The Health Benefits of Oranges

Today I want to share some of the health benefits of oranges.  I eat oranges from time to time, but hardly ever drink orange juice.IMG_20140330_133951_148  It gives me heartburn, which is probably due to acid content.  I do love mandarin oranges though, I eat them 2 or 3 days a week.  They are one of my favorite fruits.

Oranges are known for their vitamin C, but oranges also have other important benefits.

Thanks to healthyeating.sfgate.com and Medical News Today for the information below, as always it is much appreciated.

1.  Oranges are full of soluble fiber, which is especially beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels.  Soluble fiber attracts water in your gut, forming a slow-moving gel.  As this gel substance travels through your intestinal tract, it picks up some of the excess cholesterol compounds and pushes them out through fecal waste.  Your cholesterol levels will go down over time, decreasing your risk of suffering from heart disease.

2.  Oranges provide potassium, an electrolyte mineral responsible for normal heart function.  Potassium works with other electrolytes, including calcium, magnesium and sodium, to carefully maintain fluid levels both in and around cells.  Steady fluid balance allows electricity to conduct through your system, making your heart beat.

3.  This is the one about vitamin C that everyone knows about, but here is some more information as to why vitamin C is important.  One of the roles of vitamin C is to protect cells by neutralizing free radicals.  When free radicals build up in your body, they cling to healthy cells, causing permanent damage.  Free radicals cause chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease.  Getting adequate amount of daily vitamin C reduces your risk of developing these chronic conditions.

4.  Oranges are rich in vitamin A, which includes a group of compounds that protect your eyes.  Carotenoid compounds of vitamin A, like lutein, beta carotene and zeaxanthin, can help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a condition that leads to blindness.  Vitamin A allows your eyes to absorb light by keeping membranes surrounding your eyes healthy and also lessens your chances of having night blindness.

5.  According to the American Heart Association, eating higher amounts of a compound found in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit may lower ischemic stroke risk for women.  Those who ate the highest amounts of citrus had a 19 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke than women who consumed the least.

6.  The antioxidant vitamin C, when eaten in its natural form (as in an orange) or applied topically, can help to fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution, reduce wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.  Vitamin C plays a vital role in the formation of collagen, the support system of your skin.

As you can see oranges have more to offer than just vitamin C.  I would encourage you to pick up some oranges, or as I do, mandarin oranges the next time you’re at the store.

Here are some recipes using oranges or orange juice.  Try them out and enjoy!

Orange Glorious

Orange Rosemary Chicken

Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad

Tangy Poppy Seed Fruit Salad

Orange Cilantro Rice

 

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The Health Benefits of Spinach

In this post I wanted to share some of the health benefits of spinach. IMG_20140315_140037_070 When I was growing up Popeye was sort of a spokesman for spinach.  Popeye would pop open a can of spinach and could then take on the bad guy and would always win.  Spinach may not make you like Popeye, but spinach does have many health benefits.  Check out the list below.

Thanks goes to the website, healthdiaries.com for the great information.  As always, it is much appreciated.

1.  One cup of spinach has nearly 20% of the RDA of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating.

2.  Spinach is packed with flavonoids, a phytonutrient with anti-cancer properties.  Flavonoids have been shown to slow down cell division in human stomach and skin cancer cells. Furthermore, spinach has shown significant protection against the occurrence of aggressive prostate cancer.

3.  Neoxanthin and violaxanthin are two anti-inflammatory epoxyxanthophylls that play an important role in regulation of inflammation and are present in unusual amounts in spinach.

4.  The vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium present in spinach all serve as powerful antioxidants that combat the onset of osteoporosis, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.IMG_20140315_140109_861

5.  By inhibiting the angiotensin I-converting enzyme, peptides within spinach have been shown to effectively lower blood pressure.

6.  Both antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are especially plentiful in spinach and protect the eye from cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

7.  One cup of spinach contains over 337% of the RDA of vitamin A that not only protects and strengthens “entry points” into the human body, such as mucous membranes, respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts, but is also a key component of lymphocytes (or white blood cells) that fight infection.

8.  The high amount of vitamin A in spinach also promotes healthy skin by allowing for proper moisture retention in the epidermis, thus fighting psoriasis, keratinization, acne and even wrinkles.

9.  One cup of boiled spinach provides over 1000% of the RDA of vitamin K that can prevent excess activation of osteoclasts (the cells that break down bones), as well as promote the synthesis of osteocalcin, the protein that is essential for maintaining the strength and density of our bones.

IMG_20140315_152237_113

My mom’s Spinach Bake. The recipe can be found at the first link below.

10.  The abundance of vitamin K in spinach contributes greatly to a healthy nervous system and brain function by providing an essential part for the synthesis of sphingolipids, the crucial fat that makes up the Myelin sheath around our nerves.

As you can see making spinach a part of a healthy diet has many health benefits and you owe yourself good health and well-being.

Check out these recipes using spinach.

Spinach Bake

Pesto Chicken Florentine

Spinach Enchiladas

Spinach Chicken Parmesan 

Sally’s Spinach Mashed Potatoes

 

 

The Health Benefits of Avocados

Today I wanted to share some of the health benefits of avocados, which I absolutely love.  Guacamole is a favorite of mine and I also love fresh slices of avocado on a turkey burger in place of a condiment.

Below are the health benefits of avocados.IMG_20140330_134619_181  Thanks as always goes to the websites I get the information from.  The information for this blog comes from Healthonlinezine.  Thanks a million to them.  Now lets look at the healthy side of avocados.

1.  Avocados contains vitamin B6 and folic acid, which help regulate homocysteine levels.  High level of homocysteine is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.  Avocados also contain vitamin E, glutathione, and monounsaturated fat, which help in maintaining a healthy heart.

2.  Avocados are rich in a compound called beta-sitosterol which has been shown to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels.

3.  Avocados are also a great source of potassium, which helps in controlling blood pressure levels.

4.  Avocados are an excellent source of carotenoid lutein, which is known to help protect against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

5.  The monounsaturated (good) fats in avocados can reverse insulin resistance which help to regulate blood sugar levels.  Avocados also contain soluble fiber which keep blood sugar levels stable.

6.  Avocados are rich in folate, a B vitamin commonly known as folic acid.  One cup of avocado provides about 23% of the recommended daily value of folate.  The high amount of folate in avocado is essential in the prevention of birth defects, such as neural tube defect and spina bifida.

7.  Many studies have shown that avocados can inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.  The oleic acid in avocado is also effective in preventing breast cancer.

8.  Being rich in antioxidants, avocados are beneficial in preventing aging symptoms.  The glutathione in avocados may boost the immune system, slow down the aging process, and encourage a healthy nervous system.

As you can see avocados are an important part of a healthy diet.  I encourage you to pick some up next time you are at the grocery store.  I encourage you to try a couple slices of thinly sliced avocado on a turkey burger instead of mayo or mustard.  It’s really good.

Check out these recipes using avocados.

Strawberry Avocado Salad

Avocado Ice Pops

 

 

 

The Health Benefits of Hummus

Today I wanted to share some of the health benefits of hummus.IMG_20140330_195618_863  Hummus is one of my favorites.  Pair hummus with some pretzel crisps and I am one happy camper.

Hummus, for those who don’t know, is mashed chick peas, olive oil, tahini, which is a sesame seed paste, lemon juice and garlic.  For me, it is the best dip out there and one of the healthiest too.

Below are some of the health benefits of hummus.  Thanks to Zee News for the information below.

1.  The nutrients in hummus could help with weight management.  Hummus is rich in protein, which can help fight hunger cravings and balance blood sugar levels. This could help curb excessive snacking.

2.  Chickpeas can lower cholesterol.

3.  Chickpeas may help reduce cancer risk.  Food items that contain folate may reduce the risk of colorectal cancers (like colon cancer). What’s more? Researchers believe dietary fibre helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon, which is also protective against cancer.

4.  Chickpeas are high in antioxidants, which can slow oxidative damage to our bodies.  Garlic and lemon juice also found in hummus is full of wonderful age fighting nutrients.

5.  Tahini is a source of calcium, protein and B vitamins. Tahini is a good source of essential fatty acids which helps to maintain healthy skin.

6.  Hummus contains Omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for improving intelligence and maintaining a healthy heart.

7.  The amino acids found in hummus can also help you get a good night’s sleep and uplift your mood.

As you can see hummus can be a great addition to a healthy diet. IMG_20140330_135646_237 There are several different kinds of hummus on the market.  My favorite is just plain hummus, but I’ve also discovered a garden herb hummus recently that I really enjoy too.  I encourage you to give hummus a try if you never have.  It’s delicious.

You can actually make hummus yourself.  Which I may try.

Here is the recipe.

Real Hummus 

The Health Benefits of Pears

Today I wanted to share some of the health benefits of pears.  Apples and oranges seem to get a lot of the glory and spotlight when it comes to fruits, but pears should be included too.

Below are some of the health benefits of pears. IMG_20140330_221131_786 Who knew pears are so good for you?  Thanks to the website, A Perfect Pear, for the information below.

1.  Pears have anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogen glutathione which help prevent high blood pressure and stroke.

2.  The high content of pectin in pears make it very useful in helping to lower cholesterol levels.

3.  The pectin in pears is a diuretic and has a mild laxative effect. Drinking pear juice regularly helps regulate bowel movements.

4.  Pears are shown to reduce fever.  The best way to bring a fever down quickly is by drinking a big glass of pear juice.

5.  Pears contain high level of boron. Boron helps the body to retain calcium, which can help to prevent osteoporosis.

6.  Drinking pear juice every morning and night helps to cool your body down.  Pear juice also nourishes the throat and helps prevent throat problems.

7.  Pears are an excellent source of natural dietary fiber.  One pear will give you 24% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber. Fiber contains no calories, and is a necessary element of a healthy diet as it helps sustain blood sugar levels and promotes regularity.

8.  Pear juice has an anti-inflammatory effect and can help relieve pain in various inflammatory conditions.

As you can see pears have many health benefits so there are lots of good reasons why you should make them a part of a healthy diet.

Here are a couple recipes that contain pears.

Ham & Pear Panini

Baked Pears with Vanilla Yogurt and Granola

Pear-a-dise Muffins

Aisles to avoid at the grocery store – Cookies and Snack Cakes

Next on the list of aisles you should avoid at the grocery store is cookies and snack cakes. IMG_20140330_133250_641 Both of these are loaded with calories, fat and sugar, which your body doesn’t need.

Other items that fall into this category include; donuts, cakes, pies, you know anything sweet that most people love…haha.  As I stressed in an earlier blog, instead of cookies, snack cakes or the like why not have some fruit, dried fruit, heck even air popped popcorn is better for you than cookies, cakes, pies and snack cakes.

I am not here to judge anyone for what they eat or put into their body.  I for one am far from perfect, but as someone who is trying to make smarter food choices I am wanting to give you other alternatives as well.

One thing that I do want to stress though is that you as a individual have every right to eat whatever you want.  The only thing I ask though is, as far as those people out there who are parents, please give your children healthier options.  They deserve healthy food and options in their life. IMG_20140301_145410_292 I see so many children out there who are under 5 years old who eat a lot of snack cakes, drink caffeine, eat chips, etc and it couldn’t make me more upset.  Parents who allow their children to eat these kinds of things are setting them up for what is the beginning of a kind of dependence on unhealthy foods, which can lead to a life of health problems and unhealthy living.  You owe it to your children to not to take them down that road.

Below are some healthy alternatives to cookies and snack cakes, give them a try.

33 Healthier Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth 

20 Sweet Snacks for 50 Calories or Less

Aisles to avoid at the grocery store – Potato Chips

Next up on the aisles to avoid at the grocery store is the potato chip aisle.  If you must go down this aisle might I suggest chips that are baked.  Another suggestion would be to have a baked potato instead of potato chips. IMG_20140301_144114_656 A potato not deep fried in much better for you than one that is.

Thanks goes to healthyeating.sfgate.com for the information below on the negative effects of potato chips.

1.  Chips are typically high in fat and calories, which can raise the risk of weight gain and obesity.  The link between potato chips and weight gain was stronger than the link between weight gain and other dietary components, including processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and unprocessed red meats. Being overweight or obese raises the risk of diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.

2.  Chips are low in nutritional value.  If you regularly include chips as part of your diet, you may not be consuming as many nutrients as you should.  Chips are typically low in vitamins and minerals, and they tend to displace things in the diet that are higher in nutrients.

3.  The sodium content in chips may negatively impact your cardiovascular health.  A high intake of sodium can cause an increase in blood pressure, which can lead to stroke, heart failure, coronary heart disease and kidney disease.  Potato chips generally have between 120 and 180 milligrams of sodium per ounce, and tortilla chips can have 105 to 160 milligrams of sodium per ounce.  A bag of chips typically contains more than a single ounce, so many people consume more sodium than they realize when eating chips.

4.  Frequent chip consumption can contribute to high cholesterol levels because of the amount and type of fat found in chips.  Most chips are deep-fried, a process that creates trans fats, the most dangerous type.  In addition, the oils used for frying chips are often saturated fats, which also contribute to high cholesterol levels.

As you can see there isn’t anything good that comes from eating potato chips.  If you must eat them might I suggest you eat them on a very limited basis, or stick to baked chips or tortilla chips which have less fat and calories.

Check out the link below for some great healthy alternatives to potato chips and french fries.  Some of these look so good, I’m going to have to give them a try.

25 Baked Alternatives To Potato Chips And French Fries 

Aisles to avoid at the grocery store – Candy

The next aisle that should be avoided at the grocery store is the candy aisle. IMG_20140301_145226_761 I remember when I was a kid there was maybe two or three shelves worth of candy at the grocery store and the shelves full of candy that are located at the checkouts.  Today the candy aisle is huge and the candy up by the checkouts is still there.  That’s a lot of candy.  I say avoid it, don’t look, you don’t need it!

Candy is loaded with sugar, fat and bunch of other ingredients that I can’t pronounce, which if truth be known probably aren’t good for you.  If you must venture down the candy aisle here is a link to the best candy choices and other treats that may be better for you than that Snickers.  Healthy Candy Choices.

Here is a website I found that may be worth a look, Natural Candy Store.  This website has all kinds of candies in several different categories that include; organic, dye free, GMO-friendly, allergy friendly, gluten-free, vegan, fair-trade and Made in the U.S.A.  There is also a list of brands in the menu bar you might want to check out for your best options.

The best idea I can give you, instead of candy, would be to buy fruits instead, which comes from mother nature and is naturally good for you.  It has natural sugars and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.  All natural is always the way to go in my book.

 

Aisles to avoid at the grocery store – Soft Drinks & Coffee

This is another aisle that should be avoided when going to the grocery store. IMG_20140301_144056_960 Soft drinks are full of sugar,caffeine and a lot of other words that I can’t pronounce, which are probably not good or healthy for a persons body.

Below are some of the negative effects of caffeine, which I researched and found online.  Thanks goes to the following websites for the information; American Fitness Professionals & Associates and Caffeine Informer.

1.  The physiological effects of caffeine can begin as early as 15-45 minutes after ingestion. Its maximum central nervous system effects are reached in about 30-60 minutes. Caffeine increases heartbeat, respiration, basal metabolic rate, and the production of stomach acid and urine; and it relaxes smooth muscles, notably the bronchial muscle.

2.  Studies of the effect of caffeine on sleep have shown that one strong cup of coffee, drunk 30-60 minutes before going to sleep, can cause restlessness and difficulty falling asleep, increased body movements, a tendency to be awakened more readily by sudden noises, and a decreased quality of sleep.

3.  Caffeine can increase the secretion of both acid and pepsin in the stomach, which could exacerbate an existing ulcer.

4.  Caffeine has been shown to cause cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) in certain individuals; often persons with heart disease are told to avoid caffeine altogether.

5.  Caffeine can cause incontinence, which is involuntary urination or bowel movements.

6.  Caffeine could reduce fertility in women.  A study from The University of Nevada School of Medicine showed that caffeine can reduce a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant by about 27%.

Some these side effects are listed above but on a moderate to severe level here is how negative effects rate:

Moderate effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Increase in breast tenderness
  • Restlessness
  • Mild insomnia
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mild stomach upset
 
Severe effects include:
  •  Panic Attacks
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Continuous stomach problems
  • Prolonged depression
  • Sleep disorders

The best advice I can offer is to just steer clear of caffeine.  I don’t drink soft drinks at all and I’m still a functioning human being, so the excuse…but I need it, is a load of baloney.  It’s another one of those situations where you want it, you don’t need it.

I would suggest something like Ginseng, an herbal supplement, which helps to boost energy levels.  Something that is natural is far better for you than caffeine that is found in soft drinks, tea and coffee.  Another option would be to drink more water, which your body needs in order to survive.

Some things to think about for sure.  If you can’t cut out caffeine completely at least cut back.  Don’t you owe it to yourself to take care of the body you have?  It’s not like you can trade it in for a new one.

Aisles to avoid at the grocery store – Ice Cream

These next several blogs are probably not going to score me a lot of brownie points with readers, but these aisles should be avoided at all cost when going to the grocery store.

The first aisle up on the list is the ice cream aisle. IMG_20140301_143351_952 This aisle is loaded with unnecessary calories,fats and sugars that your body doesn’t need.  If you must visit this aisle stick to frozen juice pops or frozen yogurt, which are both better for you than ice cream.

The best thing you can do is just avoid the aisle all together, which is what I do.  As I like to say, out of sight, out of mind.  Wanting something and needing something are two totally different things.  You don’t need ice cream…you want ice cream.  Not the same thing.  Remember that.

Here are a couple of suggestions for homemade frozen treats that are a much better alternative than hitting up the ice cream aisle.  These have far less calories and sugar plus they would be something fun to make with your family.

Strawberry Lemonade Ice Pops

Watermelon-Kiwi Pops

Ginger Peach Freeze

Lemon Blueberry Twist Pops