24 December 2015

Are you deficient in Calcium? Being female puts you at risk

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Minerals and Vitamins accomplish a key role in the growth and maintenance of the body though they do not have any calorie values. Minerals are inorganic substances that form an integral part of body’s composition. They encompass about 4% of the total body weight.

7 Major Minerals

In the context of nutrition, minerals are branded as major and trace. Major minerals, otherwise known as macro minerals, exist above 5 grams while trace minerals or micro minerals are present in less than 5 grams in our body. The seven major minerals are:
  1. Calcium
  2. Sodium
  3. Potassium
  4. Phosphorous
  5. Magnesium
  6. Sulphur and
  7. Chlorine.
Are you deficient in Calcium? Now, let us have some familiarity about the mineral calcium and its significance to our body.

Are you deficient in Calcium?

Role of calcium in our body

  • An adult of 150 pounds holds almost 3 pounds of calcium. Bones and teeth contain about 99% while the remaining 1% circulates in the blood fluids. Calcium, along with Phosphorous, forms the hard substance of bones and teeth. Ample calcium and phosphorous alone will not guarantee strong bones and teeth; Vitamin D is also necessary for calcium absorption.
  • Calcium is essential for the normal functioning of skeletal, muscular, nervous and vascular system. It assists in the production of acetylcholine, a neuro transmitter that improves transmission of nerve impulse.
  • Calcium acts as a catalyst in instigating and controlling muscular contraction and relaxation. It is essential for blood clotting process. It also activates certain enzymes for digestion process and absorption of vitamin B12.

Recommended dietary intake

Recommended intake of 1000 mg is vital for adults aged 19 – 50 years while an amount of 1200 mg is necessary for adults aged above 50. Calcium is available in both animal and plant sources, but calcium from animal source is more easily absorbed.

Animal Sources of Calcium:

Milk and milk products like skim milk, cheese, plain yoghurt, ice-cream are the paramount sources of calcium followed by sardines and salmons. In milk, since calcium is combined with lactose, it is readily absorbed. Consuming a fatty diet escalates absorption of calcium as fat delays gastric emptying and the time exposure of food to enzymes is lengthened.

Plant Sources of Calcium:

Best plant sources are tofu, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, legumes, sesame seeds, fennel and cinnamon. Tofu’s rich calcium content is attributed to the addition of calcium during the production process to help in the precipitation of the soy milk to solid form. Absorption of calcium from plant source is less due to interfering factors like phytates, oxalic acid which are almost found in all the foods.

Ovovegetarians and vegans should consume calcium fortified products such as cereals, non-dairy milks, juices, milk powder.

Deficiency Diseases

Rheumatoid arthritis:

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder of unknown aetiology in which calcium and vitamin D plays an important role in bone metabolism. Calcium and vitamin D has been shown to suppress the development of autoimmunity. Long-term use of calcium and vitamin D appears to confer a reduction that may be substantial in the risk of hip fracture among postmenopausal women.

Osteoporosis:

Due to reduction in the bone density in the fourth and fifth decades of life, people develop osteoporosis, a silent disease. Studies suggest that approximately one in two women and up to one in four men aged 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Even simple actions like sneezing, minor fall can cause fractures.

Osteoporosis leads to risk of fracture
Picture source: Osteoroposis Canada

Being female puts you at risk

Women are more likely to get osteoporosis than men. There are manifold reasons for this increased likelihood and the most critical is:

Estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss. The greater your bone density, when you begin with menopause, the lower your chance of developing osteoporosis.

Healthy older postmenopausal women can significantly reduce bone loss by increasing their calcium intake to 800 mg per B day. Supplementation with calcium citrate and orotate are more effective than supplementation with calcium carbonate.

Osteomalacia

Osteomalacia means soft bones, causes severe bone pain and muscle weakness. Our body needs enough calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D for bone mineralisation to take place. If the body doesn’t have enough of any one of these, people are at risk of osteomalacia.

It is important to plan your diet and your grocery shopping so that you will stay as healthy and strong as possible. Calcium is not the only important nutrient, a well-balanced diet, made up of all the food groups is the secret to health.

10 December 2015

Benefits of Mushrooms in our daily diet

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What are the benefits of mushrooms in our daily diet? Are there any health benefits of consuming mushrooms as part of our diet? Is it true that mushrooms are loaded with essential nutrients?

Let us find out ...


Health benefits of Mushrooms

Mushroom immunoceuticals are a blossoming boon to individuals with diminished immunity, tormented with cancer, or merely descending into ill health with the passing of time.

Mushrooms = Medicine?

Mushrooms are widely referred to as "medicinal foods” due to their fascinating ability of immune support. They are extremely resilient, kill viruses, bacteria, and even yeast. Some mushrooms destroy cancer cells, facilitate nerve regeneration and even survive radioactivity. The strongest first generation antibiotics like penicillin, streptomycin, and tetracycline are from fungal extracts.

The world-renowned mycologist Paul Stamets in his "The Most Powerful Medicine in Nature" about fungi states that out of million species of fungi, we have labelled only ten percent in which we have recognised the immune properties for only half a dozen of them. Many of the mushrooms valued for strong medicinal properties grow on trees, capturing the nutrients that the tree had stored for hundreds of years and turning it into a little medicinal powerhouse.

Each mushroom species has a unique anti-infective and immunomodulating agents that include polysaccharides, glycoproteins, ergosterols and triterpenoids. The orally-bioactive glucans, fructoglucans and proteoglycans isolated from these phytonutrients are currently the most promising class of immunoceuticals.

They are capable of simultaneously augmenting the activity of white cells in providing host immunity. Glucan and proteoglycan mushroom immunoceuticals offer hope for cancer patients. As dietary supplements, they are safe, clinically proven, and exhibit near-perfect benefit-risk profiles.

Common Varieties of Mushrooms

Eat only organically grown mushrooms as its property to become a medicine or a poison depends on the place it grows. Some of the common varieties sold in super markets are
  • Shiitake (Lentinula edodes),
  • Caterpillar or (Cordyceps), 
  • Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), 
  • Button mush rooms (Agaricus spp).

How to preserve Mushrooms?

Refrigerate fresh mushrooms in a paper bag or their original container. They remain fresh when neither too dry, nor too damp. Before cooking, clean the soil with a soft brush or damp paper towel. Mushrooms absorb water easily, so do not soak in water for cleaning. Reject any portion of the stem holding a lot of soil.

An inclination towards combination of immunopotentiating agents with cancer regimens of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy is now cutting-edge in Japan and China where mushroom preparations have been an anticancer resource for centuries.

Let’s include more mushrooms in our daily diet to defend us!


13 November 2015

Artificial ripening is a threat to health?

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Ripening is a process that renders fruits to become edible, sweeter and softer. During ripening, fruit goes through various chemical changes, like the conversion of complex starch and acid to simple sugars, increase in fiber content and the replacement of green chlorophyll with yellow or orange or red pigment.

In this article, we will understand what is artificial ripening, the various ripening agents and whether artificial ripening is a threat to health.

Artificial ripening is a threat to health?

Why artificial ripening?

The demand for artificial fruit ripening arose to provide fruits to the customers during offseason. Also, unripe fruits are ripened during the due season to meet the high demand and make high profit off seasonal fruits. Besides, ample quantity of fruits is also exported to different parts of the world; this may take several days from plucking the fruits from the tree until them reaches customers’ table. During this time, the naturally ripened fruits can become overripe and inedible. To minimize the loss, fruit-sellers prefer collecting unripe fruits and artificially ripen them to prolong their shelf life.

Ripening agents

An organic compound concerned with ripening is ethylene, a gas created by plants from the amino acid methionine. Ethylene is the chief ripening agent produced naturally within the fruits which initiates the process of ripening. There are numerous ripening agents to release ethylene in order to speed up the ripening process. Chemicals like ethanol, methanol, ethylene glycol, Ethephon, calcium carbide are used to ripen fruits and vegetables artificially. The use of calcium carbide is much common for its inexpensiveness despite its ban due to its harmful effects.

Ethylene: A very minute strength of ethylene is adequate to stimulate the fruit ripening process It has been used to ripen apple, avocado, banana, mango, papaya, pineapple, and guava.

Calcium Carbide: Calcium Carbide is widely used in different parts of the world and popularly known as masala though banned under PFA rules. Once applied on the fruits Calcium Carbide comes into the contact of the moisture and releases acetylene, which has fruit ripening characteristics similar to ethylene. Industrial grade calcium carbide has traces of arsenic and phosphorus hydride, which are dangerous for human health. The early symptoms of arsenic poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath. Examples of fruits ripened with Calcium Carbide are mango, banana, papaya, sapota, dates, and tomatoes.

Ethephon: Ethephon is used to artificially ripen pineapple, banana, and tomato. Ethephon 39% is accessible in the market in the commercial name of ethrel. Ethephon is often considered better than calcium carbide. Health hazards include excessive salivation, sweating, tearing headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea pin-point pupils, sometimes with blurred or dark vision.

Picking the right fruits

The external color and the texture are usually taken under consideration when it comes to selecting right fruits. The naturally ripened fruits are often uneven in color. It is advisable to choose fruits during the season when it turns ripe naturally since a ripe fruit during offseason may artificially ripen unless it genetically ripens.

Precautions while consuming fruits

  • Before eating, rinse fruits thoroughly under running water to wash away the chemicals.
  • It's better to peel off the skin since it contains the chemicals.
  • Preferably include seasonal fruits that are sold in local markets instead of purchasing in supermarkets.

10 October 2015

Learn the benefits of DHA to Infants

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In this article, you will learn the benefits of DHA for infants and kids, for the kind attention of pregnant and lactating women.

Breast Milk is the only source of food in a new-born and has remarkable advantages over formula feeds. Most of the formulae feeds are deficient in fatty acid, DHA.

Learn about the benefits of DHA

What Is DHA?

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the most abundant omega-3, fatty acid found in breast milk and plays a key role in growth, development and functioning of neural tissues most notably those of the retina and brain.

Significance of DHA

DHA is an important part of retina of the eye. High DHA levels are needed for the development of rhodopsin, a pigment in the rod cell, to aid vision in dim light and at night.

There are studies to attest that babies born to mothers who had higher blood levels of DHA scored better on the attention tests until 6 months of age, and they scored better on different tests designed to measure visual learning in older babies at 1 year and 18 months.

Women need sufficient stores of DHA for the proper nourishment of their babies during pregnancy and while nursing. Significant brain and eye development occurs in uterus and prolongs during the first year of birth. Beginning life with adequate levels of DHA is an advantage for the young infant whose brain grows for at least the next two years.

Pregnant and lactating women who live near coastal areas and those on a diet high in fish and other seafood have the highest levels of DHA in their breast milk whereas countries with diets high in vegetable protein and lacking in seafood have the lowest levels of breast milk DHA.

Sources of DHA

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines, marine algaes, eggs to some extent and Flax seeds, walnuts are excellent sources of DHA.

Pregnant and nursing mothers, do you want a healthy and brainy kid? Then include sufficient DHA in your diet.

30 September 2015

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

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Fruits and vegetables are nature's packed sources of indispensable nutrients. Apart from minerals and nutrients, they are rich sources of phytochemicals, dietary fibre and antioxidants. They can be consumed at any time as such. They are godsend food to knock out any type of severe diseases from our doorsteps.

Unknown facts about known foods

Avacado/ butter fruit, a calorie dense food
Avacado, called butter fruit is a calorie dense food that has been linked to cardiovascular benefits. It’s a wealthy source of monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, the rare phytosterol, stigmasterol and the antioxidants including carotenoids, vitamin E and vitamin C. Researchers have also speculated about the potential benefits of avocado for reducing human arthritis risk. Hence, one should include avocado regularly in their meal plan.

Broccoli
Broccoli contains a specific type of sulforaphane which boosts cell enzymes against molecular damage from cancer-causing chemicals. Small quantities of fresh broccoli sprouts contain as much cancer protection as larger amounts of the mature vegetable according to a research at Johns Hopkins University. Broccoli sprouts can be grown at home by planting a small amount of spout.

Broccoli is also an excellent source of vitamin K and also of vitamin A. Nowadays many people, especially adolescents and women suffer from vitamin D deficiencies. Ensuring a sufficient intake of vitamins K and A with vitamin D supplementation may help in achieving optimal vitamin D supplementation.

Brussel sprouts
Brussel sprouts: The Dietary fibre content of Brussels sprouts aids in protecting our digestive system. Scientists have confirmed that the sulforaphane made from Brussels sprouts' defends the health of our stomach lining by preventing overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori a causative organism for stomach ulcers, gastritis and gastric cancer. Brussels sprouts are an important dietary source of many antioxidants including vitamin A, vitamin C, the antioxidant mineral manganese isorhamnetin, quercitin and kaempferol.

Dragon fruits, high in polyunsaturated fats
Dragon fruits are high in polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) that ameliorates triglycerides and slashes the risk of cardiovascular disorders. Lycopene, in dragon fruit, has been shown to be linked with a lower prostate cancer risk, bolsters immunity and faster healing of wounds.

Eggplants
Eggplants: Eggplant ranks among the top ten vegetables in their antioxidant activity. Its skin contain a anthocyanin phytonutrient, nasunin a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that protects our body from the invasion of free radicals. Eggplant is also an iron chelator and proves beneficial for adolescent, mensurating, pregnant and lactating women. Pulp of eggplants are effective for curing a number of diseases, including cancer, high blood pressure, and hepatosis due to content of anthocyanins and strychnine.

Figs help to control blood pressure
Figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure. Owing to its high fibre-content they have a positive effect on weight control. Figs are often celebrated for nourishing and toning the intestines and work as a natural laxative because of their high fibre content. Figs also contain prebiotics, which aids in supporting the growth of gut friendly bacteria.

What should your plate contain?

So after browsing a divulging article about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, how many servings of fruits and vegetables you consumed today???
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)‘s Choose My Plate suggests to fill half of your plate with colourful fruits and vegetables at every meal. So include in your every meal as much fruits and veggies as possible. They are the road to excellent health.

25 September 2015

Is BPA harmful? An eye-opener to BPA

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What is BPA? Is BPA harmful? Should I be worried about BPA? If you have these questions about BPA, then this article will be an eye-opener about BPA.

Bisphenol A, (BPA) is the most common chemical we are exposed to each day.

Should I be worried about BPA?

These Polycarbonate plastics have many applications including use in some food and drinks packaging such as water and baby bottles, and ATM receipts. Epoxy resins are used to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, eye glasses and water supply pipes.

Ways by which we get exposed to BPA

BPA is an unstable compound especially at high temperatures, can leach into food from lining of cans, food storage containers, water bottles, and baby bottles. They also leach out of these products when we store hot foods in them.

Risks involved with the use of BPA

BPA is of particular concern to women of childbearing age and young children. BPA is a man-made estrogen that can upset the hormone system, particularly when exposures occur while babies are in the womb or in early life. Even minute quantities trigger risks of breast cancer, prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty, miscarriages, poor immunity and metabolic disorders like type-2 diabetes.

How to reduce the usage of BPA?

  • Use only good quality plastic wares for microwave ovens.
  • Reduce your use of canned foods. Eat fresh foods.
  • Replace plastics with glass, porcelain, or stainless steel containers for hot food or liquids.
  • Take extra care while buying infant feeding bottles. Opt for bottles that are BPA free and select toys that are labelled BPA free.

To Ponder . . .

The Breast Cancer Fund (BCF) and Silent Spring Institute recruited five families to play a part in a study of BPA. Results published in Environmental Health Perspectives (March 2011) were as follows:

For three days, participants were provided fresh food, not canned or packaged in plastic. They were refrained from canned foods and drinks. The effect was noteworthy. While the families were eating the foods supplied by BCF, their BPA levels dropped to an average of 60 percent.

GIST: You can reduce your BPA exposure by cooking fresh foods at home, avoiding canned foods, choosing glass and stainless steel food and beverage containers, and not microwaving in plastic.

7 September 2015

Skipping healthy habits? You are skipping pink years of your life

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In this hi-tech world number of public health, prevention and disease management approaches have emerged that focuses on changing health-related behaviours. Skipping healthy habits is found to be associated with health-compromising behaviors in adults and adolescents.

You are skipping pink years of life by skipping healthy habits

Skipping breakfast

Breakfast which exactly means breaking-the-fast of the night, refers to the first meal taken in the morning. It is paramount in sustaining the physical health and mental health of a person. Breakfast is the principal constituent of one’s daily nutritional requirement, contributing significantly to the total daily energy intake. Research studies authenticates regular breakfast consumers to show significantly better physical health than those who skipped breakfast.

Breakfast consumption is being neglected in all age groups over the past few years. Breakfast skippers have comparatively poor intake of vitamins and minerals and nutrients that are lost as a result of skipping breakfast that cannot be compensated by any meal of the day.

Faulty sleeping habit

Faulty sleeping habit also has its consequence on our health in a same manner as skipping breakfast does. Adequate amount of sleep is important for one’s mental and physical health, for cognitive restitution, processing and learning. People who sleep less are more prone to emotional instability, decreased concentration, memory loss, day time sleepiness and the most common issue faced is obesity.

Skipping healthy habits > Skipping pink years of life

It is heart breaking that these habits are declining among most youngsters today. Early to bed and rising up early, regular breakfast and light to moderate exercise all constitute a healthy life style. Consequences of unfavourable health-related behaviour typically accumulate over time and may first be observed in later life. As we live longer, it is important that health promotion and disease prevention initiatives continue to have emphasis on health-related behaviour early in life.


Image Credit: Flickr/ Risa ikeda

31 August 2015

Health benefits of Sesame/ Gingelly Oil

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Sesame oil (Sesame indicum) also known as gingelly oil is widely consumed as cooking oil and as medicine in traditional and oriental therapies. It is one of the two oldest oils known to mankind, the other one being coconut oil.

Sesame oil has received greater attention by food scientists due to the presence of unique minor compounds that have astounding health benefits. Regularly consuming Sesame oil could be an effective treatment for controlling degenerative diseases by reducing inflammation and regulating lipid metabolism.

Health benefits of Gingelly Oil

Sesame oil is rich in both MUFA and PUFA (approximately 47% oleic acid and 39% linoleic acid). It also contains lignans such as sesamin, asarinin and sesamolin that are known to inhibit cholesterol synthesis in the gut and prevent cholesterol absorption.

Glycation of haemoglobin has been associated with cardiovascular disease, nephropathy and retinopathy in diabetes mellitus. There is an improvement in glycated haemoglobin levels after regular consumption of sesame oil which may be attributed to the antioxidative capacity of sesame oil.

The presence of the natural antioxidants such as sesamol, sesamolin, and gammatocopherol gives a high oxidative stability to the sesame oil. Cooking with sesame oil has been reported to help reduce high blood pressure and lower the amount of medication needed to control hypertension.

Vitamins C, E and b-carotene inhibits lipid peroxidation and high intake of these vitamins, particularly vitamin E, is related to reduced incidence of ischemic heart disease.

Oil Pulling with Sesame Oil

Oil pulling is a procedure that involves swishing oil in the mouth for oral and systemic health benefits. Oil pulling therapy with sesame oil has been used as a traditional remedy for improving general health. The concept of oil pulling has been discussed in the Ayurvedic text where it is mentioned to as kavala graha or kavala gandoosha. For oil pulling therapy, a tablespoon of sesame oil is taken in the mouth and rinsed for 10-15 min till the viscous oil turns thin and milky white. It is stated that the swishing activates enzymes and draws toxins out of the blood. The oil should not be swallowed as it contains bacteria and toxins. Oil pulling therapy should be followed by tooth brushing and rinsing of the mouth. It is preferably done on an empty stomach in the morning.

Thus, the queen of oil has been addressed as boon of Mother Nature due to its health benefits to mankind.


Image Credit: Flickr/ Cathy Stanley-Erickson

21 August 2015

7 Natural Strategies to Control Blood Pressure

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An alarming one in three American adults has high blood pressure”, claims a report titled Controlling your blood pressure, published by Harvard Medical School.

Blood pressure is the force exerted on the arteries by a wave of blood propelled from the heart. Since our lifestyles are often what lead to high blood pressure, you can reduce and control blood pressure in a healthy range simply by making lifestyle changes. Here are 7 natural strategies you can adopt to reduce and control your blood pressure.

7 natural ways to reduce blood pressure

7 Natural Strategies to Control Blood Pressure

  1. Adhere to ideal body weight. If you are overweight try to reduce it steadily.
  2. Start off your day with physical exercises - not less than 30 minutes.
  3. Include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in your diet. Examples are sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil and olive oil. Intake of Saturated fat should be less than 6 %. Butter, palm oil, coconut oil are rich sources of saturated fat.
  4. Common salt consumption should be less than 6 gms.
  5. Include potassium rich foods in your diet. Tomatoes. Cabbages, potatoes, mushrooms, spinach are good sources of potassium.
  6. Calcium and magnesium should be a part of your daily food intake for maintaining your overall health.
  7. Stop smoking and limit alcohol intake to 50 ml per day.
The above 7 natural strategies are merely guidelines for you to follow; please note that your blood pressure treatment and goals should be tailored to you personally.

ABOVE ALL CHECK YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE REGULARLY.


Image Credit: Flickr/ Direct Relief

17 August 2015

Nutritional Benefits of Water Melon

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Water melon is a celebrated snack throughout the hot summer months. It refreshes us, quenches our thirst and prevents dehydration.

In spite of the common belief that watermelon is made up of only water, it’s a nutrient packed fruit that provides great amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with very low calories.

Nutritional benefits of water melon

Nutritional benefits of Water melon

  • Water melon is one of the high Lycopene foods and is essential for our cardio-vascular and bone health.
  • Lycopene is also a well-known antioxidant that neutralizes free radical molecules known to cause cancer.
  • The ripe fruit contains amino acid, citrulline which prevents accumulation of fat inside fat cells thereby helping in weight loss.
  • Watermelon is a very good source of vitamin C and boosts our immunity.
  • Due to its high water (92 %) and fibre content, it prevents constipation and regulates the peristaltic movement of digestive tract.
  • It’s a good source of vitamin A, which is great for our hair and skin.

Image Credit: Flickr/ Hajime NAKANO

16 July 2015

Millets for health sustainability and food sustainability

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In recent times when we drop into supermarkets, grocery stores, we could spot the racks stacked with millets like barnyard millet, pearl millet, fox tail millet and so on…..

In the past, these millets were believed to be used by people with diabetes, cardiac diseases, hypertension and for the preparation of low cost diets. Owing to their nutritional benefits, cost effectiveness and high price of staple cereals, millets are now receiving wide acceptance from food scientists, technologists, nutritionists and even layman.

Millets for health and food sustainability
Here are some facts that might arouse your curiosity towards the use of millets, the inclusion of which is more necessary at this juncture. Millets have been a part of the human food from prehistoric time. Harappan and Mohenjadaro civilisation, Sumerians, the Mayans, Incas and Aztecs were known to use millets in their countless culinary cuisines. Ayurveda (Indian traditional medical system) that dates back 6000 years ago have references to millet usage.

Botanical and common names of millets in various Indian languages


Botanical name English Tamil Malayalam Telugu Kannada Hindi
Pennisetum Typhoideum Pearl Millet Kambu Kambu Gantilu/ Sazzalu Sajje Bajra
Eleusine Coracana Finger Millet Kezhvaragu Moothari Ragulu Ragi Mandua/ Madua
Echinochlo Frumentaceae Barnyard millet Kuthiraivali - Odalu Samai Jhangora/ Shama
Setarai italica Fox tail Millet Tenai Thina Korra Thene Kangni

Millet proteins are good sources of essential amino acids and rich sources of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. From research studies, it is observed that pearl millet is significantly rich in resistant starch, soluble and insoluble dietary fibers, minerals, and antioxidants.

The protein concentrate of fox tail millet is a potential functional food ingredient and a supplementary protein source as it is rich in lysine.

Dehulled and heat-treated barnyard millet can be included in the diet of type 2 diabetics. It has a very low glycemic index that blunts the rapid spike of blood sugar in blood stream. Millet grains and their milling fractions can be used in preparing various food products for diabetics.

Finger millet prevents cardiovascular disease by reducing plasma triglycerides. In addition, phenolic extracts from finger, foxtail, and pearl millets inhibits lipid peroxidation. Finger millets have a powerful radical-scavenging activity that is higher than those of wheat, and rice.

Based on research sources, millet grains are known to be rich in phenolic acids, tannins, and phytate that act as “antinutrients”. These antinutrients have been found to reduce the risk for esophageal, colon and breast cancer. It has also been reported that populations consuming millet have lower incidences of cancer than those consuming wheat or maize.

Let us usher in millets yet again.

To conclude, millets supply multitude of beneficial nutrients and acts as a natural source of antioxidants, nutraceutical and functional food ingredient in health promotion and disease risk reduction.


Image Credit: Flickr/ Bioversity International

8 June 2015

6 easy ways to prevent osteoporosis

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6 easy ways to prevent Osteoporosis

Nutrition for bone health

Adequate nourishment is vital for the maintenance of the bone health. Although diseases of bone such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia have complex reasons, the progress of these diseases can be minimised by providing adequate quantities of nutrients throughout the lifecycle.

Of these diseases, osteoporosis is the most common and detrimental to productivity and quality of life. Osteoporosis, often called the silent epidemic, is a disease that takes a lifetime to advance and consequently a lifetime to prevent. It is characterised by a decrease in bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue with no outward signs or symptoms until late in the disease where bones become much more fragile and are apt to break.

Risk factors

  • Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
  • Those individuals who have a low dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D over their lifetime.
  • Physically inactive people, cigarette smokers, excessive alcohol consumption, persons who are thin and small frame and who have a family history of osteoporosis are at increased risk of osteoporosis.

Six factors that can be modified to prevent osteoporosis

  • A diet rich in calcium, phosphate, vitamin D are essential for normal bone structure and function.
  • Protein, calories and other micronutrients are essential to develop and maintain healthy bone.
  • Weight bearing exercise.
  • Healthy lifestyle.
  • Routine bone density tests.
  • For all those living in colder climates without much sunshine, vitamin D supplementation is suggested to accompany calcium intake.

Conditions that deplete calcium and increase risk of osteoporosis

  • Chronic diarrhoea,
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
  • Chronic respiratory disease,
  • Diabetes mellitus,
  • Scurvy,
  • Hyperthyroidism and
  • Chronic alcohol consumption
leads to modest loss of calcium.

Include these foods in plenty

  • Milk and milk products,
  • Tofu,
  • Fishes with small bones,
  • Ragi,
  • Green leafy vegetables,
  • Broccoli,
  • Fish oil,
  • Abundant direct sun shine.

Image Credit: Flickr/ Joy


20 May 2015

Contemporary disorders related to alteration in gut flora

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Contemporary disorders related to alteration in gut flora

“All diseases begins in the gut” – Hippocrates.


Our human body is a home for about trillions of bacteria and other microbes collectively called microbiome. They perform countless tasks like helping in digestion, combating infection, synthesizing certain vitamins and organic acids. The composition of the human micribiome varies from person to person based on factors such as diet, health, geographical locality, heredity and is also predisposed by environment and hygiene. Increased consumption of antibiotics, harsh chemicals like preservatives destroy guts beneficial flora and creates avenue to the growth of pathogenic bacteria.

Pathogenic microbiomes release harmful toxins that severely alter our metabolic cycle. These toxins assault our body’s immune system and initiate chronic low grade inflammation leading to insulin resistance, obesity, liver diseases, heart diseases and much more.

In the recent past, scientists have unearthed a link between gut health and brain health. Hence, a new addendum to the arena of psychobiotics is that gut microbes facilitate in treating people with chronic depression and anxiety along with gastrointestinal disturbance.

A simple way to improve your gut heath is by taking a healthy diet. Fiber rich foods are excellent source of microbiomes. Healthy microbes consume the same food as we do and the pathogens consume the unhealthy food we eat. For example healthy gut bacteria, Escherichia coli thrive on the butyric acid released by the fermentation of fibre where as Helico bacter pylori one of the causative organism of gastric ulcer and cancer thrives on simple sugar and lipid in the gut. They also releases toxin like ammonia that are toxic to human cells.

High fibre foods that aids in the growth of Probiotics

  • Whole grains like wheat, barley, legumes, flax seed, chia seeds.
  • In the list of vegetables include, tubers, green beans, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, onion, garlic and sprouts. Nuts like almond, walnut improve the gut population.
  • Fruits containing ample of vitamin C like guava, amla, orange, berries, grapes favour the growth of microbiomes.
Last but not least include plenty of fermented foods like lassi and fermented soya milk.

According to hygiene hypothesis, exposure to bacteria and virus in your environment can boost your immunity against diseases.

Avoid antibiotics as far as possible, processed foods, chemicals like stablisers and preservatives, chlorinated and fluorinated water.


Image Credit: Flickr/ Martin Jordan


8 May 2015

Why water is an indispensable nutrient?

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Why water is an indispensable nutrient?

Water matters much for a clean bill of health. Water is the most copious compound and the dynamic participant of all biochemical reactions that take place inside the body. From digestion to absorption, energy production to elimination, joint lubrication to circulation and even reproduction requires ample quantity of water.

Water is an indispensable nutrient required for existence, accounting for about 50–60% of total body mass. To be well hydrated, an average sedentary adult man must consume at least 2,900 ml (fluid per day) and the average sedentary adult woman at least 2,200 ml (fluid per day) in the form of non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages, soups and foods.

The Nationwide Food Consumption Surveys indicate that a segment of the population may be chronically mildly dehydrated. Several factors may enhance the probability of chronic mild dehydration, including a poor thirst mechanism, dissatisfaction with the taste of water, participation in exercise and environmental conditions. Dehydration of as little as 2% loss of body weight results in impaired physiological and performance responses.

The national research council recommends fluid intake of 1 ml/kCal energy requirements for an adult living under normal conditions. Hence, a reference man will need 2900 ml and a woman will need 2200 ml fluid per day. Water requirement during exercise, pregnancy and lactation increases with activity.

Early symptoms of dehydration includes

  • head ache,
  • fatigue,
  • loss of appetite,
  • heat intolerance,
  • dry mouth and eyes,
  • light headedness,
  • burning sensation in the stomach,
  • muscle cramps,
  • painful urination and
  • dark urine with strong color.

A person should stay more hydrated when he

  • performs exercises,
  • lives in high temperature,
  • lives in high altitude,
  • consumes high fibre diet,
  • consumes medicines on a regular basis and
  • when there are increased fluid losses like perspiration, diarrhea, vomiting.

Adverse effects of prolonged dehydration

  • Renal stones
  • Diminished mental performance, irritation, inability to focus
  • Diminished physical activity, feeling sluggish
  • Decreased saliva secretion
  • Frequent episodes of urinary tract infection, urinary tract cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer
  • Increased risk of overweight and obesity

Individuals should be concerned about the total water intake similar to dietary intake and simple technique like observing the colour of the urine can help them to maintain their hydration status. Nowadays soft drinks have an impact on the diet, fluid and nutrient intakes more than in previous generations due to their easy availability, affordability, changing food trends and advertising by food venders. The importance of water intake as a fluid should be emphasized to the present generation to avoid various disorders that emerge due to water imbalance.


Image Credit: Flickr/ Philografy


2 May 2015

Healthy way to reduce your waist

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Healthy way to reduce your waist

Overweight is the consequence of disparity between energy intake and energy expenditure. You can battle against it by reducing the former and/ or increasing the latter. Overweight is one of the disposing factors to chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, arthritis which has a massive impact on one's well being and efficiency.

There are various bio active components in food that can help us to control our body weight by increasing the energy expenditure. Such foods are called as thermogenic foods. Few examples of such foods are cinnamon, capsicum, extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice.

Cinnamon popularly called as sweet wood has been proved by extensive research as a thermogenic food. Prolonged use of cinnamon bark at effective levels helps in reducing weight. Cinnamaldehyde, a pungent compound in cinnamon is found to be the bioactive component that increases energy expenditure and decreases body fat.

  • Cinnamon reduces the secretion of hunger hormone gherlin, a growth hormone secreted by hypothalamus, curbs craving for food and controls voracious eating.
  • Cinnamon decreases the activity of starch digesting enzymes, slows down gastric emptying rate and gives a feeling of fullness. At the same time food is steadily digested and absorbed.
  • Moreover burns the fat cells present in adiposities for energy expenditure.
If you opt to trim down by consuming cinnamon, then use Ceylon cinnamon which doesn’t have any toxins where as Chinese cinnamon is more virulent than Ceylon cinnamon and contains a toxin called coumarin.

Ceylon cinnamon appears as quills, thin and sweet in taste where as Chinese cinnamon appears as thick individual bark and is bitter in taste. It is advisable to consume less than half a spoon of cinnamon powder either as decoction, with butter milk, or with honey.

Want to waste your waist?
Do not wait, start now..........
Because prevention is better than cure.



Image Credit: Flickr/ Jonathan Rolande


16 April 2015

Why do we Season Foods?

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Seasoning has plenty of nutritional benefits

Every time we begin our cooking process, the first thing we carry out is seasoning of food. Have you ever thought why we do this process of seasoning or tempering?

We Indians love to season foods and find countless techniques to incorporate it wherever possible. The spices commonly used for seasoning are mustard seeds, asafoetida, cumin, fennel, cinnamon, clove, bay leaves, aniseeds, green chillies, red chilies, curry leaves and coriander leaves. The sputtering sound and the aroma of the spices indicates that the process is over. We either season at the beginning or at the end of the cooking process.

Seasoning has plenty of nutritional benefits

  • First of all seasoning increases the flavour of foods. Our olfactory cells can sniff and detect the menu of that day before we enter our house.
  • The hot ghee or vegetable oil we use turns the inactive components of spices to active and unlocks the bioavailability of spices.
  • Cooking oil extracts the fat soluble vitamins from the spice and food which would be otherwise wasted.
  • Many spices have excellent preservative property that can preserve the food for hours.
  • Above all spices are promising functional foods that can help in disease prevention and treatment.

Cautions

  • Use spices and oil in moderation.
  • Never save your burnt spices, discard them.
  • Olive oil disintegrates at high temperature, so never use it for seasoning. Can just add it to your menus.
  • To avoid throwing out of spice from the pan, just use a lid for a few seconds while the spices are sizzling.
  • Never prepare seasoning and store it for future use in your refrigerator.

Image Credit: Flickr/ Dennis Wilkinson

9 April 2015

Turmeric, the King of Spices

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Turmeric, the King of Spices

The spice turmeric, rhizome of Curcuma longa plant has been used in our culinary preparation as well in medicinal preparations from ancient times. The spice is native to South Asia and belongs to ginger family. The active bio compound of turmeric is curcumin, a polyphenol which had covered the captions of almost all health magazines in recent years.

The yellow orange polyphenol has a myriad of health benefits ranging from antibiotic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic, blood thinning, cardio protective and antidiabetic, antiageing, antinociceptive which have been proved by several human intervention trials.

The recently touted property is the anticancerous potential of turmeric. Numerous studies have shown promising results in the use of curcumin as a potential agent to prevent and fight cancer by inducing apoptosis in the cancer cells but the bioavailablity of curcumin from the intestinal lumen is very less that it has been a hitch that decelerates the discovery of a nutraceutical from curcumin.

Treating sprains and swellings with a pinch of turmeric powder is an age-old home remedy practiced throughout India. An effective home remedy for chronic cough and throat irritation is drinking milk boiled with a pinch of turmeric.

A study in the Journal of Affective Disorders has showed noticeable and promising results with turmeric for supporting a balanced mood.

Apart from therapeutic uses, turmeric is used as a preservative, colouring agent, to marinate and as flavour enhancer in Indian curries and gravies. Turmeric is used by south Asian woman as herbal powder to get a radiant skin. It’s also sprinkled as a pesticide to ward off tiny insects in nook and cranny of our home.

2 great ways to use turmeric

By drinking it as a tea or by using it in curries and gravies are two great ways of using turmeric. Turmeric tea is an easy way to supplement curcumin. Simply boil four cups of water, then add one teaspoon of ground turmeric and simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Strain the tea through a sieve and pour into a cup. Flavor turmeric tea by adding a little honey or lemon juice or coriander or mint leaf.

Caution when using turmeric

  • Turmeric is a blood thinner and persons taking warfarin drugs should not consume additional doses apart from adding it in food.
  • Some people are sensitive to the bioactive component tumerone which can result in abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea.
  • Size of Gall stones may be aggravated by consuming turmeric orally.

The bottom line

There are plenty of commercial turmeric powders in the market and be sure to buy one that is free from adulteration and from reputed companies for maximum efficacy.


Image Credit: Flickr/ Souvik Das Gupta

31 March 2015

Pomegranate - The Mystic Fruit

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Pomegranate - The Mystic Fruit
Figure Source: Biomed Research International, 2014.

Pomegranate (Punica granatum), a fruit indigenous to the Middle East, has gained widespread popularity as a functional food and nutraceutical source. Pomegranate's botanical name, Punica Granatum, translates as "apple with many seeds". The health effects of the whole fruit, as well as its juices and extracts is gaining thrust due to its superior antioxidant property [1]. Its usage has been cited in ancient Ayurveda, Ebers papyrus, Greek, Unani and Egyptian literatures. It has been used as a vermifuge, astringent, bacteriocide, refrigerant, stimulant, stomachic, styptic and to alleviate the adverse effect of bronchitis, cardiac problems, dysentery, diarrhea, fever, infalammation, bleeding disorders, ulcers, urinary tract infections and as a febrifuge [2].

Pomegranate fruit contains Gallic acid, Ellagic acid, Punicalin, Punnicalagin, Caffeic acid, Ellagi tannins, luteolin, Kaemferol and querccetin [3]. They are also rich sources of vitamin C, potassium and fibre. The red gleaming fruits with seeds are called arils. They are full of delicious and nutricious juice. The white skin in between the arils, although bitter, are also rich sources of polyphenols.

  • Pomegranate can be incorporated in a heart healthy diet as it diminishes atherosclerotic lesion and intima media thickness in cardiac patients. It also decreases lipid peroxidation in patients with type 2 diabetes, and systolic blood pressure and serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity in hypertensive patients [4].
  • Type 2 diabetes, the debilitating disease has reached an epidemic state, globally and research has proved that the super food Pomegranate has low glycemic index which reduces the sharp increase in blood sugar. Inhibitors of intestinal a-glucosidase enzymes retard the rate of carbohydrate digestion, contributing to reduce postprandial hyperglycemia [5].
  • Ellagic acid component have been reported to suppress various cancers, including prostate cancer,breast, colon and lung cancer. Ellagic acid seems to slow down the growth of cancer cells, reduces cell mobility. Investigations show a significant decrease in tumor size and tumor vessel density [6].
  • Phytoestrogens in Punica are found to be much effective in treatment of premenopausal and menopausal symptoms [3]. Daily intragastric administration of pomegranate juice was effective in decreasing serum contents of carbonyls and ox- LDL and protecting against blood mononuclear cell DNA damage.
  • Chinese herbology mentions pomegranate juice as a longevity treatment because of its free radical scavenging activity.
  • Pomegranate has phytochemicals and essential nutrients which boost memory, particularly short term memory. It is concluded that flavonoids in these juices may be responsible for memory enhancing effects [7].
  • Alzheimers disease brains revealed elevated levels of oxidative stress markers which have been implicated in Aβ-induced toxicity. Multiple components present in pomegranate and various pomegranate preparations are known to exert pleiotropic protective effects as demonstrated in various in vitro and in vivo model systems [8].
Thus, with literature reviews, there is no doubt that Pomegranate is a super food which has been used for medicinal purposes for millennia. Packed with powerful antioxidants and vitamins, this ruby-red fruit has been shown to be a cure-all for any ailment. Pomegranate juice is a mixture of diverse antioxidants, it is also possible that the antioxidant action of pomegranate juice is generated from a concerted action of a combination of these antioxidants.


References

  1. Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, 2011, Vol. 2: 181-201
  2. Ferreira et al, 2007, Antioxidant, anti-malarial, and antimicrobial activities, of tannin rich fractions, Ellagitannins, and phenolic Acids from Punica granatumJuberiya AM, Pomegranate Fruit as a Rich Source of Biologically Active Compounds , Bio Med research international 01/2014
  3. Arpita Basu , Kavitha Penugonda,, Pomegranate juice: a heart-healthy fruit juice, Nutrition reviews, 2009, 49 – 56
  4. Krentz AJ, Bailey CJ. 2005. Oral antidiabetic agents. Current role in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Drugs 65:385–411.
  5. Aya Naiki et al, The prostrate, 10/14.
  6. Parashar, A., et al. (2008) Pomegranate (Punca granatum L.) Leaf analysis correlation with harvest. PAS 14, PP 127 – 135.
  7. Riaz A, Memory boosting effect of Citrus limon, Pomegranate and their combinations, Pak. J. Pharm. Sci., Vol.27, No.6, November 2014, pp.1837-1840
  8. Subash S, Pomegranate ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease-type neurodegeneration in tg 2576 mouse model, Conference paper, FASEB journal

28 March 2015

Does mental stress take a toll on your energy needs?

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As we manage the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we sometimes skip meals and to compensate it we overeat the next time. Do we need extra energy to deal with these stress?

More to Ponder……

Stress is a condition that threatens the body’s emotional wellbeing of a physically healthy person. The signs and symptoms of mental stress cannot be easily distinguished from that of a physical stress since both are one and the same.

Human beings need some amount of stress for their welfare. A fair amount of stress is necessary for good health.

For example, boredom is stressful for many people and feel depressed over the course of time. Mental stresses related to ambition, desire and drive are said to be positive forms of stress while anxiety, tension, strain are said to be negative forms of stress.

Too much of stress is associated with early onset of diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, gastrointestinal diseases, cancer, etc. All of these are related to nutrition.

People of Type A personality who are very ambitious and impatient tend to have high cholesterol, high sugar, and rapid heartbeat. Ulcers and gastro intestinal diseases are intensified by excessive mental stress.

People with mental stress may not tolerate certain foods when they are stressed and same food is accepted when they are free from emotional stress. This may be due to the impairment of gastrointestinal system, decreased gut movement, decreased enzyme secretion, loss of appetite, distention, and episodes of gastric pains, diarrhoea and constipation.

Effect of emotional stress including food intolerance vary from person to person, also in same person vary at different times depending on the extent of activation of autonomic nerves system.

Some people respond to stress by eating more while some respond by starving. Thus mental stress can lead to under nutrition or over nutrition.

Nutritional Requirements

Dietary experts recommend adequate intake of food like a normal healthy person. A diet that contains sufficient amount of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and sufficient amount of liquid is advised. Various supplements may fortify body against emotional stress. They comprise vitamin B to support adrenal glands, magnesium and calcium for tranquilising effect.

Additional energy requirements are advocated only for persons who respond to stress with increased muscular or physical activity to sustain their ideal weight.


Image Credit: Flickr/ thornypup

27 March 2015

Magnesium rich foods: benefits, dietary needs & sources

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Magnesium rich foods: benefits, dietary needs & sources

Fill up your plates with magnesium rich foods - The benefits, Daily dietary needs & Sources


Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for our optimal well-being. It aids in many enzyme reactions, helps take energy from food and make new proteins.

Found in chlorophyll pigment is an important part of your bones, and helps keep your muscles, heart function and nerves healthy.

Diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases have been linked with low levels of magnesium in blood.

Headaches, insomnia, moodiness, fatigue, general sadness or a lack of motivation, and even cramps or joint pain are said to be due to magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium content of common foods

The best sources of magnesium are greens, legumes, milk and milk products. Recommended Dietary Allowance for magnesium is 420 milligrams a day for men aged 31 and older, and 320 milligrams daily for women in the same age range. The following table shows you foods that are rich sources of magnesium.

Source
Amount in mg
Spinach 1 cup
157
Black eyed pea ½ cup
46
Yoghurt 1 cup
43
Kidney bean ½ cup
43
Broccoli 1 cup
37
Banana1 medium size
34
Milk 1 cup
34
Water melon 1 slice
32
Oat meal ½ cup
28

Include these magnesium rich foods and you’ll feel better in no time.
You are what you eat.
You are what you do not eat.



Image Credit: Flickr/ Steven Lilley


21 March 2015

8 simple ideas that enrich your diet with phytochemicals

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8 simple ideas that enrich your diet with phytochemicals
  1. Attempt to include as much vegetable as viable in your main and side dish.
  2. While selecting Frankie’s, cookies, stuffed pastries, pick vegetable and fruit filled ones instead of choosing sugar rich ones.
  3. Incorporate raisins, grapes, apple, pineapple chunks, carrot, cucumber and peas in whatever dishes you can.
  4. At all times keep a bowl of fresh vegetables and fruits on table for snacks.
  5. Choose fresh fruit juices instead of soft drinks.
  6. Replace tea in place of coffee.
  7. Add flavour to your plate with ginger, basil, cinnamon, rosemary, garlic and onions.
  8. Introduce soya products like tofu, soymilk, tempeh, and soy chunks in your diet.

Image Credit: Flickr/ Sean MacEntee


Why should you include Bell pepper (Capsicum) in your diet?

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Why should you include Bell pepper (Capsicum) in your diet?

How often do you include Bell pepper (Capsicum) in your diet? Read this and use it as much as you can.

Consumption of Pepper fruit, otherwise known as bell pepper (Capsicum annum L) is gaining significance these days due to better cognizance about its antioxidant properties. They belong to the family of solanaceae which includes eggplant, potato and tomato. There are many varieties of pepper including yellow, orange, red, purple, brown and black with variations in the pigment they contain. Pepper fruit is much noted for its pungent taste. Pepper fruit can be eaten raw as salads, added in curries and pickles. The major products prepared from pepper are paprika, dried chillies and oleoresin.

Nutritional importance

  • 100 grams of raw pepper supplies roughly 30 calories with low glycemic index.
Fibre = 1.85 gm
Vitamin C = 120 mg
Potassium = 195 mg

  • Bell pepper are excellent sources of phytonutrients like carotenoid, flavonoids and cinnamic acid which possess astounding antioxidant properties.
  • Pepper fruit is a rich source of Vitamin C.
  • Matured red pepper fruit contains more carotenoid pigment than raw pepper.
  • Pepper contains Capsaicin, an alkaloid compound which is responsible for its distinct pungent taste.

Pharmacological importance

  • Pepper is much noted for its cardio protective effect by preventing clot formation that causes heart attacks.
  • Capsaicin present in the fruit has thermogenic properties, (burning fat tissues) and thereby helps in weight reduction.
  • Most of the pain relieving gels vended in markets today have capsaicin as its most prominent component. They function by triggering the brain to release endorphins, the natural pain killer.
  • Capsaicin prevents the growth of several cancer cells through stimulation of apoptosis.

Image Credit: Flickr/ Binu Nair

12 February 2015

How to keep raw fruits and vegetables safe?

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Best ways to keep raw fruits and vegetables safe
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Your local markets carry an amazing variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that are both nutritious and delicious. However, harmful bacteria that may be in the soil or water where produce grows may come in contact with fruits and vegetables and contaminate them. Fresh produce may also become contaminated after it is harvested, such as during preparation or storage.

Eating contaminated produce (or fruit and vegetable juices made from contaminated produce) can lead to foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning.” As you enjoy fresh produce and fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, follow these safe handling tips to help protect yourself and your family.

Buy Right

  • Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
  • When selecting pre-cut produce — such as a half a watermelon, papaya, pumpkin — choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products when packing them to take home from the market.[1]

What are the best ways to keep raw fruits and vegetables safe?

  • Wash your hands with hot soapy water before and after preparing food.
  • Clean your counter top, cutting boards, and utensils after peeling produce and before cutting and chopping. Bacteria from the outside of raw produce can be transferred to the inside when it is cut or peeled. Wash kitchen surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Do not wash produce with soaps or detergents.
  • Use clean potable running cold water to wash items.
  • For produce with thick skin, use a vegetable brush to help wash away hard-to-remove microbes.
  • Produce with a lot of nooks and crannies like cauliflower, broccoli or lettuce should be soaked for 1 to 2 minutes in cold clean water.
  • Throw away the peels of produce like apples, potatoes, pears and carrot to remove surface residues, some fibre and nutrients may be lost.
  • Do not rewash packaged products labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed” or “triple washed.”
  • Once cut or peeled, refrigerate as soon as possible at 40ºF or below.
  • Do not purchase cut produce that is not refrigerated.
  • Eating sprouts can help promote good health. Unfortunately, they can also trigger food poisoning when consumed raw or even lightly cooked. This is because bacteria can thrive in a warm, humid environment and sprouts are grown in these conditions. Cook sprouts thoroughly before eating even if they are sprouted at home [2]

Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Fruit and Vegetable Juices

Here is a video from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on safe handling of raw product and fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. You may find this video very useful and handy to find out the best ways to keep raw fruits and vegetables safe.



Help prevent food-borne illness from striking you and your family. Wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them.

References

  1. US dept of health and human services. - Raw Produce: Selecting and Serving it Safely
  2. Food Safety Facts, Best Ways to Wash Fruits and Vegetables, Bolton et al http://umaine.edu/publications/4336e/

Image Credit: Flickr/ Andreas Levers

27 January 2015

5 Foods that prevent kidney stone formation

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Patients with kidney stones are routinely advised to increase their liquid intake to decrease the risk of stone recurrence. However, the type of food they dine might also play a crucial role in stone formation.

Here is a list of foods that inhibit stone formation in kidneys:

1. Tea

Tea prevents formation of kidney stones
Tea is a popular, accepted beverage that is enjoyed every day by hundreds of millions of people across all continents. Tea also provides a dietary source of biologically active compound called flavonoid that helps prevent renal stone formation. Tea also contains many other beneficial compounds such as vitamins and fluoride. A growing body of evidence suggests that moderate consumption of tea may protect us against the formation of kidney stones.

Lemon juice for kidney stones prevention

2. Lemon juice

Lemon juice breaks up the calcium oxalate stones, dissolves them in the kidney and makes them to pass easily from the kidney to the bladder through urination. Lemon juice also makes the urine alkaline that inhibits the development of both calcium oxalate and uric acid stones. Hence consume them regularly.

3. Tender coconut water

Coconut water dissolves kidney stones
Medical research has shown consumption of coconut water to be very effective in dissolving kidney stones. Tender coconut water has been called the fluid of life where the electrolyte levels are similar to those found in the human body. It also acts as a diuretic as it increases the flow and production of urine. It is a natural isotonic drink, reduces the size of kidney stones and removes them.

4. Bananas

Bananas for a healthy kidney
Daily intake of bananas is extremely protective for the health of kidney. If anyone had kidney stones and he/she is trying to rule out reoccurrence, then he/she should have bananas often as they are rich in vitamin B6 which prevents the formation of oxalate stones.

5. Barley Water

A glass of barley water will help increase urination, which will dissolve stones and flush them out of the body. It also contains stone inhibitors. As it exerts diuretic and healing effect, a glass of barley water plays a significant role in preventing the formation of renal stones.

Image Credits

Tea: Flickr/ Naama ym
Tender Coconut: By Crisco 1492 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Bananas: Flickr/ Fernando Stankuns

19 January 2015

9 benefits of consuming radish

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Why you should love radish?

What are the benefits of consuming Radish?

There are plenty of benefits in consuming radish, some of them are listed below for your information.
  1. Boosts immunity
  2. Cleanses toxins from your body and protects kidney
  3. Rich in potassium, reduces blood pressure
  4. Extremely useful in treating jaundice
  5. Low glycemic index, hence regulates sugar
  6. Maintains moisture level in skin
  7. Helps in preventing heart disease
  8. Treats oral, stomach and colon cancer
Do you consume radish? Do you know of any other benefits of radish that are not listed below? Share your views and opinions in the comments section.