Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Hidden Health Benefits of Spinach

(OrganicJar) When you think of superfoods spinach typically doesn't come to mind. You probably think of hemp seeds, goji berries, or maca root. What makes it deserve superfod status is the truly impressive list of compounds that have been discovered in spinach. Beyond the iron that Popeye was yearning for, spinach contains carotenoids, antioxidants, vitamin K, coenzyme Q10, B vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, polyphenols, betaine and, interestingly, plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids. This is a condensed list and it’s hard to convey the powerful impact of these nutrients as they work synergistically to promote health but to put it simply: just about anything that is or might ever be wrong with your health, you can battle with spinach.

Spinach is a Powerhouse of Nutrients:

In just one cup of cooked spinach…
  • High in Protein - The highest vegetable protein around! One cup of spinach equals 5g of protein. (12% DV)
  • Super high in Vitamin A - Over 18,000 IU (377% DV). Vitamin A benefits the heart by preventing cholesterol from becoming oxidized in the body.
  • Crazy high in Vitamin K - Second only to Cauliflower with over 880 mcg (1111% DV) Vitamin K is essential as it helps calcium adhere to the bone making them stronger.
  • Great source of Folate/Folic Acid - Over 260 mcg or 66% DV. Which is particularly important for pregnant or nursing women.
  • Nice source of Vitamin C - With 17.6 mg or 29% DV. This also benefits the heart by preventing cholesterol from becoming oxidized in the body.
  • Great source of Minerals - 84% DV of manganese, 39% DV of magnesium, 36% DV of iron, 24% DV of potassium, and 24% DV of calcium.
  • 13 Flavonoids that help to fight cancer, protect against age related memory loss, and prevent heart disease.
  • Decent source of Fiber with 4.3g or 17% DV.
All this in one cup of spinach and we're still not done!

How Spinach Improves Your Health:

  1. Anti-Cancer and Anti-Inflammatory Antioxidants

    Researchers have identified more than a dozen different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents. In a recent study on the relationship between risk of prostate cancer and vegetable intake (including such healthy vegetables as broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts) only spinach showed evidence of significant protection against the occurrence of aggressive prostate cancer.
  2. Alkalizes the Body

    All those minerals helps to balance off the highly acid diet which most of us subject our bodies to and which drains our energy, increases obesity, and creates a host of other health problems.
  3. Nourishes the Eyes

    The carotenoids found in spinach protect against eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
  4. Prevents Atherosclerosis and Diabetic Heart Disease

    Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, the latter notably through its concentration of beta-carotene. These two nutrients are important antioxidants that work to reduce the amounts of free radicals in the body; vitamin C works as a water-soluble antioxidant and beta-carotene as a fat-soluble one. This water-and-fat-soluble antioxidant team helps to prevent cholesterol from becoming oxidized and sticking to your blood vessel walls.
  5. Clears Up Acne

    The most useful vitamins of spinach are vitamin A, C, E, and K. They are great for your skin. The antioxidants contained in spinach will clear up acne quickly. They will also help with eczema, psoriasis, and even prevent skin cancer from the sun.
  6. Strengthens the Bones

    One cup of fresh spinach (or 1/6 cup of cooked spinach) contains TWICE your daily vitamin K needs. This along with the calcium and magnesium in spinach is essential to maintain healthy bones.

Health Benefits of Spinach: Cooked or Raw?

The short answer: both. Health benefits to cooking spinach: cooking releases beta-carotene and lutein, and it also neutralizes oxalic acid or oxalate, a compound that inhibits the absorption of both calcium and iron.  This is why you don’t reuse the cooking water from spinach.  It’s recommended that you boil spinach quickly – just for a minute! Health benefits to raw spinach: Vitamin C and folate are both very heat-sensitive, so to obtain the maximum benefits of these compounds, eat spinach in your salads.

Use it Up Quickly!

By the eighth day after harvest, even when refrigerated well, spinach has lost so many of its nutrients that it might not even be worthy of superfood status anymore.  For example, almost half the folic acid is gone after eight days(and how long does it take to get from the field to your door?).  Use that spinach as soon as possible, and blanch and freeze it if you can’t use it quickly.

Tips and Cautions:

Tip #1: Make sure you only choose organic spinach. Non-organic spinach is on the list of top foods with lots of chemical pesticides. You can assume that canned spinach is NOT organic. I can’t imagine anyone eating canned spinach anyway but since we mentioned Popeye I thought I had better mention that. Tip #2: Choose the greenest looking spinach you can find. Probably you would have anyway, but studies have shown that the greenest spinach has the most vitamin C. Tip #3: Because spinach contains high levels of so many nutrients it also has significant levels of oxalic acid. This has been associated with kidney problems and interference with absorption of other minerals. Keep in touch with me on Twitter or Facebook

Source: http://organicjar.com/2012/3411/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+organicjar+%28OrganicJar%29

Can a Cup of Hot Tea a Day Help Preserve Eyesight?

by Nicholas Bakalar

Having a cup of hot tea every day may reduce your risk for blindness.
Researchers have found that a daily cup of hot tea reduces the risk for glaucoma, a disease in which a buildup of fluid in the eye can damage the optic nerve and lead to gradual vision loss.
The study, in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, included 1,678 participants in a larger national health survey. Using photographs of the optic disc and other diagnostic techniques, they recorded instances of glaucoma in 2005 and 2006, and correlated them with reports of beverage consumption over the previous year.
After adjusting for age, body mass index, sex, ethnicity, smoking and diabetes, they found that people who drank at least a cup of hot tea a day were 74 percent less likely to have glaucoma. They found no association with soft drinks, iced tea, decaffeinated tea or with coffee, decaffeinated or not.
This observational study does not prove causality, but the researchers write that tea contains phytochemicals and flavonoids with anti-inflammatory properties that may protect the optic nerve.
“If you drink hot tea, keep on doing it,” said the senior author, Dr. Anne L. Coleman, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, Los Angeles. “But I wouldn’t switch to it if you prefer something else. This is a preliminary finding, and we need to do more studies.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/20/well/eat/can-a-cup-of-hot-tea-a-day-help-preserve-eyesight.html

Sunday, November 5, 2017

6 Proven Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Written by Kris Gunnars, BSc on September 5, 2016



For centuries, vinegar has been used for various household and cooking purposes.
It is also an ancient folk remedy, claimed to help with all sorts of health problems.
The most popular vinegar in the natural health community is apple cider vinegar.
It is claimed to lead to all sorts of benefits, some of which are supported by science.
This includes weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and improved symptoms of diabetes.
Here are 6 health benefits of apple cider vinegar, that are supported by scientific research.

1. High in acetic acid, which has potent biological effects

Vinegar is made in a two-step process, related to how alcohol is made (1).
The first step exposes crushed apples (or apple cider) to yeast, which ferment the sugars and turn them into alcohol.
In the second step, bacteria are added to the alcohol solution, which further ferment the alcohol and turn it into acetic acid... the main active compound in vinegar.
In French, the word "vinegar" actually means "sour wine."
Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (like Bragg's) also contains "mother," strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky, cobweb-like appearance.
Some people believe that the "mother" is responsible for most of the health benefits, although there are currently no studies to support this.
Apple cider vinegar only contains about 3 calories per tablespoon, which is very low.
There are not many vitamins or minerals in it, but it does contain a tiny amount of potassium. Quality apple cider vinegar also contains some amino acids and antioxidants.
Bottom Line: Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting the sugars from apples. This turns them into acetic acid, the active ingredient in vinegar.

2. Can kill many types of bacteria

Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria (2).
It has traditionally been used for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts and ear infections.
However, many of these applications have currently not been confirmed by research.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar for wound cleaning over two thousand years ago.
Vinegar has been used as a food preservative, and studies show that it inhibits bacteria (like E. coli) from growing in the food and spoiling it (3, 4, 5, 6).
If you're looking for a natural way to preserve your food... then apple cider vinegar could be highly useful.
There have also been anecdotal reports of diluted apple cider vinegar helping with acne when applied on the skin, but I didn't find any research to confirm this so take it with a grain of salt.
Bottom Line: The main substance in vinegar, acetic acid, can kill bacteria and/or prevent them from multiplying and reaching harmful levels. It has a history of use as a disinfectant and natural preservative.

3. Lowers blood sugar levels and fights diabetes

By far the most successful application of vinegar to date, is in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by elevated blood sugars, either in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.
However, elevated blood sugar can also be a problem in people who don't have diabetes... it is believed to be a major cause of ageing and various chronic diseases.
So, pretty much everyone should benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels stable.
The most effective (and healthiest) way to do that is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar may also have a powerful effect.
Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for insulin function and blood sugar levels:
  • Improves insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19-34% and significantly lowers blood glucose and insulin responses (7).
  • Reduces blood sugar by 34% when eating 50 grams of white bread (8).
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugars by 4% (9).
  • Numerous other studies, in both rats and humans, show that vinegar can increase insulin sensitivity and significantly lower blood sugar responses during meals (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15).
For these reasons, vinegar can be useful for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or those who want to keep their blood sugar levels low to normal for other reasons.
If you're currently taking blood sugar lowering medications, then check with your doctor before increasing your intake of apple cider vinegar.
Bottom Line: Apple cider vinegar has shown great promise in improving insulin sensitivity and helping to lower blood sugar responses after meals.

4. Helps you lose weight by making you feel full

Given that vinegar lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight.
Several human studies suggest that vinegar can increase satiety, help you eat fewer calories and even lead to actual pounds lost on the scale.
Vinegar along with high-carb meals can increase feelings of fullness and make people eat 200-275 fewer calories for the rest of the day (16, 17).
By reducing calorie intake, this should translate to reduced weight over time.
A study in obese individuals showed that daily vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat, waist circumference, lower blood triglycerides and weight loss (18):
  • 15 mL (1 tablespoon): Lost 2.6 pounds, or 1.2 kilograms.
  • 30 mL (2 tablespoons): Lost 3.7 pounds, or 1.7 kilograms.
However... keep in mind that this study went on for 12 weeks, so the true effects on body weight seem to be rather modest.
That being said, just adding/subtracting single foods or ingredients rarely has a noticeable effect on weight.
It's the entire diet/lifestyle that counts... you need to combine several effective methods to see results.
Overall, it seems like apple cider vinegar may be useful as a weight loss aid, mainly by promoting satiety and lowering glucose and insulin levels.
But it won't work any miracles on its own.
Bottom Line: Studies suggest that vinegar can increase feelings of fullness and help people eat fewer calories, which can lead to weight loss.

5. Lowers cholesterol and reduces your risk of heart disease

Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) is currently the world's biggest cause of death (19).
It is known that several measurable biological factors are linked to either a decreased or increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Several of these "risk factors" have been shown to be improved by vinegar consumption... but all of the studies were done in rats.
These rat studies showed that apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels (20, 21).
Apple cider vinegar may also contain the antioxidant chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to protect LDL cholesterol particles from becoming oxidized, a crucial step in the heart disease process (22, 23).
There are also some studies showing that vinegar reduces blood pressure (a major risk factor) in rats (24, 25).
Unfortunately, what works in animals doesn't always work in humans.
The only human evidence is an observational study from Harvard showing that women who ate salad dressings with vinegar had a reduced risk of heart disease (26).
But this type of study can only show an association, it can not prove that the vinegar caused anything.
Bottom Line: Several animal studies have shown that vinegar can reduce blood triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure, but this needs to be confirmed in human studies.

6. May have protective effects against cancer

Cancer is a terrible disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.
There is a lot of hype online about the anti-cancer effects of apple cider vinegar.
Some studies have shown that vinegar can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors (27, 28, 29, 30).
However, all of the studies on this were done in isolated cells in test tubes, or rats, which proves nothing about what happens in a living, breathing human.
Additionally, most of the studies were done on rice vinegar, not apple cider vinegar.
That being said, some observational studies (which don't prove anything) have shown that vinegar ingestion is linked to decreased esophageal cancer in China, but increased bladder cancer in Serbia (31, 32).
Overall... it is possible that apple cider vinegar may help to prevent cancer, but it is definitely premature to make any recommendations based on the current research.
Bottom Line: Some studies in test tubes and rats have shown that rice vinegar can slow the growth of cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Side Effects, Dosage and How to Use it

There are a lot of wild claims about apple cider vinegar on the internet.
Some say that it can increase energy levels and have all sorts of beneficial effects on health.
Unfortunately... many of these claims are not supported by science.
Of course, absence of proof isn't proof that something isn't happening and anecdote often ends up becoming supported by science down the line.
That being said, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for more studies, since research on natural health products like these are both few and far between.
From the little evidence available, I think that apple cider vinegar may be useful and is definitely a good candidate for some self-experimentation if you're interested in it.
At the very least, apple cider vinegar seems to be safe. There are no side effects noted with normal consumption.
The best way to incorporate it into your diet is to use it in your cooking... for salad dressings, homemade mayonnaise and that sort of thing.
Some people also like to dilute it in water and drink it as a beverage. Common dosages range from 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 mL) to 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 mL) per day.
Definitely don't go above that, because excess consumption may have harmful effects.
It is also possible to take it in pill/tablet form, but I don't recommend that because a 2005 study showed that the true vinegar content of these supplements was highly questionable (33).
There is also a report of a woman having an apple cider vinegar tablet stuck in her throat, which led to esophageal burns.
It is recommended to use organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the "mother." Bragg's is by far the most popular option.
Apple cider vinegar also has various other non-health related uses like hair conditioning, skin care, dental care, pet use and as a cleaning agent (to name a few).
These can be highly useful for people who like to keep things as natural and chemical-free as possible.
At the end of the day, apple cider vinegar appears to be very healthy.
It's not a "miracle" or a "cure-all" like some people seem to believe, but it does clearly have some important health benefits, especially for blood sugar and weight control.
More about apple cider vinegar and related topics:

Monday, August 21, 2017

Nuts Are a Nutritional Powerhouse

Sadly, for more than half my life, I had avoided some of nature’s most perfect and healthful foods: nuts and peanuts. I had been mistakenly told as a teenager that nuts were fattening and constipating, effects I certainly wanted to avoid.
But based on what I have learned to the contrary from recent studies, I now enjoy them daily as nuts or nut butters in my breakfasts, salads, sandwiches and snacks. A baggie of lightly salted peanuts accompanies me on excursions everywhere; I even keep a jar of peanuts in my car.
A series of large studies, including the Nurses’ Health Study of 76,464 women and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study of 42,498 men, found that the more nuts people consumed, the less likely they were to die at any given age, especially of cancer or heart disease. And a clinical trial conducted in Spain showed that death rates were lower among those consuming a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra nuts.
However, these studies were conducted almost entirely among relatively well-to-do, well educated, white individuals, and despite the researchers’ care in controlling for other factors that could have influenced the results, there remained the possibility that characteristics of the participants other than nut consumption could account for their reduced death rates.
Now, strong links between nuts and peanuts and better health have also been found in a major study of people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and varied ethnic groups — blacks, whites and Asians — many of whom had serious risk factors for premature death, like smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
The results were published in March in JAMA Internal Medicine by researchers at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Their study, conducted among more than 200,000 men and women in the Southern United States and Shanghai, found that the more nuts people consumed, the lower their death rates from all causes and especially from heart disease and stroke.
And while it is true that more people today are allergic to nuts, and to peanuts in particular, than ever before, two recent studies have pointed to ways that may prevent children from developing a nut allergy. The first study, published last year in JAMA Pediatrics, found that women who consumed the most nuts or peanuts during their pregnancies were least likely to have children with this allergy. The reduction in risk was highest among children whose mothers ate nuts five or more times a month.
The second study, published in February in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that introducing peanuts into the diets of infants 4 to 11 months old who were considered at high risk of developing a peanut allergy actually greatly reduced their risk of being allergic at age 5. The researchers, from King’s College London, suggested that the common practice of withholding peanuts from babies may in fact account for the recent rise in peanut allergies.
Guidelines issued in 2000 by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended withholding peanuts from children at risk of developing allergies until they were 3. The academy has since revised its position, suggesting that evidence that avoiding specific foods beyond 4 to 6 months of age prevented food allergies was lacking. Now a further revision by the academy may be in order, though to prevent choking, babies should not be given whole nuts — only ground nuts or nut butters.
Before returning to the relationship between nuts and better health, I want to reassure weight-conscious readers that, when consumed in reasonable quantities, nuts are not fattening and can even help people lose weight and maintain the loss.
Yes, relatively speaking, nuts are high in fat, and fat contains more calories per gram (nine) than protein or sugar (four calories), even more than alcohol (seven calories). But a review of studies of large populations here and abroad by Richard D. Mattes of Purdue University and co-authors most often found that adults who eat nuts weigh less than nut avoiders. And children who ate peanuts usually had a lower body mass index than those who did not.
Clinical trials found that adding lots of nuts to one’s diet had a limited effect on body weight. But more important, participants in studies that included nuts in a weight-loss regimen lost more weight and ended up with a smaller waist and less body fat than participants who did not eat nuts.
One explanation for the weight control benefit of nuts is the satiation provided by their high fat and protein content, which can reduce snacking on sweets and other carbohydrates. Another is that all the calories in nuts, especially whole nuts, may not be absorbed because they resist breakdown by body enzymes.
Finally, in a 2013 study in The British Journal of Nutrition, Dr. Mattes and colleagues reported that consuming peanut butter or peanuts for breakfast helps to control hunger, stabilizing blood sugar and reducing the desire to eat for up to 8 to 12 hours. (My favorite breakfast: half a banana, sliced, with each slice topped by a half-teaspoon of crunchy peanut butter.)
As for their cardiovascular benefits, nuts are rich sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which prompted a health claim by the Food and Drug Administration that “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Two exceptions are macadamia nuts and cashews, which have too much saturated fat to qualify for this claim.
Nuts are also rich sources of dietary fiber, and almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts and walnuts may actually help prevent constipation, countering my long-held concerns about their effects on digestion. Other beneficial substances in nuts include vitamins, antioxidants and other phytochemicals. All of which adds up to nuts as a nutritional powerhouse.

For more fitness, food and wellness news, “like” our Facebook page.

Correction: April 4, 2015
Because of an editing error, the Personal Health column on Tuesday, about the nutritional benefits of nuts and peanuts, used an incorrect unit of measurement to describe the caloric value of some substances. Protein and sugar have four calories (not grams) per gram, and alcohol has seven calories (not grams) per gram.

Source: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/nuts-are-a-nutritional-powerhouse-for-rich-and-poor/?action=click&contentCollection=Well&module=RelatedCoverage&region=EndOfArticle&pgtype=article

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

9 Amazing Benefits of Almonds Nutrition

Almonds have been prized since ancient times as one of humankind’s most beloved nuts. They were popular in the diets of ancient Egyptians and Indian populations. Ancient Indian Ayurvedic practitioners even believed that almonds were capable of increasing brain capacity, intellectual ability and longevity.
Today, almonds nutrition benefits are praised around the world, and they are used in numerous different ways: eaten raw as a healthy snack; as the base ingredient in almond butter, almond milk or almond flour; and even in many body lotions and fragrances.
Cholesterol reduction is the most celebrated health benefit of almonds, but there are many other vital health benefits of almonds nutrition. Almonds are low in saturated fatty acids, rich in unsaturated fatty acids, and contain filling fiber, unique and protective phytosterol antioxidants as well as plant protein.
And don’t fear the fat in almonds — almonds are actually beneficial when it comes to losing weight, despite their higher calorie content. One study even found that almonds consumed as snacks reduce hunger and desire to eat later in the day, and when dieters eat almonds daily they reduce their overall calorie intake. (1)

Almonds Nutrition: The Facts Behind the Benefits

Botanically, almonds (scientifically termed Prunus dulcis) are actually very small stone fruits in the Amygdalus family and related to other fruits that contain hard pits, including cherries, plums and peaches. Almonds are a type of drupe nut, which means along with other nuts like macadamias, pecans and walnuts, they have multiple layers that enclose a single, hard seed in the center.
Almonds are considered dry drupes so they first must be extracted (which is called “shelling”) before being sold and eaten, which is why you might see the description “shelled almonds” when you purchase ready-to-eat almonds.
In the medical world, almonds nutrition is most praised due to the presence of monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins like riboflavin, and trace minerals such as magnesium. (2)
Although almonds are high in calories and considered “energy-dense” (as all nuts are), they provide a whole range of critical nutrients and chemical compounds that often lack in the standard American diet (sometimes called “SAD”).
¼ cup of almonds nutrition provides about: (3)
  • 207 calories
  • 5 grams of protein
  • 5 grams fiber
  • 7 grams of carbohydrates
  • 5 grams of sugar
  • 16 milligrams vitamin E (61 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams riboflavin (44 percent DV)
  • 0.8 milligrams manganese (44 percent DV)
  • 97 milligrams magnesium (36 percent DV)
  • 172 milligrams phosphorus (29 percent DV)
  • 96 milligrams calcium (9.5 percent DV)
  • 33 milligrams iron (4 percent DV)
Almonds nutrition facts

9 Proven Health Benefits of Almonds

1. Help Prevent Heart Disease and Heart Attacks

Two of the star chemical compounds of almonds nutrition are healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (abbreviated as MUFAs, the same kind of beneficial fat found in olive oil) and antioxidants that support heart health and prevent factors of cardiovascular disease. Almonds specifically supply antioxidant flavonoids, plant-based compounds present in the skin of almonds that work with vitamin E to improve artery health and reduce inflammation.
Almonds nutrition also holds key nutrients to heart health, including arginine, magnesium, copper, manganese, calcium and potassium. Studies show almonds have a consistent “bad” LDL cholesterol-lowering effect, especially in individuals with high cholesterol and diabetes. (4)
Almonds help prevent damage from forming within artery walls and protect against dangerous plaque buildup. Almonds nutrition benefits also make them a great food to support healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, in addition to fighting weight gain and obesity — three of the biggest risk factors associated with heart attacks and stroke.

 2. Support Healthy Brain Function

Almonds are often considered one of the best brain foods. Almonds nutrition is somewhat unique in that almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, two key nutrients capable of positively affecting neurological activity and preventing cognitive decline. This is one reason why adults, especially the elderly, are encouraged to eat nuts several times per week — since they are associated with a reduction in the risk for inflammation that can cause brain disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

 3. Maintain Skin Health

Almonds are a great source of vitamin E and other antioxidants that nourish the skin and reduce signs of aging. Research finds that almonds nutrition contains high concentrations of catechin, epicatechin and flavonol antioxidants, including quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin — compounds that fight skin cancer and damage by reversing oxidative stress from a poor diet, pollution and UV light exposure. (5) Almonds’ healthy fats, plus their ability to improve circulation, also help keep skin hydrated and better able to heal wounds.

 4. Help Control Blood Sugar Levels and Prevent Diabetes

Almonds’ rich supply of MUFAs helps slow the rate at which glucose (sugar) is released into the bloodstream. In addition to managing blood sugar and preventing insulin resistance (which can occur over time when the body becomes less reactive to insulin, the sugar-controlling hormone), almonds nutrition benefits include the ability to lower other common diabetes risks: unhealthy body weight, inflammation and high levels of oxidative stress.

5. Help With Weight Loss and Prevent Overeating

Healthy fats and dietary fiber aid in weight loss because they help you feel full, which curbs overeating and unhealthy snacking. Although nuts are high in fat and calories, they prolong the feeling of satisfaction after you eat and keep your blood sugar more stable than low-fat meals do. Thus, you’re less likely to experience a roller-coaster of energy dips and food cravings.
Studies, such as the Nurses’ Health Study, even show that almonds support a healthy metabolism. Also, people who frequently eat almonds and other nuts retain healthier body weights and lower rates of obesity over time compared to those who avoid nuts. Other studies show that when dieters eat almonds daily, they are less likely to overconsume carbohydrates and more likely to reach and maintain a healthier body weight. (6)
For example, one 2003 article published in the International Journal of Obesity found that when women consumed almonds over a six-month period, compared to other women who didn’t eat almonds, they experienced greater reductions in weight/BMI, waist circumference, fat mass and systolic blood pressure.

Almonds nutrition benefits

6. Increase Nutrient Absorption

The body needs adequate amounts of fat in the diet in order to properly absorb “fat-soluble” nutrients, like vitamins A and D. Almonds are also considered one of the only nuts that help alkalize the digestive tract, reducing acid buildup and balancing the body’s pH. A healthy pH level is crucial for proper digestion, immunity and disease prevention. Additionally, the nutrients present in almonds may help regulate digestive enzymes that are involved in nutrient extraction, cholesterol synthesis and bile acid production.

7. Increase Digestive Health

In addition to healthy fats and alkaline-forming molecules, almonds (especially the skin of almonds) contain probiotic components that help with digestion, detoxification and healthy bacterial growth within the gut flora — a key to actually utilizing nutrients from food and preventing nutrient deficiencies.
Studies suggest that almonds and almond skins may lead to an improvement in the “intestinal microbiota profile,” meaning the intestine’s bacterial activities improve and promote numerous health benefits due to the presence of prebiotic properties, the precursors for probiotics.
A 2014 study by the Institute of Food Science & Technology in China found that when women ate a daily dose of 56 grams of almonds over an eight-week period, significant increases in the populations of healthy bacteria called Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus were observed. (7)

 8. Can Help Fight Cancer and Inflammation

Almonds contain gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E that acts as a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radical damage and oxidative stress that are linked to cancer. Many studies find a link between nut consumption and cancer prevention, including a reduced risk for colon, prostate and breast cancers. (8)

 9. Help Maintain Dental and Bone Health

Almonds are a good source of trace minerals, including magnesium and phosphorus, which is a crucial nutrient for building and maintaining strong teeth and bones. Almonds nutrition benefits include the ability to help prevent tooth decay, fight cavities, lower the risk for bone fractures and fight osteoporosis.

Almonds History and Interesting Facts

Would you believe that today the almond industry is estimated at $4.3 billion annually and over 2 billion pounds of almonds are produced worldwide each year? Unlike many other nuts and fruits, the U.S. — specifically California, which is actually the only state to produce almonds commercially — is the largest producer of almonds, producing about 80 percent of the world’s almonds.
Almonds might be growing in popularity every year as research reveals more about almonds nutrition benefits, but almond consumption actually goes back thousands of years to around 4,000 B.C. The almond tree species is native to the Middle East and South Asia. A tall tree with pink and white flowers, it grows in warm and dry climates, which is why it spread through the Mediterranean region and became a staple in the diet there.
Wild almonds are actually bitter and naturally contain toxic substances like deadly cyanide, so humans had to first find a certain type of “sweet” almond among the many different almond tree species before domesticating them. In India and Pakistan, almonds have been a mainstream part of the diet for centuries, where they’re called badam. Almonds were first spread by humans in ancient times along the shores of the Mediterranean into northern Africa, Asia and southern Europe, eventually making their way to the U.S. Along the way, the word “almond” was given to the nut, which comes from the old French word almande.
Historically, almonds have meant many things to various cultures. Hebrew literature from 2,000 B.C. mentions almonds, as does early literature from Turkey, Romania and the Baltic peninsula. The Bible also makes numerous references to almonds, describing them as an object of value and a symbol of hope, for example, in Genesis 43:11.
King Tut also took several handfuls of almonds to his grave dating back to 1352 B.C., and years later almond trees were believed to grow near trade routes like the famous Silk Road that connected central China with the Mediterranean.

How to Buy and Use Almonds

Not all almonds are created equal — you definitely want to avoid almonds and any nuts coated in sugar, hydrogenated oils and tons of sodium. Many nuts undergo processing that lower the nut’s health benefits. For example, by heating nuts to very high temperatures, some of their antioxidants can be destroyed.
One downside of consuming almonds produced in the U.S. is that United States law demands that all raw almonds be pasteurized or irradiated before being sold to consumers. According to the Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are several mandatory pasteurization treatment processes to reduce the level of potential contamination in almonds “without diminishing the product’s quality, nutritional value or sensory qualities (taste and crunch).” (9) These include: oil roasting, dry roasting and blanching, and steam processing.
Almonds contain natural fatty acids and oils that are sensitive to high heat, so when they’re highly processed it’s possible to turn these oils “rancid.” For example, when almonds are roasted, they’re usually soaked in hydrogenated or GMO oils, a fat that’s harmful and promotes heart disease.
As a rule of thumb, the less processing done to almonds the better. Preshelled and roasted almonds are likely less beneficial than raw almonds still found in their natural casing.
One step that can actually increase the nutrient content of almonds is soaking and sprouting them. Soaking and sprouting almonds removes some of their naturally occurring antinutrients that block the body from absorbing some minerals. I like to soak mine overnight for 12–24 hours in a big bowl, covering them with water and rinsing them the next morning.
Almonds come in two varieties: sweet and bitter. Sweet almonds are used in many recipes in Asia, the U.S. and the Mediterranean. One popular use in Italy is to crush almonds into marzipan, which is used as a sweet ingredient in baked goods. They’re also added to stir fries, used to make almond oil for cooking and produce almond extract that makes a good stand-in for vanilla extract.
Additionally, oils from sweet almonds are extracted to form almond essential oil, a beneficial oil with many healing body and household uses.

How About Almond Butter or Almond Flour?

Both are great options for adding more almonds nutrition into your diet. Almond butter is simply ground almonds, but look for butters that contain no added oils or sugar. Your best bet? Make almonds yourself by grinding them in a high-speed blender or food processor until smooth.
When it comes to almond flour (also called almond meal), again look for simple and straightforward ingredients, usually just almonds. Use almond meal to replace bread crumbs, and combine it with other gluten-free flours or coconut flour to make baked goods.

Recipes Featuring the Almond!

Almond Butter Banana Protein Bars Recipe

Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 9
INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 4 scoops vanilla whey protein powder (1 cup)
  • ¼ cup oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed, ground
  • 1 cup sprouted almond butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla Extract
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease 8×8 pan with coconut oil.
  3. Mix the oats, whey, oat flour and flaxseed. Once combined, add almond butter, applesauce, vanilla and honey.
  4. Mash the bananas into the mixture and combine.
  5. Spread batter into pan and bake about 15 minutes.
banana-nut-bars
You can also take advantage of almonds nutrition by making some of these healthy and easy recipes:
  • Almond Berry Cereal Recipe — Conventional cereal can be full of refined sugar! Instead, try this almond berry cereal recipe. It’s full of healthy fats to help support hormone health and give energy throughout your day.
  • Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Recipe — This recipe is an amazing addition to any snack. Try this fun twist on a classic and enjoy.
  • Coconut Almond Joy’s Recipe — Coconut is another one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Coconut is a medium chain fatty acid that is easily digested and converted to energy instead of being stored as fat. Thus, coconuts can aid in weight loss, help stimulate the metabolism and have amazing antimicrobial properties.

Are There Possible Side Effects of Consuming Almonds?

As with all nuts, allergies can be an issue for some people when it comes to almonds. Children are more susceptible to nut allergies and should avoid almonds if they have a known allergy.
For those not allergic almonds, there are a few other potential downsides to almonds when eaten in large amounts — mainly that they provide a high amount of calories and too much vitamin E in some cases. Eating too many nuts can trigger weight gain, cause certain medicine interactions (like vitamin E overdose) and might lead to gastrointestinal problems in some, but this is usually only a risk if you consume a very high amount. As with all sources of healthy fats, they should make up a substantial part of your diet, but portion control is important.
One final note is that raw almonds have the potential to carry bacteria, which is why the USDA requires them to be processed. In rare cases, salmonella and e-coli have been carried by raw almonds, so as of 2007, raw, untreated California almonds aren’t technically available in the U.S. — although most people experience no problems eating raw almonds.
When it comes to bitter almonds, according to the FDA, bitter almonds are considered “poisonous” since they contain certain acids that can cause problems in rare cases, so they aren’t recommended for consumption — although some alternative health practitioners disagree with this.

Don’t let the side effects scare you. Almonds nutrition is extremely beneficial for your health! And they’re so many uses for tasty treats and a healthy diet. Incorporate almonds nutrition into your diet today and see the benefits firsthand!

Read Next: The 5 Worst Artificial Sweeteners


From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut. Click here to learn more about the webinar.

Source: https://draxe.com/almonds-nutrition/

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Stay Optimistic, Live Longer?

Stay Optimistic, Live Longer?



An optimistic outlook may be good for your health.
In 2004 and again in 2008, researchers used a well-validated questionnaire to rate 70,021 women on their optimism. The women were asked to indicate their degree of agreement with six statements (for example, “In uncertain times, I usually expect the best.”).
Researchers also collected information on educational and socioeconomic status, smoking, alcohol consumption, cancer, hypertension and other diseases and behavioral characteristics. The women’s average age was 70 at the start of the project.
The study, in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found significant associations between increasing levels of optimism and decreasing risks of death from cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and infections.

The associations were particularly strong for cardiovascular disease. Those in the quarter with the highest optimism scores had a nearly 40 percent lower risk for heart disease and stroke than those in the lowest quarter, even after controlling for other health factors. The associations with cancer were also significant, but weaker.
“People can have low optimism for a wide array of reasons,” said the lead author, Eric S. Kim, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Twin studies show it’s about 25 percent heritable, but that means it’s 75 percent social circumstances or under our own control.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/07/well/mind/stay-optimistic-live-longer.html?_r=0

Continue reading the main story

Related Coverage




Sunday, September 4, 2016

7 Home Remedies To Lower High Blood Pressure Without Drugs

High blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension is one of the commonly found diseases in men and women. One out of every person in America is a patient of hypertension. And every year more and more are developing this disease.
The risk of developing high blood pressure increases as men crosses 45 years of age. Obesity, diet, stress, and family history are the main causes of developing high blood pressure.
High blood pressure should be controlled; otherwise it can result into various health problems like heart diseases, kidney diseases, etc. Doctors generally prescribe medications for controlling high blood pressure. But, along with this you can also lower high blood pressure without drugs by making some lifestyle changes.

How To Lower High Blood Pressure Without Drugs

Have a look at the best home remedies to lower high blood pressure without drugs that really show positive results:

Diet

Diet plays an important role in lowering high blood pressure. You need to include foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products with low fat for lowering high blood pressure. Also consider including potassium rich foods.

Salt

Sodium levels in body increases with intake of salt. This results in increase in blood pressure levels. So, cutting down salt intake is important if you want to lower high blood pressure without drugs. Doctors recommend hypertension patients taking less than 1,500 mg of salt in a day.

Exercise

Exercising regularly is also one of the important things to consider for controlling blood pressure. You should exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes every day to lower blood pressure. You can do exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, etc for lowering high blood pressure.

Stress Management

Stress is also one the major causes for high blood pressure. Thus, you should keep stress on check, if you want to control high blood pressure. You can follow various stress management techniques like breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, etc.

Weight Management

Obesity is also one of the important causes of high blood pressure. Maintaining a proper weight is important for controlling blood pressure. Make sure to lose extra pounds, and maintaining waistline.

Quit Smoking

Smoking also results in alleviated blood pressure levels. Smoking not only results in high blood pressure, it also results into many dangerous health problems. So, make sure to quit smoking, if you want to lower blood pressure.

Alcohol Intake

Make sure to lower alcohol intake level. Alcohol intake in small quantities is actually good to lower high blood pressure without drugs. But, if alcohol is taken in more quantity is can actually alleviate blood pressure.

Caffeinated Drinks

You should also control the intake of caffeinated drinks for lowering high blood pressure. Short-term spikes in blood pressure are created even in non-hypertension patient by taking caffeinated drinks. So, it is best to limit your coffee intake per day.
Photo Credits: voedingnu.nl

Source: http://www.themenshealthblog.com/2016/08/7-home-remedies-to-lower-high-blood-pressure-without-drugs/