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11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger

Source: Health Line

Ginger is a flowering plant that originated in Southeast Asia. It’s among the healthiest (and most delicious) spices on the planet.

It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and it’s closely related to turmeric, cardamom, and galangal.

The rhizome (underground part of the stem) is the part commonly used as a spice. It’s often called ginger root or, simply, ginger.

Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice. It’s a very common ingredient in recipes. It’s sometimes added to processed foods and cosmetics.

Here are 11 health benefits of ginger that are supported by scientific research.

woman chopping raw ginger root on a wooden cutting board
Lucy Lambriex/Getty Images
Source: Health Line
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

1. Contains gingerol, which has powerful medicinal properties

Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional and alternative medicine. It’s been used to aid digestion, reduce nausea, and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few of its purposes.

The unique fragrance and flavor of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol.

Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger. It’s responsible for much of ginger’s medicinal properties.

Gingerol has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, according to research. For instance, it may help reduce oxidative stress, which is the result of having an excess amount of free radicals in the body (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Ginger is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

2. Can treat many forms of nausea, especially morning sickness

Ginger appears to be highly effective against nausea (3Trusted Source).

It may help relieve nausea and vomiting for people undergoing certain types of surgery. Ginger may also help chemotherapy-related nausea, but larger human studies are needed (4Trusted Source5Trusted Source6Trusted Source7).

However, it may be the most effective when it comes to pregnancy-related nausea, such as morning sickness.

According to a review of 12 studies that included a total of 1,278 pregnant women, 1.1–1.5 grams of ginger can significantly reduce symptoms of nausea.

However, this review concluded that ginger had no effect on vomiting episodes (8Trusted Source).

Although ginger is considered safe, talk to your doctor before taking large amounts if you’re pregnant.

It’s recommended that pregnant women who are close to labor or who’ve had miscarriages avoid ginger (9Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Just 1–1.5 grams of ginger can help prevent various types of nausea, including chemotherapy-related nausea, nausea after surgery, and morning sickness.

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3. May help with weight loss

Ginger may play a role in weight loss, according to studies conducted in humans and animals.

A 2019 literature review concluded that ginger supplementation significantly reduced body weight, the waist-hip ratio, and the hip ratio in people with overweight or obesity (10Trusted Source).

A 2016 study of 80 women with obesity found that ginger could also help reduce body mass index (BMI) and blood insulin levels. High blood insulin levels are associated with obesity.

Study participants received relatively high daily doses — 2 grams — of ginger powder for 12 weeks (1112).

A 2019 literature review of functional foods also concluded that ginger had a very positive effect on obesity and weight loss. However, additional studies are needed (13).

The evidence in favor of ginger’s role in helping prevent obesity is stronger in animal studies. Rats and mice who consumed ginger water or ginger extract consistently saw decreases in their body weight, even in instances where they’d also been fed high-fat diets (14Trusted Source1516).

Ginger’s ability to influence weight loss may be related to certain mechanisms, such as its potential to help increase the number of calories burned or reduce inflammation (1316).

SUMMARY

According to studies in animals and humans, ginger may help improve weight-related measurements. These include body weight and the waist-hip ratio.

4. Can help with osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common health problem.

It involves degeneration of the joints in the body, leading to symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness.

One literature review found that people who used ginger to treat their OA saw significant reductions in pain and disability (17).

Only mild side effects, such as a dissatisfaction with the taste of ginger, were observed. However, the taste of ginger, along with stomach upset, still prompted nearly 22% of the study participants to drop out.

Study participants received between 500 milligrams (mg) and 1 gram of ginger each day for anywhere from 3 to 12 weeks. A majority of them had been diagnosed with OA of the knee (17).

Another study from 2011 found that a combination of topical ginger, mastic, cinnamon, and sesame oil can help reduce pain and stiffness in people with OA of the knee (18Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

There are some studies showing ginger to be effective at reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis, especially osteoarthritis of the knee.

5. May drastically lower blood sugars and improve heart disease risk factors

This area of research is relatively new, but ginger may have powerful anti-diabetic properties.

In a 2015 study of 41 participants with type 2 diabetes, 2 grams of ginger powder per day lowered fasting blood sugar by 12% (19Trusted Source).

It also dramatically improved hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a marker for long-term blood sugar levels. HbA1c was reduced by 10% over a period of 12 weeks.

There was also a 28% reduction in the Apolipoprotein B/ApolipoproteinA-I ratio and a 23% reduction in malondialdehyde (MDA), which is a byproduct of oxidative stress. A high ApoB/ApoA-I ratio and high MDA levels are both major risk factors for heart disease (19Trusted Source).

However, keep in mind that this was just one small study. The results are incredibly impressive, but they need to be confirmed in larger studies before any recommendations can be made.

In somewhat encouraging news, a 2019 literature review also concluded that ginger significantly reduced HbA1c in people with type 2 diabetes. However, it also found that ginger had no effect on fasting blood sugar (20).

SUMMARY

Ginger has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve various heart disease risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes.

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6. Can help treat chronic indigestion

Chronic indigestion is characterized by recurrent pain and discomfort in the upper part of the stomach.

It’s believed that delayed emptying of the stomach is a major driver of indigestion. Interestingly, ginger has been shown to speed up emptying of the stomach (21Trusted Source).

People with functional dyspepsia, which is indigestion with no known cause, were given either ginger capsules or a placebo in a small 2011 study. One hour later, they were all given soup.

It took 12.3 minutes for the stomach to empty in people who received ginger. It took 16.1 minutes in those who received the placebo (22Trusted Source).

These effects have also been seen in people without indigestion. In a 2008 study by some members of the same research team, 24 healthy individuals were given ginger capsules or a placebo. They were all given soup an hour later.

Consuming ginger as opposed to a placebo significantly accelerated emptying of the stomach. It took 13.1 minutes for people who received ginger and 26.7 minutes for people who received the placebo (23Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Ginger appears to speed up emptying of the stomach, which can be beneficial for people with indigestion and related stomach discomfort.

7. May significantly reduce menstrual pain

Dysmenorrhea refers to pain felt during the menstrual cycle.

One of the traditional uses of ginger is for pain relief, including menstrual pain.

In a 2009 study, 150 women were instructed to take either ginger or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for the first 3 days of the menstrual period.

The three groups received four daily doses of either ginger powder (250 mg), mefenamic acid (250 mg), or ibuprofen (400 mg). Ginger managed to reduce pain as effectively as the two NSAIDs (24Trusted Source).

More recent studies have also concluded that ginger is more effective than a placebo and equally as effective as drugs such as mefenamic acid and acetaminophen/caffeine/ibuprofen (Novafen) (252627Trusted Source).

While these findings are promising, higher-quality studies with larger numbers of study participants are still needed (27Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Ginger appears to be very effective against menstrual pain when taken at the beginning of the menstrual period.

8. May help lower cholesterol levels

High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

The foods you eat can have a strong influence on LDL levels.

In a 2018 study of 60 people with hyperlipidemia, the 30 people who received 5 grams of ginger-pasted powder each day saw their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels drop by 17.4% over a 3-month period (28).

While the drop in LDL is impressive, it’s important to consider that study participants received very high doses of ginger.

Many cited a bad taste in the mouth as their reason for dropping out of an OA study where they received doses of 500 mg–1 gram of ginger (17).

The doses taken during the hyperlipidemia study are 5–10 times higher. It’s likely that most people may have difficulty taking a 5-gram dose for long enough to see results (28).

In an older study from 2008, people who received 3 grams of ginger powder (in capsule form) each day also saw significant reductions in most cholesterol markers. Their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels dropped by 10% over 45 days (29).

These findings are supported by a study in rats with hypothyroidism or diabetes. Ginger extract lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol to a similar extent as the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin (30Trusted Source).

Study subjects from all 3 studies also experienced drops in total cholesterol. Participants in the 2008 study, as well as the lab rats, also saw reductions in their blood triglycerides (282930Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

There’s some evidence, in both humans and animals, that ginger can lead to significant reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol, total cholesterol, and blood triglyceride levels.

9. Contains a substance that may help prevent cancer

Ginger has been studied as an alternative remedy for several forms of cancer.

The anti-cancer properties are attributed to gingerol, which is found in large amounts in raw ginger. A form known as [6]-gingerol is viewed as especially powerful (31Trusted Source32).

In a 28-day study of individuals at normal risk for colorectal cancer, 2 grams of ginger extract per day significantly reduced pro-inflammatory signaling molecules in the colon (33).

However, a follow-up study in individuals at a high risk for colorectal cancer didn’t produce the same results (34Trusted Source).

There’s some evidence, albeit limited, that ginger may be effective against other gastrointestinal cancers such as pancreatic cancer and liver cancer (35Trusted Source36Trusted Source).

It may be effective against breast cancer and ovarian cancer as well. In general, more research is needed (37Trusted Source38Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Ginger contains the substance gingerol, which appears to have protective effects against cancer. However, more studies are needed.

10. May improve brain function and protect against Alzheimer’s disease

Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can accelerate the aging process.

They’re believed to be among the key drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.

Some animal studies suggest that the antioxidants and bioactive compounds in ginger can inhibit inflammatory responses that occur in the brain (39Trusted Source).

There’s also some evidence that ginger can help enhance brain function directly. In a 2012 study of healthy middle-aged women, daily doses of ginger extract were shown to improve reaction time and working memory (40Trusted Source).

In addition, numerous studies in animals show that ginger can help protect against age-related decline in brain function (41Trusted Source42Trusted Source43Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Animal studies suggest that ginger can protect against age-related damage to the brain. It can also help improve brain function in middle-aged women.

11. Can help fight infections

Gingerol can help lower the risk of infections.

In fact, ginger extract can inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria (44Trusted Source45Trusted Source).

According to a 2008 study, it’s very effective against the oral bacteria linked to gingivitis and periodontitis. These are both inflammatory gum diseases (46Trusted Source).

Fresh ginger may also be effective against the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common cause of respiratory infections (47Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Ginger may fight harmful bacteria and viruses, which could reduce your risk for infections.

The bottom line

Ginger is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and brain.

It’s one of the very few superfoods actually worthy of that term.

When we come down with simple colds or infections ginger can help besides the host of other medicinal benefits of ginger. Which medicinal benefits are helpful to your health and diet? How can you introduce ginger into your diet? Do you juice?

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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9 AMAZING BENEFITS OF COCONUT MILK

Source: Ballerini Chiropractic
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Source: Ballerini Chiropractic

Coconut milk is a white substance that is extracted from the flesh of mature brown coconuts. It has been used for years as an ingredient in desserts, soups, and sauces. It is a popular component of Indian, Thai, Hawaiian and South American cuisines. The process of extraction involves grating the fleshy part of the fruit and soaking it in hot water. The cream that forms on the surface of the liquid is collected to be used as coconut cream while the remaining liquid is then sieved and separated from the pulp to obtain the coconut milk. Nowadays, you can simply buy this product off the shelf in any department store. If you are having bone or joint pain then a diet rich in coconut milk and a visit to a chiropractor might be right for you. Here is a list of other health benefits of coconut milk:

1. It aids in weight loss

Coconut milk is rich in short and medium chain triglycerides that are considered to be healthy fats. They prolong the feeling of satiety causing you to eat less and avoid giving in to cravings. In addition, they are more likely to be converted to energy as opposed to longer chain fatty acids. These are preferentially stored in the body contributing towards obesity.

2. It contains antioxidants

Coconut milk is rich in vitamins C and E that are well known for their anti-oxidant properties. Free oxygen radicals are formed by our body tissues during the process of metabolism. They are harmful to cellular components and contribute towards aging and tumor growth. Antioxidants contained in coconut milk help to neutralize these harmful substances.

3. Electrolyte balance

Coconut milk is rich in electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium and phosphorous. Potassium is important for maintenance of a normal heart rhythm. It is also crucial for healthy muscle functioning. Magnesium is required for a healthy immune system as well as maintenance of normal nerve and muscle function. Phosphorus is a vital structural component of bones and teeth. By adding coconut milk to your recipes, you ensure that the body has enough supply of phosphorous to meet these requirements.

4. Prevents heart disease

Coconut milk is known to increase the levels of HDL cholesterol in the body. Scientific research now shows that coconut milk may help to reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the body if consumed in low quantities. HDL cholesterol has anti-inflammatory properties that protect the endothelium or blood vessel lining. LDL cholesterol, on the other hand, promotes the formation of plaques in blood vessels causing pathological narrowing. When blood vessels supplying the heart muscles are narrowed, heart attacks can result.

5. Strengthens the immune system

Coconut milk contains lauric acid that is known for its antiseptic properties. It assists the body in fighting infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. A study done in The Philippines showed that children with pneumonia responded faster to treatment with antibiotics and coconut milk compared to those who were treated with antibiotics alone.

6. Prevention of anemia

Coconut milk has significant quantities of iron. Iron is an important mineral in the formation of healthy red blood cells with normal hemoglobin levels. Incorporating coconut milk into your diet will help you avoid anemia that often results from inadequate iron intake.

7. Healthy hair and skin

Recently, coconut milk has gained popularity for its use as a conditioning treatment for healthy hair. Its high-fat content acts as a sealant for moisture retention. When applied to the scalp, coconut milk helps to reduce dandruff and scalp itchiness. This is because it contains lauric acid that has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Coconut milk when applied topically on the skin helps in maintenance of the skin’s elasticity. This effectively reduces wrinkle formation giving you a more youthful appearance. Its antibacterial properties are said to contribute towards acne prevention. Women across the world now use this product for make-up removal.

8. Anti-inflammatory properties

Coconut milk aids in the reduction of joint pain and inflammation. Sugar is known to be pro-inflammatory. Substituting it for coconut milk as a sweetener can have remarkable results for those suffering from autoimmune inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus arthritis.

9. Promotes gastrointestinal health

Coconut milk is a healthy substitute for individuals that are lactose intolerant. In addition, it contains Zinc, a mineral that aids in the renewal of the cells that line the intestinal wall. This prevents the translocation of harmful bacteria from the intestinal lumen into the blood stream and reduces the incidence of diarrhea.

How can implementing coconut milk into your diet improve your health? Why or why not?

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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How to Make Vegan Creamed Anything

BY GRACE KELLY
January 7, 2021
Source: Bon Appetite

vegan cream greens
Photo By Emma Fishman, Food Styling By D’Mytrek Brown
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

As a descendent of Lithuanian immigrants, sour cream runs through my veins. Eastern Europeans are known for their love of dairy. In Simon Bajada’s Cookbook Baltic, he writes, “Of all the exceptional produce celebrated within the region, the Baltic love of dairy cannot be overstated.” My family is no exception.

Cream cheese, sour cream, farmer’s cheese, cottage cheese, and butter have always had a welcome seat at the table. A tub of sour cream was always within arm’s reach of my great-grandmother’s pierogi, a welcome dollop of tang to cut through the dumplings’ richness, and one of my go-to after school snacks was a fruit dip made by mixing sour cream with brown sugar.

But running concurrently with my love of all things dairy is the great, cruel irony that’s plagued me ever since that first spoonful: I’m lactose intolerant. Cue the tiny violin. Growing up, I pushed through the gastrointestinal discomfort and all its unpleasant side effects, but as I’ve gotten older, the ol’ stomach can’t handle the same quantities of dairy goodness it used to. And coupled with the moral weight of being an environmental reporter, let’s just say I have good reason to cut back on dairy.

One of our best spinach recipes is this vegan creamed spinach.
Andy Baraghani’s vegan creamed spinach uses a slightly different technique but has just as great a result. Photo By Alex Lau, Food Styling By Yekaterina Boytsova
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

But it hasn’t been easy. What’s a bowl of chili without a dollop of sour cream? How can you make good pierogi without farmer’s cheese? While I remain stumped for adequate solutions to these dilemmas, I have stumbled upon a way to emulate the luxurious goodness of creamed vegetables—think spinach, mushrooms, or even poblano rajas—without dairy or even vegan cheese products.

I happened upon the magic combination—coconut milk, miso, and nutritional yeast—by accident. My cousin and his girlfriend were moving to the West Coast and decided to clean out their pantry predeparture. I was gifted some low-salt salad dressings, sugar-free chocolate chips, and a shakerful of nutritional yeast (a.k.a. nooch). The salad dressings and sugar-free chocolate are still collecting dust in my pantry, but, when mixed with sautéed alliums, coconut milk, and miso, that nooch makes a cheesy, creamy (vegan) sauce for vegetables.

It’s simple: Over medium heat, sauté 1 thinly sliced small onion or large shallot in 1 Tbsp. coconut oil until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Whisk in 2 tsp. white miso and 2 tsp. nutritional yeast—you’re creating a sort of “roux” of flavor here; if it looks a little dry, add another tablespoon of coconut oil. Add 2½ to 3 cups of your favorite greens (or other vegetables), and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, about 4 minutes. Stir in ¾ cup coconut milk (I like Aroy-D because it’s creamy and doesn’t separate), salt, and pepper, and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until about a quarter of the coconut milk has evaporated (the mixture should become thick, creamy, and pale brown).

You can swap out the greens for mushrooms to make a vegan stroganoff-ish sauce (add a teaspoon of soy sauce for depth), or for roasted poblano strips to make a vegan take on rajas con crema (add 1 tsp. each cumin and chili powder).

Even if they invent some magical way (sorry, lactose pills don’t count) for lactose-intolerant folks to eat creamy, cheesy dishes without gastric distress, I’d still have my shaker of nooch at the ready for this versatile vegan cream sauce.

Grace Kelly is a journalist and recipe developer based in Rhode Island. And no, she’s not related to the Princess of Monaco.

How did this recipe work for you? Did it help with your dietary needs? Why or why not?

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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Is Pink Himalayan Salt Better Than Regular Salt?

Source: Health Line

Pink Himalayan salt is a type of salt that’s naturally pink in color and mined near the Himalayas in Pakistan.

Many people claim that it’s loaded with minerals and provides incredible health benefits.

For these reasons, pink Himalayan salt is often thought to be much healthier than regular table salt.

However, little research on pink Himalayan salt exists, and other people insist that these extravagant health claims are nothing more than speculation.

This article looks at the key differences between pink Himalayan salt and regular salt and evaluates the evidence to decide which type of salt is healthier.

What Is Salt?

Salt is a mineral largely consisting of the compound sodium chloride.

Salt contains so much sodium chloride — around 98% by weight — that most people use the words “salt” and “sodium” interchangeably.

Salt can be produced by evaporating salt water or extracting solid salt from underground salt mines.

Before it reaches your grocery store, table salt also goes through a refining process to remove impurities and any other minerals besides sodium chloride.

Anticaking agents are sometimes added to help absorb moisture, and iodine is often included to help consumers prevent iodine deficiency.

Humans have used salt to flavor and preserve foods for thousands of years.

Interestingly, sodium also plays an important role in several biological functions, including fluid balance, nerve conduction and muscle contraction (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source3Trusted Source).

For this reason, it’s absolutely necessary to have salt, or sodium, in your diet.

However, many health professionals claim that too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, although recent research has called this long-held belief into question (4Trusted Source).

Because of the potential dangers of consuming too much table salt, many people have turned to using pink Himalayan salt, believing it to be a healthier alternative.

SUMMARY:

Salt consists mostly of sodium chloride and helps regulate important processes in the body. The potentially harmful effects of too much salt have caused many people to start using pink Himalayan salt instead.

What Is Pink Himalayan Salt?

Pink Himalayan salt is a pink-colored salt extracted from the Khewra Salt Mine, which is located near the Himalayas in Pakistan.

The Khewra Salt Mine is one of the oldest and largest salt mines in the world.

The pink Himalayan salt harvested from this mine is believed to have been formed millions of years ago from the evaporation of ancient bodies of water.

The salt is hand-extracted and minimally processed to yield an unrefined product that’s free of additives and thought to be much more natural than table salt.

Like table salt, pink Himalayan salt is mostly comprised of sodium chloride.

However, the natural harvesting process allows pink Himalayan salt to possess many other minerals and trace elements that are not found in regular table salt.

Some people estimate it may contain up to 84 different minerals and trace elements. In fact, it’s these very minerals, especially iron, that give it its characteristic pink color.

SUMMARY:

Pink Himalayan salt is harvested by hand from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. It’s minimally processed to provide a natural alternative to regular table salt.

How Is Pink Himalayan Salt Used?

Pink Himalayan salt has several dietary and non-dietary uses.

You Can Eat It or Cook With It

In general, you can cook with pink Himalayan salt just like you would with regular table salt. Put it in sauces and marinades or add it to your food at the dinner table.

Some people even use pink Himalayan salt as a cooking surface. Large blocks of the salt can be purchased and used to grill, sear and impart a salty flavor to meats and other foods.

Pink Himalayan salt can be purchased finely ground just like regular table salt, but it is not uncommon to also find coarse varieties sold in larger crystal sizes.

Considerations for Cooking

Whenever you’re measuring any kind of salt by volume, it’s important to consider how finely it’s ground.

You may need to use larger quantities of coarse salt to match the saltiness of finely ground salt. This is because finely ground salt is packed closer together than coarse salt, so there’s more of it in a particular volume.

For example, 1 teaspoon of any type of finely ground salt may contain around 2,300 mg of sodium, while 1 teaspoon of coarse salt will vary based on crystal size but could contain less than 2,000 mg of sodium.

Furthermore, pink Himalayan salt contains slightly less sodium chloride than regular table salt, which you may need to account for when cooking.

Current dietary guidelines in the US recommend that most adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. This is equal to around 1 teaspoon (6 grams) of finely ground salt (5Trusted Source).

However, when you’re using pink Himalayan salt, it’s best to check the nutrition label, as sodium content can vary widely, depending on the brand.

Non-Dietary Uses

While pink Himalayan salt has several dietary uses, there are also a number of popular non-dietary uses.

Pink Himalayan salt is used in some bath salts, which claim to improve skin conditions and soothe sore muscles.

Salt lamps are also often made out of pink Himalayan salt and claimed to remove air pollutants. These lamps consist of large blocks of salt with an inner light source that heats the salt.

Additionally, spending time in man-made salt caves formed out of pink Himalayan salt is popular among people seeking to improve skin and respiratory problems.

But the research supporting these three non-dietary uses of pink Himalayan salt is relatively weak. More studies are needed to confirm these claims.

SUMMARY:

You can use pink Himalayan salt just like regular salt when you’re cooking. Bath salts, salt lamps and salt caves are popular non-dietary uses of pink Himalayan salt.

Pink Himalayan Salt Contains More Minerals

Both table salt and pink Himalayan salt consist mostly of sodium chloride, but pink Himalayan salt has up to 84 other minerals and trace elements.

These include common minerals like potassium and calcium, as well as lesser-known minerals like strontium and molybdenum.

One study analyzed the mineral contents of various types of salts, including pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt (6).

Below is a comparison of well-known minerals found in a gram of the two salts:

Pink Himalayan SaltTable Salt
Calcium (mg)1.60.4
Potassium (mg)2.80.9
Magnesium (mg)1.060.0139
Iron (mg)0.03690.0101
Sodium (mg)368381

As you can see, table salt may have more sodium, but pink Himalayan salt contains more calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron (6).

Nevertheless, the amounts of these minerals in pink Himalayan salt are very, very small.

They are found in such small quantities that it would take 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg) of pink Himalayan salt to obtain the recommended daily amount of potassium, for instance. Needless to say, that’s an unrealistic amount of salt to consume.

For the most part, the extra minerals in pink Himalayan salt are found in such small quantities that they are unlikely to provide you with any health benefits whatsoever.

SUMMARY:

Pink Himalayan salt contains several minerals not found in regular salt. However, these minerals are found in very small quantities and unlikely to provide any health benefits.

Are the Health Claims True?

Despite the fact that pink Himalayan salt only contains tiny amounts of additional minerals, many people still claim that it can provide a number of health benefits.

The truth is, most of these claims do not have any research to support them.

Some of pink Himalayan salt’s commonly promoted health claims include that it can:

  • Improve respiratory diseases
  • Balance your body’s pH
  • Reduce signs of aging
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Increase libido

Some of the claims related to the non-dietary uses of pink Himalayan salt may be loosely based on research.

The use of salt caves as a treatment for various lung diseases has been evaluated in a few studies. The results suggest that there could be some benefit, but overall, more rigorous research is needed to investigate their effectiveness (7Trusted Source8Trusted Source9Trusted Source).

On the other hand, some of these health claims are actually just normal functions of sodium chloride in the body, so you’ll get these benefits from any kind of salt.

For example, researchers have found that very low-salt diets may contribute to sleeping problems (10Trusted Source).

This suggests that an adequate amount of salt may be necessary for quality sleep. However, the study did not examine pink Himalayan salt and it is likely a function of the sodium chloride in any salt.

Also, the minerals in pink Himalayan salt are not present in large enough quantities to have any effect on balancing the body’s pH. Your lungs and kidneys tightly regulate your body’s pH without the help of pink Himalayan salt.

Furthermore, blood sugar levels, aging and libido are all primarily controlled by factors other than the salt in your diet, and there are simply no scientific studies to suggest eating pink Himalayan salt can benefit any of these aspects of your health.

Similarly, there is no research comparing the health effects of pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt. If research did exist, it is unlikely that it would find any differences in their health effects.

SUMMARY:

Many health claims are often attached to pink Himalayan salt. However, most of these claims do not have research to support them.

The Bottom Line

Given all of the misguided health claims, it’s easy to see why some people are confused about which type of salt to use.

But no studies have compared the health effects of pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt. If they were to, it’s unlikely that they’d report any differences.

Nonetheless, if you’d like to avoid the additives in regular table salt, pink Himalayan salt is a great natural alternative. But don’t expect to see the major health benefits that you might read about online.

And remember that table salt is a major dietary source of iodine, so if you’re using pink Himalayan salt, you will need to get iodine from other foods like seaweed, dairy products and fish to help avoid iodine deficiency (11).

Finally, pink Himalayan salt is often much more expensive than regular salt. So if you don’t mind the additives, using regular table salt should be just fine.

Which do you prefer pink Himalayan salt or table salt? Why? Why not?

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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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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?

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11 Proven Benefits of Olive Oil

Source: Healthline
The health effects of dietary fat are controversial.

However, experts agree that olive oil — especially extra virgin — is good for you.

Here are 11 health benefits of olive oil that are supported by scientific research.

1. Olive Oil Is Rich in Healthy Monounsaturated Fats

Source: Healthline
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Olive oil is the natural oil extracted from olives, the fruit of the olive tree.

About 14% of the oil is saturated fat, whereas 11% is polyunsaturated, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids (1).

But the predominant fatty acid in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, making up 73% of the total oil content.

Studies suggest that oleic acid reduces inflammation and may even have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer (2Trusted Source3Trusted Source4Trusted Source5Trusted Source).

Monounsaturated fats are also quite resistant to high heat, making extra virgin olive oil a healthy choice for cooking.

SUMMARY Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated oleic acid. This fatty acid is believed to have many beneficial effects and is a healthy choice for cooking.

2. Olive Oil Contains Large Amounts of Antioxidants

Extra virgin olive oil is fairly nutritious.

Apart from its beneficial fatty acids, it contains modest amounts of vitamins E and K.

But olive oil is also loaded with powerful antioxidants.

These antioxidants are biologically active and may reduce your risk of chronic diseases (6Trusted Source7Trusted Source).

They also fight inflammation and help protect your blood cholesterol from oxidation — two benefits that may lower your risk of heart disease (8Trusted Source9Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Extra virgin olive oil is loaded with antioxidants, some of which have powerful biological effects.

3. Olive Oil Has Strong Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Chronic inflammation is thought to be a leading driver of diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and even obesity.

Extra-virgin olive oil can reduce inflammation, which may be one of the main reasons for its health benefits.

The main anti-inflammatory effects are mediated by the antioxidants. Key among them is oleocanthal, which has been shown to work similarly to ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug (10Trusted Source).

Some scientists estimate that the oleocanthal in 3.4 tablespoons (50 ml) of extra virgin olive oil has a similar effect as 10% of the adult dosage of ibuprofen (11Trusted Source).

Research also suggests that oleic acid, the main fatty acid in olive oil, can reduce levels of important inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) (2Trusted Source3Trusted Source).

One study also showed that olive oil antioxidants can inhibit some genes and proteins that drive inflammation (12Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Olive oil contains nutrients that fight inflammation. These include oleic acid as well as the antioxidant oleocanthal.

4. Olive Oil May Help Prevent Strokes

Stroke is caused by a disturbance of blood flow to your brain, either due to a blood clot or bleeding.

In developed nations, stroke is the second most common cause of death, right behind heart disease (13).

The relationship between olive oil and stroke risk has been studied extensively.

A large review of studies in 841,000 people found that olive oil was the only source of monounsaturated fat associated with a reduced risk of stroke and heart disease (14Trusted Source).

In another review in 140,000 participants, those who consumed olive oil were at a much lower risk of stroke than those who did not (15Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Several large studies demonstrate that people who consume olive oil have a much lower risk of stroke, the second biggest killer in developed countries.

5. Olive Oil Is Protective Against Heart Disease

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

Observational studies conducted a few decades ago showed that heart disease is less common in Mediterranean countries.

This led to extensive research on the Mediterranean diet, which has now been shown to significantly reduce heart disease risk (17Trusted Source18Trusted Source).

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the key ingredients in this diet, protecting against heart disease in several ways (19).

It lowers inflammation, protects “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidation, improves the lining of your blood vessels and may help prevent excessive blood clotting (20Trusted Source21Trusted Source22Trusted Source23Trusted Source24Trusted Source25Trusted Source).

Interestingly, it has also been shown to lower blood pressure, which is one of the strongest risk factors for heart disease and premature death. In one study, olive oil reduced the need for blood pressure medication by 48% (26Trusted Source27Trusted Source28Trusted Source).

Dozens — if not hundreds — of studies indicate that extra virgin olive oil has powerful benefits for your heart.

If you have heart disease, a family history of heart disease or any other major risk factor, you may want to include plenty of extra virgin olive oil in your diet.

SUMMARY Extra virgin olive oil has numerous benefits for heart health. It lowers blood pressure, protects “bad” LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation and improves the function of blood vessels.

6. Olive Oil Is Not Associated With Weight Gain and Obesity

Eating excessive amounts of fat causes weight gain.

However, numerous studies have linked the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, with favorable effects on body weight (29Trusted Source30Trusted Source31Trusted Source).

In a 30-month study in over 7,000 Spanish college students, consuming a lot of olive oil was not linked to increased weight (32Trusted Source).

Additionally, one three-year study in 187 participants found that a diet rich in olive oil was linked to increased levels of antioxidants in the blood, as well as weight loss (33Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Consuming olive oil does not appear to increase the likelihood of weight gain. Moderate intake may even aid weight loss.

7. Olive Oil May Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative condition in the world.

One of its key features is a buildup of so-called beta-amyloid plaques inside your brain cells.

One study in mice showed that a substance in olive oil can help remove these plaques (34Trusted Source).

Additionally, a human study indicated that a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil benefitted brain function (35Trusted Source).

Keep in mind that more research is needed on the impact of olive oil on Alzheimer’s.

SUMMARY Some studies suggest that olive oil may combat Alzheimer’s disease, but more research is needed.

8. Olive Oil May Reduce Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Olive oil appears to be highly protective against type 2 diabetes.

Several studies have linked olive oil to beneficial effects on blood sugar and insulin sensitivity (36Trusted Source37Trusted Source).

A randomized clinical trial in 418 healthy people recently confirmed the protective effects of olive oil (38Trusted Source).

In this study, a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by over 40%.

SUMMARY Both observational studies and clinical trials suggest that olive oil, combined with a Mediterranean diet, can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

9. The Antioxidants in Olive Oil Have Anti-Cancer Properties

Cancer is one of the most common causes of death in the world.

People in Mediterranean countries have a lower risk of some cancers, and many researchers believe that olive oil may be the reason (39Trusted Source).

The antioxidants in olive oil can reduce oxidative damage due to free radicals, which is believed to be a leading driver of cancer (40Trusted Source41Trusted Source).

Many test-tube studies demonstrate that compounds in olive oil can fight cancer cells (42Trusted Source43Trusted Source).

More research is needed to determine whether olive oil in fact reduces your risk of cancer.

SUMMARY Preliminary evidence suggests that olive oil may reduce cancer risk, but further studies are needed.

10. Olive Oil Can Help Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease characterized by deformed and painful joints.

Though the exact cause is not well understood, it involves your immune system attacking normal cells by mistake.

Olive oil supplements appear to improve inflammatory markers and reduce oxidative stress in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (44Trusted Source45Trusted Source).

Olive oil seems particularly beneficial when combined with fish oil, a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

In one study, olive and fish oil significantly improved handgrip strength, joint pain and morning stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis (46Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Olive oil can help reduce joint pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis. The beneficial effects are greatly increased when combined with fish oil.

11. Olive Oil Has Antibacterial Properties

Olive oil contains many nutrients that can inhibit or kill harmful bacteria (47Trusted Source).

One of these is Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that lives in your stomach and can cause stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.

Test-tube studies have shown that extra virgin olive oil fights eight strains of this bacterium, three of which are resistant to antibiotics (48Trusted Source).

A study in humans suggested that 30 grams of extra virgin olive oil, taken daily, can eliminate Helicobacter pylori infection in 10–40% of people in as little as two weeks (49).

SUMMARY Extra virgin olive oil has antibacterial properties and has been found to be particularly effective against Helicobacter pylori, a type of bacterium that can cause stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.

Make Sure to Get the Right Type

Buying the right kind of olive oil is extremely important.

Extra virgin olive oil retains some of the antioxidants and bioactive compounds from olives. For this reason, it’s considered healthier than the more refined variety of olive oil.

Even so, there is a lot of fraud on the olive oil market, as many oils that read “extra virgin” on the label have been diluted with other refined oils.

Therefore, examine labels carefully to ensure you’re getting real extra virgin olive oil. It’s always a good idea to read ingredients lists and check for quality certification.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, quality extra virgin olive oil is incredibly healthy. Due to its powerful antioxidants, it benefits your heart, brain, joints and more.

In fact, it may be the healthiest fat on the planet.

How can the use of olive oil improve your health? How can olive oil help improve your diet? Why? Why not?

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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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?

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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Growing in Autumn

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Echinacea

Its amazing how much people know about this site without ever, as stated, coming to the site. Nonetheless, one of the plants we sent out continues to do well even in the impending autumn and winter. The owner will soon be in the process of bringing her plant indoors. Echinacea requires much patience as it is reported to take up to 2 years to bloom. The medicinal properties of this tall plant are several. Keep growing!

What plants are you bringing indoors? How is it going? Have you made any adjustments?

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.