Fight Depression with Folic Acid

Sunflowers

What do sunflower seeds, okra and lentils have in common? They’re all good for you, and, in this writer’s opinion, downright delicious! But more specifically, these nutritious foods share a vitamin that offers some amazing benefits, including the reduction of depression. Due to its ability to help prevent birth defects, this power-packed nutrient, called folic acid, is often associated with prenatal health. However, folic acid (AKA folate) is often overlooked and undervalued, not only for pregnant women, but for the average person’s heart health, for reduced cancer risk, and for maintaining good mental health. In fact, folic acid intake has been directly linked to the most commonly diagnosed mental condition in America: depression. Depression, a condition that affects more than 9 million Americans each year, causes prolonged feelings of dejection and despondency, can be debilitating, and, in rare cases, result in suicide.

Treating Depression: Depression can be treated with prescription drugs, but these drugs are not always successful in treating the illness and can cause unpleasant and occasionally harmful side effects. As many as 50% of those who suffer from depression do not seek help, not wishing to suffer the stigma often associated with the condition. Fortunately, studies suggest that many mild cases of depression can be naturally alleviated with folic acid rather than with medication.

Fighting Depression with Folic Acid: Research has linked feelings of depression to serotonin, a neurotransmitter, or type of chemical, that occurs naturally in your brain. This chemical helps control specific functions of your brain, such as sleep, memory and mood. Low levels of serotonin can lead to feelings of severe sadness, and, in some cases, clinical depression. Drugs commonly used to fight depression, such as Prozac, contain SSRIs (selective serotonin uptake inhibitors), artificially raise serotonin levels to alleviate feelings of sadness. Studies have shown that people diagnosed with depression often suffer from low levels of folate, which is needed for the production of serotonin. In other words, folic acid can help naturally increase your serotonin levels to alleviate symptoms of depression.

Recommended Dosage of Folic Acid: Certain foods, such as those mentioned above, are rich in folic acid. Orange juice, beets, broccoli, mustard greens and avocados are just a few other food choices that provide .055 mg (milligrams) or more of this nutrient. If choosing to take folic acid supplements, be sure to consume only the recommended adult dose of 1 mg to reap the full benefits of this nutrient, while avoiding any negative side effects that can arise from an excessive buildup of certain vitamins in your body (toxicity).

Consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts on a daily basis doesn’t just keep your body healthy, it helps maintain good mental health as well. If you suffer from depression and want to avoid clinical drugs to treat the problem, consider folic acid in foods or supplements to help you naturally fight this condition and resume a healthy, happy lifestyle.

 References:

Originally posted 2013-11-07 16:01:51.

A Health Lover's Guide to Coffee

health-benefits-coffee

A Health Lover’s Guide to Coffee

83% of Americans drink coffee; we drink more coffee than people from any other country. Why? Because it’s a dangerous concoction of delicious and addictive substances. Nothing smells better than a cup of freshly brewed coffee — except the aroma of organic, uncured bacon. Anyway… back to coffee.

Origin

Legend has it that coffee was discovered by the 9th century Ethiopian goat herder, Kaldi. Kaldi supposedly noticed that his goats would act odd (hyper) after eating the coffee plant. Nothing was written about Kaldi discovering coffee until the late 1600s, so it probably isn’t true. The first documented coffee brew was by Sufi monks in Yemen in the mid-1400s. Middle Eastern/East African trade has led to many unbelievable benefits to world society, but in my opinion, none of them come close to the discovery of coffee.

Coffee in America

Coffee came to America during early Colonial trade and gained a lot of popularity following the Boston Tea Party. American’s found the best of both worlds: a delicious morning beverage with the added benefit of not relying on Britain to get it. Like most things brought to America, coffee has become ingrained into our culture (think Pokémon and techno music… only more tasty). Coffee has received a bad reputation for supposed “unhealthy effects.” Bollocks, I say! Coffee, when brought up with care and treated in the proper way, can actually have extensive health benefits.

Recovery

Caffeine has been shown to decrease post-workout muscle soreness and speed recovery almost half as fast when compared to a placebo! Caffeinated athletes not only performed better in a trial to exhaustion, they were also ready for competition 48 percent fast than those who somehow managed to avoid the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Cholesterol

Coffee is very high in antioxidants that accomplish many wonderful things in your body. Coffee consumption has been shown to raise “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease inflammation in arteries which can lead to heart disease. One study showed that doubling your coffee intake can lead to an 8 percent reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol (an extreme measure, but good to know its healing effects).

Reproductive Health

According to the National Cancer Institute, coffee consumption has been shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer in men. Likewise, the scientific journal Caner Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that coffee consumption in women can lower their risk of endometrial cancer up to 25 percent. An extremely high amount of coffee consumption was sued for these studies (6 and 4 cups per day respectively), but often times medical studies need to go an extreme to rule out other variables. I don’t think I’ve ever consumed 6 cups of coffee in a day; however I’m positive my two per day is enough to reap this beneficial effect.

Brain Health

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease stated in 2009 that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that the mere smell of coffee reduced stress associated with sleep deprivation in rats. So if you need to wake up extra early, coffee not only tastes, it balances your hormones!

Coffee Tips

  • Always buy organic. Coffee beans are a fruit, so they are treated with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and who knows whatever else. Buying certified organic coffee from a reputable source will keep your coffee free of toxins.
  • Prepare with care. Most commercial coffee pots brew coffee with water that is too hot. This heat can kill some of the beneficial antioxidants and leave your coffee tasting burnt. About 190 degrees is the perfect temperature is a French press or with a simple cup-and-filter.
  • Prepare it fresh. Good coffee should have a “roasted on” label so you know when it was roasted. Coffee is at its best three to 10 days after roasting. “To refrigerate or not refrigerate?” Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Just drink it within two weeks and you won’t have to worry about it!

Sources:

USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/04/09/coffee-mania/2069335/
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-kirkpatrick-ms-rd-ld/coffee-health-benefits_b_2962490.html
Charles Poliquin:
http://www.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/947/Ten_Benefits_of_Coffee_for_Health_Performance_Body.aspx

Photo  by @Doug88888

Originally posted 2013-11-04 06:21:03.

Improve Your Nutrition with These Simple Tricks

make-favorites-healthierTransforming your favorite comfort foods into a healthy meal can often be as easy as adding some extra veggies! The high fat content in much of our traditional American fare serves as the perfect medium for hiding those veggies you might be acquiring a taste for. Whether you’ve already made the change to a creation-based diet or you’re easing your way into healthy eating, here are a few examples of some easy way to boost your intake of whole foods and health-promoting nutrients:

Load your quesadilla up with salsa. Cheese is a great source of protein, calcium, and healthy fat, and corn tortillas are gluten-free and a good carbohydrate in moderation. An easy way to take this food to the next level is to top it with as much of your favorite salsa as you can. Salsa is loaded with tomatoes, onions, and healthy spices. If you put enough salsa on your quesadilla you can even get several servings of vegetables out of it!

Ask for extra tomatoes and onions on your burger. Burgers aren’t they healthiest food choice: they’re usually made with white flour buns, and the burger patties are more carcinogenic than most types of meats. There are a couple tricks, however, that can vastly improve the health qualities of a burger. For one, try ordering your burger with extra veggies. Every little bit adds up! Order your burger with extra tomatoes and onions for some healthy nutrients. You can also request that your burger be made with a lettuce wrap instead of a bun. Not every restaurants offers this option, but forgoing the white flour bun for extra vegetables is a win-win.

Order your pizza with extra vegetables and a thin or gluten-free crust. The principles here are similar to the tricks with the quesadilla and burger. A pizza is the perfect medium for consuming vast quantities of veggies without sacrificing the delicious taste that you love! Order your pizza with extra red sauce, mushrooms, olives, onions, spinach, bell peppers, and whatever other veggies you can think of.  Make your pizza even healthier by reducing the amount of carbs it contains by ordering it with a thin crust! 

These are just a few examples of ways to make popular foods healthier. What are some of your ideas? How do you make eating out healthier?

Originally posted 2013-10-31 16:39:25.

Nuts to Lose Weight and Gain Life

health-benefits-nuts

Nuts to Lose Weight and Gain Life

When was the last time you enjoyed one of those hard-shelled, edible fruit kernels we commonly know as the nut? Do you chomp a handful daily, or eschew them due to their intimidating high fat content? If you aren’t consuming a moderate amount of nuts on a regular basis, you may want to reconsider your diet. Research shows that you can reap a wealth of benefits from munching this crunchy, savory whole food. Read on to discover why you should be eating nuts-for your overall health, your waistline and even to possibly prolong your life. 

Nuts for nutrition: Let’s look at some of the basic nuts and bolts of nut health. Nuts come in a wide variety of shapes, tastes and sizes, and each type offers up a different serving of health benefits. However, most nuts offer the same nutrients, namely: Vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, fiber, potassium, copper, folic acid, unsaturated fats, Omega-3 fatty acids and phytosterols (plant sterols or compounds), all of which help keep your body running properly, not to mention play a vital role in heart health by helping to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, keeping your arteries healthy and reducing the risk of heart arrhythmias that can lead to heart attack. The nutrients in nuts also help to reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of type-2 diabetes and some cancers. 

Nuts for weight loss: Some folk may fear that consuming nuts will only add flab to their waistline. However, recent studies suggest that nuts can actually help you lose weight, due to their high fiber and protein density. Protein helps you preserve lean muscle mass, and fiber and protein both give you a higher level of satiety (help you feel fuller longer), thus encouraging you to eat less overall. The key is portion control. About 1.5 ounces of nuts daily is enough to benefit from the nutrient-packed goodness of this crunchy snack!

Nuts for longevity: To review, nuts can contribute to a lower risk of diabetes and some cancers, help enhance your heart health, help you maintain a healthy weight and give you a major boost of nutrients-all of which spell greater overall health and a better chance at a longer life. In fact, a recent trial conducted in Spain suggested that people who consume nuts on a regular basis enjoyed a 39% lower mortality risk than those who did not eat nuts regularly.

For a snack with a lot of appetizing goodness, pop open a can or crack open a shell of your favorite variety of nuts. Don’t be afraid to mix up your nut choices to enjoy the flavorful benefits of each kind. You’ll not only add some extra health to your life, you might add on a few years also!

References: 

Originally posted 2013-10-31 11:23:52.

The Health Boosting Benefits of Pumpkins

pumpkins-health-benefits-vitaminA

Many people know the pumpkin as that spooky-faced symbol of Halloween, not to mention the delicious filling of their favorite pie on Thanksgiving, Christmas and other special occasions. But pumpkins are far more than a holiday-themed decoration or dessert. This big member of the gourd family offers a whole lot of health boosting benefits, including nutrients that help you fight cancer, boost your immunity and more!

Here are some of the great  health benefits of the great pumpkin:

Pumpkins for better eyes: Pumpkins contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant and pigment that is responsible for the fruit’s bright orange color. In clinical trials, patients who were given doses of beta-carotene showed a reduced risk of developing cataracts, along with decreased macular degeneration-or degeneration of the eye retina as a result of aging.

Pumpkins for better skin: Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A, also known as retinol, in the body. Retinol helps to nourish skin cells and keep them moisturized and healthy.

Pumpkins for heart health: Pumpkins are rich in potassium, an electrolyte and mineral that’s vital for healthy heart function. In fact, inadequate potassium intake has been linked to heart arrythmias and, in severe cases, death. The antioxidant beta-carotene also fights free radicals, which damage cells and can contribute to heart disease.

Pumpkins for better bones: The potassium in pumpkins contributes to greater bone mineral density, which means stronger bones that are less likely to become brittle or break as you age.

Pumpkins for reduced cancer risk: Those free radicals that can harm your heart also contribute to your risk of cancer. Beta-carotene helps combat those free radicals and reduces your chances of developing cancer. 

Pumpkins for a healthy immune system: Pumpkins serve up a healthy dose of Vitamin C, which can help improve immune system function. Vitamin C also contributes to collagen production, which is necessary for tissue growth and repair. According to some studies, Vitamin C may help with wound healing, allergy treatment and even help keep your gums healthy.

Pumpkin seeds for added nutrition: Think that the health boost from pumpkins stops at the sweet, mushy meat? Think again! Pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients, including: zinc, iron, magnesium, protein and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Protein provides energy that helps keep you feeling full. The iron in the seeds aids in the production of red blood cells. Zinc assists your physical growth, digestion and immune system function. Magnesium plays a role in muscle function and the production of energy in your body, and omega fatty acids reduce the risk of heart disease, inflammation and some cancers.

The next time you carve open a pumpkin, consider the wealth of health benefits to be found in those delicious innards-seeds and all. Any time of year is a good time to enjoy this great-for-you fruit, so go find your favorite pumpkin-filled recipe and cook up a dinner, snack or dessert with a major boost of nutrients and good health!

References: 

Originally posted 2013-10-31 11:11:38.

Add Some Color to Your Diet with Foods You Love

Organic market fruits and vegetablesAdd Some Color to Your Diet with Foods You Love

Sometimes when we think we cannot accomplish a goal, we have a tendency to give up. After all, why try to do something that is thought to be impossible. The USDA recommends that we eat 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but only 33 percent of Americans are reaching this goal. This may make the goal seem impossible. What if we are a picky eater? What if we do not like kale or blueberries? Can we still achieve a healthy and balanced diet?

The answer is yes! You do not need to love the latest super food or the healthiest of vegetables to get the nutrients your body needs to thrive. Simply add some color to your diet.

Most of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables can be separated into color groups, so all you have to do is pick a couple of foods from each group to add to your weekly food intake.

Green

The green fruits and vegetables have amazing benefits from lutein, zeaxanthin and indoles that help age-related macular degeneration as well as speed up the enzymes that break down carcinogens. These greens also strengthen bones and teeth.

Green fruits and vegetables include: kiwi, honeydew, avocado, zucchini, celery, asparagus, edamame, peas

Green, Leafy

I have separated out the green leafy vegetables from the other green fruits and vegetables because of the health benefits and disease prevention provided by this specific group. These vegetables also contain a lot of fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is very important to include green leafy vegetables in your diet on a daily basis.

Green leafy vegetables include: kale, spinach, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens broccoli, romaine lettuce, cabbage and iceberg lettuce (although this last one is mostly water).

Blue and Purple

This category of colored fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins, phenolics and resveratrol that help prevent the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. These nutritious fruits and vegetables also help improve memory and promote healthy aging.

Blue and purple fruits and vegetables include: purple cabbage, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, eggplants, and plums.

Red

Red vegetables and fruits contain lycopene and anthocyanins which helps to neutralize free radicals that can cause cancers and other harmful diseases.

Red fruits and vegetables include: tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, beets, radishes, red peppers, rhubarb, cherries, cranberries and red apples.

Orange and Yellow

This color of produce contains carotenoids and bioflavonoids that help maintain the immune system, slow aging, as well as prevent cancer. Carotenoids are also thought to improve eye health.

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables include: cantaloupe, corn, pineapple, pumpkin, apricots, oranges, tangerines, orange and yellow peppers, and mangoes.

White

White fruits and vegetables contain anthoxanthins that may help lower blood pressure and reduce risk for heart disease. These also contain allicin which has been shown to reduce the risk of stomach cancers.

White fruits and vegetables include: bananas, mushrooms, onions, garlic, potatoes, cauliflower, parsnips and turnips.

So why not pick out one or two items from each color category and add them to your diet? You do not need to love all fruits and vegetables or even the most popular produce to obtain the nutrients you need. Simply pick and eat the ones you enjoy to live a healthy, happy life.

Sources: Guide to a Healthy Kitchen by WebMDThe Color of Nutrition by NY TimesNutrition: Fruit and Vegetable Colors by Livestrong

Originally posted 2013-10-29 10:44:10.

Is juicing healthy?

juicing-benefits

Until recently, fresh fruit or vegetable juice has had an untarnished reputation. After all, what could be unhealthy about drinking down all the nutrients contained in the healthiest foods known to man? But that’s just it, when we drink juice, we aren’t really getting all the nutrients those fruits and vegetables have to offer. And that’s where the opponents of juicing come in — juicing skeptics claim that since we’re missing a few of the nutrients contained in fruits and vegetables, juicing isn’t a healthy option. So what’s the verdict? Should we completely give up fresh juice just because it doesn’t contain all the components contained in whole fruits and vegetables? Here’s how we weigh in:

Some juices aren’t as healthy as others: Opponents of juicing makes some good points, fruit and vegetables juices are missing a lot of fiber, and they can also be high in sugary calories. Fiber is a crucial part of the diet — it provides roughage to ensure proper digestion and stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria. The fiber contained in fruits and vegetables also acts as an anecdote to the high amount of sugar found in many fruits. Fiber actually prevents the absorption of fructose, while effectively carrying it out of the digestive tract. 

But here’s the thing, not all juices contain a ton of sugar, and just because you’re not getting all the fiber doesn’t mean that you aren’t getting a ton of other important nutrients.  It is, however, probably a good idea to avoid juicing fruits that are high in fructose, like oranges and apples. While these juices can still provide some wonderful nutrients, they supply a high amount of fructose. Too much fructose in one serving can cause fructose malabsorption and the growth of harmful bacteria. If you’re watching your body fat, fruit juices can also pack a significant amount of sugary, fat-depositing calories. 

Fruit and vegetable juices demonstrate a number of researched health benefits: The research backing up the health benefits provided by fruit and vegetable juices (especially vegetables juices) is impressive. Juicing provides a convenient way to consume an immense amount of vitamin, minerals, and phytonutrients. These nutrients are responsible for giving beet juice its cardiovascular, endurance, and anti-cancer benefits, carrot juice its anti-colon cancer and eye-health promoting properties, and leafy green juices their ability to improve sugar metabolism.  

We prefer to view vegetable and fruit juice as a supplement to a healthy diet: Since vegetable and fruits juices provide so many amazing nutrients and health benefits, it makes sense to include them in your diet. Imagine if you ate a healthy whole food diet, with plenty of fiber, plus you supplemented your daily diet with a glass of freshly juiced greens and carrot juice. You’d be giving your body a great big hug, providing it with the nutrients that can actually help optimize your DNA! Most of us are short on some vitamin and minerals — juicing is an easy way to boost nutrient and anti-oxidant intake with the complex forms found in nature.

Make juices healthier by using them with healthy fats or in smoothies: Some of the most important vitamins vegetables contain are various forms of fat-soluble carotenoids. Since juice doesn’t have any fat in it, your body won’t be able to absorb the fat soluble vitamins very well unless you eat a little fat at the same time. When you juice vegetables, be sure to drink the juice with a meal or eat a little healthy fat, like a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil or a few capsules of fish oil, at the same time. Also, since you’re missing out on most of the fiber, try adding your vegetable juice to a smoothie that contains a cup or two of whole fruits and vegetables like frozen berries, whole spinach, or romaine lettuce.  

A few other considerations when juicing: Some of the best fruits and vegetables for juicing also tend to be the ones that contain the highest amounts of pesticides. Be sure to only use leafy greens that are certified organic, and wash all root vegetables or fruits that have edible skins thoroughly before juicing. Finally, in order to prevent fructose malabsorption, limit the amount of fruits you juice, and try to emphasize leafy greens and other vegetables.

References: “Effects of carrot and tomato juice consumption on colon carcinogenesis in humans,” Journal of Nutrition; “Inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation reduces blood pressure in adults,” Journal of Nutrition; “The effect of lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich foods v. supplements on macular pigment levels,” Journal of Nutrition; “Mitigation of starch and glucose-induced postprandial glycemic excursion in rats by antioxidant-rich green-leafy vegetables’ juice,” Pharmacognosy Magazine.

Originally posted 2013-10-28 15:14:40.

Dark Chocolate, the Decadent Treat that can Make You Smarter

dark-chocolate-smarter-brain

If you’re like me, the mere mention of dark chocolate is enough to make your mouth water. With a sweet, smooth flavor that pairs well with virtually any desert dish, chocolate may just rein supreme in the world of treats. Milk chocolate certainly has its merit, but its purity (and positive health impact!) is greatly diluted by the sugar, cream and milk solids commonly added to the chocolate to give it a milder, sweeter flavor. If you want to partake of a purer cocoa with a serious kick of good health and smarts, along with some extra decadence, opt for the richer choice of dark chocolate. You’ve likely heard that dark chocolate is good for your heart. What you may not know is that this delicious treat is also good for your brain.

Dark chocolate’s health benefits comes mostly from its main ingredient: the cocoa bean. This amazing bean is packed with antioxidants, which fight free radicals that can harm cells and have a serious negative impact on your health. Cocoa beans are rich in a particular type of antioxidant known as flavonoids. Flavonoids help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and have been linked to greater vascular health and less overall risk of cardiovascular disease. So flavonoids positively impact your heart health. A recent study suggests that flavonoids also have a positive impact on your brain.            

The study on dark chocolate was conducted by the University of Nottingham. Patients consumed a chocolate drink containing the same flavanols found in dark chocolate.  The results? Patients experienced increased blood flow to certain areas of the brain for up to three hours. More blood to the brain means more oxygen to the brain, which heightens cognitive ability.  The study also went on to suggest that these dark chocolate flavanols may improve cognitive function in those with sleep deprivation and fatigue, and they flavanols may enhance brain function in adults over 50 as well.

Dark chocolate has earned its place among the ranks of superfoods for its myriad of health benefits. Indulge in about an ounce daily for a boost of good health and a sweet, satisfying treat. Bear in mind that the higher the cocoa content in your chocolate, the darker the chocolate, and the more flavonoids you can benefit from. Check the ingredients on your dark chocolate product for a high cacao content (at least 60%) with no unneeded-and unhealthy-fillers like hydrogenated oils, to ensure you are getting the most health benefit. The satisfaction of treating yourself to dark chocolate has never been sweeter, for your taste buds, your heart health and your brain power.

References: http://www.medsci.org/press/cocoa.htmlhttp://www.med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/dark_chocolate.htm

Originally posted 2013-10-28 13:02:38.

Butyric Acid, One Reason Real Butter is a Healthy Food

butter-butyric-acid-benefits-health

Butter, that creamy condiment and delicious baking ingredient, may be one of the most beloved and well-known dairy products of all time. Made simply by churning milk or cream and removing the liquid (buttermilk), butter is an essential ingredient in any chef’s refrigerator and a must-have on countless dinner tables. It’s hard to find a downside to butter, unless you consider its possible impact on your health. Butter is renowned for its high saturated fat content, which is thought to contribute to high cholesterol levels and heart disease. But before you rashly resign yourself to a butter-free diet, you may want to consider a compound in butter, commonly known as butyric acid, which actually yields a number of healthy benefits for your body.

Real butter, not to be confused with high trans fat, commercial substitutes such as margarine, contains just a few ingredients: milk solids (proteins), butterfat and water. One element in these milk solids is the short fatty acid chain: butyric acid. Butyric acid is naturally produced in milk and butter, has a rancid smell and a bitter taste. That may not sound too appetizing, but butyric acid’s smell and flavor isn’t noticeable in fresh butter. And once ingested, this fatty acid can actually provide your body with a boost of health. Here are a few of the butter-fueled benefits of butyric acid:  

Butyric acid may promote better metabolic health: A study in which mice were fed butyric acid resulted in the mice exhibiting a lower rate of insulin resistance, a condition that can lead to type-2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and also accelerate the aging process. The mice also showed reduced adiposity (obesity) and more efficient metabolic function.

Butyric acid promotes colon health: Butyric acid fuels colonocytes (colon cells), thereby providing vital energy for your colon. Butyrate also facilitates the absorption of electrolytes, which are vital chemical compounds that help keep you hydrated and maintain proper body function.

Butyric acid may be an anti-carcinogen: Some studies suggest that butyric acid may produce anti-carcinogenic affects. Anti-carcinogens refer to elements that help protect against and reduce the severity of cancers.

Butyric acid is an anti-inflammatory: Butyric acid’s anti-inflammatory properties help prevent inflammation of the colon. Colon inflammation can lead to IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and other serious health problems.

Butyric acid is anti-microbial: Short chain fatty acids, such as butyric acid, have been shown to produce anti-microbial effects and help reduce the growth of oral bacteria.

If you thought butter should be eliminated from your diet, the good news is that this good-tasting food delivers some health-boosting benefits, due in large part to its butyric acid content. So top off your favorite dish with a pad of butter, and enjoy some smooth, creamy flavor with a side of good health.

References: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699871/http://jmm.sgmjournals.org/content/59/2/141.fullhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9361838http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23140283http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21333271

Originally posted 2013-10-24 10:14:14.

The Benefits of Using Ghee (Clarified Butter)

 Ghee and Its Benefits: When you think of butter, you probably picture that rich, creamy medium you cook many of your favorite meals in; but not all butter looks, acts or tastes the same. Ghee or clarified butter, for example, is what you get when you remove the water and the milk solids, resulting in a pure butterfat. When butter is cooked long enough for the water in the butter to completely evaporate and for the milk solids to brown and produce a nutty flavor, you get a butter product called ghee. Ghee has a long history in Indian culture-and many other parts of the world!-for its use not only in meal preparation, but in holistic remedies as well. If you’ve never tried ghee, you may want to consider it for one of these delicious or healthy applications: 

Use ghee to fight inflammation: Ghee has been shown to reduce leukotriene secretion and reduce prostaglandin. Prostaglandin levels and leukotriene secretion both play a role in inflammation, which can not only lead to unpleasant physical reactions (redness, swelling, itchiness, etc.), but it can also accelerate the aging process.

Use ghee if you’re lactose or casein intolerant: The method of clarifying butter to turn it into ghee removes most of the lactose and casein contained in butter. Many of those who are lactose or casein intolerant can enjoy ghee without any negative reactions.  

Use ghee for a healthier butter choice: Although saturated fats, commonly found in butter products, should be consumed in moderation, ghee butter has been linked to decreased cholesterol levels in lab trials. Other butter products, such as margarine, are hydrogenated and have been shown to contribute to increased cholesterol levels, a leading cause in heart disease.

Use ghee to boost your daily dose of antioxidants: Ghee contains carotenoids and vitamins A and E. These antioxidants fight free radicals and promote skin cell growth, good vision and immune system health, as well as reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. 

Use ghee to boost your micronutrient intake: Ghee is excellent source of vitamin K2 and CLA,  nutrients that aren’t found in very many other foods. Vitamin K2 may help prevent calcification of the arteries by activating the body’s system that removes calcium from the arteries to deposit it where it’s supposed to be, in the bones. Then there’s CLA, which is a special kind of fat that may provide anti-oxidant benefits and help promote a healthy metabolism.  

Use ghee to increase the effectiveness of some herbs: Ghee helps transport the medicinal properties of some herbs, when ingested, to organs and cells. Some herb mixtures used in Ayurveda (the Hindu system of holistic medicine) that contain ghee have been shown to enhance memory, increase the body’s wound healing ability and display anticonvulsant and hepatoprotective (liver-protective) properties.

Use ghee for flavor: Ghee’s nutty and intense flavor gives it a unique flair in the world of butters. Enjoy ghee on your popcorn without worrying about the soggy factor-the lack of water in ghee keeps the kernels dry! Rice and vegetables also complement ghee’s flavor and texture well, but you can try ghee on any food in your plant-based diet for a strong kick of buttery, nutty sweetness!

Use ghee for cooking: Ghee has a high smoke point, meaning it can be cooked at high temperatures without burning. Use ghee to fry or sauté your favorite foods to produce flavorful dishes, sans the singe!

The next time you’re planning a meal, you may want to walk past the margarine and vegetable oil in the grocery aisles and opt for ghee instead. This exotic butter will spice up your foods and add a little extra health to your diet!

References: University of Kansas Medical Center (inflammation); PubMed

Originally posted 2013-10-22 10:33:48.