31 December 2014

Happy New Year 2015

By With No comments:
Happy New Year 2015

I wish all the readers of Priya's Diet Corner a Happy and Wonderful New Year 2015. I wish you all a happy, peaceful, colourful and healthy year ahead.


29 December 2014

The healing power of figs

By With No comments:
The health benefits of Figs

“ Figs are restorative. They increase the strength of young people, preserve the elderly in better health and make them look younger with fewer wrinkles ”
— Pliny (52-113 AD).
Figs (Ficus Carica) are one of the most primitive fruits cultivated. The fig fruit is mentioned as a sacred fruit in all the holy books. There was a fig tree in the Garden of Eden, and the fig is the most mentioned fruit in the Bible. In the Kuran, Mohamed mentions that if he has to make a choice it would be the fig tree that would be brought to Heaven. Siddharta Gautama received the revelation that formed the basis of Buddhism while sitting under a fig tree. In all the great cultures and religions, the fig tree is used as a symbol. The fig also played an important part in the Olympics. Early Olympic athletes were given figs as a training food and figs were given as laurels to the winners of the first Olympics as a medal [1].

Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually a flower inverted into itself. The seeds are the real fruit in figs. Most figs are now consumed as dried fruit and are a concentrated source of nutrients. The fruits are a rich carbohydrate source, with 94% of the energy and a rich source of dietary fibre, with a 100-g portion providing 12.2 g of dietary fibre, Figs are also an impressive source of minerals, especially calcium and iron. They are low in sodium and a rich source of potassium. They are fat free, sodium free and, like other plant foods, cholesterol free [2].

The edible fig can be utilised in various ways, the most common being fresh and dried. Dried figs can be directed to table consumption or for processing as paste or canned. Fig paste can be used in confectionery as mixed with nuts, fig bars or biscuits. In fig paste, the seeds can be grinded or kept as whole depending upon the request of the buyer. Dried or fresh figs can be put in syrup and sold as jam [3].

Diseases That Have Implications Relevant to Fig Consumption

Denis Burkitt is usually credited with popularizing the idea that dietary fiber may protect against the development of Western diseases, including diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, heart disease, diverticular disease and colon cancer. Because figs contain approximately 5g of dietary fiber in a 40g serving, they represent one of the few concentrated fruit sources of dietary fiber.

Glycemic response

Dried fruits, especially ones like figs, with a high amount of dietary fiber and nondigestible carbohydrate have lower glycemic indices than do other carbohydrate sources. Therefore, it prevents the rapid spike in blood sugar.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a significant public health problem. As the populations continue to age, reduced bone density eventually results in osteoporosis. An important nutrient in short supply in the women’s diet is calcium. Although dairy products are concentrated sources of calcium, many women prefer not to consume dairy products and are left with few other rich sources of calcium. Figs are high in calcium and can provide needed calcium for women, although energy density must be considered.

Anaemia

Being rich sources of iron, even a week supplementation of dried fig can improve the haemoglobin content of the body.

Antineoplastic

Figs are a concentrated source of benzaldehyde, which has been used for cancer prevention. Ongoing research suggests that figs are a rich source of a wide range of phytochemical that have antiproliferative effect [4].

Apart from supplying a wide choice of nutrients, figs supply a wide range of phytochemicals, non-nutrient plant chemicals that may decrease risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. A return to our ancestral lifestyle where figs were a mainstay of the diet should be motivated.

References

  1. U. Aksoy, Why Figs, an old tasta and a new perspective , SHS Acta Horticulturae 480: International Symposium on Fig
  2. The functional food properties of figs,1999 American Association of Cereal Chemists, Inc. , Vol. 44, NO. 2 page 82
  3. Shamkant B et al, Traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Ficus carica: A review November 2014, Vol. 52, No. 11 , Pages 1487-1503
  4. Joanne L. Figs Past, Present and Future, Nutr Today. 2006; 41(4):180-184

Image Credit: Flickr/ Francisco Antunes

16 December 2014

Is Saffron good for you?

By With No comments:
Why Saffron is good for you?

Crocus sativus, commonly known as saffron, comprises the dried red stigma of the perennial herb Crocus sativus linn and is widely cultivated in countries such as India, Iran and Greece.

Here are the various names of Crocus:

  • Hindi ­- Kesar, Zaffran
  • Sanskrit - Avarakta, Saurab, Mangalya, Kumkuma
  • English­ - Saffron
  • Gujarati - Keshar
  • Telugu - Kunkumapurva, Kunkummapurru
  • Tamil and Malayalam - Kunkumappu
  • Kannada - Kunkumakesara
  • French and German - Safran.

Stigma of Saffron contains more than 150 volatile and aroma yielding compounds. It also has many non-volatile active components, many of which are carotenoids including zeaxanthin, lycopene, and various α­ and β ­carotenes.

Characteristic components of saffron are crocin, picrocrocin, and safranal. The stigma of the flower possesses listless medicinal properties and used widely in traditional system of medicine.

Medicinal benefits:

  • In Ayurveda, saffron is used to cure chronic diseases such as asthma and arthritis.
  • It is also useful in treating cold and coughs.
  • Ayurvedic medicines containing saffron are used to treat acne and several skin diseases.
  • A paste of the spice can be used as a dressing for bruises and superficial sores.
  • Saffron enjoys great reputation as a drug which strengthens the functioning of the stomach and promotes its action.
  • Ancient texts on Ayurveda have information about the herb’s use as an aphrodisiac.
  • Prolonged intake of saffron improves memory and used in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
  • It is believed to boost immunity, improve sleep and muscle relaxant. Hence given to pregnant mothers in her final trimester of pregnancy.

Word of Caution

Saffron is one among the most expensive spices in the world. Because of its high cost, saffron is frequently adulterated with safflower, marigold stigma. So one must be careful while buying Saffron.


Image Credit: Wikimedia/ Safa Daneshvar


15 December 2014

How to make bread omlette?

By With No comments:
Bread Omlette is a simple, quick and tasty food to make. Its one of the favourite food items for many of us. In this article, I have tried to record the making of bread omlette. This is my first attempt of a video recipe in this blog. Hope you like it.


Please leave your valuable comments on the above video.
.

6 December 2014

Eat as colourful as rainbow

By With No comments:
Colour categories of fruits and vegetables

Increasing interest in nutrition, fitness and beauty consciousness has enhanced concerns over a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables are capable of providing additional health benefits, like prevention or delaying onset of chronic diseases, as well as meeting basic nutritional requirements. Appropriate intake of a variety of fruits and vegetables ensures sufficient supply of nutrients and phytochemicals. Low consumption of fruits and vegetables is among the top ten risk factors resulting in global mortality. Annually, 2.7 million lives could be saved with sufficient consumption of various kinds of fruits and vegetables [1].

Fruits and vegetables fall into five different colour categories:
  1. Red,
  2. Purple/ Blue,
  3. Orange,
  4. Green and
  5. White/ Brown.
Each colour carries its own set of unique disease fighting chemicals called phytochemicals. It is these phytochemicals that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colour and of course some of their healthy properties [2].

Phytochemicals are nothing but plant chemicals that do not have any nutritive value but essential for the prevention and treatment of diseases. Foods contain millions of phytochemicals and the colour doesn’t mean that they contain that particular phytochemical.

Thus foods are classified according to the principal phytochemical they comprise, into five sorts as discussed below.

Red

Lycopene is the predominant pigment in reddish fruits and veggies. A carotenoid, lycopene is a powerful phytochemical that is responsible for prevention of heart attacks and prostate cancer. Lycopene is less bioavailable when raw, processing method could help to release the lycopene from the matrix in fruits and vegetables, and thus increases bioavailability. Lycopene is found in Tomato, red capsicum, red apple, strawberries, guavas, watermelons.

Purple/ Blue

Blue/ purple veggies and fruits contain anthocyanin pigment. Anthocyanin play a beneficial role in visual acuity, cancer, heart diseases and neurodegenerative disorders. They are found in Eggplant, Beet root, purple cabbage, blueberries, blackberries, prunes, plums, pomegranates.

Orange/ Yellow

Carotenoids give this group their vibrant colour. A well-known carotenoid called Beta-carotene is found in mangoes, corn, orange, papayas, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots. It is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes and immunity. Taking large doses of vitamin A can be toxic, but your body only converts as much vitamin A from beta-carotene as it needs. That means beta-carotene is considered a safe source of vitamin A.

Green

The natural plant pigment chlorophyll colors green fruits and vegetables. Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cabbage contain the phytochemicals indoles and isothiocyanates, which may possess anti cancer properties.

Green vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin K, folic acid, potassium, as well as carotenoids and omega­3 fatty acids. Vitamin K is essential in blood clot formation. Diets high in potassium are associated with lowering blood pressure, and there is an inverse relationship between cruciferous vegetables and cancer, especially colon and bladder cancers. Chlorophyll pigments are essential for wound healing.

White/ Brown

ANTHOXANTHIN is a white to yellow pigment found in onions, garlic, potatoes, mushrooms, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, parsnips, white wheat flour, and pears. Garlic and onion contain a range of health-promoting phytochemicals such as allicin which is known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. Some members of the white group, such as bananas and potatoes, are also a good source of potassium. Benefits include lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and stomach cancers.

Conclusion

Consuming an assortment of fruits and vegetables everyday not only provides you with variety of taste and texture but also provides you with a wide range of nutrients and increases protection against diseases. Each colour provides various health benefits and no one colour is superior to another and a balance of all colours is important.

So from today, let your plate be a rainbow of colours with vegetables and fruits.

References

  1. WHO. Fruit, Vegetables and NCD Disease Prevention; World Health Organization: Geneva, Switzerland, 2003
  2. Eat a rainbow, Fact sheet, Nutrition Australia ACT Division, 2013.

Image Credit: Flickr/OhKyleL

29 November 2014

Thuthuvalai, the rejuvenating leaf

By With No comments:
Thuthuvalai, the rejuvenating leaf

In traditional societies, nutrition and health care are strongly interconnected and many plants have been consumed both as food and for medicinal purposes. Nearly one thousand species of plants with edible leaves are known. Solanum trilobatum Linn (Family: Solanaceae) is one of the important medicinal plant, more commonly available in Southern India [1].

Solanum trilobatum is extensively used as food as well as medicine in Indian traditional medicine to cure various human ailments. Solanum trilobatum is commonly called purple fruited pea egg plant. It is a climbing shrub with sharp recurved and short compressed spines. The leaves are rich in calcium, iron, phosphorous, carbohydrate, protein, fat and crudefibre [2].

Common names in Indian languages

  • English - Climbing brinjal,
  • Sanskrit - Alarka
  • Telugu - Alarkapatramu
  • Tamil - Tuduvalai
  • Marathi - Mothiringnee, Thoodalam
  • Oriya - Bryhoti
  • Kannada - Kakamunji
  • Malayalam - ‘Tutuvalam’ [3]

Solanum trilobatum is used in the Siddha system as an expectorant and in the treatment of respiratory diseases, asthma, chronic febrile infections, tuberculosis, cardiac and liver diseases. Sobatum, β-solamarine, solaine, solasodine, glycoalkaloid and diosogenin and tomatidine are the constituents isolated from this plants [4].

Atopic allergy implies a familial tendency to manifest conditions such as asthma, rhinitis, urticaria and eczematous dermatitis, alone or in combination. The use of synthetic antihistamines to control atopic allergy over a prolonged period of time could lead to potential side effects, and the relief offered by them is mainly symptomatic and short-lived. A safe and effective management of atopy through plant resources has received much attention in recent years [5].

The most common way of consuming solanum is by preparing a thuvayal(chutney). The leaves are washed, fried in gingelly oil with dried chilli, red dhal, little tamarind and ground to a fine paste. This can be mixed with white rice and consumed.

Unripe fruits are prepared as curry or roasted in gingerly oil and taken orally along with food to strengthen the body.

The leaf juice is taken orally to treat cough and itching.

Leaves can be washed, dried and powdered. About half a teaspoon mixed with water can be taken in empty stomach.

References

  1. Gnana Sundari et al, Int j.Res Ayurvedha pharm 4 (3) 2013
  2. Nadkarni KM. Indian materia medica, vol.1, 3rd ed. Popular Prakasan Pvt. Ltd.; Bombay: 1976 p. 1153-4
  3. Sahu et al, Solanum trilobatum – an overview, Journal of natural remedies, Vol 13 (2) 2013
  4. Subramani et al, Solasodine levels in Solanum sisymbriifolium Lam. Indian J Exp Biol 1989; 27: 189
  5. Ranjitsingh et al, Solanum trilobatum in the management of atopy, Res. Pharmacognosy: 2010 (1): 10–14

Image Credit: Wikipedia/ Drorchidaceae

15 November 2014

Nutritionally Superior Barnyard millet

By With No comments:
Adai recipe with banyard millet

Barnyard millet is a superior food grain with high nutritional profile. The grain being colourless, odourless and bland in taste can aptly fit in Indian cuisine. Barnyard millet (Echinochloa frumentacea) is important minor millet having fair amounts of protein that is highly digestible coupled with low carbohydrate content of slow digestibility [1]. The dietary fiber, an important phytochemical component of barnyard millet aids in the prevention of many degenerative diseases.

Barnyard millet is reported to contain flavonoids, anthocyanins and phenolic acids and has excellent antioxidant activity. Hence it can be potentially recommended for the patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity and constipation.

Thus, for the health conscious generation of the present world, Barnyard millet is perhaps one more addition to the existing list of healthy foods, owing to its nutritional superiority. Apart from this, the grain has high utilization potential owing to its excellent capacity to blend with other food grains without imparting any off flavor or after taste. Thus the millet can be incorporated in traditional foods to novel food uses [2].

Common names in Indian languages

  • English - Barnyard millet
  • Bengali - Shyama
  • Hindi - Sanwa
  • Kannada - Oodalu
  • Oriya - Khira
  • Punjabi - Swank
  • Tamil - Kuthirai vali arisi
  • Telugu - Udalu

Why don't you try the following healthy and tasty recipe from Barnyard Millet?

ADAI

Ingredients

  • Barnyard millet rice - 400 g
  • Red gram dhal - 100 g
  • Green gram dhal - 100 g
  • Parboiled rice - 100 g
  • Dried chilli - 10
  • Fennel- 30 g
  • Asafoetida - 20 g
  • Curry leaves - 20 g
  • Corriander leaves for garnishing
  • Oil - 150 ml
  • Salt - as required

Method

  1. Soak barnyard millet, red gram dhal, green gram dhal and parboiled rice and red chilli for 2 hours.
  2. Grind the soaked materials into coarse batter with fennel and curry leaf.
  3. Add asafoetida, curry leaves, and salt to the batter and mix it thoroughly.
  4. Apply oil on the dosa plate and spread the adai batter and cook.
  5. Serve hot with coconut chutney.

References

  1. Veena et al. Development of Barnyard Millet Based Traditional Foods, 2004 , Karnataka J. Agri. Sci.,17 (3):(522-527)
  2. Surekha et al, Development of value added low glycemic index barnyard millet (Echinochloa frumentacea link) noodles, International journal of food and nutritional sciences, Vol.2, Iss.3, Jul-Sep 2013

4 November 2014

Eat Spirulina from Today!

By With 1 comment:
Spirulina

Spirulina is a microscopic filamentous alga that is rich in proteins, vitamins, essential amino acids, minerals and essential fatty acids like γ- linolenic acid. It is produced commercially and sold as a food supplement in health food stores around the world.

Until very recently, the interest in Spirulina was mainly in its nutritive value. Currently, however, numerous people are looking into the possible therapeutic effects of Spirulina. [1]

  1. Spirulina boosts immune system, stimulating the production of antibodies.
  2. Shown to perform regulatory role on lipid and carbohydrate metabolism by exhibiting glucose and lipid profile correcting activity.
  3. They are capable to inhibit carcinogenesis due to anti-oxidant properties that protect tissues and also reduce toxicity of liver, kidney and testes.
  4. Spirulina contributes to the preservation of resident bacteria in the gut. [2]
  5. It contains 70 % packed protein, which is easily digestible and hence can be given to malnourished and convalescent patients.
  6. Daily intake of Spirulina can eliminate iron deficiency anaemia, a common mineral deficiency.
An intake of heaping tablespoon (about 15g) daily would be likely to have important antioxidant activity in humans. [3]

References

(1) Amha Belay et al, Current knowledge on potential health benefits of Spirulina, Journal of Applied Phycology, 1993, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 235-241.

(2) Khan Z, Bhadouria P, Bisen P, Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, 2005, Volume 6, Number 5 , pp. 373-379(7).

(3) Mark F. McCarty, Clinical Potential of Spirulina as a Source of Phycocyanobilin, Journal of Medicinal Food, 2007, 10(4): 566-570


Image Credit: Flickr/ William Ismael

31 August 2014

The Miracle Veggie – Broccoli

By With No comments:
The Miracle veggie – Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetable, belonging to the cruciferous vegetable family. It contains ample of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and proteins that are crucial for good health. Include it regularly in your diet to enjoy the tremendous benefits of Broccoli. Steam cooking for five minutes is the best way of cooking to ensure that it is made available to your body.

Broccoli appears like a green cauliflower with small and large florets, colour ranging from deep green to purplish green. It can be stored in refrigerator for a week, until it becomes mushy and yellow.

Let’s have a glimpse at the miracles caused by Broccoli which can help us in reducing the use of drugs that have countless side effects.

Reasons to include it in your regimen

Cholesterol lowering effect

Broccoli contains about 2.4 g of soluble fiber which plays a key role in lowering the cholesterol levels in the body. The soluble fiber binds with bile acids in the gut and excrete them in the feces which otherwise will lead to cholesterol formation. The soluble fiber also controls diabetes. Thereby offers protection against cardiovascular diseases.

Controls Blood pressure

Broccoli contains potassium 13 %, Magnesium 8 % and calcium 6 % which is much indispensable for defending our body against Hypertension.

Boosts immunity

Broccoli is a powerhouse of antioxidant, which is great in phytonutrient kaempferol that confer anti-inflammatory protection against many .diseases. They also boost the immune power of our body to battle against diseases. Apart from this, kaempferol plays a main role in alleviating arthritic pain.

Eyes and Skin

Broccoli contains a green pigment called lutein which is significant to our eyes health. Replenishes our skin, repairs the damaged ones, detoxifies the old ones and ensures faster production of new cells.

Cancer prevention

The triad effect of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxicant makes Broccoli a wonder food for cancer. Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into an anti-cancer compound sulforaphane which is extensively used in the preparation of cancer drugs.

How to include broccoli in your diet?

  • Steam cook broccoli and tomato (totally 50 gms) in equal amounts for a few minutes (5-7 minutes).
  • Mash it well with a ladle until it becomes a paste.
  • Add warm water, pepper powder, and a little olive oil.
  • If you need a sour taste, also squeeze little lemon over the soup.
  • A nutritious soup full of nutrients to enjoy in your hustle bustle lifestyle.

Image Credit: Flickr/ Steven Depolo

28 July 2014

Foods that make you cheerful and peaceful

By With No comments:

Diet containing liberal servings of fruits and vegetables may be protective against chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes etc. Likewise, certain foods are known to improve mood and alleviate minor depression.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that helps to exchange signals between brain cells that affects temper and personality. A natural mood regulator, serotonin makes you feel emotionally steady, less anxious, more peaceful and even more focused and brisk.

Depleted levels of serotonin are believed to cause mood disorders and depression. Serotonin is also known as happy hormone.

Here is the list of foods that elevates our mood and alleviates our gloominess.

Bananas

No wonder the most intelligent of our animal relatives love this fruit – it’s packed full of brain-healthy nutrients. Eating bananas/ plantains regularly may help to improve mood through the increased production of serotonin in the body considering that banana is a good source of vitamin B-6 which is a precursor for the synthesis of serotonin in the body.

Dark Chocolates

Eating dark chocolates increases serotonin levels in the brain which acts as an antidepressant. They also contain theobromine, caffeine and other substances that are stimulants, which can be helpful to improve concentration and focus.

Dairy products

Dairy products contain tryptophan (precursor of serotonin) and calcium, which make them exceptional sleep-inducing foods. A cup of warm milk is a widespread therapy for insomnia, and it works as milk contains tryptophan. α-Lactalbumin, a minor constituent of milk, is one protein that contains relatively more tryptophan than most proteins. Calcium facilitates your brain to utilize the amino acid tryptophan to activate the sleep-enhancing serotonin

Nuts and seeds

Consuming almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds are linked to higher levels of serotonin. A handful of these nuts help in lowering cholesterol too. Walnuts can improve sleep, as they contain hormone melatonin, that induces sleep and helps regulate sleep.

Oats

Oatmeal is a specific complex carbohydrate that increases levels of the neurochemical serotonin in the brain. Serotonin produces a calming effect on the brain and body to relieve feelings of anxiety, nervousness and insomnia.


Image Credit: Flickr/ Brett Davies

28 June 2014

How to maintain ideal body weight?

By With No comments:

Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.

World Health Organization (WHO) defines overweight and obesity as follows:
  • BMI greater than or equal to 25 is overweight
  • BMI greater than or equal to 30 is obesity.

What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. It is defined as a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2).

(Source: WHO Fact sheet N°311, March 2013)

Causes of overweight and obesity

  • Heredity
  • Overeating
  • Minimum physical activity
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Affluent and prosperity

Assessing overweight and obesity

Compute the Body Mass Index (BMI) = Weight(kg) / Height(m)2.
  • If BMI < 25, Not Obese
  • If BMI ≥ 25, Overweight
  • If BMI ≥ 30, Obesity
Before proceeding to manage overweight, one should be clear that overweight is due to an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. The first step towards weight management is to determine the amount of weight to be reduced.

Wish to know your ideal weight?

Here is Broca‘s index. This is much simple to calculate and also more or less precise. You can compute your ideal weight by using the formula given below:

Ideal weight (kg) = Height (cm) – 100

For example: if your height is 159 cm, then your weight should be 159 – 100= 59 kgs.

Now calculate your ideal weight. Ready to shed your extra weight?????

Tips to reduce weight

What to eat?
  • High fibre foods like fruits and vegetables, dried peas and beans, whole cereals have low energy, contain nutrients and provide fullness.
  • Foods that are steame boiled, grilled, baked or shallow fried using little oil are healthier than deep fried foods.
  • Avoid foods high in sugar like soft drinks, cakes, and pastries.
Where to eat?
  • Eat only at dining table at home.
  • Avoid watching TV, playing with your mobile phone or reading books while eating
When to eat?
  • Do not skip breakfast.
  • Eat at regular times, avoid snacking.
How to eat?
  • Eat in a small plate.
  • Take small serving and eat slowly.
  • Chew food well.

To ensure success

  • Set goals to reduce weight.
  • Begin changes in eating, lifestyle, and exercise.
  • A weight reduction programme that goes with healthy eating and regular exercise is the safest.

Image Credit: Flickr/ Sean MacEntee

26 June 2014

Threat of Genetically Modified Foods

By With No comments:
Threat of Genetically modified foods

Genetically modified foods (GM foods) are threatening us in the news nowadays. Environmental activists, public interest groups, Ecologists and Scientists have been vigorously griping against GM foods for years. The term GM food is most commonly used to refer to crops created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques.

They have been developed in the laboratory with a desired quality like enhanced nutrient, improved resistance to microbes, pests and diseases or addition of a quality that a crop doesn’t possess or removing a particular protein that may be allergic there by alleviating its allergic properties.

Advantages of Genetically Modified Foods

  • Improve nutrient Content: Rice is a meager source of vitamin A. Hence golden rice has been invented to combat vitamin A deficiency that produces night blindness, Xeropthalmia. Golden Rice could probably supply 50% of the RDA of vitamin A from a very meek amount, if taken daily. This amount is well within the consumption habits of most young children and their mothers.
  • Toxicity or allergic reactions: Many people suffer from allergies to various food items including nuts, wheat, eggs, pulses, certain fruits, vegetables or milk products due to the presence of certain proteins. Thus GM foods are prepared keeping in mind to end these allergies.
  • Crops are more productive and have a better produce.
  • They require less herbicides and pesticides as they possess greater immunity to pests and diseases.
  • They stay ripe and unblemished for longer duration so they can be stored for longer periods causing much debate over the safety of these products.
  • They are capable of growing in regions with poor soil or difficult climates, making them available to us round the year.

Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Foods

Why should we change nature to meet up our desires?

Environmental activists, Ecologists, Scientists argue that we are breaking our nature’s eco cycle. GM foods can disturb the natural flow of our environment and the consequence will be reflected to our future generations which may have negative impact on their health.

The GM foods are all about making profit – generate a product that grows efficiently, yields a lot, stores well, available in all seasons, allure the public, making huge profits to the producers.

There is likelihood of humans developing new allergic reactions to the foods they eat.

So what can we do...

Eat foods that are labeled, like in US strong food laws exist and foods have been labeled as

USDA Organic Seal

These are safe to eat, as their genetic codes are not much altered.

Despite a lot of disagreement surrounding them, genetically modified foods have taken root in our world. As with any new technology, we citizens have the right to become informed about genetically modified foods, in order to make informed choices about their use.

But ……. Be organic…..


Image Credit: Flickr/ Jeff Kubina

10 June 2014

How to find my ideal weight?

By With No comments:
How to find my ideal weight?

Wish to know your ideal weight?

Probably you know that there are several formulae available to calculate your ideal weight. Here is a formula using Broca‘s index. This is much simpler to calculate and also reasonably precise.
Ideal weight (kg) = Height (cm) – 100
You need to know only your height to estimate your ideal weight.

Example

If your height is 159 cm, then your ideal weight can be calculated as follows:
Ideal weight = 159 – 100 = 59 kgs
Now you can calculate your ideal weight without much fuss. How about you? Do you maintain your fitness to be in the ideal weight range? Underweight? Obese?


Image Credit: Flickr/ Rafael Peñaloza

6 June 2014

Avoid junk foods, Enhance dietary choices

By With No comments:
Avoid junk food and enhance dietary choices

Junk food refers to fast foods which are easy to prepare and quick to munch. They are zero in nutritional value and often high in fat, salt, sugar, and calories. Eating fast foods for meals or snacks is especially popular with adolescents and young adults.

Common junk foods include salted snack foods, fried fast foods, and carbonated drinks. Today, fast-food menus are crowded with large burgers, large fries, and large carbonated drinks. These are a minefield of heavily packed calorie bombs waiting to explode in your belly. And most come with an exclusive bonus of salt and dangerous fat that are programmed to harden up your arteries.

Consumption of fast foods is gradually becoming an emerging trend. It is a major source of energy, dietary fat and animal protein though it was shown to be a poor source of micronutrients which consequently increases the vulnerability to the already high prevalence of non-communicable diseases.

With the westernization of the diet, many chronic diseases would progress, first as obesity (a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases including type II diabetes, stroke, hypertension and certain types of cancers) followed by diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

The primary temptation for junk foods, according to consumers, is the taste factor; second most popular reason given for eating these foods is their time factor, attractiveness, packing and advertising particularly among children and adolescents.

How to enhance dietary choices?

Health Canada (2010) recommends the following to enhance family dietary choices:
  • Consume at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
  • Eat vegetables and fruit in their purest forms, with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.
  • Choose primarily whole grain products.
  • Drink 500 ml (2 cups) of milk daily.
  • Instead of eating meat products for protein, occasionally substitute them for beans, lentils, and tofu.
  • Eat at least two servings of fish each week, such as char, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout. (Furhman, 2005).

4 June 2014

Cherish the fibre in your diet

By With No comments:
Cherish the fibre in your diet

Dietary fibre is generally defined as plant material, mainly derived from plant cell wall that resists the action of digestive enzymes in the gut. They are present in whole cereals, pulses, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. Dietary fibres are commonly classified by its water soluble property into insoluble and soluble fibre.

Fruits and vegetables contain soluble fibre where as legumes, pulses contain insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibres are very slowly digested, absorbed and fermented by colonic bacteria producing fatty acid and gas in the gut. Legumes are called flatulence producers as they produce gas when consumed in appreciable amounts.

Properties of dietary fibre

  • Water holding capacity:
    Dietary fibres are sturdily hydrophilic and hold water in between their cells. Thus increasing the viscosity and gel forming capacity of fibre. This phenomenon may explain the delayed gastric emptying associated with ingestion of fibres. Gels also lubricate the stools.
  • Binding ability:
    Dietary fibre is capable of trapping bile acids, cholesterol, certain toxins in between them and eventually evacuating with the feces.
  • Bulking ability:
    Insoluble fibre such as cellulose and lignin are mostly unfermentable by the colonic microflora and increase faecal bulkb by their particle formation and water holding capacity.
  • Fermentablity:
    Soluble fibres are fermented by colonic bacteria and butyric acid is released which is much essential for Vitamin K production.
  • Therapeutic effects of fibre
  • Constipation :
    Water holding capacity and bulking capability of fibre serves to slow down gastric emptying and colonic transit time by increasing weight and volume of stool. Stool volume also widen the lumen of colon thereby decreasing intraluminal pressure. Thus help to alleviate constipation.

Reduces cholesterol level

Diets rich in fibre decrease the total serum cholesterol and low density lipo protein level. A lower cholesterol ratio is associated with lower risk of heart disease.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diets rich in fibre and complex carbohydrates slow the absorption of carbohydrates there by decreasing the rapid increase of sugar after a meal. They also obviate the need for insulin or oral hypo glycemic drugs.

Colon Cancer

Consumption of fibre rich foods increases the growth of the friendly bacteria while decreasing the growth of harmful Ecoli, clostridia, and bacteroids. Carcinogens are also excreted trapped between the fibre cells.

Obesity

Consuming a diet rich in fibre increases the satiety value, thereby giving a feeling of fullness and preclude from eating a heavy meal. Thus the average consumption of dietary fibre should be at least 25 – 40 g per day per person as suggested by American Dietetic association.


Image Credit: Flickr/ Robert Huffstutter

8 May 2014

What is Ice-cream Head Ache?

By With No comments:

Have you heard of ice-cream headache ?

After eating or drinking a cold substance such as an ice cream , milk shake, you might sense a strange pain in your head, even in your eyes.

That’s nothing but ice-cream head ache or brain freeze.

When a cool substance comes in contact with the back part of the palate, the blood vessels contract, resulting in an acute pain in the mid frontal part of the brain.

Many of us experience this sort of pain. Have you?


Image Credit: Flickr/ Lori Hurley

15 March 2014

Common Symptoms of Anaemia

By With No comments:
Anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or their oxygen-carrying capacity is insufficient to meet physiologic needs, which vary by age, sex, altitude, smoking, and pregnancy status. Iron deficiency is thought to be the most common cause of anaemia globally, although other conditions, such as folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin A deficiencies, chronic inflammation, parasitic infections, and inherited disorders can all cause anaemia (WHO Definition of Anaemia).

Iron rich foods

The most common symptoms of anaemia include:
  • tiredness
  • lethargy (lack of energy)
  • dizziness or drowsiness
  • shortness of breath (dyspnoea)
  • head ache
  • pica
  • hair loss
  • difficulty swallowing
  • feeling itchy

You may also notice changes in your physical appearance like a pale complexion, painful ulcers (open sores) on the corners of your mouth, dry, flaking nails.

Anaemia may be due to
  • Insufficient blood formation when there is inadequate intake, absorption or utilisation of proteins, vitamins, and minerals
  • Due to blood loss in excessive menstruation, bleeding piles, hook worm infestation
  • Inexcessive intravascular blood destruction.

Diet
A list of foods suitable for anaemic patients is given below: Whole cereals, legumes, pulses, greens, citrus fruits, dried fruits and nuts, mushroom, mutton, egg yolk, liver, kidneys.

Vitamin C rich foods should be included to aid absorption of iron rich foods.

Iron Rich Foods
 No Food Nutritive value/100 gm 
 Cereals and their products 
1Ragi3.90
2Handpounded rice3.20
3Rice flakes20.00
Pulses
4Bengal gram whole 4.60
5Bengal gram-roasted9.50
6Green gram whole4.40
7Green gram-dhal3.90
8Cow Pea (karamani)8.60
9Horse gram 6.77
10Peas Dried7.05
11soya bean10.40
Leafy Vegetables
13Agathi3.90
14Mint15.60
15Paruppu keerai14.80
Other vegetables
16Plantain green6.27
17Sundakkai dried22.20
Nuts and oil seeds
18Almonds5.09
19Cashew nut5.81
20Gingelly seeds9.30
21Mango powder45.20
Fruits
22Seethaphal4.31
23Pomegranate1.79
24Dried dates5.60


Image Credit: Flickr/ USDA

14 March 2014

Heavens’ Dew

By With No comments:
The water of tender coconut is the most nutritious beverage that the nature has provided. Coconut water has a long history of use as both a food and as a medicine. It not only gratifies thirst but revitalizes the body and brings about a sense of well-being and renewed health.

Tender coconut, the most nutritious beverage nature has provided

Compositionally, its major constituents are Sugars in the forms of glucose and fructose (0.5 to 1.4%) Coconut water also contains small quantities of protein (0.7 percent). The fat content of coconut water is so low; it is essentially fat-free. It has caloric value of 17.4 per 100gm.

Tender coconut water is rich in electrolytes which closely resemble the electrolytes present in our body .It is particularly rich in potassium, an essential nutrient. Calcium, magnesium and sodium are some of the major constituents. It also contains a variety of trace elements such as zinc, selenium, iodine, sulphur, manganese, boron, molybdenum, and others. Tender coconut water contains both ascorbic acid and vitamins of B group which help in boosting immunity.

Benefits of tender coconut water

  • Coconut water acts as an excellent oral re-hydration medium in case of de-hydration. When there is loss of fluid, especially during strenuous exercise, during bouts of illness like cholera, dysentery, influenza, jaundice and other ailments.
  • Coconut water also alleviates constipation, improves intestinal function and promotes digestive health. It is often suggested for people suffering from ulcers.
  • Coconut water helps reduce plaque formation and improves circulation, thereby reducing the chances of heart attack and stroke. It’s rich in Potassium and magnesium there by effective in reducing high blood pressure.
  • Tender coconut water is a natural diuretic, increases urine output. It is reported to clear-up bladder infections, remove kidney stones, and researches have proved that coconut water can be very effective in dissolving kidney stones.
  • Women are encouraged to drink it when pregnant and nursing so their milk will provide all the nutrients necessary for a healthy baby. Infants are fed with coconut jelly (soft immature coconut meat) as weaning food.
  • Coconut water is a safe method to get rid of these worms in infants.
  • Coconut water is the finest natural source of cytokinins. (Growth hormone). When cytokinins are rubbed on to the skin, they stimulate cell division of connective tissue which replaces older, damaged tissue with younger tissue. This is the reason for adding cytokinins to facial creams and lotions. Also applied over the rashes of smallpox, chicken pox, measles and prickly heats.

Image Credit: Flickr/ McKay Savage

13 March 2014

Prebiotics and probiotics

By With No comments:

Probiotics are viable microorganisms that survive passage through the gut and exert positive effect on the consumer. According to the currently adopted definition by FAO/WHO, probiotics are: "Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host".

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifido bacteria are the most conventional types of microbes used as probiotics; but certain yeasts and bacilli may also be useful. Many species of lactic acid bacteria and fungi are used in the form of capsules, tablets and sachets. Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures like yogurt, soy yogurt, cheese, jellies. Researches into the benefits of probiotics suggest a range of possibly favorable medicinal uses like prevention of diarrheal diseases, cancer prevention, lipid lowering, and enhancement of immune responses.

Prebiotics are non digestible carbohydrates that selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial microbes. It is believed that a prebiotic should increase the number and/or activity of microorganism. The most predominant forms of prebiotics are nutritionally categorized as soluble fiber. Adequate scientific evidences exist for the beneficial effects of prebiotics such as improved bowel function, cancer prevention, and lipid lowering effect. More widely used prebiotics are whole cereals, onion, garlic, honey.

Synbiotics is the term used to describe foodstuffs in which the prebiotic compound selectively supports the probiotic compound.

11 March 2014

Tips to reduce incidence of kidney stones

By With No comments:

Here are some ways to reduce the threat of kidney stones:

Drink a glass of water
Image Credit: Flickr/ thenext28days
  • Drink water throughout the day. Normal healthy persons are recommended to drink at least 2.5 litres of water a day. If you live in a hot, dry climate or you exercise frequently, you may need to drink even more water to produce enough urine. If your urine is light and clear, you're likely drinking enough water.
  • Eat a balanced diet that is not too high in animal protein. This includes chicken, mutton, fish, egg, curd and paneer. These foods contain a lot of protein, and too much protein may lead to kidney stones.
  • Choose a diet low in salt and animal protein. Reduce the amount of salt you eat and choose non-animal protein sources, such as legumes, grams and dhals A diet with high levels of sodium, sucrose, or animal protein increase the likelihood of kidney stone formation.
  • Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods. About 75% of Kidney stones are calcium oxalate stones. Hence,   it advisable to reduce foods with high oxalate content and introduce high levels of citrates. Citrates reduce calcium oxalate stone by dissolving them in the kidneys. Drink lemonade made from real lemons especially homemade ones.
  • Increase fibre content of your diet.
  • Include tender coconut water, fresh fruit juices, aerated water and weak tea to ensure passage of over 2000 ml of urine per day.

Foods those are rich in calcium, oxalate and Phosphate:

Reduce the foods listed in the following table if you are prone to renal stones.

Calcium
Oxalates
Phosphates
Ragi, Leafy vegetables, CauliflowerLeafy vegetables, Grapes
Chickoo, Tomatoes,Tea
Soft drinks, organ meat, nuts whole cereals
Milk and milk products,
Small fish with bones, Prawns, Crabs
Beetroot, Cashew, Chocolates. Cocoa,cola drinks

Know about phytochemicals in your diet

By With No comments:
What do tomato, onion, apple all have in common? They do not belong to the same food group nor do they have the same nutrients. Tomato has ample of lycopene, onion contains sulphur compound and apple contains quercetin. These foods contain phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals in your diet
Image Credit: Flickr/ Just_Jane
Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds in plants but are not nutrients. These compounds have strong biologic actions when they are consumed at effective levels on regular basis. Awareness in these compounds has developed because of compelling evidence that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains improves health and decreases risk of chronic degenerative diseases.

Phytochemicals are chemicals that vary from plant to plant. They include thousands of pigments, antioxidants and thousands of other compounds that have been associated with protection from heart diseases, hypertension, cancer and diabetes mellitus.

Phytochemicals – Their food sources and Actions


Phytochemical

Sources

Benefits
Alkyl
resorcinol
Whole grains Reduces risk of
diabetes , heart diseases and some types of cancer
Capsaicin Hot peppers, chillies Prevents clot formation of blood and reduces risk of heart diseases and stroke.
Carotenoids (includes beta carotene, lycopene, lutein) Deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables like broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes Boosts antioxidant activity
Improves vision, contribute to maintenance of prostrate health.
Curcumin Turmeric Inactivates enzymes that activates carcinogens
Dietary fat(Beta glucan, cellulose, gums and mucilage) Whole grains, oats, legumes, Whole pulses. Promotes a healthy digestive tract, reduces risk of heart disease, and maintains healthy blood glucose levels.
Fatty acids
Polyunsaturated
fatty acid (PUFA)
Monounsaturated
fatty acid (MUFA)

Walnuts, flax seed

Olive oil

May reduce risk of heart diseases, improves mental and visual function
Flavanones Citrus foods Boosts antioxidant activity
Flavonols

Onions, apples, tea, broccoli Bolster cellular antioxidant defences
Proanthocyanidins

Peanuts, Cinnamon Maintains urinary tract health and heart health
Prebiotics and probiotics Whole grains, onions, garlics, honey, yoghurt Improves gastrointestinal health, and healthy immune function
Soy proteins Soya based foods Improves heart health
Reduces risk of osteoporosis
Maintanance of menopausal health in women
Sulphides and thiols Cruciferous vegetables like brocolli,cauli flower, kale, cabbage, raddish Healthy immune function

10 March 2014

Cinnamon, the wonder spice

By With 4 comments:
Indian folk medicine has been in practice from time immemorial. Traditional medicine interconnects our body with nature for a healthy living. The practice of consuming natural foods must be cultivated rather than loading one’s body with chemicals.

Let’s be acquainted with the benefits of cinnamon:

Cinnamon, the wonder spice
Cinnamon, the dried bark of an evergreen tree that grows in the tropics, is one of the world's most popular spices. It can be found in foods, chewing gums, toothpaste, beverages and medications. Researches carried out to prove its effectiveness in treating high blood sugar levels and lipid levels are very promising.

Among several plant materials of the genus Cinnamomum, only the bark of Cinnamomum zeylanicum contains the major phenolic metabolite methyl hydroxyl chalcone polymer (MHCP) accountable for its therapeutic use. While there are approximately one hundred varieties of Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) and Cinnamomum aromaticum (Chinese cinnamon) are the leading varieties consumed. Ceylon cinnamon is also referred to as "true cinnamon", while the Chinese variety is known as "cassia". While both are relatively similar in characteristics and both feature a fragrant, sweet and warm taste, the flavour of the Ceylon variety is more refined and subtle.

Scientists have discovered that cinnamon has insulin-like properties, and can be useful for those suffering from type 2 diabetes. Researchers believe the benefits of cinnamon may include decreasing blood glucose levels as well as triglycerides and cholesterol all of which are especially important for diabetes sufferers.

The benefits of cinnamon include treating
  • stomach disorders,
  • diarrhoea,
  • nausea and
  • vomiting.

It acts as a digestive aid and can relieve gas and bloating. One of the many health benefits lies in its antibacterial capabilities. Researches have proved that the essential oil of cinnamon can provide an adequate degree of protection against food borne pathogens to a certain extent due to its anti-bacterial quality.

Cinnamon has thermo genic properties that help accelerate your metabolic engine and narrow your waistline. Obese subjects who consumed cinnamon on a regular basis experienced a significant alteration in body composition. Their body fat decreased by 0.7%, and their muscle mass increased by 1.1%. These changes took place without alterations in the diet or physical activity of the subjects.

Other common uses include treatment for
  • common infections,
  • the common cold,
  • menopausal symptoms,
  • rheumatic conditions,
  • hypertension,
  • angina and
  • kidney disorders.

Consuming roughly one half of a teaspoon of cinnamon per day or less leads to dramatic improvements in
  • blood sugar,
  • cholesterol,
  • LDL-cholesterol and
  • triglycerides.

Intake of cinnamon, at these levels, is found to be very safe and has no side effects. Avoid using cinnamon during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.