The Health Benefits of Potatoes

Today I wanted to share with you some of the health benefits of potatoes.  People, for some reason, have been told that eating potatoes is a bad idea.  I suppose the word starch comes to mind, and people think starch is a bad thing.  Well today I wanted to share some of the research that’s been done to show that potatoes, when prepared properly can be beneficial to a persons health.

When most people think of potatoes they think of them in the form of french fries, IMG_20140226_193425_893which have seem to become a staple in Americans diets.  Baked potatoes are also very popular and a much better option.  Other options for potatoes are broiled, stewed, mashed, heck it’s a potato, you can do just about anything with it.  🙂  One of my favorite ways to have potatoes is my mom’s canned potatoes.  She chops up potatoes, with the skin left on and seals them up through the canning process.  That is definitely some good eating.  Yum!

While looking up information about the health benefits I stumbled upon some history and facts about the potato.  I found them interesting and thought you might too.  Thanks goes to the websites aboutnutritionfacts.com and www.mayoclinic.org for the information.

  • Potatoes where first cultivated in Chile and Peru around 8000 B.C.
  • In 1570 Spanish explorers brought the first potatoes to Europe.
  • In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson served the first french fries at the White House.
  • In 1995 the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space.
  • China is the top producer of potatoes with 73 million tons.  Followed by India with 34 million tons produced.
  • Belarus is the number one consumer of potatoes.
  • The worlds largest potato weighed in at 8.28 lbs.
  • Frying a potato raises fat content from near zero to almost 8g.
  • Americans spend $6 billion dollars on potato chips each year.

Now for some of the health benefits of potatoes.

1.  Potatoes have been shown to lower high blood pressure with the same results as eating oats, but without an increase in weight, which can result in eating oats.  Potatoes have potassium, which is a nutrient lacking in people’s diets and is very important in lowering a person’s blood pressure.

2.  Research has shown that lectins, which is a type of protein that bind specifically with certain sugars in the body, can help inhibit cancer cell growth in some cancer patient’s.

3.  Potatoes are an excellent source of several nutrients, such as vitamins C and B6, potassium, pantothenic acid, niacin and dietary fiber.  The protein in potatoes contain lysine, an essential amino acid generally absent in grains.

4.  Eating potatoes can increase brain function.  The brain or nerve center of your body relies on several things to function, including balanced glucose levels, oxygen, Vitamin B complex, amino acids, Omega-3 and other fatty acids, among others.  Potatoes contain these elements and so much more to keep your brain performing as it should.

5.  Eating potatoes can help prevent cardiovascular disease.  Potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates, protein, calcium, niacin and Vitamins C and B-complex.  These properties help fight heart disease and keep blood pressure at normal levels.  Potatoes also contain carotenoids, which give color to plant parts, and are a key to heart health and overall health and wellness.

6.  Potatoes are rich sources of magnesium which can offset the accumulation of calcium in the kidney and help to prevent kidney stones.

7.  Potatoes contain Vitamins C and B-complex, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus, all excellent vitamins and minerals for your skin.  Raw potatoes can be mashed and mixed with honey to make a masque for your skin.  Raw potatoes can also be applied to burns and rashes to ease the swelling and pain.

As you can see potatoes aren’t the bad guy they’ve been made out to be.  I encourage you to make potatoes a part of your diet, and I don’t mean in the form of french fries.

Here are some healthy potato recipes to show you that french fries aren’t the only way a potato can be eaten.  🙂

Healthier Oven Roasted Potatoes

Cheesy Broccoli-Potato Mash

Baked Potato Nachos

 

The Health Benefits of Ginger

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Ginger snacks I bought at the local health food store. YUM!

Today I wanted to share with you some of the health benefits of ginger.  Ginger cultivation began in South Asia and has since spread to South Africa and the Caribbean.  The root of the ginger plant it was is cultivated and used.  I visited the local health food store a while back and picked up some ginger snacks.  They are sweet, but at the same time spicy.  I love them.  Another favorite of mine is Natural Brew Outrageous Ginger Ale, which is produced by Smuckers, of all companies.  If you haven’t tried it you should.  It is so good and taste nothing like the ginger ale you’re probably used to.  It is the “real deal.”

Below are some of the benefits of ginger.  Thanks to the following websites for the great information foodmatters.tv, and health.india.com 

1.  Ginger can help reduce gas…who knew?  It can also help reduce menstrual cramps in women.

2.  Had a large meal?  Eat some ginger.  Ginger improves absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients and aids in digestion and helps break down the proteins in your food.  Ginger protects your stomach against ulcers by promoting mucus secretion.

3.  Ginger can help with joint pain since it has anti-inflammatory properties.  Add some ginger essential oil to a bath to help soothe aching muscles and joints.

4.  Chewing on ginger can reduce nausea and vomiting.  According to studies, ginger can treat sensations of nausea following surgery, help with motion sickness, as well as seasickness.  It is also beneficial for nausea as a result of adverse effect of chemotherapy.

5.  Ginger’s antihistamine properties help in treating allergies.  It is also known to inhibit airway contraction and helps to stimulate the secretion of mucus.  It is the herb of choice for persistent cough and sore throat associated with colds.  A teaspoon of ginger juice with honey is effective against sore throat. And ginger tea is an all-time favorite to get rid of congestion in the throat and nose.

6.  Applying diluted ginger paste on the forehead is believed to relieve migraine headaches.  Here is a link that tells more about this remedy.  Ginger Headache Relief 

As you can see there are some great benefits to making ginger a part of your diet.  I encourage you to pick some up and enjoy it’s benefits.  All this blogging about ginger makes me want some ginger tea now.  I’ll have to pick some up the next time I’m at the health food store.

Cheers everyone and here’s to your good health!

The George Foreman Grill

Today I wanted to talk about what I believe is one of the best kitchen inventions ever, the George Foreman grill.

I bought my first George Foreman grill probably 12 years ago,IMG_20140220_214223_065 and I used it all the time.  Three years ago, right before I moved to Florida, my first one finally quit on me.  I ended up renting a room from a guy who had a George Foreman grill so I decided not to buy one of my own.  I lived in Florida for two years, so when I moved back to Arkansas I didn’t have one.  I stayed with my parent’s during the late spring and early summer last year before moving to Russellville, since I couldn’t move into my apartment until right before college started.  My wonderful mother, bought me a new George Foreman grill when I moved into my new place.  I don’t know what I would do without it.

I use my George Foreman grill more than I use my microwave.  I use it to grill turkey burgers, chicken, shrimp, fish and all kinds of vegetables.  I enjoy using my George Foreman grill because any fat or grease that may be in the item you are cooking drains off.  The cook time is fast too, which I really like.

Since I began my journey to a better me I have not eaten anything fried. IMG_20140220_214247_673 Grease is an enemy to someone, like me, who is concerned about what I’m eating and taking into my body.  Grilling is the way to go for me.

If you don’t own a George Foreman grill I encourage you to go out and buy one.  The one my mother bought me cost around $30, it’s one of the smaller one’s, or two servings model, since I live by myself.   I checked the George Foreman Grill website and grills range from the $30 model I own up to $90, so they are not overly expensive and definitely well worth the price.

Below are some great recipes that use the George Foreman Grill.  Check them out and happy, healthy eating.

George Foreman Grill Recipes

Grilled Orange Chicken

The Benefits of St. John’s Wort

Today I wanted tell you about some of the benefits of St. John’s Wort.

First, some history about the plant.  St. John’s Wort is a yellow-flowering perennial herb indigenous to Europe, but has been introduced to many temperate areas around the world.  The herb’s scientific name is Hypericum perforatum.IMG_20140222_163942_177  Hypericum is derived from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture), in reference to the plant’s traditional use in warding off evil by hanging plants over a religious icon in the house during St. John’s day.  The species name perforatum refers to the presence of small oil glands in the leaves that look like windows, which can be seen when they are held against the light.  It’s common name, St. John’s Wort, comes from its traditional flowering and harvesting day which falls on St. John’s day, which is June 24.  St. John is believed by many in religious circles to be the man who baptized Jesus.

Now for some the benefits of taking or using St. John’s Wort, which can be taken as a tea or dried and powered and formed into tablets or put into capsules.  Thanks goes to herbslist.com and herbwisdom.com for the information below.  I am always thankful for the hard work and research of others.

1.  In ancient Rome, St. John’s Wort was used to heal deep wounds such as sword cuts. It was also widely used for burns, bruises, sores and sprains.

2.  Throughout history St. John’s Wort has also been used for stomach troubles, coughs, insomnia, nervous exhaustion, lung problems and especially as an anti-depressant to treat mild to moderate depression and seasonal depression.

3.  In the last 20 years or so, St. John’s Wort has become a popular remedy for depression.  In Germany it is the number one treatment for depression and has been extensively studied by Commission E, the scientific advisory panel to the German government.  It contains several chemicals, including hypericin, hyperforin, and pseudohypericin, which are thought to be the major sources of antidepressant activity.

4.  St. John’s wort has also been studied for the treatment of other emotional disorders such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), menopausal mood swings, and premenstrual syndrome.

As you can see St. John’s Wort is more of a remedy for emotional and psychological problems, but when the plant is made into a salve it can be used to treat cuts, burns, scrapes and bruises.

I am a natural or herbal remedy type person.  Plants and herbs come from the earth and are produced with the help of mother nature.  I am not a trusting person when it comes to synthetic or man-made drugs.  I don’t trust them as much as I do natural or herbal medicines.  I would encourage everyone to do more research and find out about natural cures and remedies when you are sick or have problems instead of relying or depending on man made drugs.  Nature is always better, in my opinion, than anything man-made.

The Benefits of Ginseng

Today I want to go over some of the benefits of Ginseng.  Ginseng is another herbal supplement, like Echinacea that helps with boosting the immune system, but in doing some research on the different types of Ginseng I found that it can be used to help with other health problems as well.

Ginseng is found only in the Northern Hemisphere,IMG_20140222_164003_446 in North America and in eastern Asia, which have cooler climates.  The roots of a Ginseng plant are more desirable than the leaves, which don’t contain as much medicinal value.  Although the leaves can be used when making some kinds of Ginseng tea. 

Thanks to the following sites newsmax.com and herbslist.net for the following information regarding the many benefits of Ginseng.

Here are some of the benefits from making Ginseng a part of life.

1.  Studies on American Ginseng have found that taking Ginseng may improve blood sugar control by creating sugar-lowering effects in fasting and after-meal blood sugar levels.  The effect was noticed even in average blood sugar levels over a three-month period.

2.  An extract from the ginseng berry is believed to be effective against obesity and helpful with weight control.  Ginseng tea works as a natural appetite suppressant.

3.  Ginseng is believed to benefit a persons stamina and helps boost energy levels.  It helps athletes use oxygen more effectively, and it is believed to regulate metabolism, which can increase energy levels.  Consumption of ginseng can also help athletes lower their recovery time and reduce stress.  In addition, ginseng tea can act as a stimulant for the brain cells and help improve concentration and thinking ability.

4.  Consuming ginseng tea can help men lessen the symptoms of sex related conditions like erectile dysfunction.  Korean Red Ginseng has long been used to stimulate male sexual function.  However, be sure to discuss this with your doctor before taking; ginseng may interact with other drugs or cause allergic reactions.

5.  Young women who suffer from menstrual cramps and distress are advised to drink American Ginseng Tea.  It is also believed to lessen stomach pain associated with menstruation.

Along with these benefits various types of Ginseng have been studied and have shown to help with the following conditions or problems:  strengthens and stimulates the central nervous system, improves the functioning of the immune system, helps control diabetes, reduces stress and fatigue, reduces cholesterol levels, helps to treat confusion and headaches, helps treat high and low blood pressure, helps to relieve insomnia, helps to relieve chest congestion and can reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.

As you can see there are many uses for Ginseng.  It is one of the most widely studied herbs because of the many benefits it can have on the human body.  I encourage you to make Ginseng a part of your life.  It works for me and it just might work for you. 

The Benefits of Echinacea

Today I wanted to share with you some of the benefits of taking Echinacea. IMG_20140222_163923_844 It is sold over the counter, so no prescription is needed.  Echinacea is available as teas, liquid extracts, a dried herb and as capsules or tablets.  Information for the blog today has been provided by medicalnewstoday.com and 3fatchicks.com.

For those of you who don’t know, Echinacea comes from one or more of three types of Coneflowers; Echinacea angustifolia, commonly called the Narrow Leaf Coneflower, Echinacea pallida, commonly called the Pale Purple Coneflower and Echinacea purpurea, commonly called the Eastern purple Coneflower.

Echinacea is a perennial plant meaning it reoccurs every year.  It is approximately one to two feet tall when mature. It is slightly spiky and has large purple to pink flowers, depending on the species. The center of the flower has a seed head (cone), which is also spiky and dark brown to red in color.

So the question is; Does Echinacea have any effect on catching colds or reducing symptoms of a cold?  Studies have produced conflicting results, but I myself know that taking Echinacea works for me.  “Knock on wood,” I haven’t been sick with a cold in I can’t remember when.  I believe this is due in part from taking Echinacea, which is said to help boost immune health.

One study included scientists from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy who reviewed over a dozen studies on the effects of Echinacea on people’s risk of catching a cold.  They concluded that Echinacea can reduce a person’s chances of catching a cold by approximately 58 percent.  They also found that the popular herbal remedy reduces the length of time a cold lasts by 1.4 days. They published their findings in The Lancet Infections Diseases (July 2007 edition).

Another study from the Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health reported in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine (December 2010 issue) that Echinacea has no significant impact on the common cold and only reduces the duration of symptoms by half a day at the most.

I myself believe the first study is true for me.  Echinacea works for me, but as most people know, what works for some people doesn’t work for others.

IMG_20130615_130128_101

Echinacea is flower form, taken last summer in my parent’s yard.

Below are some of the benefits, I found online, for taking or using Echinacea.  Thanks to 3fatchicks.com for the following information.  It is much appreciated.

1.  Echinacea strengthens your immune system by stimulating the production of T-cells. It also increases the ability of your white cells to fend off pathogenic invaders.  A compound known as echinacein, found in echinacea, helps keep germs from penetrating healthy cells, so that viruses and bacteria don’t take hold in your body.

2.  Echinacea helps protect your healthy cells from invasion by bacteria and viruses, even if you apply the herb topically.  This means you can use it to keep cuts and scratches from getting infected.  Not only will it keep the wound from getting infected, but it will speed the healing process.

3.  Some illnesses in which echinacea supplements may be particularly effective include:  Urinary tract infection, sore throat pain, enlarged lymph glands, upper respiratory infection, enlarged prostate, vaginal yeast infections, bronchitis, hay fever, sinusitis, ear infections, gingivitis and canker sores.

4.  Topically applied, echinacea can help speed wound healing, so it’s often used for the treatment of slow-healing wounds.  It also helps to relieve the pain of the wound and can protect slow-healing wounds from infection.  Echinacea is also frequently used as a hemorrhoid remedy, and is often added to over-the-counter hemorrhoid medications.

I encourage you to give Echinacea a try since we still have a few more weeks of winter left, which means the cold and flu season isn’t over yet.

The Health Benefits of Apples

Everyone knows the saying, An apple a day keeps the doctor away, IMG_20140219_215147_054but many people don’t know how true this saying really is.  In all my years on this earth I have yet to find a kind of apple I don’t like.  I love apples by themselves, or in a fruit salad.  Another favorite of mine is apple slices dipped in peanut butter.

Today I wanted to share some of the health benefits of apples.  The information below comes from besthealthmag.ca.  Some benefits you may know about and some you may not.  Read on to find out the many benefits of eating apples.

1.  Research has shown that people who eat fruits, such as apples, which are high in fiber, gain a certain amount of protection against Parkinson’s, a disease characterized by a breakdown of the brain’s dopamine-producing nerve cells. Scientists have linked this to the free radical-fighting power of the antioxidants contained in apples, as well as many other fruits.

2.  Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 percent.  Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds—triterpenoids—in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast.

3.  Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples.  Apples are loaded with soluble fiber, which is the key to sharp spikes in blood sugar.

4.  The soluble fiber found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels.

5.  Apples may help to prevent gallstones from forming.  Gallstones form when there’s too much cholesterol in your bile for it to remain as a liquid, so it solidifies.  Apples are high in fiber and can help break down the bile.

6.  Apples help to detoxify your liver and keep it working properly.

7.  Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Recent studies have found that quercetin can help boost and fortify your immune system, especially when you’re stressed out.

8.  Recent long-term studies suggest that people who have a diet rich in fruits that contain antioxidants—like apples—are 10 to 15 percent less likely to develop cataracts.

As you can see there are many benefits to eating apples.IMG_20140219_215028_328  The fiber content alone is reason enough to eat more apples.  I encourage you to pick up some apples the next time you’re at the grocery store.  They are a great alternative when it comes to wanting something sweet to snack on and you don’t have to feel guilty about eating them.

Below are some recipes which contain apples.  Give them a try.

Apple Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Tangy Apple Chicken Loaf.  One of the comments said they used ground turkey instead of ground chicken.  I want to try this.  It sounds really good.

Roasted Potatoes and Apples.  I bet carrots added would be really good too.

The Health Benefits of Tilapia

Tilapia is a kind of fish, in case you didn’t know.  The reason I like Tilapia so much, compared to other kinds of fish is because it doesn’t have a fishy taste. IMG_20140219_214742_709 I have discovered a few different kinds of Tilapia produced by Gorton’s.  All of the one’s I buy are grilled, as opposed to fried, and come in come with three different seasoning options.  One is called signature grilled, the second is Cajun style and the third is roasted garlic and butter.

A serving is one filet, which is 80 calories.  There are two filet’s per box, which only comes to 160 calories, so I eat both pieces, usually with some steamed broccoli or cauliflower.  The roasted garlic and butter is my favorite.  You can find them in the freezer section of your local grocery store and are less than $4 per box.

I wanted to share some of the health benefits of eating Tilapia as part of a healthy diet.  The information below was obtained from healthyeating.sfgate.com and livestrong.com.  Thanks goes to them for all the great information.

1.  Tilapia is a great source of protein.   Tilapia is a source of complete protein, meaning that it provides all of the amino acids that form the structure of your cells, tissues and organs.  

2.  Tilapia is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for growth and development in children and brain function.  The polyunsaturated fats found in omega-3 fatty acids may help you keep your blood pressure within a healthy range, prevent heartbeat irregularities and reduce your serum triglycerides — a form of fat that can increase your risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids may also help you maintain your mental acuity and prevent arthritis as you age. 

3.  Eating tilapia on a regular basis may help you control your body weight.IMG_20140224_193810_024  If you substitute tilapia for red meat in meals two or three times a week, you can reduce your overall intake of calories, fat and cholesterol. One serving of tilapia weighing 100 g, or 3.5 oz. — about the size of a deck of cards — has 128 calories, 3 g of fat, 1 g of saturated fat and 57 mg of cholesterol, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By comparison, a 3.5-oz. serving of lean beef sirloin with the fat trimmed has 182 calories, 8 g of fat, 3 g of saturated fat and 78 mg of cholesterol. 

4.  Eating tilapia may help reduce your risk for heart disease. According to a review article published in a 2008 edition of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” studies show strong evidence that consuming one to two servings of fish per week, which can significantly reduce your risk for coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death. 

I encourage you to substitute tilapia for red meat as often as possible.  It has many health benefits your body will thank you for.

Check out this recipe where tilapia is used.  Looks yummy!

Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos

Does the president control gas prices?

For some reason this is a myth that will not seem to go away.  I found through searching the internet and many articles that the president, whether democrat or republican, has no control over gas prices.

The people who have some control over gasoline prices are the oil and gas companies.  Which are for-profit industries.  Their main priority, as with any business, is to make money, but how much profit is too much profit if not all their workers are seeing benefits from those profits?

This first link includes many charts and graphs that show how America is becoming less dependent on foreign oil, but oil and gas prices are not dropping?

The Obama Energy Agenda: Gas Prices

So why haven’t gas prices gone down if we aren’t having to import large amounts of oil, which costs more money overall.  Could it be corporate greed?  More money for them, while giving the American people nothing but excuses for why gas prices can’t or won’t come down.  One fact I found interesting on the governments website was this, “While profits soar, oil companies are receiving about $7,610 a minute in tax breaks.  That’s 4 million a year.”  I would like to know why these industries continue to receive “tax breaks” when their profits are higher than they’ve ever been?  I believe the money given to them for tax breaks could be put to better use within our country.  Just my opinion though.

This second link gets right to the question and answer.  Who controls gas prices?  The answer comes from the New York Times.

Ask.com..Who controls gas prices?

This third link from Time Magazine tells more about how the president isn’t responsible for gas prices and who is.  The stock market and the economy are more responsible for gas prices than the president.

Why no U.S. president can bring us $2 gasoline.

This fourth link is from Investopedia.  There is a lot of really good information that breaks down the different causes for gas prices, none of which are the president, such as; supply and demand and inflation and taxes.

What determines gas prices?

This fifth link states, not who, but what determines gas prices.  Supply and demand and mention again, as well as China, India and other world economies that are expanding.

Who controls gas prices? 

So the question was, does the president control gas prices?  The answer is no, despite popular belief.  Supply and demand, inflation and taxes, China, India and other world economies that are expanding all play a role in gas prices.  Like with most things no one thing or person is the major cause.  The whole, which is the sum of it’s parts, is the problem.  Some parts are more to blame than others, but none are absolutely free of guilt.

The Scale…Friend or Foe?

Before I started on my weight loss journey the scale was not something that I stepped on very often.  As a matter of fact, I avoided it like the plague.

When I started on this journeyIMG_20140214_183654_765 I went out and bought a scale, since I didn’t have one, and I weigh myself once a week to keep track of my progress.  One problem that many people have is the fact that they weigh to often.  Weighing yourself everyday is not a good idea since the scale can be deceiving and weigh you more one day and maybe less the next day.  I’ve read several different articles on the subject of how often to weigh.  Most of what I’ve read has said to weigh once a week or once every two weeks.

Weighing yourself everyday can get you down or depressed and cause you to “fall off the wagon” and lose sight of your goal.  Another problem that people seem to have is that they want to see instant results.  Just like with weight gain, weight loss takes times.  I look at it like this.  I didn’t gain all this weight overnight so guess what…I’m not going to lose all this weight overnight.

Do not weigh yourself on carpet.  Always weigh yourself of a flat hard surface.  Always use the same scale, preferably only used by you.

Keep in mind that everyday is a new opportunity to do better than you did the day before, or if the day before was a good day then today is day two for another good day.  Keep a positive attitude about it and whatever you do don’t give up.  One of my favorite quotes is this,  “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Don’t let the scale be the only determinant when it comes to your weight loss.   The things you eat, the way your clothes fit, and the amount of exercise you do are all better determinants than what a scale says.  Keep a positive attitude about the journey and don’t let what a number on a scale says determine your worth as a person.

Here are some articles pertaining to the scale and weighing yourself.

Do you make these 10 common mistakes before weighing yourself?

4 Signs it’s time to step off the scale.