Health and Wellness Fridays -Apples

Welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays!  I hope that your Friday has been well thus far and that it just gets better as you move into the weekend. 🙂

Today we’re going to take a bite out of apples.   Apples originated from  Eastern Europe and Central Asia and were brought to North America by European colonists.  They can now be found in most of the temperate regions of the world.   Did you know that there are more than 7000 varieties of apples grown throughout the world? I was amazed to learn that something that appears so simple had so many varieties.

Apples are a crisp, white-fleshed fruit that can come with a red, yellow or green skin. The apple tree is a deciduous tree in the rose family best known for its sweet fruit, the apple.  They can be eaten raw or cooked.

Nutritional Profile

Apples are a good source of fiber and vitamin C.  Some of the other nutrients we would find in smaller amounts include: potassium, vitamin K, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, copper and vitamins A, E, B1, B2 and B6.

Some popular varieties include: Red Delicious, McIntosh, Golden (or Yellow) Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji, BraeburnPink LadyHoneycrisp and Empire

Is an apple a day enough to keep the doctor away?  Let’s take a look at some of the possible health benefits of adding apples to our diet below.

Possible Health Benefits include:

Please note that some of the benefits highlighted above require you to eat both the flesh and the skin of the apple to get maximum benefits of this fruit.

Some possible side effects

It should be noted that no serious side effects have been linked to apple consumption.

  • Apple seeds contain cyanide, a powerful poison.  Eating too many apple seeds can potentially be fatal. As such, it is recommended that you remove the apple seeds before juicing or  consuming the fruit.
  • Apple may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Rosaceae family. Members of this family include apricot, almond, plum, peach, pear, and strawberry. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking apple.
  • According to Professor David Bartlett at the King’s Dental Institute – “Snacking on acidic foods throughout the day is the most damaging, whilst eating them at meal times is much safer. It’s not what you eat it’s how you eat it – an apple a day is good, but taking all day to eat the apple can damage teeth. “
  • Non-organic apples typically have their surfaces coated with a wax that helps to protect them during storage and shipping.  Some suppliers tend to use more natural waxes such as Carnauba wax (from the carnauba palm tree), beeswax, or shellac (from the lac beetle) while others might opt for the petroleum-based waxes which then to contain solvent residues or wood resins.

How to buy apples?

When you buy apples, make sure they are firm.  Avoid buying apples that have wrinkles, since they have lost most of their health benefits and nutritional value.

In conclusions, apples are a healthy fruit that promise many benefits regardless of age.  I for one need to increase my consumption of apples – whether it is through eating more of the fruit, drinking more apple juice maybe even juicing it – I could be doing more.  Do you eat apples daily?

Are apples on your list of favourite fruits?   Hope you all enjoyed today’s topic. Have a wonderful weekend.  🙂

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Sources:

Health and Wellness Fridays – Kale

Welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays!

Today, centre stage we have kale.  Some say it is the king of all the super greens, others call it the “queen of greens” but whatever name you give it at the end of this post hopefully we’ll agree that it is definitely one of the world’s healthiest foods.

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

Kale is a vegetable and it’s a member of the Brassica family along with cabbages, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.  There are so many varieties of kale.  If you didn’t know you might probably mistake it for just another beautiful flower.

Let’s take a look at some below.

Image Credit: Pixabay.com
  • Common kale: is the most common type found in supermarkets. It has large, frilly edged leaves and long stems. The colour can range from light to dark green with a slightly bluish hue at times. It has a slightly sweet taste.
  • Lacinato Kale also known as Dinosaur Kale or Tuscan kale: is an Italian variety of kale. It has crinkly leaves and is dark purplish and green. It has a sweet but slightly spicy flavour.
  • Ornamental kale:  although referred to as “ornamental” is actually edible but be warned the leaves are somewhat coarse and bitter in taste. It has a frilly and fluffy appearance.  Its colour can range from pink to purple to magenta. This colourful variety because of its beauty is often used for displays.
  • Red Russian Kale:  have bluish-green leaves with a red rib. They have frilly edges but they are not as frilly as those of common kale. It is also more tender and sweeter than common kale.
  • White Kale: has frilly white leaves and is slightly peppery in taste.

What’s in it?

Kale is packed with nutrients. It is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese and copper.  It’s a very good source of vitamin B6, fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamin E and vitamin B2.  If that was not enough, you’ll also find iron, magnesium, vitamin B1, omega 3 fats, phosphorus, protein, folate, vitamin B3 and 45 different flavonoids.  Kale is clearly not a super green to be taken at face value.

Now that we have gotten the nutritional profile out-of-the-way let’s get into the good stuff that is, what is it good for? 

Some benefits of kale include:

  1. Anti-aging
  2. Anti-oxidant
  3. Anti-inflammatory
  4. Anti-cancer
  5. Lower cholesterol
  6. Detoxification
  7. Supports vision health
  8. Supports brain health
  9. Good for skin and hair
  10. Good for bones
  11. Support weight loss
  12. Support immune system
  13. Help with depression
  14. Control blood sugar

Kale has the potential to do amazing things but what is the best way to use it?  Some people like to eat kale raw others prefer to cook it. Whatever method you choose, be sure to wash it thoroughly before consuming.

You could add them to salads, sandwiches or as a side to a dish whatever you feel inspired to do. Cosmopolitan.com has offered 19 ways to cook kale that would blow your mind. Feel free to check them out if you’re looking for inspiration in the kitchen or just want to try something new.

Some possible side effects

Kale has come under suspicion as being goitrogenic, a substance that can lead to swelling or dysfunction of the thyroid gland.

Recent studies, however, show that kale and its cruciferous cousins do not interfere with thyroid function in healthy people.

One article has stated that even those suffering from hypothyroidism can eat as much kale as they want as long as it is cooked.

I suggest talking to your doctor to be safe. What might be okay for me, might not be okay for you – so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Additionally, persons who use beta-blockers need to exercise moderation when consuming foods high potassium, especially if your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.

People taking blood thinners should also be particularly careful because kale’s high content of vitamin K promotes clotting.

Kale contains oxalates which have been identified as a contributor to the formation of kidney stones. However, according to University of Chicago kidney specialist Dr. Fredric Coe, although kale does contain oxalates it has very small amounts unlike spinach which has large amounts of oxalates which can cause the formation of kidney stones.

All in all, kale is a great food that has a lot to offer but moderation is advised.  For safety consult your health care provider.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great weekend!

Sources:

Health and Wellness Fridays – Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays!  Today, we are looking at extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil comes from the fruit of olive trees. Olive oil has been a popular part of the Mediterranean diet for many years. It is a   good source of vitamin E and K.  Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the highest quality of olive oil and has been known for its wonderful flavour.

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

Thanks to growing scientific research we are learning more and more about some of the potential health benefits we can get from using it.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Anti-microbial
  • Anti-oxidants
  • Cardiovascular benefits
  • Digestive Health benefits
  • Bone Health benefits
  • Cognitive benefits
  • Anti-Cancer benefits
  • Prevention of gall stones
  • Slows the aging process
  • Aids in Weight Loss
  • Moisturizer and skin soften
  • Add moisture and sheen to hair
  • Reduce wrinkles
  • Improve skin texture
  • Boost immunity

What makes (EVOO) the preferred choice over some of the other olive oil options available on the market?

It all comes down to how they are processed.  All olive oils are not created equal.  Some manufactures use chemicals and heat to remove impurities.  This process helps to prolong the shelf life.  However, this process also makes the oil seem lighter and affects the flavour and reduces its nutritional content. Some manufactures even blend with it other oils such as canola.

EVOO are cold pressed (meaning very little heat was used) , unfiltered and that no additives were used.  EVOO are rich in flavour and therefore taste better.  They are also richer in antioxidants and nutrients allowing you to get the full benefits.

So don’t take it for granted always read the full label to make sure you are buying exactly what you want.  Click on this link to learn more about olive oil fraud and what you should know when looking for your next bottle.

Proper Storage

Heat, air, and light are the enemies of olive oil.  These elements help create free radicals, which eventually lead to excessive oxidation and rancidity in the oil.  The key is to store your olive oil somewhere cool, dry, and dark.

How I use it?

I use a tablespoon or two of EVOO in my fresh salads sometimes. I sometimes drizzle a little on pasta and certain rice dishes.  I use it on my skin from time to time.  I also use it with coconut oil as a hair treatment for my hair.   I even use it on my toddler’s skin which is super sensitive and it agrees with his skin.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope this was helpful.

Sources:

Organic Facts

Natural News

World Healthiest Foods

Authority Nutrition

Health and Wellness Fridays – Tomatoes

Welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays! Today we’re going to be looking at tomatoes scientifically known as Solanum lycopersicum. Tomatoes originated in South America and can now be found all over the world.  It is the berry of a plant that comes from the Nightshade family that belong to a scientific family of plants called Solanaceae .

As a member of the nightshade family, tomatoes contain glycoalkaloids, toxic substances that act like a natural pesticides or fungicides in the plant. While glycoalkaloids are poisonous to humans, their levels are quite low in tomatoes making them safe to consume according to Food Safety Watch .

The tomato is technically a fruit but it is also categorised as a vegetable.  Tomatoes are juicy, soft and have many seeds. They vary in shape, size , colour, texture and flavour. The most common colour is red but it can also be yellow, orange or green.

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, biotin and molybdenum. They are also a good source of iron, zinc, potassium, copper, manganese, fibre, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin E, niacin, folate and phosphorus just to name a few.

Tomatoes have large amounts of the antioxidant known as lycopene which  some studies revealed was good at fighting and preventing cancer associated with the prostate, breast, lung, bladder, ovaries, colon and pancreas.

According to some of the studies done here are some of the health benefits of including tomatoes in your diet:

  • Protects the skin against sun damage
  • Prevent kidney stones and gallstones
  • Counters the effect of cigarette smoke
  • Prevents urinary tract infections
  • Support a healthy pregnancy
  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Cancer prevention
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Protects the heart
  • Strong and shiny hair
  • Stronger bones
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Help with constipation
  • Support vision health
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Aid in depression

Some Possible Risks:

  • Chemical-based tomato farming involves spraying tomatoes with large quantities of pesticides and insecticides. Hence, organically grown tomatoes are recommended to reduce pesticide exposure.
  • Tomatoes are high in potassium and should be consumed in moderation especially when taking beta-blockers.  Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional.
  • Persons who suffer from gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) may experience an increase in symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation. However, reactions vary from person to person.
  • Although tomato allergy is rare, they can cause allergic reactions in people allergic to grass pollen causing itching in the mouth, scratchy throat or swelling of the mouth or throat.  This condition is called pollen-food allergy syndrome or oral-allergy syndrome .

How to use tomatoes:

  • Tomatoes should always be washed before eating.
  • Tomatoes can be eaten raw or cooked.

There are simple and easy ways to add more tomatoes to your diet.  Add a few slices to your sandwiches, add them to your salad, make a tomato soup, make guacamole, drink it in a vegetable juice, chop them up and add them to your egg omelet.  Be creative.

Remember, not because something is reported as good for you means you should abuse it – so use in moderation.   Always consult your doctor.

Being healthy is a lifestyle and it requires discipline and some research from time to time.  I am working on improving my health one day at a time.

It is your health, your body and your life so take care of it.  I believe in the saying, “prevention is better than the cure” and this is why I started Health and Wellness Fridays to bring to your attention foods that we sometimes overlook and take for granted.

  Thanks for stopping by.  See you next week.  🙂

Sources:

  • https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/tomatoes/
  • http://www.beliefnet.com/wellness/health/9-surprising-health-benefits-of-tomatoes.aspx?p=12
  • https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/tomatoes.html
  • http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=44
  • http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=62
  • http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/273031.php?page=2

Health and Wellness Fridays – Cinnamon

Welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays! Forgive me for this obviously late post but it could not be helped.  Today we are going to be talking about some of the possible health benefits of cinnamon.  Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the inner brown bark of the Cinnamomum trees and is brown in colour.  It has a distinct smell and flavour that comes from cinnamaldehyde.

Image Credit : Pexels.com

Did you know that there are hundreds of types of Cinnamon? However, only four types of Cinnamon are used for commercial purposes: Ceylon Cinnamon, Cassia or Chinese Cinnamon, Saigon Cinnamon and Korintje Cinnamon.

Cassia, Saigon and Korintje Cinnamon are all classified under the Cassia Cinnamon category because they are very similar to each other with only slight variations in  shape, colour, taste, and Coumarin content.

Characteristics:

  • Ceylon Cinnamon is soft, brittle, lighter in colour, has a mild smell and is slightly sweeter with low Coumarin levels.
  • Cassia type Cinnamon however is hard, darker in colour, spicy,  has a stronger smell and has high levels of Coumarin. 

Origins:

  • Ceylon cinnamon  is produced in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Brazil, India, and the Caribbean.
  • Cassia cinnamon is produced largely in Indonesia, China and Vietnam.

Some of the nutrients found in cinnamon include:  manganese, calcium and fibre.  Cinnamon can be acquired in its stick form, in a powder form, capsule form or as an oil.  Regardless of the form you choose it does not take away from its effectiveness.  It is popular in both sweet and savory dishes.  It’s usefulness are not just limited to the kitchen but outside of it as well. Let’s take a look.

Some studies done on cinnamon suggests the following benefits:

  • High source of antioxidants
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Anti-clotting agent
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-bacteria
  • Anti-viral properties
  • Lower bad cholesterol
  • Boost immunity
  • Protects against heart disease
  • Protects brain function
  • Lower cancer risks
  • Protects and support good dental health
  • Improve colon health

The potential benefits to be gained from using cinnamon are not only limited to its consumption but can also be gained through just smelling it in the form of cinnamon scented candles, homemade toothpaste and even in the form of an acne mask.

Possible side effects:

The high levels of Coumarin found in Cassia cinnamon can be potentially toxic to the liver so if you must use it please use very small amounts. For this reason some researchers recommend Ceylon cinnamon because it has lower levels of Coumarin. Like I always say, everything needs to be used in moderation so do not exceed the recommended dosage.

Some experts also warn against incorporating too much cinnamon into your diet if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do your research and be sure to consult your doctor to avoid any potential complication.

Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

Sources:

  • https://www.cinnamonvogue.com/Types_of_Cinnamon_1.html
  • http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266069.php?page=2
  • http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cinnamon.html
  • http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=68&tname=foodspice
  • http://www.organicauthority.com/health/11-health-benefits-of-cinnamon.html

 

Health and Wellness Fridays – Cucumbers

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Image Credit: Pixabay.com

Today we’re going to be taking a closer look at the cucumber or cucumis sativus.  A cucumber is actually a fruit  which until recently I always considered a vegetable.

It can be light to dark green in colour.  The skin of the cucumber is mostly smooth  sometimes however, they have tiny bumps on the surface of the skin but they are still good to eat. The flesh inside is pale green with tiny edible seeds. It is generally watery in taste.  Cucumbers are low in calories and contain roughly 95% water.  I understand they can be cooked but I usually eat it raw.

Cucumbers are filled with many nutrients. They are rich in vitamin K and vitamin B5. They are also a good source of copper, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, phosphorus, magnesium, biotin and vitamin B1 just to name a few. 

Below are some of the benefits of adding cucumbers to your diet and lifestyle.

Some beauty benefits of cucumbers:

  • Revitalize and Rejuvenate the skin – (use the juice from the cucumber mixed with a few drops of lemon juice and apply to the skin  and leave for a few minutes then rinse and pat dry)
  • Reduce dark circles, puffiness and under eye bags – (use cold slices of cucumber on the eyes)
  • Helps soothe sunburn 
  • Reduce hair loss – ( consume cucumber juice or eat the cucumber)
  • Promotes silky and shiny hair – (use the juice from the cucumber as a rinse) 

Some health benefits of cucumbers

  • Destroys intestinal worms – tapeworms
  • Promotes bone and joint health
  • Anti-Inflammatory properties
  • Anti-Cancer properties
  • Supports heart health
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Relieves Constipation
  • Fights bad breath – (put a slice of cucumber on the roof of your mouth and hold it there for about 90 seconds and then throw it away) 
  • Antioxidant
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Aids in digestion
  • Supports brain health – ( improving memory and protecting nerve cells from age-related decline)
  • Detoxification
  • Hydration

Possible Side Effects:

Although cucumbers can add great benefits when added to your diet you must be very cautious and not over indulge. Here are some possible side effects of eating too many cucumbers.

  • Toxins – cucumbers get their bitter taste from the cucurbitacins and tetracyclic triterpenoids toxins that can be potentially life threatening to mammals if eaten excessively according to a study published on Pharmacognosy Review.   The researchers also stressed that we not let these findings overshadow the anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour properties present.
  • Hyperkalemia is a medical condition that is caused by the over consumption of potassium which may cause fatigue, numbness, nausea, breathing problems, or heart palpitations.
  • Allergic Reactions – some people who are allergic to ragweed might suffer from allergic reactions such as swelling or hives if they eat bananas, melon, cucumbers and zucchini warn the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.This phenomenon is known as cross-reactivity.

All in all dear friends, like any good thing I suggest you use moderation.   I personally eat my cucumbers raw with and without the skin, seeds included but I am sure to wash them thoroughly. Organically grown cucumbers are recommended but if you can’t easily source them I would suggest peeling the skin before consuming.

Additionally, not all cucumbers are bitter so if and when I do encounter a cucumber that is extremely bitter (which is few and far in between) I personally don’t continue eating it.

There are so many natural foods out there that we sometimes underestimate in value that can provide us with so many health and beauty benefits – so do your research.  Be sure to consult your doctor on your findings before starting anything.

I will continue doing my research as well and would continue to bring what I find to your attention.

Thanks for dropping by. 🙂