19 August 2019

Bell pepper

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Capsicum is a part of the human diet since 7500 BC. In Asia, the word ‘chilli’ is more commonly associated with highly pungent varieties of Capsicum annum, while the non-pungent sweet bell peppers are referred to as ‘Capsicums’ The main source of pungency in peppers is the chemical group of alkaloid compounds called capsaicinoids (CAPS), which are produced in the fruit.

Bell peppers with their beautifully shaped glossy exterior, with a   wonderful combination of tangy taste and crunchy texture comes in a wide array of vivid colours ranging from green, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown to black. Although peppers are available throughout the year, they are most abundant and tasty during the months of August and September

Bell peppers, among vegetables, have become extremely popular for the abundance and the kind of antioxidants they contain. They are excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin A. They also are a source of vitamin B6, folic acid, beta-carotene, and fiber. Red peppers also contain lycopene, believed important for reducing risk of certain cancers.

Bell pepper has many health benefits like   reducing the   risk of cardiovascular disease, boost lung health and defend us against rheumatoid arthritis
Include bell pepper   regularly in your healthy eating plan

18 August 2019

Go nuts for nuts

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What are the health benefits of nuts?
Are they good for you?

Nuts are nutrient-rich foods that are abundant in plant protein, beneficial fat, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemical compounds. They have been a constituent of mankind’s food since prehistorical times. Due to their diverse nutritional profile, when consumed in appropriate quantities, they have a splendid impact on one’s health. The most popular edible nuts are almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, cashews, pecan, macadamias, brazil nuts, and peanuts.

Go nuts for nuts


Research studies have linked the consumption of nuts with reduced incidence of diabetes mellitus, heart diseases, and cancer. Nuts are eaten as snacks – roasted, salted or sweetened form. They also occupy an important place in the production of milkshakes, paste for addition in gravies, in making candies, production of oils, sauces, and ice-creams.

Contrary to the myth that nuts cause overweight and obesity, regular consumption of nuts do not increase weight. Although nuts are one of the richest sources of fat, the fatty acid composition of nuts is beneficial as saturated fatty acid content is low (4–16%) and nearly half of the total fat content is made up of unsaturated fat, monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Nuts also are a good source of dietary fiber, which ranges from 4 to 11 g per 100 g.

Among the constituents of nuts, essential micronutrients are present in significant amounts. They improve health status when consumed at doses beyond those necessary to prevent deficiency states. Nuts contain sizeable amounts of folate, which is much necessary for normal cellular function. Nuts are also rich sources of antioxidants which help in reducing oxidative stress and help in regenerating damaged tissues. A high amount of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, together with low sodium is associated with protection against bone demineralization, hypertension, insulin resistance.

The two main concerns regarding nut consumption are the possibility of allergies to some people due to the presence of certain amino acids and the second one is potential toxicity through contamination of nuts with mycotoxins, particularly aflatoxins which might cause foodborne illness.

It is better to consume nuts in the whole form with skin rather than processing with salt, sugar, and chemicals. Soaking in water can help in improving the bioavailability of nutrients to the body. Thus, a diet supplemented with one daily serving of nuts can go a long way in reducing cardiovascular events, development of other chronic disorders including diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Threats of drinking street vended fruit juices

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One cannot resist stepping into a fresh fruit juice shop while travelling in this hot scorching summer. Fresh fruit juices provide instant soothing relief, refreshes and rehydrates us in this hot season. As we travel along the highways, we are able to see so many street vendors, at a stone throw distance from each other, busily preparing and selling iced fresh juices. They are preferred by the consumers because of the fresh flavour and low cost. The most popular fruit juices sold by these vendors these days are sugar cane, musk melon, orange, sweet lime, and lemon. Fresh fruit juices are increasingly becoming a vehicle of foodborne illness.

Threats of drinking street vended fruit juices

Fresh fruit juices contain loads of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Apart from quenching the thirst, consumption of them helps in preventing degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular problems, obesity, and several cancers. Nutrients in fruit juices help in boosting one’s immune system and also improves digestion by secreting a healthy level of enzymes.

However, have we ever thought of the hidden potential risks that underlie while drinking these fruit juices prepared by road side vendors? These fruit juices are prepared in a open space, usually under a tree, near a pond, and along the sides of a very busy road. This invites plenty of dust to settle in our fruit juices. Also, cut fruits are exhibited openly as a treat to flies. The next concern is about the washing practices followed by them to cleanse the fruits, containers and their hands. Unclean fruits, improperly washed glasses, dirty machines, untreated water and a dirty hand welcomes millions of pathogens into the juice. 

Though some of our immune systems can fight off the effects of pathogens, children, elderly and people with weakened immune systems risk life-threatening health issues by drinking these juices. Fruit juices prepared and served in an unhygienic way can cause various diseases like diarrhoea, fever, typhoid, cholera, jaundice and hepatitis.

Research studies show a high microbial load in road side vended drinks. The range of average total viable count (microbial load) and total coliforms were 7.7 × 103 - 9 × 108 cfu/ml and 210–1100 cfu/100 ml, indicating the heavy presence of microorganisms in all the drinks analyzed in the study.

Government can introduce and implement policies to ensure the hygienic quality of road side vended juices. Awareness programmes to road side vendors can be given to protect our community from falling ill.

It is advisable to drink home-made fruit juices and under unavoidable situations, always drink fresh juices in an A grade shop. It is better to opt for tender coconut which is otherwise known as heavens dew. 

19 February 2018

Why Should You Love Cruciferous Vegetables?

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Are you eating the recommended quantity of veggies you need every day?

The present-day mantra for a healthier life is to include equal amount of vegetables and fruits as much as cereals.

Different vegetables are rich in different nutrients. Some provide you with plenty of calories, while others nourish you with vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Include a generous amount of green leafy vegetables, legumes, gourd varieties and cruciferous vegetables in your diet and stay away from starchy vegetables as much as you can to enjoy a hale and healthy life.

Cauliflower, Cruciferous Vegetable

What are Cruciferous Vegetables?

Cruciferous vegetables belong to the family of mustard plant and are noted for being awfully good. "Cruciferous vegetables" are named for the four equal-sized petals in its flowers that has a shape as cross-like or crucifix shape.

Among the Cruciferous vegetables, cabbage, radish, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and brussels sprouts top the list.

Health benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables contain phytochemicals and other nutrients that may shield you from certain cancer-causing substances.

They are excellent sources of several carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamins C, E, and K and minerals. They are also a good source of fiber.

In addition, cruciferous vegetables contain a group of sulphur containing phytochemical substances known as glucosinolates. These sulphurs containing chemicals are responsible for the pungent aroma and bitter flavour of cruciferous vegetables.

Radish, Cruciferous Vegetable

Scientists have linked these vegetables to lower the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. This anticancer property has been attributed to alterations in the metabolism of carcinogens by the simpler products of glucosinolates, which are a group of rare constituents present only in cruciferous vegetables.

During food preparation, the glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables are broken down to form biologically active compounds such as indoles, thiocyanates, and sulforaphane. Active compounds in cruciferous vegetables are supposed to inhibit carcinogenesis by detoxifying our cells, blocking the carcinogens from attaching to our DNA and by instigating cell death.

Some people, who have a genetic background of cancer, can dodge from it by consuming cruciferous vegetables. Thus, in addition to detoxification, these phytochemicals exercise versatile and long-lasting antioxidant protection.

Conclusion

Overall, cruciferous vegetables are among the most promising chemo preventive dietary constituents.

Hence cultivate the habit of adding few cruciferous vegetables to your diet along with fruits, whole grains, and lean protein sources like fish, meat, eggs, nuts, and bean for optimal health and wellness.

12 January 2017

Gastric cancer is preventable?

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Gastric cancer is the most common form of cancer in incidence and second leading cause for mortality among cancer throughout the world. Being vigilant about the risk factors can help you lower the risk of gastric cancer.

The causes of gastric cancer includes:

  • Genetic factors: The likelihood to contract gastric cancer is about 2-3 times higher in first-degree relatives of patients with the disease.
  • Overweight
    Image Credit: Flickr/mrd00dman
  • Overweight: Being overweight increases the risk of gastric cancer. Thus, maintaining a healthy weight is much essential to keep away from any disease.
  • Impact of Age: Usually elderly people are immune exhausted. The ability of their body to resist any infection is very less. As a result they are easily vulnerable to carcinogens and succumb to cancer.
  • Faulty food habits: Research has proven that the risk of gastric cancer could be reduced by
  • Fruits and vegetables
    Image Credit: Flickr/Olearys
    • Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Raw vegetables and fruits exert a protective effect by reducing the area of exposure of carcinogens to gastric cells.
    • Foods rich in Vitamin A, E and C reduce the risk of gastric cancer. Vitamin A,E, and C have a protective effect on gastric mucosa by helping in the rapid healing of ulcer lesions
    • A mediterranean diet includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds, fish and seafood, and small doses of red wine. Olive oil is the main source of fat. Lower consumption of milk and milk products are recommended. Adhering to Mediterranean diet has a positive effect on health. Mediterranean countries like France and Greece, Italy, Spain have relatively low incidence of gastric cancer.
    • Studies have indicated that drinking green tea lessens risk of cancer; Green tea is rich in phytochemical catechin. Catechin has an inhibitory effect on the multiplication of cancer cells and apoptosis of the cells.
    • Consuming large amount of dried, smoked, salted or pickled foods leads to the development of stomach cancer.
    • High consumption of meat, refined flour, pasta, bread and buns might influence the risk of cancer.
    • Consuming improperly preserved foods, lack of refrigeration also hikes cancer incidence.
    • Food additives are added to increase shelf life of processed foods, antibiotics or hormones given to farm animals that are reared for meat, pesticides and herbicide in plants, bisphenols that are present in packaging materials are most dangerous carcinogens.
    Physically active
    Image Credit: Flickr/Fit Approach
  • Being physically active: Risk of cancer can be avoided by being physically active. Moderate to intense physical activity according ones physical condition is recommended for 30 – 40 minutes. Sedentary behaviors like sitting for long hours, watching TV and engaging in any screened based activity should be curtailed.
  • Alcohol drinking and cigarette smoking may contribute to the transformation of the gastric tissue into tumor. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach leads to the damage of the gastric mucosa and the development of cancer cells.
  • Pernicious anemia: People with persistent pernicious anemia develop gastric cancer over time.
  • Helicobacter pylori infection: H. pylori enter our body through contaminated food and water and harbors in the mucosa of the stomach. Once H.pylori survives, causes chronic gastritis and ulcer. People with chronic gastric ulcers should be tested for H. pylori, and, if they are infected, should be treated with antibiotics to reduce the incidence of gastric cancer
“Although the mechanism of cancer remains unclear, it seems that infection with H pylori is the major driving force in the process”- Correa
Prevention is better than cure. Cancer incidence is expected to escalate in future due to urbanization and nutrition transition. Nutritional factors play a crucial role in causing cancer. People with risk factors like heredity, faulty food habits , overweight, sedentary behavior, drinking liquors, smoking , chronic ulcers should be identified and encourage to follow healthy life style. Thus battle against cancer can be won only by sticking to a healthy diet, maintaining optimal weight, promoting physical activity, limiting the intake of alcohol and refraining from tobacco.