The A-Z of good health

 A for Almonds                                                                                                                                     Almonds regulate blood pressure.                                                                                                 Almonds reduces risk of heart disease- they lower bad cholesterol, maintains healthy cholesterol, protect artery wall damage.                                                                                     Almonds help brain development, prevent Alzheimer’s disease- they contain folic acid.                                                                                                                                                           Almonds reduce risk of diabetes – they regulate rise of insulin and glucose after meals.                                                                                                                                                         Almonds prevent osteoporosis, improves bone health- they contain phosphorous.                                                                                                                                                Almonds, prevents constipation-they have fiber.                                                             Almonds helps weight loss-they have mono-unsaturated fat which satisfies appetite, prevents over-eating.                                                                                                               Almonds help in energy production-they contain manganese, copper and Riboflavin.                                                                                                                                                Almonds boost immune system. Almonds lower risk of colon cancer.                                         Almonds nourish and improve skin complexion- they have Vitamin E.

CAUTION– EAT IN MODERATION AND AVOID ALMONDS IF YOU HAVE NUT ALLERGIES, KIDNEY OR GALLBLADDER PROBLEMS                                                                                                A for      AVOCADOS                                                                                                                                                      Avocado is technically a fruit. Many people avoid Avocados  thinking they are fattening. In fact,                                                                                                                                                  Avocados help weight loss as (they contain only healthy fats); they are high in mono-unsaturated fat and also have fiber, which helps you feel full longer.                                                                                                                                                                  Avocados are an unexpected source of protein for vegetarians! (1.9 gm of protein)                                                                                                                                                                   Avocados reduce blood pressure (a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure)-they contain a very high level of potassium, even more than bananas, they balance the potassium to sodium ratio important vital for the functioning of the kidney.                                                                                                                                                  Avocados lower cardiovascular diseases- they are loaded with a high, heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids- oleic acid, which reduce the bad LDL cholesterol, increase the HDL cholesterol.                                                                                                                       Avocados help blood glucose levels, especially for diabetic patients.                                 Avocados help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis- they have anti-inflammatory properties.                                                                                                                                           Avocados are good for eye health, they lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts- they have antioxidants like Lutein and Zeaxanthin.                                   Avocados help easy digestion.                                                                                                        Avocados protect liver from damage and ailments.                                                             Avocados maintain healthy skin, hair.                                                                                             Avocados help treat vitamin K deficiency related bleeding.                                                 Avocados are excellent for overall health – they are very rich in various essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. They also have anti-ageing and anti-cancer as they are loaded with antioxidants.                                                                                                                                                            Avocados are best eaten raw- wash, peel, de-seed and have as a snack, in salads or in your sandwich.                                                                                                                         CAUTION– Avocados may cause migraines in some people.

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Pump up the iron: 7 iron rich foods for vegetarians

If you are a vegetarian, keeping up your iron levels may be difficult and more so if you are iron deficient. So,without  a portion of  meat or fish in your diet, how do you go about getting enough iron in your diet? Here is how.

1. Broccoli– This cruciferous vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrients and is rich in antioxidants. Broccoli, as a part of your diet is a great way to get more iron in your body. It contains not just iron, but, is also rich in vitamin C which helps in the absorption of iron. You can cook it as a vegetable or boil/steam it and make a delicious salad. broccoli2. Spinach– Spinach and all dark green leafy vegetables are fantastic sources of iron. One can have vitamin C rich food along with it, as spinach also contains absorption inhibiting substances. In order to get the maximum benefits of iron from spinach- chop a tomato and cook it along with the spinach, sprinkle some lemon juice over the cooked spinach or have it with vitamin C rich food like capsicum. spinach3. Tofu/bean curd– Tofu may be bland to taste,but,this highly nutritious iron-rich food being extremely versatile;can be  made interesting- a healthy stir-fry along with your favorite vegetables and seasonings or  a mouth-watering salad by combining it with other veggies and some garnishing. tofu4. Beans– Dried beans are loaded with fiber, protein and most importantly, iron. E.g- black beans,black-eyed beans and kidney beans are  good sources of iron and good for your budget too! You can cook your favorite beans along with brown rice.This will not just give you your daily dose of iron, but plenty of energy and keep you feeling full for hours.

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Black-eyed beans

5. Dried fruit-Raisins, dried apricots and prunes are all good sources of iron.Prunes are made by drying fresh plums. You can snack or add a handful to your breakfast cereal. Although these dried fruit contain a good amount of iron, this iron can be difficult to absorb. You can have these dried fruit with vitamin C rich food – a fruit like guava/ strawberry /pineapple or wash them down with a glass of orange juice.

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apricots
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Raisins, Apricots and Prunes

6. Prunes and prune juice– If you are iron deficient, prune juice is an excellent source of iron. The vitamin C in the prunes makes it easier for your body in absorbing the iron. can-i-give-my-baby-prune-juice-300x300 7. Jaggery/gur– It is a sweet and delicious. Most importantly it is inexpensive and has a high iron content which prevents/helps iron deficiency anaemia.You can make tasty snacks; add them in desserts like rice puddings. Roasted Bengal gram (chana/chickpea) and gur is a popular snack which increases hemoglobin levels and gives energy. (However jaggery/gur is not recommended for diabetics).

By choosing/picking your food correctly (food high in iron and vitamin C) and having the recommended amount, getting enough iron should not be such a challenge. So, go ahead, pile up your bowl/plate with ‘iron’ and enjoy!

Tips to avoid constipation

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Yes, it is an embarrassing problem. But,we all have suffered from constipation at some point in our lives haven’t we? What can be done to avoid it and prevent developing a more serious problem (like piles). Here are some simple tips.

DO’s

Drink plenty of water– You may have heard this a million times-from your family, friends, newspapers/magazines, the internet or even your doctor- “Drink plenty of water” “Are you drinking enough water”? So true. How difficult is it to sip water all day long? This natural remedy not just flushes  toxins from your body and makes your skin glow, but it helps you prevent the dreadful constipation. Water is also beneficial for your overall health.

‘Good food’ for constipation– Fruit, green leafy vegetables and salads( are full of fiber and roughage). Have those in plenty. Beans and cereals are also high in fibre and are an excellent and essential  part of a balanced diet. Fruits which are particularly effective to prevent/help constipation are bananas, figs, sweet lime (do not remove the fibrous threads). When you have fruits like apples, plum and pears, make sure you do not peel off the skin of fruits as they are is rich in fibre.Carrots and vegetable like okra (bhindi) gives fibrous bulk in the stool. Munch or lace your breakfast cereal with dried fruit like dates, raisins, apricots and prunes, which are not only healthy options but taste wonderful as well. A special mention for prunes(and prune juice)- they are a ‘ wonder food’. They are simply great because they are not just rich in fibre, but contain sorbitol which is a natural laxative.

DONT’S

Avoid late nights- Keeping up late would invariably mean you would be having your meals late or eating at odd hours. Plus if you reach out for junk, oily and spicy food and caffeine laden drinks or have heavy meals, you can be sure that your bowel movement would be affected the next day. That is because you are feeding your body  the wrong food -food which has little or no fibre/ food which lacks nutritional value and  food which is damaging to your health. You are also not giving your body a chance to rest and get enough time to digest food while you are asleep. Try to eat light and most importantly eat and sleep on time.

If you work late/ do night shifts or have to stay up, at least make sure you have your meals at fixed times each day and not go to bed as soon as you finish your food. Take some time out to enjoy a little stroll and a breath of fresh air before you say ‘goodnight’

Avoid overeating cheese– Anyone who loves cheese would not be happy to hear this. But overindulging in cheese is guaranteed to cause constipation as it has a high fat content. Enjoy your cheese, but go easy on it.

Avoid wheat flour– One of the biggest ‘culprits’ of constipation is regular /daily consumption of products made out of wheat flour-cakes,pastries,biscuits,pizzas,burgers,doughnuts,white bread,naan and the list could go on. Stay away from processed and refined food.  You can choose healthier options like whole wheat flour. Also, say no to  oily and spicy food.

The causes of constipation can be plenty-a faulty diet, sleep deprivation, lack of physical activity, lack of fibre in your diet,stress or travel to a different time zone. It could also be due to medications or some medical problem for which one needs medical help.