Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

Month: April 2010

Health benefits of chia seeds

I WAS wandering around my local supermarket recently and came across some Chia seeds. I looked at the packet and even though my Spanish is not exactly what you would call fluent yet, I did manage to work out that these little seeds are real nutritional hotties.

I did my homework and found that chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica and is found in southern Mexico where I live. They were an important part of the Aztec and Mayan diet in pre-Columbian times and were given to Aztec warriors in their basic rations. The legend goes that one tablespoon was believed to keep an individual going for 24 hours. The Aztecs also used to use them medicinally to help saliva flow,  joint pain and sore skin.

This could be  because Chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They contain even more than flaxseed. The seeds are so rich in antioxidants  you can store them for long periods of time and they don’t go off. Chia seeds also provide fibre, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper,  iron, molybdenum, niacin and zinc.

Chia crops were banned after the Spanish conquest because of their link to the Aztec religion – they were offered in rituals. However, these nutrient rich little seeds are enjoying a comeback. Check out your local health food store or try to order them on the internet.

Thai chicken with brown rice

THIS is great and easy mid-week recipe. It is quick to prepare and cook, full of healthy ingredients and tastes great. You can serve with noodles instead of rice if you like. Udon or Soba noodles are great with this.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 100g (4oz) brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 large chicken breast (175g/7oz), sliced
  • 1cm of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 50 ml (2fl oz) coconut milk
  • 70 ml (3fl oz) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2cm of fresh lemon grass, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons of Thai red or green curry paste
  • Small bunch coriander, chopped
  • 6 baby sweetcorn, halved lengthways
  • 20 green beans
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • Coriander leaves and extra lime wedges to garnish

Method

  1. Cook the brown rice following the instructions on the packet.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the chicken until golden on all sides.
  3. Add ginger, lime quarters, coconut milk, chicken/vegetable stock, curry paste, lemon grass and coriander. Heat until bubbling. Cover and simmer gently over a low heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the baby sweetcorn, spring onions and green beans and simmer for a further 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the vegetables are just tender. Remove the lime wedges.
  5. Serve with the rice, sprinkled with some chopped red chilli (if using), coriander leaves and lime wedges on the side.

More Good News for Chocolate Lovers

Research suggests dark chocolate may help people suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. According to a study presented at the International Liver Congress, eating dark chocolate may help people suffering from cirrhosis by reducing damage to blood vessels and lowering blood pressure.

Unfortunately, white or milk chocolate does not appear to have the same benefits. But before you go rushing for the nearest box of chocolates, there are a few things to bear in mind. Most commercial chocolate bars are stuffed with saturated fat, trans fat, artificial sweeteners and lots of sugar. To get any benefit out of your chocolate you need to look for dark organic raw chocolate with no artificial additives.

But remember … moderation is the key. Gorging on a whole bar will probably just make you feel sick!

The health benefits of chocolate lie in the antioxidant properties of cocoa beans. Eating dark chocolate or xocai could actually be good for you. Studies have shown antioxidants in dark chocolate can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, can reduce high pressure and improve insulin sensitivity. Eating xocai in moderation may even help with weight loss due to its low fat content.

Dark Chocolate Antioxidants

Cocoa beans are full of compounds called flavanoids which are also found in onions, strawberries, cranberries, apples and red wine. More than 4,000 of these provide antioxidant protection. The flavanols found in cocoa beans prevent fat substances in the arteries from clogging, reducing the risk of heart attack and strokes. Cocoa beans also contain magnesium which is important for a healthy heart.

Xocai

Xocai is a mix of dark chocolate and acai berries, both of which have powerful antioxidant capabilities. The name xocai is made up of two words: the Aztec word xocolatl and the acai berry found in the Amazon rain forest. It is low in fat, low in sugar and high in antioxidants. In moderation, it is recommended for anyone wanting to lose weight but still eat chocolate. Acai berries have been used for hundreds of years in Brazil and are prized for their ability to provide strength and energy and for their high nutrient content.

Cocoa Beans

Flavanols in cocoa beans also regulate nitric oxide which is important for cardiovascular health and promotes healthy blood flow and healthy blood pressure. One study in Italy found chocolate lowered blood pressure. Researchers concluded this may be because cocoa beans support the body’s ability to synthesize nitric oxide. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also reported that chocolate decreased blood pressure and improved insulin sensitivity.

The Health Benefits of Chocolate

The flavanols and antioxidants found in cocoa beans produce the real health benefits of chocolate. These are the substances that make chocolate bitter. To reap these benefits, it is important to eat dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. Milk and white chocolate have virtually no health benefits. Commercial chocolate bars are generally loaded with sugar and fat and processing removes most of its antioxidant flavonoids.

Healthy Chocolate

Most of the fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter and is made up of three different types: oleic acid, stearic acid and palmitic acid. Oleic acid is found in olive oil and is heart healthy fat. Stearic acid is neutral, and not particularly good or bad, but palmitic acid is not something to eat in large amounts. However, it really only makes up around a third of the fat content in chocolate so eating small amounts is unlikey to do much harm. Really healthy chocolate should contain around 60 percent cocoa and is normally more expensive than cheap brands which often replace the expensive cocoa butter with milk fats and hydrogenated oils.

Do you have a health challenge that you’d like to discuss with me? I offer online Naturopathic and Nutrition Consultations. Fill out my forms here to book your personal consultation with me.

Or if you don’t have any particular health issues, perhaps you’d prefer one of my off-the-shelf  Health Programmes? Choose from Colon Cleanse, Detox Programme, Ultimate Cleanse or my comprehensive Supplement Programme. All packages include a full consultation.

Thank you for reading!

Fiona

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Eating pistachios may reduce cancer risk

LATEST research from the University of Texas and Texas Women’ University suggests pistachio nuts could reduce the risk of cancer. Pistachios contain high levels of vitamin E in the form of gamma tocopherol which studies have shown is linked to a lower cancer risk.

Thirty six people were involved in the study. Half ate their normal diet while the others ate their normal diet but added two ounces of pistachios a day. Four weeks later, those who ate pistachios had higher levels of gamma tocopheral than the other group.

Other foods rich in vitamin E, which is also excellent for the skin, include avocados, walnuts, soybeans and peanuts. Pistachios also have high antioxidant levels so can also help lower cholesterol, help with cardiovascular disease and stave of dementia.

Goji Berry Muffins

This  is a fabulous low carb muffin recipe with the added benefit of goji berries which have great antioxidant power. You can replace the goji berries with blueberries if you like – it works just as well. And adding chopped walnuts is a nice extra treat too!

Goji Berry Muffins

Spicy black bean tortillas

Well, the fridge was completely empty last night so I had to improvise and even though I do say so myself … it wasn’t bad! It is amazing what you can do with a can of black beans and a little imagination. Living in Mexico does help, of course, as we always have access to freshly made tortillas.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large tin of black beans
  • 1 small tin of sweet corn
  • garlic and onion
  • 1 or 2 courgettes
  • mushrooms
  • 1 red or yellow pepper
  • a handful of spinach
  • 1 chilli (green or red)
  • 1 tin chopped or several fresh tomatoes

Chop some onion and garlic and mix with a spoon of olive oil. Slowly heat in a wide pan until soft and almost brown. Add the chopped courgettes, pepper and chilli. Cook over a low heat for a few minutes until soft. Drain the black beans and sweetcorn and add. Reserve the juice in the can. Add a handful of spinach, mushrooms, the tin of chopped tomatoes and cook with the lid on over a low heat for 30 minutes. Add the extra bean juice if it starts to dry out. Serve with fresh tortillas, diced avocado and spicy salsa. This also goes well with rice.

Time to stock up on fruits and vegetables

Spring is a great time of year. Those long, cold, winter nights are over and lots of fabulous fruits and vegetables are making their way to the local supermarkets shelves.

If you want to be slim, fit and healthy for the summer … now is a good time to start.

Here are 10 fruits and vegetables you don’t want to miss out on:

  • Asparagus
  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Coconut
  • Blueberries
  • Garlic and Onion
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Papaya

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