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HealthyNutrition.me

Nutritional guidelines for optimum health. Distinguishing between fact and misinformation. What works best.

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Real Butter for Your Health? — Exposing the Cholesterol Myth

butterby, S. Steve Dounis

We have all heard the hype of saturated fat being bad for your health and how it raises your cholesterol levels leading to obesity and heart disease. This has now been debunked. In various scientific studies from around the world, a recent review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded: “There is no convincing evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease”.

Eating fat does not make you fat. What makes you fat is over indulging in refined carbohydrates (carbs); not to mention lack of exercise.  There are good and bad carbs. The good carbs contain fiber and avoid spikes in blood sugar levels because they are absorbed slowly in our systems. These include whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.

The bad carbs are the refined and processed carbohydrates that strip away beneficial fiber. These include white bread, white flour, processed white sugar, white rice and other similar processed foods. Fiber is the part of the food that humans cannot digest. Fiber is essential in pushing out waste through the colon. Fiber in the diet may prevent colon cancer and promote weight control. You can only get fiber by eating plant foods – fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Saturated fats are crucial for cell membrane structure and integrity, especially for growing children. Despite of all the misinformation floating around, cholesterol is needed to maintain intestinal health, brain, and nervous system development in the young. Butter does not lead to weight gain as it is burned quickly for energy rather than stored as fat.

Butter, a natural saturated fat, protects against heart disease, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and aids thyroid health, digestion, asthma, obesity, fertility, and, among the young,  growth and development.

Vital nutrients including vitamins A, D, K2, and E, lecithin, iodine, and selenium that help protect the heart are all found in butter from grass-fed cows. The vitamins are essential for the proper development of  bone structure and are vital in traditional pre-conception and pregnancey diets.

The short and medium chain fatty acids in butter have powerful anti-tumor properties. Butter from grass fed cows have the most conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that protects against cancer. Butter also contains large percentages of Oleic and Myristic acids, which have cancer fighting properties.

In the late 1920′s, we were led down the garden path of absurdity when we bought the idea that the benefits of margarine, a man-made chemical, was somehow better for health than real butter. An obscure paper tried to insinuate that  saturated fat was the culprit of man’s ills. We now know  margarine contains trans fats that are far and away more dangerous than saturated fats could ever be. Scientific evidence shows that from the time margarine was introduced heart problems began to appear. And, how many processed foods contain trans fats?

Butter is one of the most easily absorbed sources of Vitamin A, which is good for eye health as well as the heart. Other trace minerals include chromium, manganese, copper, and zinc. The vitamin K2 helps absorb calcium needed for teeth and bone health. It is the iodine in butter that is good for a healthy thyroid.

The most beneficial butter is made from organic raw milk from grass fed cows. Organic, because there are no antibiotics or growth hormones. Next, second to that is organic butter made from pasteurized milk instead of raw. Last of all is conventionally made butter which is much better than margarine or any other butter substitute. If you notice, the organic butters have a deeper richer yellow color because they contain more beta carotene. Beta carotene converts to vitamin A in the body.

In comparison to coconut oil, a plant saturated fat, butter, in large quantities, has a longer history of human consumption. Coconut oil is much more recent and much of mankind may be better adapted to butter than coconut oil. However, we need both for good health.

Butter, coconut oil, and extra-virgin olive oil are all good fats for pan-frying, grilling and roasting. For deep frying, animal fats only. These are more stable at high temperatures. Coconut oil and butter are ideal for baking; olive oil is good for baking breads. Some bakers use a combination of butter and coconut oil depending on what they are baking. Some use only butter for pies and others may use a combo for cakes and cookies.

Don’t be afraid to use more butter in your diet. Animal fats are good for you. We need cholesterol. After all, our brains are about 90% cholesterol. Our ancestors ate butter, bone marrow, brains,  liver, and other organs giving them high concentrations of vital nutrients that kept them healthy.

Stay healthy.

 

 

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Lose Weight With Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

by, S. Steve Dounis

Extra Virgin Coconut oil can be useful in reducing weight because it contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight, is easy to digest, and, it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. Further, it increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases, thereby burning out more energy and helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight. As an example, people living in tropical coastal areas, who eat coconut oil daily as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight.

For years we have been told that saturated fats are bad. However, our bodies need some saturated fat both from animals and plants. Coconut oil, even though it contains saturated fat is easily absorbed and used by the body. For generations, throughout the tropical world, coconut oil has provided the main source of fat in the diets of millions of people. Coconut oil is very stable, it does not break down as easily as some other oils, which makes it suitable for frying at  high temperatures. It is slow to oxidize and does not become rancid lasting up to two years because of the high saturated fat content.

The Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC), comprised of seventeen members, produce about ninety per-cent of commercially sold coconut. Their standard for virgin coconut oil demands that it be obtained from fresh, mature coconut kernels by processes that do not alter the oil. This usually consists of using a screw press to extract the oil. Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is sometimes extracted from fresh mature meat by grating and drying it down to a moisture content of 10-12% and then using a manual press. Their is no difference between the terms extra virgin and virgin in regards to coconut oil.

Coconut oil contains large amounts of lauric acid (about 50% ), a saturated fat that raises the HDL (high density lipoprotein), or good cholesterol levels. The same lauric acid found in breast milk. Coconut oil makes the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals easy to digest. Coconut oil helps prevent blood sugar fluctuations because it slows digestion by reducing the rate carbohydrates are broken down into blood glucose.

The body converts lauric acid into monolaurin that some claim to help fight off  viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus and others. The medium-chain fatty acids also destroy Candide, a condition of yeast overgrowth in the body which triggers symptoms of weight gain, carbohydrate cravings, and the like. Coconut oil cleanses the body of many infirmities, balances the digestive tract and nourishes all cells of the body. Coconut oil contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Coconut oil has a high melting point ( 24-25 degrees Celsius or 76-78 degrees Fahrenheit). This makes it a solid at room temperature and melts only at higher temperatures. Don’t keep it in the refrigerator. You can use coconut oil as you would butter or vegetable oils. Some suggest consuming about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil daily. Make sure the virgin coconut oil you use is organic. You can find it in the “health food” section of your local grocery or any health food store.

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What You Should Know About Olive Oil

Olive orchard

by, S. Steve Dounis

The Greek father of medicine Hippocrates was the first to mention the health and therapeutic benefits of olive oil, calling it “the great therapeutic”. Even in biblical times olive oil was used for medicinal purposes both externally and internally by the people bordering the  Mediterranean sea. Olive oil was used to maintain skin and muscle suppleness, heal wounds and abrasions,  soothe the burning and drying effects of sun and water, and for soap. Greek wrestlers (for self defense) spread olive oil on their bodies to slip out of their opponents grasp. The most common use of olive oil, among the ancients, was  for lamp oil, making olive oil five times the value of wine.

In botanical terms, Olive, olea europaea, is an evergreen tree, spiny in the wild state, native to a wide Mediterranean belt, bearing the fruit which has been important as a delicacy, and as a source of oil for food, and for other uses, throughout the regions recorded history. The olive blossoms are small, white, four-lobbed tubular flowers, with pointed dark gray-green leaves growing in opposite pairs and are silvery and scaly underneath. The olive fruit when ripe is black or some other dark color. The orchards are planted in the same fashion as apple trees and grow to about the same height. They attain great age and girth,  with the younger trees being the better bearers.

The largest sources of olive oil are from Spain and Italy, with Greece and north African countries coming next. Edible oils are obtained from the first pressings only. The olive press is as old and as widely used as the wine press. The ancient Greeks were the first to use olive oil as a cooking oil and eventually introduced their discovery to all the countries bordering the Mediterranean. Olive oil became as important to the ancients as petroleum is to us today.

Olive oil, a monounsaturated fat, is an essential, Omega-9, fatty-acid. Omega-9 is referred to as one of the “good fats”, along with Omega-3 and Omega-6, that is essential for good health. We need all types of fats, even animal fat, but the essential fatty-acids are the most important for good health. Why? Because of their antioxidant properties.

As a natural anti-oxidant, olive oil slows down the natural aging process. Olive oil is also recognized as an important factor in maintaining metabolism and a contributing factor of brain and bone development in children (80% of extra virgin olive oil stimulates bone growth and calcium absorption). The anti-oxidant properties of olive oil can actually help lower harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) by discouraging artery clogging (dissolves clots in capillaries),  and fights chronic diseases, including cancer.

Researchers at the University of Oxford in a recent study show that olive oil is as good as fresh fruit and vegetables in preventing colon cancer. Extra virgin olive oil is a natural juice full of flavor and aroma with high vitamin A, B1, B2, C, D, E, and K content.

Olive oil activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more naturally than prescription drugs and as a consequence, lowers the incidence of gallstone formation. Researchers at the Institute of Health Sciences believe that the olive oil seems to reduce the amount of bile acid (deoxycyclic acid) and increase the levels of enzymes ( diamine oxidase) thought to be beneficial in regulating the cell turnover in the gut.

Animal studies in the recent past have shown the benefits of olive oil over safflower and fish oil on pre-cancerous cells and tumor growth. Japanese scientists claim that virgin olive oil applied to the skin after sunbathing could protect against skin cancer by slowing tumor growth. (Greeks use extra virgin olive oil in the same way we use sun-tan lotion to prevent getting sunburned).

A study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine (March 27, 2000) suggests that people with high blood pressure may be able to reduce the amount of their medication by substituting extra-virgin olive oil for other types of fat in their diet. The daily use of about 40 grams (four tablespoons) of olive oil per day markedly reduces the dosage of blood pressure medication by 50% in hypertensive patients. Olive oil dissolves clots in capillaries, lowers the degree of absorption of edible fats, and consequently slows the aging process. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that consuming two tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Mediterranean women have long used olive oil, the “beauty oil”, as a facial moisturizer making skin more lustrous. They also add olive oil to their baths for  hydrating their whole bodies.

Olive oil can be used alone or with lemon or coffee as a mild laxative without irritating the intestinal tract. Taking a spoonful of olive oil before a meal protects the stomach from ulcers and gastritis; can also help treat urinary tract infections and problems with gall bladder.

Olive oil consumption varies in the common diets of  the Mediterranean countries of Greece, Italy, and Spain. The average olive oil consumption of the Italian and Spanish populations is about 15-20 grams (1.5 – 2 tablespoons) per person per day. In Greece, the consumption is double, between 30-40 grams (3 – 4 tablespoons) per person daily.

Scientific research concerning nutrition has recognized the Greek diet as among the healthiest in the world. Olive oil plays a significant role in reducing the effects of many ailments. Greek women for example have a 42% lower rate of breast cancer than women in the U.S.

The quality of olive oil varies depending on cultivation and variety (cultivar), region, altitude, time of harvest, and extraction process. The highest quality of olive oil comes from Greece. Research has shown that, despite poor health care, Greeks had a longer life expectancy (over 80 years), the world’s lowest cancer and heart disease rates, plus the lowest mortality rate due to cardiovascular illness, all attributed to the quality and consumption of extra virgin Greek olive oil.

All types of olive oil contain monounsaturated fat, but “extra-virgin” or “virgin” olive oils are the least processed forms and consequently the most heart healthy due to their high levels of polyphenols (phytochemical – chemicals produced by plants), a powerful antioxidant that promotes heart health. Polyphenols are also antifungal and antibacterial agents.

There are only two basic grades of olive oil that are beneficial for human health: Extra Virgin Olive oil and Virgin Olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil is derived from the first cold pressing of olives.  It is characterized by an acidity level of less than one percent. Considered the finest olive oil it is also more expensive. The range of colors may be from pale champagne to greenish-gold to bright green. The deeper the color, the more intense the flavor. About seventy-five per cent of Greek olive oil is of this premium extra virgin grade (in Italy it is 50% and in Spain 30%). Greece’s ideal climate is the main reason for the overall superiority of Greek olive oil. It  is richer, with fruitier flavor, intense aroma and distinctive bright green color.

Virgin olive oil is also derived from the first pressing. The difference is the acidity levels. Virgin olive oil has an acidity level between one and two percent. Its flavor may vary in intensity but, virgin olive oil is milder than extra virgin olive oil.

All the other varieties of olive oil: Olive oil, Pure Olive oil, and Refined Olive oil (refined to correct the taste and lower the acidity level to 0.3%) are either blends of extra virgin olive oil and refined olive oil or an industrial product with low nutritional value lacking all antioxidants and nutrients found in 100% extra virgin olive oil. Over 50% of the oil produced in the Mediterranean area is of such poor quality that it must be refined with the use of charcoal and other chemical and physical filters to produce an edible product.

Due to the pressing process of extra virgin olive oil, being kind to the olive fruit, all of the health benefit factors remain whole and in tack. This contributes to the fact that olive oil is very stable even when frying. Olive oil, contrary to popular belief, undergoes a smaller degree of deterioration during frying than other oils.

Olive oil has long been used for religious rites especially in Judaism and Christianity. The Messiah means the “Anointed  One”. Christ is the Greek word for “the Anointed One”. How anointed? With olive oil. In the Greek Orthodox Christian faith, for example, the Sacrament of Chrismation is the act of anointing a new convert to the faith with olive oil after the Sacrament (Mystery, in Greek) of Baptism. Plus, there is the anointing service of Holy Unction, to heal the ill, as mentioned by St. James in the New Testament, using olive oil.

Olive oil plays a tremendous part in the Mediterranean diet as well as in the lives of the Mediterranean people. For a healthier lifestyle consider replacing the oils you may be using now with extra virgin olive oil.

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Lamb the Healthy Red Meat

by, S. Steve Dounis

History of Lamb

Lamb is the oldest domesticated meat species. For thousands of years man has raised sheep for meat to eat, wool for clothing, skin for parchment, as well as milk for butter and cheese. Sheep were raised by humans 9,000 years ago in the Middle East, and all along the  Mediterranean.  Sheep made it to North America with the Spanish conqueror of Mexico, Hernando Cortes, in 1519. Over 2,000 years ago, the Greeks and Romans brought sheep to England. Later, sheep were brought to the United States in the early 1800s. From Asia, to Europe, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, and around the world, lamb has been an important and versatile staple. From Biblical times, lamb is considered to be blessed.

Definition of Lamb

Lamb is meat from sheep less than 1 year old. Today, most of the lamb  is from 6 to 8 months old. So- called “Spring lamb” means that the lamb was harvested between March and October. The term comes from times past when lambs born in harsh winter weather hardly survived until the following spring. Today the sheep are provided shelter from wind and snow.

Naturally Raised

It has been estimated that there are more than 100,000 sheep farms in the United States. A great number of these farms are completely natural, that is, the sheep are naturally grass fed in pastures with free access to well and spring water. The sheep are never given antibiotics, growth stimulants, steroids, or any other chemical additives. They are not grain fed and never exposed to feedlot conditions. Some routine maintenance shots may be given the sheep for tetanus, overeating disease, and lamb hood disease. By raising the sheep outdoors on pasture, their manure is spread over a wide area of land, making it a welcome source of organic fertilizer, and not a “waste management problem” as is the case with animals quartered in feedlots.

Feedlot Raised

What is a feedlot? A type of animal feeding operation consisting of a confined pen or enclosure, which is used in factory farming for finishing livestock, notably beef cattle, but also swine, horses, sheep, turkeys, chickens or ducks, prior to slaughter. Prior to entering a feedlot, sheep spend most of their life grazing on pastureland. Once they reach an entry-level weight and age, they are transferred to a feedlot to be fed a “specialized diet” and then from there, after reaching their finished weight, they are transported to a slaughterhouse.

The “specialized diet” usually consists of high grains such as corn, barley, milo (a sorghum), and/or wheat. However, ruminants such as sheep are designed to eat fibrous grasses, plants, and shrubs and not starchy, low-fiber grain. Switching from pasture greens to grains causes the sheep to become afflicted with a number of disorders. This could lower the nutritional value of the meat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has okayed Zeronal, a synthetic hormone used to promote efficient growth in feedlot lambs. The hormone is implanted on the lamb’s ear and is time released for about 30 days. A withholding period of 40 days is required before slaughter.

Antibiotics may be given to prevent or treat disease in lambs. A recommended withholding period is required from the time antibiotics are administered until it is legal to slaughter the animal. This is so residues can exit the animal’s system.

This is why you need to buy the natural raised lamb. Of course the USDA does not really differentiate between natural and feedlot raised animals. The USDA states:

  • “All fresh meat qualifies as ‘natural’. Products labeled ‘natural’ cannot contain any artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, chemical preservative, or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient: and the product and its ingredients are not more than minimally processed (ground, for example). All products claiming to be natural should be accompanied by a brief statement which explains what is meant by the term ‘natural’”.

The Natural Lamb Co-op

Several thousand ranchers and farmers all across the U.S. and Canada, since the late 1990′s, have stopped sending their animals to feedlots.

In late 2006, Nancy Penley of Loveland, Colorado, organized the Natural Lamb Co-op, a group of natural lamb producers interested in providing the public with delicious, all-natural lamb. The sheep are raised entirely on pasture land and never implanted with hormones or given feed growth promoting additives, nor fed animal by-products.

The members of the Natural Lamb Co-op believe that Americans deserve a healthy, nutritious, and tasty diet more in keeping with our original diet and our physiology.

Health Benefits

Lamb is not marbled (fat in the meat) as is beef. Over half of the fat in lamb is unsaturated. Only 36% of the fat in lamb is saturated. Most of the unsaturated fat is monounsaturated, commonly found in a healthy Mediterranean-type diet.

Lamb contains the fat that is good for you, consumed directly as part of the essential omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA), a liquid unsaturated acid.  Lamb is one of the richest sources of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), part of the omega-6,  possessing unique and potent antioxidant activity . CLA cannot be manufactured in the human body. Most of the lamb’s fat is on the outside edges and is easily trimmed. Only 175 calories, on average, in a 3 ounce serving. This is about 7% of the average caloric intake recommended for a 23-to-50 year old man.

Lamb is an excellent natural source of high quality protein. The protein in lamb is nutritionally complete, with all 8 essential amino acids in the proper ratio. A three ounce serving provides 43% of an adult male’s Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein.

As a source of  easily absorbed iron,  an average portion of lamb provides 20% of the RDA  intake for men and 12% for women. Iron is vital in the formation of red blood cells. Lamb provides 45% of the daily requirement of zinc, essential for growth, healing and a healthy immune system.

Lamb is a great source of B vitamins, essential for metabolic reactions in the body. Lamb provides over 100% of the RDA of B12, (found solely in animal meat), for normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. A good source also of thiamine (B1), essential to normal metabolism and nerve function.

Trace mineral elements such as copper, manganese and selenium are also found in lamb.

Retail Cuts of Fresh Lamb

A lamb weighs about 120 pounds and yields approximately 60 to 72 pounds of retail lamb cuts, which include bone and fat. There are five basic retail lamb cuts. These are: lamb shoulder, rack of lamb, lamb loin, lamb shank/lamb breast, and leg of lamb. These may be further broken down in the super markets as loin chops, shoulder roast, shoulder chops, leg of lamb butt-end, leg shank, etc., as well as ground lamb. The “rack” is the unsplit rib  of the carcass, which includes ribs 6 through 12, and is usually split to make two lamb rib roasts.

Lamb Myths

1. “Lamb does not taste good”. Wrong. Lean lamb has a delicate, mild, almost sweet  flavor.

2. “Lamb is expensive”. Not so. Based on a 3-ounce lean portion, lamb is comparable in price to the finer cuts of beef and pork and without the higher levels of cholesterol. Always consider the cost per person.

3. “Lamb is hard to prepare”. Lamb is the easiest to prepare. It can be broiled, grilled, roasted as any other cut of meat. Use your favorite spices for an enjoyable, tender and delicious meal.

4. “Lamb is only for special occasions”. It is great for special occasions, however, you can prepare it anytime as a change of pace from beef, pork, or chicken.

Availability

In the U.S., per capita consumption of lamb is very low, less that one pound per person. In New Zealand, for example, consumption is 57 pounds per person. Many immigrants to the U.S., however, today, come from many areas of the world where lamb is commonly consumed. As a result, the U.S. continues to import lamb to meet consumer demand.

In Summation

Add lamb to your weekly menu and enjoy an excellent source of protein and essential fats (the “good” fats). Out of all the meats, lamb is the easiest to digest because of it’s low saturated fat content. Full of essential fatty acids, B vitamins, iron, zinc, and selenium, lamb is the healthy alternative to beef, pork, or chicken. Use the natural lamb if you can find it. Even if you can only get feed-lot raised lamb it is still healthier than any of the other meats.

My Favorite Seasonings for Lamb

Whether I am broiling, roasting, or grilling lamb these are my favorite ways of seasoning. First, I squeeze lemon juice all over the meat (lemon is a flavor enhancer and germ killer), next I sprinkle sea salt and pepper, then sprinkle oregano, and finally, drizzle olive oil all over the meat (olive oil, omega-9, is also a flavor enhancer and protects the meat from burning). Lastly, I rub it all in and over the meat. You will be amazed at how this simple “rub” flavors the lamb. When cooking, most of the fat is melted off. The lamb thus shrinks a little. For example, after cooking bone-in lamb leg or roast, one pound of raw weight will yield 8 to 9 ounces of edible meat. Ground lamb or boneless cuts will yield about 10.5 ounces of edible meat.

My Favorite Recipe for Ground Lamb

Finely chop one small onion and finely chop a small clump of parsley. In a heated frying pan (medium high) add a tablespoon of olive oil. Fry the chopped onions with a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of pepper. Stir onions thoroughly into olive oil and seasoning. After a few minutes add the chopped parsley and stir in good. Do not burn onions. Shut off heat when onions become translucent and parsley limps.

In a large bowl place one pound of ground lamb. Using a wooden spatula, break up the meat to loosen it up. Afterwords, squeeze lemon over all the meat. Then add sea salt, pepper, oregano, and drizzle olive oil all over the seasoned meat. Using the spatula, incorporate the seasonings and oil into the meat. Next, add the onions and parsley mix to the meat mix. Stir in and incorporate all ingredients. Finally, using your hands (bare, or with plastic throw-away gloves) roll everything into a ball. Place ball on a china plate. spread out ball into a square. Break off the four corners into smaller balls. Make 4 kefte (meatball) burgers. You can fry them or broil them. Fry in teaspoon of olive oil and teaspoon of organic salt-free butter. If broiling, sprinkle olive oil on to broiler pan and add water in bottom of pan.

You can use your own recipe seasonings to suit your own good taste. Be creative. Bon appetit.

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Onions and Garlic-Natural Immune Defenders

by, S. Steve Dounis

Onions and garlic belong to the Allium family, which also includes leeks, chives, scallions, and shallots. They are rich in odoriferous sulfur compounds including thiosulfinates, sulfides, and sulfoxides.

Onions (Allium cepa) are very rich in fructo-oligosaccharides which stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. They can reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon.

Garlic (Allium sativum L.) is a rich source of two classes of organosulfur compounds: (1) gamma-glutamylcysteines and (2) cysteine sulfoxides. Approximately 80% of the cysteine sulfoxides in garlic is allylcysteine sulfoxide (allin), the organic compound allicin, which gives garlic its aroma and flavor, and acts as the world’s most powerful antioxidant. Modern science has shown that garlic is a powerful natural broad-spectrum antibiotic.

Health Benefits of Onions

Lowers Blood Sugar

Onions contain allyl-propyl-disulphide which lowers blood sugar levels by increasing the amount of free insulin available for delivering glucose into cells. Onions are also a good source of chromium, the mineral component in glucose, a molecule that helps the appropriate insulin response in cells.

Chromium can lower blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while increasing HDL- cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels in diabetics, clinical studies have shown.

Chromium levels are depleted by the consumption of refined sugars and white flour products as well as the lack of exercise. One cup of raw onion contains over 20% of the Daily Value for chromium, an important trace mineral.

Good for the Heart

Studies have shown that regular consumption of onions has been shown to lower high cholesterol levels, lower high blood pressure, prevent atherosclerosis, prevent diabetic heart disease, and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Scientific studies of more than 100,00 individuals who included onions, tea, apples and broccoli, the richest sources of flavonoids, gained a 20% reduction in their risk of heart disease.

Good for the Colon and Gastrointestinal Health

According to  research published in Clinical Gasteroenterology and Hepatology, onions contain quercitin, an antioxidant, and curcumin, a phytonutrient found in tumeric, that may reduce both the size and number of precancerous lesions in the intestinal tract.

Cancer Prevention

Case control studies from Southern European populations, as reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicate that making onion, as well as garlic, a staple in your diet may greatly lower your risk of several common cancers.

The participants in these studies consuming the most onions showed: 84% reduced risk of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx; 88% reduced risk for esophageal cancer; 56% reduced risk for colorectal cancer; 83% reduced risk for laryngeal cancer; 25% reduced risk for breast cancer; 73% reduced risk for ovarian cancer; 71% reduced risk for prostate cancer; and, 38% reduced risk for renal cell cancer, compared to those eating the least amount of onion.

Studies in Greece, China, and central Georgia (Vidalia onion country) have shown a high consumption of onions, garlic, and other allium herbs to be protective against stomach cancer.

Shopping for Onions

Western Yellow onion, New York Bold onion, and Northern Red onion are the richest in flavonoids and phenolics (hydrocarbon with antiseptic & disinfectant properties), giving them the greatest antioxidant and anti-proliferative activity of 10 onions tested. The mild-tasting Western White and Vidalia onions had the lowest antioxidant content and lowest anti-proliferative activity. The onions with the strongest astringency have the superior health promoting properties.

Good for Bone Health

Onions contain a compound named gamma-L-glutamyl-trans-S-1-proopenyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide, or GPCS for short. This newly found compound inhibits the cells (osteoclasts) that break down bone. This may be especially beneficial for women, who are at risk for osteoporosis as they enter menopause. GPCS works in a similar manner as Fosamax (Alendronate) without the potential negative and dangerous side effects attributed to the drugs. The onions protect bones in a natural and positive manner.

A Natural Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Bacterial

Besides vitamin C and quercitin, onions contain the anti-inflammatory component isothiocyanates that inhibits lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase, the enzymes that cause inflamatory conditions such as pain and swelling of osteo and rheumatoid arthiritis, asthma, and the respitorycongestion associated with the common cold. Quercitin and other flavonoids found in onions work along with vitamin C to help kill harmful bacteria. Good idea to use onions in soups and stews during cold and flu season.

Health Benefits of Garlic

Garlic has a long history in medicine, in the form of a syrup and as a poultice for bronchitis. A native to southern Europe garlic, from Spain to Greece, has been a cooking staple for thousands of years. In the 19th century, Louis Pasteur, the famous French chemist, demonstrated garlic’s antiseptic properties, a discovery that aided the armies of Britain, Germany, and Russia, during both World War I and II.

Helps Lower Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol

Major studies indicate that allicin, a chemical formed when garlic is crushed or chopped, reduces cholesterol levels and lowers high blood pressure. Garlic also reduces the ability of blood platelets to form clots, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks or stroke. The organosulfur compounds in garlic have been found to inhibit the activity of inflammatory enzymes, which appear to play a role in the pathology of heart disease.

May Prevent Some Cancers

The antioxidant properties of garlic, like onions, reduces the risk of cancer of the colon and esophagus, and may aid in shrinking cancers of the breast, skin, and lungs. Allicin and SAC (S-allyl-cystein) have been successful against tumors in lab animals.The sulfur compounds in garlic drive out carcinogens before they can damage cell DNA and force cancer cells that do develop to self-destruct.

Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties

Garlic extracts have been found to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Thiosulfinates, particularly allicin, a potent antimicrobial, can fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Studies in Britain have shown that those who ingest raw garlic for 12 weeks during cold season were far less likely to get sick than those who took placebos. Of the garlic takers who did catch a cold recovery was four days sooner on average than the others. Just one clove of garlic a day gives you the needed vitamins of A, B, and C, as well as minerals including selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium. Two cloves, or more, a day may protect you from the flu or help you recover faster if you get the flu or the common cold.

Studies conducted at the University of California irvine Medical Center suggest that garlic is a powerful antibiotic. Garlic juice demonstrates significant antibacterial activity against a spectrum of pathogens including antibiotic-resistant strains such as methicillin-resistant and ciprofloxacin-resistant staphylococci, vancomycin-resistant enterococci, and ciprofloxacin-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A second study found that garlic also inhibits methiicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSRA). MSRA is the antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in hospitals.

(By adding chopped garlic to your socks and wearing the socks in bed while you sleep at night, has been shown to kill athlete’s foot).

In Summary

For optimal health and prevention of disease include onions and garlic in your daily diet, preferably in their raw state. Add onions to your salads, sandwiches, stews, etc. Even cooked they will provide some benefit. Garlic juice can be added to salad dressings or add sliced-up garlic into salad mix. If you eat garlic by itself also eat some parsley, as the chlorophyll will take away any bad breath. Garlic cloves added to meat dishes enhance savory flavors. Use you imagination, experiment. Garlic and onions are natural remedies as well as natural seasonings. Enjoy.

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Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

by, S. Steve Dounis

Some Americans hardly eat any fruit at all. Most Americans do not eat enough fruit. Fruit is “live” food that gives your body the enzymes to digest your food and the antioxidants to support your immune system. Eat fruit at every meal and in between meals as well. Fruits and nuts are great snacks giving you that pick-up and burst of energy you need to get through the day. They are non-fattening, nourishing, and taste good.

Most fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C, beta carotene (found in orange or deep yellow flesh fruits and vegetables), and potassium. They all contain bioflavonoids that can protect you against cancer and other diseases. Fruits are high in fiber, low in calories, and contain natural sugars providing you with quick energy without the spikes of unnatural sugars. Fruits contain many other vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to good health.

Many scientific studies demonstrate that people who eat ample amounts of fruit daily have a reduced incident of cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. Researchers believe this is due to the high amounts of antioxidants, especially vitamins C and A, found in most fruits. The antioxidants work by preventing cell damage caused by free radicals (unstable molecules released when the body burns oxygen). Bioflavonoids (plant pigments with antioxidant properties) found in fruit aid in preventing or retarding tumor growth.

As reported in several cross-sectional studies, higher intakes of fruits and vegetables contribute significantly to higher bone mineral density (BMD) and lower levels of bone resorption (loss) in men and women. Fruits and vegetables are rich in precursors to bicarbonate ions, which serve to buffer acids in the body. When the level of bicarbonate ions is insufficient to maintain normal pH, the body draws out alkaline calcium salts from bone to neutralize acids consumed in the diet. By consuming more fruits and vegetables, which are more alkaline, you save your body from stealing calcium from your bones to reduce the acidity in your system. This is protection against osteoporosis.

In a Health Professional’s Follow-up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study, those who consumed eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily had a 20% lower risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease than those who consumed less than three servings daily. The same studies indicated that the risk of ischematic stroke (stroke caused by a reduction of blood flowing to part of the brain) was 30% lower in those who ate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily than those who consumed less than three servings daily. High blood pressure (hypertension) can be lowered by adding more fruits and vegetables to a good diet. This may decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The blended combinations found in fruits and vegetables that help to protect the heart include vitamin C, folate (vitamin B folic acid), potassium, fiber, and various phytochemicals (plant chemicals).

Cancer (especially in digestive tract, prostate, and lungs), cataracts, macular degeneration in the elderly, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer’s disease), type-2 diabetes mellitus (DM), cardiovascular disease can all be reduced or managed by high intakes of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), on their website, states that “…those who eat more generous amounts of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers”.

The least amount in a “serving” recommended for a fruit or vegetable is one cup. One cup refers to a common measuring cup as used in recipes. However, you really need to eat more than one cup of either fruits or vegetables. At this time, it is recommended that we have 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, but, this is only a guideline. For example, eat an apple and a banana with your breakfast, maybe including a handful of nuts; for lunch include a salad, beets, broccoli, or other vegetables, and grapes or other fruit along with your meal; in between meals have an orange or apple or berries with maybe some nuts; for supper have a light meal that includes more fruit and some yogurt. Your meals may include chicken, meat, or fish, balanced with more vegetables and fruit. Try to replace your sweets with eating more fruit. This will give you better health, weight control, and protection from chronic diseases and cancer.

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More Info On Vitamin D & What It Means

by, S. Steve Dounis

 

There have been more research studies done on vitamin D in the past three years than on any other vitamin. It has become more than the usual “supplement of the day” fad. What makes the “sunshine vitamin” unique is that it is more than a vitamin, it is a hormone. It is triggered primarily by the sun, especially in the Spring and Summer months. The sun converts the cholesterol in our bodies to vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be supplemented in pill or capsule form and is derived from the lanolin in sheep’s wool. This form is scientifically referred to as cholecalciferol or vitamin D3.

Vitamin D is important for healthy bones as well as healthy function of nerves, muscles, and the immune system. Studies show that most Americans are deficient in vitamin D. We are not in the sunshine as much as we need to be, especially in the warmer months. Using sunblockers reduces any benefit we may receive from being in the sun. Consequently, we are more proned to catching colds and the flu during the winter months. Twenty minutes a day with 40% of our bodies exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB), without sunblockers, will give us about 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D. During the fall and winter months we should be supplementing with a minimum of 2,000 IU of vitamin D3. The Vitamin D Council recommends 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 should be taken daily. Most vitamin D supplements come in 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000 IU capsules. From the Fall and throughout Winter, 5,000 IU should protect you from any cold or flu.

A recent John Hopkins University research study found that a deficiency of vitamin D increases the risk of death by 26 percent. The study also found that vitamin D decreases the mortality rate from almost every type of cancer, including breast, colon and prostate. Other research indicate that vitamin D helps prevent diabetes, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.

In the past 3 years, an increasing amount of research suggests that some of the damage done by vitamin D deficiency is done in-utero while the fetus is developing, and is the origin for a host of future perils for the child, especially for the child’s brain and immune system. More than 95% of pregnant women have 25(OH)D, (25-hydroxyvitamin D), blood levels below 50ng/ml, (50 nanograms per milliliter). The Vitamin D Council recommends that our blood levels should be 50ng/ml or above.

The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University suggests that the effects of vitamin D on the immune system may, “enhance innate immunity and inhibit the development of autoimmunity”. Vitamin D may be a useful remedy in preventing and treating autoimmune diseases.

An autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues rather than a foreign invader. Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, Parkinson, are some examples of autoimmune diseases. In the case of multiplesclerosis, for example, the immune system attacks the myelin producing cells of the nervous system. And, in the case of rheumatoid arthritis the collagen producing cells of the joints are attacked. Bringing the vitamin D levels up may be the way to help prevent or even reverse autoimmune type diseases.

Have your doctor test your vitamin D levels. Take a minimum of 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. Protect your immune system. Vitamin D3 supplements may also come from fish. However, it is best to get the vitamin D3 supplements from sheep. (If the supplement does not mention the origin, it is usually from sheep).

See YouTube video for more info:  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–NqqB2nhBE

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The Tomato Cage – Defense Against Squirrels

by, S. Steve Dounis

Protect your tomato plants from ravaging squirrels (and other varmints). Start with inexpensive galvanized fencing, 4-tomato stakes, and chicken wire. Staple or wire the fencing to tomato pointed stakes (driven into the ground a few inches), and add tied-down chicken wire on top as a roof (may have to overlap). Allow plenty of room for tomato plant to grow (use a tomato “tree” of some kind). Cut a square piece out of the side that is closest to plant for tomato gathering and fertilizing. Cut a larger piece from the fencing material and hinge it over the cut-out area. Make your own style of “locking” device. You can use wire, plastic ties, and bungie cords (or combination of these). Use your imagination. I use plastic ties for the hinges on the left, and, a combination of different sized bungie cords to lock door from top and right side.

 

 

Tomato Cage on left full view. Picture on right shows double locking system using bungies cords (top to bottom & left to right) with green plastic tied hinges on the left.

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Swine Flu Shot More Dangerous Than The Virus

 

by, S. Steve Dounis

A recent Daily Mail article by, Jo Macfariane, August 15, 2009, warns that the swine flu shot is linked to Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a nerve disease that attacks the lining of the nerves, creating paralysis and inability to breathe, and can be fatal. In 1976, the swine flu vaccine killed 25 people in the U.S. – more than the virus itself. The British Association of Neurologists has been asked to monitor any cases of GBS as the vaccine begins to be administered.

The National Health Service (NHS) workers in Great Britain are the first in line for the swine flu vaccine, but up to a third of the British nurses say “no” to the vaccine because of concerns over its safety. In a survey conducted by the Nursing Times magazine of its 1,500 readers, 30% say they will refuse to take the vaccine, 33% say maybe, and only 37% said they would definitely take the “jab” (vaccine).

The history of all flu vaccines show that they have never worked. Now they intend to inject populations while at the same time performing safety trials. Don’t be a guinea pig, stay away from any flu shot.

Because of the the same ingredients, especially Thimerosal which is 49% mercury by weight, there is evidence that flu shots may cause Alzheimer’s Disease due to the mercury, aluminum, and formaldehyde combination cocktail. Mercury alone has been implicated as a cause of autism. Study after study and scientist after scientist have all proven there is less safety and more of a risk with Thimerosal. If Mercury is bad in fish, why is it okay in vaccines? This makes no sense.

As American Dr. Mayer EisensteIn, M.D., a staunch opponent to the vaccine, says, “…in a few weeks when the swine flu vaccine program is rolled out we are going to inject this toxin (Mercury) into children and pregnant women”, and I might add, into the vulnerable elderly who are at a higher risk. Is this not insane?

All evidence on the swine flu (H1N1 flu) world wide, so far, have indicated that it is a mild form of the flu. Most, if not all, of the few deaths, worldwide, were due to compromised immune systems in people who were very ill. A strong immune system is your best defense against the flu or any disease.

You have to keep your immune system at its peak. This means getting plenty of rest (bed rest), eating right, taking supplements, exercise, and drinking plenty of water. Wash your hands and face after returning home from being out in public.

Start first by measuring the vitamin D levels of yourself and of your family to reduce the incidences of colds and flu. Most Americans are deficient in vitamin D. The test is worthwhile no matter the cost. According to Dr. John Cannell, M.D., of the Vitamin D Council, your vitamin D levels should be above 50ng/ml. During the flu season, the Vitamin D Council recommends taking vitamin D3 supplements, 5,000 units per day for adults and 2,000 units for children. This will protect you and yours throughout the cold and flu season. At other times, a minimum of 2,000 units should be taken.

Secondly, give your family probiotics such as organic yogurt or probiotic supplements. Our immune system is controlled by our digestive tract. Give them the “good bacteria” to enforce their immune systems and to ward off the bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Your health is up to you, not the government.

Thirdly, eat garlic and onions daily during the cold and flu season. Garlic has antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Onions have antibiotic properties. Try to stay away from “junk food”.

Last, but not least, are the usual supplements beginning with a good multiple vitamin as your foundation. These may include vitamin C (1,000mg daily), Omega-3 Fish oils (or EFA, essential fatty acids that include omega-3,-6, and -9), vitamin E, and calcium, among others. Whatever your body needs to stay healthy. Make sure you get them from a reputable health food store where you are more likely to get the pure and natural form of the vitamin and not synthetics as may be found in other places.

Your health is in your hands. Avoid the Swine Flu (H1N1) vaccine like the plague.

(For more info on Vitamin D3 see post: Vitamin D3 Replaces Flu Shot.)

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Nuts and Seeds Provide Health Benefits

by, S. Steve Dounis

Nuts and seeds are natural snack foods that give you energy and enjoyment as well as good health. They are rich in vitamin E and potassium, high in minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. Some are good sources of folic acid, niacin, and other B vitamins. Others provide plant protein, fiber, and Omega-3 essential fatty acids. These are the seeds or embryos of plants and various trees containing all the nutrients needed to grow a new plant.

Instead of filling up on donuts at work for a mid-morning pick-up, grab a handful of almonds or walnuts or cashews, or any of your favorite raw or roasted nuts, and in twenty minutes or less you will have the energy you need to get you through the day until lunch, and maybe beyond. You can also eat pumpkin, sunflower, or sesame seeds for quick energy.

Some say that nuts are “fattening” because they are high in calories and fats. However, these are the good fats that your body needs. They contain monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils that do not cause clogging of blood vessels with fatty plaque. As a matter of fact, nuts have the ability to slash cholesterol and heart attack risk by as much as 39 percent. Nuts are a slow-burning food and studies show they can even help people lose weight.

Peanuts are technically a legume and should be eaten roasted and not raw or steamed. Why? The roasting boosts levels of the antioxidant p-coumaric acid, believed to help prevent stomach cancer, by 22 percent. Americans eat over 600 million pounds of peanuts a year. Plus, we eat more than 700 million pounds of peanut butter, enough to spread and cover the floor of the Grand Canyon.

Nutritional Values of Nuts

  • Almonds

A rich source of protein, the antioxidants Vitamin E and selenium, and the minerals magnesium, potassium, calcium, and copper, as well as the B vitamins, especially folic acid. Contains high levels of healthy monounsaturated fats helping to reduce cholesterol levels and improve heart health.

  • Walnuts

Walnuts are a great source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, the same Omega-3′s found in fatty cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines. These essential fatty acids lower levels of triglycerides, keep plaque from sticking to the arterial walls, improves cognitive functions, and reduces inflammation throughout the body.

  • Pecans

Contain over 19 minerals and vitamins including folic acid, vitamin B, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, copper, potassium, phospherous, manganese, and zinc. Along with almonds and walnuts, pecans are good for the heart by reducing cholesterol and aiding in keeping the arteries clean and flowing.

  • Cashews

Cashews are really seeds that are part of the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree found in tropical America. Rich in magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and biotin. Cashews have the lowest percentage of fats compared to most nuts. Approximately 75 Percent of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids. Plus, 75% of this unsaturated fat content is oleic acid, the Omega-9 essential fatty acid, the same fat found in olive oil and avocado.

  • Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts contain high levels of the antioxidant selenium. Selenium helps neutralize harmful free radicals thereby helping to prevent heart disease and cancer; including, breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancer. These nuts are extremely nutrient-rich containing protein, copper, niacin, magnesium, fiber, and vitamin E. Gathered from trees in the Amazon basin, this is the only nut that is not cultivated.

  • Peanuts

Peanuts are a rich source of protein, roughly 30 grams per cup after roasting. Contains the vitamin B complex and highest in thiamine, folate (folic acid, B9), and Niacin. Also contains vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium phosphorous, potassium and zinc. Peanuts are a significant source of resveratrol, an antioxidant flavonoid that is anti-aging, and associated with reducing cardiovascular disease and cancer risk. Peanuts actually contain almost 30 times as much resveratrol as grapes. They are a good source of the monosaturated fat, oleic acid, found in olive oil.  Some people who may be allergic to the peanut should try the Valencia peanut as it is free of the allergen found in most other peanut varieties.

  • Other Noteworthy Nuts

These include hazel nuts (filberts), chestnuts, pistachios, macadamias, and pine nuts to name a few. These also contain the “good” fats as well as vitamins and minerals.

Nutritional Value of Seeds

  • Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of fiber, protein, vitamin E, B vitamins, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, selenium, calcium and zinc. They contain the Omega-6 essential fatty acid, linoleic acid.

  • Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acids alanin, glycin and glutamic acid, and also contain high amounts of zinc and Omega-3 essential fatty acids. They contain high quantities of protein, iron and phosphorous, plus, beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium. Good for the prostate.

  • Sesame Seeds

Sesame seed are rich in calcium and vitamin E. They contain copper, manganese, tryptophan, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamin B1 (thiamin). In addition, sesame seeds contain two unique substances; sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special fibers called lignans, which are beneficial in lowering cholesterol and in preventing high blood pressure. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.

  • Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are high in the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese. Rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Most of the oil is alpha linonic acid (ALA) which is a precursor to EPA and DHA, the Omega-3 components found in salmon, tuna, and other fatty cold-water fish as well as krill. The ALA helps in the Omega-3 and Omega-6 balance. Since not everyone is able to convert ALA to EPA and DHA, it may not be a good idea to rely solely on flax seed for your Omega-3 intake. Good added to cereals or salads.

Health Benefis of Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are the richest source of vitamin E, which is needed to make red blood cells and muscle tissue; it is also an important antioxidant, protecting us against heart disease.  A half cup of almonds provides more than twice the daily requirement of vitamin E.

Most nuts and seeds are rich in potassium. About 4 ounces of almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, or sunflower seeds provide more than 500mg of this electrolyte. Almonds and pistachios, as well as flaxseed, pumpkin seed, and sesame seeds are very high in iron. A cup of almonds, Brazil nuts, filberts, or pistachios, or an ounce of sesame seeds, contain as much calcium as a cup of milk. Nuts and seeds are rich in the B vitamins. Almonds and peanuts are high in folate. Most nuts are high in niacin; Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds are high in thiamine.

Many of the nuts and seeds provide protein. However, they lack lysine, an essential amino acid necessary to make a complete protein. Only the peanut (a legume) contains lysine. By adding peanuts along with the other nuts you are assured of complete protein.

In Conclusion

Nuts and seeds should be an essential addition to anyone’s diet. They not only provide good nutrition and energy but they also protect us from heart disease, cancer, and weight gain. Refrigerate, for up to a month, or freeze, in a sealed container for several months, out-of-the shell nuts because their oil quickly turns rancid. You can find a good assortment of nuts and seeds at your local health food store and in the produce department of your local grocery store. Unsalted is best but some nuts are better with salt, like pistachios and cashews. Hopefully, in the future producers will start adding sea salt instead of the usual table salt. Sea salt is better for you as it contains 80 essential minerals.

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