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12 Proven Health Benefits of Avocado

Source: Health Line
The avocado is a rather unique fruit.

While most fruit consists primarily of carbohydrate, avocado is high in healthy fats.

Numerous studies show that it has powerful health benefits.

Here are 12 health benefits of avocado that are supported by scientific research.

1. Avocado Is Incredibly Nutritious

Source: Health Line
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Avocado is the fruit of the avocado tree, scientifically known as Persea americana (1Trusted Source).

This fruit is prized for its high nutrient value and is added to various dishes due to its good flavor and rich texture. It is the main ingredient in guacamole.

These days, the avocado has become an incredibly popular food among health-conscious individuals. It’s often referred to as a superfood, which is not surprising given its health properties (2Trusted Source).

There are many types of avocado that vary in shape and color — from pear-shaped to round and green to black. They can also weigh anywhere from 8 ounces (220 grams) to 3 pounds (1.4 kg).

The most popular variety is the Hass avocado.

It’s often called alligator pear, which is very descriptive, as it tends to be pear-shaped and has green, bumpy skin like an alligator.

The yellow-green flesh inside the fruit is eaten, but the skin and seed are discarded.

Avocados are very nutritious and contain a wide variety of nutrients, including 20 different vitamins and minerals.

Here are some of the most abundant nutrients, in a single 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving (3):

  • Vitamin K: 26% of the daily value (DV)
  • Folate: 20% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the DV
  • Potassium: 14% of the DV
  • Vitamin B5: 14% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 13% of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the DV
  • It also contains small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin).

This is coming with 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. Although it contains 9 grams of carbs, 7 of those are fiber, so there are only 2 net carbs, making this a low-carb friendly plant food.

Avocados do not contain any cholesterol or sodium and are low in saturated fat. This is why they are favored by some experts who believe these substances are harmful, which is a debated topic, however.

SUMMARY

Avocado is a green, pear-shaped fruit often called an “alligator pear.” It is loaded with healthy fats, fiber and various important nutrients.

2. They Contain More Potassium Than Bananas

Potassium is a nutrient that most people don’t get enough of (4).

This nutrient helps maintain electrical gradients in your body’s cells and serves various important functions.

Avocados are very high in potassium. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving packs 14% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA), compared to 10% in bananas, which are a typical high-potassium food (5).

Several studies show that having a high potassium intake is linked to reduced blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure (6Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Potassium is an important mineral that most people don’t get enough of. Avocados are very high in potassium, which should support healthy blood pressure levels.

3. Avocado Is Loaded With Heart-Healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

Avocado is a high-fat food.

In fact, 77% of the calories in it are from fat, making it one of the fattiest plant foods in existence.

But they don’t just contain any fat. The majority of the fat in avocado is oleic acid — a monounsaturated fatty acid that is also the major component of olive oil and believed to be responsible for some of its health benefits.

Oleic acid has been associated with reduced inflammation and shown to have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer (7Trusted Source8Trusted Source9Trusted Source10Trusted Source).

The fats in avocado are also rather resistant to heat-induced oxidation, making avocado oil a healthy and safe choice for cooking.

SUMMARY

Avocados and avocado oil are high in monounsaturated oleic acid, a heart-healthy fatty acid that is believed to be one of the main reasons for the health benefits of olive oil.

4. Avocados Are Loaded With Fiber

Fiber is another nutrient that avocados are relatively rich in.

It’s indigestible plant matter that can contribute to weight loss, reduce blood sugar spikes and is strongly linked to a lower risk of many diseases (11Trusted Source12Trusted Source13Trusted Source).

distinction is often made between soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber is known for feeding the friendly gut bacteria in your intestine, which are very important for optimal body function (14Trusted Source).

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of avocado packs 7 grams of fiber, which is 27% of the RDA.

About 25% of the fiber in avocado is soluble, while 75% is insoluble (15Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Avocados tend to be rich in fiber — about 7% by weight, which is very high compared to most other foods. Fiber may have important benefits for weight loss and metabolic health.

5. Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the world (16Trusted Source).

It’s known that several blood markers are linked to an increased risk.

This includes cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood pressure and various others.

Eight controlled studies in people have examined the effects of avocado on some of these risk factors.

These studies showed that avocados can (17Trusted Source18Trusted Source19Trusted Source20Trusted Source21Trusted Source22Trusted Source23Trusted Source):

  • Reduce total cholesterol levels significantly.
  • Reduce blood triglycerides by up to 20%.
  • Lower LDL cholesterol by up to 22%.
  • Increase HDL (the good) cholesterol by up to 11%.

One of the studies found that including avocado in a low-fat, vegetarian diet significantly improved the cholesterol profile (24Trusted Source).

Though their results are impressive, it’s important to note that all of the human studies were small and short-term, including only 13–37 people with a duration of 1–4 weeks.

SUMMARY

Numerous studies have shown that eating avocado can improve heart disease risk factors like total, “bad” LDL and “good” HDL cholesterol, as well as blood triglycerides.

6. People Who Eat Avocados Tend to Be Healthier

One study looked at the dietary habits and health of people who eat avocados.

They analyzed data from 17,567 participants in the NHANES survey in the US.

Avocado consumers were found to be much healthier than people who didn’t eat this fruit.

They had a much higher nutrient intake and were half as likely to have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that are a major risk factor for heart disease and diabetes (25Trusted Source).

People who ate avocados regularly also weighed less, had a lower BMI and significantly less belly fat. They also had higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.

However, correlation does not imply causation, and there is no guarantee that the avocados caused these people to be in better health.

Therefore, this particular study doesn’t carry much weight.

SUMMARY

One dietary survey found that people who ate avocados had a much higher nutrient intake and a lower risk of metabolic syndrome.

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7. Their Fat Content May Help You Absorb Nutrients From Plant Foods

When it comes to nutrients, your intake is not the only thing that matters.

You also need to be able to absorb these nutrients — move them from your digestive tract and to your body, where they can be used.

Some nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning that they need to be combined with fat in order to be utilized.

Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, along with antioxidants like carotenoids.

One study showed that adding avocado or avocado oil to either salad or salsa can increase antioxidant absorption 2.6- to 15-fold (26Trusted Source).

So, not only is avocado highly nutritious, it can dramatically increase the nutrient value of other plant foods that you are eating.

This is an excellent reason to always include a healthy fat source when you eat veggies. Without it, a lot of the beneficial plant nutrients will go to waste.

SUMMARY

Studies have shown that eating avocado or avocado oil with vegetables can dramatically increase the number of antioxidants you take in.

8. Avocados Are Loaded With Powerful Antioxidants That Can Protect Your Eyes

Not only do avocados increase antioxidant absorption from other foods, they are also high in antioxidants themselves.

This includes the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are incredibly important for eye health (27Trusted Source28).

Studies show that they’re linked to a drastically reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, which are common in older adults (29Trusted Source30Trusted Source).

Therefore, eating avocados should benefit your eye health over the long term.

SUMMARY

Avocados are high in antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients are very important for eye health and lower your risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

9. Avocado May Help Prevent Cancer

There is limited evidence that avocado may be beneficial in cancer treatment and prevention.

Test-tube studies suggest that it may help reduce side effects of chemotherapy in human lymphocytes (31Trusted Source).

Avocado extract has also been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in a laboratory (32Trusted Source).

However, keep in mind that these studies were done in isolated cells and don’t necessarily prove what may happen inside people. Human-based research is unavailable.

SUMMARY

Some test-tube studies have shown that nutrients in avocados may have benefits in preventing prostate cancer and lowering side effects of chemotherapy. However, human-based research is lacking.

10. Avocado Extract May Help Relieve Symptoms of Arthritis

Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries. There are many types of this condition, which are often chronic problems that people have for the rest of their lives.

Multiple studies suggest that avocado and soybean oil extracts — called avocado and soybean unsaponifiables — can reduce osteoarthritis (33Trusted Source34Trusted Source).

Whether avocados themselves have this effect remains to be seen.

SUMMARY

Studies have shown that avocado and soybean oil extracts can significantly reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis.

11. Eating Avocado May Help You Lose Weight

There is some evidence that avocados are a weight loss friendly food.

In one study, people eating avocado with a meal felt 23% more satisfied and had a 28% lower desire to eat over the next 5 hours, compared to people who did not consume this fruit (35Trusted Source).

Should this hold true in the long term, then including avocados in your diet may help you naturally eat fewer calories and make it easier for you to stick to healthy eating habits.

Avocados are also high in fiber and very low in carbs, two attributes that should help promote weight loss as well, at least in the context of a healthy, real-food-based diet.

SUMMARY

Avocados may aid weight loss by keeping you full longer and making you eat fewer calories. They’re also high in fiber and low in carbs, which may promote weight loss.

12. Avocado Is Delicious and Easy to Incorporate in Your Diet

Avocados are not only healthy, they’re also incredibly delicious and go with many types of food.

You can add them to salads and various recipes or simply scoop them out with a spoon and eat them plain.

They have a creamy, rich, fatty texture and blend well with other ingredients.

A notable mention is guacamole, which is arguably the most famous use of avocados. It includes avocado along with ingredients like salt, garlic, lime and a few others depending on the recipe.

An avocado often takes some time to ripen and should feel slightly soft when ripe. The nutrients in avocado can oxidize and turn brown soon after fleshing it, but adding lemon juice should slow down this process.

SUMMARY

Avocados have a creamy, rich, fatty texture and blend well with other ingredients. Therefore, it’s easy to add this fruit to your diet. Using lemon juice may prevent cut avocados from browning quickly.

The Bottom Line

Avocados are an excellent food, loaded with nutrients, many of which are lacking in the modern diet.

They’re weight loss friendly, heart healthy and, last but not least, taste incredible.

What did you learn about avocados? How could they contribute to your health? How can you introduce them into your diet?

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THE HUNGRY SWIMMER: WHAT I EAT IN A DAY AS A ‘SWAMMER’

If you’re still lost on what to eat as a former swimmer, check out some meal ideas below as I walk you through what I eat in a typical day as a swammer! Current photo via Zoe Gregorace

The Hungry Swimmer: What I Eat in a Day as a ‘Swammer’
Source: Swim Swam
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

TW: disordered eating  

Swimmers are notorious for being big-time eaters. I mean, grueling practices and dry-land workouts definitely work up a massive appetite! And of course, as a high performance athlete, it’s imperative to give your body the fuel it needs to complete all that yardage. But, what happens after you hang up the goggles?…

Throughout my 16 year career as a competitive swimmer, my relationship with food was complicated. Food was constantly on my mind and my thoughts revolved around what and how much I would eat before practice, after practice, before the meet warm-up, in between prelims and finals, etc. It is also worth noting that as an athlete, my relationship with food not only evolved but was shaped by a variety of factors. From middle school to high school and well into college, this relationship looked completely different. The accumulative pressure of societal expectations, peer comparison and anxieties associated with growing up took a major toll, impacting the quantity and quality of food I consumed and affecting my performance as an athlete.

After I hung up the goggles in 2018, I was confronted with the single most dreaded thought of (most likely) every swimmer: Am I going to get FAT?!?

Well, I am here to report that this is certainly not the case, in fact, I am excited to share some newfound wisdom with you all as an almost 3-year swammer. After shedding my identity as a swimmer and leaping into a completely new world with a lot less chlorine, I will be the first to admit that the swammer road was quite a difficult one to navigate. Yes, I felt lost at first, but was excited to continue exploring my passion for competitive physical activity (think cross fit, spin and boxing). And while my career in the pool had come to an end, I was able to think more about my relationship with food and rebuild. I’ve learned to appreciate and listen to my swammer body, discover the foods that make me feel my best and avoid peer comparison. It is important to remember that every person is unique and the corny saying rings true, comparison IS the thief of joy.

So, you’re still lost on what to eat as a swammer? Check out some meal ideas below as I walk you through what I eat in a typical day as a swammer!

Breakfast

Soure: Swim Swam
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

9:30 AM: Right now, I am on a HUGE avocado toast kick and I’ve been loving sourdough bread. I like to toast the sourdough until it’s nice and crispy then mash the avocado on top and add a tiny drizzle of olive oil on top before adding my seasoning. My avocado toast seasoning preferences are always changing, but I can promise you that the Everything But the Bagel seasoning and red pepper flakes will never go out of style. As for the eggs, I alternate between preparing them over easy or sunny-side up. I also love adding some greens to boost the nutritional density of the meal- today I sauteed a big handful of baby spinach along with the eggs. If you want to spice things up, I highly recommend topping your toast masterpiece with a generous drizzle of your favorite hot sauce. Along with this beautiful plate, I had two cups of drip coffee with a splash of almond milk.

Lunch

Source: Swim Swam
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

1:00PM: I’m not a huge fan of lunch, but when I’m feeling it, I like to make a vibrant greens bowl with filling healthy fats and added nuts or berries for a burst of flavor. For this bowl, I combined baby spinach, sliced cucumbers, drained and rinsed chickpeas, a few slices of avocado (can you tell, I’m addicted!), some pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds. I mostly went for the leftover produce I had in my fridge and took advantage of this opportunity to exercise some culinary exploration! And to my surprise, this flavor combination “slaps”, as the kids say. I finished the bowl off with a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked black pepper.

Snack

Source: Swim Swam
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

3:30PM: This limbo time between lunch and dinner is what I like to call snack time! If you know me, you know thatI have a serious sweet tooth. So, instead of daydreaming about chocolate and completely cutting it out of my diet, I allow myself to enjoy it without going overboard. I typically like to make a snack mix and munch on this a few hours before I make my dinner. For this mix, I combined my favorite gluten-free pretzels (the crunch on these are INSANE), pumpkin seeds, roasted chickpea snacks and dark chocolate chips.

Dinner

Source: Swim Swam
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

6:30PM: Salmon and a bunch of roasted vegetables is one of my favorite dinners to prepare! It’s easy, quick and nutritious. I’ll either plate the salmon and veggies or, layer this on top of a big bowl of greens if I have them on hand. For this bowl, I started with a base of baby spinach and added roasted bell peppers, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts and salmon. I also added some feta cheese, hummus, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika on top.

After dinner, sometimes I’m still hungry. And even if it is “late” or close to bedtime, I will listen to my body and eat if I’m hungry! I typically go for a yogurt bowl, some form of nut butter on toast or reach for a sweet-tooth satisfier I have on hand (the Chewy Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Cups are my favorite!)

Check out my page for more recipe inspiration and be sure to share your swammer eats with me @whatzoeeeats (https://www.instagram.com/whatzoeeeats/).

Avocados are one of our favorites too. What did you think of Zoe’s meals? What did you like? How could this be beneficial to your diet?

<strong>Zoe Gregorace</strong>
Zoe Gregorace

Zoe Gregorace is currently studying Nutrition Policy at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and recently graduated from Tufts University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and was a proud member of the Tufts Swimming and Diving team (Go Jumbos!). During her 16 year career as a competitive swimmer, she developed a passion for sports nutrition. She enjoys writing on the topic of nutrition, health and wellness and posts her meal creations on her Instagram page @whatzoeeeats. As a former college swimmer, she strives to share recipes and nutrition tips to promote balanced eating and optimize sports performance.

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Win Free Cookies*

Win a Dozen Free Cookies when you leave a comment on one of our other posts and complete our survey. *Limitations apply and only one winner will be selected. Check back to see who the winner is. It could be you!

Do you like chocolate? Likely we will be giving away our popular chocolate chip cookies. Which cookie is your favorite? Tell us why?

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Cinnamon Rolls

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Cinnamon Rolls

The Holidays are always a time for baking for us. This is when we have enjoyed some of our best baking for some time. In addition to cookies, bars and squares, as one might imagine, we bake several other sweets and goodies. Cinnamon Rolls is one of them. Some of us are huge nut lovers while other of us are huge raisin lovers. Lets face it raisins and cinnamon rolls just go together. So, when the holidays came around this year, we decided to whip up a batch of the often requested cinnamon rolls.

It seems that each time we make them they taste better and better. Sadly, they are currently not apart of our product offerings. Should we include them in our baked goods for sale? Tell us what you think.

In the mean time you will have to make due with the cookies, bars and squares currently offered. Which ones did you order? Which ones are your favorite? Which ones have you had before?

Let us help you with the desserts your next holiday or event!

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FOOD STUDY PEELS BACK HUMAN HISTORY 1,000 YEARS EARLIER THAN THOUGHT

Source: Inverse
Photos Source: Inverse

“We are now starting to understand how and when the diverse components of iconic cuisines came to be.”CLAIRE CAMERON, 12.21.2020 8:00 PM

CONSIDER THE HUMBLE BANANA: The ubiquitous fruit arrived in the United States a mere 150 years ago, in the 1870s and ’80s. Since then, it has ascended to become Americans’ most beloved fresh fruit, and one of the most affordable. At 55 cents a pound on average, bananas grace fruit bowls across the socioeconomic spectrum. Bunches hang at mega grocery stores in the exurbs; they rest on the counter at corner delis in the urban core.

Though America’s bananas now come from Central America or the Caribbean, they originally came from half a world away — South Asia. They are labor-intensive to pick and difficult to transport, but with globalization in food production and trade, they started as a delicacy for the privileged and have ended up a staple.

The modern story of the banana in America mirrors a much older — ancient, even — tale of how humanity shaped its culture around food.

Philipp Stockhammer, a professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, tells Inverse the prevailing belief ancient humans only ate food grown near their home is all wrong.

“We need to get rid of the assumption that people in the past only ate what grew in their immediate surroundings,” Stockhammer says. “From early on, humans were interested in different tastes, exotic food, and elaborate cuisine, and took a lot of effort to get access to a variety of food.”

As early as 4,000 years ago, these exotic fruits had already made their way onto plates far beyond the Indian Ocean.

For decades, the best evidence archaeologists had to understand what ancient humans ate lay in their preserved goods. The pots of honey stored in ancient tombs or remnants of cooking ash found ingrained in discarded pottery, for example.

OLD TEETH TELL A NEW STORY — Thanks to new techniques involving the analysis of the dental pulp preserved in the teeth of 16 ancient Mediterraneans, archaeologists are slowly reconstructing the daily diets of these peoples — discovering their tastes and desires may have been far closer to our modern-day eating habits than we previously thought.

The new analysis, which takes a close look at the food proteins locked in Bronze Age humans’ dental pulp — essentially, the plaque built up on their teeth — was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

WHAT THEY DISCOVERED — Stockhammer and his colleagues discovered the earliest evidence yet for the consumption of turmeric and soybeans in the prehistoric Levant — an area of the Southern Mediterranean that today includes Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Turkey.

The evidence pushes the entry of these foods into the Mediterranean diet back by 1,000 years, Stockhammer and his colleagues learned.

“WE ARE NOW STARTING TO UNDERSTAND HOW AND WHEN THE DIVERSE COMPONENTS OF ICONIC CUISINES CAME TO BE.”

They also found some of the earliest evidence yet these foods were consumed in processed forms — oils, spices, and dried goods — hinting at an ancient culinary scene far more diverse and sophisticated than we had previously imagined.Ad

Further, the study reveals how ancient peoples interacted with one another. Turmeric, bananas, and soybeans are staple foods in South Asia, not the Mediterranean — even sesame, a food considered essential to these cuisines, was an import, the study shows.

Christina Warriner, assistant professor of Anthropology and study co-author, tells Inverse one ingredient that we think of as quintessential was actually a foreign delicacy.

“Our findings indicate that the ancient societies of the Eastern Mediterranean and South Asia were engaging in trade and communication during the 2nd millennium B.C.E.,” Warriner says. “Today, it is hard to imagine Levantine cuisine without sesame-based foods like tahini, but sesame was originally an import.”Ad

“We are now starting to understand how and when the diverse components of iconic cuisines came to be,” she adds.

HOW THEY DID IT — The researchers used a combination of microscopy and protein analysis to analyze food remains in the dental calculus of 16 individuals who once lived in the region between 1688 B.C.E and 1000 B.C.E. Some, like individuals found buried in Megiddo, now in Israel, appeared to be of wealthy stature judging by the objects they were buried with. Others, like those found at Tel Erani, another site in what is now Israel, did not appear so wealthy. But they all had one thing in common: Bad dental hygiene.

“Dental calculus, also known as tooth tartar, is a form of calcified dental plaque,” Warriner explains.

3D reconstruction of one of the grave sites found at Megiddo
A 3D reconstruction of one of the grave sites found at Megiddo, an area near to the modern Israeli city of Haifa.The Megiddo Expedition

“The plant microfossils we studied included phytoliths — a form of plant glass that forms especially in grasses and cereals — and starch granules,” she says.

These microfossils revealed the trace remains of dates and wheat — both expected, as they were locally grown foods and known staple crops.

But when they dug into the proteins contained in 14 of the individuals’ teeth (2 skulls’ teeth were not well-enough preserved to perform this analysis), they found plant proteins indicating a rich and diverse food culture.

“ONLY NOW WE HAVE BECOME SUFFICIENTLY AWARE THAT FOOD WAS AN IMPORTANT PART OF THIS EARLY GLOBALIZATION.”

“These included proteins found in wheat, sesame, turmeric, soybean, and banana,” Warriner says.

“We show that protein analysis can be used to detect processed and prepared foods, like oils and spices, that otherwise leave very few diagnostic traces behind,” Warriner adds. “This is exciting because oils and spices were likely among the earliest goods traded over long-distances, but they are among the most difficult foods to identify archaeologically.”

Curiously, the distribution of dietary proteins changed over time, suggesting the abundance of food available to people from different realms of society also changed — becoming increasingly accessible over time.

“What we can see is that in the early 2nd millennium, it were the high-status individuals from Megiddo that had access to foreign food,” Stockhammer says. “Whereas in the late 2nd millennium, the Tel Erani man who ate banana was definitely not of elevated status.”AdThe researchers’ imagined market scene.Nikola Nevenov

WHY IT MATTERS — By digging into what these ancient peoples ate, the paper provides a window onto the past, revealing how ancient human societies, separated by great distances, communicated with one another with food — and the individuals responsible for driving the changing, expanding palates.

Lebanese cuisine today features Sfouf, a turmeric cake. Ras el hanout, a spice blend that also includes turmeric, is one of the flavors most associated with Levantine cuisine. Entire shops are dedicated to sesame-based halva. And what would a falafel wrap be without tahini?

“Only now we have become sufficiently aware that food was an important part of this early globalization — very similar to our present-day situation, where food is one of the most global goods!” Stockhammer says.Ad

“The finding of both turmeric and soybean protein in the dental calculus of one of the individuals from Meggido was especially exciting,” Warriner says. “This individual was buried in a wealthy tomb and there are several archaeological hints that he may have been a merchant or long-distance trader.”

“Although we cannot be sure, he may represent someone who was directly involved in establishing the long-distance links between the Levant and distant trading centers in South Asia or beyond,” she says.

megiddo grave site excavation
One of the sites excavated at Megiddo. Analysis of individuals discovered at Megiddo revealed how Bronze Age people living in the region ate.The Megiddo Expedition

WHAT’S NEXT — Although the study expands our ideas about how ancient humans in the Mediterranean once lived and ate, the study is limited by the small sample size of just 16 individuals. Only further research can fully reveal the culinary dynamics at play in the ancient Levant.

“From our findings, it is difficult to say what role communication about exotic food played in the past,” Stockhammer says.

The study also doesn’t shed light on how ancient traders conveyed their wares from one corner of the globe to another, or how local traders would have distributed these foods once they made it to market.

“It is very difficult to describe such markets, as we are lacking visual as well as textual sources. We assume that they were similar to present-day markets in the Mediterranean with market stalls offering fruit, vegetables, and spices,” Stockhammer says.

Today, our diets rely on international trade. The idea of not being able to access foods like bananas, curry spices, or tofu is anathema to many of us in the western world. But one thing we can identify with these ancient traders about is the lengths we will go to get that one variety of chili, that spice blend from that area of Thailand, that cheese from that region of France. Ultimately, these findings connect us with our ancestors — revealing our desires are not so different.

The efforts ancient humans made to get the foods they coveted was “very similar to what people do today,” Stockhammer says. “Although nowadays the effort is definitely less and the speed much faster. I do not need to wait anymore for a ship from India bringing more pepper or turmeric.”

Abstract: Although the key role of long-distance trade in the transformation of cuisines worldwide has been well-documented since at least the Roman era, the prehistory of the Eurasian food trade is less visible. In order to shed light on the transformation of Eastern Mediterranean cuisines during the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, we analyzed microremains and proteins preserved in the dental calculus of individuals who lived during the second millennium BCE in the Southern Levant. Our results provide clear evidence for the consumption of expected staple foods, such as cereals (Triticeae), sesame (Sesamum), and dates (Phoenix). We additionally report evidence for the consumption of soybean (Glycine), probable banana (Musa), and turmeric (Curcuma), which pushes back the earliest evidence of these foods in the Mediterranean by centuries (turmeric) or even millennia (soybean). We find that, from the early second millennium onwards, at least some people in the Eastern Mediterranean had access to food from distant locations, including South Asia, and such goods were likely consumed as oils, dried fruits, and spices. These insights force us to rethink the complexity and intensity of Indo-Mediterranean trade during the Bronze Age as well as the degree of globalization in early Eastern Mediterranean cuisine.

What can we learn from ancient foods and diets? Why? Why not? What would it be like to cook foods the Pharaohs ate? Get the book: The Pharaoh’s Kitchen.

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Dig of Pompeii Fast-food Place Reveals Tastes

Source: By Associated Press
December 26, 2020 08:58 PM
Photos Source: Associated Press

ROME – A fast-food eatery at Pompeii has been excavated, helping to reveal dishes that were popular for the citizens of the ancient Roman city who were partial to eating out.

Pompeii Archaeological Park’s longtime chief, Massimo Osanna, said Saturday that while about 80 such fast-foods spots have been found at Pompeii, it is the first time such a hot-food-drink eatery — known as a thermopolium — was completely unearthed.

A segment of the fast-food counter was partially dug up in 2019 during work to shore up Pompeii’s oft-crumbling ruins. Since then, archaeologists kept digging, revealing a multisided counter, with typical wide holes inserted into its top. The countertop held deep vessels for hot foods, not unlike soup containers nestled into modern-day salad bars.

Plant and animal specialists are still analyzing remains from the site, with its counter frescoed with a figure of an undersea nymph astride a horse. Images of two upside-down mallards and a rooster, whose plumage was painted with the typical vivid color known as Pompeiian red, also brightened the eatery and likely served to advertise the menu.

Another fresco depicted a dog on a leash, perhaps not unlike modern reminders to leash pets. Vulgar graffiti were inscribed on the painting’s frame.

Excavations in Pompeii
A fresco depicting two ducks and a rooster on an ancient counter discovered during excavations in Pompeii, Italy, is seen in this handout picture released Dec. 26, 2020.

Valeria Amoretti, a Pompeii staff anthropologist, said “initial analyses confirm how the painted images represent, at least in part, the foods and beverages effectively sold inside.” Her statement noted that duck bone fragment was found in one of the containers, along with remains from goats, pigs, fish and snails. At the bottom of a wine container were traces of ground fava beans, which in ancient times were added to wine for flavor and to lighten its color, Amoretti said.

“We know what they were eating that day,” said Osanna, referring to the day of Pompeii’s destruction in 79 A.D. The food remains indicated “what’s popular with the common folk,” Osanna told Rai state TV, noting that street-food places weren’t frequented by the Roman elite.

One surprise find was the complete skeleton of a dog. The discovery intrigued the excavators, since it wasn’t a “large, muscular dog like that painted on the counter but of an extremely small example” of an adult dog, whose height at shoulder level was 20 to 25 centimeters, Amoretti said. It’s rather rare, Amoretti said, to find remains from ancient times of such small dogs, discoveries that “attest to selective breeding in the Roman epoch to obtain this result.”

Also unearthed were a bronze ladle, nine amphorae, which were popular food containers in Roman times, a couple of flasks and a ceramic oil container.

Successful restaurateurs know that a good location can be crucial, and the operator of this ancient fast-food eatery seemed to have found a good spot. Osanna noted that right outside was a small square with a fountain, with another thermopolium in the vicinity.

Pompeii was destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which is near present-day Naples. Much of the ancient city still lies unexcavated. The site is one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions.

Human remains were also discovered in the excavation of the eatery.

Those bones were apparently disturbed in the 17th century during clandestine excavations by thieves looking for valuables, Pompeii authorities said. Some of the bones belonged to a man, who, when the Vesuvius volcano erupted, appeared to have been lying on a bed or a cot, since nails and pieces of wood were found under his body, authorities said. Other human remains were found inside one of the counter’s vessels, possibly placed there by those excavators centuries ago.

Did you know they had fast food in ancient times? Explore the food and culture of the infamous Pompeii. Read: The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found. Pompeii was the ocean side get away from the Roman elite frozen in time by the volcano eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24, 79 CE — that destroyed it. What can we learn from the ancient Pompeii? Why?

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7 WAYS TO USE ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL – HEALTH BENEFITS AND STORAGE TIPS

DECEMBER 11, 2015
Source: Saffron Trail

Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a lot of health benefits. Here are some ways to use it in a way that keeps its nutritive benefits intact.

How to choose extra virgin olive oil, benefits of extra virgin olive oil and how to use extra virgin olive oil

Given how our supermarket shelves are flooded with olive oil brands, there is this eternal confusion between Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pure Olive Oil, Light Olive Oil and so many other variants. To simplify this matter, it is good to know that extra virgin olive oil is the first round of oil pressed out of olives and this has the best flavour and most health benefits, as compared to the subsequent extractions of oil. That’s the reason it is also the most expensive variant of olive oil.

A good extra virgin olive oil brand will be dark golden in colour, have a lovely grassy aroma to it and will be sold in a tinted glass bottle. This oil is unrefined, retains the flavour of olives and has the least free oleic acid content (<1%). The next in line is virgin olive oil, similar to extra virgin but has an oleic acid content of >1%, a less intense colour and flavour. Virgin olive oils are rarely sold in the supermarkets.

What is sold as PURE Olive Oil or just ‘Olive Oil’ is usually a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil, thereby available at a lesser cost (oleic acid content is 3-4%). This blend is also suited to cooking at low temperatures, generally an all-purpose oil. The other commonly sold variant is a ‘Light Olive Oil’ that is pale yellow like any other refined vegetable oil. This retains very few health properties or antioxidants. The LIGHT word in this term can be misleading. It stands for the light colour and not for a reduced calorie oil. The calories in Light Olive Oil are same as that of any other oil.

Benefits Of Using Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

  • Flavour Plus! –  There’s something about the rich colour and flavour of EVOO, that none of the other olive oils come close, especially when you eat it raw in salads. Just by itself it adds a boost of freshness and flavour, only to be enhanced by the other ingredients you add to it.
  • A certain component in EVOO called hydroxytyrosol prevents oxidation in the lining of the blood vessels, thereby protecting cardiovascular health.
  • The larger proportion of monounsaturated fats in olive oil helps lower bad cholesterol and it is also said to reduce blood pressure.
  • EVOO is said to possess a higher dose of antioxidants (phytonutrients) than non-virgin olive oils, thereby having more potent anti-inflammatory properties.
  • EVOO is a good source of vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant by itself.
Source: Saffron Trail
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

As EVOO is heat sensitive, in order to get the full range of nutrients, it is best had in raw form. Here are some of the best ways to include more EVOO in your diet such that you get the maximum health benefits.

1. SALAD DRESSINGS

Check my video on how to make an easy Italian Salad Dressing. Add Balsamic Vinegar instead of lemon juice and you get a Balsamic Vinaigrette.https://www.youtube.com/embed/6C85ryozEpI

2. PESTO

Pestos are a great way to consume raw EVOO. Try the classic Italian basil pesto with basil, EVOO, garlic and pine nuts or try this uniquely Sicilian version below.

While basil pesto is the most well known pesto, every region in Italy makes pesto with freshly available local produce. According to Lidia Bastianich, the Italian cuisine expert, the word pesto comes from the verb ‘pestare’, which means ‘to mash’. This means you can pretty much mash up any fresh ingredients to make a pesto, and toss it along with pasta, vegetables or chicken and you have a dish ready right there
www.saffrontrail.com

3. HUMMUS

A drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil over any hummus adds lots of flavour to the hummus.

Is there anyone who does not like hummus? Seriously, it’s one of the very few things in the food universe that is delicious, addictive and yet wont kill you. Protein-rich from the beans and good fats from extra virgin olive oil and tahini, it’s the best snack to dig into with a few crackers or crudites. Adding veggies like carrot, beet or spinach to the hummus ups it’s nutrition quotient further
www.saffrontrail.com

4. Topped on sauteed vegetables – Since it is best not to heat EVOO, toss the  vegetables in regular cooking oil with garlic and herbs and just before serving, toss them in some raw EVOO for flavour and health benefits.

5. Potato salad tossed in EVOO – Typically potato salads are tossed in mayo and mustard. Make a healthier version by tossed in garlic and herb infused EVOO. Finely chopped dill or parsley make this a delicious tasting salad.

6. Herbed Rice – Cooked and fluffed up rice tossed with lots of finely chopped herbs and EVOO, make a simple and quick rice dish to go with sauteed vegetables or any other main course dish.

7. Flavoured EVOO – Make your own flavoured EVOO to use in salad dressings for a flavour boost – such as chili / lemon zest / garlic flavoured EVOO. These also make lovely gourmet gifts for food loving friends.

Tips To Store Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • EVOO is both light and heat sensitive. That’s the reason good quality EVOO is sold in tinted glass bottles.
  • With time, the level of healthy antioxidants start deteriorating, so buy smaller bottles and use them within 3-4 months.
  • EVOO has a tendency to go rancid, so it needs to be stored in a cool dry place away from light to preserve the flavour. Don’t place a big bottle of EVOO near the hob as the heat from the flame may deteriorate the quality of oil.
  • Pouring a small quantity in a bottle for daily use and storing the rest in the fridge prolongs its life as the bigger bottle is not opened repeatedly and exposed to air.
  • EVOO turns a bit cloudy in the fridge but will get back to normal on reaching room temperature.

What are the medicinal benefits of using olive oil? How can you properly use olive oil? What did you learn from this article?

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This coconut rice with salmon and cilantro sauce deserves a spot in your regular recipe rotation

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Cilantro and Salmon

Total time:

40 mins

Servings:

By Ann Maloney Recipes editor
August 26, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. EDT
Source: The Washington Post
Feature Photo Source: Unsplash, Sebastian-Coman

One of the most gratifying experiences I can have as a food writer occurs when readers send an email to tell me that a dish I’ve shared in Dinner in Minutes is now part of their regular recipe rotation. I do a little happy dance in my desk chair.

Inevitably, that recipe already is on repeat in my own kitchen because it comes together quickly and is delicious, but also has that little something extra — a surprisingly bold flavor, a touch of elegance or a sauce or component that I find myself carrying over to other dishes.

People who love to cook inevitably talk about food — a lot. If we make something delicious, we have to tell someone about it, to bring them a taste or at least share the recipe.

So, it wasn’t surprising that right after I started at The Post in December, my new colleague Olga Massov shared a recipe with me that she frequently served to her family: Coconut Rice With Salmon and Cilantro Sauce from “The Kitchen Shelf” by Rosie Reynolds and Eve O’Sullivan (Phaidon, 2016).AD

Olga lent me the cookbook, and as I read through the recipe, I thought this little number checks all the boxes. Yes, it has three parts: the rice, the fish and the sauce, but each of those parts is easily executed.

The cookbook’s full title includes this phrase: “Take a few pantry essentials, add two ingredients and make everyday eating extraordinary.” The idea is that you use common pantry ingredients with just a couple of fresh additions — in this case cilantro and fish — and you can put a scrumptious meal on the table.

Although it was written four years ago, the cookbook fits in perfectly with the way we are cooking during the pandemic — from our pantries, with minimal extra shopping.

The cookbook authors offer time-saving tips. For example, in this recipe, they suggest two ways to cook the salmon. The faster and easier way is to steam the fillets atop the rice as it cooks. If, however, you prefer a crispy salmon skin, you can allow the rice to cook on its own and pan-fry your salmon.AD

For me, however, the salmon is the least interesting thing here.

The rice cooked with softened onion, garlic and a pinch of sugar in full-fat coconut milk is creamy and divine on its own. The cilantro sauce — a whole bunch of the herb leaves whirred in a food processor with a syrup made of water, sugar and crushed red pepper flakes — goes over the rice, but I could just eat that up with a spoon.

When I realized that I have now made this dish several times and have made the rice and cilantro sauce to go with other kinds of fish, broiled shrimp and pan-fried skirt steak, I knew it was time to share it with you, too.

Ingredients

  • FOR THE RICE AND SALMON
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (about 4 ounces), finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 cups white basmati rice, rinsed until the water runs clear
  • 1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 (3- to 4-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
  • FOR THE SAUCE
  • Scant 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more as needed for serving
  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped
  • 4 lime wedges, for serving (optional)

Step 1

Make the rice: In a large, lidded skillet or pan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and just starts to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat it in the oil. Add the coconut milk, then half-fill the empty can with water and add it to the pan. Add the salt and sugar, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low so the mixture is at a simmer and cover the skillet.AD

Cook for 5 minutes, then uncover the pan. Carefully place the salmon fillets on top of the rice, re-cover the pot and cook until the rice is just tender, the salmon cooked, and the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes more. (If the rice is not tender, but the salmon is cooked, remove the fish, re-cover the pot and continue cooking for a few minutes more.)

Step 2

Make the sauce: While the rice and salmon are cooking, in a small pan over high heat, combine the water, sugar, salt and crushed red pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the sauce until slightly reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Place the cilantro in a food processor and pulse to chop. Gradually pour in the syrup and pulse the cilantro until very finely chopped, and the sauce is combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings; the sauce should be slightly sweet, with a hint of heat. Add more crushed red pepper, sugar or salt, as needed.

Step 3

To serve, transfer the salmon off the rice to a plate. Gently stir the rice and divide the rice across 4 plates. Top with a salmon fillet and drizzle the sauce over. Sprinkle with additional crushed red pepper flakes, if desired, and serve with a wedge of lime, if using.

Step 4

Alternative for the salmon: If you prefer a pan-seared salmon fillet, cook it separately from the rice. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles when it hits the surface. Add the fillets, skin side up, and cook until just lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the fillets over and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the salmon looks almost cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes; you can check using the tip of a sharp knife. You should see a slightly darker center. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillet.AD

With either fish preparation, if you prefer to serve the salmon without the skin, it is easier to remove it after cooking the fish.

Adapted from “The Kitchen Shelf” by Rosie Reynolds and Eve O’Sullivan (Phaidon, 2016).

Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

Browse our Recipe Finder for more than 9,000 Post-tested recipes at washingtonpost.com/recipes.

Nutrition

Calories: 619; Total Fat: 30 g; Saturated Fat: 20 g; Cholesterol: 47 mg; Sodium: 332 mg; Carbohydrates: 65 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 6 g; Protein: 24 g.

This dish is a quick, easy and delicious way to incorporate cilantro and its many medicinal benefits into your diet not to mention the other ingredients. What are your dietary needs? How can you eat healthy on the run? What other ways can you incorporate herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables and other whole foods into your diet?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Meet Chef Ponder

Chef J Ponder Talks Cutthroat Kitchen

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Source: Chef Ponder
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Have you seen Chef Ponder on cutthroat or the food network? What do you think about all the time it takes to produce a 30 minute show? What can we learn about food from chefs?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Chef J. Ponder: Culinary Hero

Source: Soul Vision Magazine
Photos courtesy of Chef J. Ponder

“Use your knowledge and expertise to help those who need it the most.”

When he was coming up, Chef Jacoby Ponder watched his strong, independent grandmother maintain and sustain a small farm in rural Monroe, Georgia. He watched her plant and harvest fresh vegetables—sweet potatoes, collard greens, and cabbages. He saw how she would wash off the red Georgia clay and use these vegetables to create something hearty for supper. “I unknowingly became her apprentice,” he says. “My craft is literally rooted with three main ingredients: love, passion, and flavor.”

Chef J. Ponder w/ members of his Chefpreneur Academy.

Ponder has made dishes for President George H.W. Bush, Vivica A. Fox, and others. He has also appeared on the Food Network’s Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen. In 2012, he was a finalist on Chopped. In 2014, he won Cutthroat Kitchen twice. Ponder served ten years in the U.S. Navy as a personal and private chef. Many years after his military service, he continues to use his gifts to help veterans and those on active duty. “My educational venture, Chefpreneur Academy, is a transitional training course that benefits both veterans and those on active duty,” he explains. “I teach and train personal development techniques as well as business savvy techniques on how to become an owner and not just a cook.”

Ponder is now working on his culinary series — Food for the Rich — where he highlights the delicious cuisine he cooks for some of his high-profile clients in their beautiful homes. He also has a brunch series called EAT.SIP.SOCIAL which includes the “Chef’s Table.”  “It’s neat and new. Think concepts surrounding whimsical culinary favorites with coaching and very cool urban vibes,” he says. You can see the Chef’s video series on the brand-new streaming service, SoulVision.TV, which will launch this Valentine’s Day, February 14.

“My craft is literally rooted with three main ingredients: love, passion, and flavor.”

Ponder is looking forward to seeing where his gifts and passion take him. “I plan to continue to press the culinary envelope and figure out some way to show the world who I am as a true culinarian,” he says. He wants to join the Soulidifly Family very soon. “I hope it will come to fruition.” Chef Ponder will continue to use his culinary and communication skills to help people eat and live right.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/388694815
Chef J. Ponder’s EAT.SIP.SOCIAL will be featured on SoulVision.TV.

To learn more about Chef J. Ponder, you can visit his website chefjacobyponder.com and follow him on Facebook @ChefJacobyPonder and Instagram @chefjponder.

When you eat out where do you like to dine? What do you like about celebrity chefs? Have you seen Chef Ponder on Soul Vision TV?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.