Health and Fitness Tip of the Week

Super Food of the Week: Flaxseed 

  

 This is a bit of a continuance  from my post from yesterday. I thought it would be a good idea to feature flaxseeds this week and outline a few of the health benefits. I should point out that consuming excess amounts of flaxseeds with too little water can lead to bowel obstruction. So if you’re consuming flaxseeds make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your day. 

With an abundance of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, the warm , earth and subtle nutty flavor of flaxseeds have become increasing popular in the diets of many health conscious consumers. Flaxseeds are available year round in the form of whole, ground, as well as in oil form. Flaxseeds are slightly larger than sesame seeds and have a hard shell that is smooth and shiny. Their color can range from deep amber to a reddish brown depending on the variety. However all varieties are nutrient dense with a host of healthful benefits. 

 Flaxseeds are rich in a particular type of omega-3 fats which are used by the body to produce anti-inflammatory hormone-like molecules. Omega-3, specifically the alpha linoleum acid found in flaxseeds, have been shown to promote bone health by helping to lower the ration of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. By lowering this ratio it reduces the amount of bone loss. Omega-3 fats are also used to produce substances that reduce the formation of blood clots, which can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. Omega-3 fats are essential in producing flexible cell membranes. Cell membranes are the cell’s gatekeepers, allowing nutrients in and the elimination of wastes. Although important for everyone, it is most critical for persons with diabetes since flexible cell membranes have a much better ability to respond to insulin and to absorb glucose than stiff cell membranes. 

 Omega-3 fats are far from all flaxseeds have to offer. Flaxseed meal and flour provides a very good source of fiber that can lower cholesterol levels in people with atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, reduce the exposure of colon cells to cancer-causing chemicals, help relieve constipation and stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Magnesium is also found in abundance in flaxseeds, which help to reduce the severity of asthma by keeping airways relaxed and open as well as lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attach and stroke. Flaxseeds have also been found to be rich in lignans, a special compound found in other seeds, grains and legumes which aid in the production of hormone-like agents that demonstrate protective effects against breast cancer. In addition, flaxseed has been proven to reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women by almost 60%. 

 With an abundance of nutrients flaxseed ranks right up there with salmon for one of the healthiest foods to foster healthy hair. Although salmon does have a huge host of different nutrients from flaxseeds are off the charts with the amount of omega 3 fatty acids which makes this a great omega 3 alternative for vegetarians. Flaxseeds are actually higher in omega-3 fats than salmon. Flaxseeds can be added to homemade muffins, cookies, or bread recipes. You can beef up the nutritional punch of your breakfast shake or hot or cold cereal by adding ground flaxseeds. Also you can add a table spoon of flaxseed oil to your smoothies. 

Fit Tip of The Week: Q & A 

Q: Which vegetables and/or fruits are best when juicing? 

 A: This is kind of a difficult question to answer. To be honest, I really don’t have an answer. For one I’m not a juicer (with the exception of Orange Juice and V8 splash) and second every fruit and vegetable offers different nutrients in different amounts. My best advise is to juice your colors. Regardless if you juice or eat your fruits and vegetables whole, choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in color ensures that you get the most bang for your buck. Juicing or eating fruits and veggies of different colors offers your body a wide range of valuable nutrients, like fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. For fruits and vegetables that are orange (like carrots, pumpkins and peaches) will contain beta-carotene and bioflavonoid which are powerful antioxidants. A few years ago The National Cancer Institute in partnership with the 5 A Day government campaign published a chart that brakes down fruits and veggies into 5 basic colors; green, orange, red, blue/purple, and white. They also described the polynutrient found in that particular color group as well as the benefits and examples of foods that would fit into that color group. This chart still pretty much holds true. Again eating a variety of colors from this chart not only keeps boredom at bay it helps to balance your diet thereby balancing your nutrient intake. That would my best answer to your question. Now how you choose to combine these to make your juice is up to you and your tastes.

If you’d like to read more about flaxseeds you can find more at:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed

If you would like to check out the color spectrum chart I mentioned you can find it here: 

KSPT

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Health and Fitness Tips

Every week over on CurlyNikki.com I’m featured as a guest blogger serving up health and wellness tips. I also answer health and wellness questions on the CN.com forum.  When I moved from NH to SC I suspended the weekly posts (was just too darn busy) and now that I’m settled and ready to rock and roll, I’ve started up the series again with a few changes. In the past I presented a healthy food of the week and fitness tips, and included a few question and answers sessions.  Now that I have my own blog up and running again on a more consistent basis I’ve decided to feature the articles here.  I’ve made a couple of changes to the articles.  I’ve decided to alternate weeks with a specific  food of the week and a recipe to follow-up with the next week. Hopefully it will help someone reading this or if not at least I have a database of all my favorite healthy recipes. So here is this week’s installation.

Healthy Recipe of the Week:

 Green Grapes with Feta Cheese and Honey (from www.eatingwell.com)

 This teaming of grapes, feta, and pears can be served as a dessert, side salad, or a snack.

 Ingredients:

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (can opt for fat-free feta cheese instead)

2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons raw honey

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 ½ cups green grapes (about 1 pound)

1 ripe but firm Bartlett or Anjou pear cut into ½-inch wedges

6-8 basil leaves, thinly sliced

 Directions:

  1. Place feta in a small bowl. Drizzle with oil and honey. Add pepper and toss gently.
  2. Shortly before serving, cut grapes in half lengthwise. Gently toss grapes and pear slices. Sprinkle feta over the fruit and garnish with basil.

 Nutrition:

Per serving: 162 calories, 7 g fat (4 g sat, 3 g mono); 20 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber; 255 mg sodium; 211 mg potassium.

 Fitness Tip of the Week: Q and A

 Q:  During a recent meet up a naturopath (sp?) spoke about how we lose minerals when we drink water and exercise. I would like to understand it better. I kind of get it but more information would be useful. What minerals are we subject to losing and how can we reintroduce them into our system?

 A:  The minerals the speaker mentioned are called electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge. Electrolytes exist in the blood as acids, bases, and salts (such as sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, magnesium, and bicarbonate). It is important to keep the balance of electrolytes in your body as they affect the amount of water in your body, blood acidity (pH levels), muscle action and other important processes. When you exercise, you sweat,  and when you sweat you lose electrolytes. Electrolytes are one of the many substances that make up sweat. The longer or more intense the physical activity is or the more you sweat the more electrolytes are lost. Over enough time, if electrolytes are not replaced electrolyte levels in the blood begin to fall and create an imbalance. This imbalance can lead to muscle cramps or more sever situations such as hyponatremia, a potentially life-threatening condition.

So, how can electrolytes be reintroduced into the body? Drinking water is certainly a good beverage choice when doing physical activity, but water doesn’t contain carbohydrates or electrolytes. If you’re participating in high intensity or a prolonged physical activity (like a prolonged run, a boot camp style class, or high impact aerobics) or if you’re the kind of person that sweats a lot, then water certainly won’t replace the electrolytes lost. However, water the next best thing if there is nothing else available and we should be drinking water or other fluids though out the day to start off our physical activity properly hydrated. To replace the electrolytes a low-calorie sports drink would be the way to go. Properly formulated sports drinks will have the ability to help bring your body’s electrolytes back into balance during or after participating in high intensity or prolonged physical activity. There are certain foods that do contain electrolytes, but by drinking a properly formulated sports drink (during and following physical activity) you meet the goal of rehydrating and balancing electrolytes.

Peace and Love,

KinkySheaPT