Introduction to Superfoods

The word Superfood has been coined in the 1990’s and has taken a whole new look since then. It became a haven of true health benefits while becoming an escape of commercialized products to sell, creating unfounded fad and craze. So, what is it, really?

Superfoods have been coined to categorize certain foods in the health food industry. The categorization involves foods that aside from their healthy benefits for the body also have the capacity to aid and fight certain diseases. This aid stems from the superfoods unique components that can be enzymes, antioxidants, compounds or helpful oils.

Superfood as a label though has been put into scrutiny after just every food manufacturers has claimed their products to be one. For this, several food and drug bureaus as well as organizations put up regulations as well as standards to be met.

Countries that have the regulatory rules has indicated that a back up study needs to accompany a product before it can be labeled as such and be marketed to the public.

What is Superfood?

Superfoods have been a popular term. But one can distinguish these foods right away from ordinary food in the grocery stores. These foods mostly have low calories and are high in nutrients. Most superfoods are rich in anti-oxidants, differently categorized (depending on the type of the food).

IN recent standards, for a Superfood to be a Superfood, then it may need to be reaching some specifications. It should be nutrient densed; it should have a high ORAC than ordinary food produce and it should have a low calorie ration compared to its nutrients.

Types

Superfoods have different types. They can be categorized differently depending on its source or its classification in the food world. The list can be read below.

Green Superfoods

The green superfoods may include all green leafy vegetables. These veggies may come in hated by many but these foods have a high concentration of digestible nutrients. They also pack a heap of fat burning compounds while giving the body vitamins and minerals while protecting the body and healing it. Most of green superfoods have proteins, photo-chemicals, digestion friendly compounds and muscle building components. Kale, broccoli, spinach, are among the examples of green superfoods.

Marine Sourced Superfoods

Sea foods surely tease the tongue and for some it can be a rare treat. For the record though, seafood shouldn’t just become a treat, it should become a regular meal included menu due to its superpowers to fight certain diseases. Selected marine produce includes oily fish such mackerel, wild salmon, tuna and halibut and other source such as krill and calamari contains one super beneficial oil, the omega-3.

Omega-3 among its all other benefits, can help suppress impending heart diseases while helping in diabetes. It can also help fight cancer while quelling some disease’s inflammatory tendencies. Today, omega-3 has been a well studied and a phenomenal fatty component and the most consumed supplement in the US.

Fruit Superfoods

You can never go wrong with fruits. Fruit superfoods are high in anti-oxidants which help fight free radicals and prevent cellular damage in the body. Free radicals occur through our own doing though through pollution, smoking, burnt foods, deep frying foods, and radiation.

Fruits notably blueberries, lemons, grapes, kiwi, acai berry, dragon fruit, pomegranate, grapefruits, among others, are known as superfoods.

Nuts and Seeds Superfoods

Nuts such as walnuts, peanuts, almonds are known superfoods. They contain friendly fats and are good for the brain. Seeds on the other hand contain better benefit. Such is positive from the likes of Chia and flaxseed. Both contains the well revered omega-3 fatty acid and is known to be very helpful or the body.

Chia today has been taking the world by storm and has slowly been gaining some following as health boost included in meals and food menu.

Seaweed Superfoods

Seaweeds are known to be the nutritionally dense plants in the planets. This can be due to the fact that they get access from the world’s nutritionally dense ocean foods. They contain more calcium than milk and then beef. They can purify the blood system of the body since their chemical composition is close to those of human blood plasma.

Alga may be classified in this category.

Preparation

Superfoods when acquired naturally (not processed as product sold by manufacturers) may need to be prepared. Fruits though may not need preparation; they can be eaten as it is. Vegetables may be turned into salad or be included in Superfood menus you can choose from. Superfood that is often prepared though may include those of the fish or the marine sourced produce. In preparing ad cooking these, other Superfood veggies may be included.

Most Superfood fan though has the easy and the refreshing way to include Superfood into their meals, through juicing and smoothies. Just every fruit and every veggies out there can be tuned into that. Some veggies though may not palatable due to its bitter taste when eaten raw or mad into smoothie, honey can be your secret weapon in here.

You may see some recipes in this Superfood recipes link.

What not to do With Superfoods

Although superfoods are very beneficial at its best, some people have lost these benefits once preparations for these foods are altered. How? What are these sins you may commit against superfoods? Here are some.

  •    Frying superfoods
  •  Covering Superfood with flavoring (sugar, colored coatings)
  •  Smothering your food with sauces
  • Believing that the muffins you are eating really contains those berries so you buy it instead of doing it yourself.
  • Putting butter in your superfoods
  • Artificially flavoring your superfoods
  •  Over seasoning your Superfood meals or products

Benefits

Here are the main benefits of the superfoods to the health.

    1.  Regulates the metabolism
    2.  Burns body fat (paired with exercise and other healthy lifestyle)
    3. Lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing the HDL (good cholesterol)
    4. Reduces or prevents inflammation
    5.  Prevents heart disease
    6.  Lowers risk o cancer
    7. Promotes digestive health
    8.  Protects and detoxify organs from toxins

Warning and Safety

It is impossible to be able to just consume superfoods and avoid all other foods. They key is to consume as much superfoods as possible and portion what you eat of the remaining foods.

As the popularity of the superfoods has become a craze and has increase, variety of products and from the natural superfoods has been introduce e in the market. Other things such as supplement that can mimic the Superfood effects has also been manufactured and sold. These products may be unregulated and may need further evaluation before being taken in. Some of these products may be unhealthy, thus may warrant recall from certain food and drug bureaus.

For safety, cook or prepare your own food. Or if buying packed Superfood products, refer it and have it approved by a health care provider first.

Image Credit: mcrosacci via Flickr

5 Best Fish for Your Health

Fish is healthy for overall health. Men and women, kids and adult alike may need something that an oily fish can offer—omega-3 fatty acids.

But aside from these long chained fatty acids, fish can be a way to help keep your body healthy, keep your system at check minus the cholesterol and the bad fats that most meat can offer. But then choosing the right fish for your diet can be a bit tricky. Since fishes may often not be available in your locale, you mostly rely on canned ones.

Canned fishes can be okay as long as it’s not eaten regularly, fresh and natural is still the best. But then another problem may come in, sea food, in which fishes are the most consumed, can also carry lots of toxic chemicals ingested from their habitat and their food. Industrial pollutants such as mercury and dioxins can be possibly ingested in human body if you consume these foods.

How to Stay Away from Polluted Sea Foods

Choosing fishes that are coming from habitat that are less pressured and free of industrial pollutants can be the first key. Cultured fishes can be a possible solution but some of these farms may not feed fishes with an all natural feeding process which makes farmed fishes not too healthy and environmentally sustainable option as well.

Fishes caught fresh can be your best option. These can be present in your grocery and local supermarket as well as long as you knew how to spot the fresh ones.

The Five Fishes

Of course the choices below can’t be the only fishes that can give you the benefits. The choices below are just an option you can have if you decided on your next meal.

    1. Albacore Tuna. Often, these care caught by pole or by troll. This kind of tuna proves that not all tuna specie can be laden with toxicity. These types of tuna are younger and have less time to build on mercury in their body. You can buy it online too and can be present in some Tuna brands. It can be caught in western US and Canadian waters.
    2. Alaskan Salmon. These salmon should be wild caught since farmed salmon can be having lots of contaminants. And there are just thousands of recipes one can do with a salmon.
    3. Pacific Sardines. Sardines are one of the fishes which are very beneficial to your health. And sardines can be available in different flavors in the market.
    4. Rainbow trout. Trouts are affordable seafood options. But you have to choose the species that have lesser contamination levels.
    5. Baramundi. Baramundi can be available in US and Asia but it is abundant in Northern Australia. Among the sources of Omega-3, Australis Baramundi has the highest number of the fatty acid content since they can synthesize their own omega-3s.

Other seafood you can look out for includes krill, calamari, mussels, oysters, Arctic Char, and Dungeness crab. And mostly, they are best if caught wild and fresh. Other options you can have include the incorporation of these fishes or small ones like anchovies in your other meal plans. Say sprinkle anchovies in your pizza or use sardines in your Greek salad. Everything in diet is all about possibility and creativity.

Some mercury bombs though that you can try to avoid when buying fishes includes mackerel, marlin, shark, swordfish, ahi tuna and orange roughy.

Image Credit: lar-f via Flickr.

How Fathers’ Pre-conception Diet Can Affect Offspring’s Health

A father’s diet prior to his offspring’s conception can play a great role in offspring’s long term health, study says.

Usually, in older studies and research, a mother’s diet can get all the attention as she is the one directly responsible for the carrying of the baby for nine months in her womb. But in Canada’s McGill’s University’s research, the vitamin B9 concentration in a father’s diet can influence the health and development of his offspring.

What is Vitamin B9?

Vitamin B9, also known as folate can be found in green leafy vegetables, cereals, meats and fruits. Folate is well known for its ability to prevent miscarriages among women as well as in preventing the occurrence of birth defects. All the big reason why women are advised to load their supplements and diets with folate (folic acid) when they are with babies.

The said study’s authors also suggested that the lack of folate in kids’ health may increase risk of chronic disease such as diabetes, autism, schizophrenia and even cancer. But this remains still to be further proven and is still speculative.

You Are What Your Father Eats

This study somewhat has pushed more males who wish to be fathers to pay attention to their diets. To cut out on junk foods and eat more greens instead is the study’s one major upshot.

The study has used mice in the research.  They had compared offspring of mice that has insufficient folate in their diets to those who have sufficient ones. Their findings include;

    1. Paternal folate deficiency is associated in increased birth defects of offspring by 30%.
    2. Defects included severe skeletal abnormalities as well as cranio-facial and spinal deformities.
    3. Due to the sperm epigenome that senses and maps out life experiences and diet, it can influence metabolism and acquiring of diseases in long term for offspring.
    4. Chemical Modifications to DNA were inherited.
    5. Differences and shifts related to genes can affect the central nervous system, kidneys, and other chronic diseases.

Though the study has been critiqued due to its limitations, it has been well received in the medical community. The use of mice has also been pointed out as a possible limitation since it has been not done on humans. But the result has been greatly upheld by its researchers.

Dr. Sarah Kimmins, the study’s lead researcher, said that the research suggests that father’s may need to think about what they put in their mouth.

How a Change of Your Diet Can Play a role in Raising Healthy Kids

The study has needed to verify still their findings with humans but researchers hope that this may help in inspiring men to pay attention to their diets since it can affect their kids later. It’s an immediate way for intervention and prevention.

A potential solution to this is a switch of diet years and months before conception. Options include:

    • Change of diet
    • Cutting on smoking habits
    • Moderating alcohol
    • Good supplement intake

Good Sources of Folic Acid

Not only cutting back on junk foods will do, but a total lifestyle change can make sure that your kids won’t be suffering from long term health ailments later. Diets that include spinach, asparagus, peas, liver, brown rice and Brussels sprouts can be a major folic acid sources.

Although healthy choices in foods can be hindered by other factors such as race, ethnicity, opportunity and income, healthy choices and alternatives can be available and can be within the power of fathers-would-be to alter.

Mother also should be aware of these. And for mom to be’s, the big three for babies and expecting mothers includes not only folic acid but calcium and DHA omega 3 as well. They can contribute to the overall health of kids once they are conceived and can even extend into long term benefits.

Image Credit: Ewen Roberts from Flickr.

What To Know About Kefir Grains

There is a lot to know about kefir grains. They have been around for a very long time. They are a probiotic and they have their origins in the Caucasus Mountains.

They range in color from white to yellow. They will grow to be the size of a walnut. Kefir grains are good for your gut. They have been able to help a lot of people.

The grains look like little cauliflower florets. The pattern is like what you would find with coral or even a brain. They are soft and bouncy. They are almost like a small squeeze toy.

If the grains are dried, they almost look like light cheddar cheese. They do become darker as they get drier. They will eventually appear a deeper orange.

The grains are a combination of 30 different strains of bacteria and yeast. They are composed of 4.4% fat, 45.7% Muco-polysaccharides, 12.1% ash and 34.3% total protein. They are a pretty interesting grain.

You should be able to use kefir grains to make water kefir. That is like a homemade soda with many probiotic benefits. You should be able to make a yummy tasting drink with the water kefir. Something your kids will really enjoy.

They can also be used to make milk kefir.

Another use for kefir grains is for house plants. They will add extra nutrients to them. A lot of gardeners like to do that to help the plants grow. Pets also enjoy eating them.

You can also dehydrate them to save for an emergency. That way you will always have grains, even if something happens to your main supply. It will be nice to have some around if that happens.

If you happen to eat too many at once you could experience a detox. Your body is just not used to having so much good bacteria at once. Some people do plan a keifer detox to clean out their systems.

Keifer does go through seasonal changes. They tend to ferment quickly in the summer and when there are warmer temperatures. In the winter they will tend to be a bit more creamy and mild.

Another great thing about kefir grains is that they are pretty hardy. They can take a hard beating but will wear down overtime. You can put them in a blender and they will survive that. You do want to care for them but it is nice to know that they are not too fragile.

With as many different ways to use kefir grains, they are a great item to keep in your home. From smoothies to house plants, there are so many benefits. Once you start working with them you will figure out how they can work for your family.

Don’t be afraid of them if you are new to the keifer world. They are a wonderful thing and you will not regret using them. Once you have worked with them for a while you can pass some on to some of your friends. Share what you have learned and let them see the benefits too.

7 Heart Smart Foods (How To Eat Healthy And Help Your Heart)

healthy_heart_foodsDespite the decrease in cardiovascular disease in Australia in the last three decades, it is still one of the top causes of death in the country and continues to plague the population in terms of disability and illness. One of the main triggers of heart disease is atherosclerosis – it Is the build up of fat cholesterol and plaque in the inner lining of the arteries. The development of the condition usually starts during childhood and progress with age. When blood supply to the heart affected, it can result into a heart attack, angina and sudden death. When an artery is blocked or suddenly ruptured and bleeds, it will lead to stroke and paralysis. Major risk factors include hypertension, high blood cholesterol, tobacco smoking, obesity, inadequate physical activity, diabetes and an unhealthy diet.

A change in lifestyle can help lower the risks of getting a serious heart disease. It doesn’t have to be a sudden change or going cold turkey. A slow and gradual change in lifestyle  will give realistic and attainable results.  Anyone can start by changing into a healthy diet. There are foods that actually help in clearing the arteries other that oats.

  1. Oats. Oat bran and oatmeal are at the top of bad cholesterol flashers. The soluble fibers in it attaches itself to bad cholesterol and flushes it out of the system. It’s also rich in Niacin  which increases HDL or good cholesterol. Fruits can be added  to make it more delectable and healthy.
  2. Vegetables. Green leafy vegetables  like spinach and broccoli contains vitamin C and vitamin A which prevents cholesterol oxidation and help keep the arteries free of plaque. Garlic and onions lowers cholesterol levels and helps prevent blood clots. It also helps the blood lining to relax resulting in a more efficient blood flow. Tomatoes and avocados (fruity vegetables) are rich in antioxidants
  3. Salmon and other oily fishes. Oily fishes are rich in omega-3  fatty acids and helps in lowering heart diseases by reducing plaque buildup and blood clots in the arteries. . Salmon fat is monounsaturated which helps in controlling cholesterol levels. It lowers the trigledytes and elevated good cholesterol in the body.  Canned salmons are good although it may high in sodium. Whenever possible buy it fresh and cook it using olive oil, steamed or any which way preferred.
  4. Apples. An apple a day keeps bad cholesterol away. The fruit is high in fiber such as “pectin” which binds  with bad cholesterol. It also contains flavonoids that can help reduce heart disease by up to 50% if eaten regularly.
  5. Olive oil. Using cold-pressed virgin olive oil in cooking or used as flavoring to foods can cut the risks or developing or reducing heart disease. Regular consumption of olive oil decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure plus it is rich in antioxidants like vitamin E that helps in decreasing the chance of developing certain cancers.
  6. Wine. Consuming a glass or two daily with meals can help in reducing plaques and increase the level of HDL or good cholesterol. Flavonoids in red wine help in relaxing the arteries prevent blood clots. Drink in moderation and not consume the whole bottle in one sitting.
  7. Dark chocolate. Ah, chocolate. The great equalizer and probably the most sought after in the list. It may be on the bitter side but compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains flavonoids that help in lowering blood pressure and reduce inflammation. Chocolate lovers, celebrate.

Why Men Gain Weight

pot bellyFor most men when they approach middle age, weight gain is bound to happen especially in the mid section. For some,  “having a belly” is a form of respect and authority, figuratively and physically speaking. Now, this can be true if you’re a New York mob boss but if you’re just an average joe then you need to reconsider. Knowing the causes of weight gain in men is crucial before losing those pounds. Weight gain usually starts in the 30s and will continue  up until the mid 50s. During the said timeline, men lose ½ a pound of lean muscle a year and it is replaced by fat. Weight gain and having a pot or beer belly can be avoidable although several factors come into play during this time of a  man’s life.

  1. A slowed metabolism. As men hit middle age, the metabolism will start to slow down. The body burns fewer calories per day   compared to a younger self  with the same activity level. If this is ignored, it will surely expand  the waistline. Also as mentioned earlier, muscle mass decreases and is replaced by fat. Muscles  play a direct role in a person’s metabolic rate. Muscles burn calories even when a person is asleep that equates to a high metabolism. So a decrease in overall muscle mass will result to a lower metabolism.
  2. Lack of sleep. This is another trigger for weight gain. A human body functions perfectly when well rested. When a  person doesn’t get enough sleep and rest, a person will experience physical and mental stress. And for most men, to compensate for stress is to eat and drink more. Eating and having a bottle of beer before going to sleep  will surely add calories which will not be burned efficiently because of a slowed metabolism. Having power naps during breaks will help refresh the mind and body. Try to read a book instead of a late snack. Take a warm shower to help you, whatever activity that you feel will help you the much  needed rest, do it.
  3. Reduced testosterone. A decrease in testosterone level is common among men when they reach middle age. Although this is a normal part of a man’s aging process, low testosterone levels will result in muscle loss, fatigue and weight gain. The traditional view was that obesity came first and a decrease in testosterone follows. But it is also proven that a decrease in level will also result in weight gain. Testosterone plays an important role in on how a a man’s body balance insulin, glucose and fat metabolism.
  4. Lack of exercise. Low levels of testosterone and a slow metabolism in middle age can make any man feel tired all the time and the feeling of not having enough energy to work out, exercise or do any regular physical activity. A 30 minute cardiovascular activity 5 time a week and a 20 minute strength training 3 times a week will surely help in losing weight. The body will burn more calories, the muscles will be conditioned and will retain or even build more mass that will help pin enhancing metabolism.
  5. Unhealthy diet . Alcohol consumption, an overall unhealthy diet and slow metabolism will surely result in weight gain and increase in abdominal fat. Excess sugar consumption and a high calorie diet are triggers of weight gain.

Man Boobs Demystified

man boobsSome women with small breasts dream of having a set of large and attractive breasts. For men, it’s the opposite. Man boobs, man breasts, moobs, man jugs or any term you want to call it, this condition is as embarrassing as being caught without an underwear…. in public. If you’re a boy or a man with an abnormally large breast, you can take some solace because the condition is quite common even though no man would want to have a bigger breast than a woman. The medical term for man boobs is “gynecomastia”. It is defined as the enlargement of breast tissue among males. It may manifest transiently in newborns almost half of boys during adolescent develop large breast during puberty. Signs and symptoms of gynecomastia includes swollen breast tissue, tenderness of the breast, increased areola diameter and asymmetry of the breast tissue. Man boobs are a serious  cause of embarrassment among boys and men.  And there are a number of causes that can be controlled or some may be treated by going through surgery.

Lack of exercise and obesity. Excess fat in men and boys can manifest in the midsection and the chest. Too much fat in the chest area will result to man boobs. Chest fat is usually difficult to lose even with some form of exercise. Consulting a professional trainer can help in planning the best workout that will eliminate fat in the midsection and the chest. Plus, too much fat will limit the body’s estrogen production spurring the growth of breast tissues.

Diet. An unhealthy diet is another trigger in developing man boobs. Too much sugar, carbohydrates and foods rich in fat  will result to weight gain and weight gain can result in having man boobs.

Malnutrition and starvation. It seems to contradict but when a human body is deprived of the right and adequate nutrition, the testosterone levels drop. Now the liver’s function to limit estrogen levels goes down thus causing a hormonal imbalance. If there is too much estrogen than testosterone, the body will adjust and man boobs will show.

Medical and other health conditions. Any health and medical condition that shakes up the normal testosterone production or interfere the balance of the male-female hormone levels can also result into gynecomastia. Hypogonadism, tumors, hyperthyroidism, kidney failure, cirrhosis and liver failure are some of the medical conditions that can contribute in the man breast development.

Medications and some types of drugs. There are cases that some medications and prescription drugs can cause man boobs. Regular use of anabolic steroids is known to cause man boobs. Excess testosterone from steroids will be converted to estrogen. Too much estrogen will make the breast enhanced and pronounced. Prescription drug such as Digoxin, Furosemide and Spironolactone increase the chances of a man developing gynecomastia.

Age. Decrease in skin elasticity, muscle mass and body fat can result to gynecomastia. An aging obese person will likely have the condition for a long time.

Getting rid of man boobs can be simple as doing some form of exercise and any regular physical activities. Any weigh loss activity will surely help to eliminate the condition plus get the benefits of having a healthy and strong body. A good physical routine plus adopting  a healthy diet are some of the best steps in preventing or eliminating man boobs. Once you have reached the goal of getting rid of this embarrassing condition, make it a point to not to go back to the old lifestyle. It should be a complete lifestyle change and not a short term goal only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Health Benefits of Krill Oil

When it comes to good health and wellbeing, we’re constantly bombarded with news articles about what we should and shouldn’t be doing to our bodies. Eating too much of this or too little of that will eventually lead to our demise; the latest must-have health supplements come and go like fashion trends, singing their own praises on cyber shelves till the trend runs its course.

The truth lies in a balanced, healthy diet. But of course if that were easy to achieve, there wouldn’t be a thriving, multi-billion dollar health supplement industry. But there are some essential elements that have been conclusively proven to benefit our health, and even prevent potentially fatal diseases. Top of the list are omega-3 fatty acids, scientifically identified as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Our bodies can’t produce these essential fats, so we need to look to our diet or supplements. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has endorsed the fact that fish oil and marine supplements as a source of omega-3 can directly contribute to a marked reduction in the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes and many other life threatening ailments.

Krill oil is fast becoming even more popular than fish oil as a preferred supplement because of its high EPA and DHA content. Krill are tiny shrimp-like crustaceans which are part of the principal diet of whales, small fish and many sea birds. Some of the primary benefits of krill oil supplements:

  • Krill oil helps to lower high cholesterol
  • Controls blood sugar, which can help prevent and control the symptoms of diabetes
  • Anti-inflammatory properties can relieve rheumatoid arthritis and reduce joint stiffness
  • Helps prevent and treat osteoporosis by increasing calcium deposits and improving bone strength
  • Krill oil has been used to help treat ADHD with surprising results
  • Can reduce the symptoms of menopause and PMS

Krill oil contains the vitamins E, A, D as well as potent antioxidants, which help to combat toxic free radicals that attack our immune system. Scientific studies have shown that the antioxidant properties of krill oil are up to 48 times more powerful than fish oil.

As with any supplement, don’t expect to see radical changes in your health overnight. Krill oil supplements should be taken daily on an ongoing basis for the cumulative effects to become evident. After a month, those suffering arthritic complaints or joint pain should see a noticeable difference. Have your cholesterol checked before and during your course of krill oil to monitor how well it’s working. It should be said that those with allergies to shellfish should avoid krill oil supplements, and of course it’s always best to check with your health care professional.

Ideally, our nutritional needs should be satisfied through our daily diet, but with the ever-increasing pace of life, it’s becoming more and more difficult to stay healthy through diet alone. Adding krill oil to your daily nutritional regime could help increase your chances of living a longer, healthier life.