PowerFoods

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Flaxseed Health Benefits and Uses

By |April 25th, 2014|

Flaxseeds have been cultivated for their health benefits for 5000 years but it is only in the last few decades that nutritional science has realized just how good they are for us.

“Wherever flaxseed becomes a regular food item among the people, there will be better health.” Mahatma Gandhi.

I love adding flaxseeds to my meals and baking!  Let’s learn more about this Powerfood.

Essential  Flaxseed Health Benefits

1. Flaxseeds are one of the foods highest in soluble and insoluble fibre;
4 Tbsp flax meal = 8 grams of fiber.

  • Great for detoxing of the body. They contain a gummy soluble fiber called mucilage which protects intestinal flora.
  • Helps keep bowel movements regular eliminating toxins.
  • Blocks excess acidity thus improves digestion.
  • The fibre has cholesterol-lowering effects.
  • The high fiber helps stabilize blood sugar.

2. Flaxseed Lignans Fight Cancer, Infection and More

  • Flaxseeds Reduce Prostate Cancer: Research studies show lignans can slow the growth of prostate cancer cells.
  • Flaxseeds help with Breast Cancer Survival: Three studies followed thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer were published at PubMed Central® 1. 2. 3. They found “Lignans might play an important role in reducing all-cause and cancer-specific mortality of the patients operated on for breast cancer.”
  • Lignans seem to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
  • Lignans may reduce pre-menopausal symptoms, promote fertility and prevent Type 2 diabetes.

3. Flaxseed Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids Reduce Inflammation.

  • Many chronic diseases (heart disease, arthritis, asthma, diabetes) are developed from too much inflammation; this is enhanced by having too little Omega-3 intake. Flaxseed oil can be a real help.

Benefits of essential fatty acids:

  • increases “good” Cholesterol levels
  • for organ health
  • keep joints supple
  • a healthy brain; very important when a child’s brain grows the fastest, in utero and during infancy.
  • a healthy heart and arteries
  • can nourish immune system
  • help keep bones strong
  • for a smooth skin

4.  Flaxseed Meal is Low Carb, Low Glycemic Index, and Gluten Free.

  • Although flaxseeds are not a grain, they have a similar vitamin and mineral profile and are often used in grain type recipes.
  • For those on a low carbohydrate diet, or a gluten free diet, flaxseed meal is perfectly safe.  It has a low glycemic  index of 32 and with it’s high fiber is good for weight loss.

Flaxseed Trivia:

  • Hippocrates used flaxseed for relief of intestinal discomfort.
  • The Egyptians used linen (made from flax seed) to wrap their mummies.
  • Christ wore linen in his tomb. Homer tells of sails made of linen in his Odyssey.
  • Laws were passed requiring people to consume flax seeds for its health benefits by King Charlemagne in the 8th century.
  • Flax was one of the original medicines, used by Hippocrates himself.
  • Some flax varieties are  grown for oil, some for their fiber to make linen.

Flaxseed History:

  • Stone Age: Flax remnants were found in Stone Age dwellings in Switzerland.
  • Around 3000 BC:  flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon.
  • 8th century: King Charlemagne passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it because he believed in its health benefits.

Flaxseed Nutrition:

  1. Contains high quality protein; 4 Tbsp flax meal = 6 grams of protein.
  2. Contain vitamins B-1, B-2, C, E, and carotene.
  3. Contain many minerals (iron, zinc, and trace amounts of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium)
  4. Has vitamin E and carotene, two nutrients which aid the metabolism of the oil.
  5. Contain over a hundred times more of a phytonutrient lignin, than high lignin food such as wheat bran, buckwheat, rye, millet, oats, and soybeans.

Flaxseed History:

  • Stone Age: Flax remnants were found in Stone Age dwellings in Switzerland.
  • Around 3000 BC: flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon.
  • 8th century: King Charlemagne passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it because he believed in its health benefits.

How To Get Flaxseeds Into Your Diet

 First you need to know the varieties of flaxseeds and […]

Types of Cabbage

By |January 30th, 2014|

 040811_1819_CabbagetheB1.jpg

Green Cabbage: the most common variety; is pale green in colour with tightly compacted leaves. 

red cabbageRed Cabbage: this dark purple red cabbage is similar in taste to the green cabbage but with coarser leaves. Red cabbage has almost 3,000 times more anthocyanins (an antioxidant) as green cabbage

Bok Choy: A Chinese cabbage with dark green leaves and white stems. Has the highest beta carotene and vitamin A content. (see right)Bok choy stems are white and watery-crisp, while the leaves are deep green and very tender. The flavor of bok choy reminds us of baby spinach or swiss chard, and we love it in stir-fries, brothy soups, and steamed mixed vegetable dishes.

savoy cabbageSavoy Cabbage: is round and green-yellow in colour, with crinkled leaves and is less compact than the green cabbage. Their flavor is mild and earthy, and the leaves are tender even when raw. Good  sliced thinly in soups and stir-fries. When you buy it should be crisp – not wilted!

nappa cabbage chinese 450Napa  Cabbage:  also called Chinese or celery cabbage.  Napa cabbage doesn’t look like head cabbages. It has long light green leaves that flower off of thick, white stalks.  It has a lovely mild flavor with a peppery kick that is delicious in salads or stir-frys.

brussel sproutsBrussel Sprouts:  They don’t just look like tiny cabbages, they are! . If you find them sold on the stalk,  know that they will keep for several weeks if chilled.

Plum Crazy! 8 Health Benefits and Fascinating Facts

By |December 6th, 2013|

plum health benefits

I love plums!

The best things about them are that plums are a low-calorie powerfood that won’t spike your blood sugar levels and are full of health benefits.

8 Plum Health Benefits:

1.  Great for Relieving constipation and digestive problems.
Filled with dietary fiber.

2.  Protects your heart.
A medium fresh plum contains 113 mg of potassium that helps manage high blood pressure and reduce risk of stroke.

3.  Protect against cancer and cell damage.
Cleans up harmful free radicals with the anthocyanins, reddish-blue pigment in some plums.

4.  Prevent diabetes.
Plums have a low glycaemic index so eating plums can help you control your blood sugar and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes according to the Dieticians of Canada.

5.  Improves bone health.
In a study one group ate prunes, the other group ate dried apples and both took calcium and vitamin D supplements. The prune group had substantially higher bone mineral density in the spine and forearms.  (Florida State and Oklahoma State universities Research.)

6.  Low in Calories.
This is very beneficial when dieting. A small plum contains only 30 calories.

7.  Plums destroy breast cancer cells.
Plum extracts can kill breast cancer cells in their most aggressive forms; the surrounding healthy cells were not harmed by the treatment. (ScienceDaily.com)

8.  Improves brain memory.
Plums are full of antioxidants that have been shown to slow the development of Alzheimer’s. (The University of Harvard Health Research.)  They also contain anthocyanin and quercetin, beneficial for preventing brain cell-breakdown.

“You can’t evoke great spirits and eat plums at the same time.” – George William Russell

Plum Trivia:

  • The Chinese believe plums symbolize good fortune.
  • More than one hundred varieties of plum stones were found on Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose, which sank in 1545.
  • February is the month for plums in Japan; there are plum blossoms everywhere.
  • Umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums) were thought by the samurai to combat fatigue.
  • Plum trees are grown on every continent except Antarctica.
  • There are more than 140 varieties of plum sold in the United States.
  • Plums are the second most cultivated fruit in the world.
  • At least 2,300 people in the U.S. are listed on whitepages.com with the last name “Plum.”
  • Plums can be as large as a baseball or a small as a cherry.
  • Plums were on the menu at the first Thanksgiving dinner in 1621.

Plum Nutrition:

  • Yummy, succulent plums only have 46 calories per 100 g, contain no saturated fats and are full of minerals and vitamins.
  • Plums and prunes help increase the absorption of iron into the body, which may be due to the fact that they are a good source of vitamin C. This has been documented in published research.

There are more than 80 nutrients found in plums. Read more at Plum Nutrition

Plum Cautions:
Plums and Oxalates:  For those with a history of kidney stones are advised to avoid eating plums. For more information about: Oxalic Acid

History:

  • Writings of plums show up as early as 479 B.C.  The plum tree was significant in Chinese mythology.  It was often carved on jade and was associated with wisdom.
  • Pompey the Great in 65 B.C. introduced plums to Rome, and Alexander the Great eventually brought them to the Mediterranean.
  • Japanese plums originated in China. Japanese plums were introduced to the U.S. in the late 19th century.
  • It is thought that plums were one of the first fruits domesticated by humans.

“The branches of the aspen plum
To and fro they sway
How can […]

Umeboshi Plums – The Samurai PowerFood

By |December 5th, 2013|

Umeboshi plum

These Japanese pickled plums were thought by the samurai to combat battle fatigue.

Umeboshi means dried plum and the botanic name is Prunus ume.  It is technically part of the plum family, before it’s turned into umeboshi but it looks like an apricot.

Japanese pickled plums have many medicinal qualities. They are highly effective in balancing a highly acidic body with its highly alkalizing effect which helps with fatigue, digestion, and helping eliminate toxins.  In Japan this is what they use instead of an aspirin and instead of an apple a day it is an umeboshi a day as preventive medicine.

I do need to warn you if you have not eaten one of these pickled plums they are very strong in taste and not a taste we in the west are accustomed to.  I love them! In the 70’s they were introduced to my diet when I became a macrobiotic.

“The abrupt, searingly tart, tangy, salty taste jolts the eyes open, shakes the stomach awake, sandpapers off any staleness from the tastebuds and gets the day off to an unforgettable start.” (Clearspring, 2009)

Watch for more to come in this article about all the wonderful benefits, history of and recipes of this unique powerfood.

Discover the benefits of regular plums at Plum Crazy:  8 Health Benefits and Fascinating Facts

Holy Basil Benefits

By |November 14th, 2013|

Holy BasilHoly basil has proven through thousands of years of applied use and recent research to offer a host of health benefits.

It is used in over 300 Ayurvedic herbal preparations, but is best known in the west as Tulsi Tea or in single herb supplements.  It has many applications beyond health, and that is why it is considered ‘holy’ in India.

 Health Benefits:

1. Adapting To and Resisting Stress

Holy basic is considered an adaptogenic herb.

Adaptogins have the ability to switch from stimulating to sedative effects based on the bodies needs. This balancing effect thus ‘adapts’ to the situation and  allows one to deal with challenging environments. Modern life has many challenges, both physical and psychological.

One interpretation of this effect is that holy basil reduce the negative effects stress has on the body by supporting the adrenals.

2.  Highly Alkaline – Helps Detox

Like many green plants Holy Basil is alkaline forming – so much so it traditionally used when a person is fasting so the body doesn’t  become too acidic during the temporary cleansing process.  

3.  Powerful anti-oxidant

Protects the body  from free radical destruction and ROS (reactive oxygen species) which contribute to disease and aging.

Faculty of Science researchers at Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu, India found that Holy Basil exhibits antioxidant activity and supports the body’s natural response to oxidative stress. They also found it to be supportive of the body’s normal lipid and protein oxidation levels, and normal antioxidant defense reactions.  

4.  Immune Support and Balance

Strengthens and balances the immune system to prevent infections but also reduce adverse immune reactions like asthma.

5. Powerful anti-inflammatory
Reduces chronic inflamation that is involved in many degenerative diseases including cancer and arthritis.  It to help inhibit COX-2 (inflammatory enzyme)Anti-inflamtories  usually help stabilize blood sugars and thus help weight control.

My Own Experience with Holy Basil:

I had two large Tulsi plants in my living room. They were both over one yard (one meter) high and wide.
Each day I would pinch off three to five fresh leaves and eat them raw – on the advice of an Indian healer.

Once my daughter had a cough which would not go away. When she saw a doctor she would told she had asthma and proscribed a puffer. Instead we just feed her tulsi leaves and her body balanced out completely within 2 days. I can’t be sure she had asthma or that the tulsi was the deciding factor in balancing her but we do know it helped.  Holy basil is well known to help with coughs.

Unfortunately those two plants died. I’m not a great gardener so I don’t know what happened but I plan to grow more.

Holy basil in front of templeReligious, Spiritual and Other Benefits:

  • Tulsi opens the heart and mind and nourishes the brain for experiences of meditation and enlightenment.
  • Tulsi is consider sacred by the Hindus since it is sacred to both Vishnu and Krishna.
  • It is said to balance the energetic system – with particular nourishment to the third eye chakra.
  • Many homes in India have a least two tulsi plants in front or with their homes to bring peace and prosperity.
  • There are also plants in front of temples.
  • Tulsi plants are known to purify the air and ward off mosquitoes.

 

 

 

8 Health Benefits (and Cautions) of Kale

By |November 12th, 2013|

kale and wood

Discover the newest superfood of the stars, its health benefits AND cautions.

“Every leaf of kale your chew adds another stem to your tree of life.” Ancient Turkish Saying

Kale was once called the ‘poor people food’ but now it’s the new trend. Celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Woody Harrelson, and Gwyneth Paltrow are all eating kale to feel better and keep the ‘sleek physique’ needed for stardom.

It is one of the my top Powerfoods!

Did you know?

  • There are over 50 varieties of kale
  • National Kale Day is celebrated on the first Wednesday of October.
  • Kale plants continue to produce late into winter. It is the perfect green for seasonal eating in fall or winter.
  • Kale needs a frost to become sweeter. The frost converts some of plant’s starch into sugar.
  • In Scotland, an invitation to “come to kale” was an invitation to dinner.
  • An adult hippopotamus at Washington D.C.’s National Zoo eats 10 pounds of kale a day!

8 Health Benefits of Kale:

1. Can help lower cholesterol levels.
The fiber fiber in kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s best when kale is cooked instead of raw.

2. Kale is a detox food.
It’s filled with fiber and sulfur which are great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.

3. Low in calories
A cup of chopped kale has only 33 calories. Great for weight loss!

4. Great at fighting many cancers
Kale is rich in organosulfur compounds which are known to figh cancer, especially colon cancer.

5. Supports a healthy immune system.
Kale is full of sulforaphane which helps which nourishes the immune system.

6. Visual Benefits.
Kale is abundant in two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which act like sunglass filters preventing damage to the eyes from excessive exposure to ultraviolet light.

7. Supports normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity, and bone health.
The high amount of Vitamin K helps nourishes those activities in the body healthy.

8. Great for helping digestion and elimination.
It is very high in fiber.

All greens are nutritious, but kale stands way above the rest. Kale has more iron than beef per calorie. Very high in in Vitamin K, full of powerful antioxidants and much more. Read all about it: Kale Nutrition.

History:

  • “Kale is the one of the oldest forms of cabbage, originating in the eastern Mediterranean. Kale is thought to have been used as a food crop as early as 2000 B. C.” Laurie Hodges, Ph. D. Extension Specialist
  • Kale originated in Asia Minor and by the 5th century B.C., the preference was for the larger leaf that developed into the vegetable we now know as kale.
  • The plant was brought to Europe around 600 B.C. by groups of Celtic wanderers. Early historic records on the Romans called it Sabelline Cabbage.
  • Kale was a staple crop in the Scottish Islands because of its hardiness; the Scots grew it in kale yards. Almost every house had a kale yard and preserved kale in barrels of salt.
  • English settlers brought kale to the United States in the 17th century.
  • Russian kale was introduced into Canada (and then into the U.S.) by Russian traders in the 19th century.

How to Buy and Store Kale:

  • Always buy organic kale; it is grown with lots of chemicals making it one of the Dirty Dozen. The kale should be firm with fresh, with deeply colored leaves and hardy […]

Grapefruit For Weight Loss and Health Benefits

By |October 31st, 2013|

grapefuit for weight loss and health

Remember when a person gorged on grapefruit in 1980’s and seriously lost lots of weight?  It was highly restrictive but it turns out all those restrictions were not necessary.

Eat half a Grapefruit before each meal; it can help you lose up to a pound a week before sensible meals!

Or eat whatever you usually do and lose 3.6 pounds in 12 weeks. – Research at the Nutrition and Medical Research Centre at Scripps Clinic

 Strangely, researchers are not sure how this works. They do know something in the grapefruit balances your insulin levels.  This could  certainly cause weight loss but there may be other factors involved also.

Health Benefits of Grapefruits:

  • Full of pectin that binds to heavy metals flushing them out.
  • Has antiviral compounds that cleanse harmful viruses.
  • Grapefruit is an excellent intestinal and liver detoxifier.
  • Grapefruit is full of vitamin C, to help keep colds at bay.

 

Caution: Grapefruit juice interaction with drugs can be deadly.  If you are taking any of the medications listed here do not eat grapefruit. http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/grapefruit-juice-interaction-with-drugs-can-be-deadly-1.1253489

 

Did You Know?

Grapefruit trees can produce for 30-40 years.

 

The United States produced 1.23 million tons of grapefruit in 2006.

 

Grapefruit are hand-picked, no mechanical harvesting is used.

 

Some mature grapefruit trees can yield up to 1500 pounds of fruit in a season. The average yield is 350 pounds.

Juicy Peaches Are Amazingly Good For You

By |August 26th, 2013|

A delicious juicy peach has an abundance of health benefits and is low in calories!

“Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.” ― Alice Walker

16 Reasons Peaches Are Peachy Keen for Your Body

  1. A peach is a great snack food for losing weight.  It can give you the feeling of being full, so you will eat less.   One peach contains about 35-50 calories and no fat!
  2. Peaches fight obesity-related diabetes and cardiovascular disease with its spectrum of antioxidants.   Texas AgriLife Research.
  3. Peaches keep the skin healthy.  The Vitamin A and C in peaches make them is a great moisturizer and are often used in cosmetics. It also helps in regenerating skin tissue.
  4. Peaches reduce hair loss by nourishing the scalp.
  5. A stress reliever!  Peaches help reduce anxiety.  Peaches are often referred to as the ‘Fruit of Calmness’ in Hungary.
  6. Peaches have a positive effect in preventing cancer (due to its high selenium content).
  7. Peaches are known to be helpful in removing worms from the intestines.
  8. Peaches have a diuretic effect – to cleanse your kidneys and bladder.
  9. Can calm a stomach.
  10. Compounds in stone fruits can help with “metabolic syndrome,” according to Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, AgriLife Research food scientist. Study at the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.

    Cisneros-Zevallos  says: “Our work indicates that phenolic compounds present in these fruits have anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties in different cell lines and may also reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol LDL which is associated with cardiovascular disease.”

  11. Those suffering from gout and rheumatism are recommended by dieticians to eat peaches because peaches tend to have a diuretic and a light laxative effect.
  12. Peaches are thought to be an aphrodisiac as well.
  13. Peach flowers have sedative properties.  A remedy for restlessness includes boiling peach flowers in water along with some honey.
  14. Peaches Inhibit tumour growth activity.  Peaches have excellent antimicrobial and antioxidant activity according to research.
  15. Chronic bronchitis coughs and gastritis is helped with the medicinal tea of the leaves and bark of peach trees.
  16. Peach tea is used as a kidney cleanser In China.

Note: Detailed nutrition can be found at peach calories and nutrition.

Peaches have been grown since the prehistoric times and were first cultivated in China where they are considered a symbol of immortality and friendship.

Peach Trivia

  • In China, this fruit is a symbol of good luck, protection, and longevity.
  • Renoir encouraged students to improve their painting skills by reproducing the textures and colours of peaches.
  • This fruit is a member of the Rosaceae family and is a close relative of almonds.
  • August is the National Peach Month in the USA since 1982.
  • The peach tree is often considered to be the tree of life.
  • Georgia is the Peach State, although California produces about 50% of the USA peaches.
  • China is the biggest producer of peaches and Italy is the second.
  • “The world’s largest peach cobbler” is 11 feet by 5 feet and made every year in Georgia.
  • Close relatives of almonds, peach seeds are used as an almond oil substitute in cosmetic preparations.
  • Peaches have a long history of being used around the world.

Don’t Miss Out!

Peaches are sooo good and nutritious that you will want to get the most from your peaches.
Read How To Buy, Store and Cook Peaches.

 

Peach Recipes

Creamy Peach Vegan Ice Cream – this sugar-free ice cream is easy to make without an ice cream maker.

Strawberry Peach Green Smoothie

Peach Berry Crumble:  This recipe is wheat […]

Benefits of Saffron, the Most Expensive Spice on Earth

By |August 19th, 2013|

Where does saffron the most expensive spice come from?

The tiny red thread-like strands are the stigma from a small, purple crocus. It is the world’s most expensive spice. The reason it is so expensive is because each crocus flower provides only three stigmas that are picked and dried by hand during short annual flowering seasons.

To produce one ounce of saffron it takes tens of thousands of individual strands.  The good news is that a little goes a long way.  One or two threads can add flavour and colour to an entire pot of rice. In fact, too much can make food bitter.

When you see a large quantity of saffron at a reasonable price it is likely fake. Saffron, being so expensive has had clever marketers create imitation saffron in a big way around the world.  One of the big imitators are safflower petals because they look a little like saffron but are lacking the flavour of the real thing.

The name saffron comes from an arabic word Zafran.

Health Benefits of Saffron

For centuries, saffron has been used throughout the world as a spice to heal. Pharaohs and kings used it as an aphrodisiac but large amounts produce deathly narcotic effects.

  • Improves Digestion by helping improve the circulation to the organs of digestion.
  • Reduces Fever as it contains the compound crocin, which scientists believe that helps in reducing fever.
  • Relieves Arthritis as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Helps with Insomnia as it is a mild sedative. (a pinch of saffron taken with warm milk is common)
  • Saffron Extract Can Helps with Weight Loss from using the extract. In a study 100 percent of women who took the saffron extract supplement reported a decrease in hunger.
  • Eases Muscle Inflammation by helping the tissues to get rid of lactic acid.
  • Is an Anti-Depressant. It influences the serotonin activity in the brain.
  • Reverses Macular Degeneration. Scientists have found benefits of saffron for eyes.

Most of the world’s saffron is produced in Iran, but Spain is the largest exporter.

This is a good detailed resource.

IF you have a healthy recipe with lots of saffron in it, please let me know.

Health Benefits of Strawberries – The Queen of Fruits

By |July 22nd, 2013|

Juicy heart shaped strawberries have much more to offer beyond sweetness and flavour. The Strawberry is called ‘The Queen of Fruits’ In Asian countries because it's packed with health benefits.

Juicy Oranges are Full of Health Benefits for You

By |June 1st, 2013|

Delicious, juicy oranges are a healthy treat! They are popular with athletes because they can be easily eaten for a burst of energy.

Kiwi Benefits & Facts

By |March 15th, 2013|

kiwi benefits, fact and recipes

People are attracted to kiwi fruit because of it’s brilliant green color and exotic taste but the real uniqueness of kiwi comes from its health benefits. Read it’s 14 health benefits, interesting facts and how to use.

14 Health Benefits

1. Helps Your Digestions with Enzymes […]