Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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10 Foods High in Calcium

By Dr. Edward F. Group III DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
Guest Writer for Wake Up World     20th February 2013

We all know that we need adequate amounts of calcium in our diet for strong bones and teeth. And while most people associate calcium with the consumption of cow’s milk, although recent research reveals a different story. Although homogenized and pasteurized milk does have high amounts of this important mineral it is not well absorbed or utilized in the body, milk products also often contain high levels of toxins, such as bovine growth hormones and antibiotics. The good news is that there are many other great foods high in calcium that are easy to incorporate into your daily diet. I must note however that raw organic goat or cow milk is a good source of calcium.

1. Sesame Seeds
These white little seed-wonders are very high in calcium, as well as other important vitamins and minerals. Raw sesame seeds possess almost 1000 mg of calcium per 100g serving. Tahini butter, a popular sesame seed-based nut butter has 426mg per 100g serving.

2. Chia Seeds
Many people are unaware that chia seeds are very high in calcium (as well as the beneficial Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids needed for health). A 3.5 ounce serving can provide about 631mg of calcium.

3. Dark Leafy Greens
From greens to spinach to kale, getting our calcium from dark green leafy vegetables is a an excellent health choice. Spinach ranks very high in calcium, with 56mg of calcium per cup. A 100g serving of collards packs a 145 mg calcium punch. One cup of steamed bok choy has around 158 mg of the mineral. Kale ranks in with 139mg of calcium and the spicy mustard green has 103mg of calcium per 100g serving.


4. Quinoa
A light and healthy whole grain, one cup of cooked quinoa offers approximately 60-100 mg of calcium, not to mention a high amount of potassium, zinc and protein.

5. Blackstrap Molasses
This is an excellent sweetener for teas and baked goods. High in multiple vitamins and minerals, one tablespoon of this thick dark molasses will give you 172 mg of your daily calcium needs. Try it in your morning cup of organic tea or coffee.

6. Oranges
One cup of freshly-squeezed organic orange juice offers approximately 72 mg of calcium. Not to mention plenty of vitamin c, which will significantly improve the amount of calcium your body absorbs. Besides vitamin c and calcium, oranges are also a great source for potassium, vitamin A and beta carotene.

7. Beans
Many common beans are high in calcium. Winged beans possess 442mg of calcium per 100g serving. Many white beans are very high in calcium. Most white beans have approximately 175mg of calcium per serving. Navy beans are also a great source of calcium, with 127 mg per cup. These beans make an excellent soup base, when our bones most need the support of calcium.

8. Broccoli
One cup of these green florets offers approximately 74 mg of calcium, along with 120mg of Vitamin C which will help your body absorb the calcium. Broccoli also contains a high amount of vitamin K, vitamin A, folate and dietary fiber.

9. Dried Fruits & Nuts
Many dried fruits are high in calcium. In fact, eating five dried figs per day gives you 135 mg of calcium. Almonds are also extremely high in calcium. Raw, or ground into nut butter, almonds hold 266mg of calcium per 100g.

10. Dried Herbs
Who would have thought that adding dried herbs to your dishes would increase your calcium intake? Dried savory spice holds a whopping 2132mg of calcium per 100g serving. Other dried herbs that are calcium rich include dill, basil, marjoram, thyme, oregano, poppy seed, mint, celery seed, sage, parsley and rosemary.


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What to Eat to Help You Sleep

February 21, 2013    by David Grotto, RD, author of The Best Things You Can Eat

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now considers our lack of sleep a “public health epidemic.” Currently, Americans spend more than $84 million on over-the-counter sleep aids each year, leaving many searching for natural, cost-effective ways to help manage their sleep deficit. So, what’s keeping everybody up?

Lack of sleep can be influenced by many factors, from medical illness to side effects of drugs to simply having a lot on your mind. Before trying to remedy your sleep deficit on your own, make sure you investigate whatever might be behind your sleep difficulties and seek proper professional attention. Doing so could save you time, money, and many more sleepless nights.

Prescription and over-the- counter sleep aids unfortunately don’t address the root cause of a sleep disorder. They are a temporary fix until the driving force behind the problem can be addressed. Diet and lifestyle changes may be a natural alternative worthy of discussing with your doc. The types of food and beverages you choose and the way that you consume them can play a major role in influencing sleep.

First, here are a few tips on how to make a bedtime snack really work for you:

Time your snack. Research suggests that bedtime snacks are most effective when they happen an hour before bedtime (not sooner) and contain carbohydrates plus a little protein. A small nutrient-balanced snack causes the brain to produce serotonin, which helps calm and prepare you for sleep.

Plan an early bedtime. Short sleep times can cause an imbalance of the hormones leptin and ghrelin; this imbalance increases hunger and decreases satiety cues. What does that mean? It means not getting enough sleep every night can cause you to eat more and feel hungrier, which can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. So, eat a small snack around 9:00 and try to be in bed by 10:00.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol after 7. Caffeine works as a mild stimulant that causes jitters and gets the brain working into overdrive. If you must have caffeine, make sure you have it no sooner than two to three hours before bedtime. Foods and beverages that contain the most caffeine include coffee, green and black tea, energy drinks, caffeinated sodas like cola and root beer, and chocolate. And research shows that while a drink or two may help you get to sleep, alcohol is disruptive of restful REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
With those tips in mind, here’s what to chew to help you snooze:


1. Cherries are one of the top foods rich in naturally occurring melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. One study found that healthy adults experienced improved sleep time and a 5 to 6 percent increase in overall sleep efficiency after drinking two servings of tart cherry juice for a week.

2. Carbohydrates before bedtime are one of the best fuels for cranking out sleep-promoting serotonin. But don’t have fatty fries or chips. Have some warm oatmeal or two slices of whole grain toast with almond butter.

3. Milk is the largest contributor of calcium, vitamin D, and potassium to the American diet. Although the scientific literature is a bit thin on milk’s affect on sleep, the nutrients in milk—specifically calcium and tryptophan—are known to induce sleep. Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan. Milk’s carbohydrates help tryptophan work more effectively, too!

4. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fats. Research shows that omega-3–deficient diets negatively affect the sleep hormone melatonin and its function, and throw off the natural sleep cycle called “circadian rhythm,” which can lead to sleep disturbances.

5. Chicken is naturally high in the amino acid precursor to melatonin called tryptophan. I’m sure you were thinking that turkey might have a leg up on the competition, but that’s not the case. Tryptophan helps produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, which in turn makes us feel more relaxed and sleepy.

6. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of the mineral magnesium, as well as an excellent source of tryptophan. Low magnesium levels have been associated with a poor night’s sleep. Eating a handful of pumpkin seeds was found to be as effective in improving tryptophan levels in the body as taking tryptophan supplements.

7. Walnuts contain a number of nutrients that support a relaxed and healthy nervous system. These include omega-3 fats, vitamin E, folate, and melatonin. Research shows that the melatonin in walnuts is well absorbed and will raise blood melatonin concentrations when eaten in moderation.

David Grotto, RD, LDN, formerly the national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, he is now the founder and president of Nutrition Housecall, a nutrition consulting firm that provides nutrition communications, lecturing and consulting services, and also offers personalized at-home dietary services. He is the author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life and 101 Optimal Life Foods.


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The Remarkable Healing Properties of Pumpkin Seed

Pumpkin seeds, like all edible seeds, pack an immense nutritional and medicinal punch. After all, they contain future worlds within their compact structure. As Emerson said, “the creation of a thousand forests is within one acorn.”

In order to prepare their “babies” for survival outside the pumpkin, Nature equips these seeds with an extremely dense source of organically-bound nutrients, including exceptionally high levels of key, health-promoting minerals.

For example, a one cup serving (64 grams) of pumpkin seeds has 44% daily value (DV) of zinc, 22% of copper, 42% magnesium, 16% manganese, 17% potassium, and enough iron (17% DV) to improve iron-deficiency associated anemia.

But beyond the obvious nutritional virtues of the seed, re
cent scientific investigations have revealed that pumpkin seed meal, as well as its pressed oil, may have great value in alleviating the following conditions:

1. Prostate Growth

Pumpkin seed has been studied for its ability to inhibit testosterone-induced prostate growth, a common causative factor in benign prostatic hyperplasia. [i] [ii]

2. Postmenopausal Symptoms

Women supplemented with 2,000 mg of pumpkin seed oil over the course of 12 weeks were found to have reduced blood pressure, increased HDL cholesterol, as well as reduction in the severity of hormone insufficiency associated symptoms, e.g. hot flash, headaches and join pain.[iii]  Additional experimental research indicates that adverse cardiovascular changes associated with estrogen deficiency, such as blood pressure and lipid abnormalities, can be mitigated with pumpkin seed oil. [iv]

3. Calcium-Oxalate Kidney Stones

According to a study performed in 1987 and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children with calcium-oxalate crystals in their urine responded favorably to the supplementation of their diet with pumpkin seeds. [v]

4. Cardiovascular and Liver Disease

A mixture of flaxseed and pumpkin seed was found to have heart-protective and liver-protective properties in an animal study from 2008 published in the Journal of Food Chemistry & Toxicology. [vi]

5. Drug & Chemical Toxicity

The protein isolate of pumpkin seed has been shown to alleviate acetaminophen (Tylenol) toxicity on the liver,[vii] and as methotrexate-induced small intestine damage in an animal model. [viii] It has also been studied to protect against carbon tetrachloride-induced liver injury. [ix]

 

6. Arthritis

Pumpkin seed oil was found to compare favorably with the NSAID drug indomethacin in an experimental model of arthritis, but without causing liver damage, in a study published in 1995 in the journal of Pharmacological Research. [x]

7. Hypertension:

Animals fed pumpkin seed oil were found to respond more favorably to conventional drug-treatment with Ace-inhibitors and Calcium Channel Blockers, likely because of its beneficial antioxidant properties. [xi]

8. Parasites

A preclinical canine study has shown that pumpkin seeds have significant activity against canine intestinal parasites. [xii]

9. Insomnia/Anxiety

Pumpkin seeds contain a high level of tryptophan (22mg/gram of pumpkin seed protein), the amino acid precursor to serotonin – which is itself converted to melatonin, the “sleep hormone,” in the evening. Research published in 2007 in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that when de-oiled pumpkin seed was taken in combination with glucose, a clinical effect similar to that of pharmaceutical-grade tryptophan was achieved. [xiii] A 2005 study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience found that pumpkin seed sourced tryptophan in combination with carbohydrate was as effective as pharmaceutical tryptophan in reducing awake time during the night.

These, of course, are only some of the experimentally confirmed beneficial properties of pumpkin seed. Like all foods, there are likely countless properties which within the right context, the right timing, and the right amount, fulfill Hippocrates’ age-old and timelessly true proclamation that food can be our medicine.

By Sayer Ji       Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Article References

[i] Inhibition of testosterone-induced hyperplasia of the prostate of sprague-dawley rats by pumpkin seed oil.  QJM. 2008 Mar;101(3):167-79. Epub 2008 Jan 25. PMID: 16822218
[ii] Pumpkin seed oil and phytosterol-F can block testosterone/prazosin-induced prostate growth in rats.  Urol Int. 2006;77(3):269-74. PMID: 17033217
[iii] Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study. Climacteric. 2011 May 5. Epub 2011 May 5. PMID: 21545273
[iv] Supplementation with pumpkin seed oil improves plasma lipid profile and cardiovascular outcomes of female non-ovariectomized and ovariectomized Sprague-Dawley rats. Phytother Res. 2008 Jul;22(7):873-7. PMID: 18567058
[v] The effect of pumpkin seeds on oxalcrystalluria and urinary compositions of children in hyperendemic area.  Am J Clin Nutr. 1987 Jan;45(1):115-21. PMID: 3799495
[vi] Hypolipidemic and hepatoprotective effects of flax and pumpkin seed mixture rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in hypercholesterolemic rats. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Dec;46(12):3714-20. Epub 2008 Oct 1. PMID: 18938206
[vii] In Vitro antioxidative activity of pumpkin seed (Cucurbita pepo) protein isolate and its In Vivo effect on alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase in acetaminophen-induced liver injury in low protein fed rats. Phytother Res. 2006 Sep ;20(9):780-3. PMID: 16807884
[viii] Protective effect of ellagic acid and pumpkin seed oil against methotrexate-induced small intestine damage in rats. Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2011 Dec ;48(6):380-7. PMID: 22329239
[ix] Effect of pumpkin seed (Cucurbita pepo) protein isolate on the activity levels of certain plasma enzymes in CCl4-induced liver injury in low-protein fed rats.  Phytother Res. 2005 Apr ;19(4):341-5. PMID: 16041732
[x] Effect of pumpkin-seed oil on the level of free radical scavengers induced during adjuvant-arthritis in rats. Pharmacol Res. 1995 Jan;31(1):73-9. PMID: 7784309
[xi] Pumpkin-seed oil modulates the effect of felodipine and captopril in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Pharmacol Res. 2000 May;41(5):555-63. PMID: 10753555
[xii] [Preclinical studies of cucurbita maxima (pumpkin seeds) a traditional intestinal antiparasitic in rural urban areas]. Rev Gastroenterol Peru. 2004 Oct-Dec;24(4):323-7. PMID: 15614300
[xiii] Protein-source tryptophan as an efficacious treatment for social anxiety disorder: a pilot study. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Sep;85(9):928-32. PMID: 18066139 


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5 Super Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

The sunflower is one of my favorite flowers, and its plentiful seeds are packed with health benefits that can help you from head to toe. They’re easily available all year round, and just a scant handful of them can mean dramatic improvement in the way you feel.

Here’s a short list of what they can do for you:

  • They  control cell damage, thus playing a role in preventing cancer. This is because sunflower seeds are a good source of selenium, which is a proven enemy of cancer.
  • They contain bone-healthy minerals. Besides calcium, your bones need magnesium and copper to stay strong. Sunflower seeds have both these minerals. As a bonus, they also contain Vitamin E, which helps ease arthritic pain.
  • They keep you calm. Yes! The magnesium in sunflower seeds is reputed for soothing the nerves, thus easing away stress, migraines and helping you relax.
  • They bring a glow to your skin. The star in this role: Vitamin E again, which combats UV rays and keeps skin youthful.
  • They ease every condition that’s inflammatory in nature, such as joint pain, gastric ulcers, skin eruptions, asthma and such. That’s because sunflower seeds are loaded with antioxidants.
  • Just ¼ cup of sunflower seeds a day can keep heart troubles away. These small seeds disallow ‘bad’ cholesterol from sticking to the walls of your arteries, thus preventing heart attacks.


With their crunchy, nutty taste, sunflower seeds can easily become a regular part of your daily diet. Sprinkle them on your salads, granola, stir-fries. Stir them into yogurt, pop them into sandwiches, rice, pasta, or knead them into your dough…the possibilities are as endless as the good qualities of these sun-loving seeds.

source: Care2.com


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5 Fats That Don’t Make You Fat

By Jen Broyles

There are a lot of myths out there regarding nutrition. We are always eager to try the next health fad or new diet in hopes of dropping pounds and feeling great. One of the biggest misconceptions is that fat makes you fat. Our society is obsessed with low-fat and fat-free products thinking they are healthier. This simply is not true. The majority of foods that are labeled low-fat or fat-free are refined processed foods in which the fat has been replaced with more sugar. Not a good option. In fact, many fats are very healthy, essential to our wellbeing, and even promote weight loss.  Our body requires fat in order to function properly. Plus, many necessary vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning the only way your body can absorb them is in the presence of fat. 

Here are a few types of good fats that are great to incorporate into your diet. Not only will you feel better, but you will be less hungry, and your body won’t feel deprived. 

Nuts
Nuts are very diet-friendly and are loaded with a ton of amazing nutrients, healthy fats, and protein. Nuts are one of the best sources of alpha-lenolenic acid, a type of heart-healthy omega-3. Omega-3s offer numerous health benefits from lowering cholesterol to disease prevention. They are also rich in L-arginine, an amino acid that has been shown to boost immune function, promote wound healing, improve blood vessel function, and help manage cardiovascular disease. Additionally, nuts contain soluble fiber and Vitamin E. Fiber helps lower cholesterol and glucose levels while Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E is essential for proper immune function, healthy skin, and DNA repair.

Some of my favorites are almonds, walnuts, and brazil nuts. Try them in smoothies, nutrition bars, salads, trail mix, or alone. Nut butters are another delicious way to enjoy this nutrient-dense food.

Olive Oil
Olive oil is such a healthy oil to use when sautéing, baking, and making salad dressing. This fantastic oil is rich in monounsaturated fat and antioxidants such as chlorophyll, carotenoids, and vitamin E. 


Olive oil is great for reducing blood pressure, cancer prevention, managing diabetes, and lessening the severity of asthma and arthritis. In fact, including olive oil in your diet can help you maintain a lower, healthy weight. 

Avocados
Avocados are fantastic fruits with tons of nutritional benefits. They are an excellent source of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps cleanse and protect your body by detoxifying, removing heavy metals, and fighting free radicals. Glutathione helps maintain a healthy immune system and slows the aging process. Avocados are rich in folate, which has been shown to decrease the incidence of heart disease and stroke. They are also the best fruit source of Vitamin E, which protects against many diseases and helps maintain overall health. 

Not only are avocados packed with nutrients, but studies have shown that certain nutrients are absorbed better when eaten with an avocado. Enjoy an avocado on a sandwich, in a salad, blended into a smoothie.

Coconut Oil
Coconut products offer an array of health benefits, and coconut oil is a great oil to use for cooking, or it can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, and other dishes. Coconut oil offers antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-cancer properties. It improves digestion, nutrient absorption and intestinal health. It provides cardiovascular benefits and helps manage Type 2 Diabetes. Coconut oil promotes kidney and liver health and supports the immune system. It also benefits metabolism, energy, and weight management. 

Coconut oil had a bad reputation for a while primarily because it is composed of saturated fat, which we are told to stay away from. However, the saturated fat in coconut oil is different from that in animal products. The fatty acids in coconut oil are medium-chain triglycerides, which are easily metabolized and used as energy by the body. Research suggests that these fatty acids may boost your metabolism, promote weight loss, and increase HDL, the good, protective cholesterol in your body.

Seeds
Seeds, like nuts, contain a number of heart healthy properties. They offer beneficial fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. Seeds are also packed with health-promoting minerals such as magnesium, selenium, and zinc. 

Some great seeds to include in your diet are flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Chia seeds, in particular, are considered a superfood due to their extremely high nutrient profile. They are super rich in omega-3s, even more than flax seeds. Plus, they are loaded with powerful antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, iron, and zinc. Seeds can be enjoyed many ways. They are great in smoothies, baked goods, nutrition bars, salads, trail mix, yogurt, and other foods. 


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8 Super Health Benefits of Sesame Seeds

Shubhra Krishan       February 12, 2013

If you enjoy sprinkling sesame seeds into your cookie batter, on your salads and in your stir-fries, you’ll be happy to know that you’re doing your health a big favor! Tiny, crunchy, nutty sesame seeds are a nutritional wonder. Here’s a glance at the wonderful ways in which they boost your health:

  • These little seeds are loaded with essential minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, phosphorus and calcium.
  • The zinc in sesame seeds promotes bone health and prevents osteoporosis later in life.
  • Among all the nuts and seeds commonly eaten across the world, sesame seeds have been found to contain the highest amount of phytosterols, which are known to lower bad cholesterol.
  • Sesame seeds increase your levels of Vitamin E, which plays a vital role in fighting disease.
  • Studies show that sesame seeds can improve the effectiveness of certain diabetes medication.
  • Sesame seed oil is known to reduce hypertension and ease stress.
  • The antioxidants in sesame seeds fight free radicals, thereby promoting youthfulness and strengthening the immune system.
  • A substance in sesame seeds has been found to inhibit the spread of many cancers.
source: care2.com


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10 great calcium-rich foods

Boost your bone health with these tasty foods
By Cary Galloway

According to the Osteoporosis Society of Canada, there are 1.4 million Canadians who suffer from osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disease that leaves bones fragile and susceptible to fractures. You may know that calcium is a big factor in prevention, but how much do you really need and which foods deliver sufficient calcium to keep your bones healthy and strong?

Women between the ages of 19-50 need 1,000 mg of calcium per day, and women over 50 should be striving for 1,500 mg, according to The Osteoporosis Society of Canada. This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually fairly easy to reach your recommended daily intake if you choose the right foods. We’ve all been told that milk is the best source of calcium and, according to Health Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating, adults should consume 2-4 servings of dairy per day, but if you’re intolerant to dairy products or simply want to get calcium from other sources, read on:

10 great calcium sources

1. Sardines
My dad’s favourite snack has always been a sardine sandwich and, as a kid, I would turn my nose up and think he was crazy. But Dad was on the right track because 3-1/2 oz. of sardines provide the body with 370 mg of calcium. That’s more than one cup of milk. Sardines should be eaten with their soft bones because the bones hold up to 50 per cent of the calcium of the fish.

2. Yogurt
Not only does yogurt provide you with beneficial bacterial cultures, which keep your immune system strong and your digestive tract healthy, it also provides a whopping 300 mg of calcium per 3/4 cup serving.

3. Salmon
Salmon has been praised for its high content of omega-3 fatty acids, but it’s also a powerhouse when it comes to calcium. 3 oz. of salmon (with bones) delivers 180 mg of calcium and is a delicious alternative to chicken or meat for those nice summer barbeques.

4. Blackstrap molasses
There’s something comforting about some warm gingerbread with a nice cup of tea. It’s also comforting to know that the molasses that’s gone into the recipe contains 170 mg of calcium per serving. 


5. Amaranth
Amaranth is one of the newest grains to hit health-food shelves, even though it’s been around for a while. You will see it in various cereals and crackers, but it’s even more delicious and nutritious when it’s made fresh at home. A 1/2 cup provides the body with 150 mg of calcium, and it’s a great alternative to pasta or rice when used as a side dish.

6. Tofu
Tofu is a great alternative to chicken or beef in stir-fries, and is delicious when marinated in your favourite flavours. 3-1/2 oz. of tofu contains 125 mg of calcium and it’s also packed with isoflavones, which bring an abundance of health benefits your way.

7. Beans
Beans are good any time of year, whether in soup, a refreshing salad, comforting chili or on their own and they’re a great way to add fibre, protein and calcium to your diet. Whether you choose white beans, navy beans, chickpeas or another favourite, you’ll obtain anywhere from 60-100 mg of calcium per 1/2 cup serving.

8. Almonds
Whether eaten alone, thrown in a salad or used as a crust on chicken or fish, almonds are one of the tastiest ways to reach your recommended daily intake of calcium. A handful (1/4 cup) of almonds contains 95 mg of calcium and are also a great source of fibre, protein and monounsaturated fats.

9. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds bring so much flavour to any dish, especially when they’re roasted. They add a nice finish to any plate and are a fast and easy way to get some extra calcium. One tablespoon contains 90 mg of calcium, so next time you’re about to indulge in your favourite dinner, sprinkle a tablespoon or two on top.

10. Turnip greens
Here’s another great reason to add greens to your plate. Boiled turnip greens contain 95 mg of calcium per 1/2 cup serving, and okra, bok choy and broccoli follow with 35 to 50 mg per serving. Steam, roast or simply toss them into your next stir-fry and your bones will thank you.

It’s also important to remember that regular consumption of red meat; salt, caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats and carbonated soft drinks reduce or inhibit calcium absorption. Everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb, but if you follow this list, you’re on the right path to getting your daily dose of calcium.

Cary Galloway is a registered nutritional consulting practitioner (RNCP) and a certified nutritional practitioner. She has been working in the health field since 2001 when she obtained a degree in kinesiology and health promotion from Acadia University. Cary uses her knowledge in health, wellness and nutrition to provide guidance to individuals who want to improve their health.


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Vitamin-packed foods help you fight disease

MCCLATCHY / TIMES COLONIST    JANUARY 25, 2013
BARBARA QUINN            The Monterey County Herald

“A vitamin is a substance that makes you ill, if you don’t eat it,” said Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1937.

He understood what we now know: Deficiencies of vitamins and other vital nutrients can cause us to fall prey to illness.

So do our food choices really influence how susceptible we are to sickness? You bet your sweet pepper they do.

Specific nutrients in foods have been shown to enhance the body’s ability to keep us well. Here are some tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and other nutrition experts:

=> Protein: It’s what immune cells are made of. Sources of immune-building protein include lean beef, pork and poultry, fish, eggs, beans and soy-based foods.

=> Vitamin A: Ever wonder why moms used to dose their darlings with cod liver oil to keep them healthy? Among other components, cod liver oil is a good source of vitamin A — a nutrient that helps maintain the cells that line our intestines and lungs. These “mucosal” cells are the sentries that guard our body from foreign invaders.

Carrots, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes and red bell peppers are good sources of vitamin A (or beta-carotene which safely converts to vitamin A in the body.)


=> Vitamin C: Although scientists still don’t understand the exact way that vitamin C works to boost immune function, we do know this essential vitamin plays an important role in healing wounds and strengthening our resistance to disease. Vitamin C also helps form antibodies that fight off infection.

Since this essential nutrient is easily destroyed by air, heat and prolonged storage, we are smart to eat at least one high vitamin C food each day.

Sources include oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

=> Zinc: Like an army that relies on a continual renewal of supplies and soldiers, our immune system relies on zinc to consistently renew disease-fighting cells. And since zinc in food is bound to protein, it makes sense that good sources include oysters, beef, pork, and liver as well as whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

Interestingly, zinc has been called “the essential toxin” because — although it is required for optimal health — excessive intake can actually impair immune function.

=> Vitamin E: Given its antioxidant ability to neutralize free radicals, vitamin E keeps the machinery of the immune system functioning at capacity. Good sources include nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Wheat germ is an especially good source of vitamin E.

What about supplements of vitamins and minerals? If we don’t happen to eat a varied diet for any reason, we could be missing out on essential vitamins and trace minerals that could compromise our ability to ward off sickness, say nutrition experts.

Whether or not to take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement is a discussion worth having with your health provider.

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.
Email her at bquinn@chomp.org.


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14 Foods that Fight Inflammation and Pain

Some of the best healing remedies to overcome inflammation also taste fabulous (I can’t say that about any prescription medications). Plus, foods won’t cause the nasty side effects common to most pain medications.
1. Blueberries: Blueberries are also excellent anti-inflammatory foods. They increase the amounts of compounds called heat-shock proteins that decrease as people age.  When heat-shock proteins are in short supply inflammation, pain and tissue damage is the result.
2. Cayenne Pepper: Ironically, cayenne pepper turns DOWN the heat on inflammation due to its powerful anti-inflammatory compound capsaicin.
3. Celery and 4. Celery Seeds: James Duke, Ph.D., author of The Green Pharmacy, found more than 20 anti-inflammatory compounds in celery and celery seeds in his research, including a substance called apigenin, which is powerful in its anti-inflammatory action.  Add celery seeds to soups, stews or as a salt substitute in many recipes.
5. Cherries: While many people opt for aspirin as their first course of action when they feel pain, Muraleedharan Nair, PhD, professor of natural products and chemistry at Michigan State University, found that tart cherry extract is ten times more effective than aspirin at relieving inflammation.
6. Dark Green Veggies: Veggies like kale and spinach contain high amounts of alkaline minerals like calcium and magnesium.  Both minerals help balance body chemistry to alleviate inflammation.

7. Fish: According to Dr. Alfred D. Steinberg, an arthritis expert at the National Institute of Health, fish oil acts directly on the immune system by suppressing 40 to 55 percent of the release of cytokines – compounds known to destroy joints and cause inflammation.
8. Flax seeds and Flax Oil: Flax seeds are high in natural oils that convert into hormone-like substances in the body to reduce inflammatory substances. Add ground flax seeds to smoothies, atop pancakes or French toast, and many other foods.  Do not heat.
9. Ginger: Dr. Krishna C. Srivastava at Odense University in Denmark found that ginger was superior to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Tylenol or Advil at alleviating inflammation.
10. Raspberries, 11. Blackberries, and 12. Strawberries: In Dr. Muraleedharan Nair’s later research she discovered that these berries have similar anti-inflammatory effects as cherries.
13. Turmeric: Research shows that the Indian spice frequently used in curries suppresses pain and inflammation through a similar mechanism as drugs like COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitors (without the harmful side effects).
14. Walnuts: Like flax seeds, raw, unsalted walnuts contain plentiful amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids that decrease pain and inflammation.

source: care2.com


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Three Superseeds You Should be Eating.…and Why

As the old saying goes, “good things come in small packages.” And in the kitchen, seeds are no exception. These tiny wonders are a staple in a healthy pantry: nutrient-dense and packed with disease-fighting minerals and enzymes, they can be used in just about any recipe. Here are three favorites that are easy to incorporate into your everyday diet.
1.  Flax
What is it? Brown or golden, this seed comes from the flax plant and has a mild, delightfully nutty flavor.
Why we love it: Flaxseed is rich in fiber (aids digestion and cardiovascular health) and omega-3 fatty acid (provides anti-inflammatory benefits, strengthens skin cells and is also great for cardiovascular health).
Where to use it: When baking, replace ¼ cup of flour for ¼ cup of flaxseed; or, use as an egg substitute by mixing three tablespoons of flaxseed with ¼ cup of water, let sit for 15 minutes.
Special Instructions: To get the most from flaxseed, grind it first. Either buy the seed whole and grind it yourself, or buy pre-ground flaxseed meal and keep refrigerated.
2. Hemp
What is it? Hemp seeds come from the same Cannabis species as marijuana. However, they’re bred with much lower levels of the psychoactive chemical THC.
Why we love it: Hemp seeds are loaded with digestible, vegan protein: Just two tablespoons have 24% of your daily requirement (impressive, huh?). It’s a high-quality protein, too, with a balance of all the essential amino acids. They’re also loaded with fiber (yay, digestion!) and packed with other nutrients, such as omega-3 and omega-6, vitamin e, the b vitamins and folic acid.
Where to use it: Blend one tablespoon into your breakfast or post-workout smoothie for an extra hit of protein; or add a tablespoon on top of your salad for extra crunch.
Special Instructions: You can buy hemp seed whole or shelled (also called hulled). The shelled seeds taste milder and pack more nutrients; the whole seeds give you more crunch and fiber.
3. Chia
What is it? The seed from the chia plant (yes, the same seed that grows Chia Pets) is native to South America, where ancient Aztec warriors used it before going into battle or running long distances on foot. Chia seeds are prized for their energy inducing properties.
Why we love it: Contains 25% of your daily-recommended calcium. Omega 3, chia’s fiber, forms a gel that slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, binds it to toxins in the digestive system, and helps eliminate waste. Due to this high fiber content, chia seed absorbs ten times its weight in water, making it an excellent source of hydration. This also means a slower conversion of carbohydrates to sugars, resulting in greater stamina and endurance.
Where to use it: In this DIY energy drink, called Chia Fresca, that’s favored by indigenous Mexican tribes: Mix one tablespoon of chia seeds with 1½ cups of water. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a teaspoon of agave nectar.
Special Instructions: Unlike flaxseeds, chia seeds don’t need to be ground. They’re virtually tasteless.
About the Author
Amanda Etty is a Toronto, Canada-based magazine editor and yoga instructor with a passion for health and wellness. She’s the voice behind A Glass of Goodness, a blog about smoothie recipes and ideas for easy, everyday healthy living.