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Archive for September, 2010

Super Foods For Your Health!

We always hear about a number of exotic foods with super food status; however they are not always easy to find and if you can find them the cost may be prohibitive.  I could list many everyday super foods, however for the sake of brevity, let’s look at  10 of the most nutrient dense everyday super foods that are very available  in most grocery and or healthy oriented food stores, such as Whole Foods and Earth Fair. Again this my opinion, I could make a list of at least a few dozen foods with super healthy potential. When possible select organic foods.

Swiss chard

Swiss chard is very rich in a broad spectrum of nutrients.  Chard belongs to the same family as beets and spinach and shares a similar taste profile: it has the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavor of spinach leaves. Chard is truly a nutritional superstar. It can be used just like spinach. Use the tender smaller leafs raw in salads. You can wilt, steam or boil the larger leafs so they are tender. On the larger leafs remove the stalk center, it can be a little tougher. Learn more about Swiss chards many health benefits.

Butter Nut Squash (winter squashes)

If you have never tried this vegetable you have really missed out on a very nutrient rich and very tasty vegetable. Although there are many different types of winter squash such as spaghetti, delicata, hubbard, sweet dumpling, acorn and butter cup, the butter nut is one of my favorites. It tastes very much like a sweet potato however it has much less sugar content.  For those that need to watch their blood sugar it is an excellent choice. Winter squash is as an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese. In addition, winter squash emerged as a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin B6, niacin-vitamin B3 and pantothenic acid. Winter squashes offer many health benefits and are very easy to store. Learn more here.

Spinach

Researchers have identified at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as antioxidants and as anti-cancer agents. (Many of these substances fall into a technical class of flavonoids known as methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides.) Glucuronides are a very important part of our detoxing pathways. The anticancer properties of these spinach flavonoids have been sufficiently impressive to prompt researchers to create specialized spinach extracts that could be used in controlled studies. These spinach extracts have been shown to slow down cell division in stomach cancer cells (gastric adenocarcinomas), and in studies on laboratory animals, to reduce skin cancers (skin papillomas). A study on adult women living in New England in the late 1980s also showed intake of spinach to be inversely related to incidence of breast cancer.  Click here for more data about spinach

Broccoli  (cruciferous family)

Broccoli is a great addition to our diets. It can bet enjoyed raw or cooked. Broccoli is a powerful anti-inflammatory and detoxing food. Most vegetables are not considered to be good sources of omega 3 fatty acids however broccoli has enough of them that it can give you the many health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids. Broccoli contains compounds that are necessary for our body’s detoxing pathways. In addition it is rich in many vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. Many studies have shown broccoli to give protection against cancers and it can help in the metabolism of vitamin d due to its high content of vitamin k. Learn more about broccoli here.

Avocado

Although avocados are very creamy due to its abundance of heart healthy monounsaturated fats, it is also a very rich source of fiber, vitamin k, potassium, folate, vitamin b6, vitamin c and cooper. It is also very rich in antioxidants. Avocados may offer a delicious dietary strategy for the prevention of oral cancer. Phytonutrients in Hass avocados, the most readily available of the more than 500 varieties of avocados grown worldwide, target multiple signaling pathways, increasing the amount of free radicals (reactive oxygen species) within pre-cancerous and cancerous human oral cell lines, that leads to their death, but cause no harm to normal cells. ? Semin Cancer Biol. 2007 May 17. Earlier research by UCLA scientists also indicates that Hass avocados may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer as well. When analyzed, Hass avocados were found to contain the highest content of lutein among commonly eaten fruits as well as measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene). Lutein accounted for 70% of the measured carotenoids, and the avocado also contained significant quantities of vitamin E. J Nutr Biochem. 2005 Jan;16(1):23-30. Source: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5

Strawberries

Strawberries are the most popular fruit in the world and it’s not just due to its wonderful unique flavor. Strawberries are rich in many nutrients and phytonutrients including vitamin c, manganese, fiber, iodine, potassium, folate, vitamin b2, vitamin b6, vitamin b5 and are source of omega 3 fatty acids. Strawberries’ unique phenol content makes them a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer fruit, and an anti-inflammatory fruit, all rolled into one. Learn more about strawberries here.

Dark Chocolate

I am a chocolate nut, really I am. I am so glad dark chocolate is so healthy. Dark chocolate is one of the richest sources of flavonoids and has one of the highest antioxidant ratings of any foods. Dark chocolate also contains another compound, epicatechin, which research shows to be a powerful cellular stimulator of protective compounds which may be prompting the cells to defend themselves. It is richer in antioxidant power than green tea and red wine.  Dark chocolate provides brain protection, heart protection, lowers blood pressure, improves skin health and bone health and is anti-inflammatory.  Dark chocolate and or raw cacao has much less caffeine than coffee or tea. With all the protection of dark chocolate you still need to be aware of the calories. Also the chocolate found in candies, ice cream and other food preparations may not offer the same health benefits. Chocolate with added sugars is unhealthy. Look for 100% organic dark chocolate or raw cacao.  I am not saying eat all of the chocolate you want, it is high in calories, however consumed correctly it is awesome for your health!

Do not consume milk when eating chocolate; it may interfere with nutrient absorption. The fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter and is made up of equal amounts of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. Stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat. You may know that saturated fats are linked to increases in LDL-cholesterol and the risk for heart disease. But, research shows that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, neither raising nor lowering it. Although palmitic acid does affect cholesterol levels, it only makes up one-third of the fat calories in chocolate. If you really want to know all the benefits of chocolate read my friend David Wolf’s book “Naked Chocolate”.

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds improve brain health, heart health, reduce high cholesterol, and are anti-inflammatory, can be high in antioxidant value and provide detoxing power. Nuts and seeds are very rich in fiber, minerals, phytonutrients, and heart healthy oils and can be a rich source of antioxidant power. Nuts and seeds can be used and eaten in a variety of ways, such as a snack or in salads and turned into nut butters. You will find them raw and roasted. Raw is better if you are looking for optimal nutritional intake. Many people soak their nuts before eating to remove the external protein coating that can make digestion a little more difficult for our bodies. Nuts and seeds are very satiating and help curb hunger. In fact many studies have shown that people who regularly consume 1 to 2 ounces of nuts and seeds per day seem to lose weight and keep it off.

Nuts and seeds contain mostly monounsaturated oils and smaller amounts of polyunsaturated oils.  Walnuts and flax seeds (must be ground before eating) contain a large percentage of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids.  Sunflower seeds are a rich source of many vitamins and minerals.  Brazil nuts contain several times the DRI of selenium, a very powerful antioxidant mineral with anti-cancer properties. Pumpkin seeds are an equally healthful choice with ¼-cup of kernels boasting more than twice the omega-3 of a four-ounce serving of salmon while being an excellent source of magnesium. While the Flax seed has long been recognized as a very popular health food, the Chia seed is now being recognized for its high nutrient content, in particular an excellent source of omega 3’s.   Almonds are a wonderful source of copper, magnesium and phosphorous and 6 grams of protein per one-ounce serving. The June 2004 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry reported that pecans contain the highest antioxidant capacity of all nuts.

Researches revealed that people who regularly consume nuts have lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The Iowa Women’s Healthy Study found that women who include nuts at least 4 times a week on their daily diet are 40% less likely reduce the risk of heart attack.  A study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health and Loma Linda University yielded very similar results. Naturally, the health benefits are not only exclusive to women, in a 2002 research in Physician’s Health Study of male participants, the findings showed that men who consumed nuts regularly 2 or more times per week had reduced the risks of heart attack.

The famous Seventh Day Adventists study followed more than 30,000 church members over a 12-year period. The results showed that even in this healthy-living, largely vegetarian group, those who ate nuts at least five times per week cut their risk of dying from coronary heart disease (CHD) by 48 percent, compared with those who ate nuts less than once weekly. They also cut their risk of a nonfatal heart attack by 51 percent.

In a study involving more than 3,000 African-American men and women, those who consumed nuts at least five times a week cut their risk of dying from CHD by 44 percent, compared with those who ate nuts less than once weekly.

The results of the 14-year Nurses’ Health Study—which involved more than 86,000 women—indicate that women who consume more than five ounces of nuts weekly will cut their risk of CHD by 35 percent, compared with those who eat less than one ounce per month.  And, the 17-year Physicians’ Health Study involving more than 21,000 men found that those who consumed nuts at least twice a week cut their risk of sudden cardiac death by 53 percent, compared with those who rarely ate nuts.

Just remember nuts and seeds are high in calories due to the abundance of heart healthy oils, be careful to not over consume them.  Because of their wide array of nutrients it is better to include a variety of them in your dietary routine.

The Allium Family

Garlic, onions, leeks and chives contain flavonoids that stimulate the production of glutathione, one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants. Glutathione enhances elimination of toxins and carcinogens, putting the Allium family of vegetables at the top of the list for foods that can help prevent cancer.  For maximum nutritional value mash, mince or chop them and let sit for 5 minutes before consuming. This allows air to activate some of the healthy compounds they contain.

Here are just a few benefits from members of this family. Lowers total cholesterol (but raises HDL—”good”—cholesterol), lessens the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of blood clots (cause of the majority of strokes and heart attacks), destroys infection-causing viruses and bacteria, reduces the risk of certain cancers, in particular, stomach cancers, produces more “natural killer” cells in the blood to fight tumors and infections, helps fight against neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and enhances detoxification by reducing toxins.

Sprouts

Sprouts are edible seeds that are germinated. Most seeds, nuts, pulses, beans and grains can be sprouted. Sprouted alfalfa, broccoli, chickpeas, kidney beans, fenugreek seeds, wheat and barley are popular for their medicinal and nutritional properties. The many health benefits of sprouts result from the process of sprouting and the composition of sprouts. Sprouts can add a nutty and earthy flavor and a crunchy texture to salads and sandwiches.

Sprouts are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E and are a good source of selenium. They also contain calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, zinc, folate and vitamin B. They are low in sodium but high in potassium. Sprouted legumes like peanuts, soy beans and peanuts have complete proteins. They are a good source of fiber and are rich in life promoting enzymes, oxygen and chlorophyll.  Do not underestimate the health promoting properties of these wonderful, raw life giving foods.

For optimal health there are many very healthy commonly available foods you should make a part of your diet.  Variety is the key. Be adventuresome with the foods you select. Try something new! There are hundreds of healthy vegetables, fruits , beans, grains and nuts and seeds to enjoy.  Eat healthy, eat a variety and enjoy them with friends.

Healthy Wishes,

Wally Bishop C.N.C.

www.webnd.com

This contents of this blog is not and should not be  considered as medical advise. Always consult with your doctor before making any dietary or lifestyle changes. Never quit taking prescription medications unless advised to do so by your doctor.

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Pumpkin Seeds Are a Great Soure of Magnesium

There are many nutrients most Americans are deficient in.  Studies show that the standard American diet is deficient in at least 9 essential nutrients; Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Fiber, Calcium (debatable), Magnesium, Potassium and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Of these do you know which ones you need every day or maybe a better question is which ones could cause you health problems the quickest if you do not get them daily?

Our body needs literally thousand of nutrients to promote vibrant health, however other than water, certain minerals are needed every day, particularly if you are very active.  Trace minerals are just as essential as major minerals; they are just required in smaller quantities. Without minerals, vitamins are useless in the body. Vitamins need enzymes for many of their functions. Enzymes require minerals to do their work, in this sense they are  co-factors. Enzymes cannot work without minerals (co-factors), and each enzyme is designed to work with a particular co-factor. If the particular co-factor is not present the enzyme will simply sit around watching You Tube, sorry, my weak attempt at humor.  OK, how about the enzyme can do nothing, it is useless.

Of the minerals, it is my opinion that for Americans, magnesium seems to be one of the most important because it is required in so many body functions. A large percentage of Americans are lacking adequate magnesium.  You can go several days or even weeks before needing certain vitamins, however you must have some intake of most minerals at least every couple of days. If you are really active, ill or sweating a lot you will need them everyday.  Minerals  are used by the body and excreted easily.  If you are using diuretics , exercising intensely or sweating profusely,  a diet deficient in the  electrolytes, potassium, sodium and chloride can cause severe health problems requiring a  sudden need for emergency medical treatment.

Caution: Do not drink extremely large quantities of water in a short period of time without replacing your electrolytes. A radio station sponsored a water drinking contest a few years ago. One participant drank almost 2 gallons of water over a period of approximately an hour and a half, she died from an extreme loss of electrolytes.   Get those minerals every day.

How Does a Magnesium Deficiency Effect the Body?

Do you get adequate magnesium in your diet? Almost two thirds  of Americans are deficient in magnesium, a nutrient that is essential to more than 300 activities in our bodies. Magnesium provides your muscles the ability to relax, it moves calcium out of your blood and into bones, it is required to keep blood circulating and the heart beating and it is essential to keep your nervous system and brain healthy.

If you have muscle cramps, particularly at night, the odds are great that you may be lacking magnesium; if you have trouble sleeping you may be low in magnesium, if you are fatigued it could be a lack of magnesium. If you have high blood pressure it may be due to insufficient magnesium, if you are diabetic, low levels of magnesium may be involved, magnesium is critical for carbohydrate metabolism. Magnesium helps keep the heart in a healthy rhythm,  is necessary for protein synthesis and cellular reproduction.

Magnesium is required for good bone health. Magnesium moves calcium out of the blood and  towards bone. In fact a large percentage of the magnesium in your body is in your bones. Magnesium is critical for heart health. It helps blood vessels relax reducing blood pressure and it helps lower triglyceride levels in your blood. Magnesium is also required to make certain detoxing compounds and for a strong immune system.

What Affects Magnesium Absorption?

Magnesium absorption is affected by many factors. Cooking by submersion in water will leach magnesium and other minerals from the food source. Eating a combination of cooked and raw vegetables will maximize your magnesium intake. Steaming or raw is better (legumes must be cooked).  Excessive calcium and zinc intake can cause a magnesium deficiency.  Magnesium absorption may be reduced by gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, the use of laxatives, chronic diarrhea, oral contraceptives, high caffeine intake, over exercising, diabetes, advanced age and alcoholism.”

In addition, taking certain diuretics specifically Lasix, Bumex, Edecrin, and hydrochlorothiazide, certain cancer medications like Cisplatin and certain antibiotics such as Gentamicin, and Amphotericin also interferes with magnesium absorption.

Magnesium may play a role in the prevention and/or treatment of the following health conditions and symptoms:

  • Alcoholism
  • Angina pectoris
  • Arrhythmia
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes
  • Eclampsia
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Heart attack
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hypertension
  • Hypertriglyceridemia (high triglyceride levels)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Migraine
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Peptic ulcers
  • PMS
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Reynaud’s syndrome
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Sensitiveness to noise
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mental depression
  • Confusion
  • Twitching
  • Trembling
  • Apprehension
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cramps in the toes, feet, legs or fingers

How Much You Should be Getting Daily:

If you get too much the body will excrete it through your waste. This is why magnesium is used as a very safe laxative such as milk of magnesia. The Recommended Dietary Allowances for magnesium, set in 1997 by the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences, are as follows:

  • males and females, 1-3 years: 80 milligrams
  • males and females, 4-8 years: 130 milligrams
  • males and females, 9-13 years: 240 milligrams
  • males, 14-18 years: 410 milligrams
  • males, 19-30 years: 400 milligrams
  • males, 31 years and older: 420 milligrams
  • females, 14-18 years: 360 milligrams
  • females, 19-30 years: 310 milligrams
  • females, 31 years and older: 320 milligrams
  • pregnant women, 18 years or younger: 400 milligrams
  • pregnant women, 19-30 years: 350 milligrams
  • pregnant women, 31-50 years: 360 milligrams

Excellent Food Sources include:

Swiss chard, kelp, millet, salmon, halibut, rice bran, oat bran, buckwheat, bulghur wheat, quinoa,  brown rice, spinach, squash, soybeans, turnip greens, green peas, pumpkin seeds, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, cashews, dark chocolate, almonds, black beans, pinto beans and navy beans. For more foods and their magnesium content check out this USDA list.

Make sure get your daily magnesium, you might be amazed at the health benefits it will  provide for you.

Wally Bishop C.N.C.

http://www.webnd.com

This contents of this blog is not and should not be  considered as medical advise. Always consult with your doctor before making any dietary or lifestyle changes. Never quit taking prescription medications unless advised to do so by your doctor.

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