Beetroot: Health Benefits

Beetroot, also known as a beet, has been gaining in popularity as a new super food due to recent studies claiming that beets and beetroot juice can improve athletic performance, lower blood pressure, and increase blood flow.

New products incorporating this highly nutritious food are appearing everywhere, and they include juices and drinks.

Beetroot or table beets are from the same family as sugar beets, but they are genetically and nutritionally different. Sugar beets are white in color and commonly used for extracting sugar and sweetening manufactured foods. Sugar cannot be obtained from beets, which are mostly red or gold in color.

Health benefits of consuming beetroot

Beetroot
Beetroot has been gaining in popularity as a new super food.

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.

Many studies indicate that eating more plant foods, like beetroot, decreases the risk of obesity, overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.

Heart health and blood pressure: A 2008 study published in Hypertension examined the effects of ingesting 500 milliliters of beetroot juice in healthy volunteers and found that blood pressure was significantly lowered after ingestion.

Researchers hypothesized this was likely due to the high nitrate levels contained in beet juice and that the high nitrate vegetables could prove to be a low-cost and effective way to treat cardiovascular conditions and blood pressure.

Another study conducted in 2010 found similar results, concluding that drinking beetroot juice lowered blood pressure considerably on a dose-dependent basis.

Dementia: Researchers at Wake Forest University have found that drinking juice from beetroot can improve oxygenation to the brain, slowing the progression of dementia in older adults.

According to Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of Wake Forest’s Translational Science Center, blood flow to certain areas of the brain decrease with age and leads to a decline in cognition and possible dementia. Consuming beetroot juice as part of a high nitrate diet can improve the blood flow and oxygenation to these areas that are lacking.

Diabetes: Beets contain an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which may help lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.

Studies on alpha-lipoic acid have also shown a decrease in symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy in people with diabetes.

However, a meta-analysis suggests that the benefits of alpha-lipoic acid for symptomatic peripheral neuropathy may be restricted to intravenous administration of the acid.The authors conclude: “It is unclear if the significant improvements seen after 3 to 5 weeks of oral administration at a dosage of more than 600 milligrams a day are clinically relevant.”

Digestion and regularity: Because of its high fiber content, beetroot helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.

Inflammation: Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in beetroot that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.

Exercise and athletic performance: Beetroot juice supplementation has been shown to improve muscle oxygenation during exercise, suggesting that increased dietary nitrate intake has the potential to enhance exercise tolerance during long-term endurance exercise. The quality of life for those with cardiovascular, respiratory, or metabolic diseases, who find the activities of daily living physically difficult because of lack of oxygenation, could be improved.

Beetroot juice improved performance by 2.8 percent, or 11 seconds, in a 4-km bicycle time trial and by 2.7 percent, or 45 seconds, in a 16.1-kilometer time trial.

Nutritional breakdown of beetroot

Beetroot and beet juice are good sources of various nutrients.

One cup of raw beets contains:

  • 58 calories
  • 13 grams of carbohydrate, including 9 grams of sugar and 4 grams of fiber
  • 2 grams of protein

Depending on the brand, a 296-milliliter bottle of beet juice can contain:

  • 44 calories
  • 11 grams of carbohydrate, including 1 gram of fiber and 8 grams of sugar
  • 2 grams of protein

It is important to check the label of packaged juices, however, to check for added sugars.

Beetroot provides 1 percent of the daily needs for vitamin A, 2 percent of calcium, 11 percent of vitamin C and 6 percent of iron.

Vitamin C, an antioxidant, plays a key role in creating collagen and some neurotransmitters, and in the metabolism of proteins. Iron is an essential part of hemoglobin, the protein that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues. It is needed for growth, development, and cell function. A lack of iron leads to s certain type of anemia.

It is a rich source of folate and manganese. It also contains thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, pantothenic acid, choline, betaine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and selenium.

Folate is important for a healthy metabolism encourages healthy skin and hair, and protects the mouth from soreness and ulceration. Folic acid is recommended during pregnancy and studies suggest that it contributes to a healthy birth weight and prevents congenital heart defects and other problems such as neural tubal defects in the newborn.

Manganese occurs in small amounts in the body, but it is needed for a range of functions. A lack of manganese can contribute to infertility, bone malformation, weakness, and seizures.

Beets are high in dietary nitrate, which is believed to benefit the cardiovascular system and may protect against cancer.

How to incorporate more beetroot into your diet

Beets can be roasted, steamed, boiled, pickled, or eaten raw.

Beetroot salad
Add sliced pickled beets to your favorite salad and top with goat cheese.
  • Make your own beetroot juice by peeling beetroot and blending with a combination of fresh orange, mint and pineapple or apples, lemon, and ginger. Blend and strain.
  • Grate raw beets and add them to coleslaw or your favorite salad.
  • Top roasted beets with goat cheese for a perfect pairing.
  • Add sliced pickled beets to your favorite salad and top with goat cheese.
  • Slice raw beets and serve them with lemon juice and a sprinkle of chili powder.

When choosing a beetroot, make sure it is heavy for its size and without surface damage. If the green tops are still on, they should look fresh, not wilted. These are also edible.

Beetroots are not only red. There are also golden beets and white beets. They are widely available in grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

To store beets for a few days, refrigerate them in a tightly sealed bag.

If you grow beetroot and need to keep them for longer, cut off the leaves and stalks, leaving about 2 inches of length. Keep them in a box of sand in a garage or shed, somewhere that is cool but frost-free.

Potential health risks of consuming beetroot

If improperly stored, nitrate-containing vegetable juice may accumulate bacteria that convert nitrate to nitrite and contaminate the juice. High levels of nitrite can be potentially harmful if consumed.

A high-nitrate diet may interact with certain medications such as organic nitrate (nitroglycerine) or nitrite drugs used for angina, sildenafil citrate, tadalafil, and vardenafil.

Drinking beetroot juice may cause red urine or stool.

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

Cardamom Health Benefits

What Is Cardamom

Scientific Name: Elettaria cardamomum

Other Names: Amomum cardamomum, Bai Dou Kou, Black Cardamom, Cardamome de Malabar, Cardamome Noire, , Cardamome Verte, Cardamomo, Cardomom, Cardomomi Fructus, Ela, Elettaria cardamomum, Green Cardamom, Huile Essentielle de Cardamome, Indian Cardamom.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is a plant that is native to India, Bhutan and Nepal in the ginger family Zingiberaceae, that is highly valued as an expensive culinary spice next only to saffron and vanilla. Cardamom fruits or seeds are primarily used as the flavouring for drinks, bake goods and confection. Cardamom is also valued for its traditional use in herbal medicine, providing health benefits for those suffering from stomach problems, liver and gallbladder ailments, and as a stimulant. Other species that is closely related to genus Amomum in the ginger family are likewise called cardamom. These cardamom species have larger and darker fruits and have somewhat coarser taste and aroma.

Plant Description

Cardamom (Elletaria cardamomum) is a herbaceous perennial plant usually found in the wild in India and Sri Lanka but has since been cultivated in other tropical areas. Cardamom is a clumping plant of up 20 leafy shoots arising from the rhizome. The shoots are composed of overlapping leaf sheaths, lanceolate in shape with dark green color. The clump of leaves can reach up to 6 meters in height. Some shoots produce flowers on a drooping pinnacle. The flowers are both male and female and are pale green in color. The cardamom fruits are pale green to yellow in color but turn into brown when dried and contain 15 to 20 small aromatic seeds about 3 mm in length which are highly valued as flavoring.

Cardamom, Nutrient value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient Database)
Proximates NV %RDA
Energy 311 Kcal 15.5%
Carbohydrates 68.47 g 52.5%
Protein 10.76 g 19%
Total Fat 6.7 g 23%
Dietary Fiber 28 g 70%
Vitamins

Niacin 1.102 mg 7%
Pyridoxine 0.230 mg 18%
Riboflavin 0.182 mg 14%
Thiamin 0.198 mg 16.5%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 21 mg 35%
Minerals

Calcium 383 mg 38%
Iron 14.0 mg 78%
Magnesium 229 mg 57%
Phosphorus 178 mg 32%
Sodium 18 mg 1%
Zinc 7.5 mg 50%
Copper 0.4 mg 19%
Percent daily values are based on 2000 Kcal diets.

Traditional Health Benefits Of Cardamom

Cardamom being native in South India and Sri Lanka, it has a long history of use in Ayurveda medicine. When the Chinese discovered this spice, it was brought to China and likewise applied in traditional Chinese medicine.

Cardamom has long been used as an effective herbal remedy for digestion problems including intestinal spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, liver and gallbladder complaints.

Other traditional uses and health benefits of Cardamon include the treatment of;

Bronchitis
Cold
Constipation
Cough
Gallbladder problems
Gas
Heartburn
Intestinal spasms
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Liver problems
Loss of appetite
Preventing infections
Sore mouth and throat
Urinary problems

In recent years, claimed health benefits of Cardamom include its strong antioxidant property and an effective body detoxification agent,

Cardamom being rich in minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium maintains cell and body fluids that help control heart rate and blood pressure. It also contains copper and iron that is important in the production of red blood cells.

Cardamom is also rich in vitamins including riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C and contains essential oils that improve overall health.

Cardamom promotes urination that improves kidney function by eliminating excess calcium, urea, and other toxins. It is also used in the treatment of genital and urinary infections. Cardamom is also believed to improve sexual performance.

Other health benefits of cardamom are its use in the treatment of gum problems and in preventing bad breath. It is also used as an antiseptic and antimicrobial.

Scientific Studies Of Cardamom Health Benefits

Blood pressure lowering, fibrinolysis enhancing and antioxidant activities of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum).The Indigenous Drug Research Center, RNT Medical College, Udaipur, India conducted a study on  Elettaria cardamomum  (Small cardamom) fruit powder to evaluate its antihypertensive potential and its effect on some of the cardiovascular risk factors in individuals with stage 1 hypertension.
Results have shown that administration of 3 g of cardamom powder to patients with primary hypertension of stage 1 for a period of 12 weeks demonstrated a significantly (p<0.001) decreased systolic, diastolic and mean blood pressure and significantly (p<0.05) increased fibrinolytic activity at the end of 12th week. The total antioxidant status was also significantly (p<0.05) increased by 90% at the end of 3 months.
Additionally, all study subjects experienced a feeling of well-being without any side-effects. Thus, the present study demonstrates that small cardamom effectively reduces blood pressure, enhances fibrinolysis and improves antioxidant status, without significantly altering blood lipids and fibrinogen levels in stage 1 hypertensive individuals. (Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics. December 2009).

Protective effect of Eleteria cardamomum (L.) Maton against Pan masala induced damage in the lung of male Swiss mice.

In a study conducted in Ranchi University India, the potential ameliorating properties of cardamom Elettaria cardamomum (E. cardamomum) L. Maton against pan masala induced damage in the lung of male Swiss mice was investigated.  Results have shown that the lungs of pan masala treated group showed adenocarcinoma, edema, and inflammation with increased activity of acid phosphatase, alkaline phosphatase, and lactate dehydrogenase. While the deleterious effects were seen to be less in cardamom treated group and the enzymatic activity also decreased significantly (P<0.05) in the ameliorating group. This study suggests that cardamom supplementation may decrease the damage to the lungs of pan masala treated subjects. (Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, July 2013)

Chemopreventive effects of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum L.) on chemically induced skin carcinogenesis in Swiss albino mice.

The potential of cardamom as a chemopreventive agent was investigated in a study done in the College of Health Sciences, University of Hail, Saudi Arabia. The study was done on mice treated orally with 0.5 mg of cardamom powder in suspension continuously at pre-, peri-, and post-initiation stages of papilloma genesis compared with the control group. It was observed that the treatment of cardamom suspension by oral gavage for 15 days resulted in a significant decrease in the lipid peroxidation level of the liver (P < .01). In addition, the reduced glutathione level was significantly elevated in comparison with the control group (P < .05) following cardamom suspension treatment. These findings indicate the potential of cardamom as a chemopreventive agent against two-stage skin cancer (Journal of Medicinal Food, June 2012).

Antioxidative effects of the spice cardamom against non-melanoma skin cancer by modulating nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 and NF-κB signaling pathways.

Cardamom,  a dietary phytoproduct, has been commonly used in cuisines for flavor and has numerous health benefits, such as improving digestion and stimulating metabolism and having antitumorigenic effects.  A study done in Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Kolkata, India, investigated the efficacy of dietary cardamom against 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced skin papilloma to genesis in Swiss albino mice that closely resembles human NMSC. Results from the oral administration of cardamom to DMBA-treated mice up-regulated the phase II detoxification enzymes, such as glutathione-S-transferase and glutathione peroxidase, probably via activation of nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 transcription factor in ‘DMBA+CARD’ mice. Furthermore, reduced glutathione, glutathione reductase, superoxide dismutase and catalase were also up-regulated by cardamom in the same ‘DMBA+CARD’ group of mice compared with DMBA-treated mice. Cardamom ingestion in DMBA-treated mice blocked NF-κB activation and down-regulated cyclo-oxygenase-2 expression. As a consequence, both the size and the number of skin papillomas generated on the skin due to the DMBA treatment were reduced in the ‘DMBA+CARD’ group. Thus, the results of the study suggest that cardamom has a potential to become a pivotal chemopreventive agent to prevent papilloma genesis on the skin (British Journal of Nutrition, Sept 2012)

Gut modulatory, blood pressure lowering, diuretic and sedative activities of cardamom.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is traditionally used in various gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and neuronal disorders.
A study was done in the Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan have using Cardamom crude extract in guinea-pig, mice and rabbits suggested that cardamom exhibits gut excitatory and inhibitory effects mediated through cholinergic and Ca++ antagonist mechanisms respectively and lower BP via a combination of both pathways. The diuretic and sedative effects may offer added value in its use in hypertension and epilepsy. (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, February 2008).

Cardamom extract as an inhibitor of human platelet aggregation.

The Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, India, investigated the protective effects of cardamom extract against platelet aggregation and lipid peroxidation.  In the study, a sample from the blood of healthy volunteers was taken and the platelets were subjected to stimulation with a variety of agonists including ADP, epinephrine, collagen, calcium ionophore and ristocetin.  Results have shown that the inhibitory effects of cardamom against lipid peroxidation and platelet aggregation were dose dependent and time dependent and an increase in the concentration of the aqueous extract of cardamom results to significantly decreased MDA formation.(Phytotheraphy Research, May 2005)

Allergic contact dermatitis from cardamom.

Cardamom is a popular traditional flavoring agent for baked goods and confectionery.  A case is presented of a confectioner with a chronic hand dermatitis and positive patch test reactions to cardamom and certain terpenoid compounds present in the dried ripe seeds of cardamom. Dermatitis from skin exposure to cardamom has to the best of our knowledge not been reported.

Cardamom Side Effects And Warnings

Cardamom may be considered safe for most people in food amounts and there were no reported side effects from its consumption.

Cardamom is considered safe for use by pregnant and breastfeeding mothers if taken in food amounts. But caution should be taken if to be taken in large doses as there are no sufficient studies that determine its full effects.

Large doses of cardamom have been found to trigger gallstone colic that causes spasmodic pain.

Cardamom may trigger an allergic reaction for sensitive people. Severe side effects include difficulty in breathing, hive, swelling of skin and heaviness of chest.

Cardamom Availability And Preparation

Where To Buy Cardamom

Cardamom comes in several forms depending upon how the cardamom seed pods are treated. Cardamom is usually available in most grocery stores along with the other spices;

Green cardamom pods are the preferred form of this spice in its native country, India. This fancier cardamom has been picked while still immature and sun-dried to preserve its bright green color. Green cardamom pods are harder to find and more expensive than the other forms of cardamom in part because of their superior ability to retain aroma and flavor longer. This premium form of cardamom is all connoisseurs will use in any recipe which calls for cardamom.

Cardamom seed has had the outer pod, or cardamom fruit, removed so that only the pure seeds remain. This form of cardamom spice is sometimes called cardamom-decort, which simply means the seeds have been removed from the pods or hulled. The seeds are crushed or ground prior to use, which provides plenty of cardamom flavor at a more economical price, substitute 12 seeds for every whole pod called for in a recipe.

Black cardamom is the seed pods of closely related species that also are aromatic and have an appearance similar to that of true cardamom. Although, black cardamom is not a suitable substitute in recipes that call for cardamom. Its flavor is much earthier with sweetness and a flowery accent that is different from that of true cardamoms. It is an ingredient used in some African cooking and abroad to add a bacon-like a flavor to some vegetarian dishes.

Ground cardamom is convenient to have for baking and other applications where the spice needs to be ground. Freshness and thus flavor are of course compromised when cardamom is pre-ground because it loses flavor soon after grinding. To appreciate cardamom’s true flavor we suggest grinding it before use in a spice mill, electric coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle.

White cardamom that was commonly available in the North America and Europe had been bleached to achieve its color or lack of it. It is used in baking and some desserts because its color helps keep light colored batters, sauces, and confections speck free. The bleaching process also destroyed much of the cardamom’s flavor leading to white cardamom’s decline in popularity.

Benefits of Leafy Greens

We all know the benefits of eating our vegetables. They are full of nutrients that can help protect us from a disease. They are also high in fiber, which fills us up in a healthy, low-calorie sort of way. And if you enjoy eating leafy green vegetables, there may be another important advantage in your future as you age. New research suggests that frequent consumption of leafy greens may lower your risk of developing dementia.

The study, which was conducted at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, found that eating one serving a day of a leafy green vegetable may help prevent the onset of dementia as we age. The subjects were 954 men and women who were taking part in a Memory and Aging Project at Rush. They had an average age of 81 at the beginning of the trial, and three-quarters of the group were female.

The participants were followed for an average of nearly five years. Once a year during this time period, they answered a survey with 144 questions on their food and beverage consumption. In addition, they completed an annual battery of 19 mental skills tests. The scientists then compiled all of the data to determine the nutrient intake of each volunteer based on the specific types and amounts of food that were eaten every day.

The findings showed that those people who regularly consumed one to two servings of leafy green vegetables on a daily basis had mental faculties more than 10 years younger than those of their counterparts who never ate leafy greens. That’s quite a significant difference since deteriorating cognitive function is a major hallmark of dementia. And these results remained consistent even after a number of potential influences were factored into the data, including age, gender, education level, history of smoking, physical activity levels, and family history of Alzheimer’s disease.

While the research was not designed to prove that leafy greens necessarily cause increases in mental capacity as we age, it did certainly demonstrate the existence of a link. It may be difficult to pinpoint whether there is some advantage to the particular combination of nutrients found in leafy greens that can serve to protect the brain. However, it is likely that the main defense comes from their high levels of vitamin K.

There are two main forms of vitamin K, which are K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is found in green leafy vegetables and makes up about 90 percent of the vitamin K in a typical western diet. Vitamin K2 (menaquinones) makes up about 10 percent of western vitamin K consumption and can be synthesized in the gut by microflora. It is typically found in animal-based foods, including dairy products.

A 2008 study at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University in Boston determined that vitamin K1 is most effective at supporting healthy insulin levels. It is also the K1 in the greens that are responsible for the dementia benefit. On the other hand, vitamin K2 plays a vital role in ensuring that calcium stays in the bones and out of the arteries. As suggested in a 2010 study at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, it may also play a role in inhibiting cancer.

So clearly vitamin K is a nutrient we want to make sure we include in our diets in adequate amounts. Eat up those leafy greens at least once a day. You will consume 531 mcg of vitamin K in ½ cup of cooked kale, 444 mcg in ½ cup of cooked spinach, and 418 mcg in ½ cup of cooked collard greens. What if you simply can’t stand kale, spinach, or collards? You can choose from some of the other sources of vitamin K1 that may require larger servings, but perhaps you will prefer the taste. Some healthy vitamin K1-rich foods include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and green leaf lettuce. Start putting these items on your daily menu and your brain may benefit greatly as you get older. And don’t forget to include K2 foods in your diet, or take a supplement if your diet is pure vegan.

Grapefruit Health Benefits

February was Grapefruit Month, and even if you missed it, it is still a great time to pay a little tribute to the virtues of this much-maligned fruit. It’s tangy, the citrusy flavor can serve as a reminder of the warm weather climates in which it grows, helping us get through the sluggish end of winter. Grapefruit health benefits offer plenty in the way of nutrition that helps with weight maintenance and will also help the body fight off the colds and assorted maladies that are so common this time of year.

Pink grapefruit provides 80 percent of your daily vitamin C needs in a typical serving of half the fruit, is proven to bolster the immune system, can detoxify the body, and even slow the growth rate of tumors. It is also chock full of lycopene, which is an antioxidant that has been found to lower the risk of both bladder and prostate cancer. And pink grapefruit provides you with 6 percent of the RDA of vitamin A, another valuable nutrient that helps maintain the health of the retina, particularly important for our vision in lower light.

Yellow grapefruit is no slouch, either, in the vitamin and nutrient department. Just under its more colorful cousin, the yellow grapefruit health benefits include 73.3 percent of your vitamin C quota for the day, as well as an impressive 23.7 percent of vitamin A.

In addition, grapefruit is a great choice for weight maintenance. And keep in mind that while 100 percent grapefruit juice will deliver nutrients to your body, it will not give you fiber. But as long as you eat the fruit rather than drinking the juice, you will get 0.8 gram of fiber, which fulfills nearly 6 percent of your recommended daily allowance. It is also high in pectin, which helps move things along in your digestive tract to both keep your bowel movements regular and lessen the amount of time potentially damaging fecal matter hangs around in the colon. In addition, that fiber will keep you feel satiated longer, while only serving up a mere 30 calories. And studies have shown that the pectin may be strongly anti-carcinogenic–particularly with regard to colon cancer.

Grapefruit has been found in numerous studies to confer disease protection as well. In a 2006 study, a team of researchers from universities in Israel, Singapore, and Poland split participants into three groups. All of them ate healthy, low-fat diets, but one group had a red grapefruit each day, another had a yellow grapefruit each day, and the third ate no grapefruit. Both groups of grapefruit eaters experienced reduced levels of total cholesterol as well as LDL, the “bad,” cholesterol. The red grapefruit eaters enjoyed the additional benefit of lowering their triglyceride levels too.

So, with all these health benefits, why has the media labeled grapefruit a danger? Simply put, grapefruit can enhance the risks already inherent in pharmaceutical drugs. Upwards of 85 medications have been found to interact with grapefruit. Those research and development departments at pharmaceutical conglomerates keep busy by constantly rolling out new drugs, so needless to say, the incidence of problems experienced by grapefruit eaters has risen in recent years. And, despite the known interactions, many doctors don’t think to ask patients if they eat grapefruit or mention that it is a contraindication.

Grapefruit itself is not harmful. Certain pharmaceuticals for pain, heart disease, schizophrenia, and cancer, on the other hand, have been found to be problematic when combined with grapefruit. The danger comes from the fact that grapefruit inhibits the CYP3A4 enzyme in the liver that helps the body metabolize the pharmaceutical. Therefore, the medication is much stronger as it enters the system, and its effects are magnified, sometimes to the point of causing an overdose.

But the key issue to remember is that the toxicity is inherent in the pharmaceutical drug, not the grapefruit. The problem, once again, is that grapefruit can enhance that toxicity–particularly that of statin drugs. If you are prescribed pharmaceuticals, it is essential to discuss with your doctor whether grapefruit is safe to consume for the duration of the medication. And if you are not taking any kind of prescription medicine, dig right into this citrus delight because, for most of us, grapefruit is nothing but healthy.

Microgreens: Health Benefits and Growing Tips

Microgreens are a hot trend in the food and nutrition world. People wanting to improve their health and wellness through nutrition are sneaking microgreens in their smoothies, piling them on sandwiches, mixing them into salads, and even growing them at home.

What are microgreens?

cilantro
Cilantro is a popular microgreen that is high in vitamins and carotenoids and may be found in Mexican and Latin American cuisine.

Microgreens are the seedlings of vegetables and herbs. Once the seed of a herb or vegetable begins to grow, it is considered a sprout. Once the sprout begins to grow, the baby plant is considered a microgreen.

Sprouts and microgreens are not one and the same. Sprouts are usually grown in water and harvested within 2-3 days while microgreens are grown in soil, require sunlight, and are harvested after 1-3 weeks of growing time when they are about 2 inches tall. Baby greens are grown for longer periods and are usually around 3-4 inches tall when they are harvested.

The flavor of microgreens depends on the plant they come from. It can range from mild to tangy, spicy, or peppery.

Microgreens can be grown from any herb or vegetable. Some of the most popularly consumed microgreens include:

  • cilantro
  • amaranth
  • arugula
  • radish
  • basil
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • kale

Nutritional content

Scientific data on the nutritional content of microgreens is limited, but research has shown that microgreens do contain a higher concentration of many nutrients when compared with the mature, fully grown vegetables or herbs.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, micro kale greens contain approximately 29 calories per 100 grams.

Further data on nutrients, such as carbohydrates, protein, and fat content, have yet to be compiled. However, several studies have demonstrated the high level of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that microgreens contain. Microgreens are also rich in enzymes, which enable them to be more easily digested.

The micronutrients contained in microgreens differ widely depending on type. Researchers at the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland studied a total of 25 microgreens. The following microgreens had the highest concentrations of four different vitamins and carotenoids:

  • red cabbage
  • green daikon radish
  • cilantro
  • garnet amaranth

For example, red cabbage microgreens are rich in vitamin C, but low in vitamin E. Green daikon radish microgreens were rich in vitamin E but low in lutein when compared to the cabbage, cilantro, and amaranth.

Possible health benefits

microgreens-3
Studies suggest that microgreens may contain high concentrations of nutrients compared with mature vegetables and herbs.

Due to their high antioxidant content, microgreens are considered a functional food, a food that promotes health or prevents disease.

Consuming plant-based foods of all kinds has been linked to a reduced risk of many health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Plant-based foods also support a healthy complexion, increased energy, lower weight, and longer life expectancy.

Further research about using microgreens to treat or prevent specific diseases is not yet available.

Many people are not getting the recommended amount of vegetables and fruits per day for many reasons including access, cost, convenience, and taste preference. Microgreens can easily be grown at home in a small space with little cost and provide a huge return in terms of nutrients.

How to grow microgreens

Microgreens are relatively easy to grow on a small scale and can even thrive indoors if sunlight is available. People wishing to grow their own microgreens can follow these steps to do so:

  • Scatter seeds over an inch of potting soil in a planter dish or tray and cover with another thin layer of soil.
  • Mist the soil with water and place near a source of sunlight or a grow light.
  • Continue to mist the seeds daily to keep the soil moist.

The microgreens will be ready to harvest in 2-3 weeks. People should make sure to cut their greens above the soil line and rinse well before using.

Tips to incorporate more microgreens into a diet

Microgreens can boost color, enhance flavor, and add texture to any dish while delivering a nutritional boost as well.

Some tips for adding microgreens into meals include:

  • using them as a topping for salads and soups
  • tossing a small handful into a smoothie or juice before blending
  • using them as a garnish alongside any main dish
  • placing microgreens on top of a flatbread or pizza after cooking
  • adding microgreens into an omelet or frittata
  • replacing lettuce with microgreens on a burger, sandwich, or tacos

Risks and precautions

Bacteria growth in sprouts has been a major food safety concern, with several outbreaks of E.coli reported in the media in the past few years. The U.S. government has even gone so far as to recommend that people do not consume sprouts at all.

The potential for bacteria growth with microgreens is much smaller because they are not grown in water. Also, only the leaf and plant are eaten instead of the entire root and seed.

How Healthy is Oily Fish?

Oily fish has been linked to a number of health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease, improved mental ability, and protection from cancer, alcohol-related dementia, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Fish oil contains the two fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are believed to benefit the cardiovascular system.

The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests consuming at least two servings of fish, and especially oily fish, each week. A serving is 3.5 ounces of cooked fish or about three-quarters of a cup of flaked fish.

Health benefits of oily fish

Oily fish offers a range of health benefits.

Oily fish is rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and potentially lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.

Both white and oily fish are good sources of lean protein. Whitefish contains fatty acids, but only in the liver, and in smaller quantities.

Omega-3 oils have been linked to higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and lower levels of triglycerides in the blood.

Cholesterol is mainly produced by the liver. It is involved in strengthening cell walls and in hormone production. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) carry the cholesterol to the cells, while HDL takes the excess cholesterol back to the liver for recycling or removal.

Cardiovascular disease

Consuming oily fish can help to protect against cardiovascular disease, according to the AHA. A study published by the American Physiological Society suggests that fatty fish oils can protect the heart during times of mental stress.

Rheumatoid arthritis

A study published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases linked an average daily intake of at least 0.21 grams a day of omega-3 with a 52 percent lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Other research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids might protect against the future development of RA.

Dementia

Among people who abuse alcohol, fish oil may offer protection from dementia. Brain cells that were exposed to a mix of fish oil and alcohol had 95 percent less neuroinflammation and neuronal death compared with brain cells that were only exposed to alcohol.

Mouth and skin cancers

Oily fish consumption may protect from early- and late-stage oral and skin cancers. Omega-3 fatty acid has been found to target and selectively inhibit the growth of malignant and pre-malignant cells at doses that do not affect the normal cells.

Sensory, cognitive and motor development

Consuming oily fish during the last months of pregnancy can have positive effects on a child’s sensory, cognitive, and motor development, research suggests. The same study did not find that breastfeeding offered the same benefits.

[salmon]
Eating salmon during pregnancy can benefit offspring.

Asthma

The children of women who regularly consumed salmon during pregnancy may be less likely to show signs of asthma at the age of two and a half years.

Protecting vision and memory

DHA can protect against vision loss. Scientists have identified a link between oily fish consumption and a lower risk of vision loss in older people. A study published in PLOS One indicates that eating oily fish may improve working memory.

Breast and prostate cancer

One meta-analysis of nearly 900,000 women has linked a higher consumption of oily fish with a lower risk of breast cancer. However, another team found that men with high quantities of omega-3 oil in their blood had a higher risk of prostate cancer.

Which fish, and how much?

Oily fish contain significant amounts of oil throughout their body tissues and in their belly cavity. Examples of oily fish include trout, salmon, sardines, pilchards, kippers, eels, whitebait, mackerel, herring, and tuna.

All these fish, except for tuna, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, whether canned, fresh or frozen. Tuna is rich in omega-3 when it is fresh, but not when canned.

How much oily fish is healthy?

Although eating oily fish promotes many aspects of good health, overconsumption may not be beneficial.

A recent study found a risk of premature death in people with both high and low levels of HDL, raising the question: Is more HDL always better?

High levels of HDL can be harmful to people who are undergoing dialysis because it can increase levels of inflammation.

What about the pollutants?

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) note that nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury.

This is because oily fish contain pollutants called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins. These pollutants do not have an immediate effect on health, but long term exposure can be harmful.

Dioxins are highly toxic compounds. Humans are exposed to them through animal products, including fish. High exposure can cause skin lesions and impairment of the immune and reproductive systems.

Despite these concerns, oily fish is recommended while pregnant or breastfeeding, because it will benefit the fetus or the infant, as long as the maximum limits are adhered to.

The FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggest a maximum of 12 ounces a week for young children and pregnant women, or two average meals.

Suitable options are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish, which are low in mercury. The FDA and EPA recommend avoiding shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

If fish is caught locally and there is no information about pollutants, the maximum intake should be 6 ounces a week.

A number of hygiene rules must be followed.

All fish should be stored in a fridge or freezer. Hands should be thoroughly washed before and after handling fish. Fish should be thawed in a fridge overnight. Raw fish should not come into contact with cooked fish or other foods.

In view of the rapidly declining fish stocks worldwide, people are encouraged to look for sustainable sources of fish.

Other sources of omega-3 include walnuts, pumpkin seeds, vegetable oils, and soy products, and green leafy vegetables.Omega-3-enriched dairy products, eggs, bread, and spreads are also available.

Salmon: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information

Salmon is a commonly consumed fish praised for its high protein content and omega-3 fatty acids.

There are five main varieties of salmon:

  • Chinook salmon is highest in fat, most expensive and desired for its silken texture
  • Sockeye salmon is lower in fat, but still, has enough fat for the salmon flavor to come through
  • Coho salmon has a milder flavor and is often targeted by sport fisherman
  • Humpback salmon is more delicate, pale in color, and not consumed as often
  • Chum salmon is lower in fat and often used in sushi.

Nutritional breakdown of salmon

A salmon
Salmon is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 3 oz of cooked Sockeye salmon (approximately 85 g) contains:

  • 133 calories
  • 5 g of fat
  • 0 g of carbohydrate
  • 22 g of protein.

The same amount of cooked Sockeye salmon also provides:

  • 82% of daily vitamin B12 needs
  • 46% of selenium
  • 28% of niacin
  • 23% of phosphorus
  • 12% of thiamin
  • 4% of vitamin A
  • 3% of iron.

Salmon also contains cholesterol, although recent studies have suggested that the cholesterol content of foods does not necessarily increase harmful cholesterol in the body.

Saturated fat intake is more directly related to an increase in harmful cholesterol levels, however, and salmon is not a significant source of saturated fat.

Possible benefits of consuming salmon

Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of fish and shellfish like salmon decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease while also promoting healthy cholesterol levels.

Fish and shellfish are especially important for providing omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in very few foods. A 3 oz portion of salmon is estimated to provide over 1,500 mg of omega-3s.

Heart health

Data from the Cardiovascular Health Study show that high dietary intakes of DHA and EPA (the long-chain fatty acids found in fish) may lower the risk of fatal heart attacks. The higher the levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in the blood, the lower the incidence of congestive heart failure.

Fast facts about fish oils

  • The fillets of oily fish contain up to 30% oil
  • Studies have found that fish oils may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, vision loss, and epilepsy.

Learn more about fish oils

Separate observational studies among both Japanese and Inuit people, two cultures that eat high levels of fatty fish, noted that the amount of heart disease deaths were about half the amount typically seen in Western countries. This finding held true when corrected for other lifestyle factors that could influence heart disease death rates.

A 2004 meta-analysis of 13 cohort studies found that eating fish once per week can reduce the risk of dying from coronary heart disease by 15%. The more fish that was consumed, the lower the risk. Adding an extra 5 oz of fish per week reduced the risk to 8%.

“Omega-3 fatty acids levels in the blood have a greater impact on risk for heart disease than cholesterol, total fat or fiber,” says William S. Harris, director of the University of South Dakota Nutrition and Metabolic Disease Research Institute in Sioux Falls. “The higher the omega-3 levels, the lower the risk of heart disease and death and vice versa.”

Harris cites a study conducted in Italy in which participants with chronic heart failure were given either omega-3 capsules or a placebo. The subjects who took the omega-3 capsules were 9% less likely to die than those who did not take them.

Thyroid disease

Selenium has been shown to be a necessary component for proper thyroid function. A meta-analysis has indicated that people with thyroid disease who are selenium deficient experience pronounced benefits when increasing their selenium intake, including weight loss and a related reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.5

Salmon is a good source of selenium, along with Brazil nuts and yellowfin tuna.

Mental benefits

According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Abuse and Alcoholism, omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to decrease aggression, impulsivity, and depression in adults. The associated decrease is even stronger for kids with mood disorders and disorderly conduct issues, like some types of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A long-term study conducted in the UK indicated that children born to women who ate at least 12 oz of fish per week during pregnancy had higher IQs and better social, fine motor and communication skills.

Due to salmon’s potential for containing mercury, pregnant women should limit salmon consumption to 6 oz per week combined with 6 oz of a low-mercury fish such as sardines, wild-caught trout, flounder or sole.

Another study by Chicago’s Rush Institute for Healthy Aging found that over a 4-year period, people from Chicago aged 65-94 who had at least one fish meal per week had a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared with those who rarely or never ate fish.

How to incorporate more salmon into your diet

Grilled salmon.
Salmon can easily be used as the main source of protein in meals.

Quick tips:

  • Use salmon as your main source of protein
  • Add salmon to pasta or rice dishes
  • Mince salmon to top salads
  • Make salmon patties or burgers.

Or, try these healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered dietitians:

Salmon veggie bake
Salmon pasta salad
Smoked salmon & vegetable egg casserole.

Potential health risks of consuming salmon

Salmon can contain a moderate level of mercury and should be consumed six times or less per month. Pregnant women especially should watch their intake of potentially high mercury foods.

To minimize the risk of food-borne illness, buy fresh salmon properly refrigerated at 40 °F or below. Pick up salmon at the end of your shopping trip to minimize the time it is exposed to warmer temperatures. If the salmon smells overly “fishy,” it should be discarded.

If buying frozen salmon, be sure to defrost in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter or in the sink, so that there is no opportunity for bacteria to grow.

It is important to note that a person’s total diet or overall eating pattern is the most important factor for disease prevention. It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

Fennel: Health Benefits

Fennel is highly prized for its licorice-like flavor and its health benefits. It has been used in natural remedies since ancient times.

Originally cultivated in the Mediterranean, fennel is still used in many Greek and Italian dishes, but it is now used around the world, too.

Fennel has a pale bulb and long green stalks. It can be grown almost anywhere. All parts of the fennel plant, including the bulb, stalk, leaves, and seeds, are edible. They add flavor to other foods.

Nutritional breakdown of fennel

[fennel]
Fennel provides fiber and nutrients.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Nutrient Database one raw fennel bulb weighing 234 grams contains:

  • 73 calories
  • 0.47 grams of fat
  • 2.9 grams of protein
  • 17 grams of carbohydrate
  • 7.3 grams of dietary fiber
  • No  cholesterol

A cup of fennel also provides:

  • 360 micrograms (mg) of potassium
  • 45 milligrams of sodium
  • 838 international units (IU) of vitamin A
  • 43 milligrams of calcium
  • 10.4 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 0.64 milligrams of iron
  • 0.041 milligrams of vitamin B-6
  • 15 milligrams of magnesium

Fennel also contains phosphorous, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, choline, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

In addition to all these nutrients, it provides high levels of dietary nitrates and is a natural source of estrogen.

Possible health benefits of fennel

The nutrients in fennel are linked to a range of health benefits.

Bone health

The iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K content present in fennel all contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.

 

  • Phosphate and calcium are both important in bone structure
  • Iron and zinc are crucial for the production and maturation of collagen
  • Bone matrix formation requires the mineral manganese
  • Low intakes of vitamin K have been associated with a higher risk of bone fracture.

 

Vitamin K is important for health, as it modifies of bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption, and may reduce the excretion of calcium in the urine.

Blood pressure

Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential for lowering blood pressure, but increasing potassium intake may be just as important because of its role in vasodilation, the dilation, and contraction of blood vessels.

[man has blood pressure taken]
The minerals in fennel can help reduce blood pressure.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), fewer than 2 percent of American adults meet the daily 4,700 mg recommendation for potassium.

In addition, there is evidence that potassium, calcium, and magnesium decrease blood pressure naturally. All of these are present in fennel.

Dietary nitrates present in fennel and other foods have vasodilatory and vasoprotective properties. Because of this, they help to lower blood pressure and protect the heart.

One Swedish study found that blood pressure levels were lower after taking nitrate supplements that contained nitrate amounts equivalent to 150-250 grams of nitrate-rich vegetables, than after taking a placebo.

Heart health

Fennel’s fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and phytonutrient content, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support heart health.

Fennel contains significant amounts of fiber. As fiber helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, it decreases the risk of heart disease.

Potassium appears to promote heart health. In one study, those who consumed 4,069 milligrams of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed around 1,793 milligrams per day.

Vitamin B-6 and folate prevent the build-up of a compound called homocysteine. When excessive amounts of homocysteine accumulate in the body, it can damage blood vessels and lead to heart problems.

Cancer

Selenium is a mineral that occurs in fennel, but not in most fruits and vegetables. It contributes to liver enzyme function and helps detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. Selenium can also prevent inflammation and decrease tumor growth rates.

[fennel seeds]
Fennel seeds provide flavor and nutrients.

Fiber intake from fruits and vegetables like fennel are associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.

Vitamin C, vitamin A, and beta-carotene function as powerful antioxidants that help protect cells against damage from free radicals.

Fennel contains folate, which plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair. This may help prevent cancer cells from forming because of mutations in the DNA.

Immunity

The selenium found in fennel appears to stimulate the production of killer T-cells. This suggests that it can improve the immune response to infection.

Inflammation

Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in fennel that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory.

Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.

Metabolism

Fennel is a source of vitamin B-6, which plays a vital role in energy metabolism by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins into glucose and amino acids. These smaller compounds are more easily utilized for energy within the body.

Digestion and regularity

Because of its fiber content, fennel helps to prevent constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract.

Weight management and satiety

Dietary fiber is an important factor in weight management and loss by working as a “bulking agent” in the digestive system. These compounds increase satiety and reduce appetite, making an individual feel fuller for longer and so lowering overall calorie intake.

Increasing iron absorption

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in developed countries and a leading cause of anemia. Pairing foods like fennel that are high in vitamin C with foods that are iron-rich maximize the body’s ability to absorb iron.

Estrogen

Estrogen occurs naturally in fennel. It is crucial in regulating the female reproductive cycle, and it can also affect fertility.

A mouse study conducted by The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that estrogen also plays an important role in controlling factors that contribute to body weight, such as appetite and energy expenditure.

Premenstrual syndrome

Some research has suggested that fennel extract may reduce the effects of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Skin

Raw fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential to collagen, the skin’s support system. It works in our bodies as an antioxidant to help prevent damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke.

Vitamin C also promotes collagen’s ability to smooth wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.

How to use fennel in the diet

Fennel has a crunchy texture and mildly sweet flavor, making it a pleasant addition to any dish, whether eaten raw or cooked. All parts of the fennel plant can be eaten, and the seeds are used as a condiment in many recipes.

[fennel salad]
Raw fennel gives a fresh taste to a salad.

When purchasing fennel, look for bulbs that are firm and white or pale green and avoid spotted or bruised ones. Stalks should be green and leaves should be straight and bundled together. A plant with flowering buds is overripe.

Fresh fennel will keep in the refrigerator crisper for about 4 days. It is best to eat fennel right after purchase because it loses flavor over time.

Dried fennel seeds can last for about 6 months in an airtight container, in a cool, dry area, such as a spice cabinet.

To prepare fennel, cut the stalks off the bulb at the base where they sprout and then slice the bulb vertically. The fennel leaves, stalks, and bulb can be prepared in a variety of ways:

  • Use the stalks as a soup base or stock
  • Sauté the leaves and stalks with onions for a quick and easy side
  • Mix sliced fennel with a variety of your favorite fresh vegetables for a light, crisp salad
  • Serve roasted fennel bulbs as an entrée

Potential health risks of fennel

Some spices, including coriander, fennel, and caraway, may cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals. Those who are allergic to these spices should avoid consuming them.

Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High potassium foods such as fennel should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.

High levels of potassium in the body can pose a serious risk to those with kidney damage or kidneys that are not fully functional. Damaged kidneys may be unable to filter excess potassium from the blood, and this could be fatal.

It is important to remember that a single food cannot prevent disease and improve overall health, but an overall healthy diet can. A variety of fresh foods is the key to good health.

Why Is Vitamin C So Important?

Many people are aware that vitamin C can help them recover from a cold or flu, but there’s much more to understand about how vitamin C supports our health. Vitamin C is essential to good health year-round, not just when we are ill. In fact, it’s critical for our overall health and survival. Unfortunately, vitamin C deficiencies are rife today and lacking enough of this important vitamin can contribute to almost any disease.

Vitamin C is anti-inflammatory, helps increase our blood’s white count by strengthening our neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, and macrophages; and generally boosts the immune system against viruses, bacteria, yeast, mold, and other unwanted fungi. This makes getting an adequate amount of vitamin C essential if you are battling a chronic illness or symptom.

The right kind of vitamin C also helps to cleanse the liver, blood, and lymph, strengthen the adrenal glands, and repair damaged neurotransmitters. It also helps the body to detox effectively, which is a challenge many chronically ill people face until they get the right detox-supporting nutrients.

The Best Sources Of Vitamin C

Different forms of vitamin C support our health in varying ways, so it’s important to know which high-quality sources of vitamin C to turn toward. Some of the best food sources of vitamin C are rosehips, kiwi, oranges, and tangerines.

Another great source of one essential form of vitamin C (there are many) is from freshly juiced fennel. Drinking 16oz of straight fennel juice on an empty stomach daily can offer many wonderful health benefits over time. All fruits and vegetables contain some vitamin C, so focusing your diet largely on fresh produce will naturally help to boost your vitamin C intake.

Your Nutrient-Enhancing Friend

One way you or a loved one can amplify the vitamin C you absorb is to get direct sunlight on your skin when possible. The sun strengthens and enhances the absorption and function of every single nutrient, vitamin C included. Think of the sunshine as a vehicle for getting a multivitamin and multimineral support to all your body systems! You don’t need to spend long in the sunshine, and sunburn should always be carefully avoided. Even five minutes in the sun early or late in the day when the sun is not full force can be very helpful.

As you can see, vitamin C is a critical mineral for our health and it deserves consideration as part of a health protocol.

Raw Honey: A Life Changing Food

For those who are afraid that honey is just pure sugar and therefore should be avoided, put your worry aside. If you turn your back on honey, you’re missing out on its amazing health benefits. The sugar in honey is nothing like processed sugar—don’t confuse it with table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Rather, because bees collect from plant species far and wide, the fructose and glucose in honey are saturated with more than 200,000 undiscovered phytochemical compounds and agents, including pathogen-killers, phytochemicals that protect you from radiation damage, and anti-cancerous phytochemicals. When drawn into cancerous tumors and cysts, this last class of phytochemicals shut down the cancerous growth process—meaning that raw honey can stop cancer in its tracks. Honey’s highly absorbable sugar and B12 coenzymes make it one of the most powerful brain foods of our time. Plus, raw honey repairs DNA and is extremely high in minerals such as calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, chromium, molybdenum, and manganese.

Our immune systems are constantly adapting to whatever microorganisms we encounter—which is why raw honey, one of the most adaptogenic foods on the planet, produced by bees, one of the most adaptogenic beings on the planet, is so important for supporting immunity. Honey in its raw form is a secret weapon against infectious illness. When you’re dealing with weakened immunity and feel like you’re extra susceptible to catching colds, flu, stomach bugs such as norovirus, and food poisoning, raw honey assists your body in keeping a strong first line of defense by strengthening neutrophils and macrophages so they can fight off pathogens. (It’s not yet documented by medical science that these and other white blood cells feed off of immune-stimulating phytochemicals.) These properties also make raw honey anti-inflammatory—because it inhibits pathogens from procreating and thus releasing toxins that elevate inflammation. Honey is truly medicine for our planet.

Conditions

If you have any of the following conditions, try bringing raw honey into your life: sinus infections, ear infections, diabetes, hypoglycemia, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), allergies, sties, eye infections, MRSA, staph infections, mystery infertility, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), low reproductive system battery, insomnia, adrenal fatigue, colds, influenza, norovirus, all types of cancer, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, all autoimmune diseases and disorders, parasites, food poisoning, respiratory infections, colds, influenza, bronchitis, laryngitis, thrush

Symptoms

If you have any of the following symptoms, try bringing raw honey into your life: sore throat, postnasal drip, inflammation, canker sores, sleep disturbances, bacterial infections in the gut, all neurological symptoms (including tingles, numbness, spasms, twitches, nerve pain, and tightness of the chest), body odor, dry skin, cysts, eye dryness, dizzy spells, earaches, ear pain, eye floaters, fever, headaches, hot flashes, joint pain, lack of energy, loss of libido, fatigue, memory issues, memory loss, sinus issues, shortness of breath, stomachache

Emotional Support

Honey’s sticky nature isn’t just a physical trait; it also applies itself on an emotional level. If honey is in your life, then when you experience something good—something that lifts you up and feeds your soul—that memory sticks to you, and you don’t lose it among the negative experiences that threaten to distract you.

Spiritual Lesson

If you could trace your family lines back to their oldest days, you would find ancestors who subsisted on honey. Raw honey was not a survival food in the sense that it simply got people by until something better came along. Rather, it was (and still is) incredible medicinal nourishment. Honey is written into our lineage. Who we are—our souls, our DNA—in a sense derives from honey. This means that if we avoid honey, we’re shutting off a part of ourselves that connects all the way back to the beginning of human life. Trends that cut us off from honey go to show how disconnected we can really become. Connecting with honey puts us back in touch with ourselves. It prompts us to ask what else we’ve turned a cold shoulder to that made us who we are today. What else deserves reevaluation?

Tips

  • Add raw honey to lemon water to enhance the honey’s bioflavonoids and give the drink an additional immune boost.
  • If you feel like you’re coming down with something, take a teaspoon of raw honey before bed. This is also a good remedy to enhance a night’s sleep.
  • Use raw honey in place of all processed sugar and other sweeteners you normally use. Look for wildflower honey, if you can find it.
  • Applied externally, honey is great for healing small wounds and revitalizing the skin. Try it on scars where you want to speed up the healing process.
  • Consuming honey prior to meditation strengthens the mind and brings about happy sensations throughout the body.

rawhoney-recipeHoney-Coconut Ice Cream

Serves 2-4

1 cup almonds

2 dates, pitted

¼-inch vanilla bean split lengthwise

1 ½ cups coconut cream (from approximately two 13.5-ounce cans of refrigerated full-fat coconut milk)

1⁄8 teaspoon sea salt

1⁄8 cup raw honey

¼ cup chopped almonds (optional)

1. Make the almond milk by blending the almonds, dates, and scraped seeds from the vanilla bean with 2 cups of water until smooth. Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag or cloth and set aside.

2. Open the cans of coconut milk, being careful not to shake them. Separate off the heavy cream from each can. In a medium bowl, mix the coconut cream with 1 cup of almond milk, sea salt, and raw honey until combined. Pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Serve the ice cream topped with chopped almonds, if desired, and a drizzle of raw honey.

“Fair warning: This ice cream recipe is dangerously good. It only takes a few minutes to prep with an ice cream maker, and in under an hour, you can have ice cream that is cleaner and way more delicious than anything available in the store. As a bonus, you’ll have some leftover almond milk that you can use in smoothies or enjoy cold from the fridge.”