This is a list that explains the health benefits of some of the ingredients I use in my recipes. When I began this clean, more natural, eating I told myself I would do my own research on the foods I was consumed regularly. I think it is extremely important to know what you are eating and its consequences on your health. I was tired of of the back and forth of “it’s good for you..no it’s bad!” So I decided to just do it myself and compile a list of health benefits. Knowledge is power, right?
I will continue to update this list as my recipe collection grows!
Apples contain phytonutrients that have been shown to lower total cholesteral and LDL-cholesterol due to their water soluble fiber and polyphenols. Apples contain complex fiber which takes longer for your body to digest, therefore, you feel full longer. They are also very high in antioxidants, which decreases oxidation in the body and a healthier cardiovascular systems with free flowing arteries. They prevent lung cancer and breathing problems due to an antioxidant in the apple skin, quercetin, providing better lung function and may prevent asthma. Quercetin is also a key polyphenol in slowing down carbohydrate digestion. That means that it takes longer for the apple’s sugars to break down, which places less of a load on our bloodstream. Another amazing component of the apple skin is ursolic acid. This acid increases calorie burn and increases muscle which may lower the risk of obesity. Research has shown that apples may prevent colon cancer, breast cancer, skin diseases, macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. Dirty mouth? Clean it up with an apple! They stimulate the gums and reduce the build up of cavity causing bacteria. Apples act like a mini toothbrush and a whitening treatment for your teeth, all at the same time.
Almond butter contains Vitamin E which prevents oxidative damage to your cells..meaning it kills those nasty free radicals roaming around your body. 1 tablespoon has the same amount of protein as 1 ounce of meat and contains magnesium, healthy fats, and iron.
Blueberries contain antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, prevent damage to our cell membranes, fight diseases (like cardiovascular disease), may improve memory and brain function, can help balance blood sugar levels, promote eye health, and improve your immune system. Studies, to date, show that blueberries are actually one of the few foods that have a positive impact on the whole body! They are packed with Vitamin C (hence the improved immune system), Vitamin K, and a fantastic source of Maganese. They are high in Dietary Fiber, and chock full of phytochemicals like flavonols, anthocyanins, resveratrol, pterostilbene, and hydroxycinnamic acids.
Cinnamon (not Cassia cinnamon!!) is one of the top antioxidants in the world, has anti-inflammatory properties, and can help control blood pressure. Just half a teaspoon daily can lower your bad cholesterol (LDL.) It also can prevent and fight Candida fungus, the stomach flu, and IBS. Cinnamon has very powerful anti-bacterial, immune-boosting, properties that can fight and prevent disease as well as heal infections and speed up recovery. These properties may help prevent tooth decay and gum disease as well. Just the smell of cinnamon may help fight depression and irritability. An old wive’s tale says that just a whiff of cinnamon, during the winter months, can stop depression.
Chia seeds add a nice crunch on top of the oatmeal and are SO good for you. Chia is actually the word for “strength” in the ancient Mayan language. They contain protein, calcium, manganese, magnesium, zinc, potassium..and on goes the list. Due to the protein content in these little seeds, and the fact that they expand in liquid, you will stay fuller longer. They are jam packed with antioxidants which help fight off the free radicals that damage your cells and can contribute to diseases and health disorders. They are very high in Omega-3s (that’s the good kind) and high in important bone nutrients.
Chicken has a surprising number (at least to me) of health benefits. It is, obviously a great protein source which aids in supporting a healthy body weight, keeps energy levels high, promotes healthy bone growth, and muscle growth. It increases your serotonin levels and which makes it a natural anti-depressant. It also controls an amino acid called Homocysteine which may cause cardiovascular disease. Chicken is high in phosphorus which helps maintain healthy teeth, kidneys, and central nervous system. So chicken is better for you than you thought, huh?
Cocoa powder (100% Unsweetened) has been used for centuries for various purposes. Though we are used to cocoa powder being paired with heaps of sugar, ancient civilizations used to boil water and drink it, basically, like black coffee. Unsweetened cocoa powder is one of the highest antioxodant foods available for our consumption. As you may have read from my previous posts, antioxidants fight free radicals formed from oxidarion of our cells. This byproduct of oxidation can cause many diseases, like cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, which may be prevented by high consumption of antioxidants.
Coconut oil, like olive oil, is deemed a healthy fat which our body needs to function properly. Coconut oil, however, is about 90% saturated fat, the highest percentage in any oil. Many try to stay away from saturated fats, but more research has been popping up that some saturated fats are not very harmful (we’ll have to watch for outcome updates.) It is made up of short and medium chain fatty acids, which make it much easier for our bodies to break down, aiding in digestion. Coconut oil is made up of more than 40 % Lauric acid, one of the highest found sources, which converts itself to monolaurin. Monolaurin helps the body fight disease by improving the immune system. Some other possible health benefits include the improvement/reversal of Alzheimer, improvement/reversal of type 1 and 2 diabetes, improve skin diseases (like acne, eczema, rosacea), kills the candida fungus, provides energy, increases metabolism, and preserves muscle mass.
Extra Virgin Olive oil not only adds a delicious flavor component to many dishes, but it has a ton of health benefits. There have been many studies that prove olive oil is effective in fighting against diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis! It helps decrease your blood pressure, it is rich in antioxidants, and might prevent strokes. One thing, I think, people don’t realize is that our bodies need fat, but the good kind not the bad. Good fat keeps our skin soft, provides us with crucial amino acids, and keeps our bodies energized. Don’t shy away from this super healthy fat!
Flax can be found as flaxseeds or flax meal. Many times it is used in muffins, crackers, and bread. Flaxseeds are ranked #1 source of lignans which have very powerful antioxidant properties…even higher than blueberries! Antioxidants, in studies, have shown to have positive affects on the cardiovascular system and may be a cancer preventer. It is very high in Omega-3 fatty acids (which most people don’t eat enough of.) Omega-3’s help prevent inflammation, specifically of blood vessels.
Garlic is a member of the Allium family and is very rich in sulfur-containing compounds like, thiosulfinates and sulfoxides These compounds create the unmistakable garlic-y odor, but also keep your blood pressure under control by dilating you blood vessels. It is also a great source of manganese, Vitamin C, and selenium. The Vitamin C, primary antioxidant in garlic, not only contributes to a great immune system but has also been show to defend LDL cholesterol (the good stuff) in your body. Garlic has also been show to improve cardiovascular health. It lowers blood triglycerides and cholesterol, and most impressively, protect blood cells and vessels from inflammatory and oxidative stress…which = the prevention of clogged arteries!!
Ginger is used very commonly in Asian cuisine. Ginger is believed to alleviate gastrointestinal distress, and has been shown to contain antioxidants which inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds (fight those free radicals.) It can reduce the symptoms of sea sickness, dizziness, and cold sweating. Ginger is filled with gingerals (a powerful antioxidant) that may reduce pain and increase movement ability in those suffering from osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. It may even kill Ovarian cancer cells! (though more research is needed) Taste wise, it adds complexity to the flavor profile of a dish and is absolutely necessary for many Asian dishes…ginger is very strong and a little sprinkle goes a long way. Use it well and use it often.
Peanut butter is a wonderful source of protein. It keeps you satisfied and when combined with a complex carb, like oatmeal, it can keep you feeling full even longer. 1 tablespoon of peanut butter equals the same amount of protein as 1 ounce of meat. It contains Vitamin E (a super antioxidant), magnesium (which builds bones), potassium (cramp reliever), and Vitamin B6 (immune system builder.) Peanut butter may also reduce the risk for heart disease. Make sure you look at those labels! Many companies, like those that rhyme with Pif and Meter Man, include ingredients like sugar (totally unneeded), hydrogenated vegetable oils, and loads of salt. Look for peanut butter that only contains peanut butter (it will probably have salt)…I personally think the 1 ingredient nut butter tastes better than the GMO/chemical ridden impostor.
It contains monounsaturated fat, which has been shown to produce healthy blood lipid levels. So it’s the good kind of fat!
Pumpkin is a fantastic source of Vitamin K, providing more than half the daily value in one cup, and a whole lot of iron. It is high in fiber, and chock full of beta-carotene which is an antioxidant that may help prevent cancer and promote eye health. Not only may this delicious gourd prevent blemishes, but it may also keep those skin wrinkles away! That right there is a win-win in my book.
Tamari is not soy sauce, but it is very similar. Both sauces are produced using fermented soy beans, however, Tamari is Japanese and wheat free (but if you are GF double check the label) while soy sauce is not. It is a bit thicker, gives a richer and is less salty tasting than soy sauce. The richness in flavor of the Tamari, comes from the amino acids derived from the actual soy bean. It is a good source of Vitamin B3, protein, manganese, and tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that promotes healthy growth in children, balanced nitrogen levels in adults, and aids in the production of serotonin (the happy-body chemical.) Now like everything else, moderation is key. Though Tamari does contain less salt than soy sauce it still contains a lot! I ONLY use Organic Tamari because soy is one of the most GMO ridden food produced.