Have you ever wondered why there has been a rise in diabetes, obesity, cancer and high blood pressure in Singapore? The reason being, we live in a decidedly sucrose-sweetened world. Sucrose has been in our diet for centuries and it wasn’t an issue till food manufacturers discovered that sucrose did have some limitations when it comes to supply stability, hydrolyzes in acidic systems changing the sweetness and favour of the product and the fluctuations of its price when there are upsets in either the demand or supply. Food manufacturers needed to find a suitable alternative and they did, high fructose corn syrup. A new beginning to diseases, obesity, and cancers.
From 20 teaspoons of sugar a year per person to 150 pounds of sugar per person per year, it is no wonder our society is suffering from obesity and diseases. An average soda contains 15 teaspoons of sugar. A dose this high becomes a toxin which leads to an accumulation in your body. Can you imagine what this is doing to your liver? Look out for signs of an overworked liver.
Why you should stay away from high fructose corn syrup?
- Contains dangerous chemicals and contaminants
A study was done by a FDA researcher to find out what is contained in HFCS. It showed that there was toxic levels of mercury due to chlor-alkali products used in its manufacturing. Also, when HFCS was studied under a chromatograph, there were many weird chemicals that no one knows anything about.
- It is always a marker of poor-quality, nutrient-poor disease-creating industrial food products.If a product contains high fructose corn syrup, put that product down and never look back again. With that said, its time to purge your kitchen of HFCS. High fructose (HFCS) is an indicator of poor quality food and if you see this on a label of a product, we guarantee it is processed junk. If you are looking to improve your health and are trying to lose weight, get rid of foods containing HFCS.
- High fructose corn syrup can be a cause of liver damage
In certain countries, HFCS consumption is the cause of liver damage. No digestion is required to digest HFCS , so it is absorbed into your blood stream. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis, a direct cause of a condition called fatty liver. When glucose is being absorbed rapidly, this produces a spike in insulin which is our body’s major fat storage hormone.
If you really want sugar, you can add the sugar in yourself. Do not get products with added sugar such as high fructose corn syrup. Purge it out of the kitchen, out of your diets and children’s and we promise you will live longer and healthier lives!
Vitamin C deficiency and scurvy are rare in developed countries like Singapore. Moreover, overt deficiency symptoms occur only if vitamin C intake falls below approximately 10mg/day for many weeks. Although through a varied diet, most people should be able to meet the Vitamin C Required Dietary Amount (RDA) or at least obtain enough to prevent scurvy, elderly, alcohol and drug abusers, food faddists, and people with malabsorption and certain chronic diseases might not obtain sufficient vitamins
- Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) & Bleeding gums
- Decreased ability to fight infection and wound-healing rate
- Dry and splitting hair
- Easy bruising
- Possible weight gain because of slowed metabolism
- Rough, dry, scaly skin
- Swollen and painful joints
- Weakened tooth enamel
Studies consistently show that smokers and passive smokers have lower plasma and leukocyte vitamin C levels than non-smokers, due in part to increased oxidative stress. For this reason, smokers and passive smokers would need 35mg more vitamin C per day than non-smokers.
Health Risks from Excessive Vitamin C
Though it is rare to to get too much Vitamin C, amounts greater than 2,000mg/day are not recommended because high doses can lead to stomach upset and diarrhea. Eating multiple servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day will likely be sufficient for the daily recommended dietary requirement. The RDA for Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) for Singaporean men aged between 19 – 65 is 105mg/ day and 85mg/day for women.
A theoretical concern is that high Vitamin C intakes might cause excess iron absorption since non-heme iron absorption is enhanced by Vitamin C. In individuals with hereditary hemochromatosis, chronic consumption of high doses of vitamin C could exacerbate iron overload and result in tissue damage.
You might want to consider increasing these Top 10 foods that are highest in Vitamin C to your diet:
Find out more about What is Vitamin C, and its benefits and effects on our body and Why didn’t Eskimos get scurvy despite their traditional meat-and-fish diet?Read more
Much of what we know about the Eskimo diet comes from the legendary arctic anthropologist and adventurer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who made several daredevil journeys through the region. Stefansson noticed that the traditional Eskimo diet consisted largely of meat and fish, with fruits and vegetables (the usual source of vitamin C) accounting for as little as 2% of total calorie intake. Yet, the Eskimos did not suffer from scurvy.
Scurvy was recognized as far back as the ancient Greek healer Hippocrates. It plagued the crusaders. But its real death toll came as European sailors started voyaging farther and farther from home, starting in the 1500s. Living for months on end without fresh fruits and vegetables, sailors died in droves from the disease – during some years in the British Navy, more men succumbed to scurvy than died in combat.
Vitamin C can be found in a variety of traditional Eskimo staples, including the skin of beluga whales (known as muktuk), which is said to contain as much vitamin C as oranges. Other reported sources include the organ meats of sea mammals. There are speculations that Eskimos could get Vitamin C from berries during the summer months.
Stefansson argued that the native peoples of the arctic got their vitamin C from muscle meat that are raw or minimally cooked. Harsh cooking destroys Vitamin C. The extremely cold environment also protected the Eskimos from food poisoning by bacterial e.g. food poisoning by E. coli, streptococcus infections, etc. so that eliminates a concern.
Though Vitamin C is naturally vast in fruits and vegetables, Vitamin C is most present in the liver and least present in the muscle. However, since animal muscle provides the majority of meat consumed in the human diet, animal products are not a reliable source of Vitamin C.
Here’s a table showing the relative abundance of vitamin C in various foods of animal origin (raw), given in milligram of vitamin C per 100g of food:
Find out more about What is Vitamin C, and the effects of Vitamin C deficiency and toxicity.Read more
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, may be the most familiar of all the nutrients. It is a water-soluble vitamin that functions as an essential co-factor in numerous enzymatic reactions necessary for normal growth and development. As the body is not able to make or store Vitamin C, it is therefore important to include plenty of Vitamin C rich foods in our daily diet to ensure continuous supply of this vitamin.
It is required to produce collagen, a protein that plays a critical role in the structure of our bodies. Collagen is the the framework for our skin and bones. Vitamin C is also necessary to make certain neurotransmitters that signals commands, thoughts and feelings to our brain and throughout our nervous system. In particular, our body need Vitamin C to produce serotonin, a hormone that plays a critical role in wide variety of body systems.
It is also one of the best known antioxidant that block damages caused by free radicals. Free radicals are produced when the body breaks down food or when it is exposed to radiation and tobacco smoking. The buildup of free radicals is largely responsible for the aging process. It plays a role in cancer, heart disease, and conditions like arthritis.
Vitamin C has an interesting ability as an antioxidant to transform iron into a state that is better absorbed by the intestine.
IMPACT OF COOKING, STORING AND PROCESSING ON VITAMIN C
The Vitamin C content of food will start to decline as soon as it is picked. Cooling or freezing the food can slow down or minimize loss. Long term storage of vegetables can cost a significant amount of Vitamin C. Canning is even more detrimental. While cooking will lower the amount of vitamin C in most foods, the loss will vary widely by cooking method though microwaving and steaming may reduce cooking losses. The best food sources of Vitamin C are uncooked or raw fruits and vegetables.
You might want to consider increasing these foods rich in Vitamin C to your diet:
Find out more about Vitamin C Deficiency and Poisoning.
There’s a misconception that B-group vitamins provide the body with fuel for energy. Truth is, the body uses energy-yielding nutrients such as Carbohydrates, Fat and Protein for fuel and the B-group vitamins help the body to use that fuel by activating the necessary reaction and when making new DNA.
Although most Vitamins daily requirement amount is small but Vitamin B is a water-soluble and gets lost easily in the process of food preparation. Furthermore, most people do not consume a variety of food in moderation hence, deficiencies and toxicities do happen.
Here’s what happens when there’s a deficiency or toxicity of the B-group vitamins:
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Deficiency: Generally found in countries where the dietary staple is white rice. Deficiencies in the Western world are generally caused by excessive alcohol intake and/or a very poor diet. Symptoms include confusion, irritability, poor arm or leg (or both) coordination, lethargy, fatigue and muscle weakness. Serious deficiency may results in diseases such as edema beriberi and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. The secondary cause could be due to increased demand of Thiamine due to hyperthyroidism, pregnancy, or fever. In alcoholics, many mechanisms contribute to thiamin deficiency as well. They include impaired absorption (such as prolonged diarrhea) and metabolism (such as heptic insufficiency), and possibly an apoenzyme defect.
Toxicity: Possible anaphylaxis caused by high-dose thiamin intravenous injections. However, the doses were greater than the quantity humans can physically absorb from oral intake.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Deficiency: causes an inflammation of the tongue known as ariboflavinosis. Other symptoms may include cracks in lips (cheilosis), high sensitivity to sunlight, inflamed eyelids, seborrheic dermatitis (flaky scalp), pharyngitis (sore throat), hyperemia, and oral ulcers.
Cause: Riboflavin is easily destroyed by UV rays but not cooking. Hence, milk is packed in opaque packaging and fortified with Vitamin D. People with Lactose Intolerant should supplement Riboflavin with dark green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin or Nicotinic acid)
Deficiency: usually caused by the absence of Vitamin B3 in the diet and may result in pellagra which causes symptoms such as diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia, insomnia, mental confusion, and death.
Toxicity: Intake of 3000 mg/day of nicotinamide and 1500 mg/day of nicotinic acid are associated with nausea, vomiting, and signs and symptoms of liver toxicity. Other effects may include glucose intolerance, and (reversible) ocular effects. Additionally, the nicotinic acid form may cause vasodilatory effects, also known as “Niacin Flush”, including redness of the skin, often accompanied by an itching, tingling, or mild burning sensation, which is also often accompanied by pruritus, headaches, and increased intracranial blood flow, and occasionally accompanied by pain. Medical practitioners prescribe recommended doses up to 2000 mg per day of niacin, usually in time release format, to combat arterial plaque development in cases of high lipid levels.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
Deficiency: this deficiency is rare. It results in acne and paresthesia, although it is uncommon. Extreme symptoms involve a general failure of all the body’s systems and include fatigue, GI distress, and neurological disturbances.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine)
Deficiency: affects the synthesis of key neurotransmitters, and abnormal compounds produced during tryptophan
metabolism accumulate in the brain. Early symptoms of deficiency include depression and confusion; advanced symptoms include abnormal brain wave patterns and convulsions.
Causes of deficiency: Alcohol contributes to the destruction and loss of Vitamin B6 from the body. Another Vitamin B6 antagonist is INH, a medication used to treat tuberculosis. Oral contraceptives may create a shortage of vitamin B6 by stimulating the breakdown of tryptophan, a process that requires the vitamin.
Toxicity: large doeses of vitamin B6 taken for months or years may cause irreversible nerve degernation.
Causes of toxicity: Some women use Vitamin B6 supplements in an attempt to treat pre-menstraul syndrome (PMS) while some take Vitamin B6 supplements in an attempt to cure carpal tunnel syndrome and sleep disorders.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Deficiency: may lead to impaired growth and neurological disorders in infants caused by multiple carboxylase deficiency, an inborn error of metabolism, can lead to biotin deficiency even when dietary biotin intake is normal. Taking more than 2 dozen egg whites for several months may induce biotin deficiency which results in symptoms such as skin rash, hair loss, and neurological impairment.
Vitamin B9 (Folic acid)
Deficiency: impairs cell division and protein synthesis – processes critical to growing tissues. The first symptoms of this deficiency are macrocytic anemia and GI tract deterioration. This deficiency also causes elevated levels of homocysteine which increase the risk of fatal heart disease by clotting blood and deterioration of arterial wall.
Effects of Folate deficiency in Pregnant Women: Researches have shown that folic acid might also slow the insidious effects of age on the brain. Deficiency in pregnant women can reduce the risks of neural tube defects.
Causes of deficiency: Folate deficiencies may develop from inadequate intake, impaired absorption or an unusual metabolic need for vitamin e.g. pregnancies involving twins and triplets, cancer, chicken pox, GI tract damage, etc. Folate is also very vulnerable to interactions with drugs. Some medications displace the vitamin from enzymes and interfere with normal metabolism e.g. anti-cancer drugs, aspirin and antacids. Oral contraceptives may also impair folate status, as may smoking.
Toxicity: lead to permanent neurological damage.
Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
Deficiency: results in a macrocytic anemia, elevated homocysteine, peripheral neuropathy, memory loss and other cognitive deficits. It is most likely to occur among elderly people, as absorption through the gut declines with age; the autoimmune disease pernicious anemia is another common cause. It can also cause symptoms of mania and psychosis. In rare extreme cases, paralysis can result.
Cause: damage to cells of the stomach developing atrophic gastritis or pernicious anemia, which may be due to an inherited defective gene.
Toxicity: results in skin, spinal lesions, and Acne-like rash
Here are the Top 10 foods to include in your meals for a Vitamin B rich diet:
Find out more about What is Vitamin B, its effects and benefits to our body.Read more
Pepper is so versatile and it is so widely used in all recipes. We can hardly live without pepper in our kitchen. In most days, we need pepper for our steaks, salads, seasoning, rubs, etc. It’s as if Mother Nature packed her feisty nature into these tiny beads and despite it’s spiciness, it adds so much flavor and character to our food. Let’s put it this way…if you are using really good and fresh ingredients, you only need pepper.
Known as the “King of Spice”, black pepper is incredibly popular in the use of all cuisines since ancient times. The peppercorn plant is native to tropical evergreen rain forest of South Indian state, Kerala, from where it spread to the rest of the world.
The color of peppercorns found in the markets are nothing but the same pepper fruit, picked from the same plant at different stages of maturity and subjected to different methods of processing. For black peppercorns, the berries are picked before full maturity and turn dark when dried. Green peppercorns are picked while the berries are still unripe and green; whereas white peppercorn are soaked in brine when the berry is completely ripe in order to remove its dark, outer skin, exposing its inner white-color pepper seed.
Here are 5 healthy reasons why we love Pepper:
- Peppercorns contain an impressive list of plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. Peppers have been in use since centuries for its anti-inflammatory and anti-flatulent properties.
- Pepper may increase the gut motility as well as the digestion power by increasing gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions. It has also been found that piperine, an essential oil found in pepper, can increase absorption of selenium, B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene, as well as other nutrients from the food.
- Black peppercorns contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme,superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for cellular respiration and blood cell production.
- They are also an excellent source of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as Pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin.
- Peppercorns are a good source of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C and vitamin-A. They are also rich in flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants like carotenes, cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin and lycopene. These compounds help the body remove harmful free radicals and help protect from cancers and diseases.
A highly fragrant herb used as seasoning in many cuisines, Basil has become one of the most recognizable herbs ever since pesto become popular. There are more than 60 varieties of basil, all of which differ somewhat in appearance and taste. While the taste of sweet basil is bright and pungent, other varieties also offer unique tastes.
The name “basil” is derived from the old Greek word basilkohn, which means “royal”, reflecting ancient culture’s attitude towards herb and how they held it to be noble and sacred.
Here’s 10 reasons why we love Basil and why you should consider including it in your diet:
- The unique array of active constituents called flavonoids found in basil provide protection at the cellular level and
- The volatile oils of basil have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It prohibits growth of numerous pathogenic bacteria and provide important healing benefits along with symptomatic relief for inflammation.
- A good source of beta-carotene, a more powerful anti-oxidant than vitamin A that protects the body from free radical damage and oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream.
- A good source of magnesium which promotes cardiovascular healthy by prompting muscles and blood vessels to relax, thus improving blood flow and lessening the risk of irregular heart rhythms or spasms.
- Basil is also a very good source of Vitamin K manganese, copper, Vitamin C, calcium, iron and folate.
- Layer fresh basil over tomato slices and mozzarella cheese to create a traditional colorful and delicious Italian salad
- Add basil to healthy stir-fries or toss it into hot noodle soups just before serving like the Viet’s and Thai’s do.
- Puree basil with olive oil, onions and tomato to create a pesto
- Enjoy a warm cup of invigorating basil tea by infusing chopped basil leaves in hot water
- Basil is so versatile and it goes well with red meat. Use it as a garnish!
After 18 months of meticulous care, New Zealand oyster farmers serve up perfectly conditioned Pacific oysters for seafood lovers.
“Pacific oyster farming in New Zealand is a craft that has been honed over 30 years,” said Mr McCallum, New Zealand Oyster Industry Association chair.
Farmers developed the knowledge and techniques to nurture an oyster through its growth cycle to produce a delicacy at its absolute best. After each long hot summer, the waters cool and brings the oysters into condition. Farmers begin their harvest just as they reach perfection. Harvest is a time of great pride for farmers because they see all of their experience, care and hard work pay off in the form of a plump, succulent oyster nestled within a deeply cupped shell.
Pacific oysters are predominantly grown in warmer waters around Auckland, Coromandel and Northland. Although oysters take their flavour from the terroir of their local waters and tastes differ from bay to bay, New Zealand Pacific oysters in general are prized in fine dining markets around the world and exported to 24 countries.
The New Zealand Pacific is a delicate oyster, packed with a clean briny flavour and carrying a sweet finish. It’s the perfect oyster for anyone starting in the oyster world. They’re not overwhelming; they’re easy, approachable and ultimately a really enjoyable experience.Read more
There are 13 vitamins that our body needs, and eight of which are made up from the B-group vitamins. Vitamin B is a complex of eight water-soluble B-group Vitamins, all of which are essential for bodily functions such as metabolism of energy and amino acids, support of immune system, ensuring healthy pregnancies and regeneration of red blood cells. Mtabolism is the body’s work, and the B-group vitamins are indispensable in every step.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Thiamine plays a prominent role in breaking down carbohydrates to release energy. Consuming more B1 can help reduce fatigue, and can be especially useful for athletes.
Thiamine is also required to support a healthy immune system too. Thiamin occupies a special site on the membranes of nerve cells. Consequently, processes in nerves and in their responding tissues, the muscles, depend heavily on thiamin.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent cell damage particularly in the skin. It supports blood production, the immune system, and breakdown of food for energy. Consuming 400mg of riboflavin daily has been shown to reduce the frequency of migraines.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin or nicotinic acid)
Niacin participates in numerous metabolic reactions in the body. It is central in energy-transfer reactions, especially the metabolism of glucose, fat, and alcohol. It also boost your levels of High Density Lipids (HDL; good cholesterol). Regular consumption of alcoholic beverages interferes with the absorption of niacin which could affect the immune system and energy generation of the body.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
Pantothenic Acid is involved in more than 100 different steps in the synthesis of lipids, neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and hemoglobin (blood cells). It serves as a compound in several metabolic pathways. Adequate consumption of Pantothenic Acid reduces thinning and graying of hair, as well as reduces acne.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine, Pyridoxal, Pyridoxamine)
Vitamin B6 helps with sleep and prevents depression as it is involved in the production of neurotransmitters that regular sleep and mood, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and melatonin. In addtion, pyridoxine is vital in the production of red blood cells and amino acid metabolism.
Research has shown that vitamin B6 influences congnitive performance, immune function, and steroid hormone activity. Unlike other water-soluble vitamins, vitamin B6 is stored extensively in muscle tissue.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Biotin plays an important role in metabolism as a coenzyme which serves in energy metabolic processes. It also plays crucial roles in gluconeogenesis (synthesis of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources), fatty acid synthesis, and the breakdown of certain fatty acids and amino acids. Though it is needed in very small amounts, it’d contributes to healthier skin, hair and nails.
Vitamin B9 (Folic acid/ Folate)
Folate helps convert Vitamin B12 to one of its coenzyme forms and helps synthesize the DNA required for all rapidly growing cells. It is also involved in many amino acid metabolism reactions which prevents anemia and slow memory loss too.
It is a critical B vitamin for pregnant women to prevent birth defects. Several research studies have confirmed the importance of folate in reducing the risks of neural tube defects. The brain and spinal cord develop from the neural tube, and defects in its orderly formation during early weeks of pregnancy may result in various central nervous system disorders and death.
Folate has an important role in defending against heart diseases too. One of folate’s key roles in the body is to break down this amino acid known as homocysteine. Without folate, homocysteine accumulates, which seems to enhance blood clot formation and arterial wall deterioration.
Vitamin B12 (various Cobalamins; commonly Cyanocobalamin or Methylcobalamin)
Vitamin B12 and folate are closely related: each depends on the other for activation of metabolism and enzymatic reactions.
The regeneration of the amino acid methionine and the synthesis of DNA and RNA depend on both folate and vitamin B12. In addition, without any help from folate, vitamin B12 maintains the sheath that surrounds and protects nerve fibres and promotes their normal growth. Bone cell activity and metabolism also depend on vitamin B12.
Most of these vitamins can’t be stored by the body and have to be consumed regularly in our diet. B12 is found primarily in foods derived from animals. As these vitamins are water-soluble, they are loss or easily destroyed when cooking or processing food. Extended cooking, food processing and alcohol can destroy or reduce the availability of these vitamins.
Include these foods in your meals for a balanced diet packed with Vitamin B:
Find out more about Vitamin B deficiency and toxicity.Read more
Ever wonder why some recipes call for Yellow Onions and some call for Red? What is the difference and how to decide which to use? Just the thought of them brings tears to your eyes.
Onions vary slightly in flavor, texture and colour. When buying onions, go for the ones that feel heavy and firm in your hand.
Storing your onions
Keen bunched scallions and leeks in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator an use within 4 days. All other types should be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.
How to use them
Sometimes mistaken for garlic because of their similar shape, shallots have a sweet, bold flavor. Ideal in sauces and gravies, or sauteed and added to vegetable side dishes. Deep fried and used as a topping in Chinese cuisine, fried shallots are aromatic and adds flavor to the dish.
The odd-guys out in the onion family for its deep purple skin and reddish flesh, Red Onions are great choice for using raw, as in salads, garnishes or salsas. They are slightly less tender and meaty, and has a relatively milder flavor.
Sometimes referred to as green onions, they have a pleasing mild flavor that lends itself to using raw in salads as well as in quick-cooking dishes like stir-fries.Read more