Ask a Nutritionist: Everything Fantastic About Fiber

Ask a Nutritionist: Fantastic Fiber

We hear about needing fiber in our diet all the time. In fact, it is a pretty common thing for people to talk about when addressing digestive issues. However, what scientists and nutritionists have told us about fiber decades ago does not quite match up to what they know about it now. It is the same with cholesterol and fats, there are healthy and unhealthy versions of them in the food we eat. And we didn’t exactly learn how to tell them apart until recently. So, what is the right thing to eat? What kind is good for our bodies and which is not really all that beneficial? Let’s find out.

What is the Function of Fiber?

Healthline.com defines fiber as, “a diverse group of carbohydrates that humans cannot digest.” They are found naturally in plant foods or can be extracted and placed in processed foods.

Fiber is something that our bodies cannot naturally digest when we consume it. While this might sound like a bad thing out of context, our bodies do not need to digest everything quickly.  The number of nutrients that are present in what we eat is small. Especially, compared to the size and weight of what we ingest. So, we need fiber to help us expel what we don’t need.

Another thing that makes the idea and existence of fiber more complicated is that there are different types of fiber that exist. So, is there such a thing as harmful fiber? What are the different types in the first place?

Types of Fiber

fiber

There are several types of fiber that can help us remove excess waste.  All of them equally, have an important role to play in digestive health. Just like any other nutrient or element in nutrition, if there is too much of one or the other then it will cause overall health problems.

Soluble Fiber

According to Web MD, “All types of soluble fibers slow digestion, so it takes longer for your body to absorb sugar (glucose) from the foods you eat. ”  It does this by blends with water in our guts, forming a gel-like substance. The gel substance binds with fatty acids and ultimately flushes out bad cholesterol. This type of fiber is common in gums, which act as natural adhesives, and pectin, soft plant cells that acts like a gel substance.

Some examples of soluble fibers can be found in oats, beans nuts, peas, lentils, berries, and vegetables.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fibers slow down digestion but in a different way. It moves waste through the intestines by bulking up the stool. Also, it speeds up the waste removal process by acting like a brush that sweeps out the rest of the waste through the bowels.   Too much of this type of fiber can lead to constipation, so you might want to be wary about your intake.

It is commonly found in the roughage that makes up most plant life, such as root vegetables, celery, fruits with edible seeds and whole wheat.

Fermentable Fiber

This type is very important for your large intestine and is largely ignored. Especially, when people talk about fiber as a dietary requirement. Without it, the food that comes in and out of our gut would be unchanged. With no nutrients getting absorbed in the body.

Fermentable fibers are what gut bacteria are able to digest and use as fuel. This increases the good bacteria in the gut. These bacteria are important for weight management, blood sugar control, immunity, brain function, and mental health.

People don’t talk about it as much because the gut microbiome and its relation to our health is a very recent discovery. The best whole food sources of fermentable fibers are found in beans and legumes.

The only downside of incorporating this type of fiber in your diet is the increase of gas or flatulence as a byproduct of the enzymes digesting that fiber.

Conclusion

Nutritionists and other medical fields are scratching the surface with what we know about nutrition today. While it may take some time for people to understand how fiber and other properties of whole foods are playing a role in our health, we are still learning every day. The more we learn, the better we can do! And there will be people to help you discover more and more about nutrition every day.

If you want to learn more about how food determines our health, or if you need a nutritionist, visit www.beksbites.com. Click on the pop-up and send Bekah a message!

Nutrition Fruits and Veggies from Around the World- African Taro Root

Nutritious Fruits and Veggies from Around the World- Africa

The interesting thing about nutrition is you start to learn different things about what you and other people could eat. It is also an experience when you learn about different nutritious things around the world. It brings cultural understanding through the exercise of exposing yourself to something different. There is always a new way to explore nutrition. Whether you go to a cultural festival or just talk to someone from another place. Because everyone, no matter where they come from, needs to eat to survive. So, we are going to look at a new fruit or vegetable from around the globe, talk about its nutritional value and explore its history

nutrition, taro rootCocoyam or Taro Root

This interesting plant grows in the tropics with an edible root about the size of a turnip. The plant itself grows up to six feet tall with large heart-shaped leaves and can be grown ornamentally. Beneath the skin of the root or corm, the color of its flesh varies from white to cream to yellow or purple, depending on the species. It is very fibrous and starchy, much like a potato, and has a somewhat sweet and nutty flavor. The hairy outer coating on a taro root is similar to a coconut. These hairs consist of rough, microscopic, spines from the leaves and root and can pierce the skin. The hairy outer layer is always removed with caution since skin irritation can arise caused by the juices secreted by the taro root.

Warning: A very important thing to note is that while it is true that people eat it, no one should never consume it raw. Raw taro roots contain a chemical compound known as calcium oxalate.  When you eat uncooked taro, the calcium oxalate makes your mouth feel numb. Eat too much, and you’ll feel like you’re choking. It is toxic and is the same chemical compound that contributes to kidney stones. Thankfully, the toxins can be cooked out and the small needles that are on the skin and leaves can come off.

But why do people cook it and eat it anyway? What is it about the Taro Root that is worth that sort of risk?

Taro Root Nutrition

The first interesting thing about the Taro is that while it does have a higher calorie count compared to a potato, it still has more than three times the fiber content. It also has a much lower glycemic index compared to the potato, ranking only at 18 while potatoes rank at 111. This is beneficial for anyone who is watching their blood sugar intake or has any digestive problems.

Taro root also has a great source of potassium, vitamin C, calcium, vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, and copper. Even the leaves are edible. They are rich in vitamin A and C as well as protein. Just like the root, however, the leaves require cooking before consumption.

And the best news of all is, like a potato, they are nutty and slightly sweet. They would make for a great potato substitute and have the same kind of versatility. They are even key ingredients to some desserts, something that is rarely seen in a potato dish.

So, when did we discover it was good for us? Who grows it now?

Taro Root History and CultivationTaro bread, nutrition

The taro root has been cultivated for a very long time. According to Wikipedia, “Archaeological traces of taro exploitation have been recovered from numerous sites some wild, some domesticated. The earliest evidence of cultivation points to the Polynesian Islands at around 10,000 years ago, but there has been evidence that has predated cultivation long before that.”

It made its way through various trades between SouthEast Asia to Egypt. Eventually, the Taro became a staple of both Africa and Asia.

From there, the taro would emigrate from the Polynesian empire to other parts of SouthEastern Asia and Hawaii, during the expansion of the Tonga empire around the 15oos.  The African slave trade and the conquering of the Americas also meant the introduction to the Taro root to places like Florida and South America/Mexico.

Today, the largest worldwide producer of the Taro Root is in Africa, specifically Nigeria. They are one of the few crops that can grow in flooded environments and require cool, flowing water for proper gaseous exchange.

There are a variety of genetically diverse subspecies of taro, that has lead to a variety of sizes, coloration, and other small differences in features. Try to learn about it or introduce it into your diet if you feel adventurous. It won’t disappoint.

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Fruits and Vegetables from Asia – Jujube

Fruits and Vegetables of Asia

We tend to take other parts of the world for granted. Unless a person has experience with or exposure to a culture that is different from their own, it often does not occur to another person to learn about another part of the world. The same is true on a global scale. Unless administrations deal with foreign entities as part of a job, they tend not to study or bother to try and expose themselves to something that exists outside of their own affairs.

What sort of stuff are we missing out, then? What sort of things exist in the world that we don’t know about? Are there any interesting and exciting fruits and vegetables that can help you expand your pallet? Do you want to expose yourself to new nutritious and exciting things? Let’s talk about some amazing fruits and vegetables from places that America doesn’t really talk about.

Jujubes – Dates from Asia

If you grew up in the South and only have exposure to off-brand candy around Halloween, you are forgiven for confusing the above header with the gumdrops with the same name. However, this Jujube is not a gumdrop but is instead, a species of date.  Originally from China, Jujubes exist throughout South Asia and are a delicacy that has grown in popularity in nearby parts of the world.

What is Jujube?

A Jujube is a small round fruit with a seed-containing pit grow on large flowering shrubs or trees (Ziziphus jujuba). When ripe, they’re dark red or purple and may appear slightly wrinkled. Other names for them are Chinese Dates or Red Dates.

The fruit itself is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and has a low-calorie count. They are also popularly dried and candied in plenty of areas. But how old are they? What benefits do they have specifically that make them stand out above the rest?

jujubeJujube History

According to the California Rare Fruit Growers, “The jujube originated in China where they have been cultivated for more than 9,000 years and where there are over 400 cultivars. The plants start to travel beyond Asia centuries ago and today grows to some extent in Russia, northern Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East, and the southwestern United States. Jujube seedlings, inferior to the Chinese cultivars, were introduced into Europe at the beginning of the Christian era. The fruit eventually became introduced to the U. S. in 1837. It wasn’t until 1908 that Chinese selections came to US markets by the USDA.”

Basically, they have been easy to grow in areas where there is a lot of heat and the soil level is sandy or at least well-drained.

Nutrition

In general, Jujubes have a rich amount of fiber that is comparable to other dates and is certainly full of antioxidants and vitamins like Vitamin C and Potassium. But, there is an interesting property that sets the Jujube as a cut above the rest.

Specifically, Jujubes can help people fall asleep. According to a sleep doctor, “Two types of phytochemicals in jujube, saponins, and flavonoids, trigger changes to neurotransmitters, including GABA and serotonin, which can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. At least one of the saponins in jujube, jujuboside A, helps to quiet activity in the hippocampus region of the brain. And jujube contains a flavonoid compound, spinosin, which appears to trigger sleepiness through its effects on serotonin.”

Also, there is another interesting fact behind the same flavonoids and saponins. Those same phytochemicals can also contribute to anti-anxiety effects. So if you are feeling a little stressed out, a Jujube or two might be what the doctor ordered.

jujube

Anything Else Important to Know?

If you are trying to decrease your sugar intake, you want to eat jujubes in their natural state. Just like any other fruit, when it goes through a drying process the sugars get higher in concentration. Plus, if you were to get it from someone else who did the drying process, they might have actually added more sugar to them.

Another important thing to look out for is your medication. If you are already on antidepressant medications, your body might overreact to the presence of too much serotonin. If you plan on using it as a supplement, talk to your doctor. The last thing you want to do is overdo brain chemicals.

If you are interested in learning more about stuff like this or want to hire a nutritionist, visit: www.beksbites.com

Fennel

Spice Up Your Life

There are all kinds of ways that we can spice up our life. Some of it comes from tree bark, others come from various roots, beans, and other plant matter. Some of them even require a level of processing to make it edible. So, we are going to talk about a few herbs and spices that can upscale your nutritional and cooking needs. The final spice under review comes from the Mediterranian and all kinds of Italian and French Dishes. Let’s get ready for the most perplexing of plants,  Fennel.

fennelFascinating Fennel

There is a perplexing nature to the fennel that is both mysterious and keeps you on your culinary toes. As a plant, they grow in bulbs like a celery stalk. In horticulture, it closely related to both the carrot and poisoned hemlock. Also, in the culinary world, the taste is sweet with a hint of licorice, which is partly why another name for it is Anais in parts of Europe.

These little factoids along with its history make it a fascinating herb to study and a future possibility in your next cooking venture. So, where in the Mediterranean did it come from? Why do people like it? What does it have to offer nutritionally speaking?

History

It was readily available in the wild in the Mediterranean Basin, during the Persian Empire. Its etymology initially started with the ancient Athenians, fennelwho named the plant after the location of the city they successfully defended against the invading Persian army, Marathon. They believed in fennel  Greek and Roman warriors were documented as consuming fennel to make them strong. It was also thought to have the power to help people keep thin because of its appetite-suppressing nature.

Fennel is such a hallmark Greek culture, thanks to its appearance in several myths. For example, Prometheus, who brought fire to mankind, concealed it in a stalk of fennel. Also, a stalk of fennel capped with an acorn served as the scepter for the god of wine and rebirth, Dionysus.

Its importance carried over to the Roman Empire as a possible cure for cataracts. Later, it made its way to the Anglo Saxons who believed fennel to be an essential healing herb in every garden.

This merged into the spiritual practices and superstition that regarded fennel as one of 9 herbs as part of a ritual to ward off evil spirits.  Eventually, when England solidified itself as a nation, in the 1200s, fennel seed was again useful for appetite suppression. Specifically, to help people to get through fasting days. Later, they were commonly useful for church, during long services to keep stomachs from rumbling. The Puritans even carried the notion into the New World, calling them “meeting seeds”.

Fennel Cultivation and Cuisine

These days, fennel is more or less an herb with cultural ties to English, Italian, and other Mediterranean cuisine and culture. It is also a base ingredient for Absinthe, a high proof French alcohol, and Akvavit, it’s Swedish and German counterparts. It grows wild and domestically all over the world with an exception made for desert and tundra terrain.

The most interesting thing about Fennel is that it is one of the few plants where every part is edible. According to Wikipedia, “The bulb, foliage, and fruits of the fennel plant are used in many of the culinary traditions of the world.

  • The small flowers of wild fennel (known as fennel “pollen” ) are the most potent form of fennel, but also the most expensive.
  •  Dried fennel fruit is an aromatic, anise-flavored spice, brown or green in color when fresh, slowly turning a dull grey as the fruit ages. For cooking, green fruits are optimal.
  • The leaves are delicately flavored and similar in shape to those of dill.
  • The bulb is a crisp vegetable that can be sautéed, stewed, braised, grilled, or eaten raw.
  • Young tender leaves are used for garnishes, as a salad,  or to add flavor to salads. As well as flavoring sauces,  puddings, soups, and fish sauce.”

So, all an aspiring or experimental cook needs to do is pick out which part of the Fennel is applicable and use what they have.  And why not, part of the fun of cooking is experimentation, right?

Nutrition

Fennel has a huge advantage of having a good amount of antioxidants, vitamin C, and other healthy nutrients. It is also a good source of fiber, that is great for your colon and is filling in that regard. So, maybe there is something to the whole appetite suppressant thing.

 

If you want to know about more spices around the world, or are looking for a nutritionist in the Huntsville, Al area, visit www.beksbites.com

Cardamom

Spice Up Your Life

There are all kinds of ways that we can spice up our life. Some of it comes from tree bark, others come from various roots, beans, and other plant matter. Some of them even require a level of processing to make it edible. So, we are going to talk about a few herbs and spices that can upscale your nutritional and cooking needs. Let’s look at the interesting spice that defies all sorts of expectations cardamom.

cardamomCardamom

Cardamom is a spice that is hard to categorize. It somehow manages to be savory, sweet, smoky, nutty, and minty all at the same time.  It can be used for both savory and sweet dishes. And, can be a spice for a meat rub or a hot tea. This type of versatility is not that common in a herb or spice.  That might be the reason why it is the third most expensive spice in the world.

It is in high demand in the world of cuisine and has a presence from Venezuela to France. So, what do we know about it? What makes it so sought after?

History

Much like turmeric, cardamom is a very old spice. While it was first mentioned in writing 5,000 years ago, there are pods that date back well before the time of Ancient Babylon.

The ancient spice was first mentioned in what is now the Middle East in an Egyptian papyrus dating to 1550 BCE. Eventually, India and Egypt took started to utilize the cardamom plants and seeds as a breath freshener and medicinal plant. The spice arrived in Greece around 50 CE, where it was essential to cuisine, perfume, incense, and medicine. Then, it finally made its way to the rest of Europe around 1214 CE, which was around the time when the Silk Road was growing strong as a trading route.

The rest, as they say, is history.

CardamomCultivation

Cardamom production has bounced around throughout history. While it has its roots in ancient Babylon, it has certainly spread thanks to warfare and trade. After the Assyrians and Babylonians crossed paths with the Mediterranean into the Early Bronze Age, it made its way to the Middle East. It kept being cultivated in the Middle East and both Ancient Greece and Rome had a consistent supply of the spice from there.

However, when Portugal took over the spice trade, production moved over to Portuguese territory with the intent of having full ownership of this commercial crop.  It started becoming a cash crop in parts of India and other surrounding islands that count as Portuguese territory. The islands and territories included Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, and Vietnam. There were still producers from places in Europe and Saudi Arabia, but that is what makes up most of the Cardamom trade today.

It is also important to note that there are two types of Cardamom: black cardamom and green cardamom. The black variety is something commonly found and utilized in India and Asia. Green Cardamom is normally found and utilized in more northern parts of the world.

Medicinal and Health Benefits

The interesting thing to note about Cardamon is that it is technically related to the ginger family.  I bring this up because they share some of the same beneficial properties as ginger.  Ginger is well known as something that can settle an irritated stomach, and Cardamon has the same reputation. It is also:

  • It is used for oral care and a breath freshener since it has a minty undertone
  • Cardamom can provide an invigorating odor that enhances your body’s ability to use oxygen during exercise. It can also possibly relax your airway.
  • It has many antioxidants which are good for your bloodstream.
  •  Cardamom extract may decrease elevated cholesterol levels. They may also prevent liver enlargement and liver weight, which reduces the risk of fatty liver disease.
  • Cardamom extract may prevent anxious behaviors. This may be because low blood levels of antioxidants have been linked to the development of anxiety and other mood disorders.

Conclusion

So, there is really a lot of benefits that can be found in these seeds. Especially if you are having issues with your breath and digestion. However, knowing these effects requires a little grain of salt.  I wouldn’t use it as a replacement for traditional medicine altogether just like any other herb or spice. However, it is certainly an interesting spice that can probably elevate your cooking. With autumn coming up, it might be a good idea to add a little bit to your pumpkin dishes with some cinnamon for a punch.

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Spice Up your Life – Open Sesame Seed

Spice Up Your Life

There are all kinds of ways that we can spice up our life. Some of it comes from tree bark, others come from various roots, beans, and other plant matter. Some of them even require a level of processing to make it edible. So, we are going to talk about a few herbs and spices that can upscale your nutritional and cooking needs. So, let’s look at the interesting spice that made its debut as an entryway password…

Open Sesame

Sesame seeds, when left alone to grow into a crop becomes a sesame plant with the scientific name Sesamum Indicum.  The stalk of these sesame plants makes their own sesame fruit which in turn produce more seeds.

Normally, they grow throughout the tropical and subtropical areas in Asia, Africa, and South America.  They are rich in oil, protein, mineral ash, crude fiber, oxalates, and soluble carbohydrates and phytate. They have a plethora of both nutritional, medicinal, and cosmetic benefits, which has motivated many civilizations to cultivate and utilize the seeds in practically any field that they can. Also, it is a little on the nutty side, making them not as noticeably drastic in comparison to spices that have “heat” to them.

But what makes them highly sought after? What is it about them that makes them so important in our daily lives? And why do we only use the seeds?

sesame seed plantHistory of the Sesame Seed

The sesame plant is one of, if not the oldest oil crop known to human history. Its recorded history and significance go as far back as Ancient Babylon and Assyrian empire, over 4,000 years ago. To put that in perspective, they are the second and third oldest empires in the history of mankind. Even then, the age of the crop somewhat overlaps with the oldest empire in human history, the Akkadian empire. In the Hindu religion, the seeds were part of sacred ritual and worship. In Egypt, people would grind them up to make flour for bread. It even made its way to China during the Han Dynasty in 200 CE. There can be no overstatement made in just how important sesame seeds were throughout the ages in the Middle East and Asia.

This is because the seeds both hold a botanical and nutritional significance to these civilizations.

The Botany of Sesame Plants

The interesting thing about the sesame plant is that it is a plant of contradiction and unpredictability. It is adaptive to a lot of different soil types, but at the same time cannot be at its best with exposure to colder temperatures or a waterlogged climate. While they can grow in abundance and technically be cultivated, the plants do not have a specific time table for maturity. They are a plant that grows well under the supervision and intervention of small farms but does outright terribly with machine farming.

sesame seed pod

 

Even drawing the line between which seeds are wild or domestic are somewhat difficult for scholars because of how the plant matures. “Identifying wild from domestic sesame is somewhat difficult, in part because sesame isn’t completely domesticated: people have not been able to specifically time the maturing of the seed. The capsules split open during the maturing process, leading to varying degrees of seed loss and unripe harvesting. This also makes it likely that spontaneous populations will establish themselves around cultivated fields.”

If I were to describe the plant as a personality type, I would say that it very much marches to the beat of its own drum.  So, what makes all this difficulty worth it? What does it do to benefit us nutritionally?

Sesame Seed Nutritional Advantages

The first interesting thing that should be addressed is that sesame seeds have a good amount of oil and fiber. This, in combination with the vitamins and minerals that are inside each seed, it is no wonder why it is still a staple. The long term benefits of sesame seeds in the daily diet include but are not limited to:

  •  Vitamin E, something that can, “reduce the appearance of burns and marks on the skin, as well as signs of premature aging.”
  • Zinc, a vital component in the formation of collagen, which strengthens the muscle tissue, hair, and skin.
  • Antioxidants, micronutrients which help fight chemical reactions that may damage your cells and increase your risk of many chronic diseases.
  •  Selenium – Sesame seeds have this nutrient in them, which is responsible for thyroid hormone production.

If you want to hire a nutritionist or read more blogs like this one feel free to check out http://www.beksbites.com

Tantalizing Turmeric

Spice Up Your Life

There are all kinds of ways that we can spice up our life. Some of it comes from tree bark, others come from various roots, beans, and other plant matter. Some of them even require a level of processing to make it edible. So, we are going to talk about a few herbs and spices that can upscale your nutritional and cooking needs. This week, its a little known spice in the US with incredible value and a hard name to pronounce: turmeric.

TurmericTantalizing Turmeric

This golden spice is a staple of Asian cuisine that has been around for thousands of years. It has a beautiful shade of yellow, a peppery taste that adds dimension to things like curry, cheese, and mustards and an amazing inspiration for various clothing and cosmetic dyes.  But how much do we know about it? Just how do we know hold old it is? What makes it nutritious and why is it so brilliantly yellow? Let’s find out.

History

Traces of turmeric along with ginger and other spices and in archeological sites in NewDehli, India. The traces of spices dated back as far as 2500 years.  Which is very consistent with the prevalent historical records that India’s spice trade was a very valuable part of the European and Asian economy for a very long time.

Turmeric, along with saffron and ginger, were so highly sought after that so many world-changing events revolved around their existence. The southern half of India avoided assimilation by the Mauryan Empire by becoming its own smaller triumvirate nation. All made possible through the spice trade.

These spices were so sought after that even hundreds of years later (around 1450 AD) Europe kicked up a lot of fuss when the Ottoman Turks banned them from the spice trade.  It is also the main source of several wars. There were even empires dedicated to taking over the spice trade altogether. That is an insane amount of popularity.

But what makes these spices in such high demand that is lasted for over a thousand years?

Medicinal Properties

India has a very old culture possibly home to one of the oldest civilizations known to man. This meant the combination and assimilation of practical knowledge adapted to the Hindu religion. This kickstarted the recording of medicinal properties that herbs and spices.  According to PBS.org “.” Inhaling fumes from burning turmeric was said to alleviate congestion, turmeric juice aided with the healing of wounds and bruises, and turmeric paste was applied to all sorts of skin conditions – from smallpox and chickenpox to blemishes and shingles..”

And, there is some truth behind it.

Turmeric is a great pain reliever, according to some sources, “almost as good as Advil.”In fact, it has other medicinal properties that fall in line with Advil. For instance, it has the same blood-thinning properties, which can sometimes be a good or bad thing, depending on if there is a need for it at the time. The root also has anti-inflammatory properties, making this useful for people who are suffering from arthritis or some form of chronic joint pain. There is also evidence from testing that it decreases bad cholesterol levels as well as triglycerides in overweight patients.

However, there are some things that people will claim that it can do where there is no evidence to back it up.  For instance, while it is good for pain management, there is no sufficient evidence that it can cure Rheumatoid Arthritis completely. There is also no evidence that it can cure upset stomachs, different types of cancer, and depression.

Still, while it certainly is not a cure-all for all conditions, it can be helpful in a lot of ways. If you think about it, it’s still a pretty powerful spice. No wonder it is something so sought after.

Nutritional Properties of Turmeric

Turmeric has a combination of antioxidants, as well as other micronutrients that are good for a daily diet. They have a 20% daily value of manganese, a nutrient responsible for both blood sugar control and bone production. It also helps retain betacarotene, a type of antioxidant in food. Also, you don’t need a lot of it to get any health benefits of it. While its a dietary staple in places like India, 1/50th is enough to get the health benefits from it in several months time.  That is pretty amazing!

So, try some mustard with it in your dishes. Or learn to make some curry. Spice up your life and see what sort of benefits you can reap from it!

www.beksbites.com

Oh Horseradish!

Spice Up Your Life

There are all kinds of ways that we can spice up our life. Some of it comes from tree bark, others come from various roots, beans, and other plant matter. Some of them even require a level of processing to make it edible. So, we are going to talk about a few herbs and spices that can upscale your nutritional and cooking needs.

Oh, Horseradish!

horseradishThe interesting thing about horseradish is that it is technically a member of the Brassicaceae family. The same family that I mentioned was responsible for things like cabbage and broccoli. One would not think that these were all connected with one another. However, once you realize that horseradish has the word “radish” in it, you start to see a clearer picture.

Horseradish is a root based plant that is often utilized as a spice for multiple condiments. It can grow practically in any cold climate with a hardiness range from 2-9 out of a range of 1-12. This plant is a perennial, and are known around the world for its culinary and medicinal benefits.

But what makes people like it so much? What gives it that specific flavor? Where does it come from?

History

The “roots” ( I apologize for that easy pun) of this vegetable go all the way back to Eastern Europe. Its ancestry is traceable all the way back to Russia and Hungary. The earliest written information about them dates back to Ancient Greek mythology, stating that their value is worth its weight in gold.  The sentiment of its value carried onward through the middle ages. This time, it had its uses as a medicinal herb and a condiment in Britain, Scandinavia, and Germany. It even made its way to the new world, mentioned in garden accounts by both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Its had a long history and is still common for a condiment even today.

horseradishFlavor Profile

The compound that is responsible for the pungent taste is a compound known as allyl isothiocyanate. In English, it is a chemical compound that reacts to animals chewing the plant. The minute an animal chews the plant, the spicy chemical is released and it repels the animal.

It also does not give off a smell, thanks to the instability of the compound, which means the flavor will catch people by surprise when unaware.

The spice is so potent that most people only eat small grated amounts, and even then it is cut with something like vinegar or a cream base.

With that in mind, you might not want to handle it too much. Especially do not rub it in your eyes or have too much skin contact.

Medicinal Properties

However, it does not mean that there isn’t to benefit from horseradishes other than some new flavor. In fact, this is one piece of medieval medicine that was more accurate than most people realize.

It can:

  • Boost your Immune System
  • Help Control Pain
  • Improve Digestion
  • Lower Cancer Risk
  • Work as an Antibiotic
  • Clear Sinuses
  • Reduce Water Retention

A lot of these things are typical of a spice profile, like the sinus-clearing, and the pain control. However, to think that most people have already picked it up as something medicinal long before we could look into it really can make a person think about how there isn’t much difference in intelligence between now and hundreds of years ago.

Conclusion

Horseradish is a pretty interesting vegetable when you think about it. It has a top tier defense system, is good for your health, and has a rich history. This will be the first of a series of articles that will help expand your flavor profile outside of salt and pepper.

If you want to hire a nutritionist or read more blogs like this one feel free to check out http://www.beksbites.com

How to Handle Workout Injuries

How to Handle Workout Injuries

Starting or changing up an exercise routine is never easy. Especially if you are not as in tune with your body as people who are better at it. Without any knowledge of proper body positioning for certain exercises, or which pain is acceptable, there is plenty of room to accidentally injure yourself. Injuries are a common part of workouts. They range from a minor annoyance to something that can cause permanent damage to your body. So, it is important, before you change to or start a workout routine, to know what kind of possible injury can happen. The last thing you need to deal with is something that can potentially cause permanent damage or infection, after all.

Blisters While Jogging

Blisters often occur when there is excess heat. This also applies to the heat from friction. According to Wikipedia, “Intense rubbing can cause a blister, as can any friction on the skin if continued long enough. This kind of blister is most common after walking long distances or by wearing old or poorly fitting shoes.”

They appear on the top layer of skin and are often have blood, pus, or the clear part of the blood called serum, inside them. These are common workout injuries because they often crop up from a combination of rubbing from ill-fitting shoes and moisture trapped in socks.

If you have not got one already from a workout, you can prevent them. Mainly by “taping a protective layer of padding or a friction-reducing interface between the area and the footwear.”

If you have one already, however, you want to keep the outer layer of skin intact for as long as possible. Especially, if it has already burst. This will prevent excess bacteria from getting access to the inside of your body.  If it is uncomfortable to the point of inhibiting movement, you can burst it safely or get it done by a doctor.

workoutMuscle Sprains and Strains During Workouts

This one is trickier to identify than most workout injuries. Because of the adage, “no pain no gain” people can easily mistranslate the idea that any kind of pain associated with exercise is temporary. Our bodies move thanks to a combination of ligaments and muscles, so when one of them is out of commission for a little while, it will make it harder for our limbs to move.

Surprisingly enough, there is a difference between a sprain and a strain. And these differences are based on where the tearing occurs.

  • A sprain is an overstretched, torn or twisted ligament.
  • A strain is an overstretched, torn, or twisted tendon or muscle.

Ultimately, when either of those happens, it is enough pain and injury to cause bruising, swelling, and limited movement.

What can you do about it? Thankfully, most athletes know how to handle this workout injury by applying the standards and methods of R. I.C.E.

  • Rest: Stop any exercise or physical activities and avoid putting any weight on the affected limb.
  • Ice: Apply ice to the injury for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. People can use bags of frozen vegetables if they do not have ice packs.
  • Compression: To help reduce swelling, a person can wrap the affected area with a bandage or trainer’s tape. Loosen the wrap if the area gets numb or if the pain increases.
  • Elevation: Keep the injured area raised above chest level if possible

Over time, the muscle or tendon will repair itself. Just don’t try to power through it if the workout injury gets too bad.

Repetitive Muscle Injuries from Reps

According to Columbia Universe, “Repetitive motion injuries, also called repetitive stress injuries, are temporary or permanent injuries to muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons caused by performing the same motion over and over again.”

According to Emedicinehealth, there are two types of injuries that can occur thanks to excess repetition in motion.

  • Bursitis – Common symptoms include pain, tenderness, and decreased range of motion over the affected area. Redness, swelling, and a crunchy feeling (crepitus) when the joint is moved may also be found.

 

  • Tendonitis – The most common symptom associated with tendinitis is pain at the site involved. Tendinitis can get worse by the active motion of a tendon with inflammation. The skin overlying the inflamed tendon may be red and warm to the touch.

If you experiencing this type of pain, you may want to give your tendons a rest and do something else. Sometimes changing up the workout is all you need to prevent further damage.

However, if you are experiencing things like fever, chills, and nausea, you might be getting an infection from that injury. Get a doctor to check it out when you can.

Workouts should leave you in short spurts of soreness. Not pain.

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Ask a Nutritionist: Are Frozen Plant-Based Burgers Better than their Fast Food Counterparts?

Ask a Nutritionist: Plant-Based Burgers Better than their Fast Food Counterparts?

The invention of fast food had a lot of unintended consequences on the diet of worldwide populations. American’s especially. It has become a quick and easy staple of the American diet. So much so,  that it has become the cornerstone of American diets, especially among the impoverished.  And it makes sense somewhat. Our capitalistic business model combined with the addictive substances that are in fast food makes people keep coming back. Even if it created the most dangerous health crisis in North America now.  Because it is so addictive, most people are trying to get that same level of satisfaction, without obesity, horrible nutrition, and heart disease.

But just how healthy are the burger and its substitutes? Is there any sort of certainty that frozen plant-based burgers will actually improve the health of fast-food eaters? Or does it doom you to the same fate? Let’s examine the contents of burgers and their alternatives.

Beef, Fast Food Patties, and Poor Nutrition

It is no secret that the way we fry and process beef is the unhealthiest thing on the planet. The ingredients and the process of making them both have to come and go fast. So, they rely less on ingredient quality and buy low-grade beef for the sake of quantity. The same can be said of the cooking process. Frying/grilling them with quick and compressed heat and little regard for grease. Also, the large serving sizes don’t help.

The caloric range of fast food burgers goes from 720 to 490, based on the average “quarter pounder” size.  The fat content and sodium intake also leave much to be desired.  It also doesn’t help, however, most burgers that make the quarter pounder mark, or higher have too much beef. The average serving size of beef with 80% lean meat is three ounces.  That translates to 209 calories. A number that is lower than the 288 calories of  4 ounces of meat.

So, it goes without saying that if you want a beef burger that badly, you should make one on your own at home if you want to decrease the risk to your health.

But do the veggie and soy patties at the store, or on offer as an alternative, measure up? Not really.

Veggie and Soy Burgers Aren’t that Much Better for Nutrition

nutrition, beef and veggie

If you look at the comparison conducted by Barclay’s research, you will notice that there isn’t much of a difference between beef burgers, and their plant-based counterparts. In fact, if you look for the highest carbohydrate, sodium, and caloric content, it isn’t in the fast-food burgers. It is literally in Beyond Famous Star, a meatless substitute for Carl Jr.’s Famous Star.

And frozen patties for veggie burgers are not much better. A lot of them have lower serving sizes but large amounts of chemical additives.  The most popular veggie burger brand, Morningstar, literally has wood pulp as an additive for their burgers.

The presentation of the nutritional content of these veggie burgers is also deceitful in nature. Here is an example of what I mean.

Compare and Contrast

Dr. Praeger’s All American Veggie Burger
Per 4 oz patty (113 g): 240 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 460 mg sodium, 7 g carbs (4 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 28 g protein

Gardenburger The Original Veggie Burger
Per 2.5 oz patty (71 g): 110 calories, 3 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 490 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (4 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 5 g protein

At first glance, it would look like the Gardenburger would be the better choice. It has fewer calories and only slightly more in sodium and fat.

Then you look at the size of servings in ounces.  The Gardenburger is only 2.5 ounces. If you were to double it to match the same size as the first burger, you realize that you wind up with 6 grams of fat, over 900 grams of sodium, 32 carbs, and only 10 grams of protein.

To put that in perspective, that is just as much protein from a White Castle slider and almost as much sodium as you can get from a Whopper!

Conclusion

Does it mean to avoid all veggie burgers in lieu of beef? Not necessarily. Homemade veggie burgers have more protein and less sodium than the average frozen patty.  All the evidence points to it being a case of processing vs homemade foods.

The preservatives in both fast food and frozen meals are terrible for your health, whether you are trying to eat more health-conscious by giving up beef or not.

The best thing to do for the sake of nutrition is to just avoid things that have excess preservatives in general, beef or not.

 

www.beksbites.com