• 11May

    Also known as Asian Pigeon Wings, Blue Bell Vine, Blue Pea, Cordofan Pea and Darwin Pea, ‘Butterfly Pea’ (Clitoria ternatea) is an amazing brain boosting herb native to tropical equatorial Asia.

    A traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, Clitoria Ternatea has been consumed for centuries as a memory enhancer, brain booster, anti-stress and calmative agent.  Its scientific  name is Clitoria Ternatea as the shape of the flower looks strikingly similar to one of the female organs.

    Datei:Clitoria ternatea.jpg

    I have been drinking an organic butterfly pea flower + lemongrass tea imported from Thailand everyday for the past one year. I seem to get hooked to this tea. The aromatic smell of the lemongrass in vivid blue is indeed a captivating and refreshing non-caffeinated tea to drink everyday.

    Once hot water is added to the tea bag, the deep blue liquid changes color based on the pH level of whatever is added next. Squeeze in some lemon or add in a bit of citrus juice, and the blue changes to purple. Its beautiful natural color and health benefits that come along with it have made Blue Pea Flower tea a hit with anyone who enjoys a little whimsy in their life.

    Culinary Uses of the Butterfly Pea Flower

    It is not only tea that the butterfly pea flower is used for. In Southeast Asia, it is used as a food coloring which is so much healthier than chemically processed colorings. Also, in Malaysia, an extract of the flower is used to color rice in the dishes, Kuih Ketan, and Nyonya chang. In Kelantan, which is in East Malaysia, they add a few buds of the flower while cooking white rice, just to have a bluish tint to the dish.

    In Thailand, a syrupy blue drink is made out of the butterfly pea flower, and this is called Nam doc anchan. Sometimes a drop of sweet lime juice is added to give it a more acidic taste. The lime juice turns the drink into a beautiful purple-pink color.

    On the other hand, in Burma and Thailand, the flowers are dipped in batter and fried.

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    Benefits of Butterfly Pea (Clitoria Ternatea):

    Improves eyesight
    Clitoria Ternatea contains an antioxidant called proanthocyanidin, which increases blood flow to the capillaries of the eyes, useful in treatment of glaucoma, blurred vision, retinal damage or tired eyes.

    Improves hair growth
    Rich in bioflavonoids, Butterfly Pea can promote hair growth and reduce greying of hair.

    Improves skin
    Butterfly Pea’s antioxidants stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis, which helps rejuvenate the skin and lessen wrinkles and other signs of ageing.

    Aphrodisiac
    Butterfly Pea has been traditionally used as an aphrodisiac particularly for women and used to treat menstruation problems or white vaginal discharge (leucorrhoea).

    Blue Butterfly Pea Tea

    Photo credits – MajesticHerbs.com

    Antioxidant
    Flavonoids, anthocyanins and phenolic compounds in Butterfly Pea flowers activate antioxidant activity, which helps decrease oxidative stress caused by disease causing and ageing free radicals.

    Nootropic
    Butterfly Pea has been shown to enhance cognitive function and boost brain function.

    Diuretic
    Butterfly Pea promotes normal urination, which in turn lowers blood pressure

    Analgesic
    Clitoria Ternatea has been used traditionally as a local anaesthetic as it has been shown to help relieve pain and swelling.

    Anxiolyhic
    Butterfly Pea has a calming effect on the body, reducing stress and anxiety

    Anti-inflammatory
    The deep indigo flowers contain flavonoids. Found in almost all fruits and vegetables, flavonoids are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits.

    Anti-Asthmatic
    It is used in common cold, cough & asthma as it acts as an expectorant and reduces the irritation of respiratory organs.

    Anti-anxiety and depression
    Indications are that high doses of Butterfly Pea may be adaptogenic – helping the body deal with stressors.

    Anti-diabetic
    Butterfly Pea has shown to inhibit glucose intake from the diet.

    Anti-HIV
    Butterfly Pea is one of the few herbs to contain cyclotides, which have exhibited anti-HIV effects in studies.

    Anti-cancer and anti-tumor
    Clitoria Ternatea’s cyclotides can cause cancer cell death by disrupting cell membrane integrity.

    Anti-microbial
    In several Indian studies, Butterfly Pea exhibited significant anti-microbial effects against Staphylococcus Aureus.

    Anti-convulsant
    Butterfly Pea has been shown to help reduce the severity and stress on the body from convulsions useful in treating epilepsy.

    Anti-pyretic
    Clitoria Ternatea can help reduce fever by dilating the blood vessels right beneath the skin, whereby air can cool the blood easier.

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  • 12Apr

    For several hundred years now, the burdock plant and burdock root have been used for purifying and flushing toxins from the blood stream. In its capacity as a diuretic, the burdock herb and root increase the output of urine, thereby flushing out excess water.

    The taproot of young burdock plants can be harvested and eaten as a root vegetable. While generally out of favour in modern European cuisine, it remains popular in Asia. Burdock root is known as “niúbàng” in Chinese, which was borrowed into Japanese as gobo, and is still eaten in both countries. In Korea burdock root is called “u-eong” and sold as “tong u-eong”, or “whole burdock”.

    Burdock root has been valued across continents for thousands of years for its ability to purify blood and cool internal heat. Internally and externally, it has potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects on the human body. Recent studies also show that burdock contains phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin, which are all powerful, health-promoting antioxidants.

    Burdock has been used to treat both bacterial and fungal infections, including ringworm, urinary tract infections, and acne. Its antibacterial effects may also promote wound healing and help treat ulcers.

    In addition, the consumption of burdock root benefits the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions, stimulates the digestive organs and also treats various stomach ailments.

    Burdock is one of the only herbs that can stimulate lymphatic drainage (since lymph pumping is usually manual and requires exercise!) Because of this lymphatic cleansing ability, and its incredible plant chemical composition, burdock is a major cancer fighter, skin clearer, and liver healer.

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    Burdock is used as a tonic for its immune-strengthening capabilities. It has been used for centuries as a diuretic and to clear the blood of toxins by stimulating perspiration. When applied topically, it is used to relieve certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis, acne and eczema. Burdock is also being used to lower blood sugar, to treat digestive troubles, minor skin infections, colds, sore throat, flu, HIV and rheumatoid arthritis and to stimulate bile production. Historically, burdock has also been used to treat cancer. There have not been many studies performed on burdock, so evidence of its effectiveness is mostly anecdotal.

    As burdock goes to work on the liver, it is able to clear heat, anger, irritability, and restlessness. This has beneficial effects on arthritis, gout, infections, and other ‘angry’ inflammatory conditions. It further has a gentle diuretic action on the kidneys which helps clear the blood of harmful acids and aids in lower back pain, fluid retention, and sciatica.

    Eaten as a food (usually peeled) in soups, stews, and stir fry, burdock is a cleansing yet strengthening food that helps lessen sweet cravings and aids in treating diabetes. Because of its slight bitter qualities, it greatly improves digestion (same reason people have always eaten bitter green salads before the main course!).

    Burdock Root Possible Side Effects & Caution

    Burdock root is considered safe when consumed as a food, which is done regularly in Asian countries. However, pregnant and nursing women should avoid burdock root, as it may cause damage to the fetus.

    If you’re dehydrated, you should not take burdock because the herb’s diuretic effects could make dehydration worse. Additionally, if you’re sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family, which includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds and daisies, you could possibly experience an allergic reaction to using burdock internally or externally, including dermatitis.

    There are no known scientific reports of interactions between burdock and conventional medications. However, you should talk to your doctor before taking burdock if you take diuretics (burdock could make the effect of water pills stronger), diabetes medications (burdock might lower blood sugar, causing hypoglycemia) or blood-thinning medications (burdock can slow blood clotting and, when taken with blood-thinning medications, may increase the risk of bruising and bleeding).

    If you’re going to undergo any type of surgery, stop taking burdock root at least two weeks before your surgery date. Burdock might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery.

    There are no known scientific reports on the pediatric use of burdock, so you should only give burdock to children under the supervision of a doctor.

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  • 25Oct

    Of  the different colors of sweet potatoes, my absolute favorite is the purple variety. Everyone in our family loves it. We often have them for lunch.   The lavender colored cousin of the familiar orange and yellow variety of sweet potato has a very flavorful and pleasant floral aroma. Purple sweet potato is also known as Okinawan sweet potato. We love our purple sweet potatoes steamed or boiled with palm sugar, ginger and pandan leaves (screwpine leaves).

    The Okinawan sweet potato is not related to the potato but is actually in the morning glory family. Native to the Americas, it was brought to Japan sometime between 1492 and 1605. The hardy plant grew well in Japan and quickly became popular in a variety of Japanese dishes. When it eventually made its way to the Hawaiian Islands, brought by the Polynesians, the crop flourished in the rich volcanic soil.

    Don’t you just love the beautiful vibrant purple color of the purple sweet potato?  They are packed with anthocyanins, which may have anti-inflammatory properties.

    Purple sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A. A medium potato serving yields 1,643 retinol activity equivalents — retinol being a form of vitamin A used in measuring vitamin amounts. The daily recommendation for vitamin A is 600 to 900 micrograms of retinol activity equivalents. The brightly hued tuber also contributes 812 milligrams of potassium toward your 4,700-milligram-per-day adequate intake and 58 milligrams of calcium toward the 1,000-milligram-per-day recommendation.

    Purple sweet potatoes are also a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. Sweet potatoes are known to improve blood sugar regulation and some studies have discovered significant antibacterial and antifungal properties. The primary nutritional benefit, and the one for which Okinawan sweet potatoes are especially prized, is their high antioxidant levels. The antioxidant known as anthocyanin is the pigment which is responsible for the brilliant purple color of the flesh. It is the same pigment that gives blueberries, red grapes and red cabbage their color.

     

    okinawan sweet potato Seeds,Also known as Hawaiian Sweet Potato and Uala.

    These are some of the health benefits of purple sweet potatoes:

    Jam-packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients.

    Help lower and regulate blood pressure.

    May prevent blood clots.

    High in fiber and can prevent constipation

    They are low in GI and can stabilize blood sugar levels, thus suitable for diabetics. As in all foods, do eat in moderate amounts.

    Some studies have discovered significant antibacterial and antifungal properties in purple sweet potatoes.

    Anthocyanin and other color-related pigments in sweet potato are equally valuable for their anti-inflammatory health benefits.

    Good for your eyes – the antioxidant vitamins C and E in sweet potatoes have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage.

    Improve your immunity – plant foods like sweet potatoes that are high in both vitamin C and beta-carotene offer an immunity boost from their powerful combination of nutrients.

    Great for endurance athletes and ultra runners.

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  • 08Sep

    Pandan leaves are the love of my life!  I so heart these fragrant leaves. I love everything pandan – from pandan cakes to pandan kaya jam, pandan jelly, pandan chicken, pandan desserts, you name it, I love it. Sniffing pandan leaves and pandan powder can  lift up my mood instantly. The aroma de-stresses me.  Pandan leaves also repel my enemies – cockroaches and mozzies!  I have knots of pandan leaves in my car and in my kitchen drawers.  Pandan leaves are a wonderful natural air freshener.  If only we live in a landed property, I’ll take up half the garden and fill them with lots of pandan plants. I’ll surely be making pandan tea every day if I have access to fresh pandan leaves.  Currently I am using organic pandan powder to make pandan tea. I like mixing the pandan powder to ginger tea.

    Pandan, also called screw pine (Pandanus amarylfolius) contains isoprene esters, tannins, glycosides, alkaloids and richly scented essential oils.

    Uses of Pandan Leaves:

    Great for Anxiety and Stress – If a person has anxiety, drinking 2 or 3 cups of pandan tea will sooth away their stress.

    Great for Pain – Pandan leaves are wonderful for getting rid of pain of all kinds including arthritis, chest pains, earaches, and headaches. Drink a cup of pandan tea as needed for pain.

    Gum Pain – Chewing fresh or dried leaves pandan leaves is a great way to sooth away oral discomforts and gum pain.

    Natural Mosquito Repellant – Pandan extract in high concentrations can also be used to keep away mosquitos with skin application… and it’s not toxic compared to DEET and other agents which are very toxic.

    GI Cramps and Spams – Pandan leaves work wonders for of the GI tract and especially stomach cramps. Drink the tea as needed.

    Natural Mosquito Repellant –  Pandan extract in high concentrations can also be used to keep away mosquitos by way of topical application… and it’s not toxic compared to DEET and other agents which are toxic.

    Lowers Blood Pressure – Take 2 or 3 leaves and boil in 2 cups of water and reduce to one cup — drink this tea every AM and PM to lower blood pressure.

    Reduces Fevers – Pandan leaves also help to reduce fevers; drink the tea until fever subsides.

    Cancer – Pandan leaf tea can also help to prevent and heal certain types of cancer.  Several lab tests were done which showed that pandan has anti-proliferative properties against some cancers.

    Skin Fungus – Take fresh pandan leaves, extract the juice from the leaves and add the juice to a cup of salt water, and drink one cup a day for 3 days.

    Detoxing Agent – Pandan leaf tea is also great for detoxing the liver and the body in general.

    Mild Laxative for Children – Pandan tea is a mild and safe laxative for child

    Healing Dandruff – Take 4 or 5 dried pandan leaves and crush them into a powder and then add a little water to make a paste and massage into scalp; it works like a charm for some people.

    Heals Sunburns – Adding lots of pandan tea to a bath and soaking for a few minutes soothes away sunburns.

    Natural Cockroach Repellant – Taking the tea and spraying it around the house keeps cockroaches away.

    Natural Green Food Color – The longer pandan leaves are boiled the darker the green color. The resulting liquid is a natural food coloring that can be used for baking and cooking.

     

     

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  • 24Aug

    Winged beans or most commonly called four-angled beans in Malaysia are one of the favorite beans in our household. We like sauteing the beans with sambal or with garlic and minced meat.  Four-angled beans grow well in hot conditions.  We used to have these tubers growing  in our garden when I was little, planted by my late maternal grandmother.

    The unusual name of this plant is endowed due to the physical appearance of the beans which seem to have wing like features. The plant has several common names like Asparagus Pea / Beans, Goa bean and Four-angled bean.

    It is primarily grown in countries such as Malaysia, India, Thailand, New Guinea, Burma etc.

    Green-Winged-bean-10-seeds-Giant-Goa-bean-Princess-bean-vegetable

    Health benefits of winged / four-angled beans

    Niacin content

    The great content of niacin present in the constitution of Winged beans helps in reducing the formation of blood clots by reducing platelet aggregation. This means it will reduce the risks of cardiovascular disorders arising out of the condition by keeping the levels of lipoprotein, apolipoprotein under control.

    Great content of Riboflavin

    This special vitamin is rather well known as the energy vitamin. It helps in increasing the metabolism rate and helps in the free flowing movement of blood across the system.

    Defeating Diabetes

    The fiber content in Winged beans helps tackle type 2 diabetes to a large extent on account of the capability to generate and maintain levels of insulin and glucose. This in turn means that the rise of insulin stabilizes and reduces the risks of diabetes. It even improves the metabolism rate, thereby reducing the levels of glucose in the body. This is a great contributing factor towards reducing the risks of ever lurking diabetes.

    Bone development and growth

    The great content of lysine most required for bone development and growth mostly for children is available in abundance in winged beans. Furthermore, it aids in the production of enzymes, which is of great help to recovery from surgeries and sport related injuries.

    Digestion

    This antioxidant helps the digestion process, build the strength in the muscles and aids against the fat deposition and building up of fat in the liver and arteries.

    Elevate mood and reduce pain

    Phenylalanine content helps us to stay vigilant and alert. It helps to elevate mood and reduce pain.

    Generate Blood

    The abundance of iron content in winged beans is a leading factor to generate blood in the body. Since iron forms the most important part in building up the levels of hemoglobin in the body, a regular intake of winged beans would mean you never have a reduced supply of fresh red blood cells to keep you fit and healthy. Furthermore, a good intake of iron also means, your hair stays shiny and your nails look healthy.

    Winged beans can be eaten raw too.  I like to drizzle a little roast sesame seed dressing on my raw winged beans.

    The best feature of winged beans is that all parts of the plant can be consumed.  The leaves can be consumed as spinach, the flowers can be used in salads, and the seeds can be consumed like beans or peanuts and the tubers can be consumed either raw or even cooked.    The high nutrient content that this plant provides along with the benefit that all parts of this plant can be consumed makes it very consumption-friendly. There are loads of health benefits of winged beans.

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  • 01May

    My acupunturist and herbalist recommended a healing herb to me known as ‘ngai’.  ‘Ngai’ is very beneficial for women’s health.  When my late grandma was still around, she would prepare a simple and delish ‘ngai’ omelette soup for my mum and me regularly.  I have not eaten ‘ngai’ for over 30 years. This is a long, long forgotten dish in my memory until my acupunturist urged me to get some. I casually mentioned this herb to my mil and she went hunting it for me. Finally, she got the herb from our regular organic vegetable seller. who plants them in her farm for own consumption and sold some to us.  My mil also managed to plant some in a pot at our little apartment balcony.


    ‘Ngai’ plant from our balcony.

    This week, my mil whipped up the most delicious ‘ngai’ omelette cooked with old ginger strips and sesame seed oil. She cooked a big bowl and I scoffed down the entire bowl all by myself!

    ‘Ngai’ also has the ability to shrink uterine fibroids and I have heard of and read of several success stories, thus I’m trying to see if it works on my uterine fibroid.


    Soupy ginger Ngai omelette that my mil cooked

    ‘Ngai’ is known as mugwort.  Mugwort is a herb that is known for its medicinal benefits and is also known as artemisia iwayomogi. The herb is typically found in Asia, Northern Europe and North America. It is mostly taken as a tonic, to increase energy levels in the body, to dispel wind from the stomach and to aid fat loss.

    Mugwort is also taken by women who experience irregular periods and other issues related to the menstrual cycle.

    The oil made from the extract of this herb can also be used to prevent early or untimely menopause. When it is ingested, it can cure a number of digestive disorders and help fight infections by preventing infections in the stomach.

    In traditional Chinese medicine, burning mugwort in moxibustion heat therapy is one of the oldest forms of Chinese traditional medicine and is used to stimulate the flow of qi and maintain general health. It especially dispels cold and dampness.

     

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  • 24Nov

    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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  • 06Oct

    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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  • 23Sep

    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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  • 10Sep

    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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About Me

I am a WFHM with 3 beautiful girls - Alycia, Sherilyn and Cassandra. I quit the job that I love to stay home with my 3 angels as that's what I've always wanted to do. I am a health freak, fitness freak and a clean freak too. I love to eat and live healthily and I want my kids and hubby to do the same too. Apart from being obsessed with good health, I am obsessed with fashion! I own an online store that sells ladies and kids clothing. Check out my online store at Old & New Stuff For Sale

I always believe that your health is your wealth and if you have good health, that's the best gift you can ever ask for from God.

Do check out my other blogs Health Freak Mommy and Health Freak Mommy’s Journal too!

I have been writing product reviews, food reviews / restaurant reviews and product advertorials since 2007. Please email Shireen at shireenyong@gmail.com to inquire if you are interested to place an advertorial or review in this blog.

Thank you!

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