Category Archives: Superfoods

Health Benefits Of Lemons

There are so many new and exotic superfoods around and it seems their numbers just keep growing. With all the hype surrounding the new it’s very easy to forget the simple traditional superfoods that have stood the test of time. These are the superfoods we’ve been using every day for generations without even thinking of the incredible health benefits they bestow. They are readily available and much less costly. One of the most valuable of the traditional superfoods is the humble lemon, peel and all, which certainly packs a powerful punch when it comes to turbo-charging your health.

health benefits of lemons

Lemons really are a wonder food loaded with nutrients. Well-known as an excellent source of vitamin C, they also contain a wide range of other nutrients including flavonoids, vitamin B-complex, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper and phosphorous, citric acid and fibre. You can’t help but love all the lemons health benefits.

 

LEMONS – ACIDIC OR ALKALINE?

Many people get confused about whether lemons are acidic or alkaline. They wonder how lemons can be an “alkaline food” when they’re so acidic to taste. In fact they’re both.

Outside the body lemon juice is acidic. But once the lemon juice has been fully metabolized within the body and its minerals have been dissociated into the bloodstream its effect is alkalizing..

This means it raises the pH of body tissues making them alkaline. In acidic environments the structure and function of the cell are damaged. Lemons help to return the body to a healthier alkaline state to fight off the wide range of dangerous and unpleasant illnesses including cancer associated with acidic body fluids.

Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods around.

 

WARM LEMON WATER, THE NUMBER 1 HEALTH PRACTICE

I always recommend if someone can only do ONE thing to improve their health then it should be to drink the juice of half a lemon in a glass of warm water in the morning. The trick is to do it when they first rise in the morning, half an hour before they eat or drink anything else. The combination of lemon and warm water encourages the production of bile to support the liver, to prevent liver disease and help eliminate toxins. it stimulates gastric juices and acts well to cleanse the bowel.

Even just adding a few drops of lemon juice to water or food can aid digestion and cleanse the system.

Simply, here are some ways warm lemon water can boost your health:

Like this article?  Read more….

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Garlic – Nature’s Antibiotic

As the chill wet of winter settles in and the incidence of coughs and colds grows it’s time to get serious about natural alternatives to prescription antibiotics. One natural remedy that has been around for thousands of years to fight winter viruses is the garlic.

The humble garlic has enjoyed a long and illustrious reputation as a heal-all, and rightly so. Garlic has been used for healing since the time of the ancient Egyptians. Now science has confirmed that garlic deserves its status and is indeed the medicinal giant it was always held to be.

Garlic healing power

Garlic was used by both the ancient Greeks and Egyptians to treat a range of health problems. From Egypt it spread through Pakistan and India into China. In many different cultures garlic was used to treat very similar ailments, including respiratory, digestive, fevers and rheumatism. In ancient Greece Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used garlic in the treatment of many diseases.

As a culinary herb garlic is relatively new and throughout history was more likely to be used for its medicinal properties. For a plant that offers so much to invigorate your palate, it seems almost too generous for it to have powerful healing properties as well.

It is the active ingredient in garlic, allicin, a sulfur compound, that holds all the healing power, and allicin is the same ingredient that gives garlic its strong odour and taste. This compound is produced when the clove surface is exposed to the air by crushing or cutting the clove.

Garlic acts as a broad spectrum antibiotic and is able to kill a wide variety of bacteria. Unlike chemical antibiotics that kill off millions of friendly bacteria that your body needs, Garlic only targets the invading bacteria, and even promotes and increases your healthy bacteria. Garlic is also a powerful anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-protazoal and antiparasitic, efficient at destroying antigens, pathogens and any harmful micro-organism.

To gain the benefit of garlic it needs to have a strong garlic-y smell released by the active allicin. Without this aroma it won’t do you much good. The cut surface of the garlic needs to be exposed to the air while it is raw. If you are going to cook with it make sure it is crushed and left to sit for a while first.

 

HOW GARLIC HEALS

Some of the healing effects of garlic are:

Cardiovascular: Cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer in the world and hypertension is an important indicator. Garlic acts powerfully on the circulatory system, helping to lower hypertension and regulate cholesterol.

A 2013 study* found that taking a daily dose between 600-1500mg of aged garlic extract was as effective as the hypertensive drug Atenolol in reducing blood pressure over a 24 week period. It does this by widening the blood vessels

By lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol garlic reduces the risk of heart disease. However it doesn’t seem to affect triglycerides or HDL levels.

 

Skin: Although you won’t find garlic in your skin cream it is a strong acting topical treatment for acne. It possesses excellent anti-microbial properties to kill bacteria and works effectively to kill radicals swiftly.

 

Chronic fatigue syndrome:  In many ancient cultures garlic was used to improve the capacity of labourers to work longer and harder by reducing fatigue. Today it can be used to relieve the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome as well as to improve physical endurance, although no studies have been done into this use.

 

Respiratory: Asthma and Bronchitis – Garlic is known to have a strong action on the respiratory system and is a useful treatment for asthma and bronchitis. As well as being very effective in treating the common cold by reducing its duration, garlic can also be used to ward off colds and other viruses.

 

Immunity: Garlic is known to boost immune function to reduce the incidence of colds as well as dramatically reduce the duration of colds by up to 70%. This wonderful bulb is a true superfood, containing many trace nutrients to strengthen immune function. Garlic is high in manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium and fibre. It also contains decent amounts of potassium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper and vitamin B1 as well as small amounts of other nutrients.

 

Detox: In high doses it has been shown that garlic can protect against heavy metal toxicity as well as reducing many signs of heavy metal toxicity.

 

Food Poisoning: It has been suggested that fresh but not aged garlic may be capable of killing certain bacteria including E. coli.

 

Hair Loss: Garlic contains keratin in the sulfur it contains which both stimulates hair growth and strengthens the hair.

 

Other Uses:
Allergies
Candida
Vaginitis and candida
Hypoglyceamia
Liver problems
Haemorroids
Tumours
UTI
Plus many, many more ailments from the prevention of tick bite to diabetes.

 

garlic aroma-1808_640

 

HOW TO REAP GARLIC’S BENEFITS

When a cold first begins its assault on you one of the easiest ways to fight it off is to chew or swallow a raw clove of garlic in which a strong garlic aroma has developed. The effect of garlic can be quite dramatic even eradicating the cold. Cut the clove open first and leave to sit in the air for a few minutes before you eat it. The healing power strengthens when the cut clove is exposed to the air.

 

Eat Garlic

Some people have no problem with eating cloves of raw garlic but for others it’s not so easy.

When I need a dose of garlic I crush it and use it on top of my meal. That way I can eat it with the first mouthful – the garlic is still raw but easier to take with a mouthful of food.

Don’t shy away from raw garlic. Garlic only affects your breath if you chew it. Instead you can cut the clove up and swallow each piece without chewing. Plus there are plenty of delicious foods such as fresh hommus or guacamole that contain lots of garlic in its raw state.

As a bonus garlic is not only very nutritious it is also low in calories.

 

Absorb Garlic

Another way to take your garlic is through your skin. Your skin absorbs what is put on it and this goes for garlic as well as expensive skin products.

Crush a few cloves of garlic and cover them with some carrier oil that is suitable for applying to the skin, such as olive oil, jojoba, almond or other food grade oil. Allow the mix to steep for at least half an hour. Don’t be tempted to heat the garlic as even short-term heating reduces the anti-inflammatory effects. The carrier oil holds the allicin from the garlic clove.

Once the oil has finished steeping apply it to the soles of your feet. Put on some socks to protect the oil and relax while the oil is absorbed through the pores of your skin. Once in your body it is carried throughout the body.

If you prefer you can rub the cut garlic clove directly onto the soles of your feet. It will still be absorbed through your skin.

But be warned. You will probably develop a garlic taste in your mouth, or your breath may start to smell of garlic about twenty to thirty minutes after applying the garlic to your soles. This indicates that the garlic has been absorbed and carried through your body.

It would be wise not to do this immediately before going out socialising.

 

Garlic Supplements

If you simply cannot face raw garlic you can always take your garlic as a supplement, in the form of a powder, an extract or oil. However there is a great difference between garlic supplements. The amount of allicin they contain is dependent on the way in which they are prepared. Unfortunately, allicin is not stable and can change quickly, reducing the effectiveness of the preparation. If the supplement is odourless its effectiveness is compromised.

To reach therapeutic levels you need at least two to three cloves each day. Don’t be afraid to use this smelly treasure and hold back, as the body can tolerate up to four grams or about four cloves each day.

But, there are some people who are allergic to garlic. And you need to be careful with garlic if you suffer from a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinning medications.
*Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Studies.

 

Disclaimer

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.

 

Source Articles
http://www.medicaldaily.com/garlic-good-you-7-surprising-benefits-garlic-optimal-health-324114
http://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-garlic/
http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Garlic.htm
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-300-garlic.aspx?activeingredientid=300&activeingredientname=garlic

20 Awesome Superfoods You Need Everyday (Part 2)

Following on from 20 Awesome Superfoods You Need Everyday (Part 1) here are some more foods to complete your list. Some of these are not quite so ‘traditional everyday’ as those included in Part 1 although some are, but as all of them are readily available now there is no reason why they should not be foods that feature regularly (or at least sometimes) on your table.

 

superfood collage

 

11. GARLIC

The Aliium family contains a number of excellent foods to support your health. They all stimulate glutathione to protect the liver, but the one that really stands out is garlic. It supports the circulatory system by reducing blood triglycerides and total cholesterol, while raising good HDL levels, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of blood clots. It is well known for its ability to fight infection – virus and bacteria, and boost resistance to colds and infections especially when they are stress related. But garlic also fights tumours, and can help protect against certain cancers, particularly stomach cancer. It helps fight neurological disease like Alzheimer’s and can reduce toxins to improve detoxification. But, you must eat garlic raw to get the benefit as cooking destroys the beneficial constituent, allicin. Chew some parsley afterwards if garlic breath is a problem.

 

12. SWEET POTATOES

So much healthier than white potatoes, if you do eat carbs substitute sweet potatoes wherever you can. They are packed with vitamin C and rich in vitamin A and potassium for heart health. A great source of fibre to help regulate your digestive system, with three grams of fibre in every hundred gram serving, they also help stabilize blood sugars and are reasonably low in kilojoules.

 

13. COCONUT OIL

Coconut oil is now available everywhere and it is worth making the switch from other oils. Although it is a saturated fat, it is a medium-chain fatty acid type, which means you digest it differently than other animal saturated fats so it is not stored in the body’s cells. These types of fats are actually helpful for weight loss as they can help you feel full and boost your metabolism more than other fats. Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties and can help protect against viruses and bacteria. It aids digestion, reduces cholesterol and importantly boosts thyroid function and helps control blood sugar.
Coconut oil is one of the best cooking oils you can use because it has a relatively high smoke point, and and so is better suited to high temperature cooking than many other oils, including polyunsaturated and olive oils. Read The Good Oil for more about the benefits of different oils.

 

coconut oil Phu Thinh Co

14.TURMERIC

A lsit of Superfoods that did not contain this marvelous herb would be sadly lacking. Antioxidant, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory it has been an important medicinal herb for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. Research suggests that the curcumin in turmeric protects against cancer and Alzheimer’s as well as improving circulation. Turmeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory and has great use in reducing the pain of diseases such as arthritis. Read Glorious Health From Golden Turmeric to find out more about the power of this mighty herb.

 

15. CHILLI

Hot chillis get their heat from the the active component, capsaicin. They also contain antioxidant carotenes and flavonoids and about twice the amount of vitamin C found in citrus fruits. Red bell peppers while containing lower levels of capsaicin than chilli, are a wonderful rich source of vitamin C with twice as much as an orange, to help clear out free radicals as well as keep your skin and blood vessels healthy.

 

16. POMEGRANATES

As this is pomegranate season a Superfood list would not be complete without this glorious fruit. With up to three times the antioxidants of red wine and green tea the juice and seeds reduce the risk of heart disease. Their ORAC score lists pomegranates as the richest source of free-radical scavenging antioxidants and this makes them a powerful tool to prevent those diseases with a strong inflammatory basis like arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Find out how to use pomegranates on Hail The Pomegranate

pomegranate-open-196800_640

 

17. DARK CHOCOLATE

When you select carefully, chocolate is good for you! Dark chocolate, at least 70% cacao, is loaded with flavonoids antioxidants to reduce the risk of heart disease and help prevent signs of aging. But, only real cacao contains the antioxidants. As well as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow and improving general heart health to prevent strokes and heart disease, cacao can also help fight diabetes. Containing many compounds to boost endorphins and serotonin, the feel-good hormones, chocolate really can lift your spirits.

Even better is to look for chocolate made from Raw Cacao which is truly the Superfood of the gods. Avoid high-sugar varieties of chocolate as sugar decreases the health benefit of even dark chocolate.

Go ahead and enjoy some raw organic chocolate
Go ahead and enjoy some raw organic chocolate

 

And here are some Superfoods that are NOT everyday but ones you really need to try.

18. KALE

Kale is probably one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat, with an amazing level of nutrients in relation to its kilojoule value. Related to broccoli this dark green leafy vegetable is high in nutrients including vitamin B, A, folate, iron and beta-carotene. A great source of protein and packed with fibre, kale is low kilojoule and very high in vitamin C, containing twice the RDA. It contains ten times the RDA of vitamin K and three times the RDA of vitamin A. Try making it into kale chips if you are more likely to eat kale that way. Beneficial to stomach, liver and the immune system.

 

19. CHIA SEEDS

One Superfood that is appearing on menus more and more frequently is the chia seed. Rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, B, E and D, many minerals and fibre, they are also extremely high in calcium and omega-3. Chia seeds are a wonderful food for weight loss as they suppress appetite and level out blood sugars. It is a Superfood in every sense of the word.
However, chia has been a low-cost staple food of the Peruvians for centuries and the current high demand for chia by the west has taken a significant toll on the local food supply resulting in it now being unaffordable for the indigenous population. There is an urgent need to produce this food in a more sustainable way that protects the Peruvians from  nutritional deficiencies and allows everyone to receive its benefits.

 

20. SPROUTED SEEDS

The most live, pure, nutritious food imaginable. Most people are familiar with alfalfa but there are many more available and they are really easy to grow yourself for extra fresh sprouts. Sprouts are powerhouses of goodness containing the highest density of concentrated nutrients needed to give the plant an early growth spurt. As the seed sprouts the nutrients can increase up to 2000% and they are passed on to you. Read Snacking On Superb Sprouts to discover their benefits.

Sprouting in jars
Sprouting in jars

 

I’d like to finish by mentioning Green Superfoods.  Certainly not traditional or everyday in any way, but Green Superfoods contain the highest concentration of easily digested nutrients and they are starting to become better known if not yet mainstream. Foods such as spirulina or chlorella act as a power packed alternative to a multivitamin to redress many dietary indiscretions. They contain a wide range of concentrated nutrients, and are taken as a dietary supplement in powder or tablet form. I love them! You can read more at Spirulina, The Supergreen Solution

If you’d like to break out with a few different Superfoods try spirulina, kefir, quinoa, black rice, kelp and the other seaweeds, dandelion, flax seeds, goji berries or some of these treasures from South America.

What are your favourite Superfoods? Which ones do you choose to have some of every day?

autumn cornucopia bought

 

Disclaimer
All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.

 

Source articles

http://foodmatters.tv/superfoods
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/10/top-ten-best-superfoods.aspx
http://man.bodyandsoul.com.au/health+nutrition/nutrition+advice/7+superfoods+for+supermen,24531

Top 11 Superfoods That Can Save Your Life

 

20 Awesome Superfoods You Need Everyday (Part 1)

awesome superfoods

There are many new and exotic Superfoods arriving in our shops every day. Foods with excellent health track records in their country of origin are finding their way into all manner of products. New recipes calling for these exotics appear every single day. But this week a client who is very diet conscious, always seeking out the foods that give her the most benefits for each mouthful, brought up the subject of ‘Everyday Superfoods’ – good traditional foods that are easy to find wherever you happen to be eating.

This particular client wanted to know just what some of the best plain and simple Superfoods are. Although she regularly eats a wide array of exotic Superfoods, including acai berry, spirulina, maca, edamame, and others, she wanted to know about Superfoods that she can access every day, whether she is at home, work or eating out with friends.

Superfoods is a recently coined term used to describe a group of foods that are light in kilojoules and very dense in nutrients, particularly antioxidants and other essential nutrients that we are unable to make for ourselves. Another requirement of Superfoods is that they are foods found in nature. They are thought to have many extra health benefits and are considered highly beneficial because they provide a solid dose of nutrients for each mouthful.

Superfoods fall into different food categories. Many are vegetables, particularly the green leafy types, or fruits. Many nuts are considered Superfoods because they are rich in antioxidants to clean up free radicals that cause inflammation in your body.

Free radicals are a normal part of metabolism and your body has mechanisms in place to deal with those ones. But free radicals are also produced in your body in response to environmental factors like pollution, tobacco smoke, charred food, trans fats, electrical appliances, mobile phones and can quickly cause much damage that can lead to serious chronic disease.

 

10 BASIC EVERYDAY SUPERFOODS

These are such common foods, now nobody has any excuse not to include as many foods from this list as they can every single day.

 

1 BLUEBERRIESEnjoy some superfoods to honour your beautiful temple!

The deep blue colour of blueberries is the give away that they are rich with antioxidants, ranking highly on ORAC, which measures the antioxidant value of foods. An anti aging superstar, they are one of the best sources of flavonoids around to help preserve memory function  and slow down loss of motor coordination. High levels of the cancer fighting antioxidant, ellegic acid and studies have shown them to have greater cancer fighting capabilities than other fruits. Many recent studies have shown they slow the growth of certain tumours. Anti-inflammatory

 

2 SPINACH

Long before we became aware of the benefits of antioxidants Popeye was onto their awesomeness. Spinach is loaded up with antioxidants and truly a simple Superfood. It contains vitamin C, betacarotene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin to protect your eyes, with lots of vitamin K for cardiovascular and bone health, as well as iron for strong hair and nails.

3. BROCCOLI

Well known as a nutrient packed vegetable with cancer fighting properties, broccoli is loaded with vitamin C, folic acid and carotenoids (vitamin A) to protect from free radical damage, improve immune function and reproductive health. Broccoli contains high levels of vitamin K to build strong bones and help blood clotting. It also contains significant amounts of fibre, vitamin B2 and potassium.

4. AVOCADO

Delicious avocados are an excellent source of healthy raw monosaturated fat.  They contain nearly twenty nutrients including fibre (10 to 17 grams in each fruit), high levels of potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins, folic acid and lutein for healthy eyes and skin. They protect from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, eye and brain disease. They help stabilize blood sugars, are great for heart disorders and assist with tissue regeneration.  In addition avocados help you properly absorb other fat-soluble nutrients.

5. ALMONDS

Raw almonds are loaded with good (monosaturated) fats and fibre to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Rich in phytochemicals to promote heart and vascular health and a great source of minerals including magnesium, potassium, calcium and vitamins E and B6, they make a great afternoon snack. Munch on them in place of other less healthy options.

6. LENTILS & BEANS

All beans and legumes are beneficial. They are low in fat with lots of iron and B vitamins (including folate). A great complex carbohydrate, they are filling but low kilojoule. They contain magnesium and potassium for heart and circulatory health.  They are an excellent source of protein, and with a low GI they help control rises in blood sugar. Combined with complex grains like oats or barley they provide all the essential amino acids needed for a complete protein.  Perhaps the most nutritious legume is lentils. Also, they are inexpensive! Add them to your diet every week.

apple heart bought7. APPLES

The humble apple is often overlooked in the plethora of new Superfoods around. Apples are loaded with quercetin and catechin, both powerful antioxidants, to protect cells from free radical damage. Apple peel is where most of the nutrients lie so don’t peel them. They are also a great source of fibre. You may like to consider eating organic apples as they are one of the foods that regularly appear on the Environmental Working Committee’s DIRTY DOZEN list of the foods that are most highly sprayed with pesticides.

8. SARDINES & SALMON

Wild caught salmon is packed with omega-3 essential fatty acids to lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. It also contains vitamin D and selenium for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Farmed salmon on the other hand, (the only salmon available in Australia) is low in omega-3 and contains contaminants, so to get the benefit of eating salmon you need to make sure it is wild caught. Unfortunately as all salmon in Australia is farmed, the only wild caught one I have ever found is one brand of tinned salmon from Alaska. Wild caught salmon comes from Scotland, Alaska and Canada.
With just as much omega-3 as salmon, sardines are a much better choice in many ways. They are always wild caught so do not contain all the contaminants that you find in farmed salmon. Also being so small you can eat them up bones and all, and they are extra good as then you also get a hefty dose of calcium.

9. EGGS

Eggs are a powerhouse of valuable nutrients, especially if they are organic. They contain the highest quality nutritional protein of all foods containing about 6 grams, and loaded with nine amino acids, eleven vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin A and folate, naturally occurring vitamin B12 for healthy red blood cells, choline for memory and brain development and lutein and zeanthine for protection against eye disease.
Eating eggs for breakfast gives you a great start to the day and studies show that it may lead to you eating fewer kilojoules through the day because they rank highly on the satiety list.
But forget about eating the whites only, it’s the yolk that holds all the nutrients.
By the way, the link between eating eggs and blood cholesterol is an old myth and studies  have shown there is no connection.

10. OATS

Whole grain oats are one of the best sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre to metabolise fats  and promote healthy digestive system. They are low glycaemic to help control blood sugar levels. As well as helping improve your skin, they are brilliant for those suffering from stress and tiredness.  No wonder we’re always been told to eat porridge for breakfast, oats are rich in niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin E and antioxidants.  Packed with protein, they are a great way to kick-start your day.

 

Check back here for Part 2 next week when I’ll give you 10 more basic Superfoods, incuding some that are newer and not quite so common, to eat everyday.

 

What are your favourite Superfoods? Which do you choose to make certain you have some every day?

veg and nuts

 

Disclaimer

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.
Source articles

http://foodmatters.tv/superfoods
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/10/top-ten-best-superfoods.aspx
http://man.bodyandsoul.com.au/health+nutrition/nutrition+advice/7+superfoods+for+supermen,24531

Top 11 Superfoods That Can Save Your Life

Hail The Pomegranate!

“Pomegranate is a fruit of paradise. There is one seed from Paradise in every pomegranate growing on the earth.”

hail the pomegranate

Autumn has firmly established itself in Melbourne. But along with the welcome rain and cool weather comes an abundance of Autumnal produce. Mushrooms, mandarins, apples and pears in all their autumnal glory and alongside them, the luscious pomegranate.  This week I was delighted to see the first beautiful, generous pomegranates in my greengrocers shop.

Originally hailing from Persia where it has been used medicinally for thousands of years, growth of the pomegranate spread through the Middle East, Asia, the Mediteranean and today is now widely grown across the globe including here in Australia.

Throughout history the pomegranate has been regarded as a symbol of most of the fundamental beliefs and desires of humanity, with almost every part of the fruit having significance. According to Greek mythology the pomagranate even played a role in the change of season, which was said to occur because Persephone ate a pomegranate seed, dooming her to return to the underworld (or winter) for one third of the year. In Ancient Egypt the pomegranate was regarded as a symbol of prosperity and ambition, in China and many other places, of fertility.

It is very easy to understand the magic of the pomegranate given the glossy, glowing skin and the rich generous colour of the distinctive ruby red seeds when the fruit is broken open.

Fruits and vegetables that are brightly coloured tend to be high in antioxidants. These help your body by clearing up excess oxidants, or free radicals, which if left to run wild in your body cause inflammation and lead to disease. The ORAC  score of pomegranates highlights them as one of the ‘richest sources of free-radical scavenging antioxidants’. This makes them a powerful tool to prevent those diseases with a strong inflammatory basis like arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

Pomegranates are rich sources of antioxidant phytonutrients, including flavonoids and polyphenols, which protect against free radicals. They also contain a wide range of other nutrients including most of the B Vitamins (including folate), zinc, magnesium, and iron, amongst others. But they are particularly high in Vitamin C, potassium, and pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5).

Pomegranate seeds are used effectively against heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation and some cancers, including prostate cancer.

Studies have shown that pomegranate juice may protect against some cancers as well as modify heart disease risk factors. This study showed drinking pomegranate juice for two weeks lowers reduced systolic blood pressure.  And this 2006 study  found that drinking a 225ml glass of pomegranate juice every day significantly slowed the progress of prostate cancer in men with recurring prostate cancer.

Ayervedic medicine employs the healing power of the bark and rind of the pomegranate fruit to treat a wide range of disorders including diarrhoea, dysentery and intestinal parasites; the seeds are used as a heart or throat tonic; the astringent qualities of the fruit are considered useful for stopping nosebleeds or bleeding gums.

 

HOW TO USE POMEGRANATE

With pomegranates now in the shops it is time to reap their benefits. Using them fresh has some health benefits over using the stored juice.

pomegranate juiceJuice

The benefits of pomegranates are so high that you don’t need much to do you good. Even a 30-50ml shot of juice is sufficient to have significant benefits. Rather than using the juice as a beverage it might be wiser to consider it as a herbal treatment and take a smaller amount. Just 50ml a day will sustain healthy heart benefits.

 

Like to read more about pomegranate juice, seeds and oil?  Continue reading…

 

 

 

Disclaimer
All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.

 

Source articles
http://www.naturalnews.com/031068_pomegranate_superfood.html
http://www.nutritionguideexpert.com/pomegranate-seed-oil-benefits/#
http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/superfoods/Pages/is-pomegranate-a-superfood.aspx
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/08/02/pomegranate-ranked-healthiest-fruit-juice.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomegranate

 

Maca – The Superfood Rebalancer!

Maca roots
Maca roots

Recently the herb Maca has come up frequently during consultations, so this week I would like to look at this new supplement that is rapidly gaining popularity.  Not really a supplement, it is actually a ‘superfood’ with many amazing benefits. Superfoods are those that have very high levels of antioxidants, such as blueberries, spirulina or pomegranates.

Lepidium peruvianum, or Maca, is a tuber vegetable cultivated for thousands of years in the harsh conditions high up at 4,000m in the Peruvian Andes. One of the superfoods of the Incas, it has been used as a medicinal food for over 2,000 years to increase energy, promote endurance and stamina as well as improve fertility and sexual performance in both men and women.

Maca is part of the brassica family and related to broccoli, cabbage and turnip. The harvested root has high antioxidant levels and is loaded with protein. It has more bioavailable calcium than milk, magnesium, potassium, iron, plus other minerals and trace elements, vitamins and all the amino acids. It is rich in the B vitamins and a vegetarian source of vitamin B12.

In addition to the traditional uses maca is great for offsetting the effects of stress, anxiety and fatigue. It stimulates and nourishes the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, the master glands of the body. As these are the glands that regulate all the other glands, maca can help to bring balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian and testicular glands.

Anxious

The glands in the body produce hormones that regulate many body processes including your mood, sexual development, growth, and tissue function. As well they play a role in many diseases ranging from depression to cancer

Maca is an adaptogen, responding to the individual needs of your body. It regulates as and where needed, where hormones are out of balance. This means if you are producing too much of a hormone it will regulate so production decreases, but if you are producing too much it regulates to increase production. Herbal adaptogens, are a rare class of herbs, valuable in natural health prescribing. Other adaptogens are licorice, Holy Basil, ashwagandha, ginseng, rhodiola, eleuthero and schisandra.

Unlike wild yam, maca does not introduce hormones into your body, nor are the active ingredients phyto-eostrogens. Instead it is thought that it is alkaloids in the maca that act on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. This means that the effects of maca on the body are diverse, and not just restricted to the sex hormones.

Today the main uses of Maca are for balancing hormones, increasing energy and reducing stress. It offers significant benefits for women suffering hormonal imbalances. Studies have concentrated on the positive effects it has on the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. However it is also very useful and beneficial for other hormonal problems like PCOS or PMS.

USES FOR MACA

MacaBENEFITS OF MACA

Maca produces benefits without the side-effects of many medications and even some herbal remedies.

  • Maca helps to balance our hormones.
  • Studies have shown that it increases sexual function and treats impotence
  • Stimulates fertility in men and women, enhances sperm production.
  • It can be very useful to regulate the menstrual cycle and ease PMS symptoms.  It relieves the unpleasant effects of menopause.
  • Maca has shown anticancer activity in the laboratory.
  • It reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and decreases the levels of triglycerides.
  • It seems to reduce blood sugar levels and improve glucose tolerance.
  • Maca could provide a non-caffeine alternative for those who need an energy boost from coffee in the morning.
  • Is an antidepressant
  • Enhances learning and memory abilities
  • Supports the immune system
  • Increases energy, stamina and endurance, reducing chronic fatigue.
  • Remineralizes the body, making up for the lack of minerals in modern diets.
  • Clears acne and blemishes

MacaHOW TO SELECT AND USE MACA

Maca comes in a number of different colours, the most commonly found is yellow. Scientists have found that each colour has a different effect on the body. Black and red maca improve bone health and black affects memory and learning the best. Darker maca roots contain significant levels of iodine.

The dried root of maca comes in a powder form, tablets or capsules. It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavour and can be added to many foods such as soup, herbal tea, or desserts. You can sprinkle it on bananas or popcorn. You can mix it with honey and eat the paste off the spoon, add it to smoothies, juice or to warm almond milk with some raw cacao for hot chocolate. Added to baking maca gives a maltiness to the flavour. But don’t add to much as the flavour can be overwhelming.

Start with ½ -1 teaspoon a day and build up to between 1 and 5 teaspoons a day, over a few days. Some people may experience adverse responses when they start taking maca. These are a sign of the body detoxing and only last a few days. Cut back the amount you are taking and build up slowly.

Improvement can occur within days, even the on same day, although for most people it takes about four days or even weeks to notice changes.

You can find maca at most health food shops or online. Make certain to buy a quality, organic product. Because it is a root vegetable the growing conditions make a huge difference to the level of nutrients. Cheaply priced good will deliver an inferior product (unless it is cheap on special). Only buy reputable, organic brands of maca root. Don’t buy other parts of the plant.

The brand I recommend to my clients, although I do not sell or have any financial interest in it at all, is Loving Earth Maca Powder. It is raw Australian Certified Organic and the company has awesome 30% off discounts on their website for all their maca products through December.

Maca is generally recognized as safe. However, because of the way it works care may be needed. For example, maca balances out your hormones so they are at the required levels. If you are also taking other supplements, such as Dong Quai, Black cohosh, Vitex or phytoestrogens for womens hormones for example, to achieve similar results, these could interfere with the maca and result in an aggravation of your symptoms.

If you take too much too soon maca can actually exacerbate your hormonal symptoms and make them worse. If you are suffering the effects of stress it could exacerbate that also, causing a racing heart and insomnia. I have seen problems that are the result of taking maca. Simply exercise care, stop taking maca if you notice adverse effects or speak to your health practitioner.

If you suffer from any diagnosed illness, particularly those such as hormone related cancers, speak to your health practitioner before starting to take maca.

 Maca uses 2

Do you use maca? How quickly did it work for you? How effective have you found it?

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue. 

 

Source articles

http://www.naturalnews.com/027797_maca_root_hormone_balance.html

http://www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com/macas-fertility-benefits/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/159150-benefit-of-maca/

http://www.iquitsugar.com/a-bluffers-guide-to-maca

http://realrawfood.com/maca-history-info

Related articles

Spirulina, The Supergreen Solution

super spirulina

Spirulina is one of my favourite superfoods because it is one of the most nutritious plant-like organisms known to humans. I regard it as the ultimate superfood powerhouse. Although there are other super-greens such as chlorella, spirulina is almost like the supergreen equivalent of a “multi-vitamin”, a great all-rounder. Its nutritional benefits are both vast and impressive, making it an invaluable food especially for vegetarians, vegans, anaemics, diabetics and anyone who is nutritionally compromised.

Spirulina is one of the oldest life-forms on the earth and it helped produce our oxygen-rich atmosphere billions of years ago. Actually a blue green algae, it is a 100% natural and highly nutritious micro water plant. It is found in both the ocean and large warm alkaline fresh water lakes.

Spirulina is so nutrient dense you could survive on it and water alone.

Health Benefits

Spirulina earns its superfood powerhouse status because it has the highest concentration of digestible vegetable protein (60-70%) with a perfectly balanced combination of essential amino acids. This is more protein than you will find in beef, chicken or soybeans.

One of the most common vitamin deficiencies found in a vegan or vegetarian diet is vitamin B12. When you consider that Spirulina also contains large amounts of Vitamin B12, which is very difficult to find in other plant foods, it is easy to understand why it makes such a great choice for vegetarians.

Spirulina is loaded with other nutrients in addition to B12. It is very rich in iron, which is a mineral that is very commonly deficient. Spirulina also contains calcium, magnesium, and Vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. There are also small amounts of a number of other minerals. There is no use in ingesting lots of minerals if they are not absorbed, but Spirulina actually improves mineral absorption and so the abundance of minerals it contains can be utilized properly by the body.

Spirulina is a wonderful plant source of the essential fatty acids linolenic acid (omega-3) and GLA (omega-6), offering a great source for anyone who cannot get their essential fatty acids from fish oil.

There is always some concern about the effect on processing and shelf storage on nutrients. But Spirulina only grows in extremely warm conditions and it has the ability to withstand the high temperatures that are always involved in processing, able to retain its nutritional value unlike many other plant foods which deteriorate at these temperatures.

It only contains 3.9 calories per gram and still has all of these great benefits. It is a low calorie, nutrient dense

The immune boosting qualities of spirulina can never be over stated. With its unique ability to fight infection, enhance cellular functioning, and even keep cancer at bay, it has a wide range of uses.

Here are some ways that Spirulina is beneficial:

  • Boosts energy – it is a source of life force or vitality
  • Protection against viruses including flu, herpes, mumps and measles
  • Promotes healthy nerve tissue
  • Increases antioxidant protection to fight free radicals
  • Improves digestion and gut health Improves age spots, eczema, acne, rashes
  • Fights the ageing process,
  • Curbs the appetite to help weight loss
  • Aids glaucoma, cataracts, poor vision
  • Improves allergies & respiratory function
  • Helps to detoxify radiation out of the body
  • Plus it fights heart disease, reduces arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes and depression, and lowers bad cholesterol

Because it is so easily digested it packs a powerful punch when it comes to all these benefits.

What to look for

Good Spirulina has no side effects, and this is one product that you need to be absolutely certain of the quality. Contaminated blue-green algae is incredibly toxic to the system and can cause a range of fresh health problems such as liver damage. Because Spirulina easily absorbs nutrients from water, if the water contains pollution or heavy metals, these will be highly concentrated in the Spirulina cell. If this happens, then this kind of Spirulina is no longer suitable for human consumption. There are a number of Spirulina products on the market that are of questionable quality so select carefully. Either research well or buy from a qualified practitioner.

 

Spirulina Tablets
Spirulina Tablets

Spirulina comes in powder or tablet form and it is easy to tell if it is good quality or not. Quality tablets are made without sugar, starch fillers, animal parts, preservatives, stabilizers, and colours. They are a uniform dark green colour without any light coloured specks. You can take up to about twelve a day, and some people take even more. But start out with three and increase to six over a couple of days. You can take them all at once or spread over two doses. The recommended dose for adults is 5-10 per day.

When I am going on a long-haul flight I take lots of Spirulina on the day of the flight as well as the day before and the one after. It is part of my ‘flight regime’ to help overcome the bad effects of air travel.

Powder is a better choice if you want to add spirulina to smoothies, juice or other foods. 100% pure powder is also a uniformly dark green colour.  You feel the effects very quickly because the powder is easily digested. Because Spirulina is a natural food and NOT a supplement you can’t take too much. If you take more than you need it is like overeating. You can take two or more tablespoons a day but a good way to start is with one teaspoon (5 grams) added to drinks or other foods. The drink or smoothie colour will change to dark green but it doesn’t really affect the flavour. You can gradually increase the amount over time to two teaspoons (10gms) per drink.

I use the brand Hawaiian Pacifica made by Microorganics in my clinic as I know it to be high quality and free from toxic heavy metals. Just for the record, I have no affiliation with this company or product, and only recommend it to you to help your health. (I also like this one personally as it is easy to swallow)

If you are very run down or have a debilitating illness keep the amount you take low. You will get enormous benefit from the smaller amount and the smaller quantity will not push your body too fast or too hard.

Avoid alcohol, soft drinks or coffee for about 30 minutes after taking the spirulina as these will destroy some of the nutrients and enzymes.

People with hyperparathyroidism or phenylketonuria should not take spirulina.

Spirulina powder
Spirulina powder

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue. 

Source articles

http://www.australianspirulina.com.au/spirulina/spirulina.html

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/01/spirulina-the-amazing-super-food-youve-never-heard-of.aspx

http://hecticlifehealthygirl.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/what-is-spirulina-and-what-are-its-health-benefits/

http://www.naturalnews.com/033698_spirulina_superfood.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/041164_spirulina_superfood_supplements_immunity.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/036101_spirulina_superfood_nutrients.html

Related articles

Delicious Recipes Using The Superfood – Spirulina (susansmithjones.com)

The Sweet Story Of Natural Sugars

Sugar is seen as one of the worst foods we consume these days.
Sugar is seen as one of the worst foods we consume these days.

Sugar has become our best friend, the one we hold the dearest to our heart. We add it as a sweetener to our coffee, it is hidden in pretty well all processed foods and it has become something that it is virtually impossible to avoid unless we are preparing all our foods from basic, raw, fresh ingredients ourselves.

With the rapid rise in weight for a large part of the population, and widespread concern about chronic disease that is connected with obesity, many people are now searching for alternatives to sugar as part of a general clean-up of their diet as a whole. In the campaign to deal with the obesity epidemic there have even been calls to have sugar consumption regulated by placing a tax on it. These days refined sugar is regarded as one of the worst foods around.

When it first appeared in Europe courtesy of the Arab traders, sugar, like many of the new exotic foods was a luxury enjoyed only by the wealthy. But ironically it is the wealthy who are now more able to avoid sugar, because they are able to avoid the cheap, processed foods, which are made with large quantities of white sugar added.

Paradoxically, given the rise in obesity numbers in Australia, sugar consumption in Australia has fallen. In 2011 the average Australian still consumed 42kg of sugar per year, or 800gm (nearly a kilo!) each week. This figure can be compared favourably to the 57kg that was consumed back  in 1951, a significant drop over 60 years, but nonetheless, still a large amount of sugar. In both the USA and Australia, 22 teaspoons of sugar are consumed on average every day. But in the USA sugar consumption, as well as obesity rates, has risen. In the UK consumption is closer to 16 teaspoons of sugar a day, or 1.25lbs a week. Most people by now have seen the TED video by Jamie Oliver where he demonstrates just how much sugar from milk alone is consumed by a child in USA before they reach school. Remembering that it is even more than this in Australia and the USA, it is indeed cause for alarm.

One very simple way to make change in your diet is to address both the quantity and the types of sugars that it contains. Artificial sweeteners are not really the answer. While they are simple to use and have been used extensively throughout the processed food industry to create the ‘low-fat’ and ‘light’ ranges of foods they pose a number of problems when you use them. Aspartame for instance, marketed under a number of brand names, has been linked with cancer and connected to all sorts of other problems.

THE BAD: MORE ON ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

One of the problems with artificial sweeteners is the lack of studies into the long-term effects on the human body. This can often be a problem with research studies. So many new chemicals have been introduced into our lives during the last seventy years but it is only now that we are starting to see some of the long-term effects those chemicals have on our health. It is only now that repeated disease trends amongst the people who have used those chemicals over a long time are becoming apparent. In many ways the users of the chemicals in the community are unwittingly the chemical trial-ers

ASPARTAME is 180 times sweeter than sugar. It is made by bonding two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, and a methyl esther bond. When these break down in your body wood alcohol, a poison, and formaldehyde (highly toxic) are formed. Although the amino acids are found in food, and are normally safe, in aspartame they occur in  huge quantities, far greater than they ever do in food. When they get in the body they act as a neurotoxin – they attack your cells, including the brain cells, overstimulating them, just like MSG does. They can lead to birth defects, cancer and weight gain (yes, that’s right, weight gain!)

SACCARIN is 300 times sweeter than sugar. But this artificial sweetener can cause allergic reactions if you have a problem with sulfa drugs.

CYCLAMATE is 30 times sweeter than sugar. It is allowed in Australian foods, although banned in USA because there are risks of chromosome damage and bladder cancer.

SUCRALOSE is a synthetic chemical. Because of the way it is made, your body is not able to break it down so it passes straight through. Or it should! But studies on animals showed that some sucralose was absorbed by the gut and resulted in anaemia, infertility, calcified kidneys, abortions, even death. There has only been one tiny study of the effects of sucralose on humans, and that study only lasted four days, not long enough to guage any long-term effects on the human body.

THE GOOD: OTHER ALTERNATIVES

More recently a new breed of sweeteners has hit the shelves which offer better options to the health conscious.

STEVIA is probably the most prominent. It comes from the herb Stevia rebaudiuna from Paraguay in South America. It is up to an amazing 300 times sweeter than sugar so you need to only use very little. There is actually some research that suggests that stevia may decrease blood glucose levels, without resulting in hypoglycemia. With zero calories and no glycaemic impact it can be used by diabetics. The natural herb seems to be a perfect substitute for sugar.

In Australia it is becoming more common to see stevia used as a sweetener in many foods. In the USA however, it has not been granted approval in its natural state as a sweetener. Ironically though Coca Cola and Pepsi were both granted approval for their own processed version of Stevia which they manufactured to add to their diet drinks. It seems absolutely crazy that a chemical version manufactured in a lab gains approval when the natural herbal cannot.

One of the disadvantages of Stevia is that it sometimes has a slight bitter aftertaste. The aftertaste is only a problem for some people and should not be enough to put you off using it. You may find the liquid form is better if this bothers you.

You can buy stevia in health food stores and grocery stores. Be careful when buying it and make sure to read the label. I found the ‘Natural Stevia’ on the supermarket shelf was mixed with aspartame making it an obviously undesirable product.  Sometimes you can also get the green leaf which is better for you.

Stevia (sugar substitute) cuttings doing well
Stevia (sugar substitute) cuttings (Photo credit: hardworkinghippy)

COCONUT PALM SUGAR is a sweetener that is, deservedly, gaining popularity right now. Coconut sugar is nutritious with a low glycaemic score, so unlike processed white sugar, it won’t give you a ‘high’ followed by a crash. It has a rich flavour, a bit like brown sugar, and can be substituted directly for sugar, spoon for spoon.

Although the trade in palm oil is having a detrimental effect on the orangutan population, it is worth knowing that palm sugar comes from a different species of palm to the one that is widely planted in the cleared forest areas inhabited by the orangutans, the one that is used for palm oil.

The sugar is extracted from the harvested flowers. The trees live for twenty years and provided that enough flowers are left on the tree for pollination to ensure future crops, it is regarded as a very sustainable crop, one that can be grown anywhere and one that provides small communities with a cash income. This species of palm tree is particularly useful in areas where the soil is degraded as they restore otherwise damaged, compromised soils and they require very little water or soil nutrients.

LUCUMA POWDER is an excellent source of nutrients. It originated in the highlands of South America. Lúcuma is a large sweet fruit which contains fibre as well as good levels of beta-carotene, iron and vitamin B. It has a low sugar content but is sweet, with a taste similar to maple syrup.

MANUKA HONEY or RAW HONEY has been used as a sweetener for generations. As well as being a delicious sweetener it has wonderful health benefits. Its properties as an antibiotic, antifungal and antimicrobial meant it was traditionally used to treat a wide range of ailments, particularly when there was infection present. Rich in phytonutrients, including antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and carbohydrates, raw honey is a Superfood.

BUT you must be careful with your honey…I am not talking about any old honey off the supermarket shelves which has been processed and contains few nutrients. This is MANUKA or RAW HONEY we are talking about here – search it out. And limit the quantity you use.

XYLITOL is one of the sugar alcohols, along with erythritol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, which are derived from the sugar found in fruit. Sugar alcohols are absorbed by your body slowly and so can pass through the whole gut before they have been totally absorbed. Unlike stevia, xylitol does contain calories, but far less than what is found in sugar. Many love it because it can substituted directly for sugar, one spoon of xylitol for one spoon of sugar, it has no aftertaste, and only about a third of the kilojoules of sugar but tastes just as sweet as sugar.

I know many health practitioners who recommend xylitol. But because it is not well absorbed, it can cause dramatic abdominal cramping, bloating and diarrhea in certain people, and for the sensitive this may be severe and it may occur after just one single  teaspoon. Also, although it is made from plants – birch bark, corn or sugar cane fibre, in order to bring about the change from the fibrous plant state to the white grains it requires a deal of processing which involves using man-made chemicals including amongst others, sulfuric acid and phosphoric acid. It’s worth noting that xylitol is toxic to dogs, so make sure you don’t feed meal scraps that were made with xylitol to your pet.

Some other natural sweeteners include:

Maple Syrup is often used in place of honey. It contains reasonable amounts of the trace mineral manganese as well as some zinc. I love maple syrup, one of my favourite natural sweeteners. But make sure to buy the real deal – organic maple syrup. Some of the stuff around is just sweetened and coloured water.

Brown Rice Syrup contains some manganese, magnesium and zinc but is highly refined. One good thing though is that it is usually organic, and all natural. There were reports last year that brown rice syrup contains arsenic so you may want to avoid it.

Agave Syrup is made from the juice of the succulent agave plant which is heated, filtered and hydrolyzed to make the syrup. This syrup has an extremely high fructose content

But when it comes down to it even though these are natural sweeteners they are still basically sugars. If you really want to get healthy and reduce your risk for diseases like cancer, heart disease, obesity or diabetes then it really boils down to reducing your craving for, and consumption of sugar.

Most foods that are highly sweetened are not those that are the most healthy anyway, usually they are high in carbohydrates and fat. If you really want to get healthy you need to tame that sweet tooth. Cutting out sweeteners breaks the sugar craving cycle that sets up in your brain every time you eat sugar (or other sweet food). Once you stop eating sweet food even though you may suffer intensified cravings initially, you will very soon find that you don’t miss it because you have broken the cycle and stopped the craving for sugar. The other positive is that your taste buds become more sensitive and you will start to really taste the natural sweetness in foods like fruit a lot better.

What is your favourite natural sweetener?

Manuka honey is a wonderful natural sweetener, just don't have too much
Manuka honey is a wonderful natural sweetener, just don’t have too much

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care
provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue. 

Source articles

http://www.sugaraustralia.com.au/Shared/Green%20Pool%20Report%20Media%20Release.pdf

http://scepticalnutritionist.com.au/?p=514

http://www.livestrong.com/article/500273-sugar-vs-sugar-alcohol/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/08/the-4-best-and-3-worst-sweeteners-to-have-in-your-kitchen.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_sugar

Xylitol: Should We Stop Calling It Natural?

Sample Some Superfoods From This Southern Treasure Chest

I remember quite clearly when the catchphrase of all the campaigns to save the Amazon Rainforest from widespread clearing, was that we were destroying the World’s Pharmacy.

But now it appears this was only a part of the picture. As more and more fantastic Superfoods appear in the West it seems that the entire South American continent is a veritable treasure chest of foods as medicine. Perhaps we now need to say instead that the entire South American continent is the biggest room in the World’s Pharmacy.

So many of the wonderful new healthy foods we can add to our diet come out of the countries of South America.
So many of the wonderful new healthy foods we can add to our diet come out of the countries of South America.

So many of the wonderful new healthy foods we can add to our diet to either replace problem foods, or simply to send our health zinging, come out of the countries of South America. Foods such as quinoa, maca, raw cacao and chia all have their origins in that part of the world.

The superfood heartland, where chia, quinoa and other superfoods are cultivated in terraces around Cusco, Peru  Photo credit: Liana John
The superfood heartland, where chia, quinoa and other superfoods are cultivated in terraces around Cusco, Peru
Photo credit: Liana John

Following on from last weeks postabout free radicals, here are twelve wonderful Superfoods from the South and Central American treasure chest that would be fantastic additions to your menu.

Quinoa  Credit: Alisha Vargas
Quinoa
Credit: Alisha Vargas

Quinoa (keen-wa) has swept into our diets as a fantastic replacement for gluten grains.  Only a few years ago it was quite difficult to find but it is available on every supermarket shelf now. It has been grown for at least 6,000 years in the Andes of Peru. It was sacred to the Incas and famous for giving the Inca warriors super-human strength. It is gluten free and a great source of magnesium, iron and phosphorous as well as rich in fibre and folate. Technically it is not a grain but a seed, but it can be used just as you would a grain in your cooking. It’s really easy to prepare and quick to cook so makes a great addition to the menus of busy working families.

Chia seeds
Chia seeds

Chia Seeds were originally grown by the ancient Aztecs, Incans and Mayans for health and strength. They are chock-full of omega 3 (the one you need more of), actually one of the highest sources around, as well they have lots of fibre (4 teaspoons provide 30% of the daily requirement) and calcium. They are the highest source of protein compared to other seeds and grains. They are easily absorbed and this enables you to take in lots of the nutrients. They help with tissue growth and regeneration and are great during pregnancy and lactation, as well as for athletes.   

Amaranth plants
Amaranth plants

Amaranth (Kiwicha) has been around for a long time, and was a staple food for the Incas.   I remember a fellow Community Garden member experimenting with it about ten years ago. The next season every single plot in the garden had amaranth growing in it, so there shouldn’t be any difficulty of you would like to try growing some yourself here in Melbourne. Like quinoa, amaranth is a pseudograin, not really a grain. It has been used in its puffed form in health snack bars for some time and the flour, which has a rich flavour, is also available. Nutritionally it is similar to quinoa – high in protein and all amino acids, but also amaranth is rich in iron with 29 percent of the RDI of iron in just one cup, making it a great addition to a vegetarian diet. It also contains the minerals manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and copper.

Lucuma
Lucuma

Lúcuma is another fairly new food to appear in our markets. It is a large, sweet fruit  with a creamy citrus flavour, from the highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Equador, where it has been harvested from ancient times. It is considered one of the lost crops of the Incas but is still very widely eaten today. Its fruit tastes a little like maple syrup and sweet potato and it makes a wonderful low-sugar sweetener. It is very nutritious, rich in beta-carotene and niacin (vitamin B3), iron and calcium. The fruit is dried and ground to a powder. I have to say it is YUM combined with raw chocolate!

Lepidium meyenii
Lepidium meyenii (Maca) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maca Powder is another of the superfoods of the Incas and grows at 4,000m above sea level in the Andian highlands of Peru. It has been a medicinal food in that area for over 2,000 years. The harvested root is loaded up with protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and other minerals, vitamins and all the amino acids. Maca has some amazing health benefits as it is an adaptogen which supports and heals the adrenal glands. It is great for offsetting the effects of stress, gives an amazing energy boost, and can improve insomnia. But one of the most common uses is for balancing hormones when there is an overabundance of environmental oestrogens involved. It is also a powerful aphrodisiac.

Just note that there are certain contraindications for Maca. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or being treated for a hormonal issue consult your practitioner before using it.

Acai berries Credit: Cametaora
Acai berries
Credit: Cametaora

Acai (ah-sigh-ee) grows only in the Brazilian rainforest and coastal Colombia. This small purple berry is related to the blueberry and cranberry, and like them, is very rich in antioxidants which reduce oxidative stress. They stimulate the immune system and boost your energy. They can be helpful in preventing heart disease and cancer, and may help reduce cholesterol levels. They are associated with reduction of blood sugars, and assist with cognitive and mental function. It is frequently used in many healthy foods as well as smoothies and juices. Lots of beauty products now contain acai oil due to the high antioxidant content.

Ripe raw cacao pods
Ripe raw cacao pods

Raw Cacao can be considered a superfood, a healthy food, which was originally found in the Amazon Rainforest! It has been cultivated for over 3,000 years by the Incan, Mayan and Aztec peoples. Unlike the highly processed, fat-full, dairy-full, high sugar versions made by Cadbury etc, raw cacao is good for you. It comes as a powder or cacao nibs and can be used through your cooking as well as eaten raw. Keep milk away from it as many studies show that milk neutralizes the healthful properties.

Raw cacao really can be considered a true superfood. (woo hoo! Love my chocolate) It is very high in antioxidants as well as minerals which help with mental alertness, heart health and physical stamina. In addition it increases serotonin uptake in the brain which creates a sense of euphoria and counteracting stress.

I like to think of it as my favourite vegetable.

Dried camu camu seeds
Dried camu camu seeds

Camu Camu is another amazing food from Peru and like the acai, it is a berry. It provides  great support to the immune system and helps to ward off viral infections, especially when you are more stressed or anxious than normal. It contains bioflavonoids, amino acids, vitamin Bs (thiamin, niacin and riboflavin), plus it has sixty times more vitamin C than an orange. It will promote healthy gums, eyes, skin and supports the nervous system (brain) and the circulatory system (heart).

Macqui berries Credit: Mona Vie
Macqui berries Credit: Mona Vie

Maqui (mock-ee), Chilean Wineberry, is yet another powerhouse berry and comes from the Patagonia region of Southern Chile. It is known for its detoxifying properties and the benefits bestowed by its  antioxidants. It was used by a tribe of warriors, the Mapuche Indians, who were attributed with great strength and  endurance. The deep purple berries are loaded with antioxidants, with more than three times those found in acai. Maqui berries are very powerful so you only need half as much maqui as you would other berries. They have the highest ORAC score of any berry in the world. The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) unit, ORAC value, or “ORAC score” is a method of measuring the antioxidant capacity of different foods and supplements.

The Maqui berry protects your immune system, skin, cardiovascular system, bones and joints. It also detoxifies the digestive system and restores metabolism to maximum capacity. They renew cells and help improve many diseases as well as fighting the effects of ageing.

Purple corn Photo credit: Randen Pederson
Purple corn
Photo credit: Randen Pederson

Purple Corn has been grown in Latin America for thousands of years. It is another food very rich in antioxidants, containing more than blueberries. Its gorgeous colour has been used as a naturalfood colouring, and it is often used in Peru to make chichi morada – purple corn drink.

Mesquite pods
Mesquite pods

Mesquite is actually from Central America, Mexico. The long pods are ground up into a low-glycemic, gluten free flour with a sweet nutty taste, which bakes up just like wheat flour – use it instead of half the wheat flour in the recipe. It can be used in raw desserts as it doesn’t need to be cooked. You can even add a spoonful to smoothies for a sweeter flavour. It is rich in soluble fibres and a great source of calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and lysine. Because it is in fact a legume and not a grain it is higher in protein than grain flours. It sits low on the glycemic index and won’t cause blood sugar spikes.

Inca Berries, or goldenberries, are golden berries about cherry size, which resemble    a raisin when they are dried. They are high in phosphorous, vitamins A, C, B1, B6 and B12, and are very high in protein for a fruit (16%)

In order to get the most from your South American Superfoods buy only ones that are organically certified. If the foods have been commercially produced they will carry chemical residue and much of the benefits will be lost.

You now have lots of information about some magic foods you can try out. If you need some ideas about how to use them there are lots of recipes and ideas out on the web so do a search.

But, you also need to actually get your hands on some of these magic goodies. I don’t normally recommend specific products but this week I am making an exception. The Loving Earth  company stocks most of these brilliant superfoods from the South American Treasure Chest, as well as creating a range of wonderful products that make use of them. Plus, on their website they have some amazing, delicious recipes which use all these foods. They also sell many of them in their raw state, including Maca powder, Raw Cacao, Camu Camu Powder, Purple Corn Extract and Chia seeds.

They also operate from an ethical basis. From their website…”The company is based on the philosophy that the earth is a living organism, (and) eating foods in their pure, minimally processed states, foods that are grown organically in a sustainable way, is one of the most significant ways in which we can live this philosophy.”

They support Fair Trade 100% and most of their foods are Australian Certified Organic.

Just in case you are wondering, I don’t take any payment from Loving Earth, in fact they don’t even know that I have written this about their products. They are just some products that I’ve tried and loved and I believe they are a company well worth your support. You can find their products in Health Food shops or can buy online.

Superfoods are the way of the Health Future. However, taking superfood supplements on their own are never going to be enough to turn around ill health. But by including a range of them as some of the dietary changes that are part of wider changes you make to build your own great health, they are certainly a powerful and effective addition.

Do you have a favourite South American Superfood? How do you use it? Post it in the comments below…we’d love to hear.

South America is a treasure chest of wonderful superfoods
South America is a treasure chest of wonderful superfoods

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

Source articles

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/eat-well/nutrition/7-south-american-superfoods

http://www.maquiberrybenefits.com.au/maqui_berry_anti_aging.php

http://www.age-well.org/maqui-berry.html

http://www.amazonhub.com/Superfoods-of-the-Incas/superfoods-of-the-incas-medicine-natural-buy.html

http://foodsforlonglife.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/omega-3-power-seeds-chia-hemp-and-flax.html

http://www.amazonhub.com/Superfoods-of-the-Incas/superfoods-of-the-incas-medicine-natural-buy.html

http://www.desthealth.com/products/vitamins-supplements/maqui-berry-active-60-capsules

http://www.thewellnesswarrior.com.au/2012/09/superfood-profile-camu-camu

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/mesquite-powder-health-benefits-tips-and-recipes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesquite

http://www.naturalnews.com/029562_mesquite_flour_superfood.html

http://www.vegparadise.com/otherbirds1002.html

Free Radicals Are Bad, Right…But Why?

I often mention free radicals and antioxidants in my posts because they are such a fundamental part of the disease process. But there was a time when I was not exactly sure what free radicals were or why they were a problem, although I was aware they were not good.

So that you have an understanding about just why I mention them so often, this week I would like to offer you a brief explanation of what free radicals actually are and what they do, and the role antioxidants play in all this.

The major source of quality antioxidants is fresh, raw, highly coloured plants
The major source of quality antioxidants is fresh, raw, highly coloured plants

Firstly it’s important to be aware that free radicals are a significant part of a process called oxidation, and that they are everywhere, not just in our bodies. They are responsible for the destruction of many objects in the world around us. They cause metals to rust, paint to fade, apples to brown, oils or meats to turn rancid, our skin to burn and coins to turn green, a process known as oxidation. Oxidation is a normal chemical process, and it happens right throughout nature. It is the interaction between oxygen molecules and the different things that they contact which damages cells and leads to the effects we can see.

Rusty metal
Metal rusted after oxidisation
An apple turning brown as it oxidises after being cut
An apple turning brown as it oxidises after being cut
Old copper turning green as it oxidises
Old copper turning green as it oxidises

HOW DO FREE RADICALS FORM?

To understand how free radicals come about we need to do a quick detour into the wonderful world of Chemistry 101.

All our cells are made up of lots of different molecules and molecules are made up of atoms. You might remember from school that atoms are made up of a nucleus, neutrons, protons and electrons. It is the electrons in the molecule that are involved in chemical reactions and they are the ones that bond atoms together to form molecules. They circle around the atom and form layers, or shells (forming a new layer as each one fills up) It is the number of electrons in the outermost shell that becomes important. If the shell is full up the molecule stays as it is, it is stable. But if the outer shell is not full then the molecule has to try to balance out that shell by either gathering or losing electrons to fill up or empty out the outer shell – it is better to lose the shell if it isn’t full. Another option is to share the electrons in its outer shell with another molecule that also needs extra electrons, by joining up, or bonding, so they both have full outer shells. Sometimes the bonds are weak and split which can leave an odd unpaired electron floating around, and this is a free radical.

Free radicals are unstable atoms or molecules that contain unpaired electrons. The ideal is to have all electrons paired so the free radical goes on an aggressive rampage to replace the missing electron by stealing an electron from another molecule.

The free radical is such a problem because it is unstable and highly reactive, and it goes on a rampage to capture other electrons so that it can become stable again. It will steal the electron from the closest stable neighbouring molecule. That molecule then becomes a free radical itself, because it is no longer stable, and so a chain reaction occurs. When this process starts in a cell it creates a cascade that damages the living cell. It would be simple if the cell was just killed off because the body would simply produce another one, that’s an ongoing process. But the problem here is that free radicals damage the DNA and injure the cell instead, and this provides the start of disease. The cell very quickly mutates, grows abnormally and reproduces abnormally.

QUICK SUMMARY

Just in case I lost you in that explanation here is a summary. Free radicals are toxic chemicals that damage body cells and lead to a cascade effect of damage in more and more cells, which then leads to disease. Unhealthy and damaged cells lead to an unhealthy and damaged body. Disease arises when there are damaged cells, damaged tissues and damaged organs.

“Scientists now believe that free radicals are causal factors in nearly every known disease, from heart disease to arthritis, to cancer and cataracts. In fact, free radicals are a major culprit in the aging process itself”

                                          Lester Packer, Ph.D., The Antioxidant Miracle

WHY FREE RADICALS ARE A PROBLEM

The real danger to you lies with the chain reaction that occurs, because it means that it is not just one cell that gets damaged but a whole horde of them. The free radical creates a snowball effect where each molecule steals from its neighbour to replace the electron stolen. And it all happens very quickly, so quickly that the body’s defense system cannot keep up. It gets overwhelmed and enters a state called oxidative stress.

When attacks from free radicals keep happening in your body the result is chronic disease. Free radicals adversely alter lipids, protein and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases.

Free radical damage is now thought to make a significant contribution to all inflammatory diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, heart disease, cataracts and arthritis.

Your body is constantly under attack from free radicals

Here are just a few more – arthritis, vasculitis, lupus, stroke, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, emphysema, gastric ulcers, hypertension and pre-eclampsia, muscular dystrophy, alcoholism, smoking-related diseases, and many, many others.  Research suggests that free radical damage to cells leads to all the changes associated with ageing, and the associated diseases

It is quite normal for free radicals to occur within your body. In fact the body creates and uses free radicals to neutralize bacteria or virus cells. They are produced during normal metabolism. They are produced during excessive exercise, although wise exercising can help improve your capacity to deal with free radicals. They are also the result of inflammation, whether that is initiated to fight off infection or the result of long-term chronic problems.

But there are many things in our environment that can also produce free radicals when we are exposed to them – air pollution, radiation, pesticides, herbicides, X-rays, some drugs, industrial chemicals and particularly cigarette smoke. You can even trigger high free radical production by drinking excess alcohol.

ANTIOXIDANTS TO THE RESCUE

This is where antioxidants come into the picture. Normally the body is able to deal with free radicals but when their numbers increase significantly so that they outnumber the antioxidant defences, the body is unable to keep up and damage occurs. Antioxidants are very stable molecules and so are capable of donating an electron to the free radical to stabilize it without becoming a free radical themselves – they are electron donors. They are needed to maintain the critical balance with free radicals, to keep them to levels that your body can deal with. They are way your body fights rampant free radicals.

Your body can make some antioxidants, but not all, and importantly, this ability declines with age. Supplementing the body’s own production with external sources of antioxidants can make a huge difference to how it copes with oxidative stress.

Free radical damage increases with age.

There are many foods where you can get antioxidants to protect your body from free radical damage. Over the next few months I will talk about individual antioxidants but you can read about some of them here. Here is a list of the different types of antioxidants. The ORAC score assigned to a food is a measure of just how effective it is at neutralizing free radicals. The higher the score the more powerful an antioxidant it is.

Red raspberries are a powerful antioxidant
Red raspberries are a powerful antioxidant

Being conscious of including lots of high quality, antioxidant rich foods in your diet is a way to make sure that you get a regular, steady supply. Fruit and vegetables are the key to this because they are high in antioxidant nutrients. Legumes, nuts, herbs, spices and whole grains are some other sources. Phytochemicals that act as antioxidants are more abundant in fresh foods, and raw foods.

‘Eating a rainbow’ is the way to bring a comprehensive range of antioxidants into your diet. That is, eating lots of a wide array of different brightly coloured produce.

Bearing in mind that pesticides and herbicides are a source of free radicals themselves, it makes sense to eat organic fruit and veges as often as is possible. If you can’t afford to buy organic produce then start growing your own. Good eating is intricately interwoven with good gardening. You can grow some produce on a balcony or in a courtyard, and even if you simply supplement the commercial component of your produce it is going to make some difference. In addition, you know the produce has not been sitting around in a store for some time, that it is fresh.

There are also a number of Superfoods that have wonderful antioxidant properties including spirulina, acai, mangosteen, raw dark chocolate, many berries, beans, apples, plus many others.

It is worth noting that there are lots of different types of antioxidants and each has a different role, able to work at a different level of defense. Some such as vitamin C, stop the reaction before it starts, preventing the formation of free radicals. Others including the most potent one for this, Vitamin E, scavenge free radicals to break the chain. Others promote the decomposition of the damaged cell. You need a variety of antioxidants as your cells are protected by the combined efforts of lots of different antioxidants.

Amongst the vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene are antioxidants. They must be found in your diet as your body can’t manufacture them. Although Vitamin C, E and A all have antioxidant properties remember that many vitamin supplements are made from synthetic forms of the vitamin, and the value of using these man made versions raises questions, as they have been found to be detrimental to your health, particularly vitamin E. Look for natural sources of antioxidants in preference.

So you can see if you want to keep away the many chronic diseases caused by free radical damage that plague us today you need a broad range of good-quality foods rich in antioxidants in your diet on a regular basis to do the job.

What are your have favourite sources of antioxidants?

 fruit smile free use

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

Source articles:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911

http://www.healthchecksystems.com/antioxid.htm

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-antioxidants-work1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_antioxidants_in_food

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/16/all-about-antioxidants.aspx