Category Archives: health

TED Talk: Five Special Plants from the Mascarene Islands

In this 14 minute TED talk given by Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, we are reminded of the important contribution that plants have to our health and to medicine. This requires habitat preservation of biodiversity. In this Anthropocene age it seems that natural habitats are constantly under threat.

“for every disease known to mankind there is a plant to cure it”

She shows us some humble plants which “hide surprising secrets” besides feeding us and giving us oxygen, telling us that there are 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world, the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean being one of them, including Madagascar.

“there is no such thing as a weed”

Gurib-Fakim discusses five plants: Benjoin, which has leaves of different shapes and sizes on a single plant; Psiadia arguta which has medicinal uses; Baobab, “the tree of life” for food security; the Resurrection plant from Africa, which can withstand up to 90 percent dehydration but then regenerate rapidly with water; and, Centella called a “weed”, which grows across the world in many habitats, and is used by cosmetic companies.

Ten Basic Rules for Following the Mediterranean Diet


Still Life with Mackerels, Lemons and Tomatoes – Vincent van Gogh, 1886

Obesity is one of the world’s top health problems and the problem is growing worse each year. We, believe it or not, are in control of what we eat. No one is force-feeding us. Because the Mediterranean diet is both healthy and flavorful, it is possible to lose weight and control our weight without being deprived of delicious comfort foods.

As we northern hemisphere populations are entering our short, dark, winter days of the year during which people often put on some extra pounds, let’s take a look at the simple guidelines for following the Mediterranean Diet. Following this diet is not expensive, and the cooking required by it is simple. It allows for a great amount of flexibility and customization, too.

This diet also fits the smart adage “everything in moderation”. And don’t forget that the bottom line for the success of any diet is the portion size.

Keep yourself moving, too, and Bon appétit!

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1. Meals should be primarily vegetarian and include whole grains, legumes such as cooked dry beans, peas, or lentils, and vegetables. Use lots of herbs and seasonings for flavor.

2. Eat fruits and vegetables every day, several times a day. Good choices are tomatoes, grapes, broccoli, olives, spinach, eggplant, beans, peppers, and berries. Try to eat fresh, local, in season, or from your own garden. Include fermented olives and capers.

3. For dietary fat, use olive oil. Use it on breads, vegetables, and for cooking. Nuts are also good, especially walnuts.

4. Eat whole grains daily such as whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, oats, brown rice, and couscous.

5. Fish should be eaten a few times a week, especially oily fish like mackerel, tuna, salmon, trout, herring and sardines.

6. Dairy should only be eaten about once a week. Eat cheese and yogurt occasionally. Eggs should be limited to four per week.

7. Red Meat should be eaten only once every week or two, in a small portion size about equal to a deck of playing cards. Small portions of poultry, lamb or pork can also be eaten once a week, or so.

8. Dessert should be eaten only once a week. Ideas for fruit as dessert include broiled grapefruit with brown sugar, pears with honey, or baked apples with brown sugar and raisins.

9. A glass of red wine with one meal each day is fine. Drink plenty of water.

10. One of the healthy lifestyle secrets of the Mediterranean is to do moderate movement throughout the day such as noble work like sweeping the floor, gardening, or hanging out laundry, and walking or biking instead of driving to do errands and visit friends and family. Frequent social interactions and connections are also important, including dining with friends, family, and neighbors.

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This diet is a heart healthy diet and its environmental impacts are gentler on the land.

Sweet Potatoes are Gaining as Regular Potatoes are Losing Ground

U.S. sweet potato use per capita has increased significantly during the last decade and was estimated at nearly 7 pounds in 2012, up almost 50 percent over 2002 levels. People recognize the health benefits of fiber and many nutrients contained in sweet potatoes and, of course, sweet potato fries have become extremely popular.

According to the Univ. of Kentucky, “sweet potatoes gained some popularity as a ‘lower-carb potato’ in the early 2000’s, and high antioxidant levels in sweet potato skins and other health benefits contributed to consumption staying strong after the low-carb diet craze. Sweet potato consumption is highest among Americans over 60, and sweet potatoes may have special appeal to aging, health-conscious baby boomers.”


source: North Carolina Sweet Potatoes

U.S. Sweet Potato per capita consumption has been rising nicely:
4.2 pounds in 2000
5.2 pounds in 2009
6.3 pounds in 2010
7 pounds in 2012

As a comparison, American’s eat about 50 pounds per year of all types of potatoes, including processed and fresh baked.

Do you know where your sweet potatoes come from?

North Carolina has been the number one sweet producing state since 1971. According to NC Sweet Potatoes, “Its hot, moist climate and rich, fertile soil are ideal for cultivating sweet potatoes, averaging at nearly 50% of the U.S. supply. According to the USDA, North Carolina harvested nearly 50,000 acres of sweet potatoes in 2010, the same amount produced by California, Louisiana and Mississippi combined – also top producing states.”

Sweet potatoes were formerly thought of as a poor man’s food, but now are realized to be a nutrient lovers food. I like to put cubed sweet potatoes in Indian cooking dishes with other vegetables such as cauliflower over rice, or, in pasta.

One lady is even reported to have done a sweet potato diet. She claims to have lost 90 pounds while eating one sweet potato per day topped with cinnamon, along with other healthy foods.


References:

1. http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CDBREC/introsheets/sweetintro.pdf

2. http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-news/foodservice/Sweet-potato-consumption-on-the-rise-228037231.html

3. http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/sweet-potato-industry/

4. http://online.wsj.com/articles/the-humble-potato-falls-from-grace-1407867055

Can one Taste Help You Lose Weight? Perhaps.

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is telling us the chemical glutamate in food is the taste that makes us feel “full”.

Foods which may satiate us better, then, include meat, parmesan cheese, shiitake mushrooms, and… you guessed it… Marmite.

This “fullness” flavor is named umami by the Japanese, and means deliciousness. Expect to hear that word a lot more as people reach for the next magical weight loss solution.


To learn more, read Scientists identify the flavour that helps us eat less.

This Sugar Infographic is Timely Because of the Movie “Fed Up”

This infographic on sugar consumption in the United States is from OnlineNursingProgram.com and it is timely because of the release of the movie “Fed Up” – a movie about obesity and too much sugar in the average American diet.

Nursing Your Sweet Tooth

• Since 1990, sugar intake has increased by 40 pounds a year, and the obesity rate has increased by 20 percent.

• The American Heart Association recommends no more than 9.5 teaspoons of sugar a day. The average adult consumes 22 teaspoons, while the average child takes in 32 teaspoons.

• The average American will consume 3,500 pounds of sugar in his lifetime, or about 3 pounds a week. (That’s close to two tons of sugar in a lifetime.)

Also, sugar has been shown to be a major risk factor in cardiac disease.

Sugar is addictive. I can speak from personal experience. I eliminated it from my diet a few years ago and now I find that the less I have, the less I want. Please join me in eliminating simple sugars from your diet – if you haven’t already.

Finally, the trailer for the movie “Fed Up” is below: