Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Trip On Dark Chocolate's Light Side

With many calls to reduce sugar consumption, you'd think that chocolate and health do not equate. But this is not true. In the spirit of Valentine's Day, lets pay tribute to dark chocolate's light and healthier side.

Dark chocolate contains a high concentration of a saturated fatty acid with a neutral effect on cholesterol, magnesium, copper, potassium, manganese, and most significant, flavonoids. The latter are phytochemical plant pigments that act as natural antioxidants, fighting free radicals that can damage body tissue and cells. Since dairy can interfere with the absorption of these antioxidants, only dark chocolate - not milk or white - offers benefits.

Flavonoids also hinder platelet aggregation and improve blood-vessel flexibility, helping to prevent hardening of the arteries. Minimally processed dark chocolate actually contains more flavonoids per gram than any other food including green tea, red wine, and blueberries. The good news doesn't stop there: The high percentage of cocoa in dark chocolate also gives it a low glycemic index. This means it produces only small fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels. To buy, look for dark chocolate that have high percentage of cocoa, glossy sheen, and crisp sound when snapped.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ginger: The Benefits Beyond Looks and Taste

A lot of people are turned off by how ginger looks. It's knobbly, oddly shaped, and often resembles bunions. But still, it's not about the looks. Without ginger, you can say goodbye to gingerbread, ginger ale, gingersnaps, and Chinese takeout. Ginger is what makes these dishes delicious with it's piquant flavor and enticing aroma. But there is more to ginger than it's odd shape and spicy taste.

Ginger is one of the top natural medicinal remedies around. As a tea, it is good for calming and settling an upset stomach. Candied, ginger is also a great remedy to prevent motion sickness, nausea, and dizziness. Joint pain and colds are also cured using fresh ginger extracts or ginger-flavored soups. It is also good for improving blood circulation. All these benefits are down to ginger's flavor agent, gingerols.

For something with a funny name, gingerols contain potent anti-inflammatory agents, can help prevent growth of colorectal cancer, and remedy many common health problems. Since it's also dirt cheap and available all year round in Chinese stores and your local supermarkets, you can easily supplement your diet with this wonder root.     

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Eggs: The Unlikely Health Hero

When people think about healthy food, eggs don't usually make the list. After all, eggs are infamous for having high cholesterol and fat content. Not good. But as many are rediscovering, eggs do have a redeeming quality, and if consumed right, can be actually very healthy.

The fat eggs are actually good fat. The yolk contains all the fat, so it's easy to separate from the rest of the egg if you don't want extra fat. But aside from fat, egg yolk also have large amounts of vitamins B2 and B12 which are essential for healthy skin and red blood cell production. The yolk also contain vitamin K, a nutrient that helps maintain bone and liver health. Minerals like selenium and choline that fight free radicals - cancer-causing cells - can also be found in eggs. Eggs are also known to improve brain function. It also contains vitamin D, a vitamin that reduces risks of diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and bone degeneration. As for the egg white, it is an excellent source of lean protein.

With all these nutrients, make space for an egg in your daily diet. In moderation, eggs can be good for you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Berry Very Good

There are some things that are just both too healthy and too tasty to pass up. One of these things are berries. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, but most of all, they are loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants. Eating them isn't a task at all, as they are sweet, juicy, tangy, and succulent enough to be dessert.

Berries - blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries - are the perfect blend of flavor and nutrition. The colors should clue you in - after all, experts agree that the darker and brighter a food's natural color is, the better it is for your health. And with the variety of berries and their respective colors, you are sure to get more than your fair share of antioxidants from them.

Each berry's color comes from a different type of flavonoids, so you should eat a variety. Blueberries are among the highest in overall antioxidant content. It can match spinach and kale, no problem. But raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries contain several flavonoids that are not in blueberries. All contain vitamins C and E that can boost their antioxidant ability. They're also high in fiber, an important component of a heart-healthy diet.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You Say To-mah-to, I Say To-may-to!

Whichever way you say it, there's no changing the fact that tomatoes are one of the healthiest and tastiest produce around. Is it a vegetable or a fruit? Who cares? I don't. But I do know that tomatoes are good for you and me. Here's why you should eat tomatoes  - raw, in a sauce, roasted, or stewed - any chance you get: lycopene.

Lycopene is a phytochemical, a chemical inherent to plants, that is a powerful antioxidant. It can fight cancer and heart problems. It can reduce risks of colon, breast, cervix, and skin cancers. It can lower bad cholesterol levels. It is effective in fighting stress. It can renew cells and speed up regeneration for healthier cells and tissues. It can even prevent macular degeneration.

So now that you know the benefits, here's the thing about lycopene: The fresher-the-better rule does not apply to it. You get more lycopene from processed and canned tomatoes than from fresh ones. This is due to lycopene being locked within the cell walls of tomatoes. The heat of cooking and processing breaks down those walls and releases lycopene. So for more lycopene, pick up a can of tomatoes today.  

Monday, February 1, 2010

Foods that Can Fight the Flu

When you're sick, people seem to think that you need chicken soup all the time. While chicken soup is admittedly good - there's only so much of it that a person can eat. If you want variety and are sick of broth and noodles, stock up on these items. They are flavorful, great for meals or snacks, and able to fight the flu.
OystersOysters. Have them made into chowder for a tasty soup that can give you zinc to fight off infections. Aside from fighting infections, zinc in oysters also staggers ageing, thus, allowing your body to retain its vitality.

Sweet PotatoesSweet potatoes. If you crave fries when you're sick, slice and bake some sweet potatoes for a snack that's crunchy and loaded with infection-fighting and immunity-boosting beta carotene. The antioxidant in these sweet potatoes also offers a potent punch against cell damage caused by ageing and illness.

GarlicGarlic. Garlic is great for seasoning dishes. But more than just a spice, garlic is known to block enzymes that help viruses spread. Roast and cook it into soups and sauces or mince and flavor your stir fry with it to speed up your recovery.