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The Health Benefits of Juicing2 Comments

admin | 1:32 pm | May 21, 2013 | Healthy Foods, Uncategorized

juicingWe all know that eating more fruit and vegetables is good for us. The benefits of eating plant foods are numerous. Fruit and vegetables not only supply essential macro and micronutrients but also special plant chemicals called phytonutrients. The problem is that most of us don’t meet our daily minimal requirements for fruit and vegetable intake. Juicing is a great way to help us meet our requirements and boost our health in amazing ways.

In plants, phytonutrients also serve to protect them against the elements, but have also been found to exhibit amazing health benefits in humans when consumed in the diet. Unlike vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals are not essential to life, but if eaten in adequate amounts, they contribute to optimum health. So, phytochemicals can be seen as the bridge between good health and super health.

Phytochemicals protect us because they act as antioxidants and help the body mop up cell-damaging free radicals. Smoking, bad diet, stress, pollution and medications all lead to free radical buildup. If left unchallenged, these villains can destroy or “oxidize” healthy cells, leading to disease. Phytochemicals help neutralize these free radicals and bring the body back into a state of wellness. Phytochemical nutrients can help prevent heart disease, certain cancers, and other diseases attributable to lifestyle and ageing. In fact, many experts believe that the medicine of tomorrow is leaning away from pharmaceuticals and more towards these neutraceuticals (medicines derived from food) to correct the body’s chemistry and restore well-being.

For optimum health, it is recommended that we consume at least 5 and up to 11 servings of fruit and vegetables per day (a serving being 1 medium fruit, one-cup of raw vegetables, half a cup of cooked vegetables or half a cup of fruit or vegetable juice).

The Benefits of Juicing

It is not recommended that we get all our phytonutrients from juice, because whole fruit and vegetables have the additional benefit of bring rich in fibre. When we juice foods, we take the fibre out of the food but the nutrients are retained in a more concentrated form. This means more nutrients but it also means less fibre and more sugar (in the form of fructose). However, juicing does have some benefits over eating whole fruits and vegetables:

Juicing is a good way to get lots of nutrition in a small amount of food. Juices are very concentrated in terms of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and at the same time they lack the bulk from the fibre. This means we can take in more nutrition without getting full.

Juicing is easy on digestion. The nutrients in juice are pre-digested because they have been broken down through the juicing process. Foods that have just been juiced also contain more enzymes, which help digest the nutrients quickly and efficiently.

Juicing allows for more variety in the diet. By combining different fruits and vegetables in your juicer, you can ensure that you get a wide range of nutrients every day.

Juicing is more hydrating. The high amounts of fluid in juices help hydrate the body to a greater extent than whole fruits and vegetables.

The Best Juices

The best foods to juice are vegetables. Fruit juice is high in fructose and if we consume too much of it, it could lead to problems with blood sugar control. However small amounts of lower Glycemic Index fruit juices do offer some benefits. The best fruits to juice include:

Apples

Apples contain a wide range of phytonutrients and are most balanced in terms of their antioxidant content (they contain almost all known fruit antioxidants in small amounts). Apples also have a low glycemic index.

Pineapples

Pineapples are anti-inflammatory and their juice can be used to help quell inflammation associate with arthritis, inflamed bowels or skin disorders.

Oranges and Grapefruits

Oranges have a low glycemic index and an excellent vitamin C content.

Base fruit juices are usually used to add some sweetness and flavour to vegetable juices.

The best vegetables to juice include:

Celery

Celery is a natural diuretic. It is also a good source of B vitamins and the minerals calcium and magnesium.

Cucumbers

Cucumber is a natural diuretic and a good source of vitamins A and c and the mineral magnesium.

Carrots

Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a cancer preventing antioxidant that is also good for the skin and eyes.

Beetroot

Beetroot is good for liver and kidney cleansing. It is also an excellent source of folate, iron and copper.

Spinach

Spinach is rich in a vast array of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. It is particularly rich in vitamin C folate and magnesium.

Good Juicing Combinations include:

Carrot and orange

Carrot and pineapple

Apple and celery

Apple and beetroot

Apple, celery and beetroot

Celery, cucumber and spinach

Adding Flavour

Herbs are a great way to add flavour to your juices. Try herbs like parsley, basil, and coriander

Juiced ginger is a delicious addition too. Raw coconut, berries or lemons are also often used to add some flavour.

Fruits like bananas, papayas and berries can be blended whole with fruit juice to add some fibre and bulk.

How to Juice

Ideally, you need to invest in as high a quality juicer as possible as not all juicers juice greens. For juicing of fruits and carrots, an entry levels juicer should do. The alternative is to get your juices daily from your green grocer, as many do have their own juicers onsite.

Freshly Squeezed versus Bottles and Cartons

The fresher and more recently squeezed the juice is, the better. Nutrient quality declines as soon as the juice is exposed to the air. The longer it is left standing, the less nutrition it will have. Also, preservatives and additives found in juices are not always favorable and can cause allergic reactions. There are many preservative and additive free juices on the market but their quality cannot be compared to that of freshly squeezed. Also, it is very rare to find fresh vegetable juices and most store bought juices are fruit-based and therefore high in fructose sugar.


The Humble Egg: A Nutrition Powerhouse and Dietary Essential0 Comments

admin | 10:57 am | July 17, 2012 | Healthy Foods

eggsandhealthThe egg has often received bad press, mostly due to its high cholesterol content. However, research is pointing towards an only very weak association between egg intake and high levels of bad cholesterol (called LDL), in the blood. What’s more, eggs are n exceptionally good source of many needed vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and amino acids.

Egg Nutrition

The nutritive components of an egg are divided between the albumin (egg white) and the yolk (egg yellow), with the majority of the nutrients being concentrated in the yolk. Egg yolks actually contain most of the vitamins the human body requires, with the exception of vitamin C. One jumbo-sized egg has an energy content of around 378 kilojoules (or 90 calories), 6g fat, 8g protein, 266mg cholesterol and no carbohydrates.

One single jumbo sized egg contains the following nutrients:

Protein. The egg albumin contains around 8g protein per egg, which is about the equivalent of 30g raw meat. The protein in egg is complete, which means it contains all eight essential amino acids.

B Complex Vitamins. Eggs are a particularly good source of the B vitamins riboflavin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and pantothenic acid. B complex vitamins have a wide range of function in the body including energy production and nervous system health.

Fat Soluble Vitamins. Since the yolk is a fatty substance it acts as a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins and is a good source of vitamins A, D and K. In fact, eggs are one of the only valuable sources of vitamin D in the diet.

Minerals. The egg yolk is a good source of most minerals and is particularly rich in selenium and phosphorous. Other minerals found in good amounts in eggs are calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper and manganese.

Fatty Acids and Cholesterol

Approximately seventeen percent of an egg’s fatty acids are polyunsaturated, forty-four percent mono-unsaturated and thirty-two saturated, which means that two-thirds of the egg’s fats are unsaturated. This means that two thirds of the fat in eggs is of the healthy, unsaturated kind.  When hens are fed a special diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, eggs will also have the added benefit of being rich in these anti-inflammatory fats. Omega-3 eggs will be labeled as such.

Lecithin and Choline

The egg yolk also contains a fat-like substance known as lecithin. Lecithin, a phospholipid, is a constituent of all cell membranes, plays a role to repair tissue cells and is also an important component of HDL, the “good” lipoprotein that helps to transport fats to the liver for excretion, lowering the risk of CHD.

Another constituent of egg yolks, choline, may hold even more promise as a heart protectant. Choline is one of the substances (together with B vitamins) that help remove the potentially harmful amino acid homocysteine from the bloodstream. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to coronary heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers. One egg a day provides twenty five percent of the recommended daily choline intake.

Egg Recipes

Low-fat virgin eggnog (serves 4)

Combine 1,5 cups of milk and the citrus zest in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out all the seeds. Add the seeds and the pod to the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl until light yellow. Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then pour back into the pan. Place over medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon in a figure-eight motion until the eggnog begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the remaining 1/2-cup milk to stop the cooking. Transfer the eggnog to a large bowl and place over a larger bowl of ice to cool, and then chill until ready to serve. Remove the zest and vanilla pod. Garnish with nutmeg.

Crustless Quiche (Serves 4)

Beat eggs and milk together.  Mix salt pepper and a little nutmeg into vegetables. Place vegetables into a baking dish with spray and cook. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and bake in the over at 180 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Avgolemono – Greek Chicken and Egg Soup (Serves 4)

Bring the chicken stock to the boil and add the cooked rice. Beat the eggs with the lemon juice in a bowl. Add ladles of the hot stock mixture to the beaten egg mixture until the egg mixture is hot (this prevents curdling of the egg) and then add the egg mixture to the soup. Stir and serve.



The Magic Of Mushrooms2 Comments

admin | 1:38 pm | March 27, 2012 | Healthy Foods, Uncategorized

mushrooms

If you thought mushrooms were just another vegetable, think again. Although often grouped with vegetables and fruits, mushrooms are actually fungi, and in more ways then one are in a class of their own. Like fruit and vegetables, mushrooms are low in calories, high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, have no cholesterol and are virtually fat and sodium free. But that’s not all these fascinating fungi have to offer. For thousands of years, Eastern cultures have revered the mushroom as both a super food and as a medicine. Even Hippocrates prescribed them for health and healing. In some cultures certain mushroom species are used for longevity, vitality and even as tools to enlightenment. Modern medical research is only beginning to uncover some of their amazing health restorative properties.

MUSHROOM NUTRITION

The nutritional benefits of eating mushrooms spread across a wide range of species. From button to black, oysters to portabella and enoki to shiitake, they all pack a punch. Mushrooms offer a vast array of essential nutrients, all packed into a very low calorie, low carbohydrate package. Major mushroom nutrients include:

MUSHROOM MEDICINE

Besides the nutritional health benefits of adding mushrooms to the diet, they have also proved to be among the most powerful medicinal foods around. Mushrooms have a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine and their legendary effects on health, vitality and immunity have been supported in recent scientific studies. Most studies on medicinal mushrooms have focussed on their immune enhancing properties. Complex sugars and their derivatives found in mushrooms are able to stimulate a higher level of cytokines (immune system proteins that facilitate communication between cells and fight off diseases and infections). While benefits can be obtained by eating these mushrooms in the diet, potent mushroom extracts are available at health stores or through traditional Chinese practitioners for medicinal use. Some of the most widely studied medicinal mushrooms include:

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)

In China and Japan, the restorative properties of shiitake mushrooms have been known for centuries. The two major active ingredients in shiitake mushrooms (known as lentinan and LEM) appear to kick immune system cells into action. There is some indication from preliminary studies that when lentinan is given along with conventional chemotherapy, cancer tumours shrink more readily and drug side effects are reduced. In fact, shiitake mushroom extract has already been approved by the Japanese FDA as an anti-cancer medicine. Studies involving LEM, show some promise in using the substance to fight off HIV. Possible mechanisms include a protective effect on T cells (the cells that are attacked by HIV)as well as the stimulation of the production of Interferon, an anti-viral agent. In addition, lentinan has been shown to stimulate the production of immune compounds and can potentiate the effects of AZT and other anti-retroviral drugs. Both lentinan and LEM have shown no signs of acute toxicity or serious side effects. Other potential benefits of shiitake mushrooms include lowered blood pressure and lipid levels and increased libido.

Maitake (Grifolia frondosa)

Maitake literally means, “dancing mushroom”, because in ancient Japan, people would literally dance with joy when finding it, as it was so valuable that it could be exchanged for its weight in silver. Its value in modern times has been confirmed by scientific research and maitake mushroom is best known for its cancer-fighting properties. An active ingredient in maitake, known as grifolan, works by activating macrophages- the so-called “heavy artillery” of the immune system. Another active compound, maitake D-fraction, has been shown in animal studies to inhibit tumour growth and boost the immune system. Studies suggest that maitake D-fraction may be effective against leukaemia, stomach, colon, liver and bone cancers, especially when used in conjunction with chemotherapy drugs. Maitake has also been shown to ease chemotherapy side effects. Recent research is suggesting that maitake may offer benefits to people with diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity and decreasing insulin resistance.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

Reishi mushroom has a long history of use in extending life span and increasing vitality. It is the most versatile of the medicinal mushrooms with applications extending from immune system enhancement to skin beautification. The active compounds in reishi, known as triterpenoids are also known to enhance immunity and suppress tumor cell growth. Reishi has an additional use as an adaptogen, which means it helps the body adapt to stress and so is often given as an overall nervous system tonic. It also has applications in improving blood pressure and normalizing cholesterol levels. Recent human studies have demonstrated anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant effects, and reishi mushroom extract has been used successfully to treat asthma, chromic bronchitis and arthritis. Reishi is also a good tonic for the liver and has a history of use in liver problems. On the meta-physical side, reishi is known to lift the spirits and many believe it can be used as a tool towards reaching a higher state of spiritual consciousness. Unlike shiitake and maitake, which are quite palatable, reishi has a very bitter taste and is usually taken in tea, capsule or tincture form, rather than in the diet.


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