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 – 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/

 

Health and Wellness Fridays – Turmeric

Welcome back to Health and Fridays!  Thank you Lord for seeing us through another week.   Today, we’re going to be listing some of the possible health benefits of using turmeric.

 

Turmeric or  Curcuma longa comes from the turmeric plant. It is a culinary spice used to add flavour and colour to a variety of dishes.  It is also used in herbal medicine and fabric dye.  It is native to India and Southeast Asia.  In its unprocessed form the root resembles the ginger root.  On the inside however, it is yellow in colour.  Turmeric is rich in iron and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, copper, and potassium.

Turmeric can be obtained in many forms – some forms include natural root, ground powder form, as a supplement even as an essential oil.    According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, most of the studies done on turmeric tend to focus on its main active ingredient, curcumin.

Some of the studies done suggest the following benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Boost brain function
  • Lower the risk for brain disease such as  Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Lower cancer risk
  • Help with depression
  • Treatment of gastrointestinal issues such as constipation and cramping
  • Ease menstrual symptoms
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Detoxifying the liver
  • Natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent
  • Alleviate pain
  • Slow the aging process
  • Acne
  • Rejuvenate the skin
  • Reduce the appearance of wrinkles

Here are some ways to use turmeric:

  • Add it to your meals along with black pepper.  Most of the curcumin that is ingested gets metabolized before it can get absorbed.  Piperine present in black pepper is said to help make curcumin more bio-available.
  • Add fat when consuming turmeric. Turmeric is fat-soluble and thus much better absorbed when taken with fat. Use healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, etc.
  • Drink it in tea. You can use either the powder or the fresh root. Add it to boiling water and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes.   I sometimes add a small piece of fresh ginger.  Strain into a cup and add a little honey to taste.
  • Apply on the skin in the form of a mask. Using some honey, yogurt or milk with a teaspoon of turmeric in a bowl. Mix ingredients in a bowl until it forms a smooth paste.  Apply to clean skin. Leave this mask on for at least 20 minutes before washing off.

Precautions and warnings:

  • If consumed in large quantities turmeric can have the following side effects on the body such as nausea, dizziness and diarrhea.
  • Turmeric might promote a menstrual period or stimulate the uterus, putting the pregnancy at risk as such it is suggested that it not be used in medicinal amounts during pregnancy.
  • Turmeric can make gallbladder problems worse. Do not use turmeric if you have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction.
  • Turmeric might slow blood clotting and might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.
  • The Curcumin might decrease blood sugar in people with diabetes. Use with caution and moderation. Be sure to monitor your blood sugar.
  • Turmeric can cause stomach upset in some people. It might make stomach problems such as GERD worse. Avoid turmeric if it worsens symptoms of GERD.
  • Turmeric might lower testosterone levels and decrease sperm movement when taken by mouth by men. This might reduce fertility. Turmeric should be used cautiously by people trying to have a baby.
  • Taking high amounts of turmeric might prevent the absorption of iron. Turmeric should be used with caution in people with iron deficiency.
  • Turmeric might slow blood clotting. It might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using turmeric at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

As always remember, moderation is key and always consult your doctor. I can’t stress that enough.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend!  😉

Sources:

  • https://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric/
  • https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/turmeric.html
  • http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78#healthbenefits
  • https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6873/25-Reasons-Why-Turmeric-Can-Heal-You.html
  • http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-turmeric.aspx?activeingredientid=662