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Archive for the ‘Diet and Nutrition’ Category

Dec 8, 2007

What you did not know about the food you eat

Canned vegetables vs frozen ones

When we talk about vegetables, probably nothing is better than the fresh ones.
But realistically speaking from the convenience point of view we are more attracted to the canned and frozen ones.
Canned vegetables are made via heat. Heat is necessary to kill micro-organisms, prevent other chemical reactions and reduce the oxidation that will cause rancidity.
The heat will not only change flavor and color, it would take a toll on nutrients as well. According to some studies, up to 50% of the nutrients are lost during the canning process.
Vitamins, especially water-soluble vitamins like C and the B vitamins, are heat-sensitive and some leach into cooking water in the factory.
Frozen vegetables are the safe alternative striking the balance between safety and nutrition. They are made by plunging briefly the vegetables into boiling water followed by rapid cooling.
The preferred method of cooking vegetables is steaming to limit the nutrients and vitamin loss.

Sodium and Potassium Effects

Facts:

– To counterbalance the taste loss due to heating and refinement, manufacturers will add extra salt.
– Salt also aid in preservation.
– People get 75 per cent of their salt from processed food, 10-15 per cent from food itself and 10-15 percent is added by consumers.
– The majority of people exceed the recommended salt intake (6 grams per day)
– Processing vegetables = potassium loss. Potassium is a mineral important to keep the sodium’s damage at bay.
– Sodium plays an important roll on blood pressure.

Conclusion:
-With potassium lost via processing and the extra salt (Sodium) added to improve taste, we have an imbalance in the system. Hence high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
– According to some studies salt had no impact on blood pressure for people who had not been diagnosed with hypertension.

How to become a shopping expert
– Buy food from around the produce area: fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits, fish, meat and diary
– Choose frozen veggetables over canned, except tomatoes. The heat from cooking tomatoes actually helps to release lycopene, which is the main beneficial nutrient found in tomatoes.
– Choose real whole grain related products; check the label: it should not have an endless list of components
– Avoid everything that lists ‘partially hydrogenated oil’
– Choose a small piece of true cheese over a larger serving of processed cheese; I don’t even fancy the ‘light’ variety of cheese, because to make it light -as in less fat- the food manufacturers will compensate with other ingredients, moving it far from the natural form
– When looking for a good fruit juice, target the 100% fruit variety; it may have a mixture of natural juices, very often including apple and grape ones, along with natural flavours to compensate the loss during pasteurization, vitamin C and citric acid to maintain a shelf-stable pH. Of course the freshly-squeezed home-made juice is always the best

Nov 9, 2007

Upgrade your health without a prescription

Next time when you go grocery shopping, take a look around and try to pick up some of the foods that most of the time are left unnoticed.

Your shopping cart should start looking differently, with more fresh colorful fruits and vegetables and less processed, boxed food.

 Cabbage 

Major player in European and Asian cuisine is almost absent from the North American typical meal.

Health benefits: Cabbage is loaded with valuable nutrients. At the top of the list is sulforaphane, a chemical that increases your body’s production of enzymes that disarm cell-damaging free radicals and reduce your risk of cancer. In fact, Stanford University scientists determined that sulforaphane boosts your levels of these cancer-fighting enzymes higher than any other plant chemical.On top of being healthy, the calories intake is very low. One cup of chopped cabbage has only 22 calories.

How to eat it: There are many ways to add cabbage into your diet. Top your sandwiches and burgers with chopped cabbage, have it as a side dish or as a salad. You can eat it raw or cooked, is equally delicious. 

Beets

Beets are naturally sweeter than any other vegetable and have a rich crimson color.

Health benefits: This crimson power food is one of the best sources of both folate and betaine. These two nutrients work together to lower your blood levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Plus, the natural pigments – called betacyanins—that give beets their color have been proved to be potent cancer fighters in laboratory mice.

 

How to eat them:  Fresh and raw, not from a jar. Heating beets actually decreases their antioxidant power. For a simple salad, wash and peel one beet, and then grate it on the widest blade of a box grater. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Add grated horseradish for a spicy version of the salad.

You can also eat the leaves and stems, which are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Simply cut off the stems just below the point where the leaves start, and wash thoroughly. They’re now ready to be used in a salad. Or, for a side dish, sauté the leaves, along with a minced clove of garlic and a tablespoon of olive oil, in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the leaves are wilted and the stems are tender. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.

 Swiss chard 

This salty, bitter vegetable is native to the Mediterranean.

Health benefits:  A half-cup of cooked Swiss chard provides a huge amount of both lutein and zeaxanthin, supplying 10 mg each. These plant chemicals, known as carotenoids, protect your retinas from the damage of aging, according to Harvard researchers. That’s because both nutrients, which are actually pigments, appear to accumulate in your retinas, where they absorb the type of shortwave light rays that can damage your eyes. So the more lutein and zeaxanthin you eat, the better your internal eye protection will be.

How to eat it:  Chard goes great with grilled steaks and chicken, and it also works well as a bed for pan-seared fish. Wash and dry a bunch of Swiss chard, and then chop the leaves and stems into 1-inch pieces. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan or wok, and add two peeled and lightly crushed garlic cloves. Sauté for 1-2 minutes then add the chard. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the leaves wilt and the stems are tender. Season the chard with salt and pepper. 

 Goji berries

These raisin-size fruits are chewy and taste like a cross between a cranberry and a cherry. More important, these potent berries have been used as a medicinal food in Tibet for over 1,700 years.

Health benefits:  Goji berries have one of the highest ORAC ratings—a method of gauging antioxidant power—of any fruit, according to Tufts University researchers. And although modern scientists began to study this ancient berry only recently, they’ve found that the sugars that make goji berries sweet reduce insulin resistance—a risk factor of diabetes – in rats.

 How to eat them: Mix dried or fresh goji berries with a cup of plain yoghurt, sprinkle them on your oatmeal or cold cereal, or enjoy a handful by themselves. You can find them at specialty supermarkets or at gojiberries.us.

Nov 9, 2007

How to boost your metabolism

Your metabolism is based on your metabolic rate, or the number of calories you burn throughout the day.

Your body constantly burns calories to keep going, while you are eating, sleeping, exercising or simply running chores. A slow metabolic rate can cause your body to store fat, which is why keeping your metabolism charged is an important part of a healthy weight-loss program.

Depending on your body type, age and your needs, the typical calories intake is a minimum of 1, 200 to 2, 000 calories a day.

If your calories intake is too low, your metabolism slows down in order to conserve calories rather than burn them.

It also forces your body to break down muscle tissue to get the necessary energy.

Loosing muscle is bad for a number of reasons. For once, more muscle means a faster metabolism and less body fat.

Tips for boosting the metabolism naturally:

  1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Eat a balanced diet and make sure you eat enough calories. What you should consider having in your diet: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, lean proteins and fresh herbs and spices, to give you energy and keep blood sugar level even.

Healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, seeds, nuts) promote longer lasting energy levels.

Lean proteins( white poultry meat, fish, soy foods, lean meats, lean diary) offer essential proteins for better digestion and muscle building.

 

  1. Drink water

Try to aim at at least 8 glasses a day. It will help your digestion, keep your skin well hydrated (may help with your fight against wrinkles as well) and help your body function efficiently.

 

  1. Eat breakfast

Eat a balanced, healthy breakfast within an hour of waking to jump start your metabolism. Try to include proteins like eggs or soy foods.

 

  1. Eat on a regular schedule

Don’t go more than four waking hours without eating. If you don’t give any food to your body, it will go into a starvation mode and preserve the calories as much as possible. As a consequence the metabolism will slow down.

 

  1. Eat metabolism-boosting foods

Add metabolism-boosting foods to your meals. Include celery, cabbage, apples, grapefruit, spinach and berries.

These foods are natural metabolism boosters. Proteins containing omega 3 fatty acids have also been proven to have positive effects on metabolism.

 

  1. Get your sleep

Getting enough sleep will help your metabolic functions.

 

  1. Exercise regularly

For optimal metabolism boosting and fat burning, a combination of aerobic exercise (running, treadmill, stepper, dance) and resistance training seems to be the best.

Nov 2, 2007

Simple foods with extra nutrition and health power

Black tea

When it’s tea time, most health-conscious consumers tend to go for green. But black tea can be as good for you because it comes from the same antioxidant-rich plant that produces the green variety. Black tea may offer similar protection from heart disease and some cancers.

How to drink it: To get the most benefits use the regular, not decaffeinated version. As well, avoid bottled or instant teas because the level of antioxidants is barely detectable. If you are brewing it use boiling water and steep for three minutes to get the most antioxidants.

Celery

It’s a great source of potassium, a nutrient that helps reduce blood pressure and regulate the balance of fluids and minerals in the body. The suggested amount is 4,700 milligrams a day. Although banana is the most popular choice to get potasium into your body, munching four medium stalks will deliver about the same amount of potassium as a 105-calorie banana for a mere 24 calories. The crunchy crudité also contains compounds called phthalides, which moderate blood pressure, too.


How to eat it: Dip celery in hummus for an extra dose of fiber. Add it to soups, stews and stir-fries.
Tip: Keep a stash of precut celery sticks immersed in a tub of ice water in the fridge; the cool bath keeps them at their crunchiest.

Cherries

Cherries, both sweet and tart, are particularly rich in anthocyanins, micronutrients that may jump-start the immune system and mop up free radicals that cause disease, says Ronald Wrolstad, Ph.D., distinguished professor emeritus of food science and technology at Oregon State University at Corvallis. “This may give cherries the potential to help ward off cancer,” he says. Other research suggests they may also reduce inflammation associated with arthritis and gout.


How to eat them:  Fresh –available only for a limited time,frozen, dried and canned versions, which are available year-round, are equally nutritious. Freeze the fresh ones for a cool bite, add tart dried cherries to salads or top pancakes with the canned kind.

Edamame

If you want all the benefits of soy-protein minus the cholesterol, plus the heart- and bone-protecting isoflavones—but you’re tired of tofu, grab a handful of edamame.Edamame is the whole unprocessed soybean. Most often sold frozen in or outside the pod, these crunchy green beans have all the pluses of tofu, as well as almost twice the potassium and folate and nearly four times the fiber.


How to eat it: Boil in the pod, sprinkle with sea salt and eat warm or cold by squeezing from the skins. Or toss raw, preshelled beans into any green or fruit salad. You can also roast them by spritzing raw shelled beans with olive oil, seasoning with dried basil, garlic powder, parsley or salt and cooking in an oven at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Roasted beans are a good crunchy snack but they’re higher in calories than fresh beans.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have several redeeming qualities. Nutrition wise they’re low in calories and are a top plant source of B-complex vitamins, including riboflavin, which helps keep skin healthy and eyesight sharp. They also have high level of  selenium, an antioxidant that may protect against some cancers. All mushrooms offer benefits, but the big winner is the meaty portobello. It’s high in selenium and potassium.

How to eat them Grill them or mix them raw into salads or sauté and add to pizza.

Onions

What nutrition and health benefits do we get from onions?         they have blood-thinning property similar to that of aspirin         they are a source of quercetin, a flavonoid thought to reduce heart attack risks         they fight bacteria that can cause stomach cancer         they may bolster bone health

How to eat them: Raw onions (all varieties) are best because cooking can kill off their blood-thinning compounds; try slices on sandwiches or in salads. If you can’t take the strong taste, marinate them in balsamic vinegar with some water, sugar and fresh herbs. You can also sauté chopped onions with olive oil or roast whole in a covered dish in a 400-degree oven for an hour.

Pomegranate juice

Antioxidant-loaded pomegranates have been generating quite a buzz. The conveniently presqueezed pomegranate juice, which offers almost all the health perks of the whole fruit without the hassle, is available almost everywhere. The beverage has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, cranberry juice or orange juice, and is loaded with polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that may protect against cancer and promote heart health

How to drink it To balance the flavor and cut calories, mix with an equal amount of seltzer or freshly brewed tea.

Quinoa

Quinoa delivers significant amounts of 20 different amino acids that your body uses to maintain and repair tissues, including all of the essential amino acids—protein building blocks your body can’t make and has to get from food, making it one of the best nutrition choices. It’s also an excellent source of magnesium, which helps regulate blood pressure. A half cup gives you more than 50 percent of your daily needs, as well as some iron and potassium.


How to eat it: Boiled quinoa, sligthly undercooked, makes a nice side dish alternative to brown rice. Or eat quinoa like oatmeal, mixed with skim milk and a spoonful of light maple syrup.

Sunflower seeds

With 25 percent more vitamin E than almonds, sunflower seeds are the latest go-to snack for reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke. Vitamin E may also fight inflammation, which can lead to joint pain and cartilage deterioration. 4 tablespoons of dried seeds provide 12 milligrams of vitamin E—that’s 80 percent of your daily needs. They’re also full of fiber, healthy fats, protein and iron.


How to eat them Shelled seeds are great tossed into salads, baked goods like muffins or spice cake, meat loaf or any recipe that calls for nuts. You can also crush them, add some olive oil and use them as a coating for baked chicken or fish fillets.

Whole-grain cereal

The nutrion and health benefits of eating them are known by almost everybody. Aside from making a nice, hearthy, low calorie breakfast, they will give you the morning boost to your metabolism. They claim health benefits as well:  Shredded wheat and Cheerios say their whole grains can help lower cholesterol, which can reduce your heart disease risk.

How to eat it Check the labels for calories intake and for types with at least 4 grams of fiber and no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving. Add a cup of skim milk for your protein needs.

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