The Green King: Kale

Of all super food, Kale is the king in the kingdom of Greens. It is one of the healthiest and most nutritious plant foods. Kale is loaded with all sorts of beneficial compounds, some of which have powerful medicinal properties.

Kale is a popular vegetable, a member of the cabbage family. It is related to the cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts.

Here is 10 reasons why you would like Kale:

Kale is the most nutrient dense foods

A single cup of Kale has a total of 33 calories, and very little fat. A large portion of the fat in it is the omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid.

Loaded with powerful anti-oxidants

Kale, like other leafy greens, is very high in anti-oxidants. This includes beta-carotene, vitamin C, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols. Anti-0xidants are substances that help counteract oxidative damage by free radicals in the body. Oxidative damage is believed to be among the leading drivers of ageing and many diseases, including cancer. Flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol are found in relatively large amounts in kale. These substances have been studied intensely and found to have powerful cardioprotetive, blood pressure lowering, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-depressant and anti-cancer effects.

Excellent Source of Vitamin C

Kale is much higher in vitamin C than most other vegetables, containing about 4.5 times as much as spinach. Kale might possibly be the world’s best source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C serves many vital functions in the body’s cells, and synthesizing collagen.

Kale helps lower cholesterol and reduces risk of heart diseases

Kale has substances called bile acid sequestrants that binds bile acids in the digestive system and prevent them from being reabsorbed. This reduces the total amount of cholesterol in the body. And over time, it reduces risk of heart diseases.

Best Source of Vitamin K

Kale is one of the world’s best sources of vitamin K, with a single raw cup containing almost 7 times the recommended daily amount. The form of vitamin K in kale is K1, which is different from Vitamin K2, which is commonly found in fermented soy foods and certain animal products. Vitamin K is an important nutrient that is critical for blood clotting.

Kale is packed with cancer-fighting substances

Kale is loaded with compounds that are believed to have protective effects against cancer. This includes sulforaphane, a substance that has been shown to help fight the formation of cancer at the molecular level.

It also contains a idole-3-carbinol, another substance that is believed to help prevent cancer. Studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables (including kale) may significantly lower the risk of several cancers.

Kale is very high in Beta-Carotene

Kale is high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body can turn into Vitamin A. Hence, Kale can be an effective way to increase the body’s levels of Vitamin A.

Kale is a good source of minerals

Kale is a good, plant-based source of calcium, a nutrient that is very important for bone health and plays a role in all sorts of cellular functions. It is also a decent source of magnesium, an incredibly important mineral that most people don’t get enough of. Eating plenty of magnesium may be protective against type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Kale contains quite a bit of potassium, a mineral that helps maintain electrical gradients in the body’s cells. Adequate potassium intake has been linked to reduced blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease.

Kale has an edge over other leafy greens like spinach. It is low in oxalates, substances found in some plants that can prevent minerals from being absorbed.

Kale is high in powerful nutrients that protect the eyes

Carotenoid antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, are nutrients that can help prevent ageing and worsening of the eyesight. These antioxidants can be found in large amounts in kale.

Kale should be able to help you lose weight

Kale is low in calories and high water content, kale has a low energy density. Despite the low amount of calories, it does contain small amounts of protein and fiber. These are two of the most important nutrients when it comes to losing weight.

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For the love of Thyme

A delicate looking herb with a penetrating fragrance, Thyme has been used since ancient times for its culinary, aromatic and medicinal properties.

It belongs to the mint family. With about 400 subspecies, Thyme is not only great for cooking but its range of uses is impressive. Here are the reasons why we love Thyme:

  1. It is known for its antibacterial properties and might have a future as an acne-fighting ingredient. When steeped in alcohol for days or weeks, it turns into a solution known as a tincture. The natural herb preparation fought pimples better than anti-acne products, which include benzoyl peroxide.
  2. Thymus linearis Benth. is a species of thyme found in Pakistan and Afghanistan. A recent study found that an extract was able to significantly reduce the heart rate in rate with high blood pressure, and was also able to lower their cholesterol.
  3. Thyme essential oil, which is obtained from its leaves, is often used as a natural cough remedy. A study shows the combination of thyme and ivy leaves helped to alleviate coughing and other symptoms of acute bronchitis.
  4. Getting all the vitamins the body needs every day can be challenging. Thyme is packed with Vitamin C and also a good source of Vitamin A, copper, fiber, iron and manganese.
  5. Thymol is an ingredient of many pesticides – both in and outdoor – and is commonly used to target bacteria and viruses, and other animal pests. A recent study shows that thyme essential oil can repel mosquitoes.
  6. Thyme has antiseptic and antifungal properties. It is a common ingredient in mouthwash and deodorants.
  7. Thyme is often used for aromatic and therapeutic purposes due to its intensity of an active substance called carvacrol. Carvacrol was shown to affect neuron activity in ways that boosted the subjects’ feelings of well being.
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Why didn’t Eskimos get scurvy even though their traditional diet is only meat & fish?

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:

vitamin C, eskimo, scurvy, meat diet

 

Find out more about What is Vitamin C, and the effects of Vitamin C deficiency and toxicity.

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What is Vitamin B?

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)Vitamin B, Thiamin, Vitamin B1, athletes, recovery

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, healthy baby development, pregnant, pregnancy, vitamin B, folic acid

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:

vitamin B, thiamin, niacin, biotin, riboflavin, b12, folate

Find out more about Vitamin B deficiency and toxicity.

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Vitamin A Deficiency & Poisoning

A deficiency in Vitamin A would result in getting infectious diseases and vision problems. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin A required for an Asian Adult is 750mcg, while a lactating Asian woman’s RDA is 1200mcg.

Meanwhile, If you get too much vitamin A, you can become sick. Over-consumption of Vitamin A can lead to jaundice, nausea, loss of appetite, irritability, vomiting, and even hair loss. Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, and therefore, needs to be consumed with fat in order to have optimal absorption.

Acute Vitamin A poisoning usually occurs when an adult takes several hundred thousand IUs of Vitamin A. Symptoms of chronic Vitamin A poisoning may occur in adults who regularly take more than 25,000 IU a day. Babies and children are more sensitive to vitamin A, and can become sick after taking smaller doses of Vitamin A or Vitamin A-containing products such as retinol (found in skin creams).

Large amounts of beta-carotene will not make you sick. However, increased amounts of beta-carotene can turn the skin yellow or orange. The skin color will return to normal once you reduce your intake of beta-carotene.

Include these Top 10 food rich in Vitamin A in your diet to avoid deficiency:
Top 10 Vitamin A rich food, Vitamin A, Food with Vitamin A, Food rich in Vitamin A

Find out more in What is Vitamin A?

 

 

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What is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin.There are two different types of Vitamin A found in our di
et. Preformed vitamin A is found in animal products such as meat, fish, poultry and dairy foods. The other type, pro-vitamin A is found in plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables. The most common type of pro-vitamin A is beta-carotene.

Vitamin A is also available in dietary supplements, usually in the form of retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate (preformed vitamin A), beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) or a combination of preformed and pro-vitamin A.

Vitamin A & You

Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin. It is also known as retinol because it produces the pigments in the retina of the eye.

Vitamin A promotes good vision, especially in low light. It may also be needed for reproduction and breast-feeding.

Carotenoids are dark-colored dyes (pigments) found in plant foods that can turn into a form of vitamin A. There are more than 500 known carotenoids. One such carotenoid is beta-carotene.

  • Beta-carotene is an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by substances called free radicals. Free radicals are believed to contribute to certain chronic diseases and play a role in the aging processes.
  • Food sources of carotenoids such as beta-carotene may reduce the risk for cancer.
  • Beta-carotene supplements do not seem to reduce cancer risk.

You might want to consider increasing these foods in your diet:

Vitamin A Food Source, Rich in Vitamin A, Folate rich

There are side effects if the body does not get enough Vitamin A. And too much Vitamin A causes poisoning. Find out more about Vitamin A deficiency and poisoning.

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