Funky Food Facts

Over the years we have come across some pretty impressive foods—ones that make you believe what Hippocrates said about letting your food be your medicine. Back then, he didn’t have the scientific tools to know why, but now we do. We are learning more every day, so watch this space for more.

At Eats of Eden, we believe in enjoying our food, and we appreciate it even more by knowing these interesting facts about what goes into our mouths and shortly afterwards becomes us.

Funky Food Facts

Go nuts! It’s good for you!

Mixed nutsAre you convinced that eating nuts will raise your cholesterol or make you fat? If so, aside from being mistaken, you are missing out on some delicious heart-healthy foods.  Research suggests that just about any type of nut will help lower LDL cholesterol and improve the balance HDL to LDL (provided the nuts aren’t roasted at high temperatures in oil). And that is only the beginning.  Nuts may also:

  • help to reduce the stickiness of your blood
  • promote healthy arteries
  • help to lower blood pressure
  • help you to attain and maintain a healthy body weight.

How do they do it?
Nuts contain plant sterols, healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants–a lot of nutrition in a small package.

Plant sterols occur naturally in many grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds, which happily, are all readily available at Eats of Eden. Researchers have recommended 2g of plant sterols per day and a single ounce of almonds will provide you with a sixth of that.

Nuts and the fats of life
Fats have suffered undeserved bad press in the past 30 years or so, leading many people to avoid foods naturally rich in fat.  We now know that the fats to avoid are the highly processed ones found in cooking oil, many convenience foods, fast foods and margarine. The fats naturally present in nuts and many other foods are not just beneficial, but essential.

Walnuts are the richest nuts in healthy fats, but other types also contain beneficial mono-unsaturated and omega-3 fats.  These multitalented fats help to reduce inflammation in arteries (and other places too, but that is another article), help your brain to work and contribute to smooth, soft, velvety skin.

Nuts contain lots of protective antioxidants with long, tongue-twisting names. One most people recognise is the mineral selenium, found in abundance in brazil nuts.  Another is vitamin E, found in most nuts, but particularly abundant in hazelnuts and almonds.

Go nuts and still reduce your waistline
Because of the fibre, healthy fats and protein they contain, nuts help you to feel satisfied longer than fast releasing carbohydrates such as sweets, biscuits and bagels.  Researchers have reported that people who eat nuts lose more weight and  stick their eating plans better than people who don’t. So nuts are good to include regularly whether or not you are trying to reduce your waistline.

More ways to go nuts
Nuts are excellent for snacks, but they can also add interest, texture and of course nutrition (including protein) to meals.

Breakfast:  Add nuts to your porridge or spread nut butter on your toast. Add to yogurt.

Lunch:  Give your salad more crunch with a handful of chopped nuts.

Dinner:  Add interest to vegetables with some chopped nuts.

Desserts:  Nuts are wonderful as dessert toppings.

Home baking:  Baked goods of all descriptions are more appealing with nuts added.

For more ways to go nuts, check our Feasts of Eden recipes on our Health Essentials page or ask at Eats of Eden for our FREE Feasts of Eden recipe leaflets.

Last modified 20 March 2014

Are you scared of eating eggs?

freeimage-392921Back in the 80’s, eggs got a lot of undeserved bad press because of their cholesterol content. Some people still believe that eggs are bad for your heart. Good news! We now know that eggs are completely above suspicion, and some scientists believe that eating eggs may help prevent blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks! They also have some other pretty impressive benefits…

Protein
The protein in eggs is so high in quality that they are used as the standard for evaluating the protein in other foods. One large egg provides about 10% of the protein you need each day. As a bonus, they contain the amino acid tyrosine, which helps make your brain’s “wake up” neurotransmitters that help you to think more quickly and to be more energetic and motivated. Hmm, that would make eggs the perfect breakfast food—and the perfect afternoon snack, too.

Eggs love your eyes and brain
Your eyes will thank you for eating eggs, because they contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin in a very bio-available form. These two nutrients help to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Eggs are also a good source of choline, an important nutrient that helps regulate the brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system.

Selenium
Eggs are rich in selenium, a mineral which has a long list of benefits. Here are some of the high points.

Selenium:

  • can protect your heart
  • is essential to the immune system
  • helps to maintain your memory
  • has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

The perfect food for reducing body fat
Those who are watching their weight will be interested in this: eating boiled, poached or scrambled eggs for breakfast helps you to be less hungry for 24 hours! By comparison to people who ate a bagel having the same number of calories, people who ate an egg found it easier to bypass junk-food, reduce cravings and eat less for at least 24 hours.

Healthy Hair & Nails
Eggs contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals that help to promote healthy hair and nails. The mineral sulphur and the B vitamins are particularly helpful. Eggs also contain some vitamin D (not widely available in food) and iron.

Why choose  free range or organic?
We can’t recommend conventional eggs, which are produced in inhumane, unhealthy conditions which also result in lower nutrient levels. Chickens kept in these conditions become stressed, unhealthy and prone to infections, so antibiotics may be added to their feed routinely.
At Eats of Eden you can choose from locally produced Clounanna Free Range Eggs and Connolly’s Certified Organic eggs produced in Co Monaghan.

Eggs are tasty, convenient and satisfying, so don’t just think of them for breakfast. They are also ideal for lunch, a light evening meal or even a handy portable snack. If you want to try something a little more adventurous than the usual boiled, poached or scrambled call in to Eats of Eden and ask for our free recipe leaflets for Tasty Steamed Eggs and Deluxe Scrambled Eggs.

References
Djousse, L., Gaziano, JM. Egg Consumption in Relation to Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality: The Physicians’ Health Study. 964-969.
Kritchevsky, SB., Kritchevsky, D. (2000). Egg consumption and coronary heart disease: an epidemiologic overview. J Am Coll Nutr, (5 Suppl):5492-555S.
Pappas, AC., Karadas, F., Surai, PF., et al. (2006). Interspecies variation in yolk selenium concentrations among eggs of free-living birds: The effect of phylogeny. J Trace Elem Med Biol, 20(3):155-60. Epub 2006 Jun 16.

A bite of the Cherry

Three cherriesWho would have thought that cherries could help you to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery times for athletes? Or help you to get a good night’s sleep? Or protect your heart and arteries? Or help your joints?  Or improve your memory? Or…?  Cherries and juice made from them, particularly of the Montmorency type, are as beneficial as they are delicious.

Sports recovery
Sports enthusiasts use the concentrated juice, CherryActive to help to reduce recovery times and muscle soreness after training and competition. And speaking of muscle soreness, sufferers of fibromyalgia say that taking CherryActive products help relieve their symptoms and help them get a decent night’s sleep.  More on the sleep benefits later…

Antioxidants for heart and joints
A number of the benefits of cherries come from the powerful antioxidants they contain, carotene and anthocyanins which include the superstar antioxidant, cyanidin.  The resulting anti-inflammatory actions may benefit:

  • your heart and arteries against damage and plaque build-up. One study also concluded that people who ate a lot of cherries had lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including less inflammation, lower body fat and healthier cholesterol levels.
  • your joints.  Many people who have joint pain and inflammation have reported that drinking tart cherry juice helped them.

More good news for your joints is that cherries and their juice may reduce the tendency to attacks of gout by lowering uric acid levels. This has been a folk remedy for a long time, but it was first studied scientifically over sixty years ago.

Sleep
Cherries are very rich in melatonin, which helps maintain healthy sleep patterns. A luscious, comforting and relaxing milky drink (dairy, almond, coconut, oat, rice or soya) with cherry juice may be just the ticket to that elusive night’s sleep.

Cherries for your brain
The anthocyanins in cherries and cherry juice are also known to help improve memory.  Lots of us could do with that!

When cherries aren’t in season, (which is most of the time) CherryActive concentrated juice provides a convenient and tasty way to include the benefits of cherries in your diet regularly.  For travelling and for the rare person who is not a cherry enthusiast, capsules are also available.

Do you manage to eat your five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables? At Eats of Eden we always recommend eating lots  of fresh vegetables and fruit daily,  preferably organic. However it may ease your mind to know that just two tablespoons (30 ml) of CherryActive concentrate provides more than four times the antioxidants contained in a typical five eighty grams servings of fruit and veg!

Are you sick, tired, hungry or just thirsty?

A glass of waterCan you tell the difference between being hungry and being thirsty?  Many people can’t because their thirst mechanism is so weak. You might expect that when your body needs water, you would just feel more and more thirsty until you drink something. Your body keeps reminding you, all right, but not always  in ways you might expect.  Here are some “reminders” you might easily overlook:

  • Daytime fatigue—lack of water is the number one trigger.
  • Short-term memory problems–a two per cent drop in body water can result in fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic maths, and difficulty focusing on reading material.  You could say that your brain shrinks because your cells aren’t getting enough water!
  • Pain—dehydration can contribute to arthritis and stomach pain. For example, preliminary research indicates that eight to ten glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to eighty per cent of those affected.
  • Stress—your body interprets dehydration as stress.  Stress causes further dehydration.
  • Excess body fat–even MILD dehydration can slow down your metabolism as much as 3%. So when you think you are hungry, try drinking a glass of water first.
  • Raised blood pressure—when you are chronically dehydrated, your blood vessels reduce in diameter and your blood pressure can go up.
  • Asthma and allergies—dehydration results in the release of excessive histamine, which can trigger allergic reactions and symptoms of asthma.

Does it matter what you drink?
In a word, YES!  Alcoholic drinks may be appealing, but the fact is, they cause dehydration.  A cup of tea or coffee may lift your energy temporarily, but in the long run, the caffeine they contain produces stress which leads to dehydration. Soft drinks do not solve the problem of dehydration, not to mention that they are associated with at least 10 serious health problems.
Okay, there are times for these social lubricants, but when it comes to being properly hydrated, they don’t count; they actually take you in the wrong direction. To get hydrated, you can’t beat plain water and coconut water.
Coconut water is easy.  It tastes yummy and is the ultimate sports drink. It is even used medically in some countries because it can hydrate even faster than water.

Although it can be the least expensive beverage, a lot of people resist drinking water. It’s the taste or the question marks over what it might contain. Both of these problems can be solved by using a good quality water filter, such as the EVA Water Clinic. Much less expensive and much more environmentally sensitive than drinking bottled water, this is a great piece of kit for your home.  Using only gravity (just like in nature), the Water Clinic eliminates  bad taste while reducing to nil or nearly nil most of the nasty stuff that can be found in tap water.
A rule of thumb for drinking water is a fluid ounce for every inch you are tall, every day of your life, sipped it between meals.  (Of course if any of your activities cause you to perspire a lot, you need more.). For most adults, that will mean about three pints or more.  But don’t be put off.  You can:

  • Substitute water, hot or cold, for some of your other drinks.
  • Sneak up on it by starting with a cup (half a mug) of water when you wake, another between your breakfast and lunch, and another between your lunch and your evening meal. Gradually increase to a mug , then to a pint each time.
  • To keep yourself motivated until it becomes automatic, notice how your thinking is clearer, your energy is better and how much less pain you have.
  • If you are taking blood pressure medication, monitor your blood pressure, in case it goes down. You may need to consult your doctor to have your medication reduced.

For the fascinating story of the doctor who discovered and researched all this, you can read Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by D. F. Batmanghelidj.

The Pumpkin Seed: a Powerhouse of Nutrition

Can you imagine a handy nutritious snack food that could help you to sleep, to lower cholesterol, keep your waterworks running smoothly, reduce inflammation and lots more?  It sounds preposterous, doesn’t it?

Unlikely as it may sound, pumpkin seeds are a nutritional powerhouse chock full of benefits. To begin with, they contain vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, D, E, K and carotene not to mention many minerals including calcium, magnesium and zinc. Edible pumpkin seeds come from the Styrian pumpkin, a special variety whose seeds have no shell.
The oil from pumpkin seeds is dark green and has a nutty flavour. It also contains over 60% unsaturated fatty acids and is rich in vegetable protein. Medical research has documented health benefits of pumpkin seeds and oil. They include

  • helping to regulate cholesterol levels—pumpkin seeds are naturally rich in plant sterols that are so helpful in regulating cholesterol levels.

  • helping with bladder and prostate problems—components in the oil of pumpkin seeds appear to interfere with the process that leads to the swelling of the prostate.  In addition, they are rich in zinc, which may also be helpful in that department.

  • reducing anxiety and aiding sleep. Pumpkin seeds are one of the richest food sources of magnesium and tryptophan, two relaxing nutrients which may also aid in lifting mood.

  • anti-inflammatory properties. In a study that compared their effects to those of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, the effects of the pumpkin seeds compared favourably to the drug without the adverse effects.

  • improving bone health.  Their rich supply of calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin K are key nutrients for bones, and pumpkin seeds have the added advantage that they are alkaline-forming.

  • preventing the calcium oxalate type of kidney stones.

 Pumpkin seeds have a pretty impressive list of credentials. So how do you get them into your diet? You can eat them just as they are or you can toast them lightly on a dry frying pan to bring out their nutty flavour. They are a tasty and interesting addition to salads and cooked vegetables, yogurt, cereal and baked goods. Raw or toasted they can be ground to a powder in a coffee grinder and added to just about anything.
Another way of preparing pumpkin seeds is to soak them in filtered water overnight, which makes them crisp and succulent, and an excellent addition to breakfast cereal or fruit salad.
Pumpkin seed oil is delicious in salad dressings or a small amount can be drizzled over vegetables.

For freshness, buy pumpkin seeds often, no more than a 3-4 week’s supply.  Store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Buckwheat, one of the world’s healthiest foods

Buckwheat flowerIn spite of its name, buckwheat is not even related to wheat; in fact, it is naturally gluten free (although buckwheat flour can contain gluten from adjacent growing, storage or processing of wheat). In Asia, where buckwheat originated over 6000 years ago, it was thought to drive evil away from homes.  But even if you are totally confident that your home is free from evil, buckwheat is an excellent food to include regularly in your diet.

Good for your Heart and Arteries
Buckwheat is traditionally known as a warming food, probably because of its positive effects on blood vessels.

  • It is rich in antioxidant flavonoids, including rutin and quercetin, which work with vitamin C.

  • Flavonoids also help to prevent excessive clotting while helping to maintain healthy blood vessels and blood flow.

  • Buckwheat also contains a protein that binds tightly to cholesterol.

  • It is also rich in magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels, aiding healthy blood pressure and circulation.

Other Buckwheat Benefits
The benefits to your heart and arteries are only the beginning:

  • Buckwheat contains beneficial fibre called resistant starch, which helps you to feel satisfied with less food, manage blood sugar  levels, as well as having positive effects on your eyes and intestines.

  • Lignans in buckwheat may also help to protect against breast and other hormone-dependent cancers.

  • It also has positive effects on the liver, and is thought to help prevent gallstones.

  • A powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, buckwheat is rich in iron, copper, zinc, manganese and B vitamins,.

  • Buckwheat is rich in high-quality protein, about 18%.  This compares favourably with rice (7%), soya (13%) and salmon (19-23%)

  • It also contains healthy omega-3 fats.

How to Enjoy Buckwheat
Whole Buckwheat Groats can be cooked and served similar to rice. Its flavour works well with sweet root vegetables like carrots, turnips and parsnips, seasoned with sesame seeds, fresh ginger and/or soya sauce.

Pancakes are a traditional way of using buckwheat, so you can either use our Orgran Buckwheat Pancake Mix  or start from scratch by using buckwheat flour. To give an extra boost to your porridge, why not try substituting buckwheat flakes for some of your oat flakes?

Other ways to enjoy the benefits of buckwheat include Pain des Fleurs Buckwheat Toast and Orgran Buckwheat Pasta as well as Natasha’s Bomb in a Bag.