Mood Enhancing Foods

Mood Enhancing FoodsMood enhancing foods are not just some whimsical idea. The foods you take in on a daily basis can make a big impact on not just your waistline, but on how you feel. With winter fast approaching and the days growing shorter, many of us find our fuse shortening as well. Irritation, moodiness and depression, or the winter blues (also known as seasonal affective disorder), affect as many as 6 out of 100 Americans each year. If you’re feeling the winter doldrums, or if you’re just down in the dumps, the solution may be as close as your refrigerator door. Try these mood enhancing foods for more energy, better health and even an extra dose of happiness.

Mood enhancing food from the sea: The Mussel. This hard-shelled saltwater dweller not only cooks up for a tasty delicacy, but it contains several trace elements that help maintain a positive mood, such as iodine, zinc and selenium. These elements nourish your thyroid, a gland that controls the production of hormones that affect your weight, energy and mood.

A better mood in a cup: Coffee. Although not technically a food, the grounds from this powerful little bean (the coffee bean) delivers a lot of mood-boosting power. A nerve chemical in your brain called adenosine can block certain brain chemicals that boost energy. The caffeine in coffee effectively absorbs adenosine, allowing you to experience a pleasant rush of energy, along with better focus and more of a feeling of alertness-the perfect way to perk up your day!

This mood enhancing food has a peel (appeal): The Orange. Sweet, juicy and succulent, oranges come loaded with iron, which promotes healthy red cell production that maintains your energy level, and mood-boosting Vitamin C, which can alleviate feelings of depression and enhance your immune system function, thus helping you avoid or more quickly ward off those unpleasant winter sniffles, colds and flus.

Feeling blue? Go green: Broccoli. Ultra light on the calories, fat and carbs, this dieter’s delight also serves up lots of good stuff in the mood department. Not only high in fiber, which helps alleviate digestive problems that can sour your disposition, broccoli is also rich in folate, which can diminish feelings of depression and help boost your mood.

Mood enhancing food from the candy aisle: Dark Chocolate. It’s creamy, delicious and arguably the best thing to ever happen to deserts. Not surprisingly, it’s a major mood booster. The caffeine in dark chocolate blocks adenosine and enables that pleasant rush of energy to your brain. Dark chocolate also contains the chemical phenylalanine, which stimulates dopamine and serotonin production in the brain, both of which enhance mood. 

Boost your mood with a spoon: Yogurt. Yogurt contains good bacteria, or probiotics, that helps promote digestion. This creamy dairy product also packs a wallop of calcium, a mineral that not only builds strong bones and promotes good heart and muscle health, but has been shown to alleviate feelings of moodiness and depression.

Mood enhancing foods, when eaten regularly, can add up to a happier and healthier you. So nosh, dine, sip and stock up on these mood enhancers — they’ll help you start and end each day with a smile.

 Sources for “Mood Enhancing Foods:”

Originally posted 2013-11-21 10:36:43.

What to Eat When Pregnant

Pregnant belly

There may be no more exciting-and worrisome-time in a mother’s life than those nine-plus months before her little one enters the world. It’s a time filled with a lot of second guessing and fretting over whether you’re doing all the right things, especially whether or not you know what to eat when pregnant. When it comes to picking the best foods t0 eat when pregnant, you need choices that are both healthy and appetizing.  Look no further than a few of these prenatal superfoods we’ve outlined below:

Beans: Beans and excellent food to eat when pregnant because they’re savory, filling and high in protein — all major pluses when you’re eating for two. Beans’ high protein count makes them an excellent meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans, or for those who may develop a meat aversion while pregnant. Beans also provide fiber, which is important for digestion, and helps you maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels — both of which can fluctuate while pregnant.

Yogurt: If you really want to know what to eat when pregnant, yogurt is at the top of the list! It’s packed with calcium, protein, and iodine, all crucial for your baby’s development. Yogurt also contains a type of good bacteria called acidophilus, which promotes healthy digestion.  The digestive benefits of yogurt will really come in handy when you’re experiencing belly bloat, a common pregnancy symptom!

Nuts: Nuts are a widely recognized superfood, even for those of us who aren’t pregnant. Nuts are packed with vitamins and minerals that we all need to stay healthy, but pregnant women can especially benefit from many of the nutrients in this crunchy snack, including fiber, protein and magnesium, a mineral that helps reduce the risk of premature labor. Nuts are also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which many experts feel can boost brain function in both mommy and baby. 

Whole grains:  Not only do whole grains provide a healthy source of carbs-crucial for you and your baby’s energy but whole grain cereals also typically provide iron, which helps prevent anemia, and folate, which can reduce the risk of birth defects. Opt for an all-natural whole grain cereal when shopping for this prenatal superfood, and check the package label to ensure the brand comes with an adequate amount of iron and folate. 

Fish: Fish are low-fat and offer a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids. Opt for fish options that provide plenty of DHA (a type of omega 3 fatty acid), but that are low in mercury, a chemical that may play a role in poor fetal development. Salmon is an example of a safe prenatal superfood, while swordfish, shark and king mackerel are all high in mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy. Check out article on mercury levels in fish for more information on safe fish choices when pregnant.

Leafy greens: Dark green veggies like spinach, kale and broccoli come packed with iron, fiber, vitamin A, lutein, vitamin K , and a whole host of other nutrients! When making your “what to eat when pregnant list,” put leafy greens at the top with yogurt!  Vitamin A helps baby’s bones and skin grow and lutein promotes eyesight development. Leafy greens also pack a lot of potassium, which is very important for you and your baby’s heart health and nerve and muscle function.

Lean meat: Lean meat is a great source of protein, and adequate protein intake cannot be over emphasized. After all, proteins are the building blocks of life! Meat also offers a powerful dose of vitamin B6, which is good for your baby’s nervous system, and vitamin B12, which supports fetal development.

Prenatal multivitamins: Though not a superfood exactly, supplementing your diet with a prenatal multivitamin is highly recommended during pregnancy and may even be prescribed by your doctor to help ensure you receive the proper amount of vitamins and minerals to support your and your baby’s health. 

Maintaining a good diet when pregnant is key to keeping you and your baby healthy. Adding these superfoods to your prenatal menu will help ensure that you are eating well while you eat for two! 

Sources for “What to Eat When Pregnant:”

Originally posted 2013-11-21 10:12:59.

Vitamin D Deficiency During the Winter

Vitamin D Deficiency in Winter

Daylight savings has come and we have had our first snow dusting in the Twin Cities. It is time to start considering the risk of vitamin D deficiency — the days are getting shorter and a tad drearier, especially here. I never actually realized this, but it gets darker earlier up north since we are further from the equator. This means less hours of sunshine and less direct sun rays, which can be a bit of a problem since sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. 

Vitamin D is essential to the body for maintaining proper amounts of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Vitamin D also aids in the absorption of calcium which helps keep our bones nice and strong. According to the Mayo clinic, vitamin D deficiency could cause rickets, or malformation of bones, in children and osteomalacia, or weakened bones and muscles in adults. Low levels of vitamin D is also thought to cause depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder in some individuals, with fall and winter being especially high risk times.  The FDA’s daily recommendations for vitamin D are 600IU for ages 1-70 and 800IU for those over the age of 70, but according to other research this might just be the bare minimum. So what are ways we can obtain the needed vitamin D during the darker winter months and avoid vitamin D deficiency?

Dietary sources typically only make up for 20% of our overall vitamin D intake, but it doesn’t hurt to load up on these foods during times of lower sunlight.  Here are few foods to help you avoid vitamin D deficiency: Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel or salmon. Six ounces of salmon contains over 600IU of vitamin D. Eggs (in the yolk). Fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, soy milk and cereals. Beef liver. Cod liver oil (if you get desperate) which used to be a very common vitamin D supplement.

Get all the sunlight you can in the winter. Again, sunlight is the best way for your body to get vitamin D. In a time when we are all worried about skin cancer, it is still recommended that we get a moderate amount of sun for vitamin D production. The body actually stores extra vitamin D in the fat cells to avoid seasonal deficiency.   On a sunny day during the spring or summer for someone with moderately tanned skin and moderately close to the equator (yes, a little unspecific), it only takes being outside for 15 minutes with face and hands uncovered (including no sunscreen) for the body to produce enough vitamin D. During the winter, try to walk outside for 15-20 minutes during the sunniest part of the day several times per week, if not daily.

Recommendations for the amount of sunlight needed can be tricky since adequate vitamin D production is based on a number of factors. First of all, the darker your skin, the more difficult it is for the UVB light to penetrate and produce vitamin D. It also depends on where you live. The further away from the equator you are, the less direct UVB rays you get. It also depends on the time of the year, and as we discussed, the winter months produce the low amounts of sunshine.

Cautious tanning bed usage. Although large amounts of time spent in a tanning bed are not recommended due to the risk of skin cancer, these beds still produce UVB light that your body can turn into vitamin D. The Vitamin D Vouncil recommends caution with tanning beds, but still suggests a short period of time in a bed that contains more UVB than UVA light. The rule of thumb recommended by The Council is half the amount of time it takes your skin to turn pink (for a freckled gal like me this is probably about 4-5 minutes).

Supplements are also an option. Always be careful when taking supplements as you never want to over dose, especially on a fat soluble vitamin such as vitamin D. The upper tolerable level for vitamin D is set to 10,000 IU for all forms of vitamin D.

Low levels of sunlight can be a bummer for the mood and the body, but you can easily obtain the vitamin D you need though adequate UV rays, foods, and supplements to keep happy and healthy during the winter months. Avoiding vitamin D deficiency is easy and can result in vast improvements in your health. (Always check with your doctor before taking new supplements, starting a new diet, or using a tanning bed.)  

Tell me…

Are you affected by the dark days of winter?

Have you ever had cod liver oil?

Sources for “Vitamin D Deficiency in Winter:”

Originally posted 2013-11-21 09:45:29.

Gout and Decaf Coffee

What do gout and decaf coffee have to do with each other? Gout is a form of arthritis caused by the build up of uric acid in the blood, and decaf coffee is a delicious, post-dinner drink. The connection is not readily apparent, but studies indicated that consumption of decaf coffee can reduce the incidence of gout.

Gout and decaf coffeeGout and decaf coffee research — more people are familiar with the many health benefits provided by caffeinated coffee, but decaf coffee offers some health benefits as well. Several studies have found a direct correlation between drinking decaf coffee and reduced risk of gout. The likelihood of gout decreases with an increased consumption of decaf coffee. The benefits increase with up to six cups of decaf coffee daily.

One of the largest studies looking at the gout and decaf coffee connection involved nearly 15,000 participants. The study’s researchers primarily looked at how drinking coffee affects serum uric acid levels (since uric acid is the primary cause of gout). The results were astounding. According the report, “…the serum uric acid level significantly decreased with increasing coffee intake, but not with tea intake. Furthermore, there was no association with total caffeine intake from beverages.”

While the mechanisms responsible for reducing uric acid levels aren’t exactly known, it’s clear that something in coffee other than the caffeine can help reduce the likelihood of gout. This is good news for all the late-night coffee drinkers out there or for people who love coffee but can’t have the caffeine! 

References used in “Gout and Decaf Coffee:” “Coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption and serum uric acid level: The third national health and nutrition examination survey;” Arthritis Care and Research.

Originally posted 2013-11-20 12:37:55.

Rice Flour Arsenic

rice flour arsenicYou might of heard that local water supplies are often contaminated with arsenic or maybe you’re familiar with the concerning levels of arsenic found in grains of rice. But rice flour arsenic levels are often overlooked. Recent research has revealed that rice flour can be just as contaminated with arsenic as un-milled grains of rice, but removing the arsenic from rice flour is not something that can be easily done by consumers.

According to Consumer Reports, rice flour arsenic levels may  be as high as 5.5 micrograms per serving. Although arsenic is a naturally occurring mineral, modern agricultural practices have resulted in an increased amount of arsenic in the soil and water supplies. Arsenic can be found in many grains, vegetables, and fruits, but rice is particularly good at absorbing it. It may come as a surprise, but brown rice and organic brown rice often have even higher levels of arsenic than white rice.  The reason for the higher levels of arsenic in brown rice is that the hull is particularly good at absorbing heavy metals. Arsenic may be natural, but that doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. Arsenic is a known carcinogen and may cause problems for children later in life. 

Rice flour arsenic is sometimes removed by manufacturers but not always. Some companies, like Nature’s One use an extraction process to remove much of the arsenic from their rice products but not all of them do. Fortunately there are a number of reports that list the amount of arsenic contained in rice flour and other rice products.  Rice flour arsenic levels generally correspond with the arsenic levels found in white or brown un-milled rice. 

Rice flour arsenic best avoided by limited consumption. Limited consumption of arsenic is especially important for infants and children, but adults should limit their arsenic consumption too. Keep your rice flour consumption to one serving per day or less, unless you know that it was processed to remove arsenic. Unlike rice flour, un-milled rice can be rinsed and boiled like pasta to remove much of the arsenic content

Sources:

Originally posted 2013-11-19 14:21:44.

Coffee Benefits

Coffee Benefits

Coffee benefits the body and the senses! With its invigorating aroma, rich taste and natural burst of caffeine, coffee has earned its place as America’s favorite hot pick-me-up. This versatile brew owes its fame and flavor to a humble tropical fruit that, when sliced open, reveals a seed commonly called the coffee bean. Throughout the years, research has shown that this marvelous bean not only grinds up to produce a delicious drink-and even a great addition to some desserts like tiramisu-but it also has some major health-boosting benefits. Read on to learn how coffee benefits the joints, boost athletic performance and delivers several other surprising health benefits.

Coffee Benefits the Joints: Gout, a painful arthritic condition that afflicts the joints, results from an accumulation of uric acid (a substance that breaks down chemicals in certain foods) in the body which leads to crystal deposits in the joints. Coffee consumption has been shown to benefit the joints by decreasing uric acid levels, thereby lowering the risk of gout.

Coffee Benefits the Skin: A recent study conducted by Harvard Medical School, in partnership with Brigham & Women’s Hospital, demonstrated that women who consumed more than 3 cups of (caffeinated) coffee daily lowered their risk of a type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma by 21 percent. Men who drank over 3 cups of coffee per day reduced their risk of this skin cancer by 10 percent.

Coffee Benefits the Liver: Approximately 30% of American adults suffer from NAFLD, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Studies indicate that drinking 4 cups of coffee can benefit the liver by reducing the dangerous accumulation of triglycerides (bad fats) in the liver cells. Fewer accumulated triglycerides means decreased risk of NAFLD.

Coffee Benefits the Brain: A recent study involving rats indicated that an unknown compound in coffee, combined with caffeine in coffee, helped raise blood levels of GCSF, a type of growth factor that helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Coffee Benefits Your Mood: A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health indicated that women who drank at least 4 cups of coffee daily had a 20% lower risk of depression compared to women who consumed less or no coffee. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health also reported a 50% reduced risk of suicide in men and women who consume between 2 and 4 cups of coffee daily. Researchers believe that the caffeine in coffee may help stimulate the central nervous system as well as increase production of certain chemicals in the brain which help maintain positive mood, thereby reducing the risk of depression.

Coffee Benefits Athletic Performance: A study performed by the University of Birmingham indicated that caffeinated coffee, (at least 5 mg of caffeinated coffee) can boost endurance athletic performance when consumed one hour before exercise.

Coffee not only offers a quick and delicious pick-me-up, it serves up a surprising number of health benefits. So pour yourself a mug of your favorite flavor of java, and drink to your health!

Sources for “Coffee Benefits:”

 

Originally posted 2013-11-18 13:15:03.

How to Ease Pain Naturally with Supplements

Natural pain relief

Natural Pain Relief: We’re all familiar with pain, or that unpleasant sensation, triggered via receptor nerve cells in your body, that tells your brain that something is wrong. Pain can serve as a first line of defense against a dangerous element or situation, but if your discomfort becomes chronic, due to illness or some other serious health condition, your overall quality of life can be greatly diminished. Using over-the-counter pain-relievers, or, in more severe cases, prescription drugs, can cause serious side effects. Some are even addictive, therefore leading to other potential health problems. Fortunately, you can reduce pain safely and naturally with the help of some simple compounds found in nature. Try these supplements to ease your pain the natural way, without the use of artificial chemical and stimulants.

Capsaicin for painful skin conditions, arthritis and osteoporosis: If you’ve ever sunk your teeth into a cayenne hot pepper, you know firsthand the kick of capsaicin-which gives these peppers their hot, spicy flavor. Capsaicin does more than make your eyes water when ingested. The chemical compounds in capsaicin lowers the level of substance P, the chemical responsible for transmitting pain messages to your brain, when applied topically. Use a cream or ointment containing capsaicin to treat skin conditions like shingles, as well as to soothe back pain, muscle pain, joint pain, and to reduce the pain associated with osteoporosis and arthritis.

Arnica for general joint pain and swelling: Arnica compounds, derived from the European arnica flower, contain anti-inflammatory properties that make it a natural pain reducer. Apply arnica in the form of an ointment or cream to inflamed joints or other swollen areas to reduce pain and inflammation.

Fish oil for arthritis and general joint pain: Fish oil (Omega 3 fatty acids) helps to reduce the production of prostoglandins, compounds that promote inflammation. Take 180 mg (milligrams) of fish oil daily to reduce arthritis-related inflammation and general joint pain.

Glucosamine/Chondroitin for arthritis and joint pain: Studies suggest that glucosamine and chondroitin, substances found in cartilage, may help strengthen joint cartilage in arthritis sufferers. Chondroitin is often combined with glucosamine in supplement form. Take 500 mg of glucosamine and 400 mg of chondroitin 3 times each day to safely treat arthritis and joint pain.  

Magnesium for menstrual cramps: Magnesium is a mineral that helps maintain healthy heart, muscle and nerve function. Some studies indicate that magnesium supplements may also reduce menstrual cramps and pain. Consume 360 mg of magnesium each day to safely alleviate menstrual discomfort. 

Bromelain for back pain, arthritis and general inflammation: Bromelain, derived from pineapples, contains a combination of enzymes thought to reduce inflammation resulting from back pain, sprains or other injuries. Take 500 mg bromelain supplements four times a day to reduce inflammation.  

The occasional ache and pain is normal, but you don’t have to accept long-term or chronic pain, or resign yourself to a harsh medication regimen to treat it. Try these supplements to ease your pain naturally and to help you get back to your healthy, happy lifestyle.

 Sources:

Originally posted 2013-11-14 11:55:32.

10 Vegan Ways to Get Calcium

collard greens cooked in bacon drippingsOne million Americans call themselves vegans, according to the Vegetarian Research Group. Vegans, who eschew not only animal products, but also fish, eggs and dairy, can enjoy such benefits as a reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. However, due to a limited variety of food sources, vegans can also suffer from certain nutrient deficiencies, such as calcium. Calcium is crucial for maintaining healthy teeth and bones, and also contributes to your heart health and your muscle and nerve function. Fortunately, vegans have access to several sources of calcium that don’t involve dairy products. Here are 10 healthy, vegan ways to get calcium:

Calcium from fruits: Fruits offer a sweet, healthy treat that can top off any meal, and they’re loaded with nutrients and other good-for-you benefits. Some also deliver a good boost of calcium. Try an orange (75 mg calcium), a handful of figs (4 figs offers 506 mg calcium), a tablespoon of currants or a few apricots to help supply you with the necessary daily intake of this mineral.  

Calcium from vegetables: Green, leafy veggies don’t just pack a wallop of iron. Several serve up a solid boost of calcium as well. An 85 g serving of broccoli offers 34 mg of calcium, while curly kale provides a respectable 143 mg of calcium per serving. Okra and watercress also offer a solid calcium boost.

Calcium from legumes: I’m a big fan of the bean. With savory flavors and tons of protein, bean makes a great staple in any diet, and, in many cases, also provides a solid source of calcium. Opt for baked beans (72 g of calcium per serving), red kidney beans or chick peas for the best calcium bang for your bean buck.

Calcium from grains: Think grains are just good for fiber? Think again! Whole grains contain a host of nutrients and minerals, one of which happens to be calcium. In fact, one slice of wholemeal bread gives you 32 grams of calcium. Muesli bread (Swiss style), white rice (boiled) and cooked pasta also are good source of calcium.            

Seeds: Sesame seeds (1 tablespoon offers 80 g calcium) and fennel seeds (69 g calcium per tablespoon) can spice up your meal and provide a good serving of this vital mineral.

 Calcium from nuts: A mere 12 halves of walnuts will give you a healthy 38 g of calcium. Hazlenuts, almonds and brazil nuts are also delicious-and calcium packed-nut choices.

 Nondairy milk: If you think milk always means: dairy, you may be surprised. Nondairy-type milk choices abound. Almond milk, for example, serves up plenty of calcium (450 mg) per serving.

 Calcium-fortified foods: Many foods available at your local grocer, from juices to snack bars to cereals, come enriched with calcium. Simply check the food label to see if calcium has been added.

 Calcium from Vitamin D: No, Vitamin D doesn’t contain calcium. But you can actually increase your calcium intake by increasing your consumption of Vitamin D, a vitamin that assists in the use and absorption of calcium in your body. Get more Vitamin D by getting enough sunshine, eating fortified foods or through supplements. 

Calcium from supplements: A simple way to help you meet your daily calcium needs is by taking a supplement.

Keep in mind, for those between 19 and 50 years old, the daily recommend intake of calcium is 1,000 mg. So be sure to consume the right balance of foods and supplements to help you reach this amount.

Choosing a vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to lead to a calcium deficiency. Simply opt for calcium rich plant-based foods, calcium-fortified foods, or supplements to maintain the proper levels of this mineral, and you’ll be on the right start towards keeping your bones-and the rest of you-strong and healthy!

Sources: 

Originally posted 2013-11-14 11:41:04.

7 Things You Probably Don't Know About Cinnamon

cinnamon-stickNothing may beckon the senses quite like fresh cinnamon. This sweet-smelling spice can tantalize, invigorate and stimulate, even before the first tiny brown fleck reaches your mouth. You may think you know the basics of cinnamon: that it’s great on treats, provides a rich, savory depth to some sauces and boosts the taste of certain food staples like oatmeal and yogurt, but in truth, the versatility of this spice extends far beyond its ability to liven up a dish.  Here are 7 things you probably don’t know about cinnamon but should! 

Cinnamon can make you a more alert driver: A recent study suggests that the scent of cinnamon added to your car may increase your level of alertness and even enhance your performance, while decreasing fatigue, frustration and feelings of anxiety.

Cinnamon acts as a preservative: Cinnamon has natural anti-microbial properties, which help prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. In fact, Cinnamon is so effective at inhibiting spoilage that it was once used in mummification processes to preserve the bodies of Egyptian royalty!

Cinnamon can lower your blood-sugar: Recent studies suggest that consuming up to 6 g (grams) of cinnamon daily can reduce serum glucose levels in your blood, thereby lowering your blood sugar levels and reducing your risk of type-2 diabetes. 

Cinnamon can make you smarter: A recent study linked enhanced brain activity to the inhalation of certain odors. Participants in the study, who were given cinnamon-flavored gum, showed improved cognitive function, better memory, faster reaction time and enhanced problem solving abilities.

Cinnamon can improve your heart health: Studies indicate that consuming just half a teaspoon of cinnamon daily can help lower LDL cholesterol, which contributes to potentially dangerous arterial plaque buildup. Cinnamon oil also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that help reduce arterial inflammation, a major contributor to heart disease.

Cinnamon can treat indigestion: Cinnamon is a carminative, or herb that helps prevent gas from forming in your gastrointestinal tract-which can lead to the unpleasant sensation of indigestion.

Cinnamon is an ant repellent: The next time you have an ant invasion in your home, try sprinkling some cinnamon around the points of entry into your house. Ants possess a neurotransmitter which is disrupted by the oil in cinnamon. Cinnamon safely deters ants without causing harm to plants, pets or family members.

Take between one-half to one teaspoon of cinnamon daily (dissolved in tea or lightly sprinkled on or in food) to safely enjoy this sweet, savory spice. Cinnamon not only provides a wonderfully flavorful experience for your taste buds, it also offers many benefits to your health, along with a few other interesting uses. So add a little of this versatile spice to your day to boost your brain power, keep pesky picnic-crashers away, make your daily commute a bit safer, or to simply top off your favorite confection. All these fascinating facts, benefits and uses make it official: Just a dash of cinnamon will help spice up your life!

 References:

Photo by Butterfly Psyche 

Originally posted 2013-11-13 12:40:49.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

When you were cleaning out your pumpkin to make a friendly jack-o-lantern this year, did you save the pumpkin seeds? I have to admit that my stint with making pumpkin puree ended up with the pumpkin “guts” in the trash. I was simply too lazy to do any more work than was necessary.

Then I discovered all of the amazing health benefits of pumpkin seeds. I mean I knew seeds and nuts were awesome, but I had no idea to what extent with this particular seed until I did some research.

Here are a few of the health benefits of pumpkin seeds:

Good for the heart

These large seeds contain phytoestrogens that are thought to lead to higher HDL (High Density Lipoproteins or good cholesterol) and at the same time lower LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins or bad cholesterol). This helps to lower blood pressure and all around improves your heart function.

Give you energy

Pumpkin seeds are high in Iron, which is a key nutrient in boosting energy levels. Compared to foods high in sugar or processed carbohydrates, the high iron and nutrient content in Pumpkin seeds promotes long lasting energy without the crashes. I know I prefer long-lasting energy to the highs and lows of the sugar cycle.

Good for the brain

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of omega 3s, a healthy type of fat that builds up the brain. Americans get plenty of omega-6s, but are often deficient in omega-3s, so grab a handful of pumpkin seeds to beat the odds!

May prevent certain cancers

Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants such as vitamin E that are thought to help battle cancer promoting oxidants in the body.

Good for your skin

The same antioxidant that may prevent certain cancers, vitamin E, is also great for your skin. Vitamin E fights free radical damage, protecting the skin and keeping it looking young and healthy. Pumpkin seeds are also high in Zinc, which has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, making it a an excellent ingredient in many acne medications.

Boost your immune system

The World Health Organization recommends consuming pumpkin seeds for their high zinc content. Zinc is used to battle things such as the common cold and ear infections as well as aiding wound healing. Why not boost your immune system with some tasty seeds?

Help promote a good night’s sleep

I don’t need to tell you the benefits of sleep (See: How Getting More Sleep Changed My Life)…go without it even one night and you will realize your mental and physical capabilities are shot. Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan which the body converts to serotonin, then melatonin which is a key factor in signaling your body that it’s time for rest.

(More posts about sleep here.)

Good for older men’s and women’s health

Pumpkin seeds contain a key nutrient for prostate health: zinc. A healthy prostate obviously means less of a chance of prostate cancer which is common in older men. The phytoestrogens found in pumpkin seeds can help ease symptoms of menopause.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a pumpkin and start digging! (Or if you’re like me, grab a bag of seeds from the store and enjoy!)

See more posts about pumpkin here.

Sources: Pumpkin Seeds, Web MD: Zinc

Tell me…

Have you ever roasted pumpkin seeds?

Do you know any other benefits to pumpkin seeds?

Originally posted 2013-11-08 13:57:50.