Health Boost: Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a powerful anti-inflammatory that has been proven to reduce inflammation associated with arthritis. External application of capsaicin is also thought to relieve pain in cases of psoriasis. Some progress still needs to be made on this condition as applying capsaicin to the skin is also accompanied by a burning sensation. Chili peppers help lower blood cholesterol and reduce blood clots, the main causes of heart attacks and strokes, so a little spice is good for your heart’s health. Chili peppers are high in vitamins A and C, the antioxidants that protect the body against infections and viruses.
Get Cooking: Chilies play an integral role in many recipes, especially certain ethnic dishes. In Mexican cooking, for example, chilies are pretty much a necessity. While known for their spicy heat, chilies can also add mild and subtle flavor to dishes, depending upon the variety chosen. With chilies, possibilities are only limited by your creativity.
Health Boost: Can lower blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. Aim for one-fourth to one-half teaspoon of cinnamon twice a day.
Get Cooking: Dip berries or bananas in low-fat sour cream, then in a mix of 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 cup brown sugar.
Health Boost: Contains curcumin, which can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Try to have 500 to 800 milligrams a day, says Bharat Aggarwal, PhD, a professor of cancer medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Get Cooking: For an Indian flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric to water when cooking 1 cup rice.
Health Boost: Parsley is an excellent breath freshener, eliminating strong mouth odours such as garlic or onion. It cleanses and strengthens the kidney and can even help break up kidney stones. Helps with bladder or urinary tract infections. Parsley aids digestion and promotes a faster elimination of waste materials from the body. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, reducing joint pain and stiffness. It boosts the immune system and protects against colds and infections. Parsley can help with water retention, bloating, indigestion and flatulence. It is helpful in pregnancy and fertility. The calcium and fluorine that is present in parsley can strengthen bones and teeth.
Get Cooking: Sprinkle raw chopped parsley over your favourite salad. Add chopped parsley to salad dressings such as vinaigrette, to mayonnaise, to an omelette before cooking,rice dishes, stocks and gravies, to clear or creamy soups. Add to mashed potato and homemade meatballs or beef burgers. Add to all homemade dishes such as spaghetti bolognaise, shepherds pie etc. Stuff the inside of fish, chicken or other poultry with parsley before roasting or grilling. Sprinkle over seafood and use when cooking mussels. Mix some chopped parsley with butter or olive oil and spread on toasted crusty bread. Add to homemade sauces like pesto and herby sauces.
Health Boost: A USDA study found that, gram for gram, oregano has the highest antioxidant activity of 27 fresh culinary herbs.
Get Cooking: To spice up tomato soup, add 3/4 teaspoon oregano to 1 can; add 1/2 teaspoon to 2 cups pasta or pizza sauce. Substitute 1 teaspoon dried oregano for 2 teaspoons fresh.
Health Boost: Destroys cancer cells and may disrupt the metabolism of tumor cells, says Karen Collins, RD, nutrition advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research. “Studies suggest that one or two cloves weekly provide cancer-protective benefits.”
Get Cooking: “Let garlic sit for 10 to 15 minutes after chopping and before cooking so the active form of the protective phytochemicals develops,” says Collins. Saute fresh garlic over low heat and mix with pasta, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese.
Health Boost: Thyme is packed with minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. Its leaves are one of the richest sources of potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.
The herb is also a rich source of many important vitamins such as B-complex vitamins, beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C and folic acid.
Get Cooking: The fresh or dried leaves of thyme as well as the flowering tops are widely used to flavor soups, stews, baked or sauteed vegetables, casseroles, and custards. Thyme provides a warm tangy flavor, somewhat like camphor, and can retain its flavor in slowly cooked dishes. Thyme is also used in marinades (especially for olives), and in stuffings. The leaves can also be used in potpourris and moth-repellent sachets. The essential oil of thyme can be used not only to flavor foods, but is also added to soaps, toothpastes, cosmetics, perfumes, and antiseptic ointments. The oil is used in aromatherapy to relieve pain and elevate mood. In addition, it may have a calming effect in stress-related conditions. Thyme baths have been used to help relieve aches and joint pains.
Macadamia nuts provide multiple health benefits including those related to heart health. Valuable vitamins and minerals within the small food item provide essential nutrients that help your body maintain regular functions.
Nutritional Content and Benefits
A one ounce serving size of macadamia nuts provides a high amount of healthy fats, a low amount of carbohydrates, moderate protein and no cholesterol or sodium. Essential vitamins and minerals including manganese, potassium, thiamin and fiber found within macadamias help your body defend disease and increase overall well being.
Although the small nut contains lower amounts of protein per one ounce serving than other snack nut choices, macadamias have the ability to add more protein to meals, such as salads, that lack amino acid content. Protein helps overall muscle function and maintenance.
Too much sodium will ultimately increase your blood pressure. Since salt acts as a preservative when excess amounts get consumed, the nutrient holds extra water in the body, causing the heart to pump extra blood in order to help in the retention process
Healthy Fats with No Cholesterol
Macadamia nuts have high levels of the healthy fat known as monounsaturated fat. The unsaturated variety of fat promotes heart health, possibly reduces the risks of certain cancers, promotes healthy cell formation in both internal tissue and skin, plus helps boost immunity.
Although the fat differs from unsaturated or unhealthy fat, you ought to eat any type of fat in moderation due to the high calorie content found in all fats.
The high amount of fiber found in macadamia nuts not only helps regulate the digestive system, it also acts by preventing problems such as diabetes and heart diseases from hindering your health. Fiber has also showed signs of reducing the risk of cancers, colon complications such as diverticular disease, plus kidney stones or gallstones.
Fiber also aids in appetite regulation by making you feel fuller and satisfied for longer periods of time.
Vitamin B Content
Macadamia nuts contain high levels of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B1, or Thiamin. This unique nutrient offers such health benefits as effective carbohydrate metabolism, the promotion of growth, decreases stress and slows the aging process in cells. Vitamin B1 also helps with heart health and immunity.
Macadamias contain the essential mineral, potassium. Potassium helps reduce stroke, low blood sugar conditions, and both kidney and heart issues. The helpful nutrient also works to ensure muscle strength, brain function and metabolism. Potassium has connections with stress and cramp reduction, plus a possible fix for some muscle disorders. A few other functions of the potassium found in macadamia nuts include the regulation of the nervous system and water retention in your body.
You will find an abundant source of manganese in macadamia nuts too. This important mineral helps largely with metabolic functions while also helping in the healthy formation of bones. Manganese also guides other minerals and vitamins in the process of developing connective tissues, helps lower blood sugar and also aids in the absorption of calcium. Those who have manganese deficiencies often encounter health problems related to bone disease and even permanent blindness.
"O g Trans Fat"
Know it: A mad-scientist project gone wrong, trans fats are created in a lab by partially hydrogenating healthier oils. This process destroys the many good benefits of the original fats. What’s worse, consuming trans fats ups your risk for heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Most nutritionists recommend avoiding them altogether, which doesn’t sound so hard except current labeling guidelines allow manufacturers to round anything less than 0.5g/serving down to zero. Eat more than a few servings, and you’ve consumed a significant amount of the Frankenfood.
Avoid it: Anything that says “partially hydrogenated oil,” “hydrogenated vegetable oil,” or “shortening” on the ingredients list contains trans fats, no matter what the label says.
Know it: Sugar is fine in moderation, but many processed foods contain much more—and in different places&mash;than you’d expect. Since ingredients are required to be listed from most to least on food labels, manufacturers often break up the sugar into smaller amounts of lesser-known sugars, making the food appear healthier. Another issue is that real sugar is often replaced with artificial sweeteners, which can cause bloating and stomach discomfort.
Avoid it: Nutritionally speaking, there’s not a huge difference between different types of sneaky sugars so knowing the pseudonyms is half the battle. While there are more than 50 names for the sweet stuff, common tricky ones include brown rice syrup, barley malt, caramel, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, and anything involving corn syrup.
"Reduced Fat" or "Fat Free"
Know it: While fats aren’t the dietary demon they were made out to be in the past, many health-conscious consumers still seek out lower-fat or fat-free options. But since removing fat also removes flavor, many companies replace fat with sugar. This label is often used as a smoke screen to give an otherwise unhealthy food, like gummy bears, an aura of health. Of course gummy bears have never been made with fat; they’re pure sugar.
Avoid it: Don’t be afraid to eat healthy fats in your diet. Even some saturated fats like those found in coconut oil and grass-fed dairy have significant health benefits. Plus, fat is satiating so in the end, you’ll eat less and enjoy it more.
"Packed with Antioxidants"
Know it: Antioxidants, the latest health wunderkind, are amazing little nutrients and enzymes that inhibit the potentially harmful (but inevitable) process of cellular oxidation. You don’t have to understand all the science to know they’re incredibly good for you, with everything from anti-cancer to anti-aging benefits. The problem is that this label does not have a formal definition. When you see “packed with antioxidants,” it usually means that the food was either made with something that once had antioxidants in it—like fruit juice used for coloring cereal—or that the food was fortified with some vitamins. Unfortunately nutrients extracted from food don’t have all the health benefits of nutrients eaten in their natural state.
Avoid it: Whole fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants—and are easy to recognize.
"100% Natural or All Natural"
Know it: You may think buying an “all natural” chicken is better than buying its unlabeled counterpart, but the truth is that “natural” has no legal definition, meaning that companies can stick the phrase on anything they want.
Avoid it: Check the ingredients list and label for what you’re most concerned about. “USDA-certified organic” means the food has met certain guidelines. You can also check for genetically modified ingredients (if it doesn’t specifically say it’s non-GMO and it’s corn or soy, then it likely is), artificial colorings and flavors, or preservatives.
"Made with Whole Grains"
Know it: Whole grains are great for providing essential minerals, fiber, and energy, but all this label means is that there are some whole grains somewhere in the product with typical white flour—confusingly called “enriched wheat flour”—as the main ingredient.
Avoid it: Check the ingredients list. Whole wheat (or some other grain) should be listed first. Ideally it should be the only type of grain used. “100-percent whole grain” is defined by the USDA and means exactly what it says. Look for this label on foods and don’t get confused by those that say “8g of whole grains per serving!”—they’re just trying to distract you from the fact that it’s not made with only whole grains.
Know it: Nitrates, nitrites, and other artificial preservatives are definitely bad for you, increasing risk of certain cancers by up to 50 percent. Unfortunately while consumers are getting wise to the evils of nitrates, they’re still overlooking other problematic preservatives.
Avoid it: Check the labels, especially those of processed meats like lunch meats and sausages, for BHA, BHT, benzoates, sulfates, and sorbates, among others.
Calorie Counts and Serving Sizes
Know it: The number of calories per serving is usually the first thing people read when they look at a food label. But beware: The USDA allows manufactures to use an estimate that can be up to 20-percent off! And because the serving size is a minimum amount rather than an exact amount, it’s more likely that the food has more calories per serving than the label leads you to believe.
Avoid it: If you’re being very conscious of calories, some nutritionists recommend automatically adding 10 percent as a buffer and carefully weighing and measuring your food. A more reasonable approach: Listen carefully to your sense of fullness and stop eating when you’re satisfied—even if you haven’t finished a whole serving.
"Made with Real Fruit"
Know it: Everyone knows that fresh fruits and veggies are healthy. Sadly, manufacturers take advantage of that trust by slapping this label on anything with a fruit product in it. This may include fruit concentrates, which are essentially just sugar and things like beet juice for coloring. Many popular fruit roll ups are mostly high-fructose corn syrup and food coloring. Sure, some “real” fruit might be in there, but it certainly doesn’t have the benefits of an actual piece of fruit.
Avoid it: Eat real, whole fruits and vegetables. They should have exactly one ingredient.
"Free-Range" or "Vegetarian Fed" Eggs
Know it: Who doesn’t prefer to think of happy chickens roaming merrily through a barnyard getting fed by a singing Snow White? The truth is that factory chickens are kept in very tight quarters and “free range” only means they had access to an open door, not that they ever used it. Also, “vegetarian fed” is not a good thing. Chickens are natural omnivores and when they are forced to eat a vegetarian diet&mash;often processed soy—their eggs contain less nutrition.
Avoid it: If you are truly concerned about buying fresh, organic, natural, or free-range eggs, local farmers are your best bet.
Easy (but still healthy) meal options:
- Apples and Peanut Butter
- Carrots and Ranch
- Protein Bars
Foods that Boost Brain Function:
- Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which plays a vital role in brain function.
- Blueberries are well-known to boost brain function. Studies have shown that the berries can significantly improve learning capacity and motor skills in rats.
- Nuts like Almonds and Walnuts will help because of their Omega-3 and Vitamin E. Vitamin E helps stop the decline in cognitive development as you get older.
- Whole Grains contain fiber, Vitamin E, and Omega-3 fatty acids. They help blood flow, which is good for your entire body.
- Eggs are high in Choline, which can help improve memory functions.
- Avocados are high in fat, however it’s monounsaturated fat (aka “good” fat). “Good” fat is a major contributor of a healthy blood flow. Healthy blood flow is essential to healthy brain function.
- Beans are a lesser known brain boosting food, however they are great for stabilizing glucose levels. The brain uses glucose as fuel, as you can see why this would be important. Lentils and black beans are the best in the category. Warning: do not overdo it on beans, especially if you plan on studying in a public place. Trust me.
- Dark Chocolate is actually very healthy for your brain. It contains antioxidant properties, which helps the brain deal with free radicals. Free Radicals can have damaging effects on the brain. Use dark chocolate in moderation, because it’s loaded with fat and caffeine.