My Plantcentric Journey

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Benefits Of Pumpkin

Since it’s Halloween, I thought I’d post this.  For the recipe, I wouldn’t add the coconut milk due to the saturated fat.  I’d add almond milk, unsweetened.  Laura

Pumpkin is considerably rich in vital antioxidants and vitamins. It is a very low calorie fruit; it contains no saturated fats or Cholesterol, and very low in Sodium; it is rich in dietary fibre, anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins, such as vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Thiamine, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
The pumpkin is bright orange because of its high levels of carotenoids, this fights off free radicals which cause premature ageing, cardiovascular diseases and certain infections.As mentioned, pumpkin contains high levels of the anti-oxidant vitamin A. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A, helps protect against lung and oral cavity cancers; it is also an essential vitamin for good visual sight and skin.
The fibre helps with lowering LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and also regulates the blood sugar levels, which helps weight control and those with diabetes. Pumpkin is great for improving HDL, (the good cholesterol), it may also help lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Pumpkin seeds contain the essential mineral zinc, which plays a role in preventing Osteoporosis. The seeds also contain alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Eating a diet rich in ALA may help prevent cardiovascular disease and its risk factors including hypertension and high cholesterol. They contain phytosterols that lower cholesterol; phytosterols can also protect against many cancers. The L-tryptophan found in the seeds, is a compound naturally effective against depression. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin, a beneficial neuro-chemical often labelled as nature’s sleeping pill.

I could continually write about the benefits of pumpkin and its seeds, it is a fantastic healthy food that can be used in many different recipes. Here is a pumpkin soup recipe you could try-

Pumpkin, chilli and coconut soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium pumpkin,
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2.5cm piece of root ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ chilli, seeds removed, chopped
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • sweet potato chunks, to taste (optional)

Preparation method

  1. Cut the pumpkin in half, then into wedges. Peel and deseed each wedge and cut the pumpkin flesh into 2.5cm Put the pumpkin in a large pan with the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli. Strip the leaves from the thyme and add to the pan.
  2. Pour in about 400ml of water, bring to the boil and cook until the pumpkin has turned to a pulp.
  3. Add the coconut milk and season to taste with salt, then reduce the heat and leave the soup to simmer for another 5–10 minutes.
  4. If you like, add chunks of sweet potato towards the end of the cooking.

 

http://www.femalehealthmotivation.com/2012/10/benefits-of-pumpkin.html

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What is Spirulina? And Why Should I Care?

Spirulina – A Superfood With Benefits

Article by 

Spirulina Is Loaded With Vital Nutrients

Spirulina - A Superfood With Benefits
Spirulina grown in a greenhouse
picture from alibaba.com

Spirulina is fresh water blue-green algae, and compared to other sea vegetables spirulina is more easily digested and has greater bio-availability. Greater bio-availability means a greater amount absorption of the nutrients into the bloodstream. Spirulina is considered a superfoodbecause the abundance of various nutrients it is comprised of.

Spirulina And Protein

Sixty percent of spirulina is made up of protein. Amazingly it is a complete protein because it contains all theessential amino acids, amino acids that the body cannot synthesize and must get externally. Spirulina’s protein makeup is superior to other plant protein, and is on par with the protein from meat, eggs, and dairy, except for the reduced amounts of methionine, cysteine and lysine (amino acids). Spirulina is mostly used as a supplement now, but it can be used as a food, and has been. The Aztecs and other indigenous people South America used spirulina as a food source before the Spanish colonized South America and changed the landscape for agricultural and urban development.

Spirulina And Vitamin B

Spirulina contains vitamin B1 (Thiamine),vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), and vitamin B9 (Folate).

Spirulina also contains vitamin B12, but there are two sides to the argument as to whether it is a reliable source of vitamin B12. The accepted medical literature supports the B12 in spirulina as being an unreliable source of B12. There are unaccepted assays that support the B12 in spirulina being a reliable source of B12. The B12 in animal products are called active B12 and is the B12 used primarily in the body, and the B12 in spirulina are called analog or non-active B12. I have found that this is a very muddy subject.

There are people who testify that they eat no animal products or derivatives and that their B12 level is fine because they take spirulina as a supplement, but there is literature that clearly states that spirulina is not a reliable source of B12. During my vegan diet my B12 levels dropped but they were still in the middle of the accepted scale for B12 levels. I haven’t been taking as much spirulina as I used to because I take more chlorella now. So to be safe, I recently began to take a vegan B12 supplement here and there. I do like to stay away from man-made supplements because they are man-made and I like to get my nutrients from food. I am still not convinced that spirulina is not a reliable source of B12 and I plan on revisiting the issue in the future.

An interesting thing is that B12 does not come from animals, but is ingested by grazing animals from the plants they eat. The B12 is then passed on the other animal eaters. The B12 that is the active form we use comes from microorganisms in the soil that use the cobalt in the soil to make the active form of B12. This active form of B12 is the only vitamin that contains a trace element, cobalt.

Other Vitamins and Minerals

Spirulina also contains vitamins:

    • Choline
    • Vitamin C
    • Vitamin D
    • Vitamin E
    • Vitamin K

And minerals:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc

Rich In Life Sustaining Plant Pigments

It may sound funny to hear that plant pigments can sustain life, but yes it is true. Spirulina contains a combination of pigments, which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and some of which the body can convert into vitamin A. These powerful antioxidantscan help prevent some forms of cancer and heart disease, and they enhance the immune response to infections. These life supporting pigments include allophycocyanin, beta-carotene (orange color), beta-cryptoxanthin, canthaxanthin, chlorophyll (green color), diatoxanthin, echinenone, myxoxanthophyll, oscillaxanthin, phycocyanin (blue color), and xanthophyll, zeaxanthin.

Essential Fatty Acids

We need essential fatty acids(omega-3 and omega-6) to support the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems. The human body needs the essential fatty acids to manufacture and repair cell membranes, enabling the cells to obtain optimum nutrition and expel harmful waste products. Spirulina is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Spirulina also contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), arachidonic acid (AA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), linoleic acid (LA), and stearidonic acid (SDA).

References:
Spirulina
Spirulina’s B12 makeup

http://www.naturallifeenergy.com/spirulina-a-superfood-with-benefits/

Chia Seeds I Love Them!

57 Health Benefits of Going Vegan as Taught to Nurses

57 Health Benefits of Going Vegan

From NursingDegree.net

Vegans are frequently misunderstood as fringe eaters with an unnatural passion for animal rights. While many vegans do feel passionately about animals, its time for others to see that a vegan diet and lifestyle go way beyond animal rights. Following a healthy, balanced vegan diet ensures a host of health benefits as well as prevention of some of the major diseases striking people in North America. Read these blogs to find out about the health benefits or going vegan or just provide better information to your patients.

Nutrition

All of the following nutritional benefits come from a vegan diet full of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and soy products.

  1. Reduced saturated fats. Dairy products and meats contain a large amount ofsaturated fats. By reducing the amount of saturated fats from your diet, you’ll improve your health tremendously, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health.
  2. Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy for your body. When you don’t have enough carbohydrates, your body will burn muscle tissue.
  3. Fiber. A diet high in fiber (as vegan eating usually is) leads to healthier bowel movements. High fiber diets help fight against colon cancer.
  4. Magnesium. Aiding in the absorption of calcium, magnesium is an often overlooked vitamin in importance to a healthy diet. Nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens are an excellent source of magnesium.
  5. Potassium. Potassium balances water and acidity in your body and stimulates the kidneys to eliminate toxins. Diets high in potassium have shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
  6. Folate. This B vitamin is an important part of a healthy diet. Folate helps with cell repair, generating red and white blood cells, and metabolizing amino acids.
  7. Antioxidants. For protection against cell damage, antioxidants are one of the best ways to help your body. Many researchers also believe that antioxidants helpprotect your body against forming some types of cancer.
  8. Vitamin C. Besides boosting your immune system, Vitamin C also helps keep your gums healthy and helps your bruises heal faster. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant.
  9. Vitamin E. This powerful vitamin has benefits for your heart, skin, eyes, brain, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. A diet high in grains, nuts, and dark leafy greens is full of Vitamin E.
  10. Phytochemicals. Plant-based foods provide phytochemicals, which help to prevent and heal the body from cancer, boost protective enzymes, and work with antioxidants in the body.
  11. Protein. That protein is good for your body is no surprise. It may be a surprise to learn that most Americans eat too much protein and in forms such as red meat that are not healthy ways of getting protein. Beans, nuts, peas, lentils, and soy products are all great ways to get the right amount of protein in a vegan diet.

Disease Prevention

Eating a healthy vegan diet has shown to prevent a number of diseases. Find out from the list below what you could potentially avoid just by switching to a healthy, balanced vegan way of eating.

  1. Cardiovascular disease. Eating nuts and whole grains, while eliminating dairy products and meat, will improve your cardiovascular health. A British study indicates that a vegan diet reduces the risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Vegan diets go far in preventing heart attack and stroke.
  2. Cholesterol. Eliminating any food that comes from an animal and you will eliminate all dietary cholesterol from your diet. Your heart will thank you for that.
  3. Blood pressure. A diet rich in whole grains is beneficial to your health in many ways, including lowering high blood pressure.
  4. Type 2 diabetes. Not only is a vegan diet a weapon against Type 2 diabetes, it is also “easier to follow than the standard diet recommended by the American Diabetic Association.” Read more about it here.
  5. Prostate cancer. A major study showed that men in the early stages of prostate cancer who switched to a vegan diet either stopped the progress of the cancer or may have even reversed the illness.
  6. Colon cancer. Eating a diet consisting of whole grains, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, can greatly reduce your chances of colon cancer.
  7. Breast cancer. Countries where women eat very little meat and animal products have a much lower rate of breast cancer than do the women in countries that consume more animal products.
  8. Macular degeneration. Diets with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, can help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration.
  9. Cataracts. Much the same way macular degeneration is headed off by a vegan diet, cataracts are also thought to be prevented through the intake of the same fruits and vegetables. Produce high in antioxidants are also believed to help prevent cataracts.
  10. Arthritis. Eliminating dairy consumption has long been connected with alleviating arthritis symptoms, but a new study indicates that a combination of gluten-free and vegan diet is very promising for improving the health of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
  11. Osteoporosis. Bone health depends on a balance of neither too much or too little protein, adequate calcium intake, high potassium, and low sodium. With a healthy vegan diet, all four of these points set a perfect scenario for preventing osteoporosis.

Physical Benefits

In addition to good nutrition and disease prevention, eating vegan also provides many physical benefits. Find out how a vegan diet makes your body stronger, more attractive, and more energetic.

  1. Body Mass Index. Several population studies show that a diet without meat leads to lower BMIs–usually an indicator of a healthy weight and lack of fat on the body.
  2. Weight loss. A healthy weight loss is a typical result of a smart vegan diet. Eating vegan eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to cause weight issues. Read more about weight loss and a vegan diet here.
  3. Energy. When following a healthy vegan diet, you will find your energy is much higher. This blog post in Happy Healthy Long Life describes how NFL tight-endTony Gonzalez started eating vegan and gained energy–while playing football.
  4. Healthy skin. The nuts and vitamins A and E from vegetables play a big role in healthy skin, so vegans will usually have good skin health. Many people who switch to a vegan diet will notice a remarkable reduction in blemishes as well.
  5. Longer life. Several studies indicate that those following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle live an average of three to six years longer than those who do not.
  6. Body odor. Eliminating dairy and red meat from the diet significantly reduces body odor. Going vegan means smelling better.
  7. Bad breath. Vegans frequently experience a reduction in bad breath. Imagine waking up in the morning and not having morning breath.
  8. Hair. Many who follow vegan diets report that their hair becomes stronger, has more body, and looks healthier.
  9. Nails. Healthy vegan diets are also responsible for much stronger, healthier nails. Nail health is said to be an indicator of overall health.
  10. PMS. When switching to a vegan diet, many women tell how PMS symptoms become much less intense or disappear altogether. The elimination of dairy is thought to help with those suffering with PMS.
  11. Migraines. Migraine suffers who go on vegan diets frequently discover relief from their migraines. Read more about the food-migraine connection in this article.
  12. Allergies. Reduction in dairy, meat, and eggs is often tied to alleviation of allergy symptoms. Many vegans report much fewer runny noses and congestion problems.

Too Much in the American Diet

The typical American diet not only consists of too much food, it also relies on too much of unnecessary food products or toxins. The following list explains how a vegan diet can eliminate these problems.

  1. Animal proteins. The average American eats twice as much protein as necessary for a healthy diet and much of that is from red meat. Getting protein from beans and grains is much healthier and reduces the risk for osteoporosis (see above).
  2. Cow’s milk dairy. The human body is not designed to digest cow milk and cow milk dairy products, yet the idea of milk being healthy is pushed through advertising. As many as 75% of people in the world may be lactose intolerant and many people suffer from undiagnosed milk allergies or sensitivities. By eliminating cow’s milk from your diet, you are improving your overall health.
  3. Eggs. Many nutritionists believe that the number of eggs in the American diet is too high. While sometimes disputed, it has been shown that eggs can raise cholesterol levels.
  4. Mercury. Most of the fish and shellfish consumed has mercury in it. While some fish have less than others, it is almost impossible not to be putting mercury in your body when you eat fish.
  5. Sugar. Most people have heard that Americans consume way too much sugar. Relying on other sweeteners that are not synthetic, processed, or derived from animal products is a healthier way to eat. Many vegans do not eat processed sugar due to the fact that most of the cane sugar is refined through activated charcoal, most of which comes from animal bones.

Other Benefits

In addition to the health benefits above, following a vegan lifestyle and diet also provides these benefits as well. From helping the environment to avoiding serious bacterial infections, learn other benefits to eating the vegan way below.

  1. Animals. Many people begin a vegan diet out of concern for animals. Whether opposed to the conditions of animals intended for food or eating animals in general, going vegan will help your conscience rest easily.
  2. Environment. Growing plants takes much fewer resources than growing animals. By eating vegan, you can help reduce the toll on the environment.
  3. E. coliE. coli comes from eating contaminated red meat and is the leading cause of bloody diarrhea. Young children, those with compromised immune systems, and elderly people can become extremely ill or die from E. coli. Eating vegan means completely avoiding the risk of E. coli infection.
  4. Salmonella. Another gastrointestinal illness from animal products, salmonella food poisoning is closely related to E. coli. The most frequent way people contract salmonella food poisoning is through contact with raw eggs or raw chicken meat from chickens infected with salmonella. Again, going vegan means eliminating this risk altogether.
  5. Mad cow disease. It’s safe to say that most people would want to avoid contracting a fatal, non-treatable disease. One way to ensure you don’t get Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is by not eating animals infected with mad cow disease. While the incidence of mad cow disease is not reportedly so high in North America, it does exist.
  6. Global food supply. Feeding grain to animals meant as food sources reduces the amount of food that is available to underdeveloped nations. Many people will go hungry while that same food they could be eating is given to animals raised for slaughter. Eating vegan ensures that you have removed yourself from the participation of this imbalance.
  7. Hormone consumption. Eating animals that have been given hormones to speed growth (a common practice in the meat industry) means those hormones go into your body. Not only can this disrupt the natural balance of your hormones, but some of the hormones given to animals have shown to cause tumor growth in humans.
  8. Antibiotics. Antibiotics are frequently given to feed animals, which can lead to bacterial resistance. Many of the antibiotics used to treat human infections are also used in feed animals.

Read the rest at:  http://www.nursingdegree.net/blog/19/57-health-benefits-of-going-vegan/

Spinach This Antioxidant-Loaded Green Will Keep You Lean

I have ditched the lettuce in my salads and now just use a base of fresh spinach leaves, then top with kale, shredded cabbage and whatever other greens I have on hand before putting on the tomatoes, nutritional yeast, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, etc.

Thanks for sharing Young and Raw.

Carrie Underwood Says Her Cystic Acne “Really Cleared Up” After Ditching Dairy

Carrie Underwood said her cystic acne “really cleared up” after ditching dairy.

A vegetarian for a long time, you recently went vegan. How has that impacted your skin?
I definitely notice a difference since I stopped eating foods like greasy fried chicken. I also never knew how much dairy can mess with your skin; my cystic acne really cleared up after I stopped eating it. I’m still learning the ins and outs of what I can and can’t eat, but so far I’m loving it. And of course, drinking a lot of water helps too.(http://bit.ly/JpL3f4).

Dr. Mark Hyman says dairy and sugar cause acne.

How To Prevent and Treat Acne

Eight simple steps will help most overcome their acne problems.

  1. Stay away from milk. It is nature’s perfect food—but only if you are a calf.
  2. Eat a low glycemic load, low sugar diet. Sugar, liquid calories, and flour products all drive up insulin and cause pimples.
  3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. People who eat more veggies (containing more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds) have less acne. Make sure you get your 5–9 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables every day.
  4. Get more healthy anti-inflammatory fats. Make sure to get omega-3 fats (fish oil) and anti-inflammatory omega-6 fats (evening primrose oil). You will need supplements to get adequate amounts (more on that in a moment).
  5. Include foods that correct acne problems. Certain foods have been linked to improvements in many of the underlying causes of acne and can help correct it. These include fish oil, turmeric, ginger, green tea, nuts, dark purple and red foods such as berries, green foods like dark green leafy vegetables, and omega 3-eggs.
  6. Take acne-fighting supplements.Some supplements are critical for skin health. Antioxidant levels have been shown to be low in acne sufferers. And healthy fats can make a big difference. Here are the supplements I recommend:
    • Evening primrose oil: Take 1,000 to 1,500mg twice a day.
    • Zinc citrate: Take 30 mg a day.
    • Vitamin A: Take 25,000 IU a day. Only do this for three months. Do not do this if you are pregnant.
    • Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols, not alpha tocopherol): Take 400 IU a day.
  7. Try probiotics. Probiotics also help reduce inflammation in the gut that may be linked to acne. Taking probiotics (lactobacillus, etc.) can improve acne.
  8. Avoid foods you are sensitive to. Delayed food allergies are among the most common causes of acne—foods like gluten, dairy, yeast, and eggs are common culprits and can be a problem if you have a leaky gut.http://drhyman.com/blog/conditions/do-milk-and-sugar-cause-acne/

And here’s more:


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