Nutrition

Vegetables

Vegetables are well known for their powerful health-promoting benefits, such as wellness, longevity, and disease prevention. This is due to their comprehensive variety of macronutrients (complex carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fiber), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and phytonutrients ( meaning “plant” nutrients) which provide protective health benefits for the plants, and the people who consume them.

Below is a list of vegetables, with some nutritional benefits of each.

tunip greens1Turnip greens

Turnip greens are one of the cruciferous vegetables you will want to eat on a regular basis to experience their wonderful health benefits.

It’s good to include cruciferous vegetables in your diet 2-3 times per week, in 1 1/2 cup portions, and even better 4-5 times a week in 2 cup serving sizes.

A healthy way to fix turnip greens is to chop into 1/2 inch pieces, then let sit for 5 minutes to enhance health benefits. Sprinkling with lemon juice before letting them sit may help to activate their enzymes. Steam for 5 minutes and season to taste.

While turnips, the root of turnip greens is high in vitamin C, turnip greens are an excellent source of many vitamins including vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, manganese, fiber, calcium, and copper. They are also a very good source of potassium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B2. Additionally, turnip greens are a good source of phosphorus, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein .

veggies-yams

 

 Yams
Even though yams, of which there are about 200 varieties, are one of the most popular and widely consumed foods in the world, they are not readily available in most stores in the United States. There is much confusion between yams and sweet potatoes in the U.S., as most vegetables advertised as “yams” are really orange-colored sweet potatoes. True yams in the U.S. are usually found in Asian and African food markets. They are a staple in the diets of many different countries, such as South America, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the West Indies.

Yams, whose flesh colors vary from white to ivory to yellow to purple while their thick skin comes in white, pink or brownish-black, are a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin C, manganese and vitamin B

Avocado isolated on a white background.

Avocados
Quick Nutrition Facts

Good source of: Vitamin K, dietary fiber, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, folate, copper, and valuable monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid.

More Health Benefits

Avocados contain several nutrients that protect the heart. They are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid, which lowers cholesterol. A study of people with high cholesterol revealed that after only 7 days of eating a diet including avocados, there was a significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL(bad cholesterol). In addition, there was an 11% increase in the good HDL cholesterol.

Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral which helps regulate blood pressure. A sufficient amount of potassium will help prevent circulatory diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. It has proven so significant, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has made an official statement: “Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.”

Another important nutrient for heart health, folate, is found in significant amounts in avocados. Studies have shown that those with a diet high in folate have a lower risk of heart attacks, cardiovascular disease or strokes, than those who do not have a folate-rich diet.

Carotenoids, one of the naturally occurring pigments in fruits and vegetables, are powerful antioxidants being studied as potential anti-cancer and anti-aging compounds. Avocados contain several carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene) and are an especially concentrated source of the carotenoid lutein. In addition, they contain significant quantities of tocopherols (vitamin E).

This is important because a lab study recorded in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed that an extract of avocado with these carotenoids and tocopherols inhibited the growth of two types of prostate cancer cells!

However, when researchers isolated the carotenoid lutein and exposed the cancer cells to only lutein, it did not prevent cancer cell growth. The whole combination of nutrients God has put together in the avocado is significant. The carotenoids and tocopherols together are necessary to kill prostate cancer cells.

Additionally, the monounsaturated fat, which is part of the whole avocado package, ensures that the carotenoids will be absorbed by the body. You see, carotenoids are fat-soluble which means fat must be present for absorption. God packaged those nutrients together for a purpose!

Another benefit of avocado: studies have even shown that the body’s ability to absorb carotenoid-rich food, such as carrots, tomatoes, and spinach, is greatly improved when they are eaten along with avocado.

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Diet types

Many types of diets have been developed over the years in a bid to help consumers lose weight fast, avoid lifestyle diseases and achieve a healthy posture. The most popular diets include:

i) Paleo Diet

Many people have heard about the paleo diet but only a few of them know what it entails. Paleo is derived from the word paleolithic, a stone age era. Paleolithic diet therefore translates to caveman diet. While the human ancestors may have lived a crude life, they were healthier and much stronger. They also lived much longer than the modern man. This is attributed to their diet – the paleolithic diet. The basis of the diet program is that the caveman ate foods the body could metabolize efficiently. These include; meat, berries, roots and herbs. It had taken centuries for the caveman’s body to adapt to digesting and metabolizing these foods. In the early stages of the agrarian revolution, when mankind started to domesticate animals and grow crops, human beings changed their diet to include dairy products, grains and legumes. While this led to food security and greatly contributed to industrialization and modernization, it also put a lot of strain on the body to adapt to this new diet. According to proponent of the paleolithic diet, this is what has contributed to a reduced lifespan, weaker body and lifestyle diseases.
To reverse the process, the paleolithic diet comes highly recommended. It entails consumption of seafood and meat among other types of animal products, except dairy. Other recommended foods include; high-fiber non-starchy fruits and vegetables.

paleo diet

ii) Mediterranean Diet

This is a Southern European diet popular with residents of Greece, Crete and Southern Italy. This is an almost completely plant diet. It entails consumption of: a lot of fruits in form of dessert; olive oil, seeds, beans, nuts and cereal as a source of dietary fat; dairy products in the form of cheese and yogurt; small amounts of red meat; up to four eggs per week; moderate amounts of poultry and fish; and some wine.
A Mediterranean diet has a number of health benefits. For one, it can help to reduce the risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, certain types of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease when coupled with physical activity. The diet also helps to prevent stokes, keeps you agile and increases your chances of living a long life by over 20%.

iii) Vegetarian Diet

A vegetarian diet is completely plant-based as it does not include animal products, except honey, dairy and eggs. The diet mainly consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, cereals, pastries, pasta, legumes and nuts among other types of foods that are derived from plants.
A vegetarian diet has many benefits, the most notable being; increased longevity, fewer lifestyle diseases and a healthy body weight. Since the diet helps dieters to maintain a healthy body weight and keep cholesterol level in the body at a healthy level, dieters can expect to live a healthy life free from obesity, diabetes and heart disease among other types of illnesses.

iv) Vegan Diet

Some people think there is no difference between vegans and vegetarians. The truth, however, is that vegans do not consume any food that comes from animals while vegetarians can eat eggs, dairy products and honey. The diet consists of plant-based foods only. Think pasta, cereals, pastries, fruits, vegetables and nuts.
This diet has many health benefits. Researchers have found that animal proteins and fats increase a person’s risk of developing diabetes, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and high blood pressure among other types of medical conditions. A vegan diet can help dieters to not only avoid these diseases, but also to maintain a healthy weight.

v) The Zone Diet

This is a healthy balanced diet aimed at providing dieters with every nutrient they need grow and stay healthy. A zone diet maintains a nutritional balance of 40% carbohydrates, 30% proteins and 30% fats in every meal. The diet also aims at controlling insulin levels in the body to ensure quick weight loss. In this type of diet, lean proteins come highly recommended. This includes fish and chicken. Healthy fats, such as avocado and olive oils as well as oil from nuts, are also highly recommended. In fact, consumers are advised to snack on nuts because they contain good fats, healthy carbohydrates and some proteins in the recommended ratio.
The Zone Diet overcomes some of the shortcomings of vegan and vegetarian diets in that it provides dieters with all essential nutrients the body needs to grow, regenerate cells and function optimally. The second advantage is that it offers the same benefits as the other diets.

Zone Diet

 

Veganism is more of a principle than a diet, but avoiding animal products, even honey, seems like an extreme measure for most people. A vegetarian diet seems like a compromise since it is largely a vegan diet, but dieters can also eat eggs, honey and dairy products. The Mediterranean and zone diets are the easiest to adapt and they have the same health benefits. While the Paleo diet may seem like a stretch, considering all the bad things experts are saying about red meat, it has many fans as well as numerous benefit. Be sure to consider all the pros and cons before choosing any one of these diets.

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