Food as Medicine: Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus, Cucurbitaceae)

History and Traditional Use


Range and Habitat

The watermelon is the largest edible fruit grown in the United States: an annual trailing plant with fruits that can grow from 5-50 pounds and vines that can reach up to 20’ in length. Each fruit forms from a yellow flower, and the spherical or ovoid fruit is typically smooth and green or green with lighter banded stripes. The watermelon is native to the Kalahari Desert in Africa, and it thrives in well-draining, sandy soil. Currently, watermelons are cultivated all over the world, with Asia producing 60% of watermelons globally. The United States ranks fifth in global watermelon production. Forty-four states grow watermelons, including Texas, Florida, Georgia, and California, which collectively produce 2/3 of all the watermelons domestically.

Phytochemicals and Constituents

Watermelon contains an array of important vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, potassium, and beta-carotene. Watermelon also contains the important bioactive compounds citrulline and lycopene. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and anti-cancer agent. Watermelon’s vitamin C content may be linked to reducing blood pressure, as does its smaller amounts of vitamins B6 and E. The human body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which promotes healthy eyes, a strong immune system, and healthy skin. Vine fruits like watermelon are a good source of potassium, a crucial electrolyte for nerve and muscle function. Potassium is an essential nutrient as the body ages, as it decreases high blood pressure and reduces the risk of kidney stones, stroke, and bone density loss.

Citrulline is a precursor to the amino acid arginine and is involved in the process of removing nitrogen from the blood and eliminating it through urine. Arginine is a precursor for the synthesis of nitric oxide in the body, which is a vasodilator (blood vessel-widening agent). Conditions that benefit from vasodilation, such as cardiovascular diseases, erectile dysfunction, and headaches may benefit from increased arginine intake. Arginine also helps the body make protein, which boosts muscle growth, enhances wound healing, combats fat accumulation, and stimulates the immune system.

Though the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is more well-known as a source for lycopene (and in fact, its name is derived from lycopersicum), lycopene is a carotenoid found in many red foods, including watermelon, papaya (Carica papaya), pink grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi), and red carrots (Daucus carota subsp. sativus). A powerful antioxidant, lycopene may help prevent heart disease and has shown a potent ability to protect the body from “free radicals,” which may play a role in the development of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and many cancers. Lycopene may also boost sperm counts and lower the risk of prostate cancer.

Historical and Commercial Uses

Though native to the African Kalahari desert, where the watermelon gourd was often used as a canteen, the cultivation of watermelon spread quickly, and other cultures adopted it as a beneficial, healing food. Ancient Egyptians used watermelon to treat reproductive problems such as erectile dysfunction and prostate inflammation. The peoples of Russia and Central Asia used watermelon as a diuretic and to cleanse the blood. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, watermelon is considered cooling and moistening, producing a diuretic effect, and commonly is used to treat thirst, edema, and inflammation of the kidney and urinary tracts.18 Because watermelon is 92% water, many traditional uses of watermelon overlap with current uses, including hydration, cleansing, and eliminating impurities. Since watermelon is digested relatively quickly, the folk traditions of the Papua New Guinea aborigines known as Onabasulu advised against eating watermelon and other juicy fruits after a heavy meal or if suffering from a stomachache.

African cuisine treats the watermelon as a vegetable and uses the entire fruit: seeds, rinds, and flesh. The seeds are eaten as snacks added to dishes or ground into flour for use in baked goods. The rind can be stir-fried, stewed, candied, pickled, or grilled. The flesh is eaten or juiced, but it can also be fermented into alcohol; in the southern part of Russia, the juice is combined with hops to make beer.

Modern Research

The traditional uses for watermelon as a medicine are beginning to gain scientific confirmation, particularly in regards to its applications against erectile dysfunction, dehydration, kidney disease, and anti-aging concerns. Watermelon’s antioxidant and nutrient content defend against many different conditions.

Current research shows that citrulline in watermelons has beneficial effects on the heart, dilating the blood vessels and improving blood flow. In one clinical study, obese participants with pre-high blood pressure or stage-one high blood pressure significantly reduced their ankle and brachial systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, and carotid wave reflection with ingestion of citrulline from watermelons. A review of consumption of citrulline from watermelon demonstrated improvements in glycemic control and circulatory problems in diabetics, a reduction in cardiovascular risk factors, and increased levels of arginine, an essential amino acid. Because arginine is involved in maintaining the health of the reproductive, pulmonary, renal, gastrointestinal, hepatic, and immune systems, citrulline is of increasing interest in the realm of scientific study. Studies show that citrulline is more bioavailable in the body than arginine, making it a better candidate for arginine deficiency diseases such as renal carcinoma, chronic inflammatory diseases, or blood cell diseases like sickle cell anemia and malaria. Citrulline research also has shown promising results of becoming a biomarker for bowel problems of the small intestine as well as kidney failure.13

Lycopene’s powerful antioxidant properties have been shown to reduce the risks of prostate, lung, gastric, and colorectal cancers. However, due to its antioxidant effect, it seems to interfere with chemo and radiation therapy. In addition to being an antioxidant, lycopene has been shown to be heart-protective and lowers LDL cholesterol. In one study, lycopene ingestion showed a reduction in the risk of stroke, especially ischemic strokes in men. Finally, lycopene has been linked to a reduction in cardiovascular risks.

Nutrient Profile


Macronutrient Profile
(Per 1 cup diced watermelon [approx. 152 g]):

46 calories
1 g protein
11.5 g carbohydrate
0.2 g fat

Secondary Metabolites (Per 1 cup diced watermelon [approx. 152 g]):

Excellent source of:

Vitamin C: 12.3 mg (20.5% DV)
Vitamin A: 865 IU (17.3% DV)

Very good source of:

Potassium: 170 mg (4.9% DV)

Also provides:

Magnesium: 15 mg (3.8% DV)
Vitamin B-6: 0.07 mg (3.5% DV)
Thiamin: 0.05 mg (3.3% DV)
Vitamin E: 0.08 mg (3% DV)
Manganese: 0.06 mg (3% DV)
Dietary Fiber: 0.6 g (2.4% DV)
Iron: 0.4 mg (2.2% DV)
Phosphorus: 17 mg (1.7% DV)
Folate: 5 mcg (1.3% DV)
Calcium: 11 mg (1.1% DV)

DV = Daily Value as established by the US Food and Drug Administration, based on a 2,000 calorie diet.


Recipe: Pickled Watermelon Rinds

Adapted from Bon Appétit


For an equally delicious condiment without the wait, use these ingredients to make watermelon rind chutney: increase sugar to 1 ½ cups, water to 1 cup, and finely mince the ginger. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large pan, then simmer for 45-60 minutes until the rind is translucent and tender and the liquid reduces and thickens. Remove whole spices before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs of watermelon
  • 1 serrano chili, thinly sliced, seeds removed if desired
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2-star anise pods
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the tough green outer rind from watermelon; discard.
  2. Slice watermelon into 1”-thick slices. Cut away all but 1/4” of flesh from each slice; reserve flesh for another use. Cut rind into 1” pieces for roughly 4 cups of the rind.
  3. Bring chili, ginger, star anise, salt, peppercorns, sugar, vinegar, and 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a large, non-reactive saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.
  4. Add watermelon rind. Reduce heat and simmer until just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, setting a small lid or plate directly on top of rind to keep submerged in brine, if needed.
  5. Transfer rind and liquid to an airtight container; cover and chill at least 12 hours.

Food as Medicine: Mango (Mangifera indica, Anacardiaceae)

History and Traditional Use

Range and Habitat

Mangifera indica (Anacardiaceae) is a tropical tree that grows from 33 feet to 131 feet in height and produces large, oval-shaped fruits that are red and gold when ripe, though some cultivars are green or yellow.1 The smooth-edged leaves of the mango tree are reddish when young, becoming dark green and shiny as they mature. The tree produces small pinkish-white flowers that precede the fruit.2,3 The mango fruit is a drupe, or stone fruit, containing a large single seed surrounded by fleshy pulp and a thin, leathery skin.4 The mango tree begins to bear fruit four to six years after planting and continues to produce fruit for about 40 years.3,4 Trees older than 10 years tend toward alternate or biennial bearing, producing fruit every other year.5

While the most commonly used part of the plant is the fruit, the mango tree has a variety of traditional uses that make use of the roots, peel, stem bark, leaves, flowers, and seed kernels. These parts typically contain greater amounts of bioactive compounds, including mangiferin, than the fruit.4 Belonging to the same plant family as the cashew (Anacardium occidentale) and pistachio (Pistacia vera), the mango is native to India and Burma, and has been cultivated since 2000 BCE.2 The mango was introduced to Africa about 1,000 years ago and to tropical America in the 19th century.1,2 Wild fruits have a minimal resemblance to the cultivated mangos, having a much smaller size and unpleasant turpentine-like taste. Currently, mangos are grown in tropical and warm temperate climates.3 India remains the largest producer, growing 65% of the world’s mango crop.5

Phytochemicals and Constituents

The macro- and micronutrient composition and bioactive compounds present in M. indica contribute to its many health benefits. Mango fruits are a rich source of vitamins A, B and C. Mangos are also a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.3 Soluble fiber can help prevent cardiovascular disease and improve gastrointestinal health.

Mango is a source of many pharmacologically and medically important chemicals, including mangiferin, mangiferonic acid, hydroxy mangiferin, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and carotenes.6 Different parts of the plant have different chemical compositions. The bark, for example, contains catechins, amino acids, and phenolic and triterpenoid compounds.7,8 Due to these constituents, mango bark extract has shown antioxidant, immune system-enhancing, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activities, which correspond to many of mango’s traditional medicinal uses.7 The xanthone mangiferin is found in many different plants across the Anacardiaceae family and shows promising results in the areas of antitumor, anti-diabetic, and anti-microbial actions.

The health benefits of the fruit pulp are due to its high concentration of antioxidant nutrients and phytochemicals, such as carotenoids. Carotenoids play an important role in protective health mechanisms against some forms of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and macular degeneration, as well as improving immune health.9 Specifically, mangos are high in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Mango also contains smaller amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids important for maintaining eye health and preventing macular degeneration. These phytochemicals are antioxidants, meaning that they slow or prevent the oxidative process, thereby preventing or repairing damage to cells in the body.10

The polyphenols that have been identified in the mango fruit include gallic acid, gallotannins, quercetin, isoquercetin, mangiferin, ellagic acid, and beta-glucogallin. These polyphenols have powerful antioxidant activity as well as other potentially therapeutic effects. Gallic acid, for example, is known to have anti-inflammatory and antitumor activities, while ellagic acid has been found to exhibit antimutagenic, antiviral, and antitumor effects.4

The most biologically active compound that has been studied in the mango tree is mangiferin. Mangiferin is synthesized by the plant as a chemical defense compound.6,11 Plant parts that contain the highest amounts of mangiferin include the leaves, stem bark, heartwood, and roots. Currently, researchers are investigating potential methods of processing mango bark and peel into a palatable ingredient or food additive. Magneferin (not to be confused with the previously mentioned mangiferin) is one of a number of enzymes present in mangos that improves digestion. Others include catechol oxidase and lactase.3

Historical and Commercial Uses

Mangiferaindicia has been used in Ayurveda, India’s primary system of traditional medicine, for more than 4,000 years. The mango was thought to have aphrodisiacal properties and is still viewed as sacred today.3A variety of the plant’s parts are used as a paste or powder for cleaning the teeth, and the juice of the mango is considered a restorative tonic, as well as a treatment for heat stroke.6 Numerous parts of the mango tree are used in Ayurvedic medicine as an antiseptic, an astringent to tone lax tissues, a laxative, a diuretic, and to increase sweating, promote digestion, and expel parasitic worms or other internal parasites.12 The seeds have been used as an astringent and as a treatment for asthma. Fumes from the burning leaves are used as an inhalant to relieve hiccups and sore throats.6 The bark is used as an astringent in diphtheria and rheumatism (disorders of the joints and connective tissues), and the gum was used in dressings for cracked feet and for scabies (an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite [Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis]).

Current Ayurvedic practices use various parts of the mango for different ailments. For diarrhea, mango leaves are pounded together and taken with rice water.13 For nosebleeds, the juice of the mango seed is placed into the nostrils. For an enlarged spleen, ripe mango juice is consumed with honey. To treat gonorrhea, mango bark is pounded and added to milk and sugar. In some tropical countries, mango is actually used as meat tenderizer, due to the power of the proteolytic enzymes that break down proteins.3In traditional ethnoveterinary medicine, all parts of the mango are used to treat abscesses, broken horns, rabid dog bites, tumors, snakebites, stings, heat stroke, miscarriage, bacterial illness, blisters and wounds in the mouth, inflammation of the inner ear, colic, diarrhea, liver disorders, excessive urination, tetanus, and asthma.14

Among the Tikunas, an indigenous people of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, a mango leaf decoction was used as a contraceptive and abortifacient. Reportedly, taking a cupful on two successive days during menstruation acted as a contraceptive, and taking it for three days caused abortion.11,15

Mango fruit is processed at two stages of maturity. Green fruit is used to make chutney, pickles, curries, and dehydrated products like dried mango, amchoor (raw mango powder), and panna (green mango beverage). Ripe fruit is processed into canned and frozen slices, pulp, concentrate, juices, nectar, jam, purée, cereal flakes, toffee, and various dried products.4

Modern Research

Studies indicate that M. indica possesses myriad therapeutic properties, including antidiabetic, antioxidant, antiviral, cardiotonic, hypotensive, and anti-inflammatory.6 Each of the mango’s parts — fruit, pulp, peel, seed, leaves, flowers, and bark — can be used therapeutically.

A 2000 study found that mango stem bark extract showed a powerful scavenging activity of hydroxyl radicals and acted as a chelator of iron.6 Although iron is an essential mineral, it is toxic in excessive amounts. Iron chelators could be an important approach to lessen iron-induced oxidative damage and prevent iron accumulation in diseases in which accumulation is prevalent, such as hemochromatosis, a metabolic disorder in which the body absorbs too much iron, and thalassemia, a rare, inherited blood disorder caused by a lack of hemoglobin, which results in fewer healthy red blood cells.4 This same study found a significant inhibitory effect on the degradation of brain cell membranes in an animal model, and prevented DNA damage caused by some chemotherapy treatments.6,16

Polyphenolic compounds and related bioactivity are higher in the mango peel than the fruit, and higher still in the leaves and stem bark.4 The bark is one of the main parts of the tree used for medicinal purposes. A standardized aqueous extract of M. indica stem bark called Vimang (LABIOFAM Entrepreneurial Group; La Habana, Cuba) has been developed in Cuba. This extract has shown antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties and has been used in many countries for the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding, diarrhea, syphilis, diabetes, scabies, cutaneous infections, and anemia.4,7

Much of the current research looks at extracts of mango bark or seed. There is a limited amount of literature that looks into the consumption of the mango fruit itself. However, a 2011 study looked at the consumption of freeze-dried mango fruit and its effects on weight loss and glucose tolerance, compared to hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic drugs, in mice fed a high-fat diet.17 In the study, consumption of freeze-dried mango prevented the increase in fat mass and the percentage of body fat. Compared with controls, mice given the freeze-dried mango had improved glucose tolerance and lowered insulin resistance.

Functional and medicinal properties of the non-fruit portions of the mango provide promising data for future uses of the plant, and may allow for less waste of the non-edible parts of the mango. The mango peel, for example, constitutes about 15-20% of the mango fruit and typically is discarded prior to consuming the fruit. In commercial processing, the discarded peels become a wasteful by-product.18 A 2015 study conducted chemical analysis and determination of the bioactive compounds in a flour made from green mango peel.19 The mango peel flour had 54 g of total dietary fiber per 100 g of dry sample, compared to 1.8 g of total dietary fiber in wheat flour. The mango peel flour also contained 21.7 mg/g of total phenolic contents and 22.4 mg/g of total flavonoid contents.

The results of this study suggest that the mango peel flour exhibited functional properties similar to wheat flour, and could serve as an acceptable substitute in baked goods and other flour-containing foods. Dietary fiber in mango peel has been shown as a favorable source of high-quality polysaccharides due to its high starch, cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and pectin content combined with its low fat content.18 In vitrostarch studies suggest low glycemic responses from mango peel fiber, which suggests potential use for diabetic individuals.

Mango kernel oil has recently attracted attention due to its unsaturated fatty acid composition.18 Mango kernel oil has been widely researched for its function as an antioxidant and antimicrobial agent due to its high polyphenolic content.4 The major phenolic compounds in mango seed kernels are (in order of decreasing concentration): tannins, vanillin, coumarin, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, caffeic acid, gallic acid, and mangiferin, all providing antioxidant protection.

Health Considerations

Possibly explained by its distant relation to poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix, Anacardiaceae) and poison ivy (T. radicans), mango peel may be irritating to the skin,3 particularly to people who are highly sensitive to these plants. This is due to the presence of alk(en)ylresorcinols, a mixture of substances that can cause contact dermatitis to those who are allergic or sensitive to it.20 Alk(en)ylresorcinol is similar to urushiol, the toxic resin that causes an itchy rash in those who come into contact with poison ivy. These allergens are more prevalent in the peel than the flesh. In one study, four patients developed hives and eczematous rash after exposure to mangos or mango trees. Children and other persons with food allergies should take caution when handling and consuming mango. Although allergy to mango is infrequent, mango has been identified as an allergy-provoking food in some individuals with other food allergies.


Nutrient Profile21

Macronutrient Profile: (Per 1 cup mango fruit)

99 calories
1.35 g protein
24.7 g carbohydrate
0.63 g fat

Secondary Metabolites: (Per 1 cup mango fruit)

Excellent source of:
Vitamin C: 60.1 mg (100.2% DV)
Vitamin A: 1,785 IU (35.7% DV)

Very good source of:
Folate: 71 mcg (17.75% DV)
Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g (10.4% DV)
Vitamin B6: 0.2 mg (10% DV)

Good source of:
Vitamin K: 6.9 mcg (8.63% DV)
Potassium: 277 mg (7.9% DV)
Vitamin E: 1.48 mg (7.33% DV)
Niacin: 1.1 mg (5.5% DV)

Also provides:
Magnesium: 16 mg (4% DV)
Riboflavin: 0.06 mg (3.53% DV)
Thiamin: 0.05 mg (3.33% DV)
Phosphorus: 23 mg (2.3% DV)
Calcium: 18 mg (1.8% DV)
Iron: 0.26 mg (1.44% DV)

DV = Daily Value as established by the US Food and Drug Administration, based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Recipe: Mango and Watermelon Salad

Adapted from Mango.org22

Ingredients:

  • 2 large, ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1 cup watermelon, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 cup fresh arugula, washed and dried
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  1. Combine mango, watermelon, onion, pepper, tomato, and arugula in a large bowl. Toss to combine.

  2. Whisk together remaining ingredients and taste, adjusting seasoning if necessary. Drizzle dressing over the salad, toss to

    combine,

    and serve.

References

  1. Van Wyk B-E. Food Plants of the World. Portland, OR: Timber Press; 2006.
  2. The National Geographic Society. Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society; 2008.
  3. Murray M, Pizzorno J, Pizzorno L. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books; 2005.
  4. Masibo M, He Q. Mango bioactive compounds and related nutraceutical properties: A review. Food Rev Int. 2009;25:346-370.
  5. Morton JF. Mango. In: Morton JF. Fruits of Warm Climates. Miami, FL: J.F. Morton; 1987:221-239.
  6. Shah KA, Patel MB, Patel RJ, Parmar PK. Mangifera indica (Mango). Pharmacogn Rev. 2010;4(7):42-48.
  7. Wauthoz N, Balde A, Balde ES, Damme MV, Duez P. Ethnopharmacology of Mangifera indica L. bark and pharmacological studies of its main c-glucosylxanthone, mangiferin. Int J Biomed Pharma Sci. 2007;1(2):112-119.
  8. Hamid K, Algahtani A, Kim MS, et al. Tetracyclic triterpenoids in herbal medicines and their activities in diabetes and its complications. Curr Top Med Chem. 2015;15(23):2406-2430.
  9. Hewavitharana AK, Tan ZW, Shimada R, Shaw PN, Flanagan BM. Between fruit variability of the bioactive compounds, B-carotene and mangiferin, in mango. Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013;70:158-163.
  10. Johnson EJ. The role of carotenoids in human health. Nutr Clin Care. 2002;5(2):56-65.
  11. Schultes RE, Raffauf RF. The Healing Forest: Medicinal and Toxic Plants of the Northwest Amazonia.Portland, OR: Dioscorides Press; 1990.
  12. Johnson EJ. The role of carotenoids in human health. Nutr Clin Care. 2002;5(2):56-65.
  13. Amra (Mangifera indica) National R&D Facility for Rasayana website. Available here. Accessed May 19, 2016.
  14. Williamson EM. Major Herbs of Ayurveda. London, UK: Elsevier Science Limited; 2002.
  15. Duke JA, Vasquez R. Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1994.
  16. Martinez G, Delgado R, Perez G, Garrido G, Nunez Selles AJ, Leon OS. Evaluation of the in-vitroantioxidant activity of Mangifera indica L: extract (Vimang). Phytother Res. 2000;14:424–7.
  17. Lucas EA, Li W, Peterson SK, et.al. Mango modulates body fat and plasma glucose and lipids in mice fed a high-fat diet. Brit J Nutr. 2011;106:1495-1505.
  18. Tiwari BK, Brunton NP, Brennan CS. Handbook of Plant Food Phytochemicals: Sources, Stability and Extraction. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2013.
  19. Abidin NSA, Mohamad SN, Jaafar MN. Chemical composition, antioxidant activity and functional properties of mango (Mangifera indica L. var Perlis Sunshine) peel flour. Appl Mech Mater. 2015(754-755):1065-1070.
  20. Knödler M, Reisenhauer K, Schieber A, Carle R. Quantitative determination of allergenic 5-Alk(en)ylresorcinols in mango (Mangifera indica L.) peel, pulp, and fruit products by high-performance liquid chromatography. J Agric Food Chem. 2009;57:3639-3644.
  21. Basic Report, 09176, Mangos, raw. Agricultural Research Service, USDA website. Available here. Accessed May 19, 2016.
  22. National Mango Board. Mango and watermelon salad. Mango.org website. Available here. Accessed May 18, 2016.

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.

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.”

Ginger: A Life Changing Food

Ginger is one of the most important tools for giving ourselves respite from a reactive state. When you’ve been going a mile a minute from morning until night and you finally start to check out mentally and emotionally, the physical body often stays reactive, in a heightened, spasmodic state. This is how stress-related illnesses such as adrenal fatigue, acid reflux, sleep apnea, spastic bladder, insomnia, digestive issues such as spastic colon and gastritis, and chronic muscle pain can get kicked up. Ginger is the ultimate antispasmodic. A cup of ginger tea can calm an upset stomach and relax any other areas of tension for up to 12 hours. Rather than acting as a nerve tonic, it acts as a tonic for the organs and muscles, telling the body that it can let go, that everything is under control.

If your throat muscles are tight from speaking or yelling too much, or from having to hold in something you wish you could say, ginger is an amazing relaxant for the area. It also helps relieve tension headaches and flush excess lactic acid from muscle tissue into the bloodstream and out of the body—because it’s not just strenuous exercise that causes the release of lactic acid; stress does, too. If you sit at a desk all day with stress pumping lactic acid through your muscles, it needs a way out, since you’re not moving around to keep it flowing on its normal path.

Ginger’s antispasmodic properties come from its more than 60 trace minerals, well over 30 amino acids (many of them undiscovered), and more than 500 enzymes and coenzymes all working together to calm reactivity. And as an antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic, ginger deserves all the accolades it gets for promoting a healthy immune system. Ginger is also ideal for stress assistance, DNA reconstruction, enhancement of your body’s production of B12, and so much more. It will be 100 years before research uncovers how much ginger truly holds.

Conditions

If you have any of the following conditions, try bringing ginger into your life: pancreatitis, gallstones, adrenal fatigue, spastic colon, sleep apnea, spastic bladder, insomnia, laryngitis, common colds, influenza, hiatal hernia, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)/mononucleosis, migraines, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), thyroid disease, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), HHV-6, eczema, psoriasis, anxiety, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), plantar fasciitis, Raynaud’s syndrome, radiation exposure, all types of cancer (especially thyroid cancer and pancreatic cancer), celiac disease, chronic sinusitis, ear infections, fungal infections, hiatal hernia, human papilloma virus (HPV), insomnia, lymphedema, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis, shingles

Symptoms

If you have any of the following symptoms, try bringing ginger into your life: muscle spasms, muscle cramps, ganglia cysts, muscle tightness, muscle pain, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues, anxiousness, gastritis, bloating, stomach cramps, stomach pain, canker sores, acid reflux, upset stomach, headaches, gallbladder spasms, pelvic pain, back pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, sinus pain, congestion (particularly of the chest and/or sinuses), cough, urinary frequency, incontinence, urinary retention, weight gain, food allergies, abnormal Pap smear results, mineral deficiencies, food sensitivities, belching, diarrhea, brain fog, chronic nausea, colon spasms, cough, congestion, digestive disturbances, high cholesterol, sleeping disturbances, fatigue

Emotional Support

Ginger is ideal for those who feel forced to hold back what they have to say. When you are silenced, there are circumstances where the right course of action is to speak up anyway, and circumstances where you get the sense that saying your piece, however valid, would make the situation worse. Ginger is for the latter. Because holding in your true sentiments can make you feel locked up and stifled—and even put you into muscle spasm—it’s very important to release all that tension, and ginger performs the job beautifully.

Spiritual Lesson

Ginger teaches us that we don’t always have to have an insight, breakthrough, or solution in order to let go of what’s not helping us. We don’t have to process everything or stress ourselves out reliving it. We don’t have to react. There are enough other situations that require our reactions; there’s no sense in taking on extra. Just like we can turn to ginger to work the kinks out of our muscles and the knots out of our stomachs, we can let it work that antispasmodic magic on our souls, cleansing us of wounds and damage without us having to do anything other than letting it.

Tips

  • Ginger can be reused throughout the day. It’s fine to keep using the same ginger for multiple servings of tea.
  • Drinking ginger tea during a full moon increases the medicinal effects of the ginger by 50 percent.
  • Consume ginger shortly before or during a time period when you have to make a serious life decision.
  • Just before you take a therapeutic bath, drink ginger water or ginger tea to enhance the bath’s healing power.

ginger-recipeGinger Limeade

Serves 2-4

¼ cup honey

4 cups water, divided

1 tablespoon ginger juice (from about one 3-inch piece of ginger)

1 cup lime juice (from about 10 limes)

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

1. Heat ¼ cup of honey and 1 cup of water in a small pan until the honey dissolves completely. Set aside to cool.

2. Juice the ginger and limes into a large pitcher. Mix in the remaining 3 cups of water. Stir in the cooled honey water and the fresh mint leaves. Refrigerate until chilled.

“This ginger limeade is so refreshing. It will be especially helpful to anyone trying to transition off of caffeinated energy drinks. The subtle heat of fresh ginger juice makes this drink one you will come back to time and time again.”

Apples: A Life Changing Food

Never underestimate the power of an apple. This fruit’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a top pick when you’re faced with practically any illness. Encephalitis (brain inflammation), IBS (intestinal inflammation), and viral infection (which can result in nerve inflammation) are just a few conditions in which apples can play the critical nutritional role of calming your system by reducing viral and bacterial loads that create inflammation.

The phytochemicals in apples make them a true brain food, feeding neurons, and increasing electrical activity. Apples with red skin contain anthocyanins and even traces of malvidin (a type of anthocyanidin), which are partially responsible for the red color. These pigments have anti-obesity properties and compounds that increase digestive strength, encouraging weight loss. Apples also have traces of flavonoids, rutin, and quercidin—phytochemicals that are responsible for heavy metal and radiation detoxification—as well as the amino acids glutamine and serine, which help detoxify the brain of MSG. This fruit helps cleanse and purify the organs, improve circulation in your lymphatic system, repair damaged skin, and regulate blood sugar.

Apples are the ultimate colon cleanser. As the pectin from an apple moves through your gut, it collects and rids your body of microbes such as bacteria, viruses, yeast, and mold. It also gathers and expels putrefied, impacted protein and debris that’s been hiding in intestinal pockets and feeding colonies of harmful bacteria such as E. coli and C. difficile. This makes apples an excellent antiproliferative for healing SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and other digestive disorders.

Apples are also hydrating on a deep, cellular level. They provide precious trace minerals such as manganese and molybdenum, as well as electrolytes and critical mineral salts that help the body rehydrate after exercise or stress of any kind.

Conditions

If you have any of the following conditions, try bringing apples into your life: kidney disease, liver disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis (MS), thyroid disease, hypoglycemia, diabetes, transient ischemic attack (TIA), urinary tract infections (UTIs), adrenal fatigue, migraines, shingles, mold exposure, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), osteomyelitis, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acne, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lyme disease, obesity, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), anxiety, tinnitus, viral infection, vertigo

Symptoms

If you have any of the following symptoms, try bringing apples into your life: ringing or buzzing in the ears, diabetic neuropathy, dizzy spells, room spins, balance and equilibrium issues, heart palpitations, acid reflux, hypoglycemia and other blood sugar imbalances, mineral deficiencies, body odor, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, rib pain, fatigue, bloating, gas, constipation, nervousness, anxiousness, frozen shoulder, weight gain, back pain, blurry eyes, brain fog, body pain, confusion, ear pain, body stiffness, brain inflammation, dandruff, menopause symptoms

Emotional Support

The apple is an ancient food that brings us back to the source. It is one of the very first foods to have comforted us, and so apples connect us to a sense of sanctuary. This makes them ideal for when you’re feeling depressed, alienated, invalid, powerless, useless, worthless—you get the idea. If the time ever comes when you feel you aren’t being validated, eating apples can help change your course.

Apple’s open up a part of you and change the energy within and around you to attract happier and brighter things. They can bring back your vibrancy, elevate you, lighten your spirit, and make you more energetic. This is because, for thousands of years, we’ve stored apples to get us through the winter months. The fruit is a ray of hope that puts us in touch with the good life. It’s instilled in our bodies that when the outside world seems bleak, an apple can reconnect us to life, rebirth, sunlight, and summertime.

Spiritual Lesson

Apples teach us not to get burned by the frost of insensitivity from others. Unlike crops that risk damage from autumn temperatures, many apple varieties continue to grow and ripen through the cooler months, protected by their frost-resistant skin. When a cold front from a friend, lover, or colleague comes upon you, take heed from the apple and draw a protective shield around yourself until conditions improve.

Tips

  • Red-skinned apples with the most color are best.
  • Try eating three apples a day. If you commit to this routine, you could see your health improve in unexpected ways.
  • At least once a year, go to an organic orchard that allows you to pick apples yourself. The skin of fresh, unwashed, pesticide- and wax-free produce contains elevated microorganisms that are critical to the health of your gut and immune system. The act of picking fruit is also one of the most powerful, grounding meditations that exist.

awapplerecipe-smApple’s with “Caramel” Dip

1 large apple, sliced

6 dates, pitted

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1. Arrange the apple slices on a plate.

2. Blend the dates and the cinnamon with a splash of water until combined. (If working with dry, firm dates, soak them in water for 2 hours beforehand until they are softened.)

3. Spoon the mixture into a serving cup alongside the apple slices.

“This is the perfect snack to have to wait when your kids get home from school: crispy apple slices laid out alongside a gooey caramel dipping sauce. You may want to double the recipe because this dish will disappear before you know it.”

 

Celery: A Life Changing Food

Celery is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods because it starves unproductive bacteria, yeast, mold, fungus, and viruses that are present in the body and flushes their toxins and debris out of the intestinal tract and liver. Pathogens like these are so often the underlying cause of inflammation—in their absence, your body is much better able to handle whatever life throws your way. At the same time, celery helps good bacteria thrive.

Consuming celery is the most powerful way to alkalize the gut. That’s in part because celery (which is technically a herb, not a vegetable) is high in bioactive sodium. It also contains cofactor micro trace mineral salts as yet undiscovered in research. These are varieties of sodium and other trace minerals (more than 60 of them) that are present in celery and work symbiotically and systematically with each other and with celery’s regular sodium to raise your body’s pH and rid toxic acids from every crevice of your body, including your gut. This process is ideal for cleansing and repairing intestinal linings.

At the same time, celery offers enzymes and coenzymes, and it raises hydrochloric acid in the stomach so that food digests with ease and doesn’t putrefy. This helps prevent a multitude of gastrointestinal disorders. Adding celery juice to your diet is the best way to resolve ammonia permeability, an unrecognized condition in which ammonia gas seeps through the intestinal lining and causes health issues such as dental rot and brain fog.

While celery may seem to some like a bland, boring food, it is anything but. In addition to the above, celery improves kidney function, helps restore the adrenals, and can even bring ease to one’s mind and thought patterns, with its mineral salts feeding electrical impulse activity and supporting neuron function, which is key if you suffer from ADHD, brain fog, or memory loss. When it comes to celery, think electrolytes. It hydrates on a deep cellular level, lessening your chances of suffering from migraines. Celery is ideal to address each of the Unforgiving Four factors (threats responsible for the rise of illness), plus it offers stress assistance and also repairs your DNA. I could go on and on about the benefits of celery juice for all manner of ills. It is one of the greatest healing tonics of all time.

Conditions

If you have any of the following conditions, try bringing celery into your life: acne, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, eczema, psoriasis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), leaky gut, infertility, Lyme disease, migraines, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), thyroid diseases and disorders, low reproductive system battery, diabetes, hypoglycemia, adrenal fatigue, anxiety, sepsis, urinary tract infections (UTIs), kidney stones, kidney disease, pancreatic cancer, pancreatitis, fatty liver, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, Addison’s disease, rosacea, lipoma, bladder cancer, interstitial cystitis, Crohn’s disease, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), thrush, hyperglycemia, hypertension, depression, apnea, thyroid cancer, bacterial vaginosis, edema, injuries, parasites, yeast infections, insomnia, mold exposure, bacterial infections, viral infections, ammonia permeability

Symptoms

If you have any of the following symptoms, try bringing celery into your life: intestinal spasms; cysts; low hydrochloric acid; sluggish liver; low cortisol; high cortisol; brain fog; food allergies; acidosis; hypothyroid; hyperthyroid; blurry eyes; joint pain; headaches; bloating; gas; abdominal pressure; abdominal distension; chronic dehydration; eye dryness; frozen shoulder; acid reflux; inflamed gallbladder, stomach, small intestine, and/or colon; rashes; nausea; white film on tongue; Candida overgrowth; anxiousness; memory loss; high blood pressure; food sensitivities; swelling; inflammation; muscle spasms; leg cramps; fatigue; mineral deficiencies; brain inflammation; sleep disturbances

Emotional Support

We tend to hold a lot of fear in our guts. Nervousness causes those sensations we know as tummy flips or butterflies in the stomach, and anxiety can run deep through the nervous system, putting our guts in knots. Celery restores the entire digestive system. Use it for its calming effects when you are feeling frightened, panicky, shocked, fretful, nervous, threatened, unsure, afraid, or defensive.

Spiritual Lesson

All too often, we make life more complicated than it needs to be—or else we oversimplify what’s truly a complex issue. This push-and-pull happens in all areas of life, especially health. In one approach, people overthink health problems and throw all kinds of potential solutions at them. In the other approach, people take a health challenge that’s actually a delicate interplay of many factors and try to make it seem like it’s just a simple case of the body going haywire out of the blue.

For true healing to occur, we have to embrace a balance of the simple and the complex—and celery teaches us this. Drinking celery juice is the simplest of measures, so simple that people often write it off as too easy to make a difference in how they feel. They figure that adding several other ingredients to their green juice will add that many more nutrients. While green juice blends can be very healing (see recipe below, for example), there is nothing that equals the simple power of pure celery juice. It is as healing, transformational, and life-changing as it gets—and that’s due to its complex nutritional makeup, which needs to be left undisturbed to work its magic. It’s an important reminder for other areas of life. Where else do we need to have an intricate understanding of a situation to conclude that the simplest approach is the best?

Tips

  • To press the reset button on your body, juice celery by itself. For the full effect, drink a full 16 ounces of fresh celery juice daily—and make sure it’s on an empty stomach to raise hydrochloric acid levels most efficiently. For dramatic results, drink two 16-ounce glasses of fresh celery juice a day.
  • If your goal is to cleanse your body of toxic heavy metals such as mercury, aluminum, lead, copper, cadmium, nickel, and arsenic, add a half cup of fresh cilantro when you’re juicing your celery.
    An easy way to get more celery into your diet is to add two to four sticks of it when blending the smoothie of your choice.

celery-recipeEasy Green Juice

Serves  1-2

1 head of celery, stalks separated

1 large apple, sliced

1 lemon

½ bunch parsley or cilantro

4 sprigs fresh mint

Run all the ingredients through a high-speed juicer. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy immediately.

“This green juice is clean and sweet, making it an easy way to get an extra dose of greens. It’s the perfect way to start off any morning, and you may be surprised that the kids in your life will love it, too.”

Mushrooms: Health Benefits

Mushrooms, though classified as vegetables in the food world, are not technically plants. They belong to the fungi kingdom and although they are not vegetables, mushrooms provide several important nutrients.

It’s common knowledge that the key to getting enough vitamins and minerals in the diet is to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables – the more color, the better. However, this philosophy tends to leave mushrooms in the dark. In many cases, if a food lacks color, it also, in turn, lacks necessary nutrients. However, mushrooms – which are commonly white – prove quite the contrary.

Possible health benefits of consuming mushrooms

Mushrooms
Mushrooms, though classified as vegetables in the food world, are not technically plants. They belong to the fungi kingdom.

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

Countless studies have suggested that increasing consumption of naturally-grown foods like mushrooms decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.

1) Cancer

Mushrooms contain just as high an antioxidant capacity as carrots, tomatoes, green and red peppers, pumpkins, green beans, and zucchini.

Selenium is a mineral that is not present in most fruits and vegetables but can be found in mushrooms. It plays a role in liver enzyme function and helps detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. Additionally, selenium prevents inflammation and also decreases tumor growth rates.

The vitamin D in mushrooms has also been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by contributing to the regulation of the cell growth cycle. The folate in mushrooms plays an important role in DNA synthesis and repair, thus preventing the formation of cancer cells from mutations in the DNA.

2) Diabetes

Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids, and insulin levels. One cup of grilled portabella mushrooms and one cup of stir-fried shiitake mushrooms both provide about 3 grams of fiber.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 g/day for women and 30-38 g/day for men.

3) Heart health

The fiber, potassium and vitamin C content in mushrooms all contribute to cardiovascular health. Potassium and sodium work together in the body to help regulate blood pressure. Consuming mushrooms, which are high in potassium and low in sodium helps to lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.

Additionally, an intake of 3 grams of beta-glucans per day can lower blood cholesterol levels by 5%.

4) Immunity

Selenium has also been found to improve immune response to infection by stimulating the production of killer T-cells. The beta-glucan fibers found in the cell walls of mushrooms stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells and prevent tumors from forming.

5) Weight management and satiety

Dietary fiber plays an important role in weight management by functioning as a “bulking agent” in the digestive system. Mushrooms contain two types of dietary fibers in their cell walls: beta-glucans and chitin which increase satiety and reduce appetite, making you feel fuller longer and thereby lowering your overall calorie intake.

Nutritional profile of mushrooms

Mushrooms are naturally low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and calories and have often been referred to as “functional foods.” In addition to providing basic nutrition, they help prevent chronic disease due to the presence of antioxidants and beneficial dietary fibers such as chitin and beta-glucans.

One cup of chopped or sliced raw white mushrooms contains 15 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2.2 grams of protein, 2.3 grams of carbohydrate (including 0.7 grams of fiber and 1.4 grams of sugar). Although there are a large variety of mushrooms available, most provide the same amount of the same nutrients per serving, regardless of their shape or size.

Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins such as riboflavin, folate, thiamine, pantothenic acid, and niacin. They are also the only vegan, non-fortified dietary source of vitamin D. Mushrooms also provide several minerals that may be difficult to obtain in the diet, such as selenium, potassium, copper, iron, and phosphorus.

Beta-glucans are a type of fiber that is found in the cell walls of many types of mushrooms. Recently, beta-glucans have been the subject of extensive studies that have examined their role in improving insulin resistance and blood cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of obesity and providing an immunity boost.

How to incorporate more mushrooms into your diet

When buying mushrooms at the market, chose ones that are firm, dry, and unbruised. Avoid mushrooms that appear slimy or withered. Store mushrooms in the refrigerator and do not wash or trim them until ready for use.

Stuffed mushrooms
Make stuffed portabella mushrooms by filling them with your favorite ingredients and baking.

Quick tips:

  • Sauté any type of mushroom with onions for a quick and tasty side dish
  • Add raw sliced crimini mushrooms or white mushrooms to top any salad
  • Make stuffed portabella mushrooms by filling them with your favorite ingredients and baking
  • Add sliced mushrooms to omelets, breakfast scrambles and quiches
  • Grill portabella mushrooms and use them on sandwiches or in wraps.

Potential health risks of consuming mushrooms

Although wild mushrooms have been part of the human diet for several centuries, uncultivated wild mushrooms may pose a risk to those unable to distinguish between those safe and dangerous for consumption.

Eating wild mushrooms that are toxic to humans can cause severe illness and sometimes even death. Studies have also shown that some wild mushrooms contain high levels of heavy metals and other harmful chemicals.

In order to avoid these dangers, it is best to consume mushrooms that have been cultivated under appropriate conditions.

Consuming beta-glucans is believed to be safe for most people. However, since beta-glucans are capable of stimulating immune function, this may be a risk for those with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, asthma, and multiple sclerosis. Researchers have yet to conclude whether or not large amounts of beta-glucan intake has any negative effects on those suffering from these conditions.

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.

Spicy Mushroom Stir Fry Recipe with a Savory Twist

If you want a fast and delicious vegan dinner tonight, try this Indian-inspired spicy mushroom stir fry with garlic, black pepper, and chives. I found the recipe on One Green Planet but modified it slightly to use organic ingredients. It’s a great vegan side dish that goes well with just about anything and, best of all, it only takes 10 minutes to prepare.

Spicy Mushroom Stir Fry Recipe

Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2-3

Equipment

Mushroom stir fry nutrition facts.

  • Sauté pan
  • Large roasting pan
  • Garlic slicer or shredder

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp organic cooking oil of your choice
  • 1/2 tsp organic mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp organic cumin seeds
  • 1 or 2 organic red chilies, crushed
  • 1 medium-sized organic red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves organic garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups organic baby Bella mushrooms, thickly sliced or quartered
  • Himalayan crystal salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground organic black pepper
  • 2 tsp organic cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp organic chives, chopped
  • Juice of one half organic lime

Directions

  1. Heat oil on medium heat for 1 minute in a sauté pan.
  2. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds to the pan. Cook until the mustard seeds begin to crackle.
  3. Add red chilies and red onions. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions wilt and begin to crisp at the edges.
  4. Stir in mushrooms and cook for another 4 minutes.
  5. Add Himalayan crystal salt, black pepper, cilantro, and chives. Mix well.
  6. Squeeze in lime juice and serve.

Interesting Facts About Mushrooms

  • If you read the nutritional information on a package of mushrooms, you’ll notice that some contain vitamin D and some don’t. When exposed to sunlight, mushrooms produce an active form of vitamin D. Most commercially grown mushrooms are raised indoors, in the dark, and lack the nutrient. Some growers expose their mushrooms to artificial ultraviolet light to induce vitamin D synthesis.
  • Mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D. Meat is the only other food source of vitamin D.
  • Mushrooms contain the same form of vitamin B-12 as meat.
  • Mushrooms have umami—a meaty, savory flavor and one of the five basic tastes. If you have a craving for meat and salt, try a mushroom dish. It might satisfy those cravings.
  • Mushrooms are a terrific source of copper, potassium, folate, and niacin (B3).
  • Foraging for mushrooms in the wilderness, also known as mushroom hunting, is fun but it’s important to exercise caution. Many poisonous mushrooms are nearly identical to safe varieties.

What Is Zucchini Good For?

Zesty Zucchini

Botanical Name: Cucurbita pepo

For many people, summertime is simply incomplete without serving a delicious array of scrumptious green vegetables. But here’s an idea: why not take a break from the usual leafy green salads, and  dig into a plateful of succulent zucchini instead?

A member of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae), zucchini is an easy-to-grow summer squash native to Central America and Mexico. It was brought to the United States by Italian immigrants during the 1920s. Some popular zucchini varieties include golden zucchini, tatume, costata romanesco, and yellow crooknecks.

Zucchini grows best in warm, frost-free weather, and thrives in fertile, moisture-rich soil. It grows on bushy plants that are 2 ½ feet tall,  with rambling vines. Aside from the actual fruit (zucchini is a fruit, botanically speaking), the large, yellow, trumpet-shaped blossoms are also edible.

Zucchini can grow to massive sizes, but bigger does not necessarily mean better when it comes to this garden favorite. Small and medium-sized zucchinis (six to eight inches long and two inches in diameter) are more flavorful. The bigger the zucchini, the harder, seedier, and less flavorful it becomes. Look for dark-skinned zucchinis, which are richer in nutrients.

You won’t run out of uses for zucchini, as it is a highly versatile food that can suit many recipes. Mix it into soups, salads, or frittatas, serve it as a side dish with your meat dishes, or make “zucchini fries,” served with an onion dip as an appetizer. Want a healthy, no-grain and no-wheat pasta? Make zucchini “noodles” using a vegetable peeler – it will be as al dente as regular spaghetti.

Health Benefits of Zucchini

You’ll surely be impressed with the nutritional bounty that zucchini offers. It’s low-calorie (with only 17 calories per 100 grams) and high in fiber, and has no cholesterol or unhealthy fats. It’s also rich in flavonoid antioxidants such as zeaxanthin, carotenes, and lutein, which play a significant role in slowing down aging and preventing diseases with their free radical-zapping properties.

Most of the antioxidants and fiber are in its skin, though, so it’s best to keep the skin when serving this food.

Zucchini is also a wonderful source of potassium, a heart-friendly nutrient that helps moderate your blood pressure levels and counters the effects of too much sodium. In fact, a zucchini has more potassium than a banana.

Zucchini is rich in B-complex vitamins, folate, B6, B1, B2, B3, and choline, as well as minerals like zinc and magnesium, which are all valuable in ensuring healthy blood sugar regulation – a definite advantage for diabetics. It also contains essential minerals such as iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

However, remember that most zucchini varieties in the United States are genetically modified, so it’s best to purchase this vegetable organic.

ZUCCHINI NUTRITION FACTS

SERVING SIZE: 1 CUP (124 GRAMS) RAW

AMT. PER SERVING
Calories 19.8
Protein 1.5 g
Carbohydrates 4.2 g
Potassium 325 mg
Vitamin C 21.1 mg
Calcium 18.6 mg
Sodium 12.4 mg

Studies on Zucchini

A study revealed the wide array of health benefits that summer squashes, including zucchini, provide. According to food expert and food industry analyst Phil Lempert, the starchy carbohydrates in these crops come from polysaccharides in the cell walls, and include pectins. An increasing number of animal studies now show that these starchy components in squash may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and insulin-regulating properties.

Zucchini Healthy Recipes: Creamy Zucchini-Cashew Soup

Zucchini Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp. coconut oil or raw butter
  • 6 cups sliced zucchini
  • 1 cup celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. celery seeds, ground (optional)
  • ½ green bell pepper, sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1½ cups cashews, toasted (optional)
  • ½ tsp. salt

Procedure:

  1. Melt the coconut oil or butter in a large soup pot. Add the celery seeds, zucchini, celery, bell pepper, and salt. Stir, cover, and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Puree the cashews in the vegetable stock in a blender or food processor.
  3. Combine the vegetables and the cashew-stock mixture in a blender. Puree thoroughly.
  4. Place a large sieve (wire mesh strainer) over the soup pot.* Strain the vegetable-cashew mixture through it, stirring, and pressing the mixture down with the back of a spoon. Scrape bottom of sieve frequently. This step allows the soup to become creamy.
  5. Discard the remaining “material” that pulls from the sieve.
  6. Reheat the soup to serving temperature.

This recipe makes six servings.

*If using cashew butter, mix in the cashew butter after the third step and reheat in soup pot.

(From Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type by Dr. Mercola)

Zucchini Fun Facts

Did you know that the largest zucchini ever recorded was 69 ½ inches long and weighed 65 pounds? Thanks to Bernard Lavery of Plymouth Devon, UK, who grew the massive vegetable in his garden.

If you’re a true zucchini fan, head to Obetz, Ohio every August 22nd to 25th, where they hold a zucchini festival, which features a parade, pageant, contests, arts and crafts, and games – a unique celebration  of the remarkable  and versatile zucchini.

Summary

What’s not to love about zucchini? Botanically a fruit but more commonly perceived as a vegetable, this versatile summer squash is a must-have in your garden – and your plate. It’s easy-to-grow and requires minimal care while providing a tasty and versatile bounty that you can incorporate into many recipes – it can even be transformed into veggie noodles!

Zucchini possesses an impressive nutritional content – it boasts high levels of potassium, B-vitamins, dietary fiber, and antioxidants, which all offer immense benefits to your health. It can even potentially help regulate blood sugar levels, which can greatly  benefit diabetics.

Here’s one yummy way to enjoy zucchini: simply slice it lengthwise, brush with coconut oil and a light sprinkle of sea salt, then lightly grill it. This will bring out the natural sweetness of this healthy food. Make sure to buy organic, non-GMO zucchini.

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