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Fast Facts on How These Top 6 Spices Can Strengthen Your Health

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We mostly focus on fruits and vegetables to gain proper nutrition, but how about placing our focus on herbs and spices? Instead of looking for food options which are less in calories or for “organic food”, it could be a useful game changer if there is an addition of spice onto your dish. Not only does it contribute for additional flavoring, but it can also boost your health at the same time!

Here are some delicious herbs and spices that have powerful health benefits, supported by research:

Turmeric

Turmeric, also known as Curcuma longa, is a yellow-colored spice that is founded in most Asian foods such as curry. It contains a chemical called curcumin that has anti-inflammatory responses and can ease pain. This spice is a member of the ginger family and is a major ingredient for curry.

 

Positive health benefits for turmeric include:

  • Reduces aggravation in arthritis patients
  • Eases headaches and itching
  • Reduces colds and fevers
  • Relieves pain on skin and bruising
  • Anti- Inflammatory properties
  • Digestive healing agent
  • Reduces high cholesterol

Other positive skin benefits include:

  • Clears acne scars
  • Reduces oil secretion
  • Heals cuts and skin irritation
  • Whitens teeth
  • Fights aging and wrinkles

Turmeric currently has no known harmful side effects and is safe to consume by mouth or skin. One tablespoon is about 29 calories and is one of the most nutritionally rich herbs that contain protein, vitamin C, calcium, iron, sodium, and other nutrients. It is rich in antioxidants and accelerates metabolic rate.

It is highly versatile and there are several ways to eat and drink turmeric, such as tea, smoothies, or eggs. You can just add it for a touch of flavor and also for good health! There are special precautions for taking turmeric during pregnancy; in those specific cases, it is best to consult a doctor beforehand.

Cardamom

Cardamom, also known as Elettaria cardamomum, is both a herb and a spice used in foods and medicine. It is originally from India and  is ranked third from being one of the most expensive spices. This is found as a small pod with black seeds inside and can be used in desserts, beverages, and spicy dishes.

 

Positive health benefits for cardamom include:

  • Relief of cardiovascular tissue
  • Protects gastrointestinal tract
  • Controls cholesterol levels
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Alleviates throat problems
  • Helps with teeth and gum infections
  • Reduces high blood pressure
  • Helps with congestion

Cardamom is rich in vitamins, thiamine, copper, iron, zinc, and other micronutrients. It protects heart health and is believed to possess anti-depressant properties. It could help to get rid of hiccups and is used also as a breath freshener!

Cinnamon

Cinnamon has existed for thousands of years and is a highly delicious spice with lots of medicinal properties. It is made by cutting the stems off cinnamon trees and is then grounded into a powdery form. It is loaded with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties too.

Positive health benefits for cardamom include:

  • Lowers risk of heart disease
  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Improves sensitivity to the hormone insulin
  • Has an anti-diabetic effect
  • Inhibits the loss of neuronal cells
  • Fights against bacterial and fungal infections
  • Fights against HIV virus

An effective dose is usually 0.5-2 teaspoons per day. It is a very popular spice found in all sorts of recipes and baked goods. Cinnamon has a proven effect to help in lowering the blood sugar levels by 10-29% in diabetic patients, but make sure it is not taken in excess! Although it is healthy, there are possible side effects from consuming too much cinnamon and could be toxic.

Ginger

Ginger is a flowering plant from China and is one of the healthiest spices loaded withnutrients and other bioactive compounds. It has an extensive history of aiding with digestion and reducing nausea, along with other medicinal properties.

Positive health benefits for ginger include:

  • Prevents nausea and moving sickness
  • Reduces muscle pain and soreness
  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Treats chronic indigestion
  • Reduces menstrual pain
  • Lowers cholesterol level
  • Contains anti-cancer properties
  • Protects against Alzheimer’s disease
  • Fights against infections and growth of bacteria

It could be consumed in a dried, powdered, oil, processed foods and cosmetic form. In 100 grams of ginger, there are 79 calories and contains lots of iron, sodium potassium, and vitamin C. There are no known side effects from consuming too much ginger, but is recommended not to take more than 4 grams a day. It is possible to obtain acid reflux or diarrhea due to high intake, and people who are pregnant should refrain from excessive consumption as well.

Cumin

Cumin, also known as Cuminum cyminum, is a flowering plant where the seeds are used as a condiment or spice in Indian and Asian countries. It has a highly strong aroma, so only a small amount of its essential oils are needed to keep you healthy.

Positive health benefits for cumin include:

  • Regulates digestion
  • Improves blood flow for a healthy menstrual cycle
  • Boosts immunity
  • Treats asthma and bronchitis
  • Protects skin against fungal infection
  • Treats insomnia
  • Lowers cholesterol

It provides an excellent source of iron, manganese, vitamin B1, calcium, and phosphorous. One teaspoon would suffice for your daily nutrient requirements and has shown to be useful for weight maintenance. It’s mostly used in curries, stews, and soups, and even used as a scent!

Excess intake of cumin could have severe side effects such as blood clotting and heartburns. Nausea, stomach pain, and dizziness are also other possible side effects. Though cumin has powerful health improvements, just a teaspoon a day will suffice!

Rosemary

Rosemary is an herb from the Mediterranean that is used for culinary and cosmetic purposes. This is a perennial plant that can live for 2 years and is mostly used to aid in digestion and prevents brain aging. It is packed with iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6 and is typically used as a powder or dried leaves.

Positive health benefits for rosemary include:

  • Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Improves digestion
  • Protects against brain damage
  • Prevents brain aging
  • Protects macular degeneration

Rosemary should be taken in low doses because higher intake may have some serious side effects. It is generally not advised for pregnant women and can affect the activity if taken with other medications.  

The bottom line is that whichever herbs or spices you decide to use, they all come with excellent health benefits. Most of them are found to have anti-inflammatory responses while packed with antioxidants and nutrients but should be taken at a reasonable amount. They are completely versatile and could be used in most forms such as beverages, flavoring, and cosmetics!


Image Source:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Curcuma_longa_roots.jpg
  2. https://www.maxpixel.net/Capsule-Spoon-Wood-Cardamom-Shell-Spice-White-2251874
  3. https://pixnio.com/food-and-drink/cinnamon-bark-spice-brown-natural-food-texture-dry
  4. https://pixabay.com/en/ginger-vegetables-food-1960613/
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cumin-spice.jpg
  6. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rosemary_white_bg.jpg

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Asad

    September 8, 2018 at 4:01 am

    Good article

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Fitness/ Diet

The Diet That Will Work! Try this +++itively No Sugar Diet

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Chocolate, ice cream, candy, and all that good stuff! No wonder why kids constantly crave desserts for dinner. We might assume that excessive consumption of sugar will cause one or two cavities, but there are greater health issues that can result such as kidney failure. The truth is that glucose is an addictive component, and having too many sweets may potentially lead to dietary and health issues over time.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

The Unspoken Truth Behind Sugar

Sugar is a ubiquitous component of a typical American diet, but this leads scientists and public health experts to worry about its consumption rate. Most Americans consume too much-added sugar, specifically about 57 pounds of added sugar per person every year.

There are two different types of sugars to be aware of. The first is natural sugars, which come from fruits, vegetables, and grains to replenish the energy of cells in the body. Added sugars are added by manufacturers to extend the shelf-life of a particular product, and this is the type of sugar you should fear.

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

There is a legitimate reason to fear added sugars, and here’s why. According to a study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine,  increased consumption has a direct association with contracting heart disease. In the study, people who consumed 17-21% of added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed 8% added sugar.

If that is not startling enough, scientists have discovered that added sugars have addictive properties in them. Research demonstrates that sugar activates the same brain regions as certain drugs, and increased consumption leads to increased tolerance.

How to Combat the Sugar Addiction

In recent times, Americans have turned to diet changes to combat the negative effects of sugar. While the ketogenic diet is gaining prevalence, many adults are also turning to the +++itively No Sugar Diet.

Shopping, Bottle, Woman, Grocery, Store, Drink
https://www.maxpixel.net/Drink-Bottle-Grocery-Store-Woman-Shopping-2411667

This diet essentially eliminates the consumption of added or processed sugars, and instead focuses more on consuming natural sugars. Courtesy of Livestrong, here are some tips that will help you achieve longevity within this diet.

  1. Understand where hidden sugar sources are located. Many processed foods such as salad dressings, pasta sauces, and cereals contain loads of added sugar even though they may seem “healthy”.
  2. Do not be fooled by the external appearance. Deceptively healthy foods such as acai bowls and protein bars also contain a high amount of added sugar.
  3. Double check the nutrition facts. This is a key habit to incorporate, especially when you are shopping for day to day items to make sure no added sugar is present.  
  4. Eliminate and substitute! Instead of opting for artificially flavored drinks like soda and water, drink more water! Foods and drinks with turmeric and coconut water are a great source of anti-inflammatory agents and can replenish energy labels in the body.
  5. Eliminate foods with white flour. This food group is digested very quickly and can lead to increased blood sugar content in the body. Refined flour is present in items such as pasta, rice, and white bread. Instead, look for foods with whole grains such as wheat, quinoa, and barley.
  6. Beware of added sugar in dairy. Yogurts and milk tend to have added flavoring which contains sugar to boost the taste of the food.

Overall, the +++itively No Sugar Diet will help you feel your best and live a healthy lifestyle. Let us know in the comments if you have tried this diet before and have seen tangible results compared to other types of diets.

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Fitness/ Diet

The Next Super-Drink: Coconut Water

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When we think of tropical fruits, the first fruit that comes to most people’s mind is coconut. While the oil and chunks of the fruit are often used for cooking, the water, in recent times, has gained significant attention for containing a multitude of health benefits.

The water comes from coconuts that are about 5-7 months old and has been used to cure several ailments. The top three advantages of drinking coconut water is that it has high amounts of electrolytes, high levels of potassium, and reduces fat levels. Read more below!

1. Has High Amount of Electrolytes

Instead of using Gatorade for your next sports drink, consider drinking coconut water because it contains natural electrolytes that can help restore fluids after a long, arduous exercise.

Photo by John McArthur on Unsplash

Electrolytes help us maintain blood volume, heart health, and prevent dehydration. This, in return helps us reduce stress, fatigue, and stimulates muscle relaxation.

2. High Levels of Potassium

When we think of intaking a daily healthy level of potassium, people assume a banana is the easiest choice. In fact, a banana contains only 440 milligrams of potassium whereas coconut water contains 660 milligrams of potassium.

Photo by Ioana Cristiana on Unsplash

This super drink water has more than ten times of potassium compared to other sports drinks! Potassium is vital to our bodies because it restores fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, preventing hypokalemia or too little potassium in the body.

This greatly affects cardiovascular health because a certain amount of potassium intake reduces the likelihood of contracting a stroke. Essentially, coconut water helps us maintain optimal blood pressure and is therefore extremely heart healthy.

3. Helps Lower Fat Levels

Foods that are high in fiber are predominantly utilized to help lower fat. Some of these healthy fat foods are oatmeal, fish, avocado, and olive oil. But did we forget to mention another factor of coconut water is that it has super fat-lowering effects?

Researchers conducted a study in which rats consumed coconut water and were found to have less likely had a heart attack. The coconut water decreased the rat’s cholesterol levels, specifically the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) found in the heart.

LDL is considered to be the bad cholesterol because a buildup of this lipoprotein would increase the cholesterol in your arteries. Therefore, coconut water can have the same effect on humans and reduce our LDL levels.

Additionally, consumption of coconut water reduces triglycerides, which are a type of fat found in the bloodstream that increases the risk of heart disease. Reducing LDL levels and triglycerides are both important in the weight loss process.

With all of these health benefits, coconut water is sure to be the next super-drink that can significantly impact human health. Why consume all these other food when coconut water contains these top health benefits and more!

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Fitness/ Diet

My 26.21 Mile Accomplishment

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I never expected to run a complete marathon. Running a marathon may sound like something only elite athletes or future Olympians would do. It just didn’t seem plausible for me to run for hours straight, especially since I grew up like anyone else. I was involved in cross country in high school, went to class, work, and lived my daily routine normally.  But this year on March 18, 2018, I ran my first ever marathon. After I graduated college, I wanted to take on a new challenge and decided to get back into running. I thought to myself that I might as well “go-big or go-home.” Next thing I knew, I signed myself up for the LA Marathon.

While I did run cross-country in my senior year of high school in 2011, long-distance running was still new to me. Cross-country races are 5 kilometers, or about 3.1 miles, while a marathon is 26.2 miles long. Not only that, but I didn’t keep up with running after high school since I got into weightlifting. As some may know, weightlifting builds muscle, which contradicts the effects that long distance cardio has to break down muscle and build endurance.

Photo by Go to Ann Kathrin Bopp on Unsplash

Signing Up- May 12, 2017

The first thing I did to prepare for the marathon was to give myself ample time between when I signed up for the marathon and when it actually took place. I signed up for the LA Marathon on May 12, 2017. That gave me a little over 10 months to prepare. Yes, I could have just started my training early and signed up later on, but by signing up early, there was an added motivation because actually doing the marathon became “real”. It also helped that once you sign up and pay for the LA Marathon, there are no refunds, which means there was no backing out now!

When I signed up for the LA Marathon, I signed up for two other races as well: The Santa Monica Classic 10k (6.2 miles) on September 10th, 2017 and the Pasadena Half Marathon (13.1 miles) on January 21, 2018. This three-race series was known as the “Conqur La Challenge” that gave me a bundle deal and helped me pace my progress throughout my training cycle.

Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

The First Milestone- September 10, 2017

Now, I was almost ready for a 6.1-mile race by September.  As time passed, these smaller run checkpoints ensured that my mileage was going up. I felt stronger and better with each practice run I made and noticed my time was improving, a critical factor when training for a race this long.

Besides my mileage going up over time, my running frequency also went up over time. I was still going to the gym and lifting weights in addition to my running as part of an experiment I was doing. I wanted to see if I could maintain my strength and minimize muscle loss while still building running endurance. Most people focus on bodybuilding or stamina, but balancing both at the same time was a challenge I wanted to overcome.

Photo by Chanan Greenblatt on Unsplash

The Second Milestone- January 21, 2018

Next came the half-marathon in January. I prepared for this by signing up with one of my closest friends. While we may not have trained together very often, we did go to all three races together. Knowing I was going through this marathon experience with a friend helped out a lot. I had someone to talk about training with and had support during the actual races. This was another great source of motivation and was very important to my training.

As the official marathon date approached closer and closer, I cut back the number of times I went to the gym to lift weights and increased the number of times I ran. Before beginning my marathon training, I was going to the gym 4-5 times a week and only running once a week. I slowly changed that to going to the gym 3-4 times a week and running two to three times a week.

Photo by Pietro Rampazzo on Unsplash

Marathon Day- March 18, 2018

As the marathon approached, I, unfortunately, had a minor setback. I hurt my knee after running some very steep hills a few weeks before the marathon. I realized I had neglected incline training but overcorrected by running too steep of an incline. While it was a tough decision, I decided to take some time off before the marathon to let my knee heal. Looking back, this was the right decision because I had already prepared a substantial amount up to this point. One extra week of running was not going to make a difference, but if I had chosen not to take some time off, I could have hurt my knee worse.

When the big day finally approached my knee had gotten better, but I was still a bit nervous about the grueling run I was about to partake in. However, I just remembered to have fun with it and before I knew it, I crossed the finish line and conquered the 26.2 miles!

“I crossed the finish line and conquered the 26.2 miles!”

Training for the LA Marathon and then actually running it were such great experiences and I hope to run another marathon sometime again in the future. I will take what worked from training for this marathon as well as what I learned (such as preventing injuries) to have a better experience next time around. Finishing a marathon helped me feel like I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to and it is a challenge I would want to conquer again. I hope that by sharing my experience in how I prepared for my first marathon, others can take something away or be inspired to run their first marathon soon.

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