The Health Benefits of Maca


Maca is a South American root which belongs to the radish family.  The powder of the dried root is termed Maca Powder.  It is high in vitamins B1, B2 and B6 as well as Vitamin C and E. One ounce of maca contains 4 grams of plant protein and high levels of the minerals zinc, magnesium and iron.  It is helpful for restoring energy and is a great powder to add to smoothies and desserts as a tonic to healing fatigue.

The Medicinal Qualities of Oats

Oats are a safe substitute for gluten but only if they are organically grown.  They are one of the most heavily sprayed crops second only to soybeans and corn, so in order to prevent hormone and microbiome disruption by eating them choosing organic whole oats or steel cut oats is the most healthy and safest option.

Oats are one of the healthiest grains available.  They are rich in the soluble fiber called beta-glucan and also contain antioxidants called avenanthramides, which increase nitrous oxide in the blood, increasing blood flow and oxygenation to tissues 7.

These lower blood pressure, cholesterol, skin inflammation and constipation.  They also lower blood sugar levels 17, 18.  They improve insulin sensitivity and improve metabolic syndrome.

Some studies suggest that early introduction of oats in children’s diets may be protective for asthma and allergies 32.

Oats are rich in manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, B1 and B5.

Medicinal properties of Tarragon and Fennel

Tarragon:

Tarragon has many medicinal benefits.  It is an excellent source of magnesium, iron, zinc and calcium.  It contains antioxidants, vitamins A and C.  It supports cardiovascular health, menstrual health as well as anxiety and insomnia. It aids in digestion as well and is one of the four most common herbs used in French cuisine.

Fennel:

Fennel is a bulb that has a licorice flavor.  It has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy.  It is used in Greek, Italian, Indian and Middle Eastern dishes.  

It enhances the flavor of foods and has many medicinal properties.  It acts as a digestive as well as an appetite stimulant.  In Asia, the seeds are used for indigestion, reflux and irritable bowel symptoms. It contains manganese, selenium, niacin, zinc, copper, manganese, folate, lutein and Vitamins E and K.

The Health Benefits of Mesquite

Mesquite is a legume native to the Southwestern United States and South America.  Its pods can be ground to form a sweet flour and also used as a natural sweetener in baking and various recipes requiring a hint of sweetness to increase the depth of flavor.

Mesquite powder is a high plant protein (11 to 17 %) powder with a high soluble fiber content and high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc.  It is considered a superfood and an adaptogen.  An adaptogen is a food that helps the body adjust to stress and protects the body functions from stress hormones (other examples of adaptogens are maca, lucuma, ashwagandha, schizandra, and ginseng).  It may be added to smoothies, oatmeal, warm almond milk, pancake mix, chile or any other foods which would be enhanced by a touch of sweetness.  It has a malt like flavor and 1/4 cup can be substituted for the sugar called for in recipes.

It can be purchased as an organic powder from the health food store.

Medicinal Qualities of Cilantro and Coriander

Cilantro as an herb and coriander as the whole or ground seed of the cilantro plant have many medicinal qualities.  The powder is used as a spice in Indian curries and as a garnish in most Indian dishes.  Mexican food also uses cilantro liberally in salsa and guacamole, and many Mexican dishes.  The leaves taste wonderful when combined with lemon or lime juice.

Coriander and cilantro protect our bodies against oxidative stress, help the body detoxify heavy metals and protect against cardiovascular disease,.  They promote menstrual health, heals skin irritation, relieve urinary discomfort, help digestion and bloating and reduce the risk of colon cancer and diabetes.

The spice and the herb are high in folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C and K.

Medicinal properties of kidney beans

Kidney beans are an excellent source of molybdenum.  This chemical is needed in small quantities in the body to detoxify sulfites present in some foods.  They are also a great source of folate, fiber, and copper, manganese, phosphorus, protein, vitamin B1, iron, potassium and magnesium.  

The red color of kidney beans makes it rich in proanthocyanidins.  This is the high antioxidant color present in deep colored foods like blueberries, Aronia berries, strawberries, pomegranates, grape skin and black rice.  They impart antioxidant protection to the body, neutralizing the effects of carcinogens and free radicals and inhibiting the proliferation of the cancer cell.  

Kidney beans are especially great at balancing blood sugar levels and are also high in L-arginine which increases nitrous oxide in the cells lining the vascular system.  High nitrous oxide levels dilate the arteries, increasing blood flow and oxygenation to tissues.

They are great for blood sugar regulation and gut health, a rich source of iron and contain 15 grams of plant protein per cup.  They are also a great source of complex carbohydrates.

The Medicinal Qualities of Avocados

Plant protein is a powerful source of nutrition.  Plant protein helps our body repair breaks in DNA caused by carcinogens on a daily basis (animal protein inhibits this repair process).  Avocados are a great source of plant protein as well as lower cholesterol, increase HDL, lower LDL and reduce blood triglycerides.

Avocados have been shown also to increase nutrient absorption of other plants by the digestive system when combined with them such as in a salad or in salsa.

Some of the nutrients in avocados such as lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to be essential for eye health and eyesight.  Eating avocados increases glutathione levels in the body which is an important detoxifying antioxidant and responsible for preventing cancer and removing fat soluble hormone distruptors from the body.  They are rich in Vitamin C, K, E, B6, potassium copper, and pantothenic acid.

Avocados also are high in folate which reduces homocysteine.  Homocysteine at high levels interferes with the production of dopamine and serotonin, which improve mood, help the sleep cycle and improve memory as well as assist many functions in every part of the body.  

They promote wound healing as well as make our skin healthy.

A great strategy to feeling full is to add avocados to your meal.  The good fats in avocado will make you feel satiated after a plant based meal.

A great link to read more thoroughly about the nutritional benefits of avocados is:

http://www.well-beingsecrets.com/health-benefits-of-avocado/

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are foods where bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food through a process of lacto-fermentation creating lactic acid and making food more digestible and its nutrients easier to absorb.  These foods have been eaten for centuries throughout the world.  Foods such as sauerkraut in Germany and kimchi in Korea are examples of fermented foods.  In India, yogurt and vegetable pickles, two most common fermented foods are eaten at almost every meal to aid in digestion and to add to the flavor of the meal. Only a small amount is eaten as large quantities of fermented foods are discouraged and can cause bloating or an upset stomach.
Kanji is a fermented drink, widely made in India which helps gut flora proliferate to support overall health, and reducing inflammation, increasing serotonin levels and supporting the nervous and immune systems.  A reasonable serving of Kanji is around 1/2 a cup.  It makes a refreshing drink and has an added benefit of mustard seed which is a potent anti-inflammatory spice.

The Medicinal Qualities of Garlic

In 2001, a group of Israeli food chemists discovered that heating garlic immediately after cutting or crushing it destroys its health benefits.  Allicin, garlic’s most active ingredient that has cancer fighting properties is only created after garlic is chopped or sliced and rested for 10 minutes before frying or cooking it.  It takes this long for allicin to form after a protein and enzyme in garlic, alliin and allinase (present in different parts of garlic) come together to form allicin.  The BEST way to facilitate the formation of this medicinal compound in garlic is with a garlic press.  If not rested for 10 minutes after pressing, chopping or crushing prior to heating, ALL the medicinal properties of garlic are lost.  The same is true if garlic is microwaved.  The microwave destroys the medicinal properties in most foods.

Garlic has incredible anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, bactericidal and blood thinning properties.

It is worth the ten minutes of resting garlic to capture and benefit from all of its medicinal properties.

Cumin’s Medicinal Qualities – The Winter Warmer

Cumin seed is used in many different cuisines, Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and Spanish to name a few.  It has a smoky flavor and has numerous health benefits.  It contains Vitamin E, A, C, iron and Manganese.  It is a potent antioxidant, digestive, digestive enzyme, white cell stimulator, diuretic and has been shown to have chemopreventive properties, and it improves insulin response.  It also improves cognitive function, stimulates pancreatic and salivary enzymes and is an anti-inflammatory.  It also has antifungal and bactericidal properties.

Cumin has a warming effect on the body and tastes especially comforting in the winter in soups, stews, and plant-based dishes when fried in a little oil prior to adding the vegetables. 

I use it liberally in vegetarian chili and anytime I stir fry kale, collards or any greens as a side dish.

If you have not used it in your cooking, you are in for a big surprise!