most common and effective natural liver detoxifiers is the beet. Beets have been used to fight liver toxins and to increase the overall level of health of individuals for many years, and they can be easily integrated into one’s diet to keep the liver working at an optimal level.  Beets also purify the blood.

Beets are beneficial to one’s health for many reasons as they are a high-antioxidant vegetable that contains a number of important substances, including: betaine, betalains, fiber, iron, betacyanin, folate, and betanin.

Pectin, which is a fiber found in beets, can also help clean the toxins that have been removed from the liver, allowing them to be flushed out of the system instead of reabsorbed by the body. Because of this property, many medical professionals encourage individuals to eat beets raw without juicing them, so that these fibers can be ingested as completely as possible. This is not difficult, as they can be baked, grated, or roasted as well as eaten alone or incorporated into other dishes.

I like tossing a few chunks of raw beet root into my fruit smoothie.

My smoothie today consists of apples, oranges and beet root.

 

Beetroot is a good source of silica needed for the utilization of calcium in the body and for healthy skin, hair, nails and bones.

 

Who should eat beetroot?

 

  • Anyone with high cholesterol or wishing to reduce their risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes
  • Anyone wishing to support their body’s detoxification system and increase liver cleansing
  • Those wishing to reduce the risk of cancer, particularly colon cancer
  • Menopausal women or women wishing to promote menstruation
  • Those with constipation

 

 

Apart from having a choke-full of vitamins, minerals and cleansing properties, beet roots are nature’s Viagra!  Seriously!  The ancient Romans used them medicinally as an aphrodisiac and it’s backed by science.  Beets contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.

Nuff said, right?  Beet roots are a health powerhouse, taste good, prevent cancer, detoxify the liver and increase one’s libido!  Sign me up!  Beets will be a staple in my fridge from now onwards!

 

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Arrowroot Health Benefits

Did you know that arrowroot remains an important and effective remedy for many different health conditions? It can be used as a replacement in many foods, rather than flour or corn. Essentially arrowroot powder can be a healthier alternative to the more common cooking ingredients for breads, pastas, and cakes.

Arrowroot is also gluten-free, which makes it all the more valuable today with the rising incidence of Celiac disease in many countries.

Arrowroot is a plant. People use starch taken from the root and rhizome (underground stem) to make medicine.

Arrowroot is used as a nutritional food for infants and for people recovering from illness. It is also used for stomach and intestinal disorders, including diarrhea.

Some people sooth painful gums and sore mouth by applying arrowroot directly to the affected area. Babies cut teeth on arrowroot cookies.

In foods, arrowroot is used as an ingredient in cooking. Arrowroot is often replaced with cheaper starches, including potato, corn, wheat, or rice starch.

There is some scientific evidence that arrowroot may help lower cholesterol in the body.

Arrowroot

Health benefits of arrowroot

  • Arrowroot is very low in calories; 100 fresh roots carries just 65 calories; less than that of potato, yam, cassava, etc. Its chief starch compose of amylopectin (80%) and amylose (20%). Its powder is fine, odorless, granular starch that is found utility in the food industry as thickener and stabilizing agent.
  • It has relatively more protein than that of other tropical food sources like yam, potato, cassava, plantains, etc.
  • As in other roots and tubers, arrowroot too is free from gluten. Gluten-free starch is used in special food preparations for celiac disease patients.
  • Fresh roots indeed are good source of folates. 100 g arrowroot provides 338 µg or 84% of daily required levels of folates. Folate, along with vitamin B-12, is one of the essential components that take part in the DNA synthesis and cell division. Diet rich in folate when given during preconception periods and during pregnancy may help prevent neural-tube defects and other congenital malformations in the offspring.
  • Arrowroot contains very good levels of B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and riboflavin. Many of these vitamins take part as substrates for enzymes in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism in the body.
  • Further, it contains moderate levels of some important minerals like copper, iron, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, and zinc. In addition, it is an excellent source of potassium (454 mg per 100g or 10% of RDA). Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

 

 

arrowrootinfo

Photo credits: OrganicFacts.net

 

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