You can’t go to the grocery store shelves or browse social media without coming across coconut oil. It is one of the few foods that fall under the classification of “superfoods.” The benefits and uses of this sweet-smelling wonder oil go beyond what most people realize. Coconut oil consists of medium-chain fatty acids which are not readily stored as fat because they are processed by the liver, are easier to digest, provides instant energy, and are antimicrobial and antifungal. Let’s look at the impressive benefits of coconut oil.
Coconut oil contains capric acid, lauric acid, caprylic acid, and antimicrobial lipids, which have antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal properties. When lauric acid is digested, the body converts it into a substance known as monolaurin, which is effective in killing pathogens like viruses, bacteria, and fungi that cause diseases such as yeast infections, herpes, cytomegalovirus, and influenza.
Contains healthy saturated fats
The saturated fats may help convert LDL cholesterol (bad) into a less harmful form while increasing the HDL cholesterol (good). High cholesterol levels may lead to heart diseases such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Lauric acid present in coconut oil helps prevent heart diseases and also reduces injury and damage to arteries. Consumption of coconut oil, therefore, can help reduce risk factors and promote a healthy heart. Also, this oil improves insulin secretion and helps in controlling blood sugar. This helps prevent and treat diabetes.
Used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is an alternative form of medicine that works to improve the psychological and physical well-being. In aromatherapy, coconut oil is used as a carrier oil since it gets absorbed into the skin easily. This helps in the absorption of herbal extracts and other oils mixed in it for treatment, without altering the properties of products mixed in it. Moreover, unlike other oils and herbal extracts used in aromatherapy, coconut oil does not go rancid and when used as a carrier oil, it prevents the other oils, medicines, or herbal extracts inside of it from spoiling.
Improves skin issues
Coconut oil is wonderful as a moisturizer, sunscreen, and face cleanser, but can also be used to treat many skin disorders such as dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema. The fatty acids, lauric and caprylic reduce inflammation both externally and internally and are a great solution for all skin conditions. Also, coconut oil helps protect and heal the skin thanks to its well-known antioxidant properties. It also delays sagging of skin and appearance of wrinkles, which are associated with aging.
Other great benefits of coconut oil
Pumpkins are featured in a variety of delicious treats and dishes during the holiday season. But did you know that this colorful and easy to prepare vegetable contains loads of nutrients? Here are some of the surprising health benefits of pumpkin that will have you reaching for an extra slice of pie at Thanksgiving.
Pumpkins get their orange hue from beta-carotene, an antioxidant that is converted to Vitamin A. According to the National Institute of Health, Vitamin A boosts vision especially in dim lighting. A cup of cubed pumpkin contains twice the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A. They also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that slow down the progress of degenerative eye disease that can lead to blindness.
Promotes Weight Loss
A cup of pumpkin contains about 50 calories and 3 grams of fiber. Because of this low calorie and high fiber content, you consume fewer calories and feel fuller for longer. This makes it a useful substitute for extra sugar in many recipes. Pumpkin puree can also be used as a spread in place of fatty nut butters. So the good news is, adding pumpkin to your baked goods and savory dishes can help place them on your weight loss food list.
Improves Heart & Muscle Health
Perhaps one of the most surprising health benefits of pumpkin is its high potassium content. With about 550 mg per serving, even higher than the much touted banana, this makes it one of the best foods for optimal muscle and heart health. Potassium aids in muscle recovery, so fitness enthusiasts should consider a pumpkin snack post workout.
Research shows that pumpkin seed oil which is rich in phytoestrogens is useful in preventing hypertension.
A Swedish study of men and women also revealed that a high fiber diet reduces risk of heart disease by up to 25%. Getting your fiber from vegetables such as pumpkin gives you the additional health benefits.
Boosts Prostate Health
Pumpkin seeds contain zinc which is essential for male sexual health. A study of young men revealed that low dietary intake of zinc led to low testosterone levels. The beta-carotene in pumpkin helps protect against certain cancers including prostate cancer. Research done in Taiwan also showed that pumpkin seed oil prevents unhealthy prostate growth in male rats.
Promotes Sleep and Improves Moods
If you usually have a hard time falling sleep, pumpkin may do the trick. It contains an amino acid called Tryptophan which is used to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps you relax and fall asleep. Boosting your serotonin levels will also improve your mood.
There are many types of pumpkin you can eat to enjoy all these nutritional benefits. However, they vary in sugar, fat and water content, making some better for cooking than others. Some common pumpkin types are the Baby Pam, Cinderella, Baby Bear, Long Pie, Fairy Tale, New England Pie and Long Island Cheese.
For added health benefits of pumpkin, consume the seeds as they are packed with proteins and healthy fats.
Interested in getting more pumpkin in your diet? It’s easy! Pumpkin can be prepared just as you would any kind of squash. You can easily bake, grill or roast it. Any recipe that calls for squash, you can use pumpkin. All pumpkins are edible, but may have a slightly different taste (some are sweeter than others) and some have more edible “meat” than others. The Baby Pam and Casillas pumpkins are the most widely used because of their slightly sweeter flavor, but like previously stated, all pumpkins are edible.
Beneficial or Gimmick?
Eating a balanced diet helps keep your body functioning optimally and prevents nutritional diseases. Still, a lot of people experience nutritional deficiencies in their diet. To counter this problem, the food industry adopted fortification of common food products with extra nutrients. However, there are concerns that fortified foods are not the solution to nutritional deficiencies and may actually do more harm than good. Let us examine some fortified food pros and cons to understand these concerns better.
The Case for Fortification
Perhaps the strongest argument in the fortified food pros and cons debate is the eradication of diseases such as pellagra, rickets, goiter and beriberi due to filling nutritional deficiencies.
The Dangers of Fortified Foods
Vitamin overdoses have been linked to diseases such as colon-rectal cancer. Others, such as vitamin A pose a risk for birth defects when consumed in excess during pregnancy.
Most products that are fortified prominently advertise the fact. This may cause you to overlook their overall nutritional value or lack thereof. You also can't authenticate the claims companies make on the labels, meaning the amount of nutrients per serving may be misleading
A new study shows that when a snack food had claims that is was a good source of a specific vitamin people were less likely to check the Nutritional Fact label and were more likely to choose that product over a similar product not claiming the added nutritional benefits.
People in the study also felt that the product was healthier than the similar product that didn’t have the claim on the package, even though the products were virtually the same.
From the fortified food pros and cons, it is clear that they can help fill the gaps in our diet and prevent deficiencies. However, fortified foods should not be used as a substitute to whole foods from natural plant and animal sources. Care should also be taken not to consume more than the recommended daily values of a nutrient for your demographic. Also, always compare the nutritional label no matter what claims are made on the packaging of the product.
The popularity of the matcha green tea has increased lately, with the availability of lattes, desserts, teas, and matcha shots in different places from coffee shops to health stores. Drinking matcha is not a fad, it’s one of the longest standing cultures of the Japanese people.
What is Matcha?
Just like green tea, matcha is made from the chlorophyll-rich young leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant. However, it is cultivated differently as farmers cover the tea plants one month to harvest to avoid direct sunlight. That helps boost chlorophyll content, gives the plant a darker green hue, and increases the production of amino acids. After the harvest, the veins and stems are removed, and the leaves are steamed, dried, and ground into a fine green powder known as matcha.
The matcha tea offers unparalleled nutrition and is an easy way to enjoy powerful health benefits. Here, we give you three benefits of adding matcha green tea to your everyday diet.
High in antioxidants
Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemical compounds that reduce cell damage, protects against UV radiation, prevent life-threatening maladies, and aging. Even though there are other foods lauded for their antioxidant properties, matcha is unparalleled in comparison. The antioxidants produced by matcha green tea are five times more than the content produced by any other food. Furthermore, on that note, match tea is loaded with a catechin known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), which is the most potent and beneficial type of antioxidants. EGCg has powerful anti-cancer properties. Also, they help prevent damage to the liver and kidneys.
Heart disease is one of the leading cause of death globally. The nutrient profile in matcha green tea may help protect against heart disease and stroke. Matcha tea helps prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol which is one of the key factors that increase the risk of heart disease. This reduces the levels of bad LDL cholesterol, including triglycerides while at the same time exhibiting higher levels of good HDL cholesterol. Therefore, adding matcha tea to your diet will help protect against disease and keep your heart healthy, giving you a longer life.
Improves cognitive performance
Matcha tea is rich in a rare amino acid known as L-Theanine, which acts upon the brains functioning, promoting a state of relaxation and alertness. While L-Theanine is common in all black and green teas, the content of this amino acid in matcha tea is five times more. Drinking matcha helps promote better concentration, enhanced mood, and improved memory without drowsiness.
Best of all, the matcha green tea is easy to prepare. But first, the powder should be added directly to boiling water as it will have a ‘grassy’ taste. The best way is to boil water, and let it sit to 175 degrees F. Sift the powder into a glass bowl and slowly add the hot water. Whisk until frothy and well mixed. Enjoy your drink and give your day a burst of health benefits and extra flavor.
If you are not a tea drinker there are other ways to reap the benefits of Matcha Green Tea by using the powder in different recipes. Get your download of two great recipes we thought you might like to try:
Green Tea Cupcakes & Green Tea cookies. Try them today!
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