Foods, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Pumpkins are not Just for Halloween

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Pumpkins are not just for Halloween.

Pumpkin has always been a staple in the autumn kitchen, but in I challenge you to take a better look at this amazing, vitamin packed, all natural food, and re-think its versatility in your cleaner-eating lifestyle.

Mostly pumpkin is associated with desserts or sweet treats; making it seem more like a fruit but in fact it is a member of the squash family.

Pumpkin beta-carotene content

The bright orange colour of pumpkin gives away that it is jammed pack with beta-carotene. This anti-oxidant has been linked to helping ward off certain cancers. Although pumpkin is not a high source of fiber, it is packed with vitamins A & C and is fat free!

The nutritional breakdown of pumpkin makes this vegetable a wise, raw choice in baking. And did you know that it can be used instead of fat in many of your favorite recipes?! My mouth is watering just thinking about the possibilities!

Freeze pumpkin pie filling, can I?

Unfortunately, fresh pumpkin is not available year-round. Although canned options are available, why not bake and freeze your own pumpkin for baking and cooking throughout the year? It is one of the easiest things I have ever done in the kitchen… really!

How to prepare pumpkin for freezing

Carve open and hollow out your pumpkin as if you were making a jack-o’-lantern. At this point, try roasting the seeds for a healthy snack or to use in other recipes such as home-made granola bars.

Now simply cut the pumpkin in pieces or large “chunks” and place skin-up on baking sheets. Bake in the oven like any squash until a fork easily slides out through the skin.

After removing the pumpkin from the oven and it is completely cooled scoop out the pulp with a spoon into 1/2 cup or 1 cup freezer bags. Using a straw, remove all of the air out of the bag as it is being sealed and write the date on with a permanent marker.

You are now well stocked with portions of pumpkin ready to use in your favorite recipes including soups, cookies, muffins, and yes, even the occasional pie. Natural, and preservative free pumpkin… got to love it!

Do you know someone you might like to share this with?

 

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Health and Disease

21 Foods That Naturally Unclog Arteries

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21 foods that naturally unclog arteries

If your goal is to restore or maintain a healthy heart, there are a variety of foods that can help to unclog arteries of plaque build-up, lower your blood pressure, and reduce inflammation – the main culprits of cardiovascular illness.

Many of the foods on this list contain healthy fats, antioxidants, and soluble fiber which are great not only for your heart, but also to promote healthy skin, hair, hormone production, and nutrient absorption.  You can feel better, have more energy, and improve your heart health without the use of toxic chemicals.

  1. Asparagus

One of the best vegetables for clearing arteries, asparagus is full of fiber and minerals, as well as a long list of vitamins including K, B1, B2, C, and E.  Asparagus can help to lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots that can cause serious cardiovascular illness.  Try steaming raw asparagus for maximum vitamin potential!

  1. Avocado

The next time you make a sandwich or salad, consider adding a few slices of avocado in lieu of mayonnaise or heavy salad dressing.  Studies have shown that the daily consumption of avocado result in improved blood cholesterol with a decrease in triglycerides and LDL of around 22% and an 11% increase in HDL – the “good” cholesterol that helps to keep arteries clear of obstructions.  Not only can this delicious fruit help to keep your blood flowing smoothly, the average avocado also contains around 4 grams protein and 11 grams of fiber, not to mention an impressive list of vitamins and antioxidants.

  1. Broccoli

Broccoli is another vegetable that is loaded with vitamin K which helps to prevent calcification or hardening of arteries.  Eating vitamin- and antioxidant-packed broccoli can also help to prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol which can lead to serious heart conditions.  This super healthy veggie also offers a heart-healthy dose of fiber which helps to normalize blood-pressure and reduce stress that may cause tears (and eventually plaque build-up) in arterial walls.

  1. Chia Seeds

When included daily as part of a heart-healthy diet, the fiber and alpha-linolenic acid contained in just two ounces of Chia seeds can help to keep arteries clear by regulating blood pressure, reducing LDL cholesterol, lowering triglycerides, and increasing HDL cholesterol.  Also, because daily cardiovascular exercise is another excellent way to improve heart health and keep arteries clear, Chia seeds are doubly effective.  The boost of protein and nutrients offered by this tiny superfood can help to make any workout feel just a little bit easier.

  1. Cinnamon

You’ve probably heard that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.  But did you know that a spoonful of cinnamon makes your risk of heart disease go down?  Just one tablespoon of ground cinnamon per day can work to reduce cholesterol levels while at the same time clearing and preventing plaque build-up.  Cinnamon is also full of antioxidants which further improve cardiovascular health by protecting blood from damaging oxidation.  So put down the sugar and start enjoying cinnamon.  Try this fragrant spice in a cup of tea or sprinkled on top of coffee.  Or check out these recipes on EatingWell with cinnamon.

  1. Coconut Oil

Disregard the old myth that all saturated fats are bad and the leading cause of cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis.  Regular consumption of coconut oil – about 2 or 3 tablespoons per day – can help to reduce plaque build-up in the arteries by aiding the conversion of cholesterol in the blood stream into a form that our bodies can use.  The high concentration of medium-chain triglyceride, lauric acid present in coconut oil is also thought to improve blood coagulation as well as to perform antioxidant functions in the blood stream, further diminishing the risk of heart disease.

  1. Coffee

Also contrary to popular belief, coffee is not bad for your health.  Studies have found that drinking between 8 and 16 oz of coffee per day can reduce your risk of heart disease by around 20%.  Just remember to take all things in moderation, including caffeine.  Over-consumption of any stimulant has the potential to increase your blood pressure and heart rate, which can lead to some serious health problems.

  1. Cranberries

Cranberries are another antioxidant-rich food which can help to improve cardiovascular health by reducing LDL and raising HDL cholesterol levels. In fact, cranberry juice has more antioxidant power than all but one other fruit juice (100% red or black grape being the exception.)  Enjoy two servings of 100% pure organic cranberry juice daily to protect your heart and improve your health.

  1. Cold-water “Fatty” Fish

Also rich in healthy fats, cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna can help to clear arteries.  Try to eat fish twice per week to reduce plaque build-up and inflammation that can lead to heart disease.  Also, eating cold-water fish can help to improve your overall cholesterol – lowering triglyceride levels and increasing HDL cholesterol in the blood-stream.

  1. Flaxseeds

One of the best sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), flaxseeds are known for their ability to reduce blood-pressure and inflammation, helping to keep arteries clear of obstructions and improve overall heart health.  Enjoy a serving of 100% organic golden flaxseed added to a delicious smoothie or in a salad.

  1. Green Tea

Green tea – especially nutrient-rich Matcha green tea – contains high levels of catechins, antioxidant plant phenols which hinder the absorption of cholesterol during digestion.  Enjoy a cup or two of green tea every day to improve your blood-lipid levels and help reduce arterial blockage.  Green tea also provides a natural boost to the metabolism which can help you to lose weight, further bolstering your cardiovascular health.

  1. Nuts

A heart healthy snack alternative to prepackaged and processed foods, raw nuts are a delicious way to clear arteries with many auxiliary benefits, to boot!  Almonds are by far the best option, being very high in monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, fiber, and protein.  Walnuts are another great choice.  As an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – the same EFA that gives flaxseeds their favorable reputation – eating a serving of walnuts every day can help to improve blood-pressure, reduce inflammation, and keep arteries clear of obstructions.

  1. Olive Oil

Rich in monounsaturated oleic acid – an essential fatty acid (EFA) known for its positive effects on cholesterol levels and oxidative stress in the blood stream – olive oil is widely considered to be one of the healthiest oils for cooking and dressing food.  According to a recent study, use of olive oil for these purposes can actually reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular illnesses by up to 41%.

A word of caution: When shopping for olive oil, avoid buying the lowest-priced option on the shelf.  These products are inexpensive for a good reason.  Low-cost olive oils are often cut with cheaper, less-healthy oils or have been damaged by heat during the extraction process.  Instead, go with a certified 100% organic virgin olive oil.

  1. Orange Juice

Drinking just two cups of 100% orange juice (no sugar added) every day can help to improve blood pressure and reduce inflammation of arteries.  Also, orange juice is full of antioxidant vitamin C which helps to keep arteries clear by preventing oxidative damage in the blood stream     The back drawl to Orange Juice is that most commercial orange juices are very very high in High Fructose Corn Syrup.  So pure, fresh squeeze orange juice is good for you, commercial brands are not.,

  1. Persimmon

Persimmons are loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, both of which work to decrease LDL and triglycerides in the blood-stream.  Persimmons are also a great source of fiber which helps to regulate blood pressure, keep your heart healthy, and your arteries clear.

  1. Pomegranate

Antioxidant phytochemicals naturally present in pomegranates do an excellent job of protecting the circulatory system from damaging oxidation which can cause plaque build-up and dangerous blood clots.  Pomegranate also naturally stimulates production of nitric oxide in the blood which helps to open arteries and regulate blood pressure.  Try eating fresh pomegranate or enjoy some organic pomegranate juice!

  1. Spinach

One of the famed dark leafy greens, spinach is loaded with fiber, potassium, and folate – all of which help to lower blood pressure and keep arteries clear.  According to recent studies, just one serving per day of folate-rich greens like spinach can lower homocysteine levels – a known risk factor for cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis.  Why not mix it up a little?  Enjoy your spinach sautéed, in a salad, or as part of a heart-smart smoothie!

  1. Spirulina

Spirulina is a cytobacteria (or blue-green algae as they are often called) which not only helps to regulate lipid levels in the blood, it is also a complete protein.  Unlike other plant sources of protein, Spirulina contains all of the essential amino acids needed by the human body to maintain optimum health.  Spirulina is also packed with EFAs, including alpha-linolenic acid – the essential omega-3 fatty acid found in chia and flaxseeds that has been researched extensively for its ability to reduce arterial inflammation and improve cardiovascular health.  Take Spirulina daily as a supplement or try it in powder form in some of these delicious recipes.

  1. Turmeric

Curcumin, the main component of Turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  Adding turmeric to your diet can seriously reduce inflammation and damage to arterial walls which are leading causes of plaque build-up and blood clots.  Furthermore, studies have shown us that the high levels of curcumin in Turmeric can aid in the reduction of fatty deposits in the arteries by up to 26%.

  1. Watermelon

Not only is it delicious, watermelon is another fruit that is great for your heart.  As an excellent natural source of the amino acid L-citrulline, watermelon can help to keep arteries clear by lowering blood pressure and decreasing inflammation.  In much the same way as pomegranate, watermelon naturally stimulates production of nitric oxide, which further improves artery health and blood pressure

  1. Whole Grains

Trade out your bleached carbohydrates for their whole grain alternatives to give your heart health a boost.  Foods like whole grain breads, whole wheat pastas, brown rice, quinoa, barley, and oatmeal have long been celebrated for their role in improving blood-cholesterol levels, keeping arteries clear, and reducing the risk of serious heart disease.

Need a little help finding foods that fit the bill?  This is only the beginning.  Each food also has interactions with you and your medication.  Call us at:

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Foods

Turkey Sloppy Joe

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Slow Cooker Turkey Sloppy Joe

Ingredients

1 pound (454 grams) ground turkey breast (raw)

1 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup green pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp yellow mustard

1/4 cup natural ketchup

1 15 oz can no-salt added tomato sauce

1 Tbsp BBQ sauce

1-2 packets Stevia (optional, if you want to make it on the sweeter side)

Directions

Mist a skillet with oil and brown raw turkey, onions and green pepper over medium heat. (You could skip this step, but you will get a better flavor.)

Place turkey meat, onions & green pepper in the slow cooker. Add all the other ingredients and mix well.

Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours or HIGH for 2-3 hours. If you don’t brown the meat first, then cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.

Serve with a whole grain bun, toasted. Pictured is an Ezekiel hamburger bun . For gluten free, my favorite is Udi’s gluten free whole grain hamburger buns .

Yields: 4-6 Servings | Serving size: 1 Cup (bun not included) | Previous Points: 3 | Points Plus: 4 | Calories: 167 | Fat: 4 g | Carbohydrates: 14 g | Sugars: 8 g | Fiber: 2 g | Sodium: 387 mg | Protein: 23 gSchema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin

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Foods

Homemade Natural Ketchup

homemadeketchup

Homemade Natural Ketchup

Ingredients

1 (6-ounce) can or jar tomato paste

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Kosher or sea salt to taste

tablespoon mustard

2 tablespoons mild molasses, (honey is optional), more or less to taste

1⁄4 cup white wine vinegar

1⁄4 cup water

Directions

In a medium bowl, add all ingredients, and stir until combined; refrigerate in a glass jar with lid. Ketchup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Yields: 8.5 |Serving size: 1 tablespoon | Calories: 8 | Total Fat: 0 g | Saturated Fats: 0 g | Previous Points: 0 | Points Plus: 0 | Trans Fats: 0 g | Cholesterol: 0 mg | 4 Sodium: 4 mg | Carbohydrates: 2 g | Dietary fiber:0 g | Sugars:11 g | Protein: 0 g

Diets and Weight Loss

Nuts and Seeds for a Healthy Weight

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Nuts and Seeds for a Healthy Weight and a Long Life

 

Nuts and seeds are healthful, natural foods that are full of beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals. Although the myth that nuts and seeds are fattening has persisted, the research suggests that nuts are actually beneficial for weight loss. In any case, it’s not the fat content of a diet that makes it healthy, it’s the nutrient content. And based on their nutrient content, nuts are a health-promoting source of calories.

Nuts and seeds are nutritionally important. Nuts and seeds contain a spectrum of micronutrients including LDL cholesterol-lowering phytosterols; circulation-promoting arginine; minerals, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, and selenium; and antioxidants, including flavonoids, resveratrol, tocopherols (vitamin E), and carotenoids.

Eating nuts and seeds reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease Epidemiological studies have consistently shown that nut consumption is beneficial for heart health. Eating five or more servings of nuts per week is estimated to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 35%.1 Eating nuts and seeds protects against sudden cardiac death and reduces cholesterol and inflammation.1-3

Nuts and seeds aid weight loss. Someone who is trying to lose weight should not be trying to avoid nuts; in fact, in obese individuals, adding nuts to the diet aided in weight loss and also improved insulin sensitivity, which could help to prevent or reverse diabetes.4 Nonetheless, nuts should not be eaten to excess. Nuts and seeds are high in nutrients but also high in calories, so they should be eaten with consideration for one’s caloric needs. One ounce daily is usually appropriate for women trying to lose weight and 1.5 – 2 ounces for overweight men. Nuts and seeds of course should be eaten in larger amounts for the slim, highly physically active people who could use the extra calories.

Nut consumption may enhance lifespan. In the Adventist Health Study, a number of lifestyle factors were found to be associated with longevity. Those who had a high level of physical activity, followed a vegetarian diet, and ate nuts frequently lived on average 8 years longer than those who did not share those habits.5 Similarly in the Nurses’ Health Study, nut consumption was identified as a dietary factor associated with reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancers.6 New research continues to confirm these observations.7

Each nut and seed has a unique nutritional profile that lends unique health benefits:

  • Almonds are rich in antioxidants. In one study, people ate either almonds or a snack with a similar fat profile each day for 4 weeks, and the subjects who ate almonds showed reduced oxidative stress markers.8
  • Walnuts. Diabetics who ate walnuts daily for 8 weeks experienced an enhanced ability of the blood vessels to dilate, indicating better blood pressure regulation.9 There is also evidence that walnuts may protect against breast cancer.10
  • Pistachios and Mediterranean pine nuts have the highest plant sterol content of all the nuts; plant sterols are structurally similar to cholesterol, and help to lower cholesterol levels.11 Pistachios reduce inflammation and oxidative stress as well as cholesterol.12-14
  • Mediterranean pine nuts contain a specific type of fatty acid that has been shown to curb appetite by increasing hormones that produce satiety signals.15
  • Flax, hemp, and chia seeds are extremely rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and hemp seeds are especially high in protein, making them a helpful food for athletes.
  • Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron, calcium, and phytochemicals, and may help to prevent prostate cancer.16
  • Sesame seeds have the greatest amount of calcium of any food in the world, and provide abundant amounts of vitamin E and contain a lignan called sesamin; lignan-rich foods may protect against breast cancer.17-19

Nuts and seeds are best eaten raw. Nuts and seeds should be eaten raw or only lightly toasted. Roasting nuts and seeds forms a potentially harmful compound called acrylamide, and reduces the amounts of minerals and amino acids.

Also remember that eating nuts and seeds with leafy greens can enhance the body’s absorption of fat-soluble nutrients from the greens, so a nut-based salad dressing is an excellent way to absorb more nutrients from your salads.20

References:

  1. Kris-Etherton PM, Hu FB, Ros E, et al: The role of tree nuts and peanuts in the prevention of coronary heart disease: multiple potential mechanisms. J Nutr 2008;138:1746S-1751S. 2. Salas-Salvado J, Casas-Agustench P, Murphy MM, et al: The effect of nuts on inflammation. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008;17 Suppl 1:333-336. 3. Ros E: Nuts and novel biomarkers of cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89:1649S-1656S. 4. Rajaram S, Sabate J: Nuts, body weight and insulin resistance. Br J Nutr 2006;96 Suppl 2:S79-86. 5. Fraser GE, Shavlik DJ: Ten years of life: Is it a matter of choice? Arch Intern Med 2001;161:1645-1652. 6. Baer HJ, Glynn RJ, Hu FB, et al: Risk factors for mortality in the nurses’ health study: a competing risks analysis. Am J Epidemiol 2011;173:319-329. 7. Guasch-Ferre M, Bullo M, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, et al: Frequency of nut consumption and mortality risk in the PREDIMED nutrition intervention trial. BMC Med 2013;11:164. 8. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Marchie A, et al: Almonds reduce biomarkers of lipid peroxidation in older hyperlipidemic subjects. J Nutr 2008;138:908-913. 9. Ma Y, Njike VY, Millet J, et al: Effects of walnut consumption on endothelial function in type 2 diabetic subjects: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Diabetes Care 2010;33:227-232. 10.  Eurekalert! Walnuts slow prostate tumors in mice: UC Davis research shows walnuts affect genes related to tumor growth March 22, 2010 edition; 2010. 11. Ellegard LH, Andersson SW, Normen AL, et al: Dietary plant sterols and cholesterol metabolism. Nutr Rev 2007;65:39-45. 12. Kay CD, Gebauer SK, West SG, et al: Pistachios increase serum antioxidants and lower serum oxidized-LDL in hypercholesterolemic adults. J Nutr 2010;140:1093-1098. 13. Kocyigit A, Koylu AA, Keles H: Effects of pistachio nuts consumption on plasma lipid profile and oxidative status in healthy volunteers. Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases : NMCD 2006;16:202-209. 14. Sari I, Baltaci Y, Bagci C, et al: Effect of pistachio diet on lipid parameters, endothelial function, inflammation, and oxidative status: a prospective study. Nutrition 2010;26:399-404. 15. Pasman WJ, Heimerikx J, Rubingh CM, et al: The effect of Korean pine nut oil on in vitro CCK release, on appetite sensations and on gut hormones in post-menopausal overweight women. Lipids in Health and Disease 2008;7:10. 16. Hong H, Kim CS, Maeng S: Effects of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil in Korean men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. Nutr Res Pract 2009;3:323-327. 17. Thompson LU, Chen JM, Li T, et al: Dietary flaxseed alters tumor biological markers in postmenopausal breast cancer. Clin Cancer Res 2005;11:3828-3835. 18. Buck K, Vrieling A, Zaineddin AK, et al: Serum enterolactone and prognosis of postmenopausal breast cancer. J Clin Oncol 2011;29:3730-3738. 19. Higdon J: Lignans. In An Evidence-Based Approach to Dietary Phytochemicals. New York: Thieme; 2006: 155-161 20. Brown MJ, Ferruzzi MG, Nguyen ML, et al: Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:396-403.