Thursday, 15 September 2016

Sweet Potatoes ( Shakarkand)

Native to Central and South America, sweet potatoes are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. They were brought to India by the Portuguese in the 16th century. These tuberous roots are very nutritious. They are the unsung heroes of a balanced diet for the following reasons:

  • They are rich in antioxidants like beta carotene and vitamins A, D, E & C which are all necessary to delay aging, protect against asthma, maintain the health of our skin, bones, teeth, heart, nerves and thyroid gland.
  • They are a source of vitamin B6 which helps lower blood homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a chemical associated with degenerative heart disease.
  • They are also a good source of minerals like manganese, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and iron which are all needed for maintaining immune function, forming red and white blood cells, metabolizing proteins etc.
  • Due to their iron and vitamin A content, sweet potatoes help increase fertility and are also essential to balance hormones during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Since they are high in potassium, they help lower blood pressure by removing excess sodium from the body. Potassium also helps to regulate the heartbeat and the fluid balance in the body, protect the kidneys, relax muscular contractions and reduce swelling. 
  • They are an excellent source of magnesium which is an anti-stress mineral that helps relax muscles, calm the nerves and relax the body. 
  • The natural sugars in sweet potatoes are slowly released into the bloodstream, ensuring a regular and balanced source of energy without any blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain. This makes them a good snack food for diabetics.
  • They help to prevent cancers of the mouth, breast, lung, skin, and colon.
  • They have a high fiber content, are easily digestible and are an excellent food choice for people with oral ulcers, inflamed colons, digestive disorders and constipation.
  • Beta- cryptoxanthins in sweet potatoes lowers the risk of arthritis. 
  • Phytochelatins also present in sweet potatoes, bind to heavy metals such as lead, mercury, copper, & cadmium and safely remove them from the body.
  • Folate in sweet potatoes helps develop cells and tissues of a fetus in the mother’s womb. 

NOTE : If you take beta blockers for heart disease, limit your consumption of potassium-rich sweet potatoes. Beta blockers can increase blood potassium levels. People with impaired kidney function need to know that too much potassium can be harmful as the kidneys are unable to remove the excess potassium from the blood.

Roast sweet potatoes to bring out their natural flavor. Add steamed or boiled sweet potatoes to soups, salads, smoothies, vegetable cutlets etc. Baked sweet potato wedges are a healthier option to french fries. Cut sweet potatoes into half inch slices and steam them. Then add a drizzle of oil, some lemon juice, chaat masala or cinnamon / jeera / pepper / chilli powder to enhance the taste.

Stay blessed with good health ...always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Cheers? Bottoms up? A toast to good health?

What do whiskey, rum, beer, brandy, gin, vodka, wine, sake, ouzo and koumiss have in common? These beverages all contain ethanol - a form of alcohol. Even though each gram of alcohol provides 7 calories of energy, alcohol is not a food nutrient but a mind-altering drug. Each standard drink (45 ml liquor or 150 ml wine) has 13 to 14 gms of alcohol.

Alcohol consumption is now a part of celebrating life’s milestones….whether it is barhopping with friends on their birthdays or toasting the bride and groom with champagne at their wedding or downing vodka shots on a Friday night with office colleagues to celebrate a promotion.

When consumed in moderation, alcoholic beverages can make social situations more enjoyable….and can even have some health benefits like offering cardiovascular protection. Consuming small amounts of alcohol can raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels, reduce blood levels of fibrinogen (an important blood-clotting factor) and decrease platelet stickiness. Red wines and beers have beneficial antioxidants (but you can get those from purple grape juice!) However, more and more people are now experiencing serious health problems as a result of their excessive alcohol-drinking habits.

Alcohol does not require digestion and readily passes through the tissues lining the inside of the mouth, esophagus, stomach and small intestine. When alcohol is consumed with a meal or after a meal, food delays its absorption from the stomach and lowers the rate at which it enters the bloodstream. If a person consumes excessive amounts of alcohol on an empty stomach, tremendous damage is done to the liver and the kidneys. In fact alcohol poisoning is a life-threatening condition and binge drinking can be fatal.

Drinkers can be classified as:

Abstainers - consuming none or fewer than 12 drinks/year
Light drinkers - consuming 1-12 drinks/month
Moderate drinkers - consuming 4-14 drinks/week
Heavy drinkers - consuming 3 or more drinks/day
Binge drinkers – consuming 5 or more drinks/occasion (males)
consuming 4 or more drinks/occasion (females)

Not everyone who drinks alcohol regularly abuses the drug, but you might be abusing alcohol if you:

- Drink to relax, forget your worries, improve your mood
- Lose interest in food because of your drinking habits
- Find more and more “reasons” to drink
- Consume drinks in few quick gulps
- Lie about or try to hide your drinking habits
- Often drink alone
- Hurt yourself or others while drinking
- Were drunk more than 3 times in the past year
- Need to drink more than previously to get “high”
- Feel irritable and resentful when you are not drinking
- Have medical, social or financial problems caused by your drinking habits
- Have been fined by the traffic cops for drinking and driving

Harmful effects of alcohol:
- Brain: impairs brain functioning and damages the brain
- Esophagus: increases risk of esophageal cancer
- Skin: causes skin flushing and heat loss
- Heart: damages heart muscle, resulting in heart enlargement and heart failure
- Liver: causes fatty infilteration of the liver, cirrhosis and liver failure
- Pancreas: impairs pancreatic functioning, causes pancreatic inflammation and increased risk of pancreatic cancer
- Small intestine: interferes with nutrient absorption
- Abdomen: increases fatty deposits in abdominal region
- Colon and rectum: increases risk of colon and rectal cancer

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, her fetus also “drinks” alcohol because alcohol flows freely from the mother’s bloodstream to that of the fetus. An infant born with “fetal alcohol syndrome” has certain facial and heart defects as well as extensive often irreversible damage to the nervous system causing mental retardation. The infant may also have delayed and abnormal physical development.

So if you think you are abusing alcohol or are dependent on it, seek help asap

Stay blessed with good health ...always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Friday, 9 September 2016

Chia is NOT Sabjia/Sabja/Takhmaria/Falooda seeds/Basil seeds

"Think global, eat local" is a thought which is on most peoples minds when it comes to super foods and their health benefits. Today lets talk about chia seeds and their so-called "local" counterpart, sabja seeds.

Chia seeds are tiny, mottled grey, black and white seeds of the plant Salvia hispanica. These seeds were used by Aztec warriors and runners, allowing them to sustain themselves over an entire day just on 1 tablespoon of the seeds. These seeds are pesticide- free since insects do not attack the plant. They have heart healthy benefits and have more omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds.They are also anti-inflammatory and keep the blood vessels well dilated, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.They are easy to digest and are gluten-free.Since chia seeds have a good protein and calcium content, they help to build endurance as well as muscles and tissues. Boron, a mineral needed for the absorption and assimilation of calcium is also present in chia seeds....thus those predisposed to osteoporosis benefit from chia. Chia gel forms a barrier between carbohydrates and enzymes, thus slowing down the conversion of carbs to sugar which obviously helps diabetic patients tremendously. By causing satiety, it helps control hunger and overeating...leading to weight loss. When chia seeds are consumed at bedtime, they release the amino acid tryptophan which converts into the 'feel-good' hormone serotonin, thus encouraging a good nights sleep.

Sabja seeds on the other hand are black seeds of the plant Ocimum basilicum. They are also called basil seeds or takhmaria or falooda seeds. They are anti-bacterial, anti- inflammatory and anti-oxidant in nature. They are rich in vitamins A,C and K and minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium and iron.They provide relief from acidity, constipation, flatulence, colds etc. They help in controlling hunger because they absorb water and swell in the gut. They 'cool' the system and are often consumed in the hot summer months with rose syrup, cold milk etc.

When chia seeds and sabja seeds are soaked in water they both absorb water and swell. If you look closely at the picture you will be able to see the difference. Chia seeds increase in size, clump together and the water in which they are soaked converts into a thick viscous gel.Hence they can be incorporated into smoothies and are also used in bakery products as egg replacements. Sabja seeds will swell to a much greater extent but the viscosity of the water will not change. This is how you will be able to identify if your vendor has sold you chia seeds ( which are very expensive) or the cheaper sabja seeds ( calling it "Indian Chia"!!!)

Sabja seeds REDUCE ESTROGEN LEVELS and delay the menstrual cycle. So if you are looking to conceive or delay the onset of menopause or if you have PCOD then it is up to you to make an informed choice between sabja and chia!

Do like and share if you benefit from this post

Stay blessed with good health ...always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza