Posts Tagged ‘Omega-3 fatty acid’

Have You Become a Chia Head?

Chia Pet Sequence

Chia Pet Sequence (Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall)

 Remember the chia heads and pets that were popular several years ago?  You planted chia seeds in a doll planter and grass grew on top of the head. Well, it turns out that the same chia seeds are a very beneficial dietary supplement!

Chia seeds are a sacred Aztec and Mayan seed and have been a staple in their diet for centuries.  Native to South America, chia seeds are rich in   nutrients and anti-oxidants.

English: Chia (Salvia columbariae) seeds Franç...

There is much talk today about the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in one’s diet.  I like getting Omega-3’s from a variety of animal and plant sources and chia seeds are one of the richest plant sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, specifically alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA).  Omega-3’s reduce inflammation and high cholesterol, help support normal cardiovascular function and enhance cognitive performance.

Many people’s diets are low in fiber.  Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber with 10 grams in only 2 tablespoons, or one-third of the daily recommended intake.  Fiber is essential to support normal functioning of the digestive system and can help lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation.

Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants with more antioxidant activity than blueberries. Antioxidants help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer.  This high antioxidant profile gives chia seeds a long shelf life; they can last almost two years without refrigeration.

Chia seeds are also high in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese.  They can be digested whole and do not need to be ground to obtain their nutritional benefits.

Another important benefit?  Chia seeds are gluten-free and gluten allergies are a growing problem today.   My husband has even noticed his hair has become fuller after adding chia seeds to his diet.

How do you eat this nutritional powerhouse?  I add them to my smoothie in the morning, but you can sprinkle them on yogurt, cereal or even in salads.  They can be added to baked goods or simply enjoyed as a snack.   Chia seeds are satiating too due to their high fiber content, protein and gelling action when mixed with liquids.  My smoothie holds me easily until lunch. One tablespoon daily is the suggested serving. You can buy chia seeds at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and natural food stores.    photo-1

So become a chia head – you’ll be healthier for it!

Information compiled from: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/top-10-health-benefits-chia-seeds-6962.html and spectrum essentials.

 

BE HEALTHY!

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

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I’m a firm believer in learning from other people’s expertise, experiences, wisdom and even well founded opinions.  This weekend I attended Be Healthy Boston, a 2-day urban wellness retreat with keynote sessions and workshops.   It was fabulous! Renowned doctors, naturopaths, nutritionists, physical therapists, psychologists, architects, designers, chefs, musicians, yoga instructors and green living experts, shared their knowledge with eager people who wanted a healthier lifestyle. I’d like to share some of this knowledge with you.

One main message was empowerment.  The resources to manage your own health and well-being are plentiful – we are lucky in the Boston area to have access to so many health care professionals of all levels – and there is no lack of information on the Internet.

One session that I especially enjoyed was “Food as Medicine” given by Dr. Mark Mincolla, a nutritional and natural health therapist who has transformed the lives of thousands of patients over the past 30 years.  He spoke extensively about inflammation, the root of many diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, allergies, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, and others, and how we can control chronic inflammation through diet, exercise and stress reduction.   Dr. Mincolla suggests trying an anti-inflammatory diet for three weeks (give yourself a break on the weekends if it seems impossible) just to see if you feel any difference, which consists of:  fatty fish like salmon, vegetables, fruits, legumes, brown rice (whole grains), olive oil, soy, tofu, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and yeast-free bread.  Eliminate inflammatory foods such as dairy, wheat, egg yolks, fatty red meats, sugar and alcohol. The anti-inflammatory foods, high in Omega-3 essential fatty acids, are an extremely important part of disease prevention and overall health. I urge you to read more about inflammation or visit his website maxhealing.com to better understand the inflammation/disease connection.  Check out his NECN program called “You Are What You Eat”.

I have long been an advocate of prevention and maintaining a healthy immune system through diet, especially in this time of virulent and unusual germs and viruses.  It’s exciting the medical community, the media and programs such as Be Healthy Boston focus on taking charge of your own life and embracing wellness.  As Dr. Mincolla says, “the best medicine is the medicine you will never need to take.”

An irony of all ironies – I picked up a flu bug from the Be Healthy Boston retreat!  Life is funny….

Some information compile from “Food is Medicine” by Dr. Mark Mincolla.

 

 

NUTS, SO MUCH MORE THAN A TASTY TREAT!

Brazil nuts come from a South American tree

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Nuts are another amazing food that are not only good for snacking and baking, but actually help prevent many of the lifestyle diseases today that affect so many people.  Researchers are convinced that nuts – almonds, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, pecans, pine nuts, peanuts – are extremely beneficial to our health!  Ancient civilizations valued nuts as a source of energy; they were also available all year-long since they stored easily.  Nuts are a source of the  “good” fats in the much-touted healthy Mediterranean diet as well.  They are loaded with protein, fiber,  essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.  Nuts are portable, filling and keep you from eating more fattening and less healthy food.

Nuts contain compounds that help prevent heart disease by keeping the arteries open and blood flowing. They help improve the health of the artery lining as well.  They contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that can help lower total cholesterol (as opposed to saturated fats which have the opposite effect).   They are high in Vitamin E, which also helps to prevent cholesterol from sticking to the artery walls and some nuts contain plant sterols, a cholesterol lowering substance.  These same compounds can help prevent gallstones too.

Nuts are beneficial in cancer prevention.  They are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight free radicals.  Studies from Purdue University have also shown that the Vitamin E in walnuts and pecans kills certain cancer cells. The omega-3 in nuts also helps with memory loss and developing neuron-transmitters for brain function. Interesting how a walnut even looks like a brain!

Despite all the health benefits of nuts, recent studies have shown that only 5.5% of adults from age 19 – 50 consume them.  Perhaps it’s because nuts have a reputation for being fattening, which they can be, but not if you limit your intake to one ounce, or about a handful a day.  And some people do have nut allergies.

In a “nutshell” (I couldn’t resist), however, these nutritious treats are an invaluable part of your daily diet.

 

Information compiled from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nuts/HB00085,http://whfoods.org/ and The Doctor’s Book of Food Remedies, by Selene Yeager and the Editors of Prevention.

 


START YOUR DAY WITH AN ORGANIC SMOOTHIE

One of the most nutritious and convenient breakfasts is a delicious organic fruit smoothie.   The Department of Health recommends that we get at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, which research proves reduces the risk of heart disease and some cancers. With a smoothie you can almost get your full day’s requirement in one serving!

Start with 16 ounces of a liquid in your blender.  I prefer a combination of almond milk and kefir and/or yogurt for the calcium and probiotics. You can also use cow’s milk, soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk, 100% fruit juice or water for the liquid.  Experiment with different kinds to see which you like.

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To the liquid, add 2 -3 scoops of protein powder like whey, and then whatever fruits you like.

For the fruit, I start with a banana for the consistency and the nutritional value. In addition to the potassium, its natural sugars give an instant, sustained and substantial energy boost. Avocado is a delicious and healthy thickener as well.  I then add about a cup or more of blueberries or strawberries and pineapple bits (or whatever fresh fruits I have on hand).  Blueberries are powerful anti-oxidants, but make sure you use organic since all berries are heavily sprayed with pesticides. Pineapple is high in Vitamin C, A and manganese and good for arthritis, bones and joints, and indigestion.

Finally, I supplement with hemp, chia seeds, and fish oil for a super source of fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids.  You can also use flax seed powder or oil, another good source of Omega 3.   Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid necessary for our brains and skin and an all around must for good health.

Blend the ingredients for a minute or two and enjoy your delicious, nutritious and easy meal setting you on your way to optimum health for the day. With its abundance of fresh fruit, summer is a good time to get into the smoothie habit.  (The rest of the year use frozen fruit).  Be creative – you’ll feel great!