Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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The Surprising Health Benefits of Avocado

Not only is avocado delicious but this superfood is packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. Find out how this creamy fruit can benefit your health.

Avocado: The underestimated superfood
Yes, avocados are relatively high in fat and calories (138 calories and 14.1g fat in half a medium-sized avocado). But they’re also one of the best foods you can eat, packed with nutrients and heart-healthy compounds. Here are five great reasons to eat them regularly.

Avocado is packed with carotenoids
Avocados are a great source of lutein, a carotenoid that works as an antioxidant and helps protect against eye disease. They also contain the related carotenoids zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, as well as tocopherol (vitamin E).

But avocados aren’t just a rich source of carotenoids by themselves-they also help you get more of these nutrients from other foods. Carotenoids are lipophilic (soluble in fat, not water), so eating carotenoid-packed foods like fruits and vegetables along with monounsaturated-fat-rich avocados helps your body absorb the carotenoids.

An easy way to do this is to add sliced avocado to a mixed salad. (Try this avocado salad with lemon-herb shrimp.)

Avocado can help you lose weight
Half an avocado contains 3.4 grams of fibre, including soluble and insoluble, both of which your body needs to keep the digestive system running smoothly. Plus, soluble fibre slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in your body, helping you feel full for longer.

Avocados also contain oleic acid, a fat that activates the part of your brain that makes you feel full. Healthier unsaturated fats containing oleic acid have been shown to produce a greater feeling of satiety than less-healthy saturated fats and trans fats found in processed foods.

Avocado can help stabilize blood sugar
Rich, creamy, and packed with beneficial monounsaturated fat, avocado slows digestion and helps keep blood sugar from spiking after a meal. A diet high in good fats may even help reverse insulin resistance, which translates to steadier blood sugar long-term. Try putting mashed avocado on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or on bread instead of butter. To keep what’s left over from turning brown, spritz the flesh with cooking spray or coat with lemon juice and wrap in plastic. (If you love caprese salad, this avocado caprese crostini won’t disappoint!)

Avocado can protect your unborn baby-and your heart
One cup of avocado provides almost a quarter of your recommended daily intake of folate, a vitamin which cuts the risk of birth defects. If you’re pregnant-or planning to be-avocados will help protect your unborn baby.

A high folate intake is also associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Does your family have a history of heart problems, or do you have risk factors (such as being overweight or smoking) for heart disease? Avocados could help keep your heart healthy.

Avocado can help lower your cholesterol
As well as increasing feelings of fullness, the oleic acid in avocados can help reduce cholesterol levels. In one study, individuals eating an avocado-rich diet had a significant decrease in total cholesterol levels, including a decrease in LDL cholesterol. Their levels of HDL cholesterol (the healthy type) increased by 11 percent.

High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. The cholesterol-lowering properties of avocado, along with its folate content, help keep your heart healthy. (If you’re not exactly a fan of avocado, try these fruits and veggies to help prevent high cholesterol.)

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Foods That Can Suppress Appetite, Aid Weight Loss

Whether it’s turning to supplements, juices or new challenging workouts, it seems everyone is looking for the magic weight loss bullet. But sometimes, losing weight may just be a matter of tweaking your diet – and eating foods that work for you, not against you.

Though none of these foods will work magic by themselves, when they are included as part of a healthy weight-loss diet, they may give you an edge in controlling hunger and shedding unwanted pounds.

These satiety-boosting foods will keep you winning at weight loss.

Greek or Icelandic yogurt

Greek and Icelandic yogurt (both strained to remove the liquid whey) are thicker, creamier and richer in protein than their regular yogurt counterparts, making them one of the best snacks for curbing appetite.

It’s the protein that keeps us feeling full. A 5.3-ounce container of plain nonfat Greek yogurt contains 15 grams of protein; the same portion of plain nonfat Icelandic-style skyr yogurt provides 17 grams of protein. By comparison, a regular fat-free plain yogurt contains 7 grams of protein.

Research suggests that protein is even more satiating than fat or carbohydrates. Therefore, it can be a strategic nutrient player in terms of appetite control and weight loss.

In one study, when individuals were given the same number of calories (and the same percentage of carbohydrates), they reported feeling less hungry when the percentage of protein was increased from 15% to 30% of calories. Even more interesting is the fact that when they were allowed to eat as many calories as they wanted on the 30% protein diet, they ended up consuming a total of 441 fewer calories than when they started, and they lost an average of 11 pounds.

Other foods that pack protein include cottage cheese, milk, eggs, fish, lean poultry and meats, peanut butter, lentils and soybeans.

Avocados

You may know that avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy fats. And with 9 calories per gram – more than double the calories per gram of carbohydrates or protein — fat fills us up fast, which can be beneficial in controlling hunger.

Avocados are rich in a fat known as oleic acid, which offers an added benefit in terms of the fruit’s effects on appetite.

Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid also found in high quantities in olive and canola oils. In the body, it is converted into a compound known as OEA (oleoylethanolamide).

Weight loss can be tied to when, not just what, you eat

One recent study found that when individuals consumed high-oleic-acid vegetable oils with their meals, their levels of OEA increased, and this ultimately decreased hunger and reduced calorie intake at the next meal.

“Freshly formed OEA travels to the nerve fibers that lie beneath the gut lining and tells them to send a satiety signal to the brain,” said Daniele Piomelli, professor of anatomy and neurobiology, pharmacology and biological chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, who has studied OEA’s role in appetite reduction.

“OEA reduces appetite and lowers body weight in obese animals and possibly people,” she explained. “But obese people cannot make it, so it has to come from outside.”

Aside from avocados and certain oils, top sources of oleic acid include olives, nuts and seeds. Just be sure to watch portions of these high-fat foods.

Red chili peppers

Capsaicin is the plant compound in red chili peppers that gives them their “hot” sensation. But the burn can work both ways, as these heat-packed peppers can keep calories in check, which is key to weight loss.

Research suggests that capsaicin may help curb hunger. In one small study, when individuals consumed red pepper with their breakfast, they experienced a decrease in appetite before lunch and consumed less protein and fat during lunch. Another study found that adding red pepper to an appetizer significantly reduced the total amount of calories and carbohydrates consumed during lunch and during a snack served hours later.

On the other hand, the beneficial effects may be greatest when one first starts consuming red pepper, as its effects may decrease over time. Another study found that those who don’t consume red pepper regularly experienced a decrease in their desire to eat fatty and salty foods when they do.

How does it work? “Spicy red peppers turn on receptors in our mouths that cause us to feel burn. This gives a ‘kick’ to the system that triggers our bodies’ fight-or-flight response,” said study author Mary-Jon Ludy, associate professor of clinical nutrition at Bowling Green State University Activating the sympathetic nervous system in that way increases satiety and energy expenditure.

Interestingly, when you remove the taste response part (by swallowing the pepper in a capsule, for example), the weight management effects aren’t as big, Ludy explained.

If spicy foods seem a bit intimidating, start slowly. One of the easiest ways to incorporate red chili peppers into your diet is to add red pepper flakes to chicken dishes, pasta, pizza or other foods you may be inclined to overeat.

Barley

Though it’s rich in carbohydrates, barley is another natural appetite suppressant, as the grain contains a unique combination of dietary fibers that make it extra filling.

In one study, individuals ate bread made out of barley kernels for three days at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Researchers found that the participants experienced improved appetite control and a boost in metabolism for up to 14 hours after their last meal, along with a decrease in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Barley can be enjoyed in soup or as a hot cereal for breakfast. You can also use it in place of rice in risottos and pilafs.

Are potatoes healthy?

“Test subjects experienced higher satiety and less hunger and willingness to eat,” said study author Anne Nilsson, an associate professor in the Food for Health Science Centre at Lund University in Sweden.

According to Nilsson, when the fibers in barley – specifically betaglucans and arabinoxylans – reach the gut, they are metabolized by gut bacteria, and this increases levels of hormones that regulate appetite.

potatoes

Soup

When soup is eaten as appetizer, it can decrease hunger, increase fullness and reduce the total calories consumed for the entire meal.

In one study, participants got four soups with the same ingredients in different forms: separate broth and vegetables, chunky vegetable soup, chunky-pureed vegetable soup and pureed vegetable soup.
Researchers found that varying the form of soup did not significantly affect satiety or food intake: As long as soup was eaten before an entrée of cheese tortellini, individuals consumed 20% fewer calories for their entire lunch compared with when skipping soup.

What’s so special about soup? Thanks to its high water content, it’s got low energy (calorie) density. That means you can fill up on a big portion and feel full without consuming the heavy calorie load that typically comes with large portion sizes.

The new secret to losing weight? Water

“Binding water into foods slows down gastric emptying, which means your stomach stays fuller for longer,” said study co-author Barbara Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University and author of the “Ultimate Volumetrics Diet.”

And as an ingredient, few that are more waistline-friendly than water. “The most effective way to reduce calories is to bulk up food with water. You get lots of volume without calories,” Rolls said.
Still, the total amount of calories in soup counts. A lobster bisque may sound delicious, but the calories add up quickly, so a smaller portion may be necessary to keep calories in check.

“If you’re filling up with soup first, you don’t want it to have many calories,” Rolls said. “A soup that is less than 150 calories works well.” Chicken vegetable, red lentil or chilled cucumber soup are all good choices.

Here’s more soup for thought: Research has suggested that eating soup as a snack can help keep hunger at bay. “If you choose soup rather than energy-dense snack foods like chips and crackers, you’ll do better with your weight management,” Rolls said. “Aim for 100 calories if you are just a little hungry or 200 calories if you have a big case of the munchies.”

Vegetable salad

Similar to soup, eating a salad before a meal has been associated with increased satiety and decreased calorie intake.

One study showed that when the first course of a meal is a large portion of a low-calorie salad – with iceberg and romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, fat-free dressing and light mozzarella cheese – people are more satiated and eat fewer calories for the entire meal compared with when skipping the salad.

Is sushi healthy?

Specifically, when individuals ate three cups of salad before having their pasta, they ate 12%, or 107, fewer calories for the entire meal compared with when they skipped the salad.

Another study found that eating a low-calorie salad with a meal also helps reduce the amount of calories consumed – though people ate more vegetables when the salad was consumed before the meal.

Salads promote satiety because vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers have a high water content. Plus, you’re getting a healthy dose of fiber, which contributes to fullness. And though it may sound counterintuitive, fat-free dressing is not necessarily the best choice, as fat is necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.

“A salad should be primarily vegetables. … You can use regular salad dressing, but don’t have it swimming in it,” Rolls said.

To keep your salad calories in check, Rolls suggests avoiding fatty meats and instead sprinkling some nuts along with some beans to boost protein and fiber. You can also try topping your salad with popcorn in place of oily croutons.

Spinach

Spinach is a source of thylakoids, the chlorophyll-bearing parts of green leaves. But aside from their role in photosynthesis, research suggests that thylakoids may be helpful in reducing the amount of food we eat.

One study found that when individuals consumed a high-fat meal with the addition of thylakoids, their levels of the satiety hormone CCK increased, along with levels of leptin, the hormone that signals you to “stop” eating. They also experienced a decrease in levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite.

Fill your plate with superfoods

Another study found similar results when thylakoids were added to carbohydrate-rich meals.”They suppress the urge for sweets and the urge for snacking,” said study author Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, professor of appetite control at Lund University in Sweden.

Erlanson-Albertsson’s research has also shown that consuming thylakoid-rich spinach extract contributes to weight loss. “For those who got thylakoids, it was much easier to abstain from snacking, and they therefore lost more body weight,” she said.

The amount of thylakoids used in the study corresponds to 100 grams of spinach, or about three cups of raw spinach. For a more concentrated source of spinach, include the leafy green as smoothie ingredient, or puree it to make a blended spinach soup.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is rich in two natural appetite suppressants: omega-3 fats and fiber. One tablespoon of whole flaxseed has 3 grams of fiber and about 4 grams of healthful fat; one tablespoon of ground flaxseed has 2 grams of fiber and about 4 grams of beneficial fat.

Fiber from flaxseed can keep us satisfied and full without contributing any calories. One study found that when individuals consumed flaxseed fiber as part of a drink or as a tablet after an overnight fast, it significantly suppressed appetite and reduced calorie intake during lunch.

Fiber offers a “bulking” effect, which contributes to its effects on satiety. This may help explain why high fiber intakes are associated with lower body weights. Additionally, the fat in flaxseed can help slow the rise in blood sugar when flax is consumed with carbohydrate-rich foods. Unlike the hunger and irritability that can follow rapid blood sugar spikes and crashes, steady blood sugar levels can have beneficial effects on appetite.

For a fast way to include flax in your diet, try adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your morning cereal or smoothie, or sprinkle it on top of yogurt. You can also use ground flaxseed to replace some of the flour in waffle or pancake mixes.

Lisa Drayer is a nutritionist, author and health journalist.

By Lisa Drayer, CNN     Fri July 21, 2017
 
source: www.cnn.com


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Eat This To Concentrate Better

Brain Foods That Help You Concentrate

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 11, 2013

Ginseng, Fish, Berries, or Caffeine?

Listen to the buzz about foods and dietary supplements, and you’ll believe they can do everything from sharpen focus to enhance memory, attention span, and brain function.

But do they really work? There’s no denying that as we age, our body ages right along with us. The good news is that you can improve your chances of maintaining a healthy brain if you add “smart” foods and drinks to your diet.

Caffeine Can Make You More Alert

There’s no magic bullet to boost IQ or make you smarter — but certain substances, like caffeine, can energize you and help you concentrate. Found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and some medications, caffeine gives you that unmistakable wake-up buzz, though the effects are short-term. And more is often less: Overdo it on caffeine and it can make you jittery and uncomfortable.

Sugar Can Enhance Alertness

Sugar is your brain’s preferred fuel source — not table sugar, but glucose, which your body processes from the sugars and carbs you eat. That’s why a glass of something sweet to drink can offer a short-term boost to memory, thinking, and mental ability.

Have too much, though, and memory can be impaired — along with the rest of you. Go easy on the sugar so it can enhance memory without packing on the pounds.

Eat Breakfast to Fuel Your Brain

Tempted to skip breakfast? Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory and attention. Students who eat it tend to perform better than those who don’t. Foods at the top of researchers’ brain-fuel list include high-fiber whole grains, dairy, and fruits. Just don’t overeat; researchers also found high-calorie breakfasts appear to hinder concentration.

Fish Really is Brain Food

A protein source linked to a great brain boost is fish — rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are key for brain health. These healthy fats have amazing brain power: A diet with higher levels of them has been linked to lower dementia and stroke risks and slower mental decline; plus, they may play a vital role in enhancing memory, especially as we get older.

For brain and heart health, eat two servings of fish weekly.

Add a Daily Dose of Nuts and Chocolate

Nuts and seeds are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is linked to less cognitive decline as you age. Dark chocolate also has other powerful antioxidant properties, and it contains natural stimulants like caffeine, which can enhance focus.

Enjoy up to an ounce a day of nuts and dark chocolate to get all the benefits you need without excess calories, fat, or sugar.

Walnuts

Add Avocados and Whole Grains

Every organ in the body depends on blood flow, especially the heart and brain. A diet high in whole grains and fruits like avocados can cut the risk of heart disease and lower bad cholesterol. This reduces your risk of plaque buildup and enhances blood flow, offering a simple, tasty way to fire up brain cells.

Whole grains, like popcorn and whole wheat, also contribute dietary fiber and vitamin E. Though avocados have fat, it’s the good-for-you, monounsaturated fat that helps with healthy blood flow.

Blueberries Are Super Nutritious

Research in animals shows that blueberries may help protect the brain from the damage caused by free radicals and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Studies also show that diets rich in blueberries improved both the learning and muscle function of aging rats, making them mentally equal to much younger rats.

Benefits of a Healthy Diet

It may sound trite but it’s true: If your diet lacks essential nutrients, it can hurt your ability to concentrate. Eating too much or too little can also interfere with your focus. A heavy meal may make you feel tired, while too few calories can result in distracting hunger pangs.

Benefit your brain: Strive for a well-balanced diet full of a wide variety of healthy foods.

Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements?

Store shelves groan with supplements claiming to boost health. Although many of the reports on the brain-boosting power of supplements like vitamins B, C, E, beta-carotene, and magnesium are promising, a supplement is only useful to people whose diets are lacking in that specific nutrient.

Researchers are cautiously optimistic about ginseng, ginkgo, and vitamin, mineral, and herb combinations and their impact on the brain.

Check with your doctor.

Get Ready for a Big Day

Want to power up your ability to concentrate? Start with a meal of 100% fruit juice, a whole-grain bagel with salmon, and a cup of coffee. In addition to eating a well-balanced meal, experts also offer this advice:

  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Exercise to help sharpen thinking.
  • Meditate to clear thinking and relax.

REFERENCES:
Morris, M. Archives of Neurology, Oct. 10, 2005 online edition; vol 62. News release, American Medical Association.
Noralyn L. Wilson, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA).
Gordon Winocur, PhD, senior scientist for the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto.
Paul E. Gold, professor of psychology and psychiatry, neuroscience program, University of Illinois.
Steven Pratt, MD, author, Superfoods RX: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life.
Rampersaud, G. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, May 2005; vol 105(5): pp 743-760.
Mathematica Policy Research: “Universal-Free School Breakfast Program Evaluation Design Project – Review of Literature on Breakfast and Learning.”
Michaud, C. Journal of Adolescent Health, January 1991; vol 12(1): pp 53-57.
Ann Kulze, MD, author, Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss and Lifelong Vitality.
University of California Berkeley Guide to Dietary Supplements.


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9 Of The Best Foods To Make A Part Of Your Diet

October 3, 2014 by Mark DeNicola

We recently released an article entitled ‘10 Of The Worst Food Ingredients To Never Eat Again,’ which as the name suggests outlined 10 commonly found food ingredients we may want to consider cutting out of our diet. This article is designed to outline 9 (of the many foods) that would be an excellent addition to your diet.

This list is designed to be a starting point for a cumulative conversation. Once you have gone through the list, I encourage all of you to add your own great and healthy food finds to the list through the comment section below. If we all work together and share this growing list with our friends and networks we can make this a truly incredible resource for anyone looking to overturn their diet.

Here are the starting 9, in no particular order:

1) Berries

Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and acai berries are just 4 of the many delicious berry varieties that are easy to find and ready to be a part of your regular diet. Berries are amongst the most antioxidant rich foods out there, with the acai berry topping the list in that department. Antioxidants, as most of us already know, are credited as being quite powerful in preventing cancer, heart disease, aging and much more. Another factor that sets berries apart is their high levels of phytochemicals, which help to protect the cells within your body from damage. (1)

2) Avocados

Like berries, avocados also serve as a source of antioxidants however they also come with a very high natural fibre content that aids in digestion and helps to regulate blood sugar. For those, like me, who are looking to gain a bit of weight but in a healthy way, avocados are one of the best solutions out there with approximately 200 calories for every 100 grams consumed. (2) Because of their ability to cleanse the intestines, avocados are also considered as one of the ways to cure bad breath, which may come in handy with the next item on the list.

3) Quinoa

It’s fast and easy to prepare and is quickly establishing itself as one of the best gluten-free alternatives to pasta. Quinoa is high in protein, a good source of riboflavin, part of the B family of vitamins and is low in calories by comparison to any of its wheat or grain based counterparts. Just be sure to rinse your quinoa thoroughly before cooking it to remove any saponin, a toxic chemical. (4)

4) Potatoes

We’ve all heard that spinach and broccoli are incredibly healthy for us, but did you know that one red potato contains approximately an equal amount of folate to a cup of spinach or broccoli. (6) Folate, which is also a part of the B family of vitamins, support red blood cell production and helps nerves to function properly. (5) If you can however, opt to buy and consume organic potatoes as often as possible, as they made our previously released list of the 12 Most Chemically Ridden Produce Items You Should Buy Organic.

oatmeal

5) Oatmeal*

I put the asterisk next to oatmeal to signify that I’m not suggesting all oatmeals are equally as beneficial for you. Many oatmeal options exist and unfortunately most pre-packaged ones tend to contain a number of chemicals and artificial sugars that outweigh the benefits the oats on their own offer your body. When I say oatmeal I’m referring to actual rolled oats, which can still be prepared by simply mixing in some boiling water. By simply adding fresh fruit and/or organic honey you can quickly make your bowl of oatmeal taste just as good -if not better -than what they managed to accomplish in the pre-packaged alternative. Oats offer manganese, phosphorus, copper, vitamin B1, biotin, which helps to prevent hair loss and much more. (7)

6) Hemp Seeds

On their own, most of us would probably find hemp seeds a difficult food item to incorporate as a part of our regular diet, primarily due to their strong, nutty taste. But used in moderation, such as being sprinkled on a salad or added to a fruit or vegetable smoothie, hemp seeds are a very high quality protein source. They also feature both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which ties them to an ability to boost your immune system and combat fatigue. (8)

7) Almonds

Almonds are certainly not the only nut worth considering to make a part of your regular diet, but they make this list because they contain the most fibre -about 3 grams per ounce. Almonds also happen to be rich in vitamin C and are an antioxidant (a recurring theme amongst this list). (9) I particularly love soaking almonds in water (which I change twice daily) for a couple of days prior to eating them, I personally find that it brings out the flavour more profoundly while softening the overall texture. Soaking the almonds also happens to make them easier on your system to digest, so it is certainly something worth considering.

8) Peanut Butter*

Like oatmeal, peanut butter also comes with an asterisk next to its name due to the differentiation that has to be made between brands such as Skippy, Jif or Kraft and organic peanut butters whose ingredient list consists of nothing more than organic peanuts. If you opt for the second option peanut butter provides you with healthy fats, fibre, potassium and nutrients like vitamin E and B6. (10)  Peanut butter is also pretty filling and even makes for a great addition to any smoothie looking for an extra protein boost.

9) Lentils

Lentils make for a great main ingredient in a hearty soup, an awesome consistency provider to a vegetarian burger patty and a great base to many spreads amongst many other things. In addition to this lentils also just happen to help lower cholesterol, aid with digestion, reduce your risk of heart disease and provide you with protein. (11)

Sources:

(1) http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition-pictures/amazing-health-benefits-of-berries.aspx#01

(2) http://www.undergroundhealth.com/15-amazing-health-benefits-of-eating-avocados/

(3) http://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-garlic/

(4) http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/diana-herrington/7-benefits-of-quinoa_b_3363619.html

(5) http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=63

(6)http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/superfoods/the-10-healthiest-foods-on-the-planet/#page=4

(7) http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=54

(8) http://www.livestrong.com/article/217904-hemp-seeds-health-benefits-or-hype/

(9) http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition/0406/why-you-should-go-nuts-for-nuts.aspx#03

(10) http://www.healthambition.com/health-benefits-of-peanut-butter/

(11) http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5488/7-Health-Benefits-of-Lentils.html


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Top 5 Foods For Natural Asthma Relief

Nearly 25 million Americans suffer from asthma and it is the most common chronic condition among children. Conventional treatments include steroids and asthma inhalers which can have nasty side effects. Here are some natural foods to ease symptoms.

According to the Asthma And Allergy Foundation of America, asthma accounts for one-quarter of all emergency room visits in the U.S. each year, with 1.75 million visits. In addition it accounts for over 10 million out-patient visits and just under half a million hospitalizations each year.

These figures are staggering and the annual cost of asthma to our economy is estimated to be nearly $18 billion as a result of medical treatment and loss of earnings due to illness or death (i).

It is estimated that 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma and approximately 250,000 deaths related to the disease occur annually. By the year 2025, it’s believed that the number will grow by another 100 million or more (ii).

The usual symptoms are shortness of breath and wheezing. Prescribed medications cost the economy millions and can take a toll on our health as they can have many unwanted side effects.

Fresh organic fruits and vegetables will always be beneficial to our bodies and their function. These natural foods are rich sources of antioxidants, such as beta carotene and vitamins C and E, which can help reduce lung swelling, chest tightness and inflammation caused by cell-damaging chemicals known as free radicals.

Here are five of the most beneficial:

1. BANANAS

Research has shown that children who ate a banana each day had a 34% lower chance of going on to develop asthmatic symptoms such as wheezing. Bananas are one of the best sources of pyridoxine, commonly known as vitamin B6. Pyridoxine goes on to produce compounds which been shown to help relax bronchial muscle tissue.

Kids love bananas and they can be added to cereals, smoothies or just eaten from their skin for a nutritious and energy giving health boost.

The 5 Most Prominent Minerals In The Body and Their Use

2. AVOCADOS

Avocados contain a substance called glutathione which is known to protect cell damage from free radicals. It also works to detoxify the body of pollutants which can lead to breathing problems. They are also a rich source of vitamin E. Avocados can help in stabilizing blood sugar levels, improving cardiovascular health and protect the eyes against age related degeneration.

They are a powerhouse of nutrients and are a fantastic addition to a salad or added to a smoothie, or again eaten straight from the skin.

3. GARLIC

Garlic is another super-food as it has so many health benefits, including maintaining cardiovascular health, preventing cancer, and reducing high blood pressure. It is beneficial for asthma sufferers due to the high levels of vitamin C and it’s powerful antioxidant properties. Vitamin C neutralizes free radicals, unstable molecules that cause contraction of airway smooth muscles in asthma patients.

Raw garlic reduces the amount of histamines produced in the body so easing any allergic reactions in asthmatics which normally promote inflammation.

Garlic can also boost the ability of the body to create prostacyclins. These are lipid molecules that help keep the air passages of the lungs open and thus promote easy breathing in asthma sufferers.

4. SUNFLOWER SEEDS

Asthmas patients will benefit from eating sunflower seeds on a regular basis. They are packed full of nutrients including potassium, magnesium and vitamin E. In addition one cup contains a third of the daily recommended amount of selenium which is a mineral linked with a whole raft of health benefits but in particular is known to help individuals that struggle with asthma by reducing the various symptoms such as shortness of breath and wheezing.

Sunflower seeds are relatively calorific but eating these mild nutty seeds in small amounts regularly will help keep healthy lungs and airways.

5. PARSLEY

Parsley loosens phlegm and will help rid the airways of a build up of mucus. Eating parsley can relieve any tightness across the chest muscles and soothe sore throats that can be aggravated by coughing bouts when the mucus has been expelled.

It is a tasty herb versatile enough to use in many dishes or added to a juice or smoothie. Parsley leaf can also be made into a herbal tea.

These are just some of the natural treatments for asthma which can provide relief without over-reliance on chemical packed inhalers and steroid treatments. However, consult your health practitioner before stopping conventional treatment.

SOURCES

(i) http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=42
(ii) http://www.aaaai.org/about-the-aaaai/newsroom/asthma-statistics.aspx