Super food

 

Bananas are one of the most widely consumed fruits in the world and fresh bananas are available year-round. Adding sliced banana to your morning cereal or oatmeal sounds great for breakfast. Bananas are packed with flavonoids, beta carotene a powerful antioxidant that gobbles free radical. In addition, it is a good source of potassium important for controlling the heart rate and blood pressure. Vitamin B6 in banana, help prevent anemia.

Increase happiness

Bananas help to overcome depression by releasing mood regulating substance called tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in the brain that elevates mood and makes you happier!

Energy

Bananas, a pack of energy punch, good supplier of carbohydrate necessary to replace the muscle glycogen after your heavy work out. Before a strenuous workout, it help sustain your blood sugar. Blend a banana with a cup of soy milk and a teaspoon of honey and refrigerate. Enjoy a chill smoothie after workout!

Bowel health

Bananas are high in soluble fiber that acts as prebiotic, stimulating the growth of friendly bacteria in the bowel that helps relieve constipation and restore regular bowel function.

Potassium

Bananas are high in potassium that helps lower blood pressure and protect against heart diseases and help the body’s circulatory system, deliver oxygen to the brain. Potassium help transport more oxygen to your brain, that keeps your brain do its job better. If you are taking beta-blockers, prescribed for heart disease, consult with your doctor if potassium level become a concern, for this medication have the potential to increase in the potassium levels.

Iron

Bananas are rich in iron that help individuals with anemia. It help stimulation of production of hemoglobin that aids in oxygen transport.

Digestion

Bananas are rich in pectin, aiding digestion and detoxification process in the body. It soothes the digestive tract and help restore lost electrolytes after diarrhea. Banana Smoothie, a wonderful energy punch.

A sliced banana mixed with sliced strawberries, mandarin orange and a teaspoon of honey and chopped mint leaves, makes a great dessert.  Enjoy with your family!

 

 

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Power Your Brain

Controlling the risk factors of chronic disease, like heart disease and diabetes with healthy food and regular physical activity will help us keep our brain active and healthy. Physical activity along with healthy foods will strengthen the brain cells, especially the memory and learning.

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Higher the amount of trans fats, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, higher the risk of ischemic stroke.  Besides that, excess salt intake increases the blood pressure and stroke risk.

Free radicals in the bloodstream will strike and sabotage our cells. Prolonged exposure of free radicals will reduce the flexibility and harden the arteries  that eventually elevates blood pressure. Furthermore these free radicals will damage the brain cells and impede the message transmission. It is cut-clear that free radicals will fast forward our aging process and if we don’t grapple this, we are likely to experience age-related memory loss, skin wrinkles, stiff joints and hardening of arteries.

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Fortunately we have plenty of foods loaded with powerful antioxidants, available in the market. These strong antioxidants will interact with free radicals and prevent the cell damage.  Polyphenols, named anthocyanins, found in berries and dark pigmented fruits and vegetables help slow cognitive decline through their powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

People who enjoy food rich in fruits & vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and unsaturated fatty oils are less likely to have ischemic stroke and depression than those who consume high meat and dairy foods.

Foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phyto-nutrients will protect our brain cells from oxidation and free radical damage.

Complex carbohydrates, in starchy foods like wholegrain breads, pasta and rice releases energy slowly that helps brain to function in a stable way. For better concentration and mental performance whole grains are better than refined foods.

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Vegetables

Spinach, mustard greens, parsley, avocado, olives and broccoli are good sources of vitamin E. Spinach and broccoli are also rich in folate and Swiss chard is high in Vitamin E and also Vitamin C, a powerful anti oxidant. Beet is an excellent root vegetable rich in nitrates that increases blood flow to the brain.

 Fruits

Papaya is a good source of Vitamin A one of the powerful antioxidants. Citrus fruits, Kiwi, Mango and Strawberries  are rich in Vitamin C.  In addition strawberries are rich in folate and mango is loaded with Vitamin A. Pineapple is another fruit rich in vitamin C and in addition it contains bromelain, an enzyme that acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.

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 Fiber

Fiber just keeps our brain function at its best. We all know that our brain operates on sugar. But the sugar must be delivered in a very stready stream  and in the right amount. Flooding the blood with sugar, our brain gets overwhelmed. Fibrous food will help release the sugar in our blood gradually.

Dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts & seeds, peas & beans are rich in fiber and in addition they are good sources of magnesium that protects from age-related memory loss.

 Fish

Our human brain is 60% fat. Trans fat is bad for the brain because it will interrupt the functions of the essential fatty acids. Omega 3 that promotes healthy heart also helps our brain. DHA, one of the omega fatty aids, is the primary structural fatty acid of the brain that promotes communication between cells and message transmission. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon, herring, tuna sardines, can help fend off numerous brain diseases. Trans fat is bad for the brain because it will interrupt the functions of the essential fatty acids. Processed foods and commercial chocolates, margarines, shortening, baked goods are high in trans-fat.

Look through the labels before purchasing the products.

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Tryptophan & Tyrosine

Neurotransmitters are the messengers that carry brain signals. Tryptophan and tyrosine are few among the components of neurotransmitter. Tryptophan is an anxiety calmer and sleep promoter and Tyrosine is a metabolism booster and anti-depressant.  Seafood, lean meat, eggs, soy, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and dairy products are good sources nuerotransmitter-building foods. Grass-feed lean red meat are also is rich in vitamin B-12 that is vital for the brain function and iron that help transport oxygen throughout the body and to the brain.

 Hydration

Be sure to drink water at regular intervals. Our mental energy is decreased even if we are slightly dehydrated . Dehydration causes fatigue and impairs memory. Drinking water, at least 2 litres every day, will keep our body and brain hydrated.  Drinking tea with low-calories will improve your arteries. The polyphenols in tea exhibits antioxidant properties. Consider sipping different types of teas like-English tea, Green tea, Peppermint tea, for both black and green provide different beneficial compounds.

Chocolate

Dark chocolate, as  we all know is associated with a positive influence on mood. In addition the dark chocolate help scavenge free radicals through catechin a group of plant polyhphenols.

Antioxidant-rich foods

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Vitamin C

Citrus fruits, Berries (strawberries, blueberries, cranberries), Dragon fruit, Dark green vegetables, Cabbage, Broccoli, Bell peppers.

Vitamin A

Carrot, Squash, Sweet potatoes, Tomatoes, Peaches, Mangoes, Papaya, Apricots, Cantaloupe

Vitamin E

Nuts, Seeds, Wheat germ, Whole grains, Vegetable oil, Fish, Green leafy vegetables

Selenium

Eggs, Chicken, Red meat, Shell fish, Whole grains, Mushroom

Lycopene

Tomatoes, Guava, Grapefruit, Watermelon, Guava

Regular physical activity and healthy food  help reduce inflammation, oxidative stressadn other vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure all of which have a role in increasing the risk for brain and heart diseases.

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References

http://www.diabetes.org

http://www.neurological.org.nz

http://www.eatright.org

http://www.mayoclinic.org

http://www.webmd.com

 

Understanding Protein

Muscle tissue is often the first bodily structure that strikes your mind when considering protein existence in the body. Indeed, the majority of the body’s protein exists in the form of skeletal, bone, and organ tissues! Proteins are also part of enzymes, antibodies, lipoproteins, hormones, hemoglobin, albumin and are profoundly powerful.

Meat, poultry, seafood, beans & peas, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds are considered best sources of protein foods.

Wonder what makes almonds a high-quality protein and egg & meat considered, a complete protein food?

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Protein in the human body is composed of 20 amino acids. More than half of these (called non-essential amino acids) can be synthesized by the human body. Nine of them (called essential amino acids) should be obtained through the diet, for the body cannot manufacture them!

Animal protein and egg are considered High-quality, high biological value and complete protein foods, for they contain all the essential amino acids.

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Histine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine are the 9 essential amino acids. They have vital role in – regulating your mood & sleep, muscle metabolism, fatty acid metabolism, the production of sulphur, regulating blood sugar, aiding the production of collagen, antibody formation, and regulating the central and peripheral nervous system.

Proteins’ functions are really wonderful and amazing!

For example, Tryptophan helps maintain your body’s serotonin and melatonin, the neurotransmitters levels that plays vital role in the regulation of mood and sleep. Isn’t it obvious that low levels of tryptophan can lead to depression and insomnia? Chocolate, mangoes, dairy products, oats, eggs, fish, chickpeas, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are good sources of tryptophan. Drinking milk before bed, makes sense!

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Leucine, another essential amino acid,  increases the muscle mass and helps muscle recovery after exercise. Dairy products, meat, soy protein, nuts & seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin) are listed as good sources of leucine

Beans & peas are good sources of plant protein and are considered vegetable alternatives for meat. In addition, they also provide iron and zinc. Though they are similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution to protein, plant proteins are referred as incomplete protein, for they are difficient in one or more of the essential amino acids. Grains tend to be low in lysine and beans are low in methionine and cysteine.

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Of the plant proteins soy, quinoa are considered complete and high-quality protein! Almonds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins & minerals and need no fortification!

Get a good mix of protein

Vegan should consider the quality of protein while planning their meal. It is important to consume a variety of plant protein foods to get all the essential amino acids over the course of the day. It is very easy to meet the recommendations for protein, through varied diet throughout the day. The key is to consume a variety and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie and nutrient needs. 

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Combining plant proteins, generally referred as “Complementary proteins,” is the best way to achieve all the essential amino acids.

Beans and rice, beans and corn, beans and wheat, white cheddar with whole wheat pasta, yogurt with flax seeds, green salad with nuts & seeds, mango & quinoa salad, whole wheat or rye bread and peanut butter are few of the examples of combined complementary proteins.

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Avocado fruit, widely considered as vegetable, mixed with beans and corn is an excellent combined complementary proteins salad! Avocado contains a generous amount of omega 6 and omega 3 essential fatty acids, too!

Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids and is gluten free!

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Quinoa-mango salad – colourful and highly nutritious!

Tender beans & peas are also considered part of the vegetable groups, for they are good sources of fibers and potassium. Beans and  peas are recommended, for both vegetarian and non-vegetarians because of their high nutrient content.

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You need to pay attention to the package of the protein, too!

For example, in beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains, protein comes in a package with healthful fiber and micronutrients. When you consider meat or whole milk, it is just the contrary! The protein comes packaged with unhealthy fat!

Though animal proteins are considered as, “High – quality, high biological value and complete protein food, they are also high in saturated fats!” Diets high in animal fats will not give a reduced risk of heart disease. So, go lean with protein:

  • Round steaks top loin, top sirloin, chuck shoulder are the leanest beef cuts.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets are the leanest poultry choices.

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  • Choose boiling, broiling, grilling, roasting or poaching cooking methods instead of frying. Avoid breading or battering the meat, poultry or fish. Breading adds calories, battering absorbs more oil there by increasing the calories!

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  • Opt for low-fat dairy products.

For recommended daily amounts of protein, click: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/printpages/MyPlateFoodGroups/ProteinFoods/food-groups.protein-foods-amount.pdf

Protein supplement is the spot light these days! There are many advertisements too, for protein supplements like whey protein, casein, soy protein, protein-energy bars & cookies, testosterone-fueled protein products. Are they truly necessary for you?  Many nutritional experts say “No…….,” to supplements.  

A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, nuts and lean meats & sea foods will give you all the essential nutrients your body requires for optimal health.

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There are many articles touting high protein diet. These high-protein diets, are gaining more popularity among those who want to drop pounds and build muscles. A total misguidance. These plans restrict carbs and the major source of protein is the red meat and full-fat dairy products, rich in saturated fats that raises the risk of cardiac disease! So, protein alone, as a tool for weight loss or weight maintenance, should not be encouraged.

Recently, I had a conversation with a taxi driver, a very beautiful lady, on “Health & Nutrition!” She did mention that there was no time for her to concentrate on physical activity and doesn’t like to take fruits. Also said that she is taking supplements especially, the protein and much more interested to go for vitamins & mineral supplements! I am not very comfortable with her, taking a protein supplement, which she really doesn’t need! She was not convinced when I said no to supplements. So, with much caution and care, I did explain that protein supplements are designed for the professional athletes who are involved with intense training and for patients with muscle wasting. I discouraged her, who hardly does exercise, from having these protein supplements. I  encouraged her to do exercise minimum 30mins/day (10-minute increment) and take more fruits and vegetables for vitamins & minerals with whole grains, beans and lean meat! When we reached the destination, with a broad smile, she did agree to take a balanced diet and will try to do physical activities, in future!

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Protein supplements, even for athletes is only upon consultation with doctors and sports dietitian based on their training load, daily energy requirements, and their general dietary intake. Many protein-amino acid supplementation are linked to dehydration, hypercalciuria, weight gain, and stress on liver & kidneys! So, in general, athletes are encouraged to opt for small, frequent servings of high-quality protein rich foods that will not only provide adequate protein but also other nutrients that the body requires!

Why supplements when you can get good amount of protein, vitamins, minerals from the balanced food you eat everyday?

I would like to conclude that, “ A balanced diet rich in vegetables & fruits, dairy products, nuts & seeds, beans, lean meats, and whole grains will give the body adequate calorie, protien, vitamins & minerals required for optimal health.” Well balanced meals with regular physical activities, everyday, help manage your weight easily!

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References