Category Archives: Anti-cancer

Matcha: The Ultimate Health Drink ☘

Organic green matcha tea

If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to the usual shamrock-shaded green beer to show your St. Patrick’s Day spirit, try matcha. Matcha (pronounced “MA-cha”) is a finely ground green tea powder that dates back to a 1,000-year-old Japanese tea ceremony. Preparing and serving matcha is a formal art in Japan and the health benefits of this green elixir have been striking.

The Magic of Matcha

Researchers consider green tea the healthiest beverage you can drink. Its health benefits have been studied since the 1990s due to their strong correlation between long life and health in many Asian cultures. Extensive studies on green tea revealed that it provides significant protection against:

  • Cardiovascular disease heart disease (atherosclerosis)
  • Low density lipoproteins (LDLs – the “bad” cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Stroke

Healthy, plaque-free blood vessels are good for your heart and what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. An active, working brain requires sufficient blood flow.

Catechin Polyphenols

What makes matcha so beneficial? Something called polyphenols. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants and green tea contains polyphenols classified as “catechins” (pronounced KAT’-eh-kins).

Catechin polyphenols are found in the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant that fight and may even prevent cell damage. Catechins are also found in red wine, chocolate, berries, and apples, but in smaller amounts compared to tea leaves.

Four types of tea come from the Camellia sinensis plant:

  • Black
  • Green
  • Oolong
  • White

Green tea undergoes much less processing than the other teas, so it contains more antioxidants as well as less caffeine. Specifically, these hand-picked green tea leaves are high in catechin polyphenols called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is the most active and most studied of the polyphenols.

How to Drink It

Matcha is made from high quality leaves and is jewel green in color. When drinking matcha, in contrast to drinking steeped green tea, you are drinking the whole leaf and not just the brewed water from the leaves. Therefore, when drinking matcha, you’re consuming 10 times the antioxidants, i.e., the health benefits in one cup of matcha is equivalent to 10 cups of green tea.    Continue reading

Whole Grains for Your Heart? Use the 5 to 1 Fiber Rule

Grain and cereal food selection in heart shaped porcelain bowls over lokta paper background. Green freekeh wheat in large dish with ears.

Ever since your doctor told you to start eating more fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes (beans, split peas, chick peas, and lentils), you switched to eating whole wheat bread. You congratulated yourself on trading in (reluctantly) your soft white “wonder” for a 21-grain brick, but your new kind of loaf may not be as healthy and whole as you might think.

Why You Need More Dietary Fiber

There is accumulating evidence that eating more dietary fiber reduces your risk for:

• Type 2 diabetes
• Cardiovascular disease
• Certain cancers
• Weight gain
• Obesity
• Diverticular disease
• Functional constipation

According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, as your fiber intake goes up, your risk of metabolic syndrome goes down resulting in less inflammation and a drop in obesity risk. It was concluded that greater dietary fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of both cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease. (See ‘”Inflammation / Foods that Heal and Harm“)

It’s no surprise that another study concluded that for every additional 7 grams of fiber consumed, heart disease risk decreased by 9%. Seven grams of fiber really doesn’t equate to that much food. You can get 7 grams through a serving of whole grains plus beans or lentils (e.g., rice and beans), or a few servings of fruits and vegetables.

How Dietary Fiber Benefits Your Heart

The cardiovascular benefits of dietary fiber include:

  • Helps get rid of excess bile (reduces LDL “bad” cholesterol)
  • Reduces cholesterol production
  • Feeds our “good” bacteria
  • Changes our gut hormones
  • Promotes eating low-calorie-density foods
  • Increases satiety
  • Delays gastric emptying

These effects collectively help control your cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure which all reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Also, per a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary fiber has been shown to reduce inflammation, specifically, C-reactive protein, a sensitive inflammatory marker that can predict chronic disease.

Eat More Whole Plant Foods

Consuming more dietary fiber means eating lots of whole plant foods, such as:

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Soluble fiber acts like a “cholesterol sponge”. Sources include:

  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Seeds (especially flaxseeds)
  • Legumes
  • Most fruits

Sources of insoluble fiber, a.k.a. “Nature’s Broom”, help prevent constipation and include:

  • Whole wheat
  • Wheat bran
  • Brown rice
  • Other whole grains
  • Most vegetables

When shopping for “packaged” grain products, such as bread, crackers and ready-to-eat cereals, the first word in the ingredients list should be “whole”. However, the remaining ingredients might look like a bunch of chemicals, so how do you choose?

The “Five to One Fiber Rule”   

A more reliable strategy to identify a healthy whole grain food product is to   Continue reading

Fit Minute | Why Pumpkin Promotes Anti-Aging

pumpkin_adobestock_117487967‘Tis the season for pumpkin! Here are the nutrition bullet points that make them well worth eating:

  • Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene (an important antioxidant).
  • Beta-carotene (a bright orange plant pigment) is converted to vitamin A in your body.

Vitamin A is for Anti-Aging

Foods rich in beta-carotene:

  • May reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.
  • Offer protection against heart disease and some degenerative aspects of aging, including cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Keep your skin soft and smooth. Vitamin A rebuilds body tissues and helps control the production of sebum (oil) that lubricates your skin.  If you’re deficient in this vitamin, you’ll end up with dry, scaly skin.
  • Destroy free radicals, that is, the by-products of oxidation from normal metabolic processing. These little scavengers cause cellular damage and are responsible for aging skin.
  • Attack the free radicals that break down your skin’s elastin and collagen – the vital components of youthful, firm and resilient skin.

pumpkin-seeds_adobestock_24256286Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are a good souce of fiber and healthy fats and an excellent source of iron — especially for vegans. A handful of pepitas (about 85 little seeds) contain about 1 mg. of iron. That’s about 4% of the recommended amount of iron you need each day.

Iron is essential due to its oxygen-carrying capacity. An iron deficiency can impair muscle function, normal function of the nervous and immune systems, and can limit your work capacity during exercise.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: Roast and season pumpkin seeds and kernels for a bone-building high-fiber snack. To spice them up, sprinkle them with garlic powder, cayenne and smoked paprika. Also, try some Super Moist Pumpkin Bars for a boost of vitamin A!

How to Build a Better Salad

I love this infographic created by the Cleveland Clinic! Colorful guide on how to build a salad with lots of healthy layers…

how to build a better salad_cleveland clinic_cropped

Continue reading

Inflammation | Sorting Out the Omega-3’s

Plant-based and animal sources of Omega-3 acidsOmega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats and consist of three types: EPA, DHA and ALA. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are primarily found in certain kinds of fish. Another type of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid  (ALA), is found in plants.

Certain types of fish are rich in EPA and DHA. These essential polyunsaturated fats reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6, two inflammatory proteins in your body. A six-month study demonstrated that consuming 960 mg/day of EPA and 600 mg/day of DHA lowered CRP.¹

To lower your risk of mercury exposure from eating fish, be sure to choose the right fish*.

Swordfish_dollarphotoclub_75683664*Avoid larger, longer-living fish, such as shark and swordfish, as they tend to accumulate more mercury than the smaller fish like sardines, sole, and trout.

Per Consumer Reports, a 6-oz. serving of:

  • Salmon contains 4 mcg of mercury
  • Canned albacore tuna contains 60 mcg 
  • Swordfish contains 170 mcg 

Oily fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include:

How much: At least 3 to 4 ounces of fish, twice a week

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: If you don’t eat fish, you can actually drink it in the form of orange juice! Tropicana® Orange Juice Pure Premium Healthy Heart Orange Juice is fortified with actual fish (tilapia, sardine and anchovy). Also, grass-fed beef  is often higher in omega-3 fatty acids than conventional beef due to their diet of grass and foraged foods versus grains, such as corn.

Source:
¹Fish oil supplementation lowers C-reactive protein levels independent of triglyceride reduction in patients with end-stage renal disease. Nutrition Clinical Practice. 2009.

 Stay tuned! Up next… “Fish-Free Omega-3’s

Inflammation | Foods that Heal and Harm

Hello I have High Cholesterol Word CloudChronic, low-level inflammation might be the SILENT culprit behind your aging process. There is growing evidence that there’s a correlation between chronic systemic inflammation and chronic disease, such as:

  • Coronary atherosclerosis (plaque buildup)
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Macular degeneration (a common form of age-related blindness)
  • Asthma
  • Dementia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Some cancers
  • Depression

The Silent Killer   

Chronic, low-level inflammation is quite different from acute inflammation, the body’s healthy response to injury and infection. When you get a bug bite or sprained ankle and the area becomes swollen, warm, painful, and red, your body is trying to defend itself by sending immune cells and key nutrients to the area — this is an acute inflammatory response.    Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | How to Shop for Whole Grains

Is this a whole grain?

Is this a whole grain?

Following an eating plan that centers around whole-grain foods versus refined grains can help you reduce belly fat and other health risks.  See Eat Your Way to a Trimmer Waist. But shopping for whole grains can be confusing with all the varying descriptors. So here’s a guide to help you decipher what’s whole grain and what’s not.

To qualify as a whole grain, 100% of the original kernel – all of the bran, germ, and endosperm – must be present. All grains start out whole, but during the refining process, the bran and germ are removed. As a general rule, look for the key word “whole”, such as “whole grain”, “100% whole grain”, or “whole wheat” when shopping for a whole-grain product and see that it’s listed as the first ingredient on the food label.

Watch for These Words

Beware of the following product ingredient descriptions as they MAY NOT be whole grain:   Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | Best Fiber Fix for Cardiacs and Diabetics

For good health, aim for getting in 40 gm of fiber every day — but all fibers are not alike. If you’re a diabetic, cardiac patient or at risk for heart disease, it’s a good idea to know the difference.

Dietary fibers are found naturally in plants. They’re the parts that don’t break down in your stomach and pass through your system pretty much intact. Fiber is separated into two main types: soluble and insoluble. They’re both important, but they have different properties (how they react with water) and have a different effect on your body.

NOTE: Since some fibers absorb water, be sure to drink more fluids as you increase your fiber intake.

Oatmeal

Oat fiber helps lower bad cholesterol and control blood sugar.

Soluble Fiber

  • Dissolves in water and forms a viscous gel in the intestines which slows down digestion.
  • Helps lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol.*
  • Slows the emptying of food through the G.I. (gastrointestinal) tract, so it helps control blood sugar and diabetes.
  • Makes you feel full longer which helps control body weight.
  • May reduce blood pressure and inflammation.

*LDL cholesterol is needed to produce hormones and provide structure to cell membranes, but because excesses can accumulate in the blood vessels and promote atherosclerosis, it’s been branded as the “bad” cholesterol.  

Did You Know…

Soluble fiber acts like a “cholesterol sponge“. It soaks up cholesterol-laden bile salts in your intestine and eliminates them with other waste. To produce more bile acids (compounds needed to transport and absorb fat and fat-soluble vitamins), your liver must use the LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream. That means there’s less to collect and harden on the walls of your arteries!   Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | What’s Your Nut I.Q?

Nuts_pbAccording to a large 30-year study, eating a handful of nuts every day could lower your risk of dying by 20 percent. Nuts are full of inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat. They’re also a good source of protein and healthy fiber too. NOTE:  If you thought nuts were off-limits when trying to lose weight, think again. The fiber will help fill up you and the healthy fat will help keep you satisfied longer.

Researchers report a decreased risk for most major causes of death like heart disease and cancer. Nuts are rich in healthful unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients*. Here’s how you can benefit and enjoy them.

  • Eat nuts seven or more times per week. Eating nuts just once a week lowered the risk of dying by 11 percent.
  • Eat one ounce of nuts per day — approximately 1/4 cup or one “handful”.
  • Beware of canned and packaged nuts (e.g., in Trail Mixes) that have been processed with oil and salt. It’s healthier to buy them raw and roast them at home without the additives.
  • Limit your intake of Brazil nuts to one per day or only occasionally due to their unusually high levels of selenium (an essential mineral). One Brazil nut contains 200 mcg of this mineral and the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 80-200 mcg.   Continue reading

Fusilli with Rapini and Roasted Garlic

Rapini / Broccoli RabeWhat is rapini? Also known as broccoli rabe, rapini belongs to the cruciferous, or cabbage, vegetable family and is highly nutritious as well as delicious. It is a cousin to other ‘super-veggies’ that include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, arugula, kale, and mustard seeds and is a great source of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Being rich in disease-fighting phytochemicals, particularly sulforaphane, these healthy greens have potential anti-cancer properties.

‘Rapini’ is actually a culinary term for the edible leaves, stems, and shoots of cruciferous crops. So you can eat every bit of this plant! This vegetable has thick tender stems, flower buds, and mild peppery leaves. Rapini can have a bitter edge to it which gives it it’s characteristic flavor. The bitterness, however, may vary bunch to bunch and in season, but is toned down when cooked. A long-standing favorite in Italian cuisine, rapini pairs well with pasta and polenta.

Here’s a simple 5-ingredient recipe that makes an easy one-pot entrée or side dish:    Continue reading