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Posts Tagged ‘phytochemicals’

Acai Berry Superfoods – Are Acai Berries Really That Healthy?

The Health Benefits of Acai Berries

Acai Berries on the Palm Tree"Acai Berries are superfoods!" We're hearing it everywhere now. But is it true? Are Acai Berries really that healthy? In time when every food seems to be artificial and medical companies stuff us with the newest cures for everything, some people try to find help using natural products to cure the various health problems.

Over time we forgot how powerful nature can be, after all we only duplicate its achievements in medicine. That is why a category of super foods has been invented, foods so packed with healthy nutrients that they can be called natural medicine or superfoods.

Probably the most wide spread family of superfoods are vegetables from 'Allium' family – vegetables like garlic, onions or leeks. This not very glamorous group of vegetables, contains flavonoids, which stimulate production of antioxidants in the liver, thus detoxifying your body.

Up until today  blueberries where one of the most famous superfoods. They have a high number of antioxidants (ORAC value), anthocyanins and phytochemicals, preventing aging, cancer and numerous brain diseases. Blueberries are the food of choice for many healthy people in Europe and the USA.

Recently, the spotlight has been taken off the Blueberries by a new berry, the Acai Berry.

Is the Acai Berry the #1 Superfood?

When acai berries where first introduced to the public eye, there were numerous talks about how healthy it is. However, publicity seemed to focus all of it's attention on the very high antioxidants level, leaving in the background wealth of other healthy details about this berry.

The first thing I want to mention about the Acai Berry, is the very high level of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are located mainly in peels of vegetables/fruits. They offer a very powerful protection against harmful free radicals, which develop as a result of exposure to radiation, the UV light, smoking, smog and various other metabolic processes.

Not only that, they also preserve delicate antioxidants within the fruit. While, you may have heard that red whine has a large number of anthocyanins, Acai has 10 to 30 times more, depending on the quality and ripeness of the berries. Acai berry is also very high on dietary fiber. 100 grams of Acai berries contain 45 grams of fiber.Acai Berries are rich in healthy unsaturated fats from omega family, which have been proven to help you with anything from your brain to preventing cancer. In Acai you will find mainly the most important omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids.

Additionally, acai berries contain a lot of protein and amino acids. Acai has 19 different amino acids, which are crucial for growth, maintenance and repair of your body tissues. Our bodies can produce only 11 of these amino acids, so you have to supply the rest with your diet.

Acai also offers three different plant sterols: sigmasterol, campesterol and B-sitosterol. These three sterols are invaluable to health of your heart. This concludes the benefits of Acai Berries. Even if you don't believe in the weight loss hype of acai berries (acai berries are beneficial for weight loss due to stopping the carving for food), these berries are still the best choice of superfoods! With more than 100,000  (102,700 μ mol TE/100 gram),it is the world's antioxidant richest fruit known today!

Every Day Superfoods

10 Every Day Superfoods that you can get everywhere!

Cinnamon Canelle - Antioxidant rich superfood

Picture: Luc-Viatour

When we’re talking about Superfoods, we’re not talking about some wonder drugs in a golden pill box, no, we’re talking about organic every day foods that are pure and unprocessed, containing a broad variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Superfoods are nutritional power houses with a high phytochemical and phytonutrient content. Phytonutrient are known to have disease fighting properties. Phytochemicals and Phytonutrients strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol level, diabetes and even cancer.

But first of all; What are Phytonutrients & Phytochemicals?
Phytochemicals are chemicals in vegetables and fruits, other than vitamins and minerals and macronutrients, which are incredibly important for our health. The term “phyto” comes from the Greek word meaning plant. There are literally thousands of them and they have many different functions in our body. They can be antioxidants and fight free radicals or they boost the immune system, they can be anti-viral or anti-bacterial, many of them are anti-inflammatory and help repairing damaged cells. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables tend to have high concentrations of Phytochemicals and the highest concentrations are usually found in the skin of the plant. Examples of phytonutrients you may have heard about are anthocyanins in berries, lycopene in tomatoes and carotenoids in carrots.

What we eat has an incredible impact on our body and our mind and even our lives as such! What we eat affects how we feel, if we are moody or feel great, if we have energy to waste or if we need a nap in the afternoon already. If we follow a healthy diet, it can help guard against all so many diseases. Eating a wide variety of fresh and organic vegetables and include as many superfoods as possible in our daily meals helps to ensure that we give our bodies the best possible treatment

Here is my every day superfoods list

Find below a list of common, easily obtained superfoods that we can find in our stores for most of the year.

  1. Cinnamon: This superfood is just the top of the pop. It contains an unbelievable high antioxidant level of 267,000 ORAC units which brings it on the third place of the antioxidants list. Cinnamon is great at stabilizing blood sugar levels. Cinnamon has been reported to have a pharmacological effects in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance, the latest research also documents anti-melanoma activity of cinnamic aldehyde observed in cell culture and a mouse model of human melanoma. Cinnamon can be used for backing, cooking and for tea.
  2. Almonds: Our next every day superfood is a great source of calcium. Almonds contain four times more calcium than diary milk, They contain magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc and vitamin E and are high in protein and fiber. Almonds also contain omega 3s and monounsaturated fatty acids which again help to prevent heart disease. Almonds taste good in almost everything. You can use them in your breakfast cereal, use them in cookies, use almond butter instead of diary butter or simply eat them raw to get the most out of this superfood.
  3. Sumac The next on our list of superfoods is Sumec; honestly, it has been a few days only, since I first heard of Sumac but I’m already a fan. Sumac grows as shrubs or small trees with loads of red berries, they can reach a height of 1 to 10 meters! Sumac was primarily used in Islamic countries as a treatment for many different ailments in medieval medicine and the native Americans used Sumac leaves and drupes of the combined with tobacco, in traditional smoking mixtures. The sumac fruits or drupes,are ground into a deep red or purple powder used to add a lemony taste to the Middle Eastern cuisine’s meat or salads. Sumac is the second richest food on antioxidants, known today. Sumac bran contains 312,400! ORAC units per 100 gram bran. Compare that to our oh so healthy Oranges that contain 700 ORAC units per 100gram. That’s an enormously high amount of antioxidants and can only be beaten by our next superfood!
  4. ClovesWell, nobody in his right mind would want to eat 100gram cloves in a day, but if you would, you would have ingested 314,446 antioxidant units. Cloves are great in many cooked dishes and also in meat, for oven baked foods and for toothache. Cloves are used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine and in the Chinese medicine where it is used for severe burns, skin irritations and to reduce the sensitiveness of skin and it has antiseptic properties.
  5. Apples: Apples are an amazing superfood that everybody loves. Apples contain 18 of the 20 amino acids our body needs. Unpealed apples contain quecitin which is a phytonutrient that helps prevent damage to LDL cholesterol (that’s the good cholesterol), keeping the arteries clean and healthy and therefore lowering the risk of a heart disease. Apples also contain pectin which is a soluble fiber which helps so lower the bad HDL cholesterol levels in the blood. Pectin also binds with heavy metals such as lead in the body and removes them from the gut.
  6. Avocados: Avocados are an extremely nutritious superfood. Avocados are high in healthy mono-unsaturated fat, fiber, Vitamin E, potassium and folic acid (folate). They are the best fruit source of beta-sitosterol which is a substance that can reduce total cholesterol as well as being high in lutein which is known to protect against cataracts, keeping the cardiovascular system healthy and preventing prostrate cancer.
  7. Beans: Any kind of beans are incredible superfoods, high in antioxidants and a great source of soluble fiber which traps bile that contains cholesterol in the digestive tract and removes it from the body before it is absorbed. Beans are high in protein and very low in fat and can help lower cholesterol. Beans help to keep blood sugar levels stable which is beneficial to those with diabetes. Beans also reduce the risk of cancer – especially breast cancer. According to a study in the International Journal of Cancer (2005;114:628–33), Women who eat frequently beans and lentils have a significantly lower risk to get breast cancer than women who seldom eat them. Beans contain calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium and folic acid (folate).
  8. Blueberries: They’re jus great fruits! Blueberries contain incredibly high amounts of antioxidants (6550 ORAC/100g) including the flavonoid anthocyanins which combats the effects of toxins and pollution and are thought to have anti-aging properties. Blueberries also contain ellegic acid which is a phytonutrient thought to prevent abnormal cellular changes. They are also anti-inflammatory, reduce allergic reactions and keep capillaries healthy which is great if you bruise easily or have varicose veins. Blueberries further help strengthen your immune system and they are a great source of vitamin C and extra fiber.
  9. Broccoli: A great vegetable! And at least something Clinton was right in! Broccoli contains more vitamin C than oranges and is high in potassium and beta-carotene which again helps to reduce the risk of heart disease. Broccoli is an amazing superfood that contains anti-cancer substances, especially helping to prevent gastric cancers, breast cancer and stomach ulcers. Broccoli strengthens the immune system and increases the body’s resistance to illness and it also helps the body to detox easier. Broccoli is rich in glucosinolates which are detoxifying all kinds of toxins and carcinogens in our body, that are substances which can trigger cancer. Studies have shown that eating broccoli and similar vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, radish, horseradish, turnip, cress, kale, kohlrabi and mustard at least three times a week can significantly lower the risk of colon cancer
  10. ChocolateYes, you got that right! Chocolate is full of antioxidants and absolutely health beneficial as long as it is unsweetened. With around 40,000 ORAC units per 100gram dark chocolate it’s one of the highest antioxidant suppliers. And yes,I can eat 100 gram chocolate per day; easily! And raw cocoa nibs are even better. Other beneficial effects of chocolate or cacao, suggest anti-cancer, cough preventer and anti-diarrhea effects and it is also a brain stimulator! And there are sooo many things you can use chocolate for; just leave the sugar away. Sugar is no good for you!
  11. Ok, now I’m hungry! If you’re craving as much for food right now as I am after all this superfood talk, grab some chocolate and stay healthy! See you next time and don’t forget to subscribe to my superfood blog here:Click to Subscribe to Superfood Information by Email. After you subscribe you will be notified by email about new publications on my blog. I won’t give your email address to nobody else ever! Promise.

Health Should Come Easy For Today’s Children

The Health of our Children must be our First Concern

Children and HealthIn the past twenty years a lot has changed in the world of everyday foods. Not long ago, families woke up to a breakfast of orange juice made from a frozen concentrate, white toast with butter and jelly, scrambled whole eggs with bacon or sausage and a side of sugary cereal with low fat cow’s milk. This was the norm back then and slowly the norm seems to be changing. Today, it is much easier to give kids healthy super food options considering the plentiful amounts of new exotic super foods on the market- packaged and available for your everyday convenience.

Today, it is easy to wake up to a breakfast of Acai Berries or fresh squeezed orange or tangerine juice, or a freshly blended smoothie. The white toast and butter could easily be substituted with whole wheat, oatmeal or spelt bread-a drizzle of honey or real fruit jam on the side. The scrambled eggs and bacon can be substituted with scrambled egg whites or tofu scramble. The bacon replaced by one of the many available soy protein ‘bacon’ and ‘sausage’ options available in your grocers freezer. Sugary cereal can be replaced with whole grain cereals free of artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners, yet still packaged to appeal to the scrutinizing eyes of children. Cow’s milk, which is high in saturated fat and hormones, can easily be replaced with soy, rice or even almond milk, all much healthier alternatives.

SNACKS: Goodbye Ring Ding’s and Ho Ho’s, hello Snackimals and Uncle Eddie’s

The snack world has always been a deal breaker for kids and healthy eating. Kids and candy go hand in hand and a childhood without treats would feel quite dull and deprived. But the definition of a treat is what is drastically changing in recent years. Back in the nineties, I recall seeing kids and teenagers toting treats for school snacks such as Hostess Donuts, Twinkies, Doritos, Fruit Snacks with gooey-green-sour-slime centers, and even bagels smothered in whole fat cream cheese. All of these choices are either high in sugar and/or high in saturated or trans fat. Not good. Today, the healthy snack marketplace is booming with healthy options for kids. There are cookies called Snackimals, high in flavor and fun yet low in fat and completely vegan. Healthy yet tasty granola bars and chips like Pirates Booty are also available and enjoyed as new age treats of today.

SUPERFOODS: Who needs vitamin pills when you have Vitamuffins, acai juice and soy.

Super foods are a hot trend. Super foods are foods that not only taste good, but offer some sort of healthy benefit or healing property. A few trendy super food qualities are omega fats, fiber, antioxidants, soy protein and phytochemicals. Companies like Navitas Naturals bring exotic super foods like goji berries into mainstream markets. Parents of kids today probably didn’t have such plentiful options for purchasing super foods. They would’ve had to venture into an advanced Health Food store to find such delicacies as almond butter, acai berry juice, kombucha tea and coconut water. But today it is easy! Parents can easily put super foods into the forefront of kids diets. There should be absolutely no excuse for unhealthy children who grow into unhealthy adults. If kids embrace this new world healthy norm, I’d predict that rates of heart disease and cancer will plummet. However, the marketing and finance departments have got to step in.

Marketing healthy foods to kids is tough especially when you have to compete against companies like Pepsi Cola, McDonalds and Hershey’s. These companies market mainly to kids and teens, cheap costing, low nutrition foods. However there are a number of companies that are trying to step in where health food marketing agents have failed. Websites introduce children to fruits and veggies at a young age by creating fun characters and selling gift and apparel items. Kids can learn about and fall in love with a favorite fruit or vegetable from a very young age. Click the link below to see my top ten superfoods list.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dietotherapy with Superfoods

Superfood is Beneficial for your Health

Blueberries are Superfoods with lots of antioxidantsSo what exactly are superfoods? According to wikipedia, superfood is a term that sometimes is used to describe food with high phytonutrient and antioxidant content that some may believe confers health benefits as a result. For example, blueberries are often considered a superfood (or superfruit) because they contain significant amounts of antioxidants, anthocyanins, vitamin C, manganese, and dietary fiber. Phytonutrients or phytochemicals are plant derived chemical compounds that are known for their potential health promoting properties.

Phytochemicals have been used as therapeutic drugs for millennia. A popular example of this is salicin, which has pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties which was originally extracted from the white willow tree and later synthetically produced to create the commonly used over the counter drug aspirin. Superfoods though as a modern term are more specifically found in the form of everyday foods we can eat to enhance our overall health, as opposed to specific herbal applications to help remedy specific body ailments.

An example of a modern superfood which we eat everyday that is also a remedy to a disease are oranges, tangerines and other fruit which are rich in vitamin C, can counteract scurvy which is a disease due to vitamin C deficiency. Garlic also behaves as a food and as a remedy for bacillary dysentery.

That being said, knowing which types of phytochemicals are found in which types of plants is great to know if we are looking to relieve and help heal specific ailments. It is interesting to note that there is no legal definition of the term ‘Superfood’. For example dieticians and nutritional scientists for the most part do not use the term superfoods as a common term among their peers. Also many claim that consuming particular foodstuffs do not actually confer an actual health benefit. To me this is actually quite shocking because it obvious to me that some foods will have a completely different impact on the body than others.

I don’t need a nutritionist to tell me this, I can actually feel the difference bodily. Not only that but taking food as medicine has been practiced by ancient cultures for millennia. The Chinese especially come to mind, they even have a specific term called Dietotherapy – which refers to the treatment of disease by taking common foodstuffs.

These foodstuffs in China are sometimes called by the name of medicinal foods. Modern western medicine though does not recognize everyday ‘food’ as medicine, so knowing this you can understand why western nutritionists and scientists frown on the term superfoods.

Simply put, food contains the various nutrients which provide the energy supply for the body’s growth and activities. Nutrients are essential for people during illness to overcome pathogenic factors and repair tissue damage, and to resist and prevent diseases while in good health. All foods have different chemical composition and nutritional values, so it makes sense that some foods will invigorate and heal more so than others.

Superfoods come in all shapes and sizes and there is no definitive ‘superfood list’. This is simply because it is not an official diet and medical term, as stated above. So why is phytonutrient or phytochemical content important to knowing what food are superfoods?

Quite simply as I stated above, phytonutrients or phytochemicals are plant derived chemical compounds that are known for their potential health promoting properties. Some animal derived foods are also known as superfoods.

Here is a good list I have compiled of some of the top superfoods that you can incorporate into your life:

SUPERFOOD ORAC*
Cloves, ground 314,446
Sumac, bran, raw 312,400
Cinnamon, ground 267,536
Sorghum, bran, hi-tannin 240,000
Oregano, dry 200,129
Turmeric, ground 159,277
Acai berry, freeze-dried 102,700
Cocoa, dry, unsweetened 80,933
Cumin seeds 76,800
Maqui berries, powder 75,000
Parsley, dried 74,349
Holy Basil, dried 67,553

*ORAC = Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (Antioxidant Measurement Scale)