Beets: A Fall Superfood
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.
13 Health Benefits of Basil
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.
8 Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin that has LOTS of health benefits. It is found in delicous things like curry powder and mustard. Here are a few of the benefits:
Turmeric is good for your heart
It can help with cancer and arthritis
It may help with Alzheimer's and Osteoporosis
Artichokes for Health and Beauty
Artichokes are high on the list of foods that are packed full of antioxidants. In a recent study artichokes ranked number one as the vegetable with the most antioxidants. Artichokes reduce inflammation throughout the entire body because they contain an antioxidants. The reduced inflammation makes you more beautiful by decreasing puffiness and skin redness, and well as reducing wrinkles.
Artichokes contain lots of fiber, which helps the body rid itself of toxins. This can help your skin by fighting acne. Artichokes also contain antioxidants that are especially good for your liver and may prevent liver disease. According to folklore, artichokes have long been reputed to cure liver ailments and liver cancer, as well as curing hangovers. Just one artichoke contains about 25% of your daily requirement for fiber. Artichokes are very low in calories, just remember to watch out for high calorie dips!
Artichoke Nutrition Facts:
Black Cohosh is commonly used to treat menopausal symptoms. It is an adaptogen, which means that it helps bring the hormones into balance. If they are too high, it brings them down; if they are too low it brings them up. It also contains estrogenic substances and binds to estrogen receptors. It also acts on serotonin receptors and may relieve hot flashes and improve mood.
The benefits of Black Cohosh include:
How to use Black Cohosh:
Duke, J. A. (1997). The Green Pharmacy. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.
Find a Vitamin or Supplement: Black Cohosh. (2016, May 6). Retrieved from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-857-BLACK+COHOSH.aspx?activeIngredientId=857&activeIngredientName=BLACK+COHOSH&source=2
Geller, S. E. (2007, January 8). Botanical and Dietary Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms: What Works, What Doesn’t. Retrieved from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1764641/
Gottlieb, B. (1995). New Choices in Natural Healing. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.
Pedersen, M. (1998). Nutritional Herbology. Warsaw, IN: Whitman Publications.
Walnuts for Breast Health
A study done by Marshall University School of Medicine found that eating walnuts every day may help curb breast cancer. The study done on mice found that those that ate walnuts had fewer and smaller tumors than those who didn’t. Walnuts contain antioxidants and significantly higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than other nuts. They also contain phytosterols, which bind to estrogen receptors and inhibit the growth of breast cancer tumors.
The study suggests eating two handfuls of walnuts a day to receive benefits. More research needs to be done with human subjects, but the results are promising. Scientists estimate that eating walnuts every day may push off the development of tumors by up to nine years. Walnuts may also help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and improving blood vessel elasticity. They also reduce C-Reactive Protein, which is an inflammatory marker, and predictor of heart disease.
Eat Your Purples!
You often hear the advice to “Eat your greens!” However, it’s important to eat food of a variety of colors because they contain different nutrients. Purple and blue are often neglected colors in the average diet. In fact, eighty-eight percent of people don’t get enough purple and blue in their diet. Purple and blue foods only make up three percent of the average diet. These foods are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. Scientists believe that compounds known as anthocyanins, found in these foods, get rid of free radicals and soothe inflammation.
A study done by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study found that people who ate blue and purple fruits and vegetables had a lower risk for high blood pressure and were less likely to have low levels of HDL “good” cholesterol. These people are also less likely to be overweight. By reducing three of the five risk factors for metabolic syndrome, it is also believed that eating purple and blue foods will reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Eat Your White Fruits &Veggies
The white group of fruits and veggies contain healthy compounds that may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and may help reduce the risk of stomach cancer and heart disease.
Bananas are a good source of potassium, which helps prevent high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Bananas also ease constipation, protect the stomach against ulcers, reduce depression, reduce the risk of stroke, promote kidney health and help build strong bones.
Potatoes are a good source of vitamins C and B6, manganese, copper, potassium, fiber and tryptophan. The health benefits of potatoes include protection against heart disease, reduction of blood pressure, increased endurance, and maintenance of normal brain cell and nervous system activity.
Cauliflower is full of nutrients such as vitamins C and K, folate, fiber, and the B-complex vitamins. Cauliflower helps to detoxify your body, promotes heart health, and protects against rheumatoid arthritis.
Eat Your Yellows and Oranges!
Orange and yellow fruits and veggies are usually colored by beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. These foods help keep your eyes and immune system healthy and can help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease. They also often contain vitamin C and folate as well. Lemons are a good source of vitamin C, which had been found to reduce the risk of death from all causes.
Eat Your Reds!
Red fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients such as ellagic acid, anthocyanins, lycopene and more. These phytonutrients may help regulate blood pressure levels, lower bad cholesterol, and reduce tumor growth. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that help prevent cell damage, help keep your heart healthy, and reduce the pain from arthritis and gout. Lycopene may help reduce the risk of some kinds of cancer, such as prostate cancer, breast, colorectal, endometrial, lung and pancreatic. The best way to get your daily dose of lycopene is in cooked tomatoes with a small amount of fat, such as a marinara sauce with a little olive oil in it.
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.