The other day my husband and I were making vegetable juice and he asked me what the health benefits of celery were. I had to admit, I knew celery was healthy, but couldn’t come up with the reasons off the top of my head. I decided to do some research. Turns out, celery is not just good for carrying peanut butter to your mouth! It has a host of health benefits!
Zucchini is a great little vegetable that is low on calories and high on health benefits. In fact, a medium zucchini has only 33 calories, but still manages to make you feel full because of its fiber and water content! This makes zucchini an excellent choice if you are trying to lose weight or just eat healthier! Read on for more health benefits of zucchini!
For a long time, fat was considered bad in any form and supermarkets were flooded with a variety of low-fat items. The truth of the matter is that they didn’t really do anything to improve health! Our bodies need fat to function properly. It just needs to be eaten in moderation and the right kinds of fat need to be consumed. Some fats are actually really good for you, some are kind of in-between, and others are downright bad for you!
Are you an expert at reading nutrition labels? If you deal with managing health conditions like me, it has become very important to understand what is in your food. First, I always read the ingredient list to make sure it contains nothing that triggers my Crohn’s Disease. Second, I check out the nutrition label. Here are tips on how to read it.
1. Serving Size
With all the buzz about quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) in the last decade, the odds are that you have tried it. Did you feel like it lived up to all the hype? This naturally gluten-free whole grain has a very mild, nutty flavor, so for flavorful quinoa you must add plenty of seasonings. Eating 3 servings of whole grains every day can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Quinoa is packed full of nutrients, so it is considered a superfood. Plus it is one of the least allergenic grains, so it’s great for those with wheat allergies.
Quinoa is a Complete Protein
Did you grow up thinking you needed to drink at least a glass of milk a day to be healthy? The problem is, a large number of people have trouble digesting milk. In fact, milk allergies are the most common allergy in children. The negative effects of milk consumption can range from digestive symptoms to allergies to a possible increase in risk of diabetes and certain cancers. This is why many people have opted to consume non-dairy milks out of necessity or for health reasons.
Do you just love to have some fresh garlic on your pasta? Well, that’s good! Fresh garlic is much more beneficial for your heart than dried garlic, a study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found. There is a chemical released when fresh garlic is cut, called hydrogen sulfide, which relaxes blood vessels. Garlic is commonly used to help treat hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Some people also use it to help prevent colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, and breast cancer.
The compounds in garlic break down easily due to heating or being cut. A study in Japan compared garlic preserved in water, alcohol, vegetable oil and fresh garlic. They were measuring a compound known was allicin, which is garlic’s main active ingredient and what gives garlic its strong smell. They found that allicin dissipates quickly once garlic is cut. Scientists believe that allicin has antibacterial properties that may help prevent food poisoning and bacterial infections. Allicin may also help prevent blood clots and certain cancers. Even though allicin breaks down quickly, scientists believe that the compounds it breaks into may still be beneficial. So get out your garlic crusher and mince away!
Chia seeds are having a moment right now. In fact, they are one of the most talked about superfoods, but what makes them so super? They are packed with rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, all of which are necessary for energy.
Chia seeds were originally grown in Mexico and were highly valued, even being used as money. Aztec warriors used them as an energy and endurance source and claimed that chia seeds could give them energy for 24 hours! In fact, chia seeds were known as “runners’ food” because they were used by runners and warriors when they had to run long distances or during battle.
A recent study in Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that chia seed provided the same energy benefit as a sports drink without all the added sugar or sugar substitutes.
An added benefit is that chia seeds help boost your metabolism and help burn belly fat! Studies show that by adding chia seeds to your diet, you can actually lower your visceral adipose tissue (or belly fat), which contributes to a lowered metabolism. Chia seeds also absorb a lot of water, so they help keep you hydrated and keep you feeling full for longer. They are also high in Zinc, which increases leptin, a hormone that your body uses to regulate your appetite.
Added benefits of chia seeds:
There are several ways to eat chia seeds.
Chia Seed Recipes
Beets benefit your body in a number of ways. They are very nutritious, yet low in calories. Beets’ rich purple color comes from betacyanin, a powerful cancer fighting agent. It has been found to be especially effective against colon cancer in several studies.
Beets are rich in folate, which helps prevent anemia and neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida. In studies done on animals it was found that the antioxidant activity from beets could help prevent heart disease by lowering total cholesterol and triglycerides and raising HDL (good) cholesterol. Beets also help reduce chronic inflammation, which has been linked to conditions such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes.
Beets have a somewhat sweet taste which comes from their high sugar content. In fact, beets are used in the production of refined sugar. Raw beets are crunchy and can be somewhat tough, but when cooked their texture becomes soft and buttery. Look for beets that come in a bunch rather than loose beets. Bunch beets are fresher and will cook faster. Their leaves can also be cooked and eaten and have a flavor similar to chard.
Basil is great to detox your liver. If you overate or drank too much the previous day, give your liver a break and add some basil or pesto to your breakfast.
Inflammation & Swelling
A study found that Holy Basil can reduce swelling by up to 73%.
The essential oils contained in basil lower inflammation, which is at the root of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Basil also improves digestion by supporting healthy bacteria in the gut.
Basil oil combats the bacteria that cause acne.
Try this recipe from Health.com: Boil a handful of fresh basil leaves in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes; let the liquid cool. Dip a cotton ball into the liquid, pat it on your breakout zones, wait 10 minutes, then splash with water; repeat once or twice a day.
Holy Basil helps with stress by reducing cortisol, your stress hormone. Basil is considered an adaptogen, which means it helps your body adapt to stress. It helps your body normalize and deal with the effects of stress. Try adding basil to your iced tea after it has steeped.
Basil can help with arthritis by reducing the inflammation that the disease causes.
When you are menstruating, you lose iron. Basil is an excellent source of iron, containing the same amount as spinach! Eat plenty of iron rich foods during your period.
Basil contains powerful antioxidants that help protect the lining of the blood vessels from free radical damage. This helps prevent arterial clogging, heart attacks, and stroke. It can also help the muscles in your blood vessels relax and contract, thereby promoting healthy blood pressure. It also helps prevent blood clots.
Basil has been found to reduce circulating blood glucose, which helps prevent diabetes. It can also lower triglycerides and cholesterol, which diabetic patients often suffer from high levels.
Basil has many antibacterial properties. One of the many ways you can take advantage of this is to wash your veggies in a solution with 1% basil or thyme oil. Doing this kills bacteria that can cause diarrhea. Scientists are doing studies about basil’s effects on antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Studies are showing that basil is effective in killing powerful bacteria strains. Basil essential oils may be effective in treating viruses and infections.
The antioxidants in basil help prevent cancer. They do this by keeping chromosomes from becoming altered or damaged. They can also target harmful cells, such as cancer cells. Basil can also help protect healthy tissue from the harmful effects of radiation and chemotherapy.
Depression & Anxiety
Some people consider basil to be an antidepressant. It can help stimulate the neurotransmitters that regulate the hormones that are responsible for making us feel happy.
Basil has traditionally been used in some countries as a natural aphrodisiac. It is believed to cause arousal and to support healthy sexual function.
I wrote this post after spending the morning making pesto. I have two basil plants that have been VERY prolific! I started wondering what the health benefits were. I hope you enjoy this vegan version of pesto!
Vegan Basil Pesto
4 cups loosely packed basil
1/2 cup olive oil, more if needed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 cup pine nuts or other kind of nuts (I have used blanched almonds or walnuts)
1 teaspoon salt
Place the basil into your food processor. Turn on processor and drizzle oil into processor as its running. Process for 15-30 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue processing until smooth. If it needs more olive oil to process smoothly or reach the correct consistency, then add some.
I am a Duke Integrative Medicine trained Health Coach located in Charlotte, NC. I hold a B.S. and M.A. in Wellness Management. I have a passion for health and for helping others achieve the healthy life they desire.