5 Great Things About Mushrooms

Photo credit: Acabashi [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

When you think “healthy eating,” you might not necessarily think of mushrooms, but they could be your golden ticket to a noticeable improvement in your overall health. There has recently been an influx of research surrounding mushrooms and the potential health benefits they can offer.

Researchers are finding that mushrooms are far more beneficial to us than we previously thought. In addition to the many benefits listed below, mushrooms are a great source of healthy protein, making them a favorite amongst vegetarians, and also have many versatile ways of use; they can even be used to create a pasta-alternative.

There’s so much that mushrooms have to offer you. In this article, I’ll share with you five of my favorite health benefits that mushrooms have in store for you.

1) They can improve your immune system

An antioxidant in mushrooms, Ergothioneine, contains sulfur, which helps boost your immune system. They also contain antibiotics naturally, helping prevent infections.

Mushrooms also help to minimize free radicals thanks to Ergothioneine. Free radicals can cause damage to your body and increase your risk of developing diseases. Eating foods that are good for your immune system are a necessary part of keeping it healthy.

2) They can help treat anemia

Mushrooms are a great source of iron, the nutrient of which those with anemia are deficient. Eating mushrooms can help those with anemia boost the iron levels in their blood, minimizing effects like headaches, digestive issues, fatigue, and brain fog (a name given to decreased ability to optimally function mentally, or in layman’s terms, being just a little slower on the uptake).

While eating mushrooms won’t treat these effects once they have started, they will help to minimize or eliminate altogether their presence in the future.

3) They can help strengthen your bones

Mushrooms, like milk, are abundant in calcium which helps to strengthen your bones. The calcium found in mushrooms can not only help strengthen your bones, but also reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis and minimize joint pain or immobility caused by age-related bone deterioration. This can help you to feel more agile and experience less pain and swelling in your joints.

4) They can help you absorb nutrients better

Believe it or not, mushrooms contain Vitamin D, which isn’t often found in vegetables. Vitamin D helps move the absorption and metabolism of phosphorus and calcium along, which means you absorb the full nutrients and experience the full effects sooner. Vitamin D is also beneficial for boosting your energy as well as your mood.

5) They can help you lose weight

Mushrooms are ranked higher than most vegetables and fruits in healthiness because of the many benefits they can offer you. They offer the ideal nutritional balance to encourage weight loss in a healthy way.

Mushrooms are chock full of protein and fiber without cholesterol and with a very low carbohydrate count; they’re the perfect addition to your healthy diet. Mushrooms are also a very versatile option for those on a gluten-free or vegetarian diet, as they can be made into pastas and provide a rich source of healthy protein.

You may not have considered the value of mushrooms before, but they certainly can be a vital part of your healthy eating journey. Mushrooms are packed full of nutrients you need while also being extremely healthy, and they can even help you lose weight.

These magical fungi can be your golden ticket to a healthier life. I hope that, through this article, I have helped convince you to integrate more mushrooms into your diet in an effort to improve your overall health.

 

5 Healthy Snacks to Fire Up Your Creative Juices

Public domain

Choosing the right kinds of snacks to eat during the day can be tricky. We are bombarded with the unhealthy, caffeine induced, sugary items each and every day, which makes them hard to avoid. It’s important to choose the right kinds of foods and snacks in order to maintain our health. Certain foods can help boost our brain power and get those creative juices flowing, especially when you need to rely on creativity and sharp thinking skills to get the job done. Here are a few snack ideas that will give your brain the fuel necessary to fire up your creative process.

Oatmeal – This healthy snack is an ideal way to start the day. Oatmeal is a superfood that gives your brain power a boost and promotes cardiovascular health. The soluble fiber, protein and healthy carbohydrates contained in oatmeal will sustain you and help you avoid snacking in between meals. Oatmeal also helps to fight cholesterol, and it’s a quick and easy snack that is perfect for any time of the day.

Blueberries – This is a powerful snack that can help protect the brain against oxidative stress, which in turn will enhance your brain activity and get those innovative juices flowing. Blueberries are extremely rich in antioxidants, which help to support the immune system and overall health. You can consume them by the handful or mix them in with other fruits and make a smoothie. Either way, you are getting the benefits of one of the best brain foods out there. It’s also been said that blueberries are one of the best anti-stress foods that you can eat.

Walnuts – One of the best snacks containing Omega-3 fatty acids are walnuts. Omega 3’s are excellent for boosting brain power and also promote optimal cardiovascular health. You can eat walnuts by themselves, put them in a smoothie, or eat them on a salad. This is definitely one snack you can make a part of your daily routine.

Sunflower Seeds – This tiny snack is full of the nutrients necessary for high-level brain power. These seeds are packed with Vitamin E and have been known to lower cholesterol. As with walnuts, you can eat these on a salad or simply by the handful. The Vitamin E contained in sunflower seeds can also help reduce the anti-inflammatory symptoms that come along with asthma, joint pain, ulcers, etc.

Whole Grains – When you choose to make whole grains a part of your daily snacking routine, you’ve already put yourself on a path to a healthier lifestyle. Whole grains are packed with nutrients including fiber, protein, antioxidants, B vitamins, and trace minerals (e.g. zinc, copper, magnesium and iron). Brown cereals, rice, pasta, and bread are all on the list of smart whole grain brain boosters. These foods have been linked in preventing certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer, and allow us the steady supply of energy we need to get through the day.

With all the unhealthy choices we face each day, it’s hard to pick those snacks that will give us the steady energy we need to get through the day. Find a way to get in the routine of making better and healthier choices when it comes to the fuel we give our bodies. The right kinds of foods will jump-start our brain activity and give us the creative spark we need to accomplish our goals and be one step closer to the success we desire.

 

Try These Nutritious Snacks to Stay Full Between Meals

Whether you are trying to drop a few pounds or simply eat healthfully for longevity, you’ll love these nutritious and filling snack ideas.

Fatty Acids Get You Going

Not all fat is bad. Healthy fats, the monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as nuts, olives, fish, eggs, avocados and dark chocolate have several powerful health benefits. These healthy fats are especially beneficial for overall brain health and memory, according to livescience.com.

Monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids can also lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. As a result, they reduce the risk of vascular disease, heart disease and stroke.

Healthy-fat snacks to try:

Olives 

Black, green and Kalamata olives are all high in monounsaturated fats. Add them to salads or use on whole wheat crackers with low fat cream cheese.

Avocados 

Because avocados are high in healthy, monounsaturated fats, you can feel good about that guacamole!

For a healthy, filling breakfast high in monounsaturated fats, try spreading avocado on wholegrain bread or having a few slices of the fruit alongside a fried egg.

Trail Mix

Trail mix that has a high nut and seed content can be a healthy choice. If your trail mix contains candy, try to choose one with dark chocolate. The nuts and seeds found in many trail mixes are high in monounsaturated fats as well as other nutrients like fiber and protein.

Nuts 

Walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews and pecans are great choices for monounsaturated fats. Add them to salads, or toss a few into your morning oatmeal or yogurt.

Fiber Fills You Up for Longer

Fiber is a nutrient that aids in digestion, but it also helps you feel full longer when you are trying to lose weight. Foods that are naturally high in fiber include: whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.

A small or medium banana is only 80-110 calories and can both satisfy your sweet tooth and fill you up. Another high fiber snack that’s healthy and low in calories is a piece of wholegrain crisp bread or whole wheat toast spread with one tablespoon of peanut butter or hummus.

High water content foods, such as fruit and soup, are also likely to fill you up. The double impact of having a large volume and low-calorie content, as well as being high in fiber makes fruits and veggies the ideal solution for a snack attack.

Protein Keeps You Moving

Protein is important to maintaining general health, but more than that, you need complete proteins to keep your muscles strong and your brain functioning at high capacity.

Meat, dairy products and other animal products, such as grilled chicken, string cheese and eggs, are complete proteins that will keep you full and alert.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’ll need to create complete protein meals by combining wholegrain with nuts or pulses. For instance, you can combine whole-wheat bread with peanut butter or eat chick pea curry served over brown rice.

Easy Snacks for Kids to Eat at School or Home

Easy snacks for kids.

Coming up with quick and easy snacks for kids can become an arduous task as your children grow up and become bored of the snack options at home. However, there are a wide range of choices available when it comes to putting together snacks for kids, some of which can even be prepared with their participation. Here are some simple snacks for kids that will tickle their taste buds and provide them with the nutrition they need for growth.

Get Creative with Healthy Options

Interesting salad bowls, open sandwiches, and frozen yogurt are just a few examples of delicious, filling, and healthy snack options. Salad may not sound very appealing, especially to a child who is accustomed to junk food; however, you can always blend fun elements such as colored fruit and vegetables in order to attract their attention. In the same way, easy snacks such as frozen yogurt combined with a variety of chopped fruit would make excellent after school snacks since they are both a snack as well as a dessert option.

Try to create snacks for kids that are mostly healthy, as it will help them to develop a taste for healthy food as opposed to unhealthy food in the future. Some healthy easy snacks that you can have fun preparing with your child include open sandwiches with grilled turkey and cheese, which your child can help make; a fun way to involve them in the snack-making process would be to let them decorate their sandwiches with condiments.

Indulge Once in a While

It is okay to treat children to easy snacks that are not high on the nutrition factor once in a while. Kids will constantly crave the less healthy snack options, and rather than depriving them of their treats, it is okay to let them indulge once in a while with easy snacks that are tastier and incorporate more flavor.

There are ways to add a healthy twist to the most popular and simple snacks for kids. Slider burgers and pizzas are universal favorites and can easily be made healthier by incorporating whole wheat bread and pizza base, and fresh vegetables for toppings rather than processed meat.

By balancing the kind of snacks you feed your kids, you are not only enabling them to lead healthier lives, but are also helping them in developing a taste for making healthier meal choices as they grow older. By enabling them to participate in the snack preparation process from a young age, you are also enabling them to become more independent when it comes to making their own meals.

5 Powerful Spices and Herbs to Increase Metabolism

Photo credit: I, [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When you’re trying to get healthy, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest of fad diets, exercise tools, and the like that can cost you a lot of time, money, and leave you feeling frustrated. Thankfully, with the modern spread of information, it’s a lot easier to research and find which things work for people so that you can reach your health goals. The primary focus of this article is to reveal a few powerful spices and herbs to increase metabolism and improve health.

Ginseng

This famous herb has been associated with energy and metabolism for 2000 years. Its presence in tea has made ginseng tea a favorite among people looking to promote a more energetic lifestyle, and studies have shown that ginseng can greatly help with weight loss if consumed every day for a sustained period. Ginseng was also found to have a favorable effect on insulin sensitivity, making it a good choice for people who deal with diabetes.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine, which is notoriously spicy-and health-enhancing. This powerful spice contains anti-inflammatory properties, which may reduce arthritis symptoms and improve other chronic inflammatory conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, also helps to burn fat, promote proper metabolism, aids digestion, and corrects bile deficiencies and excesses.

Cayenne Pepper

In the last few hundred years, there have been a number of tonics that have employed the use of capsaicin, the active or hot ingredient in cayenne pepper to help treat various ailments. Today, science has uncovered more of the specifics in the way that we can use this powerful agent to reduce caloric intake, shrink fat tissues, and clean the vascular system. Research has discovered that it can stimulate thermogenesis, which is the process of metabolizing fats to generate heat. In fact, the Global Healing Center mentioned that eating hot peppers, such as Cayenne, can increase your metabolism by as much as 25%.

Cinnamon

People have had a strong love of cinnamon for quite some time due to its festive flavoring and associations with holiday time, but this powerful spice has many other advantages. Research has shown that cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels substantially, in addition to increasing glucose metabolism by more than 18 times the regular amount. This means that it helps to make your metabolism more efficient, which is also ideal for people who have diabetes or might be close to becoming diabetic.

Mustard

People tend to think of mustard as simply a condiment, but it’s been shown that less than a teaspoon of mustard seeds can increase your metabolic rate 20 -25% for several hours after eating, which could result in roughly 50 calories being burned per hour.

If you use these herbs and spices for weight loss on a regular basis, you will gradually see and feel the difference in your overall health and well-being.

 

Make Exercise and Good Nutrition a Family Affair

Family exercising together.

Have you ever noticed that it’s much easier to stick to a exercise or diet plan if you have someone in the trenches with you? Have you ever been the person eating carrot sticks and celery while watching someone else eat fat-drenched carbs with sugar on top? Why not make exercise and good nutrition a family affair?

Get Rid of the Junk Food

Starting with food, which is often the most difficult part of the willpower bandwagon, if the whole family is working on eating healthy foods, you can just keep those sinful temptations out of the house. Consider avoiding the junk food aisle all together and purchasing healthy alternatives for snacks.

Whole grain crackers, pretzels, yogurt, string cheese, nuts, apples, carrots, celery, kale, berries, bananas and other fruits are healthy alternatives that often cost less in the long run and are chock-full of vitamins, dietary fiber and low in calories and fat. Experts recommend placing the healthy alternatives at eye-level in the cupboards or refrigerator so that the healthy items are the first thing a person sees when they look for a snack.

Look for Healthy Alternatives to Family Favorites

If your whole family is working on good nutrition, you can look for healthy alternatives to your favorite dishes. Enjoy baking? Often substituting pumpkin or applesauce for the butter or oil can work well in muffin, cake or brownie recipes. It replaces the fat, adds flavor and vitamins and is an easy swap.

Use cooking spray instead of high calorie oils in your cooking, and add more green leafy items, more vegetables and fruits to your meals, which can make a big difference as well. Does your family enjoy spaghetti dinners? Consider swapping the heavy pasta for lighter alternatives – spaghetti squash is a vitamin-rich alternative. Eight minutes in the microwave, top with your favorite marinara sauce and you’d hardly know the difference. Yet the difference between them is huge — 31 calories in spaghetti squash versus 158 in spaghetti per serving.

Family Fitness

Why head out to the gym on your own if you can bring the whole family? Often a gym will offer a substantial discount for a whole family membership, and many gyms even provide childcare and play rooms for smaller children. Older children will enjoy shooting baskets, running around the track, and your pre-teens and teens will enjoy learning to use the weight machines and free weights.

Exercise doesn’t have to stop at the gym. Gearing up for a 5K? Why not register the spouse and kids as well? They’re likely to be there to cheer you on anyway, but if you’re all in it together you can prep for it together and eat healthy in preparation together.

Maybe you’re not a runner. Family walks after dinner are a nice way to wind down and hear about each others day. Weekend hikes, skiing, biking or paddling trips are excellent ways to commune with nature and create memories your kids will have with them forever.

What is the best thing about involving the whole family in healthy eating and exercise? Making healthy choices now will make all of you healthier in the long run and will help to establish wonderful fitness and eating habits in your children that they will continue throughout their lives. Studies show that children who are active do better in school, have more confidence and even do better on some tests. With the multitude of benefits for everyone, why not get everyone involved?

 

Simple Nutrition Secrets for Surviving the Holidays

Protein-rich_Foods

Photo credit: Smastronardo CC BY-SA 4.0

You need to consume more protein to burn fat. Protein isn’t just for building muscle. It’s for burning fat, too. A good way to keep holiday weight gain at bay is to greatly increase your protein intake over the holiday season. While protein helps build and preserve muscle, it also helps to control your appetite as well as boost your metabolism.

Eating more protein to burn fat was confirmed in a study published in the American Journal of Physiology. One group was fed a high protein diet (just over one gram per pound of body-weight per day) while the second group consumed a protein diet near equal to that of the RDA.

The group eating the high protein diet burned more fat than the group consuming protein near equal to the RDA. One reason for the ability of protein to burn fat could be an increased “thermic” effect. The thermic effect of the RDA group was elevated 16% after eating. However, in the high protein group the thermic effect increased a lot after eating, almost 3-times that of the RDA group. This thermic effect of digesting your food peaks approximately one hour after eating.

By adding more protein to each meal, you increase your metabolism. Your body requires more energy (i.e. calories) to process protein than it does carbohydrates.

So go ahead and indulge a little in those high protein holiday foods such as the deviled eggs, shrimp cocktails and of course the holiday turkey!

Here are some good protein-rich food sources:

  • Whey protein
  • Eggs (Deviled during the holiday season)
  • Egg whites
  • Chicken breasts
  • Turkey breasts
  • Lean beef
  • Fish (tuna, salmon, shrimp cocktail)
  • Protein bars
  • Egg protein powder
  • Casein (cottage cheese)
  • Milk or Almond Milk

Post-Workout Shake:

A post-workout shake will help you get the right protein and the right carbs at the right time – immediately after your workout. You can prepare your post-workout shake before you hit the gym, stick it in a thermos and take it with you to store in your locker.

Simply choose your favorite whole food protein shake or whey protein shake, add a cup of frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), and then mix in a blender. You can alter how much of the powder and fruit you use to get the appropriate number of calories you want as well as shake thickness.

Or, you can try this version of the fat-burning post-workout shake:

Add 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups of orange juice, a scoop of your favorite protein shake, one serving of creatine, and then finish with a cup of frozen fruit. You can alter this any number of ways to suit your taste buds. You could add banana, or even some yogurt, which will also make the shake a little thicker in its consistency.

Want to indulge in some of those great holiday treats like pie? Instead of having it after a big holiday meal, save the dessert for post-workout. Have a serving of a good whey protein powder with water for your protein and then have that piece of apple or pumpkin pie.

Happy Holidays!