NUTRITIONAL PROPERTIES OF RAW BERRY PRESS INGREDIENTS
While the main focus of The Raw Berry Press is the superfood berries – blackberry, blueberry, cape gooseberry and raspberry, a number of other highly nutritious foods are incorporated into the blended berry juices.
Apples come in an array of colours depending on the variety (of which there are around 2,000) from pale yellow and green through to deep red. Their taste and texture vary too, from juicy to firm and sweet to tangy. The top 5 health benefits of apples are listed below.
May lower cholesterol
Apples contain pectin, a natural fibre found in plants. Recent research by the European Journal of Nutrition found that eating pectin-rich whole apples had a cholesterol-lowering effect in healthy volunteers, compared to apple juice. A study by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also showed that consuming around 75g of dried apple (approximately two apples) helped to reduce cholesterol in postmenopausal women.
May protect against diabetes
Apples are low on the glycaemic index (GI) thanks to their fibre content. This, together with their high flavonoid content, may help to improve insulin sensitivity, which is important both for weight management and preventing diabetes.
May prevent obesity
Animal studies have shown that pectin extracted from apples may help regulate the gut microbiome (beneficial gut bacteria), which in turn may help prevent obesity and other inflammatory disorders. Studies on humans also look promising, but more research is needed.
May protect against heart disease
Apples are rich in polyphenols, protective plant compounds, one of which is a flavonoid called quercetin. Research by the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition found that those with higher quercetin levels (mainly through eating apples) had a lower risk of several chronic diseases including heart disease and even asthma.
May be beneficial for bone health
Fruit and vegetable intake are thought to be associated with greater bone density and improved bone health. Findings from a study on healthy women suggested apples, in particular, may minimise the amount of calcium lost from the body and hence improve bone strength.
Is it safe for everyone to eat apples?
Apples, along with fruits including peaches, avocados and blueberries contain natural chemicals called salicylates. Some people are sensitive to these compounds and may experience an allergic reaction, including skin rash and swelling.
Basil leaves are used in a variety of culinary preparations. In addition to the flavour, the culinary herb is said to preserve and enhance the properties of the food. From healthy gut to stronger immunity, benefits of basil leaves are quite a lot. Here are some you may not have known.
Good For Digestion
According to the book , ‘Healing Foods’ by DK Publishing, basil can facilitate optimal digestion. “Basil fortifies the digestive and nervous system and can be a good remedy for headaches and insomnia,” notes the book. The eugenol present in the leaves ensures anti-inflammatory action in the digestive tract. Basil helps balance acid within the body and restores the body’s proper pH level.
Basil and its strong anti-inflammatory properties can prove to be a cure to a variety of diseases and disorders. The powerful essential oils, including eugenol, citronellol and linalool, help lower inflammation through their enzyme inhibiting properties. The anti-inflammatory properties of basil may help lower risk of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions. Consumption of basil could also soothe fever, headache, sore throat, cold, cough, flu.
Fights free radical activity
According to the book ‘Healing Foods’, the culinary herb contains a range of natural antioxidants, which can help protect body tissues against free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable atoms. To become stable, they take electrons from other atoms and form chains. These chains of free radicals cause oxidative stress to the body and cause more damage to the cells. To reduce the oxidative stress in the body, one must up the intake of antioxidants. Basil contains two important water-soluble flavonoid antioxidants, known as orientin and viceninare. These potent antioxidants strengthen immune system, protect cellular structure, DNA and delay effects of skin ageing.
Basil’s powerful oil helps cleanse the skin from within. The excellent skin cleanser is perfect for those with oily skin.
Basil’s essential oil may help manage depression and anxiety too. The herb is believed to stimulate neurotransmitters that regulate the hormones responsible for inducing happiness and energy. Basil is considered as a powerful adaptogen or an anti-stress agent. Its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties help manage stress too.
Consumption of basil could result in slow release of sugar in the blood, which is very essential for diabetics. The herb has very low glycaemic load. The essential oil present in basil also helps cut down triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which is a persistent risk factor amongst diabetics.
Supports Liver Function and Helps Detoxify the Body
Basil’s strong detox properties may do wonders for your liver health. Liver is a very essential organ for the body as it plays a crucial role in metabolism. Basil may help prevent fat build-up in the liver and keep your liver healthy.
Promote healthy gut
Basil also helps restore the body’s natural pH levels and feeds healthy bacteria within the gut microflora. A healthy gut flora increases immunity and promotes healthy digestion.
Heals An Upset Tummy
The essential volatile oil of basil has been seen as a traditional remedy to treat a variety of tummy problems in addition to indigestion. Consuming basil could help reduce bloating and water retention. It can even stimulate loss of appetite and could cure acid reflux as well.
Belonging to the same family as chard and spinach, both the leaves and root of beetroot may be eaten – the leaves having a bitter taste whereas the root is sweet. Although they are available all year round, beets are sweetest and most tender during their peak season. The top 5 health benefits of beetroot are listed below.
May have anti-cancer properties
The plant pigment that gives beetroot its rich, purple-crimson colour is betacyanin; a powerful agent, thought to help suppress the development of some types of cancer, including bladder cancer.
May lower blood pressure
Beetroot is naturally rich in compounds called nitrates, making them heart-friendly. Nitrates help to improve blood flow by relaxing the blood vessels, reducing arterial stiffness and promoting dilation which potentially lowers blood pressure. A reduction in blood pressure is beneficial for the avoidance of heart disease and stroke. Studies suggest that nitrate-rich foods, like beetroot, may also help in heart attack survival.
May improve exercise performance and support energy levels
Beetroot juice has also gained popularity since Paralympic gold medallist, David Weir, announced that a shot of the juice was his secret to success. Studies support this with findings reporting that when athletes add beetroot juice to their regime it may support exercise endurance and improve performance. It also aids recovery because when muscles are in a resting state, the nitrates in beetroot helps to bring more oxygen to the muscle cells helping muscles recover more efficiently. For the rest of us, including beetroot in our diets might be the energy boost we need.
May improve digestive health
Beetroots are one of the richest sources of glutamine, an amino acid essential to the health and maintenance of our gut. They’re also rich in fibre, which as well as supporting bowel function helps support the environment of the gut and the beneficial bacteria that reside there.
May be anti-inflammatory
Red beetroots have been ranked as one of the 10 most potent antioxidant vegetables. The betalain compounds, responsible for the root’s red colour, have been shown to have high anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. This means they help protect cells from damage and may be helpful in the fight against age-related conditions like heart disease and cancer.
Is beetroot safe for everyone?
For some people, eating beetroot may induce beeturia; a red or pink colour in the urine or stool. It is totally harmless! Beet greens and, to a lesser extent, the roots contain high levels of a natural compound called oxalate. Individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid over-consuming high oxalate foods, like beetroot.
Often referred to as the king of antioxidants, blueberries are a powerhouse fruit with impressive wellness benefits, and they’re in season now. Here are five ways blueberries help protect your health, easy ways to incorporate them into meals, snacks, and drinks, and why you should enjoy them year-round.
Blueberries are nutrient-rich
One cup of fresh blueberries contains 85 calories, 1 gram of protein, no fat, and about 20 grams of carbohydrate, with roughly 4 grams as fibre. That same portion also packs over four ounces of water, and nearly a quarter of the daily minimum target for immune- and skin-supporting vitamin C. They also provide over a third of the daily goal for bone-supporting vitamin K, and a quarter for manganese. The latter nutrient also helps maintain strong bones, in addition to promoting collagen production for healthy skin and joints.
Blueberries have anti-aging and disease protection powers
Research shows that among commonly consumed fruits and vegetables, blueberries rank as one of the highest in antioxidant activity. The antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to curb inflammation and reduce oxidative stress. The latter occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to counter their harmful effects. For this reason, blueberries are tied to fending off DNA damage and aging, and lowering the risk of several chronic diseases, including obesity, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
A 2018 study, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, concludes that blueberries may be one of the best functional fruits, due to the protective activity of their anthocyanin and polyphenol antioxidants.
Blueberries can increase heart health
According to the CDC, heart disease remains the top killer of both men and women in the US, and blueberries may offer some potent protection. Due to their ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, blueberries protect against artery hardening, a condition that ups the risk of heart attack and stroke.
One recent study in men with metabolic syndrome compared the effects of consuming one cup of blueberries per day to a placebo over the course of six months. The blueberry eaters experienced sustained improvements in artery function, including reduced stiffness, as well as positive changes in cholesterol profiles. The results led scientists to conclude that blueberries should be included in dietary strategies to reduce heart disease risk.
Blueberries improve brain function
A 2019 analysis of 11 previously published studies examined the relationship between blueberries and cognitive performance. The review found that blueberries have been shown to improve delayed memory and executive function in children. The fruit also protects delayed memory, executive function, and psychomotor function in older healthy adults, and adults with mild cognitive impairment. Delayed memory deals with long-term retention and the ability to recall information; executive function involves skills that enable a person to plan, focus attention, and juggle multiple tasks. Psychomotor function has to do with the body brain working together, such as hand eye coordination.
Berries are also the only fruit singled out in the MIND Diet, which combines aspects of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet to create an eating plan focused on brain health, specifically the prevention of dementia and age-related cognitive decline. In one 20-year study of over 16,000 older adults, those who ate the most blueberries and strawberries experienced the slowest rates of cognitive decline.
Blueberries help muscle recovery
The wear and tear put on muscles during exercise triggers exercise-induced muscle damage, or EIMD. The effect can result in increased muscle soreness, reduced muscle force, and hindered athletic performance. However, what athletes eat before and/or after exercise can potentially offset EIMD. In one study, female athletes consumed either a blueberry smoothie or a placebo drink of a similar antioxidant capacity five and 10 hours before, and then immediately, 12, and 36 hours after EIMD, which was induced by strenuous strength training.
Researchers found a faster rate of muscle strength recovery in the blueberry intervention group. The outcome led the scientists to conclude that blueberry consumption triggers adaptive events in the body that accelerate muscle repair.
Here are five health benefits you can expect, plus some simple ways to incorporate blackberries—fresh and frozen—into your diet.
Blackberries are high in fibre
One cup of fresh berries (or 1¼ cups frozen) provides about 60 calories, along with nearly 8 grams of fibre. That’s about a third of the amount of fibre you should aim to eat in a day. All that fibre will help increase satiety, curb cholesterol, support weight loss, and regulate blood sugar and insulin levels (more on that below). It will also boost your digestive health: Blackberries are prebiotics, which means they feed the friendly bacteria in your gut that have been tied to immunity, mood, and anti-inflammatory effects.
They’re also rich in vitamin C
You’ll get about half of the recommended daily target for vitamin C in a cup of raw blackberries. In addition to supporting immunity and healthy skin, this potent antioxidant is needed for DNA repair, and the production of collagen and serotonin (the neurotransmitter that helps promote happiness and sleep).
Blackberries support bone health
A one-cup portion of raw blackberries packs over a third of the daily mark for vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot, and is essential for your bones. Vitamin K is required for bone formation, and several studies have shown that a shortfall is linked to increased risk of fracture and osteoporosis. The manganese in blackberries (you’ll get half the daily advised intake in one cup) also supports bone health, as well as collagen production for healthy skin and joints.
They help control blood sugar
Blackberries rank low on the glycaemic index at 25. (A high ranking is 55 or greater.) They’re also one of the lowest sugar fruits, with just 7 grams per cup fresh (compared to 16 grams in a cup of fresh pineapple chunks). The low sugar content combined with the high fibre content makes them an excellent option for regulating blood sugar and insulin levels.
And protect your brain, too
The antioxidants in berries, including blackberries, have been shown to help reduce brain inflammation, and change the way neurons communicate. These outcomes help to fend off age-related memory loss, protect motor coordination, and ward off cognitive decline.
Cape gooseberries contain several plant compounds that may positively impact your health.
High in Antioxidants
Cape gooseberries are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect against and repair the damage caused by free radicals, which are molecules linked to aging and diseases, such as cancer. To date, studies have identified 34 unique compounds in cape gooseberries that may have benefits for health. Furthermore, the phenolic compounds in cape gooseberries were shown to block the growth of breast and colon cancer cells in test-tube studies.
In another test-tube study, extracts of fresh and dehydrated cape gooseberries were found to increase the life of cells while preventing the formation of compounds that cause oxidative damage. The skin of cape gooseberries has nearly three times the amount of antioxidants as their pulp. Additionally, antioxidant levels are at their peak when the fruits are ripe.
Has Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Compounds in cape gooseberries called withanolides may have anti-inflammatory effects in your body, potentially protecting against colon cancer. In one study, an extract from the husk of cape gooseberries reduced inflammation in mice with inflammatory bowel disease. Additionally, mice treated with this extract had lower levels of inflammatory markers in their tissues. While there are no comparable human studies, test-tube studies in human cells reveal promising effects against inflammation.
May Boost Immunity
There are no human studies on cape gooseberries and immune system function, but test-tube studies suggest several benefits. Studies in human cells note that cape gooseberries may help regulate your immune system. The fruit contains multiple polyphenols which block the release of certain inflammatory immune markers. Additionally, cape gooseberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C plays several key roles in a healthy immune system response.
May Benefit Bone Health
Cape gooseberries are high in vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin involved in bone metabolism.
This vitamin is a necessary component of bone and cartilage and is also involved in healthy bone turnover rates, which is how bones break down and reform. The most recent evidence suggests that vitamin K should be taken alongside vitamin D for optimal bone health.
May Improve Vision
Cape gooseberries provide lutein and beta-carotene, along with several other carotenoids. A diet high in carotenoids from fruits and vegetables is linked to a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. Specifically, the carotenoid lutein is well known for preventing eye diseases. Lutein and other carotenoids, including zeaxanthin and lycopene, have also been shown to protect against vision loss from diabetes.
The True Superfood
Cape gooseberries are the true superfood of all the berries – see section on NUTRITIONAL PROPERTIES OF BERRIES for more detailed information and comparison with the other berries.
When you were a kid, you probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes. That’s true—but the benefits of carrots don’t stop there. Here are some other good-for-you perks, plus simple, healthful ways to enjoy the elegant root veggie.
Carrots promote healthy vision
Just one large carrot can provide more than 200% of the daily target for vitamin A. This important nutrient (which acts as a cell-protective antioxidant) supports lung and skin health, and has been shown to protect against cognitive decline. It also supports eyesight. A deficiency of vitamin A can lead to a condition called xerophthalmia, which can damage normal vision and result in night blindness.
The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin found in carrots also enhance eye health. The two natural compounds protect the retina and lens. Research published in the American Journal of Opthalmology found that women who ate more than two servings of carrots per week had a 64% lower risk of developing glaucoma, compared to women who ate less than one serving.
Carrots balance your blood sugar
The soluble fibre in carrots has been shown to help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, and support digestive health. Raw or slightly cooked carrots are also low on the glycaemic index, which helps them provide a steady supply of energy.
They’re great for weight management
In addition to the fibre carrots provide, they’re chock-full of water. (A carrot is actually 88% water.) This combination boosts fullness. What’s more, carrots are low in calories. One cup chopped contains just 52 calories. Scooping up your hummus or guac with a cup of raw, sliced carrots in place of 10 pita chips saves 80 calories and increases total fibre and nutrients. Research suggests the soluble fibre in carrots may curb belly fat too.
They might lower cancer risk
Antioxidants found in carrots have been tied to a reduced risk of several cancers, including lung, colorectal, prostate, and leukemia. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people with a high intake of a type called carotenoid antioxidants had a 21% lower risk of lung cancer.
Carrots help with blood pressure regulation
The potassium in carrots plays a key role in regulating blood pressure. This mineral balances sodium levels, and helps sweep excess sodium and fluid out of the body, which takes pressure off the heart. This also makes carrots a good choice if you want to de-bloat after consuming too much salty food.
And may reduce the risk of heart disease
One study from the Netherlands looked at the extent to which fruit and vegetable colour groups contribute to heart protection. Researchers found that each 25 gram per-day increase in the intake of deep orange produce was inversely associated with heart disease. Carrots, in particular, were associated with a 32% lower risk of heart disease.
Carrots support your immunity
The vitamin C in carrots is vital for immune support and healing. The veggie’s vitamin A supports the immune system, too, and plays an important role in forming and protecting mucous membranes, which act as barriers to keep germs out of the body.
And they’ve got bonus nutrients too
Natural compounds in carrots have been shown to act as anti-inflammatories, to support brain and liver health. Carrots also provide smaller amounts of bone-supporting vitamin K, as well as B vitamins, which help with energy production. For a wider array of antioxidants, eat carrots in various colours, including purple and red.
Crunchy and hydrating, celery is low in calories and high in nutrients.
Celery is low in calories and hydrating
One large stalk contains a mere 7 calories and packs two ounces of water. That means chowing down on six stalks adds up to just 42 calories, while providing a filling cup and a half of H2O. Research also shows that the act of chewing, which celery most definitely requires, reduces hunger, and it boosts the release of hormones that trigger satiety—making it a savvy snack choice for weight management.
Celery provides key nutrients
While celery is largely water, it also provides several vital vitamins and minerals. The veg’s vitamin A supports immunity, skin, and eye health, and been linked to retaining lung strength as well as slowing age-related cognitive decline. Celery’s vitamin K helps blood to clot and protects bone density. This nutrient is required for bone formation, and a shortfall is tied to increased fracture risk.
Folate in celery helps support mental performance; too little has been linked to a higher risk of memory problems, as well as depression. Celery’s potassium supports heart function, muscle contractions, and helps maintain muscle mass. The veg also provides smaller amounts of vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and manganese.
Celery is rich in antioxidants and other bioactive compounds
Celery contains over a dozen types of antioxidants and dozens of potent anti-inflammatory substances. These compounds are thought to protect against cellular damage that can lead to premature aging and disease.
Natural substances in celery have also been shown to help optimize circulation and reduce blood pressure. Quercetin, a flavonoid found in celery, has been shown to combat both acute and chronic inflammation, and is linked to protection against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Quercetin has also been linked to apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to kill off worn out or dysfunctional cells, which may help reduce cancer risk.
Celery supports digestive health
The fibre in celery—one gram per large stalk—supports good gut health and bowel regularity. It also boosts fullness and delays the return of hunger, another perk that may aid weight management. Animal research has also shown that celery extract combats ulcer formation.
To take advantage of celery’s benefits, incorporate the whole or chopped veg into meals and snacks. Fill two or three stalks with spiced nut butter to simultaneously satisfy a sweet, salty, and crunchy craving. Use celery to scoop up hummus, guacamole, or seasoned tahini. The veg also makes a terrific addition to stir fries, soups, and vegetable stews. Raw celery adds flavour and texture to garden salads, marinated veggies, and chilled protein salads, such as egg, tuna, or white bean. Juice fan or not, there are smart reasons to incorporate this crisp veg into your regular eating routine.
The documented health benefits from chillis continues to grow at a break-neck speed, similar to the increasing popularity of consuming hot foods in various forms. The heat and health benefits comes from a chemical called capsaicin.
Benefits the Digestive Tract
This may sound counter-intuitive, but the capsaicin in peppers actually act as an anti-irritant. People with ulcers have been told for years to avoid hot spicy foods, but research has revealed that peppers are beneficial to ulcers. For example, pepper powder provides trace amounts of anti-oxidants and other chemicals to aid digestive issues such as, healing an upset stomach, reducing intestinal gas, curing diarrhea and acting as a natural remedy for cramps. It does this by reducing the acidity in the digestive tract that causes ulcers. It also helps produce saliva and stimulates gastric juices aiding digestion.
Promotes a Healthy Heart
It also aids the circulatory system and prevents heart disease by lowering blood serum cholesterol and reduces lipid deposits, and therefore, reverses excessive blood clotting. It also dilates the blood vessels to aid in blood flow.
Spicy peppers revs up the metabolic rate by generating the thermogenic processes in our body that generates heat. That process utilizes energy, and thereby, burns additional calories. In addition, if chillis are consumed at breakfast, the appetite is suppressed the rest of the day which ultimately helps in weight loss. It may even alter proteins in your body to combat fat accumulation.
Reduces Cancer Risk
Since the capsaicin in pepper flesh has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it is being studied as a cancer-fighter. It reduces the growth of prostate cancer cells, while leaving normal cells unharmed. Research also shows consumption of large quantities of peppers are effective against breast, pancreatic and bladder cancers.
Fights the Flu, Colds and Fungal Infections
Chillis are full of beta carotene and antioxidants that support your immune system and will aid in fighting off colds and the flu.
Due to the anti-inflammatory benefits of capsaicin, hot peppers can help prevent allergies and symptoms from allergies.
Here are seven ways cucumbers (which contain about 20 calories and 4 grams of carb) help protect and improve your health.
Cucumbers promote bone health
The top nutrient in cucumbers is vitamin K, which is key for bone health. One cup of cucumber with the peel still on supplies over 20% of the recommended daily target for vitamin K. This nutrient is required for bone formation, and several studies have linked low K levels to osteoporosis and increased fracture risk.
Cucumbers may boost cardiovascular health too
Cucumbers contain dozens of antioxidants, including flavonoids, which are known to protect against heart disease. The seeds may also be beneficial: In a study published last year, a small group of people with mildly elevated blood fats consumed dried cucumber seed extracts daily. After six weeks they experienced a number of favourable changes, including decreased total cholesterol, decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol, increased “good” HDL, and decreased triglycerides.
According to the USDA, one medium cucumber contains 194 grams of fluid. That translates to nearly seven ounces, just an ounce shy of a cup! Adding sliced cucumbers to water also adds flavour, which can help boost your water intake even more.
And great for weight management
Cucumbers offer a trio of characteristics that promote weight loss. They’re low in calories, but contain filling fibre and fluid. One medium cucumber provides a quarter of the calories in a medium-sized apple. And of the 4 grams of total carb in the cucumber, one and a half are from fibre. Scooping up hummus with a medium peeled cucumber rather than 10 pita chips saves 100 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrate, and takes up far more space in your stomach.
Cucumbers may help reduce cancer risk
Along with flax and sesame seeds, kale, broccoli, cabbage, strawberries, apricots, and other plant foods, cucumbers contain a natural substance called lignans. Bacteria in the digestive tract convert lignans into compounds that bind onto estrogen receptors. Some preliminary studies suggest they may protect against estrogen-related cancers, including those of the breast, ovary, uterus, and prostate.
Cucumbers can soothe skin
Popping a few cucumber slices on puffy eyes actually makes a lot of sense. The pulp of cucumbers is primarily composed of water, vitamin C, and caffeic acid, a natural chemical that possesses anti-inflammatory properties. The combination triggers a soothing effect on skin, and reduces skin irritations and swelling. For these reasons cucumbers have long been applied topically as a home remedy for both acne and sunburn.
They help combat bad breath
One common cause of bad breath is odour produced when bacteria attack trapped food particles. The fluid in cucumbers, as well as the saliva production triggered by chewing, helps to cleanse the mouth and wash away these smelly culprits.
Ginger belongs to the same family as turmeric and cardamom. Native to South-east Asia, India and China, ginger is an integral component of the region’s diet, and is valued for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal properties. The top 5 health benefits of ginger are given below.
May alleviate the symptoms of a cold
Ginger is a great choice at the onset of a cold. Being diaphoretic, it encourages perspiration and can therefore be used to treat feverish conditions such as influenza or cold. The fresh root (as opposed to dried powder) also appears to have antiviral effects.
May soothe mild nausea and morning sickness
Ginger root has also been anecdotally reported to reduce the symptoms associated with motion sickness, including dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweats. This could extend to people undergoing surgery and chemotherapy-related nausea, though further studies are required. Ginger has most widely been used to treat the nausea and vomiting associated with mild pregnancy sickness. However, check with your GP or midwife to ensure it is appropriate for you.
May relieve pain
Many of the curative properties of ginger relate to its potent anti-inflammatory qualities. These effects appear to be relevant for topical use, with studies supporting the use of a ginger compress for relieving osteoarthritis symptoms. Topical applications may also stimulate circulation and soothe burns.
The root, the part of the plant most widely used in alternative forms of medicine, is rich in volatile oils that contain active components such as gingerol. This potent anti-inflammatory compound is believed to explain why people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis who consume ginger regularly experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility.
May calm the digestive system
Ginger has a long reputation as a carminative, a substance that promotes the elimination of excess gas from the digestive system and is known to sooth the intestinal tract. Colic and dyspepsia respond particularly well to ginger.
May support heart health
A number of animal studies suggest ginger may help manage cholesterol levels, reduce damage to the arteries and lower high blood pressure – all of which benefits the heart and cardiovascular system.
Is ginger safe for everyone?
Although regarded as safe for a broad range of complaints, ginger is a potent herb that acts pharmacologically, so it may be unsuitable for some people, including:
- People with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones
- Those who frequently experience heartburn or acid reflux
- Those with low blood pressure or on blood pressure medications. These individuals should consume ginger in moderation because of its potential blood-pressure-lowering effects
Grapefruit is part of the citrus family and grows in clusters on trees, like grapes – this is said to be where the name originates. Grapefruits come in a variety of colours including yellow, pink and red, and they have a variety of flavours, from sweet to sour. The top 5 health benefits of grapefruit are given below.
Rich in antioxidants
Grapefruit provides a number of beneficial and protective nutrients and plant compounds which have antioxidant properties. This means they help protect cells from the potential damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. In particular, they’re a good source of beta-carotene, which is converted in the body to vitamin A, and is thought to reduce the risk of chronic conditions including macular degeneration. Grapefruit is also a useful source of lycopene, which is associated with a reduced risk of cancer.
May support heart health
In 2012, the American Heart Association published a report that suggested that a diet high in certain flavonoids, compounds found in citrus fruits including grapefruit, may lower a woman’s risk of stroke. However, more research is needed to understand exactly why this is.
Grapefruit is rich in potassium and fibre, as well as protective antioxidants which may help manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Human studies have demonstrated the beneficial role grapefruit, and specifically red grapefruit, may play in helping to improve cholesterol levels, particularly in those suffering with atherosclerosis.
May help with weight loss
While low in calories and high in fibre, eating grapefruit is unlikely to deliver the dramatic weight loss touted in some fad diets; however, there is some evidence to suggest that consuming grapefruit may be of some assistance. A 12-week Japanese study looked at the effects of grapefruit versus a placebo, and there was a significant reduction in weight, as well as blood glucose levels, in those participants who consumed half a grapefruit before meals.
May aid blood sugar management
Animal studies have examined the beneficial role grapefruit juice may play in reducing blood glucose levels and improving insulin resistance. This is further supported by a higher fruit and green vegetable intake being associated with a significantly reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
May promote better brain function
There is some promising research into the role of flavonoids in the diet and improvements in memory and cognition, as well as the prevention of neurodegenerative conditions. However, it is too early to say whether grapefruit, in particular, has a significant impact on brain health.
Lemons are high in vitamin C, fibre, and various beneficial plant compounds. These nutrients are responsible for several health benefits. In fact, lemons may support heart health, weight control, and digestive health. Here are some evidence-based health benefits of lemons.
Lemons are a good source of vitamin C. One lemon provides about 31 mg of vitamin C, which is 51% of the reference daily intake (RDI). Research shows that eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke. However, it’s not only the vitamin C that is thought to be good for your heart. The fibre and plant compounds in lemons could also significantly lower some risk factors for heart disease. For instance, one study revealed that eating 24 grams of citrus fibre extract daily for a month reduced total blood cholesterol levels. Plant compounds found in lemons — namely hesperidin and diosmin — have also been found to lower cholesterol.
Citric acid may help prevent kidney stones by increasing urine volume and increasing urine pH, creating a less favourable environment for kidney stone formation. Just a 1/2-cup (125 ml) of lemon juice per day may provide enough citric acid to help prevent stone formation in people who have already had them.
Iron deficiency anemia is quite common. It occurs when you don’t get enough iron from the foods you eat. Lemons contain some iron, but they primarily prevent anemia by improving your absorption of iron from plant foods. Your gut absorbs iron from meat, chicken, and fish (known as heme iron) very easily, while iron from plant sources (non-heme iron) not as easily. However, this absorption can be improved by consuming vitamin C and citric acid. Because lemons contain both vitamin C and citric acid, they may protect against anemia by ensuring that you absorb as much iron as possible from your diet.
A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help prevent some cancers. Some observational studies have found that people who eat the most citrus fruit have a lower risk of cancer, while other studies have found no effects. In test-tube studies, many compounds from lemons have killed cancer cells. However, they may not have the same effect on the human body. Some researchers think that plant compounds found in lemons — such as limonene and naringenin — could have anticancer effects, but this hypothesis needs further investigation. Animal studies indicate that D-limonene, a compound found in lemon oil, does have anticancer properties.
Mint leaves can do more than adding flavour to your food. They also have multiple health benefits. Here are eight powerful effects of mint on our overall health:
Treats all your stomach woes
Mint leaves are anti-inflammatory in nature which helps in reducing any inflammation in your stomach. Mint leaves also helps relieve indigestion.
Boosts your immune system
Mint leaves are rich in phosphorus, calcium and vitamins like C, D, E and A which improve the body’s immune system. It also protects your cells from any damage, thereby reducing the risk of any chronic illness.
Gives you acne-free skin
Due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, it soothes and calms your skin which can prove to be beneficial for treating acne. Mint leaves contain high levels of salicylic acid which is known for combating acne and blemishes.
Beats morning sickness and nausea
Since it’s a great remedy for treating stomach issues, it can also be a great remedy to treat nausea associated with morning sickness. It activates the enzymes necessary for digestion and beats nausea. It can be a great remedy for expecting mothers who often experience morning sickness.
Helps you with allergies and asthma
Mint leaves contain a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent called rosmarinic acid. This agent blocks allergy-producing compounds, helping people suffering from allergies and asthma.
A great remedy for the common cold
The changing of seasons makes everyone sick. If you’re someone who always struggles with a nasty cold, try mint. Mint helps clear the congestion from your nose, throat and lungs. Thus, it helps you with treating cold and breathing. Moreover, the antibacterial property of mint helps in relieving irritation caused by coughing.
Takes care of your oral health
Have you wondered why many tubes of toothpaste come with a mint base? That’s because of its antibacterial properties. It inhibits the growth of bacteria and cleanses plague deposition in your teeth. Moreover, it kills bacteria and beats bad breath, keeping your mouth and teeth naturally healthy.
Helps you manage stress
The aroma of mint is very calming in nature which can be used in aromatherapy to beat stress. The aroma of mint helps in relaxing your brain and body by calming your mind. Mint also has adaptogenic properties which regulate the cortisol levels and builds a natural resilience to stress.
When you think of the health benefits of oranges, the first thing that springs to mind is probably vitamin C. Citrus fruits are a terrific source, but oranges (with a medium-size orange coming in at about 62 calories) also provide a number of other protective nutrients. Here are seven reasons to eat more oranges, the health benefits of orange juice and orange peels—as well as simple ways to enjoy this delicious fruit.
Oranges are water-rich
One medium orange provides four ounces (or a half cup) of water. Roughly 60-70% of the human body is made of water, and it’s required for every bodily process. According to the Institute of Medicine, women 19 and over need 2.7 liters of total fluid per day (about 11 8-oz cups) and men need 3.7 (about 15 8-oz cups). But that’s total fluid, not just beverages. Foods can provide 20% of your daily fluid needs, and water-rich foods like oranges contribute even more to the daily requirement. Consuming enough daily fluid helps support mental and physical energy, improve circulation, optimize organ function, flush out waste, and maximize metabolism.
Oranges provide gut- and health-protective fibre
A medium orange offers about three grams of fibre, 12% of the daily target. The fibre in oranges supports digestive function, helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, boosts feelings of fullness, and can even contribute to healthy sleep.
Nearly two of the three grams of fibre in an orange are soluble fibre. This type of fibre has been shown to help reduce blood cholesterol and fend off internal belly fat called visceral fat. One study that tracked adults over five years found that for each 10-gram increase in soluble fibre consumed, the rate of visceral belly fat accumulation decreased by 3.7%.
Oranges have high vitamin C
One orange packs about 80% of the daily goal for vitamin C. In addition to supporting immune function, this key nutrient helps produce collagen, reduce inflammation, and boost the body’s ability to use fat as a fuel source, both during exercise and at rest. Too little blood vitamin C has also been tied to increased body fat and waist measurements.
Vitamin C also helps boost the absorption of iron, which can enhance oxygen availability and reduce fatigue. This is especially important for premenopausal women who lose iron through menstruation, and those who follow a plant-based diet, since iron is less readily absorbed from plant sources. Vitamin C also acts as an aging-fighting antioxidant, and it’s needed for DNA repair and serotonin production. The latter helps to promote happiness and sleep.
Oranges supply other key nutrients
Potassium and folate are two additional vital nutrients found in oranges. Potassium supports heart function and muscle contractions, and it helps maintain muscle mass. This mineral also acts as a natural diuretic, to reduce blood pressure and counter fluid retention. Folate supports the brain and nervous system, and adequate amounts may help protect against depression and memory problems. Oranges also supply smaller amounts of calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, and B vitamins.
Oranges are antioxidant superstars
Flavonoid antioxidants in oranges provide anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial benefits. They also defend against oxidative stress, which is essentially an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to counter their harmful effects.
The antioxidants in oranges may also protect your mental health. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that higher flavonoid intake may be associated with lower depression risk, particularly among older women. A higher flavonoid intake is also linked to the prevention of weight gain and reduced body fat.
Parsley is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean. The two most common types are French curly-leaf and Italian flat-leaf. Over the years, parsley has been used to treat conditions like high blood pressure, allergies, and inflammatory disease. Today, it’s widely used as a fresh culinary herb or dried spice. It’s bright green in colour and has a mild, bitter flavour that pairs well with many recipes. Often labelled as one of the most powerful disease-fighting plants, parsley provides great nutritional value and offers many potential health benefits. Here are 6 impressive health benefits and uses of parsley.
Contains many important nutrients
Parsley offers many more nutrients than people suspect. A portion of 30 grams of fresh, chopped parsley provides:
- Calories: 11 calories
- Carbs: 2 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Vitamin A: 108% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 53% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 547% of the RDI
- Folate: 11% of the RDI
- Potassium: 4% of the RDI
The herb is rich in many vitamins, particularly vitamin K, which is needed for blood clotting and bone health. Parsley is also a great source of vitamins A and C — important nutrients with antioxidant properties. Additionally, it’s very low in calories yet packed with flavour, making it a great low-calorie ingredient for many recipes.
Rich In Antioxidants
Parsley contains many powerful antioxidants that can benefit your health. Antioxidants are compounds that prevent cellular damage from molecules called free radicals. Your body requires a healthy balance of antioxidants and free radicals to maintain optimal health.
The main antioxidants in parsley are:
- vitamin C
The fragrant herb is particularly rich in a class of antioxidants known as flavonoids. The two main flavonoids include myricetin and apigenin. Studies show that diets rich in flavonoids may lower your risk of conditions, including colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Furthermore, beta carotene and lutein are two antioxidants known as carotenoids. Many studies associate higher intake of carotenoids with a reduced risk of certain diseases, including lung cancer. Vitamin C also has strong antioxidant effects and plays an important role in supporting immune health and protecting against chronic disease.
Supports bone health
Your bones need certain vitamins and minerals in varying amounts to remain healthy and strong. Parsley is packed with vitamin K — an essential nutrient for bone health. A portion of 30 grams provides an impressive 547% of the RDI. Vitamin K helps build stronger bones by supporting bone-building cells called osteoblasts. This vitamin also activates certain proteins that increase bone mineral density — a measure of the amount of minerals present in your bones.
Bone density is important, as a lower bone mineral density is associated with an increased risk of fractures — especially in older adults. Some studies suggest that eating foods high in vitamin K may reduce your risk of fractures. One study found that higher vitamin K intake was associated with a 22% lower risk of fractures. Typical dietary intakes of vitamin K may be below the levels needed to improve bone mineral density and reduce fracture risk. Therefore, eating foods like parsley may benefit bone health.
Contains cancer-fighting substances
Parsley contains plant compounds that may have anticancer effects. Oxidative stress — a condition characterized by an imbalance in levels of antioxidants and free radicals — is associated with the development of certain chronic diseases, including cancer.
Parsley is particularly rich in flavonoid antioxidants and vitamin C, which reduce oxidative stress in your body and may lower your risk of certain cancers. For example, high dietary intake of flavonoids may reduce colon cancer risk by up to a 30%. Additionally, subgroups of certain flavonoids in parsley — such as myricetin and apigenin — have shown anticancer activity in test-tube and animal studies. Plus, eating foods rich in vitamin C may reduce your risk of cancer as well. A portion of 30 grams of parsley provides 53% of the RDI for this nutrient. One study found that increasing vitamin C by 100 mg per day reduced the risk of overall cancer by 7%. Moreover, increasing dietary vitamin C by 150 mg per day may lower prostate cancer risk by up to 21%.
Rich in nutrients that protect your eyes
Lutein, beta carotene, and zeaxanthin are three carotenoids in parsley that help protect your eyes and promote healthy vision. Carotenoids are pigments found in plants that have powerful antioxidant activity. Lutein and zeaxanthin may prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an incurable eye disease and a leading cause of blindness around the world. In fact, eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce your risk of late AMD by up to 26%.
Beta carotene is another carotenoid that supports eye health. This carotenoid can be converted into vitamin A in your body. This conversion of beta carotene explains why parsley is very rich in vitamin A. A 1/2 cup (30 grams) of freshly chopped leaves provides 108% of the RDI for this vitamin. Vitamin A is essential for eye health, as it helps protect the cornea — the outermost layer of your eye — as well as the conjunctiva — the thin membrane covering the front of your eye and the inside of your eyelids.
Parsley is a nutrient-dense herb that may improve heart health. For example, it’s a good source of the B vitamin folate — with 1/2 cup (30 grams) providing 11% of the RDI. High intakes of dietary folate may reduce heart disease risk in certain populations. A large study in over 58,000 people found that the highest intake of folate was associated with a 38% reduced risk of heart disease. Conversely, low intake of folate may increase your risk of heart disease. One study in 1,980 men observed a 55% increase in heart disease risk in those with the lowest intake of this nutrient.
Some experts hypothesize that folate benefits heart health by lowering levels of the amino acid homocysteine. High homocysteine levels have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease in some studies. Homocysteine may negatively affect heart health by altering the structure and function of your arteries. However, the connection between this amino acid and heart disease still remains controversial.
Here are 6 health benefits of pears.
Pears can help individuals fight infections.
Pears are a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful natural water-soluble antioxidant that helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and eliminates cancer-causing free radicals in the body.
Pears can help slow down aging.
Adequate vitamin C can also create and maintain collagen, an essential protein found in hair and skin.
Pears are a rich source of antioxidants.
Pears contain many antioxidants like vitamin C and chlorogenic acid. Antioxidants seek and neutralize typical cell-harming free radicals that can destroy cells or turn them into cancer cells.
Pears will improve digestive health.
Pears are a good source of fibre. Dietary fibre can help prevent constipation, making one’s bowel movement easier to manage. Fibre can also scrape cholesterol out of the arteries and blood vessels. One pear contains 5 grams of dietary fibre. The daily recommended dietary fibre intake for men and women are 38 grams and 25 grams, respectively.
Pears can help maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Pears have a great potassium to sodium ratio. One pear contains 176 milligrams of potassium, compared to 1.5 milligrams of sodium. This helps the blood vessels relax and maintains proper blood pressure.
Pears may not increase blood sugar levels quickly.
Foods high in sugar and low in fibre will break down easily and cause blood sugar and insulin level spikes after meals, which is followed by rapidly dropping blood sugar levels. Pears are slowly absorbed into the bloodstream, which prevents sugar crashes, sugar cravings, and mood swings.
Delicious, juicy and jewel-like, pomegranate seeds are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre. Discover what else makes this ruby fruit so healthy. Pomegranates are round fruits with hard, shiny red-yellow skins. Split one open and you’ll reveal the jewel-like inner seeds, known as arils, which can be eaten raw or juiced. The top 5 health benefits of pomegranate are listed below.
May reduce the risk of heart disease
Pomegranate is rich in protective compounds which have antioxidant properties, these are beneficial for health as they protect not only our cells, from damage but also compounds like cholesterol. This means including pomegranate regularly may be effective at reducing the risk of atherosclerosis.
In 2013 a study considered the effect of consuming 150ml of pomegranate juice every day for two weeks on patients with high blood pressure (hypertension), and found that it may help lower blood pressure. Another study from 2005 found that drinking pomegranate juice may improve blood flow to the heart in patients with coronary heart disease. However, these were small studies and the findings would need to be replicated with larger sample sizes before researchers can confirm a direct link.
May improve bone health
Two studies from 2014 and 2015 have demonstrated how pomegranate consumption appears to have a preventative effect on bone loss in mice but, to date, this has not been replicated in human trials. The findings suggest that both the juice and seed extract of pomegranates may be of potential benefit especially for mid-life, menopausal women.
May improve athletic performance
A 2016 study suggests that the antioxidant content of pomegranates and pomegranate juice may delay muscle soreness and improve recovery after weight training sessions. Another study also demonstrated that pomegranate extract improved performance within 30 minutes of ingestion for sports involving intermittent running.
May have anti-inflammatory properties
Pomegranates have an antioxidant activity three times higher than that of red wine and green tea so it would be fair to expect beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. There have been various studies examining the potential anti-inflammatory properties of pomegranate. Initial research has indicated that the fruit may help fight inflammation in the gut, while other studies have looked into the potential anti-inflammatory effects of one antioxidant compound, called punicic acid, which is found in pomegranate seed oil on breast cancer cells. A paper in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences also reported a small trial in which patients with type 2 diabetes consumed pomegranate juice each day and showed fewer markers of inflammation in their blood after 12 weeks.
Current studies are underway to examine the effects of pomegranate juice on inflammatory markers of patients hospitalised with covid-19. Although all these studies are promising, more research is required before pomegranate can be claimed to have specific anti-inflammatory effects.
May improve memory
Research into how pomegranates and their juice may affect cognitive function is still in the early stages. One small trial asked participants with mild age-associated memory complaints to drink 225ml of pomegranate juice daily, and found an improvement in verbal and visual tasks after four weeks. Other research has suggested that pomegranate juice may have cognitive benefits in mice. Again, more robust research is needed before a health claim can be made for pomegranates and memory.
Are pomegranates safe for everyone?
Some people may have an allergy to pomegranate fruit, this may be due to a cross reactivity, for example, if you are allergic to birch tree pollen you may experience an allergy to certain fruit, including pomegranate. There are some reports of pomegranate and pomegranate juice interacting with prescription medication, including medication prescribed for high blood pressure and cholesterol management.
Raspberries are enjoyable all year long, whether they’re fresh or frozen. These gorgeous gems aren’t just delicious and versatile; they have an impressive nutritional profile that makes them one of the healthiest choices in the produce aisle. Here are 7 health benefits of raspberries, plus simple ways to include both fresh and frozen options into meals and snacks.
Raspberries have lots of nutrients
One cup of raspberries provides over 50% of the minimum daily target for vitamin C, which supports immunity and skin health and helps produce collagen. Raspberries also contain manganese and vitamin K, which both play a role in bone health. And they supply smaller amounts of vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, copper, iron, and potassium.
They’re low in sugar
Raspberries are also one of the lowest-sugar fruits, at just 5 grams per cup fresh, compared to about 20 grams in one medium apple. This makes them a great option for anyone with a sweet tooth who wants to minimize their overall sugar intake.
They’re rich in anti-aging antioxidants
Raspberries are antioxidant powerhouses. These health-protective compounds have been tied to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Raspberry antioxidants also help reduce inflammation, a known trigger of premature aging. The natural protective substances in raspberries are also linked to better DNA repair and blocking enzymes that trigger arthritis pain.
They can protect you from cancer
Raspberry antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds are associated with cancer protection by reducing the reproduction of cancer cells. However, research also shows that the phytonutrients in raspberries, such as ellagitannins, may actually help kill cancer cells by signaling apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
Raspberries are high in fibre
A cup of raspberries packs an impressive 8 grams of dietary fibre, a third of the daily minimum goal. This high-fibre content also reduces raspberries’ net carb content to about 7 grams per cup (since our bodies aren’t capable of digesting and absorbing fibre). That fibre also contributes to fullness, blunts blood sugar by slowing digestion, and supports good digestive health. Raspberry fibre also helps beneficial gut bacteria flourish. The latter are linked to stronger immunity and a more positive mood.
They may help prevent diabetes
A new study from the Illinois Institute of Technology randomly assigned 32 adults between the ages of 20 and 60 to three breakfast meals. Each meal was similar in calories and macronutrients, but they had different portion sizes of frozen red raspberries: One meal contained no raspberries, the second included one cup, and the third provided two cups.
Researchers found that for those who were at risk of diabetes, eating more raspberries reduced the amount of insulin needed to manage blood sugar levels. In fact, blood sugar was lower in those who downed two cups of red raspberries compared to those who ate none.
Raspberries sharpen your brain and memory
Raspberries help counter oxidative stress, which is essentially an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to fight off their harmful effects. Because oxidative stress is a causative factor in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, raspberries are a top brain-supporting food. The flavonoids in berries have also been shown to help improve coordination, memory, and mood. And berries help with general brain “housekeeping” by clearing out toxic proteins tied to brain dysfunction.
Spinach is nutrient-rich
Three cups of raw spinach provides just 20 calories, no fat, 2 grams of protein, and 3 grams of carbohydrate with 2 grams as fiber (so 1 gram of net carbs). Though it has so few calories, spinach is packed with nutrients. A three cup portion provides over 300% of the daily need for bone-supporting vitamin K. Spinach also provides over 160% of the daily goal for vitamin A, and about 40% for vitamin C, which both support immune function and promote healthy skin. Spinach also contains 45% of the daily need of folate, a B vitamin that helps form red blood cells and DNA. And spinach supplies 15% of the daily goal for both iron and magnesium, 10% for potassium, and 6% for calcium, along with smaller amounts of other B vitamins.
Spinach is high in antioxidants
In addition to its many vitamins and minerals, spinach provides antioxidants tied to anti-inflammation and disease protection. These include kaempferol, a flavonoid shown to reduce the risk of cancer, as well as slow its growth and spread. Another, called quercetin, has been linked to possible protective effects on memory as well as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Spinach is a functional food
In a study published in the journal Food & Function, researchers summarize the protective effects of spinach, based on the activity of its naturally occurring phytochemicals and bioactive compounds. They state that these spinach-derived substances can reduce oxidative stress, DNA damage, and disease. They’re also able to positively influence the expression of genes involved in metabolism and inflammation. In addition, they trigger the release of satiety hormones, which can make you feel more full and satisfied. For these reasons, the researchers conclude that eating more spinach may help fend off heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
Spinach supports brain health
The anti-inflammatory effects of spinach make it a key contender for protecting the brain, particularly with aging. In one study, researchers tracked the eating patterns and cognitive abilities of more than 950 older adults for about five years. They saw a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline among those who consumed larger amounts of green leafy vegetables. The data indicated that people who ate one to two servings of leafy greens daily had the same cognitive abilities of a person 11 years younger than those who consumed no leafy greens.
Spinach may help manage blood pressure
Spinach is a source of naturally occurring nitrates, compounds that open up blood vessels to improve blood flow and ease the workload on the heart. In one small study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, 11 men and seven women consumed four different nitrate-rich drinks, including a spinach beverage. Researchers found that blood nitrate levels increased after downing all four drinks. The spinach drink, in addition to those made from beetroot juice and rocket salad (another leafy green), also lowered blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure remained lower five hours after ingesting the spinach and rocket drinks. (Diastolic is the lower number on the blood pressure reading, which indicates the amount of pressure in your arteries between beats.)
Spinach protects eye health
One of the antioxidants in spinach, called lutein, has been shown to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that can blur the sharp, central vision required for activities like reading and driving. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss for people age 50 and older. There is currently no cure or treatment to reverse the condition, so prevention is key.
In one Japanese study, researchers examined the eyes of 11 healthy non-smokers who consumed 75 grams of frozen spinach containing 10 mg of lutein daily for two months. The intake of lutein-rich spinach increased blood lutein levels, and it also increased measures of macular pigment optical density (MPOD). That’s important, because macular pigment acts like internal sunglasses to protect the eyes, and low or decreased MPOD is a risk factor for AMD. This research indicates that spinach may help curb AMD risk.
In addition to being gorgeous and delicious, strawberries are incredibly versatile. These ruby gems are also potent health protectors. Here are some of their impressive benefits and simple ways to incorporate strawberries into meals, snacks, and treats. One cup of whole strawberries provides just 46 calories. The same portion sliced contains 53 calories; and a cup of pureed berries packs only 74 calories.
Vitamins in strawberries
A one-cup portion of strawberries contains over 100% of the daily minimum target for immune-supporting vitamin C. In addition to functioning as a disease- and age-fighting antioxidant, vitamin C helps make collagen and maintain skin health. Strawberries are also rich in other antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. This is one reason why berries, including strawberries, are tied to brain health. In one study, older women who consumed at least one to two servings of strawberries (with one serving being eight whole berries) per week experienced a reduced loss of cognitive functioning.
What are strawberries good for?
Eating strawberries at the end of a meal has been shown to help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. That translates to steadier mental and physical energy. It may also help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Good-for-you plant compounds, called flavonoids, in strawberries are tied to a reduced risk of age-related weight gain. The effect may be due to flavonoids’ ability to increase glucose uptake in muscle, and/or decrease glucose uptake in fat tissue.
They promote skin and bone health
One cup of strawberries provides nearly a quarter of the daily goal for manganese, a mineral that helps produce collagen and promote skin and bone health.
And boost digestive health
The fibre in strawberries (about 3 grams per cup) helps maintain good digestive health by supporting the growth of healthy gut bacteria, which are tied to immunity, anti-inflammation, and mood.
Strawberries fight inflammation
In people with osteoarthritis, strawberries have been shown to help reduce pain and markers of inflammation and oxidative stress—an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to counter their harmful effects.
They may help reduce cancer risk
Berries, including strawberries, have also been tied to cancer protection, possibly by fighting tumour formation and stopping the growth and spread of cancer cells.
They’re heart healthy
Strawberries protect the heart by reducing inflammation, boosting good HDL cholesterol, protecting against the oxidation of bad LDL cholesterol (a precursor to artery hardening), and improving circulation.
Some of the key health benefits of sweet melon (cantaloupe) are listed below.
The fruit is an excellent source of vitamins A and C. It’s also rich in phytochemicals and carotene which are useful in combating free radicals. We are all familiar with vitamin C and almost always associate it with fruits. This vitamin is essential in maintaining a healthy immune system. It’s also essential in staving-off of disease-causing free radicals. It can also stimulate the production of white blood cells. These are the body’s defense team in fighting foreign bodies like viruses, bacteria, and other harmful substances. When these dangerous agents gain entry into the bloodstream, they alert the white blood cells. Then the white blood cells will seek these foreigners and destroy them.
Surprisingly, sweet melons are also a good source of dietary fibre. This type of fibre is essential in the digestive system, especially in the elimination process of body waste. Eating enough foods with fibre will give bulk to stool. It will also reduce constipation and make bowel movement easier and more manageable. A regular smooth flow of food through the digestive tract can decrease the risks of colorectal cancer. Also, it may help prevent many other gastrointestinal problems.
Beneficial to Skin
Beta-carotene or vitamin A is also present in sweet melons. These compounds can ward-off diseases because they are antioxidants. Vitamin A is also good for the skin as it stimulates the membranes of skin cell. This is important for their repair and growth. The vitamins can also protect skin cell membranes against harmful substances that can cause premature aging of the skin. When added to ointments, vitamin A is very useful for redness and skin irritations.
Keeps the Body Hydrated
About 90% of the fruit is water and can effectively hydrate the body. This means that eating the fruit can keep you hydrated all day. Maintaining water is vital for many functions of the body. For the circulatory system, pumping blood through the heart would be easier when the body is well-hydrated. Blood pressure too will become more stable when the body has enough hydration. For the digestive system, hydration will support easier digestion and a smoother movement of the stool. For the kidneys, hydration will make excretion of toxic and waste materials easier. Cantaloupe has other nutrients too. All these can make your summer day picnics pleasant, but its water content makes for a great snack and will keep you hydrated.
Reduces Anxiety and Stress
One of the vital nutrients a sweet melon contains is potassium. Its property as a vasodilator makes it essential in relieving anxiety and tension. Vasodilation refers to the widening of blood vessels, thus making the passage of blood easier. When blood vessels become constricted, blood pressure usually increases. When this happens, the condition can stimulate the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. Potassium as a vasodilator can ease the constriction of the vessels. This will lead to lower blood pressure and, consequently, will reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Aside from this, potassium can also increase the blood supply to the brain. This means more oxygen and nutrients to the brain that could lead to calmer and more relaxed attitudes.
Rich in Vitamin C
Just a cup of sweet melon can supply the body with all the RDI for vitamin C. According to studies, this vitamin is essential for different reasons. It’s essential in the production of collagen in bones, muscles, blood vessels, and cartilage. The vitamin is also always recommended for specific diseases like flu and colds. Its effectiveness against other health issues is still undergoing further studies. Such diseases include asthma, diabetes, cancer, and more.
Aids in Diabetes
Recent studies have shown that the fruit has connections in the improvement of insulin metabolism. This means that it can stabilize the rise and fall of blood sugar. This action can prevent plunges and spikes in blood sugar levels. This is usually what people with diabetes are most afraid of. Furthermore, the consumption of the fruit can reduce the oxidative stress on the kidneys. This is another significant benefit as it can prevent specific kidney-related disorders further.
Helps in the Treatment of Arthritis
We’ve mentioned that sweet melons also contain phytochemicals. These crucial components found in sweet melons have anti-inflammatory properties. This is highly beneficial as it can help reduce or even prevent oxidative processes in your bones and joints. For those suffering from joint issues, this action could reduce inflammation. For those who have chronic arthritis, add a little more cantaloupe in your diet. Do this to minimize those creaking feelings and the sounds which come from your joints.
Cancer prevention is one crucial health benefit of sweet melon. Eliminating free radicals in the body is an excellent way to reduce the risks of cancer. Free radicals are harmful by-products of cell metabolism. When there’s a high concentration of these in the body, they could cause dangerous conditions. The beta-carotene found in sweet melons can act as an antioxidant which can lower the risks of many kinds of cancer. Furthermore, and aside from beta-carotene, the phytochemicals in the fruit are also beneficial. These components have also been frequently linked to their anti-tumour behaviour.
Rich in Beta-Carotene
Sweet melons contain more beta-carotene than most of any other fruits. These include oranges, peaches, apricots, grapefruits, nectarines, mangoes, and tangerines. In fact, compared to carrots, sweet melons have as much beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid. This is any of a class of mainly orange, red, or yellow fat-soluble pigments which associate with bright colours. When the body ingests beta-carotene, it is either converted to vitamin-A or as a powerful antioxidant. The role of the latter is to attack free radicals that may pose any danger to the cells of the body.
The sweet potato is a starchy, sweet-tasting root vegetable. It has a thin, brown outer skin with bright-coloured flesh – most commonly orange, but other varieties include white, purple or yellow. You can eat sweet potatoes whole or peeled and the leaves of the plant are edible, too. The five main health benefits of sweet potato are given below.
May reduce the risk of cancer
While there are no ‘superfoods’ that can prevent cancer and certain risk factors for cancer are unrelated to diet, there is evidence that eating a healthy diet can reduce the risk of cancer. Fruit and vegetables are high in antioxidants, compounds that help defend the body against damage by ‘free radicals’. Studies have suggested that the antioxidants in the peel of sweet potatoes, especially purple sweet potato, may help reduce this oxidation process, thereby reducing the risk of cancer. To get the most nutrition from your sweet potatoes, don’t peel – simply scrub well before cooking.
May support digestive health
Sweet potatoes are high in fibre, which has been shown to promote a healthy digestive system. Much of the research so far has been conducted on animals, but it would appear that high levels of plant sterols (phytosterols) in sweet potatoes may have a protective effect on the digestive system and may be useful in the prevention and management of duodenal and gastric ulcers, including those due to NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen).
May help manage type-2 diabetes
Interesting findings suggest that moderate consumption of sweet potato and sweet potato leaves may improve blood sugar regulation in type-2 diabetes. However, more evidence from well-designed trials are needed in order to confirm these findings.
Good for eye health
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene – in fact, it’s what gives this root its bright-orange flesh. When we eat beta-carotene, our body converts it to vitamin A, which is then used to form light detecting receptors in the eye. This is important for night vision and maintaining the health of the eye.
May support immune function
Being rich in beta-carotene, sweet potatoes may also help support immune function. This is because vitamin A is important for maintaining the integrity of the mucous membranes in the respiratory system and gut.
Are sweet potatoes safe for everyone to eat?
On the whole, sweet potatoes are an excellent addition to a balanced diet and appear to be safe for most people, with very few reported cases of allergy. However, they do contain compounds called oxalates, which bind calcium and other minerals. Too many oxalates in the diet may cause kidney stones. If you have existing kidney stones or are at high risk of developing them, you should minimise your consumption of high-oxalate foods.
Turmeric is a root that contains the active ingredient curcumin which has incredible health benefits. Curcumin protects brain cells by binding to and dissolving abnormal proteins and has also been proven to significantly reduce inflammatory markers throughout the body. The anti-inflammatory action also has benefits in terms of supporting heart health, promoting a soft smooth glowing skin and fighting fine lines and wrinkles. It eases joint and muscle aches and pains and optimizes the function of the liver. It is also a natural mood enhancer and has strong anti-cancer characteristics. 100 g of turmeric contains: 39 mcg folates, 5.14 mg niacin, 1,8 mg pyridoxine, 0.233 mg riboflavin, 25.9 mg Vitamin C, 3.1 mg Vitamin E, 13.4 mcg Vitamin K, 38 mg sodium, 2525 mg potassium, 183 mg calcium, 603 mcg copper, 41.42 mg iron, 193 mg magnesium, 7.83 mg manganese, 268 mg phosphorous, 4.35 mg zinc.
Responsible for giving curry its characteristic yellow colour and a member of the ginger family, turmeric (curcuma longa) influences the taste, colour and nature of the food its combined with. Famed for its health benefits, especially its anti-inflammatory properties, it’s a spice which has received a lot of press coverage. Extensively cultivated in the tropics, turmeric is the root of a flowering plant. The top 5 health benefits of turmeric are listed below.
Contains bioactive compounds which have protective properties
Colourful plant foods are good for our health because of their plant pigments, and turmeric is no exception. Much of the publicity surrounding the spice is thanks to the main active component curcumin, which makes up about 3 per cent of the root by weight. Although an impressive constituent, it’s worth remembering that curcumin is one of hundreds of bio-active compounds for which turmeric is famed.
The value of these protective compounds is that they help the body combat the damaging effect of a process called oxidation. Over time, this process may lead to chronic inflammation and, as a result, lead to age-related conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Including protective foods in the diet means our bodies are better placed to cope with ageing and the inflammation associated with it, as well as with exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness.
May help ease arthritis
The potential health benefits of turmeric, and curcumin in particular, include better regulation of inflammation in the body. Studies comparing the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric against those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have shown great promise. Moreover, animal studies exploring curcumin’s therapeutic potential as a treatment for arthritis have been encouraging. That said, we need more well-designed clinical trials to determine the efficacy of curcumin for arthritis patients, especially for those who rely on NSAIDS for the management of these conditions.
May support cognitive function
Another active ingredient in turmeric is turmerone. Although less is known about turmerone, studies suggest it may be useful for conditions such as stroke and Alzheimer’s disease because it helps trigger cell repair and potentially support the recovery of brain function.
May lower the risk of cardiovascular disease
Studies suggest that the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin may protect against some of the steps involved in the development of heart disease, including improving cholesterol levels.
May support the immune system
Interesting studies suggest curcumin may act as an immune modulator influencing important immune cells including T cells, B cells and Natural Killer cells. In addition to this, curcumin appears to down-regulate pro-inflammatory compounds called cytokines, the prolonged activity of which can lead to inflammatory damage. When consumed at low doses, curcumin may also enhance our antibody responses, helping us fight off infection. Animal studies suggest it may even play a role in controlling allergy, including hay-fever.
Is turmeric safe for everyone?
For most of us turmeric is a safe option, however, there are some circumstances where caution is needed.
- If you are pregnant you should avoid taking medicinal quantities because studies on animalssuggest curcumin may alter levels of the hormone oestrogen. That said, enjoying the spice in small amounts, for example in a meal or drink, may be beneficial during pregnancy.
- If you have iron deficiency anaemia, avoid turmeric in high quantities. This is because compounds in the spice appear to bind to iron in the gut, making it unavailable for absorption.
- If you suffer from gallstones, bile duct obstruction or liver disease you should be aware that because turmeric increases bile secretion, including large amounts in your diet may aggravate your symptoms.
- If you are on medication you should refer to your GP or pharmacist for guidance, especially if you take blood thinning medication, diabetes medication or PPIs such as omeprazole for acid reflux.
Watermelon is a summertime staple, and truly one of the most beautiful, delicious, and fun fruits to enjoy. Fortunately it’s also incredibly good for you. Here are eight of watermelon’s important health benefits, how to pick a perfectly ripe fruit, and a few ways to incorporate water into meals, snacks, drinks, and desserts.
Watermelon keeps you hydrated
Water isn’t in this fruit’s name by chance. One cup of watermelon contains five ounces of water (about the size of a yogurt container). Consuming an adequate amount of fluid—including from water-rich foods—supports circulation, skin health, and digestion. It also helps regulate body temperature, organ and joint function, metabolism, appetite, and waste elimination. Being properly hydrated also impacts mental performance. Research shows that as little as a 1-3% loss of body fluid can impair mood, reduce concentration, increase headaches and fatigue, interfere with working memory, and boost anxiety.
It boasts key nutrients and few calories
Watermelon is lower in calories and sugar than you may think. One cup of watermelon provides 45 calories from 11 grams of carbohydrate, 9 grams of which are naturally occurring sugar. But that natural sweetness is bundled with vitamins A and C, which support immune function and skin health, in addition to smaller amounts of potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, and health-protective antioxidants.
Watermelon helps lower blood pressure and improve circulation
L-citrulline, a natural substance in watermelon (particularly in the white part of the rind), has been shown to improve artery function and lower blood pressure by helping blood vessels relax, which opens up circulation. L-citrulline’s impact on blood flow is also the reason watermelon has been deemed “nature’s Viagra.” (Viagra eases erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow in the penis.) Research also shows that L-citrulline may improve muscle oxygenation and athletic performance during endurance exercise.
It reduces muscle soreness
In one study, athletes who consumed 16 ounces of watermelon juice an hour before exercise experienced reduced muscle soreness and a quicker heart rate recovery compared to those who received a placebo drink. Another study in male runners found that those who drank 16 ounces of watermelon juice enriched in L-citrulline two hours before performing half-marathon races had less perceived muscle soreness for up to 72 hours compared to those who downed a placebo beverage.
It can lead to healthy weight management
Watermelon may help support healthy weight management when it’s consumed in place of a processed sweet snack. A 2019 study from San Diego State University looked at satiety and weight changes after a four-week intervention in overweight and obese adults.
During the study, one group was asked to consume two cups of fresh watermelon daily, while a second group ate low-fat cookies that had the same number of calories as the watermelon. Participants were allowed to consume their respective snacks any time of day, during one or multiple sittings, or either alone or in combination with other foods.
Researchers found that watermelon promoted greater satiety than the cookies, and that satiety (diminished hunger, greater fullness, and a reduced desire to eat) lasted up to 90 minutes after eating. Additionally, the watermelon eaters lost weight, reduced their waist-to-hip ratios and blood pressure levels, and improved their antioxidant status and blood lipids.
Watermelon offers digestive support
While watermelon isn’t very high in fibre, the fibre it does contain supports healthy gut function. The fruit also contains fluid and prebiotics, a type of fiber that stimulates the growth and/or activity of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. Prebiotics are tied to healthy immune function, anti-inflammation, and positive mood. Prebiotics also boost mineral absorption, improve blood glucose and insulin levels, and may protect against colon cancer.
It helps defend against disease
Watermelon is one of the best sources of lycopene, an antioxidant known to combat oxidative stress, which occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to counter their harmful effects. The protection lycopene provides reduces the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, as well as neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. For the most lycopene, opt for traditional pink flesh watermelon, which packs much more of the antioxidant compared to yellow and orange varieties.
It may protect your skin
If you’re a watermelon lover who takes full advantage of enjoying the fruit while it’s in season, it may offer some skin protection. Watermelon’s vitamins A and C support healthy skin, and the fruit’s lycopene content may protect against sun damage, although the effects are not immediate. One study found that the ingestion of tomato paste, which provided 16 mg lycopene, reduced sunburn after 10 weeks of daily consumption. According to the USDA, a cup and a half of watermelon contains about 9 to 13 milligrams of lycopene.
NUTRITIONAL PROPERTIES OF BERRIES
The main focus of The Raw Berry Press is the superfood berries – blackberry, blueberry, cape gooseberry and raspberry. They are to be found in each of our berry blends as they are true superfoods that enhance each juice blend – this is also a unique feature of the juices produced by The Raw Berry Press. A comparative analysis of the 4 berries, plus the pomegranate which is also available as a single ingredient vitamin bomb is shown below. Data is drawn from the literature (primarily the United States Department of Agriculture Data Central database, other published literature and analyses of our all our vitamin bomb juices at accredited laboratories. The best performing juice, either lowest (eg total sugars) or highest (total fibre) is highlighted in green in each row.
|Parameter (per 100 ml)||Cape Gooseberry||Blueberry||Raspberry||Blackberry||Pomegranate|
|Total Carbohydrates (g)||1.4||8.8||7.6||7.1||13.9|
|Total sugars (g)||0.4||8.7||7.6||7.1||13.8|
|Dietary fibre (g)||8.9||2.4||6.5||5.3||4|
|Total fat (g)||3.16||0.33||0.7||0.5||1.2|
|Saturated fat (g)||0.48||0.03||0.02||0.01||0.1|
|Monounsaturated fat (g)||0.52||0.05||0.06||0.05||0.1|
|Polyunsaturated fat (g)||2.16||0.15||0.38||0.28||0.4|
|Omega 3 oils||59||58||94||126||0|
|Omega 6 oils||830||88||186||249||79|
|Omega 9 oils||486||-||-||-||-|
|Total protein (g)||4||0.4||0.6||0.4||0.4|
|Vitamin A (IU)||720||54||33||214||-|
|Vitamin B1 (mg)||0.11||0.04||0.03||0.02||0.07|
|Vitamin B2 (mg)||0.04||0.04||0.04||0.03||0.05|
|Vitamin B3 (mg)||2.8||0.41||0.60||0.65||0.29|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.05||0.05||0.06||0.03||0.08|
|Vitamin B9 (mcg)||-||6||21||25||38|
|Vitamin C (mg)||46||9.7||26.2||21||10.2|
|Vitamin E (mg)||6.54||0.97||3.4||3.45||0.6|
|Vitamin K (mg)||38||19.3||7.8||19.8||16.4|
While all berries (and pomegranate) can rightly be considered to be superfoods, the true superfood amongst these is clearly the cape gooseberry.
WHAT IT DOES: Needed for healthy skin, inside and out, protecting against infections. Antioxidant and immune system booster. Protects against many forms of cancer. Essential for night vision,keeping skin and the lining of some parts of the body, such as the nose, healthy.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Mouth ulcers, poor night vision, acne, frequent colds or infections, dry flaky skin, dandruff, thrush or cystitis, diarrhoea.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Cape gooseberry, carrots, watercress, cabbage, squash, sweet potatoes, melon, pumpkin, mangoes, tomatoes, broccoli, apricots, papayas. You can get vitamin A by including good sources of beta-carotene in your diet, as the body can change this into vitamin A. Any vitamin A that your body doesn’t need immediately is stored for future use. This means you don’t need it every day.
WHAT IT DOES: Essential for energy production, brain function and digestion. Helps the body make use of protein.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Tender muscles, eye pains, irritability, poor concentration, prickly legs, poor memory, stomach pains, constipation, tingling hands, rapid heartbeat.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Watercress, squash, courgette, asparagus, mushrooms, peas, lettuce, peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, beans. Thiamin cannot be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day.
WHAT IT DOES: Helps turn fats, sugars and proteins into energy. Needed to repair and maintain healthy skin, inside and out. Helps to regulate body acidity, important for hair, nails and eyes.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Burning or gritty eyes, sensitivity to bright lights, sore tongue, cataracts, dull or oily hair, eczema or dermatitis, split nails, cracked lips.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Mushrooms, watercress, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, pumpkin, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, tomatoes, wheatgerm. UV light can destroy riboflavin, so ideally these foods should be kept out of direct sunlight. Riboflavin cannot be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day.
WHAT IT DOES: Essential for energy production, brain function and the skin. Helps balance blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels. Also involved in inflammation and digestion.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Lack of energy, diarrhoea, insomnia, headaches or migraines, poor memory, anxiety or tension, depression, irritability, bleeding or tender gums, acne dermatitis/eczema.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Mushrooms, cabbage, asparagus, tomatoes, courgettes, squash, cauliflower, whole wheat. There are 2 forms of niacin: nicotinic acid and nicotinamide. Both are found in food. Niacin cannot be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day.
WHAT IT DOES: Involved in energy production, controls fat metabolism. Essential for brain and nerves. Helps make anti-stress hormones. Maintains healthy skin and hair.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Muscle tremors or cramps, apathy, poor concentration, burning feet or tender heels, nausea or vomiting, lack of energy, exhaustion after light exercise, anxiety or tension, teeth grinding.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Mushrooms, watercress, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, peas, lentils, tomatoes, cabbage, celery, strawberries, squash, avocados, whole wheat. Pantothenic acid cannot be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day.
WHAT IT DOES: Essential for protein digestion and utilization, brain function and hormone production. Helps balance sex hormones, hence use in PMS and the menopause. Natural anti-depressant and diuretic. Helps control allergic reactions. Pyridoxine, helps allow the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food and to form haemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Infrequent dream recall, water retention, tingling hands, depression or nervousness, irritability, muscle tremors or cramps, lack of energy, flaky skin.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Watercress, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, bananas, squash, broccoli, asparagus, lentils, red kidney beans Brussels sprouts, onions, seeds and nuts.
WHAT IT DOES: Particularly important in childhood. Helps your body use essential fats, assisting in promoting healthy skin, hair and nerves. Biotin is needed in very small amounts to help the body break down fat. The bacteria that live naturally in your bowel are able to make biotin, so it’s not clear if you need any additional biotin from the diet. Biotin is also found in a wide range of foods, but only at very low levels.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Dry skin, poor hair condition, prematurely greying hair, tender or sore muscles, poor appetite or nausea, eczema or dermatitis.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Cauliflower, lettuce, peas, tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelon, sweetcorn, cabbage, almonds, cherries.
WHAT IT DOES: Critical during pregnancy for development of a baby’s brain and nerves. Also essential for brain and nerve function. Needed for utilizing protein and red blood cell formation.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Anaemia, eczema, cracked lips, prematurely greying hair, anxiety or tension, poor memory, lack of energy, poor appetite, stomach pains, depression.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCE: Wheatgerm, spinach, sprouts, asparagus, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, broccoli, cashew nuts, cauliflower, walnuts, avocados.
WHAT IT DOES: Needed for making use of protein. Helps the blood carry oxygen, hence essential for energy. Needed to make new cells. Essential for nerves.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Poor hair condition, eczema or dermatitis, mouth over-sensitive to heat or cold, irritability, anxiety or tension, lack of energy, constipation, tender or sore muscles, pale skin.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Not found in significant levels in plant foods, except certain algae.
WHAT IT DOES: Strengthens immune system – fights infections. Makes collagen, keeping bones, skin and joints firm and strong. Antioxidant, detoxifying pollutants and protecting against cancer and heart disease. Helps make anti-stress hormones and turns food into energy. Must be the natural form to be fully bioavailable – not simply added ascorbic acid which is missing the many other natural compounds that are critical to the functioning of vitamin C.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Frequent colds, lack of energy, frequent infections, bleeding or tender gums, easy bruising, nose bleeds, slow wound healing, red pimples on skin.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Peppers, watercress, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, lemons, kiwi fruit, peas, melons, oranges, grapefruit, limes, cape gooseberries, blueberries, raspberries.
WHAT IT DOES: Helps maintain strong and healthy bones by retaining calcium. Contributes to strong immune system.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Joint pain or stiffness, backache, tooth decay, muscle cramps, hair loss.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Spinach, orange
WHAT IT DOES: Antioxidant, protecting cells from damage, including against cancer. Helps body use oxygen, preventing blood clots, thrombosis, artherosclerosis. Improves wound healing and fertility. Good for the skin.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Lack of sex drive, exhaustion after light exercise, easy bruising, slow wound healing, varicose veins, loss of muscle tone, infertility.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, beans, peas, wheat germ, sweet potato, cape gooseberries.
WHAT IT DOES: Controls blood clotting.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: The main symptom of vitamin K deficiency is bleeding into the skin (causing bruises), from the nose, from a wound, in the stomach, or in the intestine. Vitamin K deficiency can also contribute to poor bone development, osteoporosis, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, cabbage, beans, broccoli, peas, watercress, asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes.
WHAT IT DOES: Provides a healthy heart, clots blood, promotes healthy nerves, contracts muscles, improves skin, bone and teeth health, relieves aching muscles and bones, maintains the correct acid-alkaline balance, reduces menstrual cramps and tremors.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Muscle cramps or tremors, insomnia or nervousness, joint pain or arthritis, tooth decay, high blood pressure, soft and brittle bones, osteoporosis.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Almonds, parsley, corn, artichokes, prunes, pumpkin seeds, cooked dried beans, cabbage, winter wheat, dried figs.
WHAT IT DOES: Helps balance blood sugar, normalise hunger and reduce cravings, improves lifespan, helps protect cells, essential for heart function.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Excessive or cold sweats, dizziness or irritability after six hours without food, need for frequent meals, cold hands, need for excessive sleep or drowsiness during the day, excessive thirst, addicted to sweet foods.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Potatoes, green peppers, apples, parsnips.
WHAT IT DOES: As a component of red blood cells, iron transports oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from cells. Also vital for energy production.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Anaemia – eg pale skin, sore tongue, fatigue, listlessness, loss of appetite, nausea, sensitivity to cold.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Pumpkin seeds, parsley, almonds, prunes, cashew nuts, raisins, Brazil nuts, walnuts, dates, pecan nuts, sesame seeds, cooked dried beans.
WHAT IT DOES: Strengthens bones and teeth, promotes healthy muscles by helping them to relax, so useful for PMS, important for heart muscles and nervous system. Essential for energy production.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Muscle tremors or spasms, muscle weakness, insomnia or nervousness, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, constipation, fits or convulsions, hyperactivity, depression, confusion, lack of appetite, calcium deposited in soft tissue – eg kidney stones.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Wheatgerm, almonds, cashew nuts, raisins, Brazil nuts, peanuts, walnuts, dates, pecan nuts, cooked dried beans, garlic, raisins, green peas.
WHAT IT DOES: Helps to form healthy bones, cartilage, tissues and nerves, stabilises blood sugar, promotes healthy cells, essential for reproduction and red blood cell synthesis, required for brain function.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Muscle twitches, childhood growing pains, dizziness or poor sense of balance, fits, convulsions, sore knees, joint pain.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Watercress, pineapple, okra, endive, blackberries, raspberries, lettuce, grapes, lima beans, strawberries, oats, beetroot, celery.
WHAT IT DOES: Helps rid the body of the protein breakdown products, strengthens teeth and may help reduce the risk of tooth decay, detoxifies the body from free radicals, petrochemicals and sulphites.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Deficiency signs are not known unless excess copper or sulphate interferes with its uitlization. Animals show signs of breathing difficulties and neurological disorders.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Tomatoes, wheatgerm, lentils, beans.
WHAT IT DOES: Enables nutrients to move into and waste products to move out of cells, promotes healthy nerves and muscles, maintains fluid balance in the body, relaxes muscles, helps secretion of insulin for blood sugar control to produce constant energy, involved in metabolism, maintains heart functioning, stimulates gut movements to encourage proper elimination.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Rapid irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, pins and needles, irritability, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, swollen abdomen, cellulite, low blood pressure resulting from an imbalance of potassium: sodium ratio, confusion, mental apathy.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Watercress, endive, cabbage, celery, parsley, courgettes, radishes, cauliflower, mushrooms, pumpkin.
WHAT IT DOES: Antioxidant properties help to protect against free radicals and carcinogens, reduces inflammation, stimulates immune system to fight infections, promotes a healthy heart, required for male reproductive system, needed for metabolism.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Family history of cancer, signs of premature ageing, cataracts, high blood pressure, frequent infections.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Mushrooms, cabbage, courgette.
WHAT IT DOES: Component of over 200 enzymes in the body, essential for growth, important for healing, controls hormones, aids ability to cope with stress effectively, promotes healthy nervous system and brain especially in a growing foetus, aids bones and teeth formation, helps hair to bloom, essential for constant energy.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Poor sense of taste or smell, white marks on more than two fingernails, frequent infections, stretch marks, acne or greasy skin, low fertility, pale skin, tendency for depression, loss of appetite.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Ginger root, pecan nuts, dry split peas, green peas, turnips, Brazil nuts, rye, oats, peanuts, almonds.
ESSENTIAL FATS & OILS
WHAT IT IS: Unsaturated fats, which are liquid at room temperature, are considered beneficial fats. Unsaturated fats are predominantly found in foods from plants, such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. There are two types of “good” unsaturated fats – monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3 fats are an important type of polyunsaturated fat. The body can’t make these, so they must come from food. Omega-6 fats are also polyunsaturated, while omega-9 fats are monounsaturated.
WHAT IT DOES: Unsaturated fats are good because they can improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation, stabilize heart rhythms, and play a number of other beneficial roles. Eating unsaturated fats in place of saturated fat can also help prevent insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: If you don’t get enough fat in your diet, you may notice symptoms such as dry rashes, hair loss, a weaker immune system, and issues related to vitamin deficiencies. Low unsaturated fat intake disrupts the balance of fatty acids in cell membranes, resulting in the development of eicosanoids that trigger inflammatory responses and constrict blood vessels.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Avocados, nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans, seeds such as pumpkin, flax and sesame seeds. Cape gooseberries are very high in unsaturated fats and correspondingly also high in the fat-soluble vitamins – A, D, E and K.
WHAT IT DOES: Promotes a healthy heart, thins the blood, reduces inflammation, improves functioning of the nervous system, promotes neurotransmitter balance and reception, relieves depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism, improves sleep, improves skin condition, helps balance hormones, reduces insulin resistance.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Dry skin, eczema, dry hair or dandruff, excessive thirst, excessive sweating, poor memory or learning difficulties, inflammatory health problems – eg arthritis, high blood lipids, depression, PMS or breast pain, water retention.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, cape gooseberry.
WHAT IT DOES: Promotes a healthy heart, thins the blood, reduces inflammation, improves functioning of the nervous system, promotes neurotransmitter balance and reception, relieves depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism, improves sleep, improves skin condition, helps balance hormones, reduces insulin resistance.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Dry skin, eczema, dry hair or dandruff, excessive thirst, excessive sweating, PMS or breast pain, water retention.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, sesame seeds, cape gooseberry.
OTHER COMPONENTS OF NUTRITION
WHAT IT IS: There are two categories of fibre – soluble and insoluble. Both are beneficial and we need to include them in our daily diets. Most plant foods contain a mixture of both Soluble fibre soaks up water like a sponge and helps to bulk out our faeces so it can pass through the gut more easily. It acts to slow down the rate of digestion. Soluble fibre includes pectins, gums and mucilage, which are found mainly in plant cells. The slowing down effect of the digestive system is usually overridden by insoluble fibre. It does not absorb water and speeds up the time that food passes through the gut. Insoluble fibre includes cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin, which make up the structural parts of plant cell walls.
WHAT IT DOES: The main role of fibre is to keep the digestive system healthy. Other terms for dietary fibre include ‘bulk’ and ‘roughage’, which can be misleading since some forms of fibre are water-soluble and aren’t bulky or rough at all. One of the major roles of soluble fibre is to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
DEFICIENCY SIGNS: Constipation, haemorrhoids, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), overweight and obesity , heart disease, diabetes, bowel cancer, breast cancer.
BEST PLANT FOOD SOURCES: Good sources of soluble fibre include: fruit and vegetables, oat bran, barley, seed husks, flaxseed, psyllium, legumes – dried beans, lentils, peas. Good sources of insoluble fibre include: bran – wheat bran, corn bran, rice bran, the skins of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, dried beans , wholegrain foods.