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.

 

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Health and Wellness Fridays – Salmon

Pixabay.com

Welcome back dear friends to Health and Wellness Fridays! Your support for this segment is acknowledged and appreciated. Today we’re having fish, fresh wild-caught salmon to be exact. 🙂

Salmon is a delicious and truly a versatile fish. It can stand up to various cooking methods such as baking, steaming, poaching, smoking even grilling just to name a few.  It can also be served raw in dishes like sushi and  sashimi .

Pixabay.com

Nutritional Profile

Salmon has an abundant source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that add great value and benefit to the overall body.   It is rich in vitamin B12, vitamin D and selenium. It is a good source of  omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, protein, vitamin B6 and phosphorus. It is also a good source of biotin , pantothenic acid, choline and potassium.

Types of Salmon

Salmon are native to either  Atlantic (Salmo genus) salmon or Pacific (Oncorhynchus genus).   They are typically anadromous: they are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, then return to fresh water to reproduce. The Atlantic salmon is native to the north Atlantic all the others species listed here are found in the north Pacific.

Atlantic salmon

Chinook  salmon

 Sockeye salmon

Coho salmon

  Masu salmon

Pink salmon

  Chum salmon.

Let’s take a look at some of the various findings some studies have highlighted as some of the potential benefits to be gained from consuming wild-caught salmon.

Some of the benefits of consuming this amazing food include:

  1. Reduce inflammation
  2. Antioxidant
  3. Lower blood pressure
  4. Protect bone health
  5. Prevent muscle loss
  6. Support and protect the heart
  7. Support and protect the brain
  8. Reduce cancer risk
  9. Support nervous system
  10. Support weight loss
  11. Prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s symptoms
  12. ADHD Prevention in children
  13. Improve vision
  14. Promote healthy skin
  15. Joint protection

Some possible concerns include:

  1. Unhealthy levels of contamination such as mercury, dioxins and more especially in farmed raised salmon as opposed to wild-caught salmon. Where the fish comes from plays a big role in the quality of the fish.  Dr. Axe went so far to say, “Farmed salmon is on my list of fish you should never eat.”
  2. The Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of genetically engineered salmon  which does not require any labeling, leaving consumers in the dark. Really? Persons wishing to avoid genetically engineered (GE) salmon intake will need to avoid any farmed salmon products not providing a GE-free label.

Did you know that roughly 80% of all salmon consumed worldwide is farmed. How messed up is that?

What can we do?

Some suggest that we stop eating it.  Personally, I think that is a bit drastic.  I love having an occasional fish lunch or dinner from time to time.  However, with the concerns of contamination we need to make wise decisions. I totally agree with purchasing wild-caught salmon when possible.

However, with farmed salmon being the most readily available source in most countries Pritikin.com suggests removing the skin and the layer of fat just beneath the skin before or after cooking because these are the two places where the chemicals tend to concentrate. That sounds doable! 🙂

Even with some of the eyebrow raising information I learned today, salmon is still one of my favourite fish. Information is power people this type of knowledge just means we need to be more vigilant.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend.  See you guys next.

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Note: Salmon species pictures above are credited to Wikipedia.org

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!

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Health and Wellness Fridays:Wheatgrass

Welcome back guys to Health and Wellness Fridays!  Wheatgrass is the star of the show today. How many of you are familiar with wheatgrass? Today, we’ll explore some of the benefits of what some have called a powerful superfood.

What is wheatgrass?

Wheatgrass is a chlorophyll-rich herb that’s acquired from the cotyledons of the young grass of the common wheat plant called triticum aestivum.   Some other names it is known by include but are not limited to: Agropyre,  Blé en Herbe, Brote del Trigo, Couch Grass, Cutch, Dog Grass, Durfa Grass, Elymus repens, Graminis Rhizoma, Quack Grass, Quitch Grass, Scotch Quelch, Triticum, Twitchgrass and Witch Grass.

History of wheatgrass

The hype about the benefits of wheatgrass may be new to some of us but back in the 1930’s  Charles F. Schnabel Sr.  thought to be the “Father of Wheatgrass” through his experiments showed how beneficial wheatgrass was both to humans and animals. In the 1940’s Ann Wigmore reportedly healed herself of cancer from the weeds she found in vacant lots in Boston.  Wheatgrass has been doing its thing since then that says something.

Nutritional Properties

Wheatgrass nutritional composition is very impressive.   It is an excellent source of chlorophyll.  It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12.  It also provides zinc, copper, phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, manganese, potassium and even amino acids.

The benefits of this edible grass can be acquired through either juice, capsule or tablet form or as a fine green powder once it is milled down.  Since the 1930’s researchers and scientists over the years have continued to research some of the possible benefits of wheatgrass and some would argue even more research is needed.

However, I won’t discount or discredit what some have highlighted as possible benefits to be obtained from using wheatgrass.  Let’s take a look.

  1. Supports brain health
  2. Stimulate circulation
  3. Boost metabolism
  4. Alkaline the body
  5. Antibacterial
  6. Antimicrobial
  7. Antioxidant
  8. Anti-inflammatory
  9. Lower cholesterol
  10. Prevent cancer
  11. Detoxifies the body
  12. Purifies the liver
  13. Regulate blood sugar
  14. Helps prevent tooth decay
  15. Improves digestion
  16. Improves vision – particularly night vision
  17. Boost immune system
  18. Treat arthritis
  19. Treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis
  20. Restore fertility and balance hormones
  21. Slow aging
  22. Help heal wounds
  23. Reduce food cravings
  24. Helps with mental well-being
  25. Lose Weight
  26. Fight acne
  27. Fight depression
  28. Fight the common cold
  29. Rebuild blood
  30. Reduce fatigue
  31. Clear sinus congestion

Although wheatgrass is generally considered safe I still like to mention any possible side effects I find.  We all respond differently to different things so it pays to be safe than sorry.

Some possible side effects include:

  • Excessive consumption of wheatgrass may cause nausea or headaches in some people.
  • Some possible allergic reactions include throat swelling, digestive discomfort and hives.
  • Persons who have a wheat or grass allergy, celiac disease or gluten intolerance should consult a physician prior to consuming wheatgrass, since this could cause complications when ingested in high amounts.

How I use it

I use wheatgrass in the powder form and mix it in my bottled water.  I try to drink it on an empty stomach when possible.  It is an acquired taste but you get used to it.  I try to focus on the possible benefits.   I do not drink it everyday but rather I drink it two to three times per week.  That works for me so no complaints thus far.  🙂

Always do your research about the products you are using or considering using. Be sure to read and follow the directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or healthcare professional before using.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great weekend! 🙂

Sources:

 

Health and Wellness Fridays: Oranges

Hello and welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays!  Today we are going to be squeezing some of the goodness out of the fruit most of us know as an orange.

Oranges originated thousands of years ago in Asia. Today, oranges can be found in various parts of the world.  Some of the largest commercial producers of oranges include the Brazil, United States, China, India, and Mexico.

Oranges are round, pulpy flesh fruits that are orange in colour.   Oranges are rich in vitamin C.  They are also a very good source of dietary fiber. Oranges also provide a good source of vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin A, calcium, copper and potassium.

There are many different varieties of oranges.  They are however, classified into basically three categories:

  1. Sweet orange or (citrus sinensis) – some popular varieties include: Valencia, Navel,  Jaffa and Blood oranges.
  2. Bitter orange or (citrus aurantium)– some well-known varieties include: Bouquet de Fleurs, Chinotto, and Seville.
  3. Mandarin orange or (citrus reticulata) – have a more flattened look. Some popular varieties are known as tangerines and include: Clementine, Honey and Satsuma.

Oranges are more than just a tasty snack.  They do more for us than just provide vitamins and minerals.  Some researchers have highlighted some other potential health and beauty benefits of using oranges.  Let’s take a look.

Some potential health and beauty benefits include:
  1. Antioxidant protection
  2. Immune support
  3. Lower blood pressure
  4. Fight cancer – prostate cancer, stomach cancer, lung cancer  and even colon cancer
  5. Prevent kidney stones
  6. Lower cholesterol
  7. Protect against cardiovascular disease
  8. Prevent ulcers
  9. Reduce the risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
  10. Aid in digestion
  11. Prevent diabetes
  12. Brain development
  13. Aid in weight loss
  14. Fight viral infections
  15. Support bone and teeth health
  16. Improve vision
  17. Mild Aphrodisiac
  18. Improve blood circulation
  19. Reduce bad breath
  20. Maintain elasticity and strengthen arteries
  21. Reduce chronic inflammation
  22. Rejuvenate the skin
  23. Treatment of acne
  24. Remove blackheads
  25. Treatment of dark spots and blemishes
  26. Skin whitening properties
  27. Anti-aging benefits
  28. Good hair conditioner
  29. Stimulate hair growth
  30. Treat dandruff

Some possible health risk include:

  1. Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. Oranges are high in potassium and should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.
  2. Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.
  3. Those with gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) may experience an increase in symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation when consuming highly acidic foods such as citrus fruit, however individual reactions vary.
  4. Excessive consumption of the juice can cause tooth decay or wear away tooth enamel due to its sugar and acidic content.

How to use oranges?

  1. Insecticide sprays are widely applied over most crops and orange crops are no exception unless they are organically grown. Therefore, it is recommended to wash the fruits in cold running water before use.
  2. Always juice them when they are at room temperature as they will produce more juice when warm.
  3. Rolling the orange under the palm of your hand on a flat surface will also help to extract more juice.
  4. If your require orange zest for your skin or a recipe, try to use organically grown oranges since most conventionally grown fruits will have pesticide residues on their skin and may be artificially coloured.

In closing, the potential benefits to be derived from oranges are amazing. However, I recommend using it in moderation rather than in isolation.  Remember, it is our overall diet and eating patterns that will help us prevent disease and achieve optimal health.  Cheers!

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 – Aloe Vera

Hello and welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays!  Today we’re going to be looking at some of the possible benefits of using aloe vera.

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

Some common names for aloe include: Chinese Aloe, Indian Aloe, True Aloe, Barbados Aloe, Burn Aloe, First Aid Plant, Elephant’s Gall, Wand of Heaven and Miracle Plant.  Did you know that there are over 450 different species of aloe ?    Aloe has been around for thousands of years and was even presented as a funeral gift to pharaohs as it was referred to as the “plant of immortality“.

Aloe vera is just one of the many species of aloe that can be found in tropical climates around the world.  Each leaf has spiky thorns that run along the sides.  On the inside of the leaf there is a thick, clear, slimy gel that is bitter in taste.   The leaf is filled with at least 75 nutrients, 20 minerals, 12 vitamins, 18 amino acids, and 200 active enzymes.  Some people even call it a superfood.

It is used topically and orally and can be found in many consumer products such as: beverages, skin lotions, cosmetics and some skin ointments.

Here is a list of some of the suggested benefits of using the gel.

  1. Anti-bacterial
  2. Anti-viral
  3. Anti-fungal 
  4. Antioxidant
  5. Good moisturizer
  6. Detoxifying the body
  7. Relieves indigestion and upset stomach
  8. Strengthen the digestive tract
  9. Alleviates joint inflammation
  10. Reduces dental plaque
  11. Helps treat mouth ulcers
  12. Treatment of acne
  13. Treatment of minor burns
  14. Treatment of itchy skin and mouth
  15. Supports cardiovascular health
  16. Reduces constipation
  17. Air purification
  18. Increases your ability to cope with stress
  19. May improve appearance of skin
  20. Alkalizes the body
  21. Lower cholesterol

Some possible side effects:

The aloe latex (the yellow juice near the rind) is where most of the danger lies. However, substances in the gel itself can also be harmful to some people. Let’s take a look.

  1. Contact dermatitis has been known to affect some individuals so please exercise caution.  Test a small area of the skin, such as the inner forearm, for any reaction.
  2. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should avoid taking it orally.
  3. Some people might experience stomach pain, cramps, and diarrhea.
  4. Some research suggests that aloe vera might lower blood sugar.  Any diabetics using it orally should check their blood sugar levels closely.
  5. Persons suffering from any of these intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or obstruction should avoid taking aloe orally.
  6. Anyone suffering from hemorrhoids is advised not to consume aloe as it could make the condition worse.
  7. Kidney failure and other serious conditions have been linked to consuming high doses of aloe.

How I use my aloe

There are a variety of aloe products on the market.  I am fortunate to have a plant so I use fresh aloe when possible.  I have the Aloe vera species which I use on my skin as a cleanser and sometimes as part of a facial scrub mixed with a little sugar from time to time.

I also use it as a detox by adding a small amount of aloe gel into a large jug of water.  I drink the water daily for about 1 week then stop.  The taste of aloe will take some getting used to but I think the possible benefits outweigh the taste.  Thus far, I have no complaints.

Please note, that not all aloe species are edible and are just really good low maintenance plants that you could use to decorate your living space.  Aloe vera or Barbadensis-miller is well established as the best Aloe species, for both topical and internal consumption.  So be sure to identify what you have or research what you’re buying before attempting to use it.

Click on this link to learn about 13 other species of aloe and their benefits.

Always do your research.  Always consult your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use or wish to use.

Thanks for stopping by. 🙂  Have a great weekend!

Sources:

  • http://happyandraw.com/top-12-benefits-of-aloe-vera/
  • http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-607-aloe.aspx?activeingredientid=607
  • http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/03/09/what-aloe-vera-does-in-your-body-why-egyptians-called-it-the-plant-of-immortality/
  • http://succulent-plant.com/families/aloaceae.html
  • https://aloe1.com/what-is-the-best-aloe/