Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Avocados: History of unlikely healthy food craze!

(CNN) - From California to Manila, avocados are a common ingredient on restaurant menus around the world.
They can be found not only spread on toast and tacos but in ice cream, smoothies, hummus and even pasta sauce.
The consumption of avocados in the United States has been climbing since 1989, when only about 1.1 pounds were consumed per capita, according to the Agriculture Marketing Resource Center, a research group that receives grants from the US Department of Agriculture.
By 2014, about 7 pounds were consumed per capita, and now avocados are a popular food item -- especially due to their health benefits. But what exactly makes them good for you?
"Avocados are a fruit and one of the few fruits that are high in fat and low in sugar," said Dr. Donald Hensrud, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program in Rochester, Minnesota, and a specialist in nutrition and preventive medicine.
"Along with nuts, olive oil and canola oil, the fat content in avocados are predominantly monounsaturated fat, which is responsible for many ... health benefits," he said. "Avocados also contain other nutrients including B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin C, copper and fiber, which add to their health benefits. They have a higher potassium content than bananas."
Yet long before the green-hued fruit became a modern-day health food staple, the history of the avocado was preserved in the Americas some 10,000 years ago.
The avocado's name is thought to come from the Aztec word ahuacatl, which means testicle, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary. The name presumably is tied to the shape of avocados.
When Spanish conquistadores arrived in the Americas, avocados attracted their attention, leading to the earliest-known written description of the fruit published in Sevilla in the early 1500s by explorer Martin Fernandez de Enciso.
Yet before the avocado was distributed throughout Spanish colonies, Europe and the United States, the fruit was consumed for taste as well as for health, according to a 2007 article in the Harvard Papers in Botany.
In 1605, Spanish soldier and poet Garcilazo de la Vega described the avocado as "delicious and very healthy for sick people," according to the article. De la Vega could have been on to something, as avocados are now seen as a source of the healthy dietary monounsaturated fat.
Monounsaturated fats are good for your health in many ways, such as helping lower your "bad" LDL cholesterol levels and being high in vitamin E, which promotes healthy vision, a healthy immune system, and other benefits, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
"In addition, the relatively high-fat content in avocados is associated with a low glycemic response, which is the tendency of a food to raise blood glucose," Hensrud said. "Evidence from large populations studies suggests that consumption of monounsaturated fats such as contained in avocados decreases overall mortality."
How could you get those health benefits? Avocado toast has become a trendy way to consume the buttery fruit in the US, but Jenna Stangland, a registered dietitian at the physical therapy clinic Viverant in the Minneapolis area, said there are many other ways to include avocado in your daily diet.
"Avocado oil I think is getting to be easier to find in the grocery stores and more common as a type of oil to use in cooking or a marinade or as an ingredient in a homemade salad dressing, and then that oil contains the healthier fats rather than an oil that would have higher saturated fats," Stangland said. Avocado has a very high smoke point, the temperature at which oil starts to smoke, which makes it a good choice for cooking.
"It's common to do fruit and yogurt and ice cubes in smoothies, but ... adding that avocado adds a really nice creaminess plus a healthy fat that might not be in a smoothie otherwise," she said. "Another one that I've tried, I haven't made myself, is avocado pops. ... It's like a frozen treat that includes that healthy fat."
However, because avocados are high in calories, Stangland cautions to watch portion sizes. For instance, topping a salad with about a half-cup of avocado adds 117 calories to your meal.
"Just doing a layer of the avocado on the toast comes out to be about a serving," Stangland said. "At restaurants, or even preparing a dish at home, putting sliced avocado on top of a fish or on top of a salad, it can be really easy to just slice up the whole avocado to put it on top of the salad, and then that's going to be denser in calories."

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Chaga Medicinal Mushrooms. #1 Mushroom Superfood!

Chaga contains one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants. Helps to reduce inflammation in the body which can prevent heart attacks, strokes, and arthritis. It supports gastrointestinal health including ulcers and gastritis, supports and aids digestive health, including reducing symptoms of IBS, normalizes blood pressure and regulates cholesterol levels, and has high levels of antiviral and antimicrobial levels. Chaga also is an adjunct to chemo and radiation therapy, helping to protect DNA and cells, it also helps to protect and detoxify the liver after these treatments. Chaga is viewed as one of the strongest anti-tumor mushrooms available. Chaga also contains melanin which helps to protect the skin from sun damage and is known to support the health of the eyes and hair. It also contains zinc, among numerous other minerals and vitamins and is ranked #1 on the Super Mushroom list for autoimmune disorders. Great stress support. Makes an excellent substitute for coffee. 

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Oregano: A Wonderful Herb Besides A Great Tastemaker!

Oregano – a member of the mint family comes with health benefits too besides the great taste it lends to food. Oregano is easy to include in our daily diet in the form of salads, sandwiches, omelets, toasts, soups, pasta, pizza and more. Let us give you 6 reasons to make Oregano an indispensable part of your daily diet:

1. Antioxidants-Rich

Oregano is rich in antioxidants that control cellular damage caused by free radicals. Rosmarinic acid and thymol compounds in oregano reduce oxidative stress. By adding oregano to your food items, you are not just enhancing their taste but also doubling the antioxidants count to help you guard against cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

2. Antibacterial

Oregano has antibacterial properties. It is found potent against E-Coli amongst several other species of bacteria, thereby, keeping stomach infections caused by bacteria at bay.

3. Antiviral

In several test tube studies, carvacrol - a compound in Oregano has been found to be effective against viral infections that cause diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain.

4. Anti-inflammatory

Oregano has anti-inflammatory properties, while normal inflammation is our body’s defence mechanism, chronic inflammation paves way for complex health issues. Regular intake of Oregano can help our immune system fight inflammation in a natural way.

5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Oregano is rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids that improve heart health by balancing our cholesterol levels. Heart health is crucial to avoid heart attacks and strokes!

6. Nutrient-Packed

Oregano is packed with nutrients like vitamin K, calcium, iron, manganese and fiber that boost our immunity and also detoxify our body. These nutrients are important for liver health too as they speed up toxin removal.


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Monday, 11 December 2017

Drugs for high blood pressure (hypertension) 'significantly' increase the risk of skin cancer!

Some of the world's most common drugs for high blood pressure (hypertension) 'significantly' increase the risk of skin cancer, new research has discovered.
Diuretics, or 'water pills', make skin cancer seven times more likely, especially in patients who have been taking the drugs for a long time.
The drugs contain a chemical called hydrochlorothiazide, which seems to change the skin, and makes it more sensitive to the sun's UV rays, say researchers at the University of Southern Denmark.
The drugs dramatically increase the risk of one kind of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, which is easily treated, and rarely kills, the researchers say.
It's already known that diuretics make the skin more sensitive, but the researchers were surprised to discover that they can cause skin cancer to develop, and dramatically so.
They reckon that 10 percent of all cases of squamous cell carcinoma has been the result of the person taking a diuretic that contains hydrochlorothiazide.
Their findings were backed up by Dr. Armand Cognetta from Florida State University, who says that his patients, often with hundreds of skin cancers each, have high levels of hydrochlorothiazide in their blood. "The combination of living and residing in sunny Florida while taking hydrochlorothiazide seems to be very serious and even life-threatening for some patients," he said.
Patients who are worried should talk to their doctor about changing to another antihypertensive. Diuretics are the only type that has been linked to skin cancer, the researchers say.

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After brush with drugs, fitness buff, 49, guns for para-powerlifting success!

Struggling with low self-esteem as a result of being born with polio, Mr. Mohamad Ashree Mokri turned to drugs and bad company in his mid-20s. That landed him in jail twice, for a total of nearly a decade.
Having turned over a new leaf, the 49-year-old has since set his sights on a serious sporting goal after stumbling on para powerlifting about two years ago.
The fitness fanatic is training hard to qualify for a spot on the Singapore para powerlifting team, and hopes to represent the country in competitions such as the Commonwealth Games in Australia next year.
Presently a gym supervisor on the Singapore Institute of Management campus in Clementi, Mr. Ashree is also training his sights on becoming a full-fledged fitness trainer.

“When you do something that you can see the results of, you feel more satisfied. And you feel that you are releasing all your stress and you forget all your problems,” the well-built and soft-spoken
Mr Ashree told TODAY in an interview last month.He received S$2,000 in October from the TODAY Enable Fund — set up to help the special-needs community — to finance courses in basic sports science and fitness training at Republic Polytechnic’s Academy for Continuing Education.
Recounting his brushes with the law, he said he was arrested in 1999 for using heroin and subsequently sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison. Offenders then were generally released after serving two-thirds of their sentence, with no conditions.
But within a year of his release in 2004, he returned to drugs because of problems at home and was caught again. He was ordered to serve another seven years in jail.
“I felt so tired,” Mr. Ashree said of his second time in prison.
He added: “I thought to myself that I couldn’t be like this all the way, so I tried to change and stay away from (drugs). I wanted to make something out of my life. I wanted to achieve something.”
Three months before he was set free in 2012, he took up a food-and-beverage attendant course in prison. He worked at a restaurant for more than a year before being employed by a series of gyms where he helped out with physical training sessions for members.
His interest in para powerlifting was piqued after he chanced on the sport at the Association of South-east Asian Nations Para Games in Singapore in 2015.
Later, through a para-athlete friend, he was recommended to the Singapore Disability Sports Council.
Presently able to lift weights up to 92kg, Mr. Ashree is working towards his goal of being able to lift between 110kg and 120kg by the middle of next year.
To qualify for the Para Games, for instance, athletes must be able to lift weights of more than 120kg.
Even if he fails to make the cut for the competitions next year, Mr. Ashree will soldier on.
“I’ll still press on. That’s my passion. If I can’t be an athlete, I can still do something with that powerlifting experience that I gained,” he said.
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Top 11 "Diet" Foods That Make You Fat Instead of Thin!

Nutrition is full of all sorts of lies, myths, and misconceptions.
What people believe to be true is often the exact opposite of the truth.
Here are 11 "diet" foods that are actually making people fatter.

So-called "healthy" cereals are the worst foods you can possibly eat at the start of the day.
They are usually loaded with sugar and refined carbs, which are some of the most fattening ingredients in existence (12).
Starting your day off with a processed cereal will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels. When your blood sugar crashes a few hours later, your body will call for another snack high in refined carbs (3).
This is the blood sugar roller coaster that is familiar to people on high-carb diets.
Seriously... READ the label. Most breakfast cereals, even those with health claims like "low-fat" or "whole grain" on the package, are usually loaded with sugar.
If you're hungry in the morning, eat breakfast... but choose something unprocessed and that has protein in it (like eggs and veggies).
If you really must eat cereal for breakfast, find one that doesn't include sugar or highly refined grains.
BOTTOM LINE:Most commercial breakfast cereals are high in sugar and refined carbs, which are highly fattening and extremely unhealthy.

Agave nectar (or Agave syrup) is often marketed as a natural alternative to sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
The problem with Agave is that it is not healthy at all. If anything, it is even worse than sugar.
One of the main reasons sugar is so unhealthy is that it contains excessive amounts of the simple sugar fructose.
Whereas sugar contains 50% fructose, Agave contains as much as 70-90%!
Of course, small amounts of fructose from fruit are fine, but consuming excessive amounts of added sugars can have devastating effects on metabolic health (4).
High amounts of fructose can cause insulin resistance and chronically elevated levels of the fat storing hormone insulin (56).
It can also cause high triglycerides, elevated blood sugars, harmful effects on your cholesterol, abdominal obesity and a ton of other metabolic problems (7).
If you think you're doing your body a favor by replacing sugar with Agave, think again. You're actually making things worse.
Instead, use a natural sweetener that is low in fructose.
BOTTOM LINE:Agave is even higher in fructose than sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Excessive fructose consumption is strongly associated with obesity and all sorts of metabolic diseases.

Whole wheat is often recommended as a healthy alternative to refined wheat.
Well... it's true. Whole wheat is, at the very least, "less bad" than refined wheat.
But one of the main problems with most whole grain foods is that they aren't made from actual whole grains. It is a marketing ploy.
Almost without exception, the grains have been pulverized into very fine flour that is just as easily digestible and spikes blood sugar just as fast as the refined grains.
In fact, whole wheat bread has a glycemic index (a measure of how quickly foods spike blood sugar) that is just as high as regular white bread (8).
Whole wheat bread might contain a little more fiber and some more nutrients, but there really isn't much difference when it hits your system.
Plus, there really is NO nutrient in wheat (whole or refined) that you can't get in even greater amounts from other foods.
There are some grains out there that seem to be healthy for people who can tolerate them, but wheat definitely does NOT belong in that category.
Many studies show that wheat (even "heart-healthy" whole wheat) can lead to health problems, especially in people who are sensitive to gluten (91011).
BOTTOM LINE:Whole wheat bread is usually not made with actual whole grains. It spikes blood sugar just as fast as white bread and can contribute to various health problems.

If granola is made with real ingredients, it certainly can be healthy.
But it suffers from the same problem as most other "health foods."
When the food manufacturers start mass producing them, they alter them in a way that they aren't healthy anymore.
Granola contains some healthy ingredients like oats and nuts, but when you add sugar and oil to it and combine it in a package that encourages overconsumption, then it isn't healthy anymore.
BOTTOM LINE:Granola is often highly processed and contains added sugar and oil. It is very energy dense and easy to overconsume.

Yogurt is often considered to be a healthy food... and it is.
But the problem is that most yogurt found in stores is low-fat yogurt... which is highly processed garbage.
When food manufacturers remove the fat from foods, they taste terrible. That's why they add a whole bunch of other stuff to compensate for the lack of fat.
In the case of yogurt, they usually add sugar, high fructose corn syrup or some kind of artificial sweetener.
But new studies are showing that saturated fat is actually harmless... so low-fat yogurt has had the good stuff removed, only to be replaced with something that is much, much worse (1213).
There is also no evidence that dairy fat contributes to obesity. In fact, one study showed that people who ate the most high-fat dairy products were the least likely to become obese (14)!
So... eat real, full-fat yogurt, but avoid low-fat yogurt like the plague.
BOTTOM LINE:Low-fat yogurt is yogurt that has had the good stuff (saturated fat) removed, only to be replaced with something much worse, like sugar.

Vegetables are very healthy. They're loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, soluble fiber and various goodies.
For this reason, salads are usually very healthy meals.
However, a lot of people don't like the bland taste of vegetables, so they add dressing to their salads.
The problem with most commercial dressings is that they're made with nasty ingredients like soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup.
It is much better to make your own dressing. Something with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and some spices is a much healthier option.
Obviously, salad dressings can also be very high in calories and it is easy to consume a lot of them, which can be a major problem.
BOTTOM LINE:Most commercial salad dressings contain unhealthy ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil. It is much better to make your own.

Fruit juice is often perceived as healthy... it comes from fruit, right?
Well, not always. Sometimes "fruit juice" is actually just fruit flavored sugar water.
There may not even be any actual fruit in there... it may just be water, sugar and some chemicals that taste like fruit.
But even IF you can get your hands on real, 100% fruit juice, you still shouldn't be drinking it (or at least not much).
The problem with fruit juice is that it's like fruit except with all of the good stuff taken out.
Whole fruits do contain some sugar, but it is bound to the fibrous cell walls, which slows down the release of the sugar into the bloodstream.
But fruit juice is different... there's no fiber, no chewing resistance and nothing to stop you from downing massive amounts of sugar in a matter of seconds. One cup of orange juice contains almost as much sugar as two whole oranges (1516).
The sugar content of fruit juice is actually very similar to sugar-sweetened beverages like Coca-Cola.
So... eat whole fruit, but avoid fruit juice if you're trying to lose weight.
BOTTOM LINE:Fruit juice is high in sugar, but has no fiber. It is very easy to consume massive amounts of sugar from fruit juice.

One of the easiest changes for many people to make, is to replace sugar-sweetened beverages with diet soda.
This is an effective way to reduce both sugar and calories in the diet.
However... the studies don't support that this leads to actual weight loss. People who replace sugary soda with diet soda don't end up weighing less (17).
The reason may be that artificial sweeteners can stimulate the appetite in some people. Even though the sweeteners themselves are calorie free, they may make you eat more of other foods (181920).
That being said, a lot of people can lose weight drinking diet soda, but that's probably because they're changing a bunch of other things as well.
As with most things, this depends on the individual. On its own, just switching to diet soda is unlikely to help and may even make things worse for some people.
BOTTOM LINE:Artificially sweetened beverages contain no sugar and no calories, but some studies show that they can stimulate the appetite.

Organic whole foods are excellent, but processed organic foods are not.
When you look at the ingredients labels for many of these organic, "healthy" meal replacement bars, crackers, snacks, etc... then you see that they really aren't that much different from other processed foods.
Sure, they might contain Organic Cane Sugar instead of regular sugar... but organic sugar is just as bad as regular sugar. Your liver won't tell the difference.
So... eat whole, single ingredient foods (organic if you can afford it) but avoid organic processed foods.
BOTTOM LINE:Even though organic whole foods are healthy, a lot of organic but processed foods are made with unhealthy ingredients like sugar.

Trail mixes usually contain dried fruit, nuts or peanuts, sometimes along with some chocolate and grains.
This is a very energy dense snack. The dried fruit has a lot of concentrated sugar and the nuts are loaded with fat in a dense package.
For this reason, it is excellent when you need a lot of energy... such as when you're hiking.
However, most people today are NOT suffering from a lack of energy.
Trail mixes are high-carb AND high-fat at the same time, which is a terrible combination if you are trying to lose weight.
That being said, trail mixes are fine if you don't consume too much at a time.
BOTTOM LINE:Trail mixes are very energy dense and are an excellent snack for people who need energy. However, they are high in both carbs and fat at the same time, which is a bad combination if weight loss is your goal.

Gluten-free is very popular these days.
According to one 2013 survey, a third of Americans are actively trying to reduce the amount of gluten in their diets.
The food manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon and brought all sorts of gluten-free replacement products to the markets.
The problem is that they are usually just as bad as their gluten-containing counterparts.
These foods are usually made with highly refined carbohydrates, sugar and various chemicals.
If you're going to eliminate gluten, then choose foods that are naturally gluten-free (like plants and animals)... NOT processed gluten-free foods.
Junk food with "gluten-free" on the label is still junk food.
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Friday, 8 December 2017

6 Simple Tips for Eating Healthy During the Holiday Season!

Let’s face it, it’s hard to eat healthy during the holidays. But you don’t have to be resigned to the fact that you’re going to need to set some weight-loss resolutions once the new year rolls around.
Here are six strategies you can follow to help you stay on track with your dietary goals throughout the holiday season.

Track What You Eat

Keeping a journal or using one of the countless fitness apps available to record what you eat throughout the day can help you keep yourself accountable and committed to whatever goals you have set for yourself.

Pack Healthy Snacks for the Workday

How many times have you gone to work only to find that a coworker has brought in their favorite cookies or dessert to share with everyone?
Resisting the urge, especially while others around you are giving into temptation, is one of the hardest things to do. Bring healthier snacks, like nuts, fruits and veggies, to stash at your desk for moments like these.

Don’t Be Afraid to Enjoy Some Sweets

This might be the most important tip of all: Be realistic.
Throughout the holidays, you’re likely to find yourself surrounded by sweets and rich foods. Don’t be afraid to enjoy the flavors of the season — just do so in moderation!

Don’t Skip Meals

We all know how busy this time of year can get, and skipping breakfast or lunch might seem like the only way to get all the work, shopping and activities in before the holidays. But if you’re concerned about eating well, skipping meals opens you up to more snacking and potentially overeating later.
Make sure you get a good breakfast to start your day, and if you’re going to be heading off to a party at any point, try nibbling on some fruits and veggies to taper your appetite before you arrive.

Try Healthier Alternatives to Holiday Favorites

Making your favorite holiday treats just a little bit lighter can go a long way. From guilt-free eggnog to heart-healthy gingerbread cookies, there are countless recipes available on our website and across the internet that drop the calories without sacrificing any of the taste.

Partner Up

Having someone there to keep you accountable throughout the ups and down is one of the best ways to keep up with healthy eating goals. Whether you partner up with a friend or family member or work with your primary care doctor, you’ll find that it’s easier to stay on target when someone else knows your goals and your challenges.


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Eat This and Make Your Brain More Powerful!

Those office vending machine peanuts might not be as appealing as the Doritos right next to them, but here’s a good reason to choose them when you need emergency fuel at work.
Source: NutritionFacts.org
Eating nuts regularly might improve your brainpower, according to a new study by researchers at Loma Linda University. The research team is headed up by Lee Berk, a scientist who is responsible for several of the studies that suggest dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants. He also studies the health benefits of happiness and laughter. Basically, it sounds like he has the best job.
Here’s why you don’t need to feel bad anymore about picking the cashews out of the mixed nuts (although you might get the most benefit from eating every variety in the tin).
Brain and body foodSource: NutritionFacts.org
All the nuts the researchers tested are high in flavonoids—a type of antioxidant—especially walnuts, pecans and cashews, they found.
Previous research has suggested that nuts can help protect the heart, fight cancer, reduce inflammation and slow the aging process because of their antioxidant properties.
But not too much work has been done on what, if anything, eating nuts does to brain health, despite existing research that suggests flavonoids can accumulate in the brain and improve its function.
Turns out eating almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts can strengthen brainwave frequencies associated with cognition, healing, learning, memory and other brain functions, the researchers found, making them a great snacking option. To learn how consuming the nuts affects brain function, researchers had participants eat nuts while their brainwaves were measured.
Stock up on peanuts and pistachios
Some of those nuts do certain things better than others. According to the research, pistachios produced the greatest gamma wave response in the brain, which can improve cognitive processing, information retention, learning, perception and rapid eye movement during sleep.
Peanuts produced a brain response associated with healthy immunity, healing and deep, non-REM sleep. Go ahead, eat that peanut butter right off the spoon. It’s good for you.

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