Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Juices help you look good and feel good !

While doctors have always told us to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to keep the fat away and the body healthy, it is still very important to have a variety of beverages in your diet.  Today, more and more people are living off carbonated beverages and energy drinks which consist mostly of artificial sweeteners, artificial flavourings, and caffeine.  These are one of the major contributors to obesity, particularly in children.

My favourite substitute for a carbonated beverage is a freshly squeezed juice. They are very healthy, good for your body and extremely refreshing. You could also make it into an activity and get the whole family involved, for instance, you can get your children to choose what fruits they want in their juice. It is also a good way for your family to get their recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables.  For those of you who may not have time to make your own freshly squeezed juices, I recommend checking group buying websites, because sometimes they offer discounts on beverages and it is a fantastic opportunity to try out new flavour combinations at a fraction of the price.I will just quickly go through some of juices and list their benefits.

Orange juice - It tastes delicious, it is natural, and is readily available. Orange juice provides a good dose of Vitamin C.  Did you know an 8 ounce glass contains as much potassium as a banana! Beyond the great vitamin and nutrient content, orange juice has also been known to lower your blood pressure.

Apple juice – It contains a significant amount of Vitamin A and C. Like the saying goes – an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Recent studies have shown that drinking apple juice can help slow down the process that leads to heart disease.

Cranberry juice - It provides powerful antioxidant qualities. The medicinal properties of the cranberry have been recognized for centuries, particularly as a common treatment for urinary tract infections because the strong acidic content of the juice provides an inhospitable environment for bacteria.

Beyond the standard juices, you can get a bit more exotic. Dragon fruit, papaya, carrot, wheatgrass, and cucumber are all great juices that provide wonderful health benefits. You can also mix it up.

Blueberry, apple and cherry juice- Is the perfect juice for general well-being. Blueberries help to relax the arteries which lower the risks of cardiovascular disease. Apples and cherries on the other hand, are a rich source of health-boosting antioxidants, which contributes to better lung functions and a lower incidence of asthma. Cherries also contain antioxidants that can block inflammatory enzymes and assist in reducing pain.

Strawberry, banana and peppermint juice - Helps to relieve stress and lets your body relax. Did you know that strawberries contain more vitamin C than citrus fruits. Banana's are a rich source of vitamin B , which has stress relief properties. Peppermint leaves on the other hand, contain menthol, a cooling and calming oil that helps to clear your head and aids in digestion.

Rosemary, tomato, carrot and  vegetable juice – It contains nutrients that boost your immune system and improve the health of your heart. Rosemary helps maintain a healthy heart because it has blood capillary strengthening abilities and also improves circulation.  Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, which is vital for iron and calcium absorption. Iron and calcium are also the two minerals that contribute to a healthy nervous system. Tomatoes and carrots contain large amount of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A, an antioxidant that is important when stress hormones are circulating in the system.

One of my favourite juice mixes that I drink before a big night out is a glass of
beetroot, ginger, celery and parsley juice. Apart from the fantastic inner cleansing this juice gives you, the parsley is a natural diuretic and will rid you of any swollen ankles and knees for your big night out. You'll have killer legs in your best dress and high heel shoes!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Things you never knew about coffee !

I was just sitting here in the office sipping my cup of coffee and it’s such a dull and dreary day so I thought that it would be fun to write some interesting facts that I never knew about coffee:
  1. Coffee is actually a fruit. The bean is actually a seed inside a red berry.
  2.  There are two main types of coffee “beans” – Arabica and Robusta. Robusta plants are grown at low elevation and produce less flavourful coffee beans and are consumed by 30% of the world. However, Arabica plants are grown at high altitudes and produce the best tasting and highest quality coffee beans and are consumed by 70% of the world. 
  3. All coffee in the world grows in the “bean belt” i.e.  The area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.  Hawaii is also the only state in the US that grows coffee.
  4. 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide, making it the most popular beverage.
  5. If you need a good facial scrub, you can coarsely grind some coffee beans and use them to scrub your face. They have great exfoliating properties
  6. Greasy pans can be cleaned with the left over ground beans that you used to exfoliate and scrub your face.
  7. Coffee Has Its Own Designated Holidays. In Costa Rica, it's September 12; the Irish celebrate it on September 19, and October 1 is designated as "Coffee Day" in Japan.
  8. Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world (the first is oil).
  9. Japan is now the third largest consumer of coffee. They even know to improve their skin, and reduce wrinkles, by bathing in coffee grounds that were fermented with pineapple pulp.
  10. Beethoven, who was a coffee lover, was so particular about his coffee that he always counted 60 beans for each cup when he prepared his coffee.   
If you are coffee lover like me, I strongly recommend you hop onto this group buy website because they are offering a fantastic coffee deal. You can get premium reserve coffee beans for on $19, a total saving of 67%.

Bring on the coffee !

Enjoying a cup of coffee while reading this story? Well, keep sipping away because several studies have proven that there is several health benefits associated with coffee.

These studies have revealed that coffee is a good source of antioxidants, an important compound that protects your body from diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. In 2009, a study of 83,700 nurses enrolled in the long-term Nurses' Health Study (in Australia) showed a 20% lower risk of stroke in those who reported drinking two or more cups of coffee daily, compared to women who drank less coffee or none at all. That pattern held regardless of whether the women had high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and type 2 diabetes.

Another growing body of research shows that coffee drinkers, compared to non-drinkers are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and dementia. According to a recent Australian study of nearly 458,000 people, the results revealed a 7% drop in the odds of having type 2 diabetes (for every additional cup of coffee drunk daily). There were similar risk reductions for decaf coffee drinkers and tea drinkers.  This is attributed to the fact that coffee also contains minerals such as magnesium and chromium, which help the body use the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar (glucose). In type 2 diabetes, the body loses its ability to use insulin and regulate blood sugar effectively.

Coffee has also been known to lift your mood, make you happier, make you feel better and can help alleviate depression. Have a headache? Drink a cup of coffee. It's been shown to help people get rid of their headaches.
However like all the good things in life, moderation is the key. Caffeine raises your blood pressure so if you are going to drink a lot of coffee, think about switching to decaf. Remember just because you are drinking decaf it does not mean you are getting less antioxidants. Rather the contrary, because decaf has the same antioxidant benefits as regular coffee. Doctors have recommended not more than two cups of coffee a day to realise the true health benefits that coffee has to offer.

Ladies, if you are worried about your diet, fear not because you won't break your calorie budget on coffee - until you start adding the all the little extras. According to the web site myfoodapedia.gov (part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Centre for Nutrition Policy and Promotion), a 6-ounce cup of black coffee contains just 7 calories. Add some half & half and you'll get 46 calories. If you favour a liquid non-dairy creamer that will set you back 48 calories. A teaspoon of sugar will add about 23 calories.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Wonders of Thai Cuisine !

Being a teacher and a mother of two, doesn’t give you a lot of time in the world to do things for yourself. Every day I am always faced with the biggest dilemma of what to cook and what to eat.  I make it a point that at least once a week, normally on Saturday, to eat out. With more and more restaurants opening up in Sydney and the diverse variety of cuisines available, it just makes the decision a lot harder. So that got me thinking about what type of food is actually good for you and I came across a startling discovery: Thai food!

Apart from providing great flavours, Thai food offers one of the most consistently healthy and well-balanced diets available. The individual ingredients used in Thai cooking are not only known for their health benefits, and in many cases, they are actually used in Southeast Asian medicines. In fact, several Thai dishes, Tom Yum Soup in particular, are currently under scientific study for cancer curing properties (see CNN article).  I will list some of the main ingredients used in Thai cooking and explain their health benefits.

·    Kaffir lime leaves are one of the main flavours used in Thai cooking and is used to promote dental and oral health.
·    Lemongrass is a lovely fragrant lemony herb that is extensively used in Thai cooking and is known for its diuretic and anti-oxidant properties. It is also used in Chinese medicine in the treatment of cold and flu’s, arthritis, abdominal pain and other stomach conditions.
·    Galangal, a member of the ginger family, is an important ingredient in Thai soups such as tom yum gung and tom kha gai, and has been renowned for its ability to aid with digestion. Galangal has also been found to even cure hiccups!
·    Coconut milk – while it has developed a bad reputation over the years it is in fact extremely healthy. Contrary to popular belief, coconut milk lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) while promoting good cholesterol, boosts immunity, modulates metabolic functions, provides valuable fatty acids (which most people in the West are lacking) and inhibits some of the effects of aging.
·    Turmeric is known for it’s an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It protects the body from damage by toxins and free radicals and can play a part in preventing cancer.

And lets not forget the all important chillies. Chillies are beneficial in maintianing a healthy cardio vascular system, and help maintain consistent insulin and glucose levels. Another quite unusual, benefit of chillies is that they are known to combat insomnia, so your delicious Thai meal will also help you to sleep soundly at night! So this weekend, I strongly recommend going to a Thai restaurant for a meal. A few of my favourites are Chat Thai in the city and In The Mood For Thai in Surry Hills.