Tag Archives: Superfoods

Raw Super Salad

There has been a huge gap in the last post on this blog until now…yes, and there are reasons for that which

I will share later. In the meantime, my daughter and I made a beautifully healthy, raw vegetarian dish

that would go well with many different things.

So colourful, yet simple and easy too!


1/2 head Cabbage
1/2 head Red Cabbage
6-8 Carrots
1 Pomegranate

Chop/slice or shred cabbage to bite size pieces, coleslaw style. Peel and grate the carrots.

Mix well so that the colours and vegetables are mixed well together. Open and tap pomegranate seeds

out with a wooden spoon into a bowl. Or check out the video below for another quick, easy,


way to do it. Then sprinkle the pomegranate seeds either on top or mix through.

This is delicious by itself, or if you prefer a dressing, here are a few alternatives:

Apple Cider Vinegar & Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Organic Mayonnaise

Creme Fraiche (or Greek Yoghurt or Sour Cream) with lemon juice and garlic finely sliced or minced

This will add even more health benefits with the lemon juice and garlic, giving the immune system a boost.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I woke up early this morning to make a special treat for this evening for my sweetheart and special friends.  I had a little taste on the spoon to make sure they tasted ok : and decided to share the recipe with my blog readers…

The real beauty of this recipe is the raw, organic ingredients used and more importantly, the health benefits from them! As a fan of superfoods, these yummy organic ‘Bliss Balls’ go well either on their own, or with a nice cup of organic coffee, or a toast of champagne for a really special occasion like Valentine’s Day…..

Bliss Balls


1 cup raw, organic cashews (or other nuts if preferred)

5-6 pitted fresh dates

2 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 tsp natural organic vanilla essence

1 tbsp agave syrup

1 tsp raw organic coconut oil

dessicated coconut (to coat bliss balls, if desired)


Blend all ingredients, except coconut, together in a food processor.

Roll into balls, coat with coconut if desired. Store in a container, in the refrigerator.

Bliss….healthy and natural……

Superfoods – Olive Oil

Olive Oil Is The Healthy Choice

Olive Oil is not only delicious, it’s good for your heart and helps to keep your cholesterol levels healthy. Studies show that the monounsaturated fat content of Olive Oil can ‘lower your risk of heart disease’ by reducing the total LDL’s, or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels in your blood. In contrast, saturated and trans fats — such as butter, tropical oils and hydrogenated margarines — increase your risk of heart disease by increasing your total and LDL cholesterol levels. Studies also state, despite the fact that all forms of Olive Oil contain desirable levels of monounsaturated fat; it is the ‘virgin’ and ‘extra-virgin’ Olive Oils that contain the highest levels of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant.

Demographic research argues that the high consumption of Olive Oil in the Mediterranean is the very reason that cancers such as breast, ovarian, colon and prostate seem to occur with less frequency than in the countries of Northern Europe and the USA where polyunsaturated fats (PUFA’s) are preferred over Olive Oil. It appears that Olive Oil does indeed provide a fat with the capacity to maintain a healthy body balance.

The coronary arteries provide blood to your heart muscle. The monounsaturated fats help to keep those arteries clear so that your heart can get enough oxygen and nutrients to keep pumping. Whilst you can get this health benefit by substituting other less-healthy fats with two tablespoons (23 grams) of Olive Oil, it is important not to increase the total number of calories you eat in a day. Virgin Olive Oil is better than more refined oil because it contains polyphenols that work as antioxidants to keep your heart healthy. Extra virgin Olive Oil contains polyphenols that can reduce inflammation and may help to prevent some forms of cancer.

Ideas To Include In Your Diet:

  • Mix Olive Oil with vinegar on  salad.
  • Choose Olive Oil over butter or margarine.
  • Add flavour to Olive Oil by infusing with garlic or other herbs.
  • Add Olive Oil to your smoothie.
  • Use Olive Oil spray instead of traditional cooking sprays.

More Health Benefits Of Consuming Olive Oil:

Studies have shown:

Countries where people who’s main source of fat is Olive Oil had the lowest levels of heart disease related deaths.

Increasing Olive Oil consumption in Northern Europeans reduced waste by-products of oxidative damage to cells, a precursor to cancer. Within 3 weeks of consuming 25 ml of olive oil a day by-product levels has dropped significantly.

Consuming Olive Oil instead of saturated fats significantly reduced the required dosage of antihypertensive medication required by hypertensive patients.

Consuming Olive Oil high in phenols actually reduces the expression of genes associated with atherosclerosis (the thickening of artery walls due to a a build-up of fatty materials such as cholesterol).

Consuming phenol-rich Olive Oil alters the expression of genes associated with inflammation, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

Despite being high in calories, Olive Oil is without doubt a superfood if it is consumed instead of saturated fat. It has a high level of vitamin E, antioxidants and is rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Olive Oil is even thought to improve the ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6s. High levels of Omega-3s have been extensively linked to a healthier heart and lower risk of stroke.

In A Nutshell:

Olive Oil should be part of a balanced diet and the phenol-rich extra virgin oil, with its proven health benefits, is a definite superfood. Please note that well over 50% of imported Olive Oils labelled as extra virgin did not meet the required legal standards, so choose carefully.

Olive Oil has its maximum health benefits when consumed in its natural state. Heating olive oil, especially to frying temperatures destroys many of its beneficial compounds.

T’was A Superfood Christmas

Christmas 2009

T’was a Superfood Christmas, and all through the house,

The decorations complete, even tea towels with Mickey Mouse.

Some snacks before dinner, cinnamon coated walnuts with care.

Saving the dark chocolate for dessert, with almonds to spare.

There was spinach and roasted pumpkin salad,

Garlic & Lemon dressing made it more superfood valid.

Took the bottle of red wine out of the gift wrap,

Steamed the broccoli, peas and beans – no time for a nap.

Tarts with cranberries and cherries adorned the Christmas platter,

Saving the blueberries for the morning, for pancake batter.

Red Wine

That was my version of the traditional Christmas poem that I’m sure you’ve heard more than a few times before.  Just because it was Christmas, it was not a reason to overindulge.  The superfoods were in abundance in our home.

Roasted Pumpkin & Spinach Salad

Superfoods contribute to a healthy body and mind.  Our Christmas Eve menu consisted of  almonds and walnuts as snacks.  The sparkling shiraz was the start of the red wine health benefits, and red wine to accompany the meal.


A mixture of different berries:  blueberries, cherries and cranberries gave us many health benefits.  Broccoli, spinach and pumpkin were packed with superfood benefits and of course, a bit of dark chocolate and sweet potato pie for dessert.

Beach Christmas Day

Christmas morning started with an early swim at the beach, to get our exercise to start the day. Then we came back and had pancakes for breakfast.  The pancake batter was wheat-free and dairy-free with blueberry superfood benefits.

Blueberry Pancake

Wishing you a very healthy start to the new year – all the best to you and yours for a fabulous 2010!


Superfoods – Walnuts


Walnuts are superfoods for many reasons.  Eating walnuts regularly provides the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.  Walnuts have the highest antioxidant content of the tree nuts.

Research suggests that walnuts can be a healthy part of the diet for the prevention of not only breast and other cancers, but also diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Walnuts – “The King of Nuts”

Walnuts are considered by many as the “king of nuts” from a nutritional perspective.  Walnuts, like other nuts are high in monounsaturated fats.  These are the same type of health-promoting fats that are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease.  Therefore, to get the health benefits of walnuts, a moderate handful is sufficient.

Other health benefits of walnuts include:

  • Prevent Gallstones – as little as 1 ounce per week has been shown to reduce the risk of gallstones.
  • Source of Bioavailable Melatonin – improves the quality of sleep.
  • Prevents Atherosclerosis – lowers LDL’s (bad cholesterol).
  • Controls High Blood Pressure – omega 3 fatty acids help to regulate the blood pressure.
  • Antioxidant King – one of the highest antioxidant levels of all superfoods.
  • Promotes Heart Health – reduces overall cholesterol, reduces LDL’s (bad cholesterol), increases artery elasticity, antioxidant activity reduces heart disease risk by protecting the blood vessels from free radical damage.
  • Regulates Type II Diabetes – improved overall cholesterol profile, which helps to regulate the effects of the disease.
  • Protects Bone Health – supports bone health and prevents excessive bone turnover with the bioactivity of alpha linolenic acid, an omega 3 fatty acid found specifically in walnuts.
  • Enhances Brain Activity – omega 3 fatty acid  content helps to sustain a clear, healthy brain by supporting the cellular function via the fatty brain cell membranes.

Walnuts are a fantastic source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have been found to not only protect the heart and promote better cognitive function, but also provide anti-inflammatory benefits for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema and psoriasis.

Walnuts also contain the antioxidant compound ellagic acid, which is known to fight cancer and support the immune system.  Studies have shown approximately 16 polyphenols in walnuts, including three new tannins, with antioxidant activity so powerful it was described as “remarkable.”

So ‘in a nutshell’, walnuts are incredibly healthy for many different parts of the body.  Try incorporating them into main meals like ‘spinach roasted pumpkin and walnut salad‘ or treats like ‘walnut raisin cookies‘ in the following video:


Everyone experiences stress on a daily basis.  What causes one person severe stress, may be a minor source of stress for another.

Zebra stripes - Stress

Causes of Stress

Stress is defined as “a reaction to any internal or external stimuli that upsets normal functioning and disturbs mental or physical health”.  Internal conditions such as illness, pain, or emotional conflict; as well as external circumstances, such as a death in the family or financial problems can cause stress.  Even positive experiences like a new marriage or job promotion can provoke stress.  Long lasting or chronic stress suppress the immune system, which in turn increase the susceptibility to illness, especially to immune-related disorders or cancer.  Emotional stress also leads to hormonal imbalances that interfere with immune system function.

Knowing the causes of your stress is an important step to relieving stress.  Everyday annoyances can lead to stress-related health problems.  While your own daily hassles will vary, the important thing here is the frequency and duration and how you react to them.  To gain a better understanding of your daily stressors and how you react to them, try using a stress diary.  If you reduce stress, you will help to maintain balance and health.  The fact is that something needs to be done to reduce stress levels.

A basic principle in mind and body balance is that chronic stress can contribute to illness, and that relaxation restores the physical and mental functioning that improves one’s health.  More important than the stressors themselves is our ability to cope with them.

Meditation has been shown to have a positive effect on immune functions.  Meditation is extremely effective in that it slows the breathing rate, increases oxygen consumption, creates a relaxed brain wave rhythm, and increases blood flow.  These are effective reactions to reduce stress and tension.  Just close your eyes, take a few deep, easy breaths, and recall a time and place when you felt relaxed and peaceful.  Maintaining this relaxed state is said to help the body to heal itself.  Yoga has been effective to reduce stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, alleviating pain, providing relief from addictions, and improving memory, intelligence, and motor skills.  It can also help your metabolic and respiratory functioning.  The concept behind all relaxation therapies is the relationship between mind and body, that when the mind is restless and agitated, the health of the body will be affected.  Conversely when the body is ill, mental functioning will decline.

Many symptoms of stress can be explained by examining your diet and nutrient levels.  You can reduce stress by avoiding caffeine and food additives; and by eating  fresher, whole foods.   Limiting simple sugars and alcohol should also be incorporated.  Eating the right foods, like superfoods can make a huge difference.

A complete balance of exercise will work in making the body healthier, thus reducing overall stress.  Make a plan to exercise everyday and stick to your program!  It’s important to understand that the way we think or feel can play a very significant role in our overall health.  Reducing stress is necessary to restoring and maintaining good health.  Our immune system can be enhanced or suppressed by what we think and how we respond emotionally to everything around us.

Stress and Chiropractic

Some of the most common symptoms of stress that many chiropractors see involve headaches, fatigue, and pain in the neck and back.  If left untreated, unhealthy stress could cause more serious problems in the body like high blood pressure, ulcers, and disrupted sleeping patterns.  Millions of people are unaware of how stress can be directly tied to these symptoms but can become educated about the correlation through chiropractic care.

Chiropractors who deal with stress management aim to revitalise the body to a healthier state of being.  Chiropractic care can assist people who suffer from various problems due to chronic stress.  If the body isn’t processing stress in an efficient manner, it suffers consequences later.  Chiropractic care is one way to help the body process stress more effectively.

Superfoods – Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

There are many superfoods listed – usually between 10 and 20.  I have written my blog posts according to my personal favourites.  Saving the best for last, here are the health benefits of dark chocolate.

Most people love chocolate – I do!  What I found for myself was that eating regular milk chocolate was never satisfying.  You could always eat more.  It can be very difficult to stop, especially if you don’t have self-discipline.  The sugar and less cocoa content is responsible for this.  I’m not a fan of white chocolate, so it really isn’t tempting to me.  After reading and understanding what is behind dark chocolate, it became my favourite type of chocolate and that is why I chose it as my last superfood.

Did you realise that chocolate is plant-derived, as are the fruits and vegetables recommended to be heart healthy?

While a little dark chocolate is good, a lot is not better. Chocolate is still loaded with calories/kilojoules.  If you’re going to eat more chocolate, you’ll have to cut back somewhere else.  With Easter here, so much emphasis seems to be around marketing chocolate eggs, bunnies, etc.  Overindulgence is not recommended! Remember that a balanced diet and regular exercise is still the key to good health and wellness.

If you enjoy strong dark chocolate, you get more of the good stuff — cocoa.  This in turn has less of the sugar, and your chocolate craving should be satisfied with lesser amounts. If you substitute plain dark chocolate for junk food, you will come out ahead health-wise. On the other hand, there are plenty of other, perhaps healthier ways to boost your flavonoid intake: fruits and vegetables give you the added benefits of fibre, vitamins and minerals, while straight black or green tea give you an antioxidant boost.

Dark chocolate does contain a bit of protein and various minerals including iron, copper, magnesium and zinc. However its main saving grace is that it contains high levels of flavonoids — chemicals that help protect plants from disease and insects. Gram for gram, cocoa contains higher levels of flavonoids than other renowned sources such as red wine, tea, apples and berries!

Studies have shown the benefits of both cocoa and high-cocoa chocolate have shown that it not only tastes good and stimulates endorphins, the feeling of pleasure but it also:
•    Improves blood vessel health which in turn can help to lower blood pressure.
•    Contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant.
•    Can help to lower cholesterol.
•    Can improve insulin resistance and sensitivity.
•    Helps to reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. However, people with normal blood   pressure don’t appear to be affected.
•    Reduces inflammation and plaque build-up in blood vessels, which can lead to atherosclerosis.
•    Decreases blood platelet activity. Chocolate has been found to have the same anti-platelet effects as aspirin.

Dark chocolate also improves cholesterol profile by increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels and lowering LDLs (bad cholesterol).

Here is some more good news — Even though it contains high levels of saturated fat, some of the fats in chocolate do not impact your cholesterol. The fats in chocolate are 1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid and 1/3 palmitic acid:
•    Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil.
•    Stearic Acid is a saturated fat but one which research is shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol.
•    Palmitic Acid is also a saturated fat, one which raises cholesterol and heart disease risk.
That means only 1/3 of the fat in dark chocolate is bad for you.
•    The stearic acid is converted to oleic acid which doesn’t raise cholesterol. Combined with the oleic acids already present in the chocolate, these appear to counteract the negative effects of the other saturated fat, palmitic acid, making it at least blood cholesterol neutral and perhaps even lowering it.

Does it have to be dark?  The answer is yes.  Dark chocolate for most is an acquired taste.  It has been suggested that the milk proteins inhibit the absorption of cocoa flavonoids, so even if you eat more milk chocolate to compensate for the lack of cocoa, or eat milk chocolate with higher cocoa content, you still won’t get the same benefit as eating pure dark chocolate.
It has also been suggested that eating or drinking dairy products such as milk just before or after dark chocolate reduces its effects.

It can be healthy, but…
To add to the confusion, not all chocolate is created equal — levels of flavonoids may depend not only on the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate, but also the growing conditions, initial handling of the cocoa beans and the manufacturing process. What you buy might not be in the same league as what was proven beneficial in tests.

This makes it hard to pin down how much of which chocolate you need for health benefits. And the amount of chocolate consumed in some of these studies is enormous. The 100 grams of chocolate in some studies would account for more than one-quarter of the average person’s daily kilojoule requirements — with little other nutritional benefit.  The dark chocolate that I recommend is the Lindt 70% or 85% varieties.

Like fine wine, appreciating fine chocolate is a “fun way to live longer” and a fantabulous way to receive some health benefits along the way!

Superfoods – Pumpkin


Pumpkin is so versatile, and depending what region of the world you come from will determine which form it is used.  When I grew up in Michigan in the United States, the pumpkin I remember eating was in pumpkin pie.  We carved pumpkins for Halloween and actually threw out the flesh!  As an adult living in Australia, I realised how much of a waste that was.  Luckily, my mother roasted the pumpkin seeds and we had those after the Halloween pumpkin jack-o-lantern was carved. At least then we received the health benefits from the pumpkin seeds.  Our family ate pumpkin pie traditionally at Thanksgiving and on Christmas.

I remember when I first moved to Australia, pumpkin was eaten as a savoury vegetable, namely in pumpkin soup.  It was also a favourite roasted vegetable that accompanied various meat roasts.  There were also pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scones and pumpkin bread, that I hadn’t been exposed to before.  In Australia today, pumpkin is thriving in various recipes and I am happy to say that I enjoy the wide variety that pumpkin has to offer.  I still enjoy pumpkin pie too!

Pumpkin flesh contains vitamins C and E, magnesium, potassium and a staggering quantity and variety of carotenoids, being one of the most abundant natural sources of these amazing phytonutrients. There are numerous types of pumpkin in all shapes and sizes with many similar nutritional values.  Although pumpkin is a squash that’s best between late summer and autumn, canned or tin pumpkin is readily available year-round in the United States.  However, here in Australia we tend to puree our own from fresh pumpkin all year round. Pumpkin is also high in fibre with a one-half cup serving providing approximately 5 grams.

Powerful antioxidants known as carotenoids give pumpkin its superfood status. These compounds have the ability to ward off heart disease and cancer as well as certain eye-related diseases.

Pumpkin is packed with various nutrients and carotenoids, particularly alpha and beta carotene. Carotenoids are orange, yellow, and red colored, fat-soluble compounds occurring in a variety of plants.  Carotenoids represent one of the most widespread groups of naturally occurring pigments. These compounds are largely responsible for the red, yellow, and orange color of fruits and vegetables, and are also found in many dark green vegetables. Carotenoids help to protect you from free radicals, enhance cell-to-cell communication, and modulate your immune response. They also protect your skin and eyes from damage caused by ultra violet light.

Pumpkin is the highest source of alpha carotene, which may be even more powerful than beta carotene.  Pumpkin contains 400 percent of the recommended daily allowance of alpha carotene, along with close to 300 percent of beta carotene, and only 83 calories in a cup!
Alpha carotene and beta carotene have been tied with multiple health-promoting and disease-fighting benefits such as:
•    Reduces inflammatory arthritis
•    Decreases the risk of various cancers (breast, lung and colon)
•    Lowers the rate of heart disease

Canned or tin pumpkin puree, which is not the same as the canned pie filling, is cooked down in order to reduce the water content that is still present in a fresh pumpkin. Because of this condensation, canned pumpkin is actually more nutritious than fresh pumpkin!

In fact, it’s not just the inner meat of a pumpkin that’s virtuous but its seeds are super nutritious too and contain a wealth of health-promoting properties. Like melons, cucumber, and squash, pumpkins belong to the gourd family. They were much celebrated by Native American Indians who made use of their flesh and seeds for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Pumpkin seeds are a superfood that the American Native tribes prized for its culinary and medicinal value.

High in fiber and protein, these seeds are also a rich source of minerals including magnesium, manganese, iron, and zinc. Pumpkin seeds are believed to be beneficial for things like prostrate health, bones strength, and arthritis. Pumpkin seeds also contain compounds called phytosterols, which are believed to reduce levels of harmful cholesterol and also improve the body’s immune system.

Pumpkin seeds can now be readily found.  They are sold, raw, roasted, shelled, and unshelled. Pumpkin seeds are also known as pepitas, and they are dark green and flat with a chewy texture and rich nutty flavour. These seeds are dense in minerals, with just a quarter of a cup providing approximately half the daily recommended dose for magnesium and iron, in addition to high doses of zinc, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, manganese and copper. They also contain the amino acid tryptophan known for anti-depressant qualities, and essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids assist in improving mental function and aiding memory.

The dark green oil produced from pumpkin seeds has been used throughout history in India, Europe and America to fight parasites, aid the digestive tract and help with prostate and reproductive disorders. It has also been recommended for pregnant and lactating women because of its high content of essential fatty acids.

The essential fatty acids in pumpkin seeds are also necessary for prostate health, and zinc (which pumpkin seeds are especially high in) is great for the reproductive systems and has been shown to reduce prostate size, and have been found to help prevent against prostate gland enlargement.

So don’t delay – there are many ways to get the health benefits of pumpkin.  Here’s a recipe link for a good variety of ideas.

Superfoods – Cherries

Cherries in the Raw

Cherries in the Raw

Cherry season is just about over here in Perth, Western Australia.  I did manage to find some nice ones at the local fruit and vegetable shop just the other day.

I did an experiment at the start of cherry season here which was the beginning of summer.  One of my best friends was going to a market and offered to pick up a box of fresh cherries.  They came in a 5 kilogram box which equals 11 lb and 0.36 oz.  This box had some of the tastiest cherries I have ever had.  I thought I would get tired of them but it was actually the opposite.  I realised I would be missing all the health benefits on a regular basis if I didn’t include them almost daily.  They don’t have to be fresh all the time.  Cherries are also available dried, canned, jarred, juiced, and frozen.

Several cherry varieties are produced primarily in Michigan.  Michigan is actually my birthplace and where I grew up.  Some of the things I miss about Michigan are cherry picking, cherry festivals and cherry pie.  I can’t forget Cherries Jubilee – which was one of my favourite desserts.

While writing this post, I was also reflecting and 2 things really stood out:

Firstly, my grandmother’s book by Erma Bombeck, “If life is a bowl of cherries – what am I doing in the pits?”

Erma Bombeck was born in 1927 in Dayton, Ohio.  I didn’t realise she was born in the same city as my husband!  Even though Erma suffered from a hereditary kidney disease, she developed a comical approach to life. Erma wrote about being a mother, wife, journalist, and a woman. She published more than four thousand syndicated columns, wrote 15 best-selling books, and became one of the world’s most beloved humourists. Erma Bombeck passed away in 1996.  Her spirit, however, lives on.

Secondly, the movie, “Witches of Eastwick”.  If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m referring to.

“Have another cherry…..”  If you haven’t seen the movie, here’s a clip of the memorable scene: (Caution – sense of humour needed!)

In Australia, the cherries seem to be very popular at Christmas time because it is summer here in December.  I have no complaints, as they are one of my absolute favourites.

Cherries have several important health benefits – from helping to ease the pain of arthritis and gout, to reducing risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, particularly colon. Cherries also contain melatonin, which has been found to help regulate the body’s natural sleep patterns, aid with jet lag, prevent memory loss and delay the aging process.

Cherries are heart healthy. Studies have found that a cherry-enriched diet can help in loss of weight, body fat (especially the important “belly” fat), inflammation and cholesterol.  All of the above contribute to risk of heart disease.

While there’s no established guideline yet on how many cherries it takes to reap the benefits, experts suggest that 1-2 servings of cherries daily can help provide some of the health benefits identified in the research. Single serving size examples include:
• 1/2 cup dried
• 1 cup fresh or frozen
• 1 cup juice
• 1 ounce (or 2 Tbsp) juice concentrate

Tart cherries offer far more benefits than sweet cherries. Tart cherries are very rich sources of anthocyanins whereas sweet cherries have lower amounts.  In general, the darker the cherry color, the higher the anthocyanin content.  The skin of the cherries holds most of the essential antioxidants vital to their health benefits.

Studies show that tart cherries, enjoyed as either dried, frozen cherries or cherry juice, have among the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, when compared to other fruits. They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene, Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fibre and folate.

In one study, women who ate two servings of Bing cherries daily experienced decreased markers of inflammation – due to the synergistic effect of all the natural compounds found in cherries. It has also been demonstrated that the anthocyanins in tart cherries may help prevent muscle pain related to intensive exercise.  Cherry juice in the daily diet reported decreased symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage.  There was also reports of lowered serum urate levels.  Other benefits extend to patients with autoimmune neurodegenerative and connective tissue diseases, particularly rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.

Hmm…think it’s time for another cherry….

Superfoods – Almonds

Almonds in the Raw

As you can see by my past blog posts, I am passionate about the superfoods I write about.  Another one of my regular favourites is Almonds.  I carry a little almond tin with me in my handbag, and have them almost daily.  So whether I am in the office or out and about, they are a very nutritious snack and are packed with health benefits.

You know the expression, “You are what you eat” – well then, “I must be nuts!”  There are several other nuts with health benefits, but the ones I eat most are almonds.  Walnuts are a very close second in my book.

As a health professional, I feel confident in recommending a daily handful of almonds to my patients. A daily one ounce handful (about 20-24) of almonds can help to achieve an adequate intake of essential nutrients, reduce hunger, and is a heart-healthy habit.  A handful is better than reaching for things that are nutrient deficient.  Almonds are packed with the following health benefits and are very satisfying.

Almonds are heart smart and can help to lower cholesterol as part of a diet low in saturated fat. Almonds (as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol) may reduce the risk of heart disease.  Because people love to eat almonds, they are an ideal way for cholesterol-conscious patients to maintain healthy numbers. Of the 14 grams of fat found in one ounce of almonds, nine grams are monounsaturated (good fat). When choosing, organic raw almonds are best – not salted, sugared, smoked or chocolate covered!
Almonds are also very satisfying.  They may help to stave off hunger, so can be used as a healthy snack.  This makes almonds a good choice for weight loss or to maintain ideal weight. This is mainly due to the protein content (approximately 6 grams per ounce).  They also contain dietary fibre, potassium, copper, zinc, iron and vitamin E .  Almonds are the only good source of protein that is also an excellent source of vitamin E.

Almonds are also unique in that they provide various minerals that are essential for bone health, namely calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus have been implicated in maintaining bone mineral density. Almonds are comparable to skim milk and cheddar cheese in the quantity of these bone-building minerals provided in one serving. Other protein sources like chicken, beef, peanut butter, and eggs don’t offer the same.  This is a great alternative for those that are lactose intolerant.

Another health benefit of almonds is as an antioxidant source.  They are one of the leading food sources of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E. Alpha-tocopherol is the kind of vitamin E the human body absorbs best.
A one-ounce serving of almonds contains a similar amount of total polyphenols as one cup of green tea and 1/2 cup of steamed broccoli.

To receive the health benefits of almonds in other ways, they can be:

  • Added to cooking – savoury dishes such as Almond Chicken.
  • Salads – sprinkling slivered almonds on top, in various recipes.
  • Sweets such as cakes, cookies, muffins (not ideal for weight loss or maintaining ideal weight) but for that special treat.
  • Don’t forget almond butter!  Great on a cracker or biscuit!