The health benefits of fruits guarantee you optimum health and a well-built body in the long run. Fruits benefit your body immensely as they are natural sources of vitamins and minerals, which are essential for the proper functioning of the body. Rich in dietary fiber, fruits also help to improve the functioning of the digestive tract. Fruits are an important part of a healthy diet for those who want to lose weight; they give ample energy and nearly every nutrient that your body needs to curb weight gain, without adding any unnecessary fats.
Moreover, fruits help you to stay away from health complications like heat stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, heartailments, and diabetes. Fruits effectively fight skin disorders and promote healthy hair growth. It is always suggested to eat raw, fresh and ripe fruits because then you experience the real health benefits, rather than consuming them after processing or cooking.
How Do Fruits Help?
The human body is an intricate system and hundreds of complex reactions take place in it all the time. For smooth functioning of the body, you need an ample amount of nutrients that are supplied by fruits in a natural way. When you become ill or develop any health disorders, these can be avoided or treated with a healthy diet rich in fruits. With a busy lifestyle, our eating habits have become packed with preservatives and processed foods that are not only devoid of essential nutrients but can also cause some harm to the body. Fruits boost your immune system and keep you in perfect health. Eating fruit and vegetables may promote emotional well-being among healthy young adults. Research suggests that good mood may lead to greater preference for healthy foods over indulgent foods.
Instant Energy Supplier: When you eat fruits, your supply of energy increases in no time; this is one of the prime benefits of fruits that we can utilize in our busy schedules. This is the reason why athletes often eat fruit during and after exercising and why diets for pregnant mothers almost always involve fruits of some kind.
Prevention is Better Than Treating – Nowadays, drug stores have many types of multivitamin tablets that can give supplemental nutrition during critical times. However, it is always advisable to eat the vitamins of fruits in their natural form so that all of the benefits are conferred to you. As is always said, the benefits of fruits can never be outmatched or replaced. Over a 10-20 year time frame, eating fruits regularly can completely change your life and makes a great deal of difference to the health and functioning of your body.
Keeps You Disease Free – The combination of powerful flavonoids, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals and the countless micro- and macronutrients make fruits very advantageous for your health. The daily consumption of fresh fruits lowers the risk of strokes, high blood pressure, indigestion, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Fruits keep your skin supple, hydrated and nourish it with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, thereby retaining your radiant skin for a long period of time. In fact, if you are tired of using the commercial anti-pimple creams, just try including fruits like berries, apples, or bananas into your daily diet and see the acne disappear quite quickly. Fruits even ensure healthy hair growth and keep your locks lustrous and soft. Some fruits like bananas contain vital chemicals such as potassium, which helps to prevent strokes, high blood pressure, and anxiety. Fruit consumption basically eliminates vitamin and mineral deficiencies and their associated symptoms. Fruits also have high quantities of water and fiber in them, which helps to keep your digestive tract clean and your weight under control.
Why Do We Need Fibrous Fruits?
Fibrous fruits aid the digestion process in the body. The fruit skins are rich in dietary fiber, which is a major contributing factor in proper digestion and the excretion process of your body, while simultaneously keeping you safe from problems like gastritis and constipation. However, in some cases, the skin is thick, like in lemons, bananas, melons, and oranges, and cannot be consumed by humans. In those cases, the edible part or the flesh within the skin has plenty of fiber as well.
The fiber content in fruit not only has a brilliant laxative effect but also makes you feel full by adding bulk nutrition to the diet. Fibrous fruits also benefit conditions like heart diseases by reducing hyperlipidemia and hypertension, diabetes mellitus and obesity. Owing to this fibrous composition, fruits also have anti-carcinogenic properties, and are known to prevent colon cancer and fight bowel irregularity disorders.
Fruits Are Storehouses for Nutrients
Almost all fruits have immense nutritional value, but obviously the type and quantity of nutrients vary between types. As the composition changes with each fruit, the health benefits also change with them. The beneficial powers of common fruits are discussed below.
Apples: A good example of a complete healthy fruit is the apple; it helps in digestion, strengthens bones, provides relief from asthma, lowers blood cholesterol, prevents cancer and helps in reducing weight. Read more
Pears: Another beneficial fruit is the pear, which is a good source of fiber, vitamin C,vitamin B2,vitamin E, copper and potassium. Pears are an excellent source of pectin and fiber that effectively lowers cholesterol levels. It is mostly prescribed for infants as it is believed to be a hypoallergenic fruit that is completely safe for young children to ingest.
Grapes: Grapes are also a common fruit that can be easily included in your regular diet. Grapes alleviate indigestion, constipation, fatigue, kidney disorders and eye problems. It is rich in several vitamins and also possesses minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. Read more
Berries: Blueberries, cherries, and blackberries prevent cancer and keep your heart protected. If you include cherries or cherry juice in your diet, you can eliminate the associated pain from arthritis, gout and joint inflammation. Berries have the capability of curing arthritis naturally. Blueberries with high silicon content aid in the functioning of the pancreas and is good for diabetic conditions. Blackberries can naturally control diarrhea and form new blood cells, but it can also have the adverse reaction of promoting constipation. If you mix blackberries with cherries or prune juice, it will not eliminate that constipation. High sodium and potassium content in gooseberries and huckleberries protect the liver and the intestinal tract.
Zucchini: This fruit provides relief from asthma. Owing to its Vitamin C content, it is a powerful antioxidant, and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Zucchini is mostly known and widely used for weight loss. Read more
Mangoes and Papayas: Mangoes and papayas are rich in beta carotene. Papayas act as powerful antioxidants with an abundance of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D and vitamin A that all aid in the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This prevents the formation of dangerous plaque that can result in atherosclerosis, heart attacks, or strokes. You get good amounts of vitamin C from papayas, oranges, guavas and Indian gooseberries.
Tomatoes: You might be surprised to know that tomatoes are actually fruits and not vegetables, although we typically consider it as one of the latter. Tomatoes have a high vitamin content and they are an excellent blood cleanser.
Citrus Fruits: Fruits rich in vitamin-C like oranges, limes, lemons, and grapefruits are excellent for your overall health. Oranges are consumed widely for healthy skin, teeth, gums, and to keep the lymphatic system healthy. Lemon, the bitter yellow fruit, has been used for for vision issues for thousands of years and it also treats disorders ranging from common colds to epilepsy. Lemon juice helps people lose weight as well. Grapefruit lowers cholesterol and has antioxidant properties. Limes help prevent disorders like scurvy, piles, and gout, as well as respiratory and urinary disorders.
Dry fruits: Dry fruits like figs, dates, apricots and raisins are extremely beneficial for your health. Apart from being excellent laxatives, apricots are a great natural remedy for anemic conditions. Figs include potassium, the essential mineral that helps in controlling blood pressure. Raisins effectively treat anemia, acidosis, fever, and sexual weakness. It helps you to gain weight, promotes eye, teeth and bone health. Dates have abundant fiber that helps to prevent constipation.
Do Fruits Help To Lose Weight?
Once you start including a significant amount of fruit in your normal diet, you will begin to see that your weight is being controlled and your health is improving. However, fruits alone cannot reduce your weight. You also need to exerciseregularly.
Many surveys done in America showed effective weight reduction after fruits were included in the family’s diet. A person who habitually eats fruits will be less inclined to have snacks and junk foods between meals that hardly have any nutritional value. Also, fruits are composed of 90-95% water; therefore it has a powerful diuretic effect on your body, thereby flushing out the nitrogenous wastes and unwanted toxins from the body.
One example of this is Lychee, a fruit that is a great laxative with a negligible amount of calories, and no saturated fats or cholesterol. It also helps to cut down excess body weight. Except for a few fruits like coconuts, avocados and olives, fruits are usually fat-free.
Fruits in Acne Treatment
Acne is one of the most irritating skin disorders that can affect people of any age. With a good amount of fruit in your diet, you can naturally curb this problem rather than opting for expensive dermatological creams. Acne mostly occurs from skin infections and dermatological issues, but there are other reasons for such eruptions as well. Apples are the best option for treating acne; eat the skin of the apple, which has a high level of pectin that helps with constipation, which can be a trigger for acne. Bananas also helps to alleviate acne, as it is high in fiber that again relieves constipation. Berries have excellent cleansing properties and keep you protected from skin disorders. If you eat grapes during the day, it helps to cleanse your skin and body. While papayas rejuvenate your skin and repair minor damage that you may not even notice, lemon juice slowly eliminates the signs and scars from acne spots.
Apart from including fruits in your diet, try to watch your other food habits as well. Reduce caffeine consumption since it increases hormones in your body and thus increases acne. Cut down on red meat and dairy intake as well, since they aggravate your hormonal generation, resulting in acne. You should also keep your skin clean by frequently washing with herbal soaps and mild face wash.
Fruits for Healthy Hair
Just as fruits enhance the radiance of your skin, they also contribute greatly to healthy, long hair. Vitamin A brings luster to your hair and also softens its texture. If you have fruit on an empty stomach, it will prevent hair loss and premature greying. Citrus fruits are excellent hair stimulants. The vitamin C content in citrus fruits also prevents hair loss and keeps your hair shiny and healthy. Fruits like kiwis, strawberries and pineapple are also known for aiding hair growth.
The benefits of fruit for your hair health can also be enjoyed through hair masks. Melon and banana hair masks are recommended by many beauty professionals for healthy hair care at home. You can also make a paste of lemon juice and aloe vera and apply it generously to the hair. Keep the paste on for approximately 45 minutes and then thoroughly wash your hair with mild shampoo. These packs not only improve hair quality, but also eliminate scalp disorders like dandruff and itching. Avocado has an impressive amount of vitamin E, which is widely known to be very good for hair. Avocado hair masks strengthen hair and delay premature greying of your hair. Coconuts are also very good for healthy hair growth. Coconut oil is used extensively throughout the tropical world for haircare.
Recent research suggests that greater consumption of vegetable, whole grain products and fruits may lower the risk of multimorbidity.
Fruit Juice Vs. Raw Fruits
You may often wonder which form of fruit gives you more nutrition – whole fruits or fruit juices? It is actually difficult to say which one gives more nutrition. Although eating whole fruit is considered to be the best way of attaining the full benefits of fruits, fruit juices are also easy and healthy options. Of course, if the fruit juice is composed of 100% fruit without extra preservatives or additives, then it has the same nutritional value.
Normally fruit juices are available in two forms, 100% fruits juices and as fruit pulp + water + sugar. In both cases, preservatives and additives are added to increase the shelf life of the juice. Very few brands contain no preservatives. In fact, fruit juices are considered to be the best way of incorporating nutrition into your child’s diet, as they usually love anything that tastes good. Buying and drinking fruit juices is much easier than buying whole fruits, cutting and then eating them. In other words, it’s better to drink the juice than to have no fruit in your diet at all.
When you make fruit juice at home, they contain the same fiber content as whole fruits, provided you don’t add any artificial flavors and preservatives. However, if bought from the store, these juices may not have the equal fiber content after the vigorous processing. Moreover, when you consume those types of juices, extra sweeteners and additives are added, which is not the case for whole fruits. Thus, with whole fruits, you can keep your weight controlled. When you make fruit juice at home, try to add the edible skin of the fruits to the juice to gain even more nutritional value.
You have probably come across the term “seasonal fruits”, and as a matter of fact, most fruits are considered seasonal. They grow in a particular season depending on their native geography and climate. You may be able to get these fruits throughout the year, but they have usually been in frozen state for a varying amount of time. Eating seasonal fruits during the season ensures that they are fresh. Furthermore, most seasonal fruits can also ward off the disorders that come with the season. For example, in India, green mangoes are quite useful for dealing with the heat of summer. Including seasonal fruits in your diet is a delicious and natural way to stay healthy!
The health benefits of vegetables usually show in long run by improving your overall health and keeping the internal systems in perfect condition. The consumption of vegetables takes care of your digestive, excretory, and skeletal system, as well as blood pressure levels. With a diet rich in vegetables, you are being benefited with abundant antioxidants that keep away diseases like cancer, cardiovascular problems and strokes. Moreover, vegetables deliver ample amounts of vitamins, including folate, vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin B6, as well as carotenoids like beta carotene from carrots, lycopene from tomatoes, zeaxanthin from greens, and lutein from spinach and collard greens. Vegetables also help in keeping your weight under control and promoting healthy skin and hair. There have been innumerable research studies done all over the world that strongly suggest having fresh, green vegetables on a regular basis is far better than going for supplementary tablets to get the wholesome nutrition that you need.
Nutritional Value Of Vegetables
Antioxidants: Did you know that including vegetables in your diet is probably the easiest way to stay healthy, trim and nourished? Since vegetables are low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, they help you to stay in optimum health over the long term by keeping your weight in check. According to a recent study, plant-based foods contain antioxidants (polyphenols) that may improve blood sugar in people at risk for diabetes and heart disease.
As mentioned earlier, vegetables have abundant levels of antioxidants that prevent the growth of cancerous cells. Dark green vegetables have lots of phenolic flavonoid antioxidants and minerals. These vitamins and minerals are essential for the proper functioning of your body. Deficiencies of these vitamins and minerals can lead to serious deficiencies of your bones, teeth and vital organs. Moreover, antioxidants boost the body’s immunity and keeps from developing infections and diseases. Leafy green vegetables have a bioflavonoid known as ‘Quercetin’. This is responsible for the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of vegetables along with its unique, anticancer properties. Quercetin also effectively cuts down the flow of substances that lead to allergies. This compound plays the role of an inhibitor of mass cell secretion, thereby decreasing the release of interleukin-6. Most of the green, yellow and orange vegetables also have highpercentage of calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B-complex, vitamin A, vitamin-C, vitamin K, zea-xanthins, α and β carotenes and crypto-xanthins.
Dietary Fiber: Vegetables are great options for consuming dietary fiber. Owing to the high percentage of fiber level in vegetables, your digestive track stays well toned. Vegetables are abundant in soluble as well as insoluble dietary fiber, known as non-starch polysaccharides (NSP). This dietary fiber absorbs the extra water in your colon and thereby retains the moisture content in the fecal matter. This aids in digestion, preventing chronic constipation, hemorrhoids, rectal fissures, and diarrhea. Your digestive system becomes sleeker and its ability to process foods becomes smoother, keeping many ailments away. Eating more fiber-rich foods keep your digestive system clear and healthy, helping you to avoid problems like constipation, bowel irregularity, colon cancer and even polyps. Since they have high fiber, vegetables also tend to make you feel full for longer, and stops unnecessary snacking, so they can help reduce your weight.
Cancer Prevention: Cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli have a high content of indoles and isothiocyanates. These components have protective properties against colon cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer and other types of cancers. Broccoli sprouts have immensely higher sulforaphane than the matured broccolis, which is a cancer-protective substance. Furthermore, as said before, since vegetables are great antioxidants, they also alleviate the chances of fatal diseases like cancer.
Proteins and Amino Acids: If you eat less animal products in your diet, you must ensure that your diet is high in protein-rich vegetables to compensate for the proteins that you are missing. Once you have the correct combination of vegetables in your meals, you will gain ample amount of amino acids that are required to live healthy. Eat plenty of beans and spinach, along with whole grain rice for a balanced meal.
Water Content: Vegetables naturally have high levels of water; this is the reason why they are generally fat free and low in calories. You can rest assured of both your weight and health once you start on a vegetable-rich diet. The more you consume vegetables, the more the water intake that flushes out waste products and toxins from your body.
Minerals: Green leafy vegetables are high in magnesium and a have low glycemic index, thus proving to be helpful for patients with type 2 diabetes. If you eat at least 1 serving of green leafy vegetables each day, it will considerably lower the risks of diabetes. Green vegetables are also rich in iron and calcium, except for Swiss chard and spinach, since they are high in oxalic acid.
Vitamins: In general, vegetables have a high vitamin content. However, vitamin K is usually prevalent in almost all vegetables. The high level of vitamin K in green vegetables makes them an ideal and natural way to prevent bone problems. Vitamin K is necessary for the production of osteocalcin, a protein mandatory for proper bone health. In a survey, the addition of green, leafy vegetables considerably decreased the chances of hip fractures in middle-aged women.
Prevention of Hypertension: Recent research study suggests that Mediterranean diet comprising of food rich in unsaturated fats (found in olive oil and nuts) and nitrite and nitrate (found in leafy green vegetables) may help protect you from hypertension.
Lycopene and Beta Carotene: Green vegetables have high levels of beta-carotene, which improve immune function considerably once it is converted into vitamin A. Tomatoes contain lycopene, which protects your eyes from vision problems. A diet deficient in green vegetables often leads to the possibilities of blindness, and other illnesses in children and adults.
Allyl sulfides: Garlic, onions, chives, leeks and scallions are rich in allyl sulfides that help in lowering high blood pressure and protecting the stomach and digestive tract from fatal diseases like cancer.
Good Health: Eating fruit and vegetables may promote emotional well-being among healthy young adults. Research suggests that good mood may lead to greater preference for healthy foods over indulgent foods.
How Many Vegetables Should We Eat?
It is said that the more vegetables we consume, the more benefits to our health we will enjoy. You should consume at least 2.5 to 6.5 cups of fresh vegetables every day. Also, make sure you eat 4-5 different types of vegetables. The more variety and colors of vegetables you include in your diet, the more extensive the benefits to your health will be. Also, include seasonal vegetables in your diet. Some vegetables are only available in certain areas of the world at certain times of the year. If you are in a country or a city with a large amount of imports, then you can probably get most seasonal vegetables throughout the year, but there are still some that are grown in such limited amounts that they are only on the market for a few months each year. As luck would have it, some of them are the most important and beneficial for human health. Seasonal vegetables also have higher nutrient value if eaten during proper time of the year. They keep you protected from many seasonal health disorders.
Herbs & Spices
To improve the overall health of the body, herbs have been playing a major role for decades; they help in healing woundsfaster, make up for nutritional supplements and also deliver a host of benefits. Herbs strengthen the immune system, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, have anti-inflammatory properties, and prevent Alzheimer’s diseases and various types of cancer.
Herbs eliminate the nutritional deficiencies in your body and thus restore the correct function of the body. Herbs rectify problems rather than suppress them. It is also said that herbs nourish every part of the body with their vitamin and mineral content. In short, our body needs certain essential dietary nutrients to meet the everyday demands of life because herbs provide us with most of the necessary components for a healthy life.
Herbs are normally used as flavoring additives to culinary dishes. Along with that, herbs are now an integral part of various medicinal practices in most countries.
Many herbal extracts like those derived from mint, licorice, fenugreek, ginkgo, and aloe vera are used in medicines. The health benefits of herbs vary with their type. For example, ‘Artichoke’ cures different kinds of digestive problems, whereas ‘American Ginseng’ works as a health tonic and ‘Rosemary’ promotes healthy brain function. Almost all herbs have some health benefit and you can consume herbs for their comprehensive benefits after acquiring the recommendation of a medical practitioner.
What Are Herbs?
Plants that are prized for their scent, flavor, medicinal or other assets are known as ‘herbs’. Herbs are usually used in foods, for making medicines, for pest control, and also for spiritual purposes. Since ancient times, the culinary and medicinal values of different herbs have been appreciated by almost every part of the world and among many different cultures. Herbs can be classified into innumerable categories depending on their scientific family and genus, but in this article, we will discuss two popular categories, namely Chinese herbs and medicinal herbs.
Chinese Herbs: In China, the innumerable health benefits of herbs have been praised for centuries in their well respected medicinal systems. In fact, they were considered to be the most powerful treatment method in ancient times and many people from different countries relied on Chinese herbs alone to cure many diseases. In those days, herbs were often associated with miracles and magic. Chinese herbal medicine dates back over thousands of years to approximately the rule of the Han dynasty. According to this system, Chinese herbs can be categorized into five main tastes. Spicy herbs treat colds and respiratory problems effectively and also improve blood circulation; while sweet herbs improve the functioning of the spleen. Sweet herbs can also relieve pain and boost the body’s natural immunity. Bitter herbs aid the cardiovascular system, while treating constipation and asthma. Sour herbs treat liver disorders and help in digestive process. Salty herbs promote the health of kidneys. Other than these common varieties, some bland herbs were also praised due to their ability to take care of healing properties.
Medicinal Herbs: Medicinal herbs treated most of the health ailments when there was no use of intricate medicinal instruments and drugs. These herbs worked wonders with their juices, extracts, barks, leaves, flowers and sometimes the entire plant. These herbs have been popularly known as medicinal herbs and their applications were passed on through many generations. However, before using any herb for medicinal reasons, it is essential to know about the plant and its related research. For instance, comfrey was used as an anti-inflammatory agent in treating bruises, sprains, and other wounds, bladderwrack herb is a good source of iodine and was used in many medications for thyroid conditions, aloe vera herb was used for minor burns, kava kava herb treated depression and anxiety, while milkthistle treated a host of liver diseases. As you can see, specific herbs function in different ways, and it is essential to understand this.
What Are Herbal Combinations?
You have probably heard the term ‘herbal combinations’. These are combinations of different medicinal herbs that work better together than they do by themselves. These specific combinations are made by considering the different aspects and phases of health needs. They are powerful nutritional agents with the goodness of many herbs mixed together and assure a healthy body condition faster, as compared to a single herb being used in one treatment at a time. Some herbal combinations are made for specific ailments like hypertension, insomnia, blood pressure, and gastritis, while others deal with general well being like energy production, skin care, healthy brain functioning, and weight control. For example, a combination of neem and turmeric can fend off many skin infections. Herbal combinations should not be made a habit, but should be followed only until the prescribed time, or until the specific affliction is healed.
Health Benefits Of Herbs
Given below are some general benefits of herbs. This is just an indicative list.
Strengthen the Immune System: Herbs are rich in many essential oils, antioxidants, phytosterols, vitamins, and other nutrient substances that equip your body to fight against toxins and germs, as well as boosting the immune system. In fact, you can call herbs ‘medicines’ in small dosages. Some of these immune-boosting herbs are elderberry, garlic, ginger, onion, hibiscus, cinnamon, and goldenseal.
Anti-Inflammatory Properties: The essential oils present in some herbs, like ginger root, have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Some herbs inhibit the enzyme cycloxygenase (COX), which facilitates inflammatory reactions in your body. This is the reason why herbs are excellent natural remedies for inflammatory health issues such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel ailments like ulcerative colitis.
Reduce Blood Sugar Levels and Cholesterol: Some herbs have positive effects on the pancreas, thereby balancingblood sugar levels. Herbs have reportedly controlled many cases of Type I or Type II diabetes. For instance, fenugreek, bilberry and cayenne pepperextracts are said to be good blood sugar-stabilizing herbs. Herbs like psyllium, fenugreek and licorice can result in a noteworthy reduction of cholesterol and in blood pressure levels, thereby preventing various coronary ailments.
Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease: Many herbs have antioxidant, anti-amyloid and anti-inflammatory properties. These can effectively prevent Alzheimer’s disease. In Europe, the Ginkgo herb has been used widely to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Prevents Cancer: Since ancient times, especially in Chinese medicine, herbs were extensively used for treating cancersymptoms. In fact, herbs also help to soothe the after effects of chemotherapy. Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have shown through a number of studies that gastric, hepatoma, colon, and breast cancer cells can be effectively destroyed by many medicinal herbs like oldenlandia, scutellaria, taraxacum, and phragmites. The herbs purify blood and prevent cell mutations that usually lead to cancerous growths. The volatile oils derived from certain herbs emit cytotoxicity action against pancreatic, prostate, endometrial, and colon cancer cells. However, the selection of herbs to cure cancer should be strictly done under the supervision of a medical practitioner.
Skin Care: For ages, herbs have shown significant benefits for natural skin care. Amongst the innumerable herbs found all over the globe, some common herbs like neem, turmeric, Aloe Vera and holy basil assure you radiant and healthy skin. If you mix the powdered form of holy basil, neem, mint leaves and a pinch of turmeric powder, it will eventually fade any dark spots on your face. Chamomile oil, when applied topically, helps to repair damaged skin tissues. Tea Tree oil is a great herbal extract used for face washes and creams, especially for oily skin, as it has the ability to control oil secretion from the pores. Aloe Vera is extensively used in manufacturing skin products, as this herb gives a smooth and youthful touch to your skin. Basil leaves are also an important ingredient for skin cosmetics, particularly in India.
Hair Care: Like skin care, hair care has also become a prevalent practice through herbal applications. Massaging your hair with jojoba oil stimulates bountiful growth to your hair. There are many more herbs like gotu kula, horsetail, ginseng, and marigold extract that similarly stimulate hair growth. If you use cooled chamomile tea as a hair toner, it will give you a natural blonde hair coloring effect. With the application of lemon juice, you can enhance the color effect as well. Aloe Vera juice or oil regenerates hair cells, thereby repairing damages and also soothing the scalp with a cooling sensation. Fenugreek enhances blood circulation to the hair roots. Ivy burdockcleanses hair and also cures scalp problems like itchiness and dandruff.
Dental Care: Herbal toothpastes are now widely available in the market, which often ensure a perfect set of teeth and gums for you without any side effects, after extended use. Some tooth cleaners in the market contain harsh abrasives, whiteners, detergents, or bleach that can cause harm to your teeth over the long term. Thus, opting for herbal methods is a wise choice for natural dental care. There are numerous herbs that, when used directly on the teeth and gums, gives wonderful and quick results. For instance, rubbing sage leaves over the teeth and gums cleans them instantly and makes the texture smooth. If teeth stains are a problem for you, rub alpine strawberry over the teeth. Bad breath can also be easily eradicated by using lavender water, fresh parsley or mint tea as an herbal mouthwash. For toothaches, clove oil is probably the most effective and readily available medicine. For a healthy mouth and gums, herbs like alpine strawberry, lavender, thyme, sage, neem, fennel, parsley, Aloe Vera, and mint are found to be very effective and are widely used in the manufacturing of herbal toothpastes, mouthwashes and tooth whiteners.
Herbs have a number of overall benefits for your body – the healing properties of herbs vary, but usually most of them are carminative (cures gastric issues), diaphoretic (controls water retention), lipolytic (helps in weight loss), anti-spasmodic, analgesic (relieves pain), deodorant, aphrodisiac (increases sexual drive), antiseptic, digestive, and stimulant when taken in correct dosage.
Some Herbs With Their Benefits
There are countless herbs grown all across the globe. We have enlisted some of the most important herbs and their benefits below.
Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed plant that grows 80-100 cm tall and spreads root sprouts. The leaves are thick, fleshy, and green with a ragged margin. Aloe Vera is a popular medicinal herb with healing components that include mannans, anthraquinones, polysaccharides, and lectins that grows in arid climates. This herb efficiently heals wound and burns. Moreover, drinking Aloe Vera juice is highly recommended for diabetes, minor skin infections, cysts, and elevated blood lipids. Aloe Vera extract is an important skin care agent.
Dill: This herb is an excellent source of niacin, dietary fiber, zinc, copper, and phosphorus, and it also has a host of vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, riboflavin, folate, and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. The herb helps in dealing effectively with issues like indigestion, diarrhea, insomnia, dysentery, hiccups, respiratory disorders, menstrual disorders, cancer and a number of others. This herb contains ‘Eugenol’, a volatile oil that has potent antiseptic and anesthetic powers. Dill also helps in the generation of breast milk and increases sperm count.
Chives: Chives belong to the onion family and are the smallest onions by size. These are enriched with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin Kand B vitamins like Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, other minerals like Phosphorus, Magnesium, Folate, Potassium, Calcium, Iron, Copper, Manganese and Zinc, as well as dietary fiber. Chives help aid proper digestionand also stimulate the appetite. Moreover, it helps to digest fatty foods, improves the respiratory system, and prevents obesity through fluid retention. Chives help to keep cancer from developing, especially prostate cancer. It aids in alleviating fatigue issues, has mild anti-inflammatory properties, and kills germs in the intestines and colon.
Holy Basil (Tulasi): Holy Basil leaves are probably one of the most ancient herbs used for medicinal purposes. Holy basil leaves are rich in protein, riboflavin, folate, niacin, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, copper and zinc. Holy Basil also had high levels of vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B6, and dietary fiber. Holy basil leaves aid in curing fevers (especially dengue and malaria) very quickly. Since ancient times, tulsi leaves have been added to tea, honey or warm water to cure colds, coughs, sore throats, and respiratory disorders. Holy Basil leaves have anti-inflammatory properties and are also effective in case of kidney stones, cardiovascular diseases, insect bites, skin infections, dental and eye problems. This herb has a special spiritual reverence in India.
Rosemary: Rosemary is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron and manganese and a good source of vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium and copper. Rosemary has numerous health benefits like stimulating the nervous system, improving memory, relieving muscle pain, aiding in digestion, and eliminating circulatory problems, rheumatism, spasms, neuralgia, pain, eczema, wounds, and depression. Rosemary also increases urine production. Another fact about rosemary is that it can be used in combination with St. John’s Wort and ginkgo biloba to cure brain inflammation. It is effective in treating migraines and other variations of headaches as well. Rosemary oil is useful for proper digestion, skin and hair care.
Lavender: This herb is a symbol of purity and cleanliness. Lavender also speeds healing, relieves muscle tension, and reduces stress, while improving the circulatory, immune, and nervous systems. Lavender oil is a great antiseptic, carminative (relieves flatulence) and spasmolytic (relieves muscle spasms). The medicinal properties of this herb include anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antiseptic abilities. In modern times, many stores sell lavender scent for perfumes, diffusers, soaps, talc and other cosmetics as well.
Peppermint: Peppermint is rich in phosphorus, niacin, potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, zinc, and is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. Peppermint is a good stomach calmer, especially if you are suffering from digestive problems, flatulence or any other related gastric problems. Mint restricts bacterial and fungal growth, as well as helping to relieve allergies and asthma. Many researchers say that mint also shows positive effects for cancer treatment, but further research is required to prove this. Mint juice is said to cure irritable bowel syndrome, thereby preventing constipation and colon ailments. The market has an abundance of mint-flavored toothpaste, juice, chewing gum, squash, ice tea, ice cream, and even medicines like laxatives and digestive syrups.
Fenugreek: Fenugreek seeds are often used as spices and the leaves of the plant are used as herbs. It is rich in protein, copper, magnesium, manganese, iron and dietary fiber. Apart from the seeds, the other parts of the fenugreek plant also have medicinal value. Intake of fenugreek balances cholesterol levels, treats diabetes and lowers blood sugar. The fenugreek seeds have lots of mucilage, which soothes gastrointestinal inflammation by protecting the stomach and intestinal linings. This herb cures inflammations and is thereby a home remedy for boils, abscesses, eczema, burns, and gout. Fenugreek is often recommended for pregnant women as it aids in child birth and milk production while lactating. However, this herb also has some side effects relating to gastrointestinal discomfort, thus it is advisable to consult a doctor before starting any supplementary tablets. Moderate amounts fenugreek herb or seeds in your diet will not have any such effects.
Psyllium: Psyllium is also known as ispaghula (‘Isabgol’ in India). This is usually found in husk form from the seeds of the Plantago ovate herb. Rich in soluble dietary fiber, psyllium is the major ingredient in many commonly used bulk laxatives. This herb usually helps to cope with constipation problems and intestinal ulcers, cleans the colon, and helps to control cholesterol, weight and blood pressure. However, if you are having problems like diabetes or if you are pregnant, consult a doctor before consuming psyllium.
Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper is rich in niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, iron, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin K, and dietary fiber. Cayenne pepper is best known for its beneficiary properties for the human circulatory system. This herb helps in keeping the blood warm and equalizes the blood pressure in the venous and arterial system – both of which are essential for a healthy circulatory system. This herb also helps in alleviating allergies and muscle cramps, while helping to improve digestion and healing wounds effectively. This herb works effectively for weight reduction,so many dieticians recommend cayenne pepper for a healthy and trim body.
Guggul: Guggul is a flowering plant widely used as medicinal herb. It helps in weight management, relieves arthritis pain and menstrual pain, improves circulation, lowers cholesterol and alleviates skin problems. This herb also increases white blood cell counts and protects against common ailments like the common cold, skin, dental and eye infections.
Hawthorn Berry: Hawthorn berry is a very valuable herb for the heart and cardiovascular system. It can dilate the coronary arteries and enhance the levels of blood and oxygen streaming to the heart muscle. This herb also dilates the blood vessels all over the body so that blood circulation does not exert as much pressure on the heart. It has antioxidant properties, thus preventing the possibilities of atherosclerosis and cancer. It regulates blood pressure, treats angina, and corrects arrhythmia (irregular heart beat). However, excessive doses of hawthorn can have side effects, so it’s better to consult a doctor before starting with this medication.
Ginkgo: This herb is derived from the oldest living tree species, known as ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo has immense health benefits due to its rich content of vitamin C and niacin. It helps in improving memory and mental clarity, which is why this herb is a popular ingredient in most brain tonics. It is commonly used to treat Alzheimer’s disease in elderly patients. This herb has also shown positive effects in treating tinnitus, vertigo, and other circulatory disorders. Ginkgo is helpful in combating stress and poor nutrition that can lead to cardiovascular disease, brain damage, hearing disorders, and other inciting diseases. It reduces anxiety, tension, and fights allergic reactions in the body. Ginkgo biloba is a great natural medicine for cholesterol, diabetes, hemorrhoids and asthma.
Butcher’s Broom: The roots and stem of butcher’s broom is specifically used for herbal medicines. It improves circulation, relieves constipation, enhances blood flow to important parts of the body like the brain and limbs, and cures hemorrhoids. Butcher’s broom also soothes the pain of rheumatism and arthritis, swelling, cramps, and other symptoms related to chronic venous insufficiency. This herb is also used as a mild diuretic and laxative.
Winter Cherry (Ashwagandha): Winter cherry is a well-known herb that is commonly used as a diuretic, aphrodisiac, sedative, revitalizing tonic, anti-inflammatory agent, and immune stimulator. It helps to reduce swelling and aids in retaining blood supply in the body. Furthermore, it aids in the proper functioning of the nervous system. It improves concentration, sexual abilities and asthmatic conditions.
Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi): Like Tulsi, Bacopa is also another ancient herb used in medicines, especially in Asia. This medicinal herb is extensively used as a mental tonic, body revitalizer, memory enhancer and as a nerve tonic. It is best known for its ability to enhance memory and also helps to cope with the negative effects of stress. Bacopa is an excellent home remedy for a host of skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, abscess and ulceration. It is good for skin, hair and nail growth. Brahmi considerably reduces the oxidation of fats in the blood, thereby reducing the chances of cardiovascular diseases.
There are many more herbs found all round the world, and each one of them has special health benefits. Herbs like Azadirachta indica (Neem), Boswellia Serrata (Shallaki), Shilajit, St John’s Wort, Terminalia, Triphala, Wheatgrass are just a few more that are being discovered, studied, and added to the vast galleria of herbs that grow in different parts of the world. Use of some of the herbs is banned/restricted in some countries, so consult your local health specialist before use.
Ever since the beginnings of agriculture, cereals have provided unlimited health benefits to mankind as a staple food in our diet. Cereals are rich in complex carbohydrates that provide you with ample energy, and help to prevent cancer, constipation, colon disorders, high blood sugar levels and also enrich your overall health with abundant proteins, fats, lipids, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes.
Cereals are enriched with niacin, iron, riboflavin and thiamine, and most cereals have abundant fiber contents, especially barley, oat, and wheat. Cereals also have soluble bran that aids in lowering blood cholesterol levels and keeping heartdiseases at bay. Cereal consumption also means an intake of high amounts of protein; breakfast cereals are often eaten with milk that makes for a protein-rich meal. For infants, iron-fortified cereals are said to be the premium solid foods.
What Are Cereals?
Cereals or grains belong to the monocot families ‘Poaceae or Gramineae’ and are cultivated widely to obtain the edible components of their fruit seeds. Botanically, these fruits are called ‘caryopsis’ and are structurally divided into endosperm, germ, and bran. Cereal grains are cultivated in huge quantities and provide more food energy than any other type of crop, therefore, they are known as staple crops.
History Of Cereals
Be it world history, the growth of civilizations, or development in the human diet patterns, the cultivation of cereal grains has played a significant role. The word ‘cereal’ is derived from ‘Ceres’ – the name of the Roman goddess of agriculture and the harvest. It is said that almost 12,000 years ago, ancient farming communities dwelling in the Fertile Crescent area of southwest Asia cultivated the first cereal grains. The first Neolithic founder crops that actually initiated the development of agriculture include einkorn wheat, emmer wheat and barley.
Other than its superior nutritive value, cereals are popularly used in kitchens all over the world for their prolific growth and plentiful production in most countries. Different countries have different cereals as their staple food; the reason for this diversity is the production statistics. For example, wheat is the most significant cereal in the diets of most European countries and India. On the other hand, rice is the primary grain used in China, Japan, South East Asia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Brazil, Mynamar, Vietnam, and the US.
The staple food cereal in Northern, Central America and Africa is maize or corn, while millets and sorghum are widely consumed in India and Africa as well. Many factors like climatic differences, population choice, production quality, and others are responsible for such global differences of cereal consumption in tropical and subtropical regions. Cereals are also known as the “staff of life”. However, this name is not totally justified in a true sense because you probably cannot live on cereals solely for your lifetime and still retain optimum health.
What Is A Breakfast Cereal?
Breakfast cereal is actually the packaged breakfast food available in almost all commercial food stores. These types of cereals are sometimes eaten cold or else mixed with milk or water and then fruits are added for extra nutrition and taste. Corn flakes, porridges, and oatmeals are the best examples of breakfast cereal. Usually, these cereals are soaked or boiled to attain a softened structure, which makes them palatable. Sweeteners like honey, sugar or maple syrup are then added for a better taste. Breakfast cereals have become immensely popular in fast-moving countries, as they provide a bowl full of nutrients in a short and simple way.
Types Of Cereals
The most familiar grains used for making the category of cereals include rice, maize, corn, ragi, bajra, wheat, barley, sorghum, Italian millets and oats. Here we discuss about some of the most widely used cereal varieties.
Rice: Rice is probably the most common and popular cereal consumed all over the world; especially in tropical and temperate regions. Rice cannot grow in cold regions. It is used as the staple food in most of the countries and restaurants all over the globe have invented some lip smacking rice recipes that are truly appetizing. Read more
Maize: It is the staple cereal in continents like Africa and South America and is used as animal feed worldwide. ‘Cornflakes’, as we know them, are nothing but the flaked form of maize. Popcorn is also a popular corn product, which has become a favorite snacks for all ages around the globe. Read more
Wheat: This is a prime cereal consumed in temperate zones, especially in Australia, North America, Europe and New Zealand. Wheat is a major ingredient in foods like bread, biscuits, pastries, porridge, cakes, crackers, pancakes, muesli, pies, cookies, rolls, muffins, doughnuts, gravy, and some breakfast cereals. New research suggests that eating white bread could benefit health by encouraging growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Wheat is grown in different forms all over the globe. Some wild species of wheat are now domesticated and are grown widely in specific agricultural zones. Some such species include ‘Spelt’, ‘Einkorn’ (wheat species with one grain only), ‘Emmer’, and ‘Durum’ (species of wheat used to make semolina). Read more
Barley: This cereal is popular and highly nutritious one that is usually grown for malting; livestock also thrives on it in lands that are not capable of growing wheat due to financial or climatic conditions. Read more
Sorghum: It is consumed widely in Africa and Asia; it is also considered a good livestock feed.
Millet: It is grown widely in Africa and Asia. Millet porridge is extremely popular in China, Germany and Russia. It is also used in alcoholic beverages and sometimes as bird and animal feed.
Oats: Oats were initially a staple cereal in Scotland, however now oats are very popular as breakfast cereals in almost all countries. Owing to its fiber-rich property, oats are considered vital for all ages and are used as livestock feed.
Triticale: These are manually made crops that are crossbreeds of wheat and rye. Initially, it was harvested in Sweden and Scotland only, but FAO recently declared that in 2009, triticale was harvested by almost 29 countries across the world.
Fonio: It is a popular crop grown in western Africa and some remote areas of India. It grows easily in semi-arid regions with poor soil quality and in a short period of only six to eight weeks. Fonio is used in bread, porridge and beer.
Buckwheat: This cereal is popularly used in pancakes, noodles and porridge. It is popularly used like wheat cereal, but its characteristics are not related to wheat. This cereal is high in protein and amino acids.
Other types: Maize, rice and wheat together make up 87% of total grain production all over the world. There are many more cereals that are used in specific regions and are not as popular as the above mentioned ones. ‘Teff’ is one such cereal, grown widely in Ethiopia but hardly known elsewhere. It is rich in fiber and protein. It is often used as staple food, or sometime used as breakfast cereal. ‘Wild rice’ is grown moderately in North America; ‘Amaranth’ was initially a staple crop of the Aztec Empire and now it’s widely cultivated in Africa.
Composition And Nutrient Value Of Cereal Grains
Belonging to the complex carbohydrates food group, cereals are rich sources of minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, oils, proteins and fats. Whole cereal grains have an outer bran coat, a starchy endosperm, and a germ.
Bran: The outer layers of the kernel are called bran, which is made of about 5% of the kernel. The kernel is rich in fiber and minerals while the bran contains high amounts of thiamine and riboflavin.
Aleuron: While refining, the bran layer is removed and the aleurone layer is exposed, which lies just below the bran. This layer is also rich in phosphorous, proteins, fat and thiamin.
Endosperm: Unfortunately, this layer is also lost during processing. When the endosperm is utilized, this large central part of the kernel has high percentage of starch and protein and is low in vitamin or mineral content.
Germ: The small structure at the rear part of the kernel is known as the germ. Rich in protein, fat, minerals and vitamins, this germ is the storehouse of nutrients for the seed while germinating.
Source of Energy: Cereals are probably the greatest source of energy for humans. Providing almost 30% of total calories in a regular diet, cereals are probably the most widely consumed caloric food in America. This percentage rises in places like rural Africa, Asia and India where cereals are reported to supply almost 70 to 80% of energy requirements (since people in these regions cannot afford to eat other food products like fruits, vegetables, meat, or milk products. Cereals are inexpensive and a widely available source of energy; this is probably the prime reason why people from all budgets prefer cereals as the major energy provider in their diet. Cereal intake tends to be quite high amongst poor income families as they attain a good amount of energy through minimal expenditure.
High Mineral Content: In cereals, around 95% of minerals are the sulphates and phosphates of magnesium, potassiumand calcium. A good amount of phosphorous in cereals is present, called phytin. The phylates present in the cereals considerably reduce the activity of iron absorption. The unrefined cereals have more phytates as compared to refined cereals. After the cereals germinate, phytates diminish due to the breakdown of enzymes, and then the iron content is enhanced. This is the reason why malted flours of cereals are said to have more nutritional value than raw flour. Zinc, copper and manganese are also present in cereals in very small quantities. Cereals hardly have and calcium and iron, but ragi is an exception to this. Amongst cereals, rice is the poorest source of iron and calcium. Ragi, millets, jowar and bajra have high amounts of minerals and fiber.
Prevents Cancer: Whole wheat products reduce the chances of breast cancer. Cereals are rich in phytosterols or plant based steroids and plant estrogen that stimulate the hormone estrogen. Phytosterols bind to estrogen receptors present in the tissues of the breast and blocks human oestrogen that promotes the growth of breast cancer. Many studies have shown that colon cancers can be avoided by consuming whole wheat products or any fiber-rich cereals. Phytosterols increase the stool movement through the intestines, thereby constricting the re-absorption time of the estrogen into the blood through the colon wall.
Prevents Constipation and Colon Disorders: Cereals have both insoluble and soluble fibers like cellulose, pectin and hemicellulose. These fibers are present in the bran and pericarp, which often gets demolished while processing, thus it is advisable to consume whole cereals to cure extreme constipation troubles. Cereals also effectively improve peristalsis in the intestine and increase the bulk of the stools, thus keeping your internal system clean. Ragi is high in cellulose and has excellent laxative properties that relieve constipation. Brown rice is also helpful for treating this disorder.
Maintains Blood Sugar Level: The fiber content in cereals decreases the speed of glucose secretion from food, thereby maintaining sugar levels in the blood.
Provides Protein: Proteins are present in every tissue of the cereal grain. The concentrated protein-rich areas are scutellum, embryo and alleurone layer and moderate amounts can be found in the endosperm, pericarp and testa. The concentration of proteins becomes denser in the endosperm from the center to the borderline. The cereal proteins are of different types; like albumins, prolamines gliadins, globulins and glutelins. These types of proteins are called “gluten” proteins. This gluten has extraordinary elasticity and mobile properties, mainly present in wheat grain, but also in some other types of cereal. Cerealsusually have 6-12% protein but lack in lysine. The protein content varies in each type of cereal. For instance, rice contains less protein in comparison to other cereals. In fact, the protein percentage even varieties with different varieties of the same cereal. Although less in amount, the quality of rice protein is better than the protein of other cereals. When you consume cereals with pulses, the protein quality automatically improves, owing to the mutual supplementation. Pulses have high lysine content and are deficient in methionine; on the other hand cereals have an abundance of methionine.
Source of Vitamins: If you are suffering from a deficiency in the Vitamin B complex, add whole grain cereals to your diet. Most of the vitamins of cereals are present in the outer bran, but the refining process usually reduces the vitamin B content, and thus it is advisable to consume whole grain cereals. Cereals are usually devoid of either vitamin A or vitamin C; only maize has small amounts of carotene. The cereal grains are processed to extract oils that are rich in vitamin E. Rice bran oil has more concentrated amounts of vitamin E than other oils available on the market.
Cereal grains are rich in enzymes, particularly protease, amylase, lipases and oxido-reductases. After the seed germinates, amylase actively increases. The germ encloses the protease enzymes.
Cereals are undoubtedly full of nutrition, but unfortunately, the refining process degrades their quality. The degree of milling, polishing and refining to some extent decides the nutrient content of cereals. Some nutrients are lost during food preparation, especially vigorous washing, soaking and cooking methods, which result in the depletion of the nutrients on the skin of the grains.
Negative Effects Of Cereal Consumption?
There are some disadvantages of cereals when it comes to excessive consumption. Most of the commercial varieties of cereals have an abundance of salt, sugar, and fat which should be avoided in excess. Moreover, the high-bran products often lead to discomforts like abdominal pain, bloating and intestinal gas flatulence. If you have too much of these products, the body’s capability of iron, zinc or other mineral absorption decreases radically.
Most grains are acidic in nature, thus they can produce acidic state within the tissues and blood. Uncontrolled cereal consumption can lead to premature aging and increase the chances of certain diseases like arthritis. Grains are comparatively more difficult to be digested than salads, fruits, sprouts or vegetables, so it is always recommended to have cereals in moderate amounts to avoid chronic disease conditions. Even then, cereal grains are advised to be consumed after mild cooking. Excessive heat destroys the minerals, enzymes and vitamins of cereals, so baking or steam cooking is preferred in most cases.
If you are suffering from Coeliac disease or irritable bowel syndrome, try to avoid whole grain cereal as they aggravate such conditions.
Cereal Selection For Children
It is often found that children are fond of cereal, as you can make them in a plethora of ways and they keep children filled for a long time. Grains have proven to be great food for kids since ancient times; they provide energy and enough nutrition required for healthy growth. If you can feed your child with at least one cup of cereal, your child gains almost half the daily requirements of most vitamins and minerals. If you add milk or yogurt to the cereal, it will enhance the nutritional content of the meal even further. However, choosing the right cereal for your child is very important. Check out cereal grains that have ample amounts of protein, iron and fiber. Protein aids in growth during the developmental years, iron is very important for healthy blood formation and fiber is necessary for a clean digestive tract. Some good choices for your child during mealtime include millet, barley, buckwheat, rye, oats and whole wheat.
You can also introduce juicy cereals to your kids. As said before, when you add milk to cereals they create a complete protein meal. If your child needs calories and protein, primarily go for a milk and cereal combination. On the other hand, if your child is in need of proper iron absorption, then juice and cereal mixture will also serve a beneficial purpose.
Beans & Peas
Beans (also known as legumes or pulses) belong to an extremely large category of vegetables, containing more than 13,000 species and are second only to grains in supplying calories and protein to the world's population.
Compared to grains, though, legumes supply about the same number of calories but usually two to four times as much proteins.
Despite their small size, beans pack a surprisingly rich and varied array of substances that are vital for good health.
PROTEINS IN BEANS
Some people don't enjoy the health benefits of beans as they should because they often consider them an 'incomplete' protein.
There are 20 different amino acids that form protein and 9 of them cannot be produced by our body (hence they're called essential amino acids), so we need to eat them in our food. These essential amino acids are: tryptophan, valine, methionine, threonine, phenylalanine, leucine, isoleucine, histidine and lysine.
Food of animal origin (such as meat, fish, dairy products and eggs) contain all 9 essential amino acids, whereas beans lack one or two of them, typically methionine or tryptophan. Soybeans are the exception and contain all nine essential amino acids.
Although it's important to get all the essential amino acids, it's not necessary to get them from meat. In fact, because of its high fat content - as well as the use of antibiotics and other chemicals in the raising of poultry and cattle - most of the animal protein should be eaten only in moderation.
Also, in order for the body to use the protein in food, it has to break it down into the individual amino acids and then use these to build the polypeptide chains necessary to make protein for your muscles, your immune system and all of the many components of your body that require protein. So it doesn't matter to your body where the protein comes from - whether it is of animal or vegetable origin - as long it has the building blocks it needs.
The best way to go about it is to combine a variety of vegetable protein foods in our diet. For instance, although beans and brown rice are both rich in protein, each lack one or more of the necessary amino acids. Some health practitioners suggest to combine them together to form a complete protein that is a high quality substitute for meat.
To make a complete protein they advise to combine beans with one of the following:
But others believe that you can enjoy the health benefits of beans without having to combine them at each meal, as long as you eat other sources of protein during the same day or 24-hour period.
All soya products, such as tofu and soy milk, are complete proteins. They contain all the essential amino acids plus several other nutrients.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Peas?
Archeologists and historians believe the garden pea originated in either Egypt or China, and it has been a part of the diet for 5,000 years. A starchy vegetable, peas are a good source of energy, fiber, protein and essential vitamins. Including peas as one of your vegetable choices adds a number of benefits.
High in Fiber
Like most vegetables, eating peas can help you meet your daily fiber needs. A 1/2-cup serving contains 4.4 grams of fiber, more than 1 cup of oatmeal with 4 grams of fiber and a 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli with 2.6 grams of fiber. The fiber in peas can help you better manage your weight by keeping you feeling full longer. Fiber also lowers blood cholesterol levels. Your daily fiber needs vary depending on your age, sex and calorie needs. In general, women need 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, and men 30 to 38 grams a day.
Eating peas can also keep improve heart health. In addition to the fiber, peas are also high in lutein, with 1,920 IU per 1/2-cup serving. Lutein is a nonprovitamin A carotenoid, like lycopene. It primarily acts as an antioxidant, protecting your cells from oxidation. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Society reports that people who have higher intakes of lutein have lower rates of atherosclerosis. Both the fiber and lutein in peas improve heart health by lowering cholesterol and preventing the buildup of plaque along your artery walls.
Good for Your Eyes
The lutein and vitamin A in peas also protects your eyes. Lutein, a natural plant pigment, is concentrated in the eye, and its antioxidant activity can protect you from both cataracts and macular degeneration by preventing oxidation. Vitamin A helps keep the surface of your eyes healthy. A 1/2-cup serving of peas contains 1,610 IU of vitamin A, meeting 32 percent of your daily value for vitamin A. Daily recommendations for lutein have not been established.
Good Source of Iron
Peas can also help you meet your iron needs. A 1/2-cup serving contains 1.2 milligrams of iron. Most of the iron you consume can be found in hemoglobin, the protein responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body. Inadequate intakes of iron decreases oxygen delivery making you feel tired, decreasing your ability to concentrate and increasing your risk of infection. Iron needs vary depending on age and sex. Men and women over the age of 51 need 8 mg of iron a day, and women 19 to 50 need 18 milligrams a day. Women of childbearing age have higher needs than men and older women because of menstruation.
Seeds & Nuts
Seeds and nuts are often lumped into the same category, and while they are incredibly diverse, they do possess many similar health benefits, including the ability to improve digestion, protect your heart, prevent chronic disease, reduce the risk diabetes, build strong bones, increase immunity, fight cancer and stimulate growth, among others.
Seeds And Nuts
While most people are aware that seeds and nuts are beneficial for your overall health, people still tend to pass them over quite often as a part of their regular diet. Not only are nuts and seeds ideal snacks – easy to transport, no clean up, and compact – but they are also some of the most concentrated forms of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and organic acids that we can get in our diet. Seeds, by definition, are a flowering plant’s unit of reproduction, which also means that they contain all of the nutrients that a new plant requires to grow. Nuts also contain seeds, but they are covered by a harder outer shell meant to protect those precious nutrients inside. Some nuts can be eaten as a whole, meaning that you consume the shell and the seed, while other nuts require that you crack open the shell to expose the edible seed.
Some of the most common nuts include almonds, walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pine nuts and cashews. The most popular seed varieties are hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. All of these varieties are relatively easy to find in most grocery or health food stores, and can fulfill many of your body’s nutritional needs. Although every type of seed and nut is unique, many share the same types of organic acids, such as amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as fiber and minerals, including selenium, magnesium, zinc, calcium and phosphorous. Add to this their content of vitamins and protein, and you have a rather complete dietary staple that can have a wide range of effects on your body. In other words, if you haven’t made seeds and nuts a part of your diet, you should start! Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the impressive health benefits of seeds and nuts.
Health Benefits Of Seeds And Nuts
Improve Immunity: Zinc and selenium may be the most important immune system boosters that you’ve never thought about before. Both of these minerals play a crucial role in keeping your immune system healthy and strong, yet many people are deficient in these minerals. Selenium is considered a trace mineral, and is not found in a huge number of foods, but it is found in many varieties of seeds and nuts. Furthermore, the antioxidants found in many nuts act as immune system boosters, along with omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation and lower the strain on your body’s defenses. Pumpkin seeds are particularly high in zinc and selenium, as well as omega-3s and other carotenoids, making these an excellent choice if you want to bulk up your body’s first line of defense.
Optimize Digestion: Almost all seeds and nuts provide a significant level of dietary fiber, which can have a myriad of effects on our health. Dietary fiber is primarily associated with digestion, as it can help to stimulate peristaltic motion, and the movement of food through your gut. It can also help to improve the nutrient uptake efficiency for the food you eat, meaning that you get even more nutrients. Dietary fiber is also very important for regulating diabetes and lowering cholesterol levels. Some of the seeds and nuts with the most dietary fiber include almonds, pistachios and pecans.
Protect Heart Health: The majority of seeds and nuts contain important fatty acids, namely omega-3s, which are the “good” form of cholesterol. By improving the cholesterol balance in your body, you can significantly reduce inflammation in your body and blood vessels, meaning that you will lower you chances of developing atherosclerosis. This buildup of plaque in the arteries and veins can greatly increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. The seeds and nuts with the most omega-3s include Brazil nuts, pistachios, walnuts, hemp seeds and flax seeds. Furthermore, the amino acids contained in walnuts and the phytochemicals in sunflower seeds are known to prevent vascular disease and improve the health of your heart.
Strengthen Bones: All seeds and nuts contain certain levels of key minerals that our bodies need, including phosphorous, calcium, copper, selenium and zinc. While the levels may vary, you can always be sure that you are getting a healthy dose of minerals when you toss back a handful of seeds or nuts. This will help prevent age-related diseases like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, by ensuring that your mineral density stays at a normal level, even as you get older. Seeds and nuts can also protect the health of your teeth, something that many people overlook. Some of the best seeds and nuts for healthy bones are sesame seeds, chia seeds, Brazil nuts and pecans.
Prevent Chronic Disease: Most people don’t associate seeds and nuts with antioxidants, but in fact, these important dietary staples possess an impressive amount of phytochemicals, phenolic acids, lignans, omega-3s, vitamins and other organic acids that act as antioxidants within the body. By eliminating free radicals, these nutrients found in such diverse quantities in seeds and nuts can prevent oxidative stress and the onset of chronic disease. Preventing the mutation of healthy cells will ensure that all of your bodies systems continue to run smoothly, and will greatly reduce your likelihood of cancer. Many seeds and nuts, such as almonds and sunflower seeds, have shown anti-tumor properties when eaten regularly.
Stimulate Growth and Development: Seeds and nuts contain a wealth of amino acids and plant proteins, both of which are essential for growth and development. Proteins and their building blocks, amino acids, can be rearranged and processed by the body to create animal proteins that our bodies require for metabolic functions, muscle growth, bone development and cognitive improvement. Without a healthy stream of protein, we would be unable to function. Seeds and nuts are some of the most compact forms of protein that you can add to your diet, particularly from chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts and almonds.
Lower Diabetes Risk: One of the unsung benefits of dietary fiber is the impact that it can have on diabetes. By regulating the levels of insulin and glucose in the body, by regulating digestive speed, seeds and nuts can prevent the spikes and drops in blood sugar that are so characteristic of diabetes. Also, inflammation has been directly linked to increased risk of diabetes, but the omega-3s found in most seeds and nuts can control this inflammation and lower your likelihood.
Cognitive Ability: Omega-3 fatty acids have even been linked to the stimulation of brain function and cognition, making seeds and nuts impressive brain boosters as well. Omega-3s can reduce inflammation, which can also effect the capillaries and blood vessels in the brain, so when that inflammation and oxidative stress is gone, blood flow can return to those areas. An oxygenated brain is a brain that can concentrate, retain knowledge and recall memory better than ever before!
Reduce Inflammation: As mentioned, many seeds and nuts are able to reduce inflammation throughout the body due to the effects of omega-3 fatty acids, but this is also done through vitamins and minerals, which are in high supply in these important dietary items. If you suffer from aches, pains, arthritis, gout, indigestion or any other inflammatory condition, some pecans, walnuts or pumpkin seeds can provide fast and reliable relief.
Lower Anxiety: Some seeds and nuts have the ability to affect the neurotransmitters in our brain, and also balance the hormones in our body. Cashews, for instance, are excellent sources of tryptophan, which can soothe your mind with serotonin, thereby eliminating stress hormones from your body and regulating your mood.
List of Vegan Multivitamin Brands
Deva Vegan Multivitamin (90 Tablets)
The Deva Vegan Multivitamin with greens is a 100% animal-free (certified by the Vegan Society), a gluten-free tablet that’s specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of people who eat a vegan diet. Each tablet contains 1,667% percent of your daily recommended allowance of B12, to build up and maintain stores, and 100% of your daily recommended allowance of iron.
Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW One for Women (75 Capsules)
Garden of Life’s multivitamins for women are raw, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and contain no soy allergens. This formula supports breast and reproductive system health, bone strength, and contributes to a healthy heart and skin, in addition to being super easy to digest. Users on Amazon report that this vitamin gives them a noticeable increase in energy and doesn’t cause queasiness like some other brands.
Rainbow Light, Men’s Organic Multivitamin (240 Capsules)
Made from 71% certified organic ingredients, this multivitamin is specifically geared toward men’s specific nutritional needs. Free of dairy, gluten, soy, and other allergens, it’s high in vitamin D3, B-complex vitamins, important nutrients for vegan men. These capsules also include a hefty dose of probiotics, which maintain a healthy digestive system, as well as antioxidants from goji and acai berries. The suggested dose is 4 capsules daily, so each bottle comes out to be a one-month supply.
Vitanica Senior Symmetry 65+ Multivitamin (180 Capsules)
Hypoallergenic, preservative free, and high-potency, this Vitanica multivitamin is geared specific toward people age 65 years and older. The capsules contain calcium for maintaining healthy, strong bones through the aging process, as well as ingredients to address memory loss and slower digestion as people get older. They also include digestive enzymes, to help enhance absorption and make the pills easier to digest.These capsules tend to be more geared toward women.
VegLife Vegan Kids Multiple (60 Tapsules)
Formulated just for kids, these easy-to-chew berry flavored tablets contain all the nutrients to ensure children’s health. One of the best things about this multivitamin is that it contains the natural sweeteners sorbitol and xylitol, making it sugar-free.Only children above the age of 2 should take these vitamins. 2-3 year-olds should take a single tablet, while children 4 and older should take 2 to meet their dietary needs. The tablets are on the larger side, but users note that the chalky consistency makes them easy to chew.
The good thing about cruelty-free toothpaste is that it’s easy to find more natural alternatives. This is great if you’re looking for fluoride-free or SLS-free toothpaste!
Remember that fluoride strengthens teeth and reduces chances of getting cavities, which is why it’s traditionally added not only to toothpaste, but also to tap water. However, it’s now been proven that fluoride is toxic when ingested. The same goes for Sodium Laureth Sulfate, which is a foaming agent that’s also an irritant.
You want to make sure the toothpaste you are choosing to buy is indeed cruelty-free where the ingredients and the final product were not test on animals, as well as, the toothpastes does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. Here’s a list of both cruelty-free and vegan toothpaste brands that carry an endless selection of flavors and options to get you started!
Kiss My Face
Ugly By Nature
XyliWhite by NOW Foods
Plant Based Makeup
When you use plant based makeup everything will smell better
When ingredients are natural and organic, everything is naturally-scented. Your rose cream is made from real rose water and your essential oils are from the real plant, never an imitation. After a few weeks, you’ll be able to notice the difference between an imitation fragrance and a natural fragrance and you’ll never want to switch back. However, just because it’s a natural scent, doesn’t mean you have a lesser chance of irritation as natural sources can affect your allergies just as badly. If you’re prone to breakouts, it’d be best to test a product on a small area of skin before using it on your whole body. To make sure your fragrance is natural, look for “natural fragrance” or “fragrance-free” on the item. And keep an eye out for chemicals that act as a fragrance such as limonene, a liquid that gives off an orange-like smell.
Your skin will be softer
Did you know that many drugstore and luxury brands add drying agents to products such as moisturizers, lip balm, and conditioner? If you actually want your products to moisturize, make sure they say “sulfate-free.”
Your skin might clear up
The reason this is a “might” is because everyone’s tolerance varies for different ingredients, both natural and unnatural. You might break out using only toxic makeup and switching to organic makeup might be your cure. Or, you could find that switching to pure ingredients such as jojoba oil, raspberry oil, etc., might be your worst nightmare. If you’re prone to breakouts, try new products one a time to test your tolerance.
It’s Better for Your Wallet (in the Long Run)
Anybody who’s ever switched from drugstore skin care to natural and organic skincare might be laughing out loud at the fact that the switch could be good for your wallet, but there is merit to this statement! The average consumer buys products from a variety of brands with prices that vary from a few dollars to a couple hundred dollars. If you replace your luxury, designer, or even spa brands with natural and organic brands, you’re very likely to spend much less. For instance, this four-ounce black soap facial wash by Shea Terra Organics and this facial exfoliator by Province Apothecary are both under $20 and they will last you a few months. Plus you may find that switching to organic and natural products improves your skin and simplifies your routine, meaning less money spent other products.
Looking to Switch? Check out these brands!
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