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 – 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

 

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 – 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. 🙂

Health and Wellness Fridays – Honey

honey-1006972_640
Image Credit: Pixabay.com

Welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays!!    Today, we are going to be looking at honey and some of the amazing benefits we can get from it.

My grandfather now deceased was a beekeeper. I remember how he would have to put on his white bee-suit and smoke out the bee hives to extract the honey.  I was very young then and had no idea how valuable his craft was. I never really liked the taste of honey. As an adult, I now see the value of something I had taken for granted as a child growing up.

Honey has been around since the ancient times and was seen as a precious commodity.  It was used not only as a natural sweetener but for medicinal and religious purposes as well.

What is honey? 

The simplest way to describe it,  honey  is a sweet product that is made by bees using the nectar of flowers.  Honey is rich in various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

According to the National Honey Board , “Honey color ranges from nearly colorless to dark brown, and its flavor varies from delectably mild to distinctively bold, depending on where the honey bees buzzed. As a general rule, light-colored honey is milder in taste and dark-colored honey is stronger.”

Some uses and benefits of honey

Let’s take a look at some of the uses and benefits of using honey.   Please note that raw or pure honey is recommended when treating any of the undermentioned.

General Health  Benefits:

  • Helps prevent cancer and heart disease
  • Reduces cough and throat irritation
  • Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal
  • Boost your immune system
  • Helps regulate blood sugar
  • Helps soothe acid reflux
  • Help boost your energy
  • Helps with cholesterol
  • Good memory booster
  • Treat yeast infections
  • Aid in weight loss
  • Promotes a better sleep
  • Helps with allergies
  • Treat herpes

 

Skin and Hair Benefits:

  • Promotes a healthy scalp
  • Heals wounds and burns
  • Helps fight acne
  • Moisturizer
  • Treat eczema
  • Shampoo and condition hair

Best type of honey to use

Raw or unprocessed honey is the best type to use because commercial honey is often heavily processed and may even be chemically refined.  Commercial honey is usually golden in colour and has a syrup-like appearance.   Additionally, you should note that once raw honey is excessively heated and processed,  the health benefits are largely depleted.  All honey is therefore not created equal so be sure to ask questions and read what you are buying.

How to use honey

Although honey is full of benefits, it is also high in fructose and must be used in moderation therefore less is best especially when consuming it.

Important – Possible Side Effects

Now I could not leave you without mentioning some possible side effects of consuming too much honey.   Some side effects can include: weight gain, cavities, nausea, weakness, vomiting, dizziness, and sweating.

Children under 12 months MUST NOT be given honey because it is a potential source for the bacteria that causes botulism.  Raw honey is however, safe for older children and adults.

If you are allergic to pollen or have any other bee-related allergies, it is recommended that you do not consume raw honey.

How I use it

  • I like to mix 1 teaspoon honey in warm water with cinnamon and the juice from 1/2 a lemon.  Drink on an empty stomach once per day. This aids in my detox and weight management.
  • I sometimes mix it with some lime or lemon juice if I have a sore throat.
  • I use 1 teaspoon of honey mixed with sugar and a few drops of lemon juice as an exfoliator on my skin once or twice per week. Rubbing the mixture in circular motion on my face and neck and I leave it for about 10 minutes before I wash it off.
  • I also like to add it to my Bar-B-Que sauce replacing brown sugar.

There are tons of recipes and combinations for using honey based on your objectives and goals.  So do your research and get yourself a bottle today.