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The 9 Healthiest Beans and Legumes You Can Eat

Source: Health Line

Beans and legumes are the fruits or seeds of a family of plants called Fabaceae. They are commonly eaten around the world and are a rich source of fiber and B vitamins.

They are also a great replacement for meat as a source of vegetarian protein.

Beans and legumes have a number of health benefits, including reducing cholesterol, decreasing blood sugar levels and increasing healthy gut bacteria.

Here are nine of the healthiest beans and legumes you can eat, and why they are good for you.

Source: Health Line
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

1. Chickpeas

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are a great source of fiber and protein.

Many scientific studies have shown that beans and legumes such as chickpeas can help reduce weight, risk factors for heart disease and potentially even the risk of cancer, especially when they replace red meat in the diet (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source3Trusted Source4Trusted Source5Trusted Source).

One cup (164 grams) of cooked chickpeas contains roughly (6):

  • Calories: 269
  • Protein: 14.5 grams
  • Fiber: 12.5 grams
  • Folate (vitamin B9): 71% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 84% of the RDI
  • Copper: 29% of the RDI
  • Iron: 26% of the RDI

Chickpeas are particularly beneficial at reducing blood sugar and increasing insulin sensitivity when compared with other high-carb foods (7Trusted Source).

In a study of 19 women, those who ate a meal containing 1.7 ounces (50 grams) of chickpeas had significantly lower blood sugar and insulin levels than those who ate the same amount of white bread or other wheat-containing foods (8Trusted Source).

Similarly, another study of 45 people showed that eating 26 ounces (728 grams) of chickpeas per week for 12 weeks significantly reduced insulin levels (9Trusted Source).

Eating chickpeas may also improve blood cholesterol levels.

A number of studies have shown that chickpeas can reduce both total cholesterol and “bad” low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source).

Your gut and the beneficial bacteria within it play an important role in many aspects of your health, so eating foods that contain gut-friendly fiber is extremely beneficial.

A number of studies have shown that diets containing chickpeas may also help improve bowel function and reduce the number of bad bacteria in the intestines (12Trusted Source13Trusted Source).

SUMMARYChickpeas are a great source of fiber and folate, and they’re also low in calories. They can help reduce blood sugar, decrease blood cholesterol and improve gut health.

2. Lentils

Lentils are a great source of vegetarian protein and can be great additions to soups and stews. They may also have a number of health benefits (14).

One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains roughly (15):

  • Calories: 230
  • Protein: 17.9 grams
  • Fiber: 15.6 grams
  • Folate (vitamin B9): 90% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 49% of the RDI
  • Copper: 29% of the RDI
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1): 22% of the RDI

Similar to chickpeas, lentils can help reduce blood sugar compared to other foods.

In a study of 24 men, those who were given pasta and tomato sauce containing lentils ate significantly less during the meal and had lower blood sugar than those who ate the same meal without lentils (16Trusted Source).

Another study of more than 3,000 people found that those with the highest intake of lentils and other legumes had the lowest rates of diabetes (17Trusted Source).

These benefits may be due to the effects lentils have in the gut.

Some studies have shown that lentils benefit gut health by improving bowel function and slowing the rate that the stomach empties, which could help with digestion and prevent spikes in blood sugar (18Trusted Source19Trusted Source).

Finally, lentil sprouts may also help heart health by reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol and increasing “good” HDL cholesterol (20Trusted Source).

SUMMARYLentils are a great source of vegetarian protein and may reduce blood sugar levels compared to some other foods that are high in carbohydrates.

3. Peas

Peas are also a type of legume, and there are a number of different types.

One cup (160 grams) of cooked peas contains roughly (21):

  • Calories: 125
  • Protein: 8.2 grams
  • Fiber: 8.8 grams
  • Folate (vitamin B9): 24% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 22% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 48% of the RDI
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1): 30% of the RDI

Like many other legumes, peas are a great source of fiber and protein. A lot of research has shown pea fiber and protein, which can be used as supplements, to have a number of health benefits.

One study of 23 people who were overweight and had high cholesterol found that eating 1.8 ounces (50 grams) of pea flour per day for 28 days significantly reduced insulin resistance and belly fat, compared to wheat flour (22Trusted Source).

Pea flour and pea fiber have shown similar benefits in other studies by reducing the increase in insulin and blood sugar after a meal, reducing blood triglycerides and increasing feelings of fullness (23Trusted Source24Trusted Source25Trusted Source).

Because fiber feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, pea fiber may also improve gut health. One study showed that it can increase stool frequency in elderly people and reduce their use of laxatives (26Trusted Source).

It may also help the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestines, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. These bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids, which help promote gut health (27Trusted Source).

SUMMARYPeas are a great source of fiber and protein, which may help reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance. Pea fiber and protein support a healthy gut, as well.

4. Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are one of the most commonly consumed beans, and are often eaten with rice. They have a number of health benefits.

One cup (256 grams) of cooked kidney beans contains roughly (28):

  • Calories: 215
  • Protein: 13.4 grams
  • Fiber: 13.6 grams
  • Folate (vitamin B9): 23% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 22% of the RDI
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1): 20% of the RDI
  • Copper: 17% of the RDI
  • Iron: 17% of the RDI

Foods that are high in fiber, such as kidney beans, can help slow the absorption of sugar into the blood and therefore reduce blood sugar levels.

One study of 17 people with type 2 diabetes found that eating kidney beans with rice significantly reduced the spike in blood sugar after the meal, compared to rice alone (29Trusted Source).

Along with high blood sugar, weight gain is also a risk factor for diabetes and metabolic syndrome, but kidney beans have the potential to reduce these risk factors.

One study showed that an extract from white kidney beans may help reduce body weight and fat mass (30Trusted Source).

Thirty overweight men and women who took the supplement for 30 days lost an average of 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) more weight and significantly more fat mass and waist circumference than those who took a placebo.

SUMMARYKidney beans contain high amounts of fiber and may help reduce the rise in blood sugar that happens after a meal.

5. Black Beans

Like many other beans, black beans are a great source of fiber, protein and folate. They are a staple food in Central and South America.

One cup (172 grams) of cooked black beans contains roughly (31):

  • Calories: 227
  • Protein: 15.2 grams
  • Fiber: 15 grams
  • Folate (vitamin B9): 64% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 38% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDI
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1): 28% of the RDI
  • Iron: 20% of the RDI

Black beans may also help reduce the spike in blood sugar that occurs after eating a meal, which may help reduce the risk of diabetes and weight gain (29Trusted Source).

This beneficial effect is because black beans have a lower glycemic index compared to many other high-carbohydrate foods. This means they cause a smaller rise in blood sugar after a meal.

A couple of studies have shown that if people eat black beans with rice, the beans can reduce this rise in blood sugar compared to when people eat rice alone. Black beans also cause a lower blood sugar rise than bread (32Trusted Source33Trusted Source).

SUMMARYBlack beans are effective at reducing the rise in blood sugar after a meal compared to other high-carb foods, such as rice and bread.

6. Soybeans

Soybeans are commonly consumed in Asia in a number of different forms, including tofu. They have many different health benefits.

One cup (172 grams) of cooked soybeans contains roughly (34):

  • Calories: 298
  • Protein: 28.6 grams
  • Fiber: 10.3 grams
  • Manganese: 71% of the RDI
  • Iron: 49% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 42% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 41% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 29% of the RDI
  • Folate (vitamin B9): 23% of the RDI

In addition to these nutrients, soybeans contain high levels of antioxidants called isoflavones, which are responsible for many of their health benefits.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that consuming soybeans and their isoflavones is associated with a reduced risk of cancer.

However, many of these studies are observational, meaning the participants’ diets weren’t controlled, so there could be other factors affecting the risk of cancer.

A large study that combined the results of 21 other studies found that eating high amounts of soybeans was associated with a 15% lower risk of stomach and other gastrointestinal cancers. Soybeans appeared to be especially effective in women (35Trusted Source).

Another study found similar results of soybeans on breast cancer. However, this effect was much smaller and the results were not clear (36Trusted Source).

Many of these benefits may be due to the fact that soy isoflavones are phytoestrogens. This means that they can mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, which tends to decline during menopause.

A large study of 403 postmenopausal women found that taking soy isoflavones for two years, in addition to calcium and vitamin D, significantly reduced the loss of bone density that occurs during menopause (37Trusted Source).

Soy protein and soy phytoestrogens may also help reduce a number of risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure and blood cholesterol (38Trusted Source39Trusted Source).

SUMMARYSoybeans and the antioxidants they contain may help reduce the risk of certain cancers, decrease risk factors for heart disease and reduce menopausal bone density loss.

7. Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are common in Mexico. They’re often eaten as whole beans, or mashed and fried.

One cup (171 grams) of cooked pinto beans contains roughly (40):

  • Calories: 245
  • Protein: 15.4 grams
  • Fiber: 15.4 grams
  • Folate (vitamin B9): 74% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 39% of the RDI
  • Copper: 29% of the RDI
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1): 22% of the RDI

Pinto beans may help reduce blood cholesterol.

A study of 16 people found that eating 1/2 cup of pinto beans per day for eight weeks significantly reduced both total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood (41Trusted Source).

Another study showed that pinto beans may reduce LDL cholesterol as well as increase the production of propionate, a short-chain fatty acid produced by gut bacteria. Propionate is good for gut health (42Trusted Source).

Like many other beans, pinto beans can also reduce the rise in blood sugar that happens after eating a meal (29Trusted Source).

SUMMARYPinto beans may help reduce blood cholesterol, blood sugar and maintain gut health. They can be eaten either whole or mashed.

8. Navy Beans

Navy beans, also known as haricot beans, are a great source of fiber, B vitamins and minerals.

One cup (182 grams) of cooked navy beans contains roughly (43):

  • Calories: 255
  • Protein: 15.0 grams
  • Fiber: 19.1 grams
  • Folate (vitamin B9): 64% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 48% of the RDI
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1): 29% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 24% of the RDI
  • Iron: 24% of the RDI

Navy beans appear to help reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome, likely due to their high fiber content.

An interesting study of 38 children who had abnormal blood cholesterol found that those who ate a muffin or smoothie containing 17.5 grams of navy bean powder every day for four weeks had higher levels of healthy HDL cholesterol (44Trusted Source).

Similar effects have been found in adults.

A study in overweight and obese adults found that eating 5 cups (910 grams) of navy beans and other legumes per week was as effective as dietary counseling for reducing waist circumference, blood sugar and blood pressure (45Trusted Source).

Other smaller studies have found similar beneficial effects (46Trusted Source).

SUMMARYNavy beans contain a lot of fiber and may help reduce the risk factors for metabolic syndrome. They also contain several important nutrients.

9. Peanuts

Interestingly, peanuts are legumes, which sets them apart from most other types of nuts.

Peanuts are a good source of monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, protein and B vitamins.

One half-cup (73 grams) of peanuts contains roughly (47):

  • Calories: 427
  • Protein: 17.3 grams
  • Fiber: 5.9 grams
  • Saturated fat: 5 grams
  • Manganese: 76% of the RDI
  • Niacin: 50% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 32% of the RDI
  • Folate (vitamin B9): 27% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E: 25% of the RDI
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1): 22% of the RDI

Due to their high content of monounsaturated fats, peanuts can have a number of health benefits if they replace some other components of the diet.

A few large observational studies have found that eating peanuts is associated with a lower risk of death from many different causes, including heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes (48Trusted Source).

Interestingly, peanut butter doesn’t seem to have the same beneficial effects (49Trusted Source).

However, these studies are only observational, which means they can’t prove eating peanuts actually causes the reduction in these risks.

Other studies have examined the effect of eating peanuts on blood cholesterol (50Trusted Source51Trusted Source52Trusted Source).

One study in women who had high blood cholesterol found that those who ate peanuts as part of a low-fat diet for six months had lower total cholesterol and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol than those on a standard low-fat diet (53Trusted Source).

However, if you are salt-sensitive, aim for unsalted peanuts over the salted variety.

SUMMARYPeanuts are actually a legume. They contain lots of healthy monounsaturated fats and may be beneficial for heart health.

The Bottom Line

Beans and legumes are some of the most underrated foods on the planet.

They are excellent sources of dietary fiber, protein, B vitamins and many other important vitamins and minerals.

There is good evidence that they can help reduce blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels and help maintain a healthy gut.

Not only that, but eating more beans and legumes as a source of protein instead of meat is also environmentally friendly.

Add them to soups, stews and salads, or just eat them on their own for a nutritious vegetarian meal.

We understand that soybeans are not necessarily the best because the body can not digest it. Which of these beans are best for your diet? How can you incorporate them into your diet? How can eating these beans improve your health?

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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The Great Garlic Medicinal Benefits

Source: Medical News Today

Fast facts on garlic

  • In many countries, garlic has been used medicinally for centuries.
  • Garlic may have a range of health benefits, both raw and cooked.
  • It may have significant antibiotic properties.

History

Bulbs and bowl of garlic
There are many medicinal claims about garlic.
Source: Medical News Today
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Garlic has been used all over the world for thousands of years. Records indicate that garlic was in use when the Giza pyramids were built, about 5,000 years ago.

Richard S. Rivlin wrote in the Journal of Nutrition that the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (circa. 460-370 BC), known today as “the father of Western medicine,” prescribed garlic for a wide range of conditions and illnesses. Hippocrates promoted the use of garlic for treating respiratory problems, parasites, poor digestion, and fatigue.

The original Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece were given garlic – possibly the earliest example of “performance enhancing” agents used in sports.

From Ancient Egypt, garlic spread to the advanced ancient civilizations of the Indus Valley (Pakistan and western India today). From there, it made its way to China.

According to experts at Kew Gardens, England’s royal botanical center of excellence, the people of ancient India valued the therapeutic properties of garlic and also thought it to be an aphrodisiac. The upper classes avoided garlic because they despised its strong odor, while monks, “…widows, adolescents, and those who had taken up a vow or were fasting, could not eat garlic because of its stimulant quality.”

Throughout history in the Middle East, East Asia, and Nepal, garlic has been used to treat bronchitis, hypertension (high blood pressure), TB (tuberculosis), liver disorders, dysenteryflatulencecolic, intestinal worms, rheumatism, diabetes, and fevers.

The French, Spanish, and Portuguese introduced garlic to the New World.

Uses

Currently, garlic is widely used for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high cholesterolheart attackcoronary heart disease, and hypertension.

Garlic is also used today by some people for the prevention of lung cancerprostate cancerbreast cancerstomach cancer, rectal cancer, and colon cancer.

It is important to add that only some of these uses are backed by research.

A study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology warned that short-term heating reduces the anti-inflammatory effects of fresh raw garlic extracts. This may be a problem for some people who do not like or cannot tolerate the taste and/or odor of fresh garlic.

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Benefits

Below are examples of some scientific studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals about the therapeutic benefits (or not) of garlic.

Lung cancer risk

People who ate raw garlic at least twice a week during the 7 year study period had a 44 percent lower risk of developing lung cancer, according to a study conducted at the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China.

The researchers, who published their study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, carried out face-to-face interviews with 1,424 lung cancer patients and 4,543 healthy individuals. They were asked about their diet and lifestyle, including questions on smoking and how often they ate garlic.

The study authors wrote: “Protective association between intake of raw garlic and lung cancer has been observed with a dose-response pattern, suggesting that garlic may potentially serve as a chemo-preventive agent for lung cancer.”

Brain cancer

Organo-sulfur compounds found in garlic have been identified as effective in destroying the cells in glioblastomas, a type of deadly brain tumor.

Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina reported in the journal Cancer that three pure organo-sulfur compounds from garlic – DAS, DADS, and DATS – “demonstrated efficacy in eradicating brain cancer cells, but DATS proved to be the most effective.”

Co-author, Ray Swapan, Ph.D., said “This research highlights the great promise of plant-originated compounds as natural medicine for controlling the malignant growth of human brain tumor cells. More studies are needed in animal models of brain tumors before application of this therapeutic strategy to brain tumor patients.”

Hip osteoarthritis

Women whose diets were rich in allium vegetables had lower levels of osteoarthritis, a team at King’s College London and the University of East Anglia, both in England, reported in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. Examples of allium vegetables include garlic, leeks, shallots, onions, and rakkyo.

The study authors said their findings not only highlighted the possible impact of diet on osteoarthritis outcomes but also demonstrated the potential for using compounds that exist in garlic to develop treatments for the condition.

The long-term study, involving more than 1,000 healthy female twins, found that those whose dietary habits included plenty of fruit and vegetables, “particularly alliums such as garlic,” had fewer signs of early osteoarthritis in the hip joint.

Potentially a powerful antibiotic

Diallyl sulfide, a compound in garlic, was 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics in fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, according to a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

The Campylobacter bacterium is one of the most common causes of intestinal infections.

Senior author, Dr. Xiaonan Lu, from Washington State University, said, “This work is very exciting to me because it shows that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply.”

Heart protection

Garlic in heart-shaped bowl
Garlic may contain heart-protective chemicals.
Source: Medical News Today
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Diallyl trisulfide, a component of garlic oil, helps protect the heart during cardiac surgery and after a heart attack, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine found. They also believe diallyl trisulfide could be used as a treatment for heart failure.

Hydrogen sulfide gas has been shown to protect the heart from damage.

However, it is a volatile compound and difficult to deliver as therapy.

Because of this, the scientists decided to focus on diallyl trisulfide, a garlic oil component, as a safer way to deliver the benefits of hydrogen sulfide to the heart.

In experiments using laboratory mice, the team found that, after a heart attack, the mice that had received diallyl sulfide had 61 percent less heart damage in the area at risk, compared with the untreated mice.

In another study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists found that garlic oil may help protect diabetes patients from cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy is the leading cause of death among diabetes patients. It is a chronic disease of the myocardium (heart muscle), which is abnormally thickened, enlarged, and/or stiffened.

The team fed diabetic laboratory rats either garlic oil or corn oil. Those fed garlic oil experienced significantly more changes associated with protection against heart damage, compared with the animals that were fed corn oil.

The study authors wrote, “In conclusion, garlic oil possesses significant potential for protecting hearts from diabetes-induced cardiomyopathy.”

Human studies will need to be performed to confirm the results of this study.

High cholesterol and high blood pressure

Researchers at Ankara University investigated the effects of garlic extract supplementation on the blood lipid (fat) profile of patients with high blood cholesterol. Their study was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

The study involved 23 volunteers, all with high cholesterol; 13 of them also had high blood pressure. They were divided into two groups:

  • The high-cholesterol normotensive group (normal blood pressure).
  • The high-cholesterol hypertensive group (high blood pressure).

They took garlic extract supplements for 4 months and were regularly checked for blood lipid parameters, as well as kidney and liver function.

At the end of the 4 months, the researchers concluded “…garlic extract supplementation improves blood lipid profile, strengthens blood antioxidant potential, and causes significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressures. It also leads to a decrease in the level of oxidation product (MDA) in the blood samples, which demonstrates reduced oxidation reactions in the body.”

In other words, the garlic extract supplements reduced high cholesterol levels, and also blood pressure in the patients with hypertension. The scientists added that theirs was a small study – more work needs to be carried out.

Prostate cancer

Doctors at the Department of Urology, China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing, China, carried out a study evaluating the relationship between Allium vegetable consumption and prostate cancer risk.

They gathered and analyzed published studies up to May 2013 and reported their findings in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention.

The study authors concluded, “Allium vegetables, especially garlic intake, are related to a decreased risk of prostate cancer.”

The team also commented that because there are not many relevant studies, further well-designed prospective studies should be carried out to confirm their findings.

Alcohol-induced liver injury

Alcohol-induced liver injury is caused by the long-term over-consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Scientists at the Institute of Toxicology, School of Public Health, Shandong University, China, wanted to determine whether diallyl disulfide (DADS), a garlic-derived organosulfur compound, might have protective effects against ethanol-induced oxidative stress.

Their study was published in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta.

The researchers concluded that DADS might help protect against ethanol-induced liver injury.

Preterm (premature) delivery

Microbial infections during pregnancy raise a woman’s risk of preterm delivery. Scientists at the Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, studied what impact foods might have on antimicrobial infections and preterm delivery risk.

The study and its findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Ronny Myhre and colleagues concentrated on the effects of Alliums and dried fruits, because a literature search had identified these two foods as showing the greatest promise for reducing preterm delivery risk.

The team investigated the intake of dried fruit and Alliums among 18,888 women in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort, of whom 5 percent (950) underwent spontaneous PTD (preterm delivery).

The study authors concluded, “Intake of food with antimicrobial and prebiotic compounds may be of importance to reduce the risk of spontaneous PTD. In particular, garlic was associated with overall lower risk of spontaneous PTD.”

Garlic and the common cold

A team of researchers from St. Joseph Family Medicine Residency, Indiana, carried out a study titled “Treatment of the Common Cold in Children and Adults,” published in American Family Physician.

They reported that “Prophylactic use of garlic may decrease the frequency of colds in adults, but has no effect on duration of symptoms.” Prophylactic use means using it regularly to prevent disease.

Though there is some research to suggest that raw garlic has the most benefits, other studies have looked at overall allium intake, both raw and cooked, and have found benefits. Therefore, you can enjoy garlic in a variety of ways to reap its advantages.

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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?

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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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!

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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Are Raisins Good for You?

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Raisins Grapes

Source: Healthine
Feature Photo Source: Unsplash, Leander Neumann

What are raisins?

The shriveled yellow, brown, or purple morsels known as raisins are actually grapes that have been dried in the sun or in a food dehydrator.

Raisins are commonly used:
  • as a salad topping
  • mixed into oatmeal
  • in yogurt
  • in granola or cereal

You also may have eaten them baked into delicious cookies, breads, and muffins. Despite their small size, raisins are packed with energy and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Raisins are naturally sweet and high in sugar and calories, but they’re beneficial to our health when eaten in moderation. In fact, raisins can aid digestion, boost iron levels, and keep your bones strong.

So the next time you’re craving candy or sweets, consider munching on some raisins to satisfy your yearning. Your body will reap the healthy benefits.

The nutrition of raisins

There are several factors to consider about the nutritional benefits of raisins. Read on for a breakdown of what raisins have to offer, both good and bad, to determine if the benefits outweigh any risks.

Sugar and calories

One-half cup of raisins has about 217 caloriesTrusted Source and 47 grams of sugar. For reference, a 12-ounce can of soda has about 150 calories and 33 grams of sugar, depending on the brand.

For this reason, raisins aren’t exactly a low-calorie, or low-sugar treat. It’s no wonder they are sometimes referred to as “nature’s candy.”

High amounts of sugar and calories are pretty typical of dried fruit, which is why keeping an eye on how many raisins you are eating in one sitting is key.

Raisins are often sold in small, single serving boxes, each containing roughly 100 calories. If you have problems with portion control, try purchasing these prepackaged raisins to keep your intake in check.

For endurance athletes, raisins are a great alternative for expensive sports chews and gels. They offer a quick source of much-needed carbohydrates and can help improve your performance.

2011 studyTrusted Source found that raisins were just as effective as a brand of sports jelly beans in improving performance for athletes engaging in moderate- to high-intensity endurance exercise.

Fiber

One-half cup of raisins will give you 3.3 grams of fiberTrusted Source, or roughly 10 to 24 percent of your daily needs, depending on your age and gender.

Fiber helps aid your digestion by softening and increasing the weight and size of your stool. Bulkier stools are easier to pass and can help prevent constipation.

Fiber also helps keep you full for longer because it slows down the emptying of your stomach. If you’re trying to lose weight, eating fibrous foods may help.

Fiber also plays a role in cholesterol levels. Dietary fiber is known to decrease levels of the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) type of cholesterol.

Iron

Raisins are a good source of iron. One-half cup of raisins contains 1.3 milligrams of iron. That’s about 7 percent of the recommended daily amountTrusted Source for most adult females, and 16 percent for adult men.

Iron is important for making red blood cells and helping them carry oxygen to the cells of your body. You need to eat enough iron in order to prevent iron-deficiency anemia.

Calcium and boron

Raisins have about 45 milligrams of calcium per 1/2-cup serving. This translates to about 4 percent of your daily needs. Calcium is essential for healthy and strong bones and teeth.

If you’re a postmenopausal woman, raisins are a great snack for you because the calcium helps prevent the development of osteoporosis, a disorder characterized by bone loss that usually occurs as you age.

To add to that, raisins contain a high amount of the trace element boron. Boron works with vitamin D and calcium to keep your bones and joints healthy. It also plays a role in treating osteoporosis.

Antioxidants

Raisins are an exceptional source of naturally occurring chemicals called phytonutrients, such as phenols and polyphenols. These types of nutrients are considered antioxidants.

Antioxidants help remove free radicals from your blood and may prevent damage to your cells and DNA. This can lead to diseases like cancerheart disease, and stroke.

Antimicrobial compounds

2009 studyTrusted Source noted that raisins contain phytochemicals that could promote healthy teeth and gums. Phytochemicals present in raisins, including oleanolic acid, linoleic acid, and linolenic acid, fight the bacteria in your mouth that lead to cavities.

In other words, eating raisins in place of sugary snack foods can actually keep your smile healthy.HEALTHLINE NEWSLETTERGet our weekly Men’s Health email

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How to eat raisins

Raisins can be enjoyed right from the box, or they can be thrown into a variety of dishes. From breakfasts to desserts to savory dinners, there are countless possibilities. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate more raisins in your diet:

  • For a healthy take on classic oatmeal raisin cookies, try this flourless version. View the recipe.
  • Raisins add excellent flavor to just about any type of sweet spread. Try making this cinnamon raisin cashew butter if you’re in the mood to try something new. If cashews aren’t your favorite, you can substitute another nut. View the recipe.
  • Spice up chicken salad with raisins and sweet apples. View the recipe.
  • Contrary to popular belief, granola is easy to make at home. Raisins are always an excellent addition to your standard granola recipe. This recipe for cinnamon raisin granola can also be made vegan or gluten-free. View the recipe.
  • Pumpkin, raisin, and flaxseed muffins are full of healthy fiber. View the recipe.
  • It may seem strange to add raisins to your pasta. This pasta dish from the staff at the Mayo Clinic includes spinach, garbanzo beans, and raisins. It’s high in iron, protein, and fiber. View the recipe.

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Make your own raisins

Want to try making your own raisins? It’s simple:

  1. Get some grapes.
  2. Remove the large stems.
  3. Wash them in cool water.
  4. Place them on a tray, and set the tray outside on a dry, sunny day (it works best if the tray has holes or cracks for air circulation).
  5. Rotate the grapes to ensure even sun exposure.

In just two or three days, you’ll have your own raisins.

Next steps

Raisins contain healthy vitamins and minerals. They are also fat-free and cholesterol-free, high in antioxidants, and an excellent source of fiber. Raisins may help you:

  • relieve constipation
  • prevent anemia
  • build and maintain strong bones
  • protect your teeth
  • lower your risk of cancer and heart disease

Raisins contain enough sugar to give you a burst of energy and are a great addition to a healthful diet for most people. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, consider replacing unhealthy, sugary snacks with raisins.

Of course, like any dried fruit, eating too much can be borderline unhealthy because of their high sugar content and calories. While you shouldn’t be afraid to include raisins in your diet, make sure to keep it to a handful at a time.


Jacquelyn Cafasso
Jacquelyn Cafasso

Jacquelyn has been in a writer and research analyst in the health and pharmaceutical space since she graduated with a degree in biology from Cornell University. A native of Long Island, NY, she moved to San Francisco after college, and then took a brief hiatus to travel the world. In 2015, Jacquelyn relocated from sunny California to sunnier Gainesville, Florida, where she owns 7 acres and 58 fruit trees. She loves chocolate, pizza, hiking, yoga, soccer, and Brazilian capoeira. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

What medicinal benefits can you reap from raisins? Have you considered eating raisins as a quick and health snack? How could your health and diet benefit from eating raisins?

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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Dick Gregory: Health

Comedian, Activist Dick Gregory Talks Health

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Dick Gregory, Food and Health
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

How do you choose a healthier diet when you feel that you can not afford it? How do you make the switch from more medicine to more healthier foods? What do you think about eating more fruits and vegetables than meats? Share your comments with the community by positing 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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What is Organic?

What Is Organic Food?

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
What is Organic?
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Did you learn anything new about organic food? Is organic food the new normal? Do you think GMO (genetically modified food) is okay to eat? What do you want to know about GMOs? Share your comments with the community by posting your comments 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 as 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.