Blueberries–also known as “brain berries” and “youth berries”

It’s blueberry season, so stock up!  One study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate 1 cup of blueberries a day had increased blood levels of antioxidants that may play an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, senility, cancer, cataracts, and macular degeneration.  Other studies have shown that high blood levels of antioxidants have played a role in the prevention of breast cancer.  (Check out 7 Proven Reasons to Eat more Blueberries.)

Historically, blueberries were pounded into dried meat to reduce its rate of spoilage.  The berries and leaves were also used to make tea as a remedy for diarrhea.

Blueberries are rich in tannins that can help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, and they also contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps to relieve both constipation and diarrhea.

Like cranberries, blueberries are beneficial for the urinary tract by reducing the ability of E. coli bacteria to adhere to the lining of the urethra and bladder.

Anthocyanins give blueberries their deep blue color and contain powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from damage that can lead to degenerative diseases.  They also contain the flavonoid quercetin, which has significant anti-inflammatory abilities.

Research done on rats by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, at Tufts University, directed by Dr. James Joseph, showed better brain performance and improvement in coordination and balance in the rats that were fed the human equivalent of 1 cup of blueberries a day.  The study also showed that their brains seemed to communicate better, had less damage, and they even developed new brain cells!

Blueberries seem to have a positive effect on the areas of the brain that control movement and have shown positive effects on those with multiple sclerosis.  Some early studies on people who consumed a cup of blueberries a day showed improved performance on tests of motor skills.

Blueberries contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant that has been shown in studies to reduce cancer rates in people who consumed the most dietary ellagic acid.  They were 3 times less likely to develop cancer.

Other fruits with similar health properties:  raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, purple grapes, cranberries, and boysenberries.

Eat a variety for all of their various health benefits.  Keep fresh, frozen, and dried fruits on hand.  Buy them unsweetened and without added preservatives or flavorings.  Remove any moldy berries before storing in the refrigerator.

Check the EWG’s 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce to see which ones are on the Clean 15 and Dirty 12 Lists.  The good news is that blueberries are not on the Dirty 12, but strawberries are number 1 this year for being highly contaminated with pesticides.  Grapes come in at number 6 and cherries at number 7.  I recommend that you buy these two fruits organic.

Red and blue berries are perfect for adding a patriotic touch to your fourth of July celebration!

Happy Independence Day!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist, CNHP

1 Corinthians 10:31–                                                                                                                “Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

Magnesium–“The Relaxer”

If magnesium is removed from a cow’s diet, the cow will stumble.  Could it be because magnesium deficiency can contribute to the deterioration of bones and teeth, irritability of the nervous system, and muscular spasms?  Magnesium is needed by every cell in the body, including the heart, brain, and kidneys.

Nearly 70% of this essential mineral is located in the bones.

Magnesium relaxes muscles, including the heart muscle.

Magnesium activates more than 300 reactions necessary for metabolism, including converting glucose into energy, making proteins, and metabolizing fats.

Magnesium helps the body to absorb calcium, phosphorous, sodium, and potassium, and aids its use of vitamins C, E, and B-complex.  A deficiency of magnesium could lead to deficiencies of other nutrients.

The body will absorb the amount of required magnesium from the small intestine and excrete excess via the kidneys.  Sufficient vitamin D is needed for efficient absorption of magnesium.

Our diets are often lacking in magnesium due to the refining of grains (white flour).  Magnesium is found in the wheat germ, which is removed during refining.

Produce is commonly low in magnesium due to its being grown in magnesium-deficient soil.

The high consumption of nutrient-poor processed sugar takes the place of magnesium-rich foods in our diets.

An imbalance of magnesium can be created by taking calcium supplements without balancing its intake with magnesium.

Low levels of magnesium are often found in the following cases:

blood sugar imbalances

those who take diuretics

chronic alcoholism

autoimmune conditions

kidney/urinary tract problems (oxalate stones and calcium deposits)

bones and skeletal muscle issues (backache, neck pain, tension headaches, cramps, muscle twitches)

constipation

cardiovascular problems (spasms, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, low HDL)

low levels of vitamin D

nervous system disorders (depression, hyperactivity, irritability, panic attacks)

tooth decay (magnesium helps form hard tooth enamel that resists decay)

excessive intake of caffeine (diuretic effect)

According to The Nutrition Almanac by John D. Kirschmann and Nutrition Search, Inc. (Sixth Edition, 2007), magnesium has commonly been used to treat fibromyalgia, glaucoma, kidney stones, migraines, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, diabetes, PMS, alcoholism, high blood pressure, preeclampsia and eclampsia in pregnancy, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy, osteoporosis, and musculoskeletal disorders.

The average recommended daily amount is 400 milligrams.  The typical American diet is estimated to provide about 120 milligrams per 1,000 calories consumed.  Then, we have to take into account other factors, like absorption, caffeine and sugar intake, stress levels, medications, digestive health, and other nutrient deficiencies.

Magnesium is found in all chlorophyll-rich green plant foods, making it beneficial to include fresh green vegetables in our diets on a daily basis.  Other good sources of magnesium are 100% whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.  Seafood, figs, dates, and garlic are also rich in magnesium.

I don’t often recommend isolated supplements, but if you feel that you have a deficiency of this vital mineral, you might want to consider taking the recommended amount of 400 milligrams a day in a form like magnesium citrate or malate.  Check with your health care provider first.  I take Magnesium Complex from Nature’s Sunshine.

Supplements can never replace the addition of real, whole, nutrient-dense foods in our diets!

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist, CNHP

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

A healthier “candy bar”.

I tried a new snack bar this week that tasted a little like a brownie.  It satisfied my craving for something rich and sweet, while passing the whole-foods ingredients test!  It contained organic dates, organic walnuts, organic unsweetened dark chocolate, organic almonds, sea salt, and organic vanilla beans.

I teach my clients to read the ingredients first and the nutritional information second, because not all sugars, fats, proteins, and carbs are created equal!  The nutritional value of this bar comes from whole foods, with no added sugars, fats, or isolated proteins.

It contains 9 grams of fat (from dark chocolate and nuts), with 2.5 grams being saturated (the good kind from raw nuts and dark chocolate), and 0 trans fats.  The protein content is 3 grams (mostly from the nuts), and it has 4 grams of fiber (dates, nuts, and chocolate).  The sodium count is only 95 mg, compared to its calorie count of 180, and it has a generous 330 mg of potassium.  Potassium helps to balance sodium in the body.  It contains 0 cholesterol.  There are 21 grams of sugar (dates), but no refined sugar.  Natural sugar from whole carbohydrates does not contribute to inflammation like refined sugar does.

The name of this bar is Kit’s Organic Fruit & Nut Bar.  It is made by Clif Bar & Company, is USDA Certified Organic, contains non-GMO ingredients, and is gluten, soy, and dairy free. I don’t recommend all Clif Bars, because many contain added sugar and isolated protein concentrates.  Always read the ingredients to be sure of what you’re getting.

So far, I’ve only tried the Dark Chocolate Walnut bar, but I also bought the Cashew bar.  I found mine at my local Kroger store in the health food department.

Dates are a primary ingredient in these bars, used to sweeten them, and are a good source of calcium, iron, beta-carotene (becomes vitamin A), and niacin (vitamin B-3).
“And he distributed to every man of Israel, both men and women, to each person, a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins.”  1 Chronicles 16:3

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Natural Health Consultant

1 Corinthians 10:31–

“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

Could celery be a solution to help lower blood pressure?

I’ve often recommended eating celery to people who have water retention, and they usually tell me that within a few days of eating a stalk or two a day, the rings on their fingers would become looser. This diuretic action is most likely due to celery’s potassium content. Potassium balances sodium in the body. Most processed and packaged foods are high in sodium and low in potassium.  Fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds are naturally higher in potassium than sodium.  When this balance is disturbed in the body, water retention and high blood pressure can be a result.  Rather than just reducing the sodium in your diet, it may prove beneficial to increase your intake of potassium-rich foods.

Research has shown that a chemical in celery can help relax muscles of the arteries that regulate blood pressure, allowing them to to dilate.  This same chemical may also reduce stress hormones that typically raise blood pressure.

Celery is a member of the parsley family, which is also a good potassium source, making it useful as a natural diuretic.  Besides potassium, celery is a good source of insoluble fiber, vitamin C, and calcium.

It will probably be difficult to overeat celery, but since it is a source of natural sodium (about 35 milligrams per stalk), don’t overdo if you have hypertension due to salt sensitivity.

Buy it uncut, because it begins to lose some of its flavonoids (disease-fighting chemicals) within 24 hours after it’s been cut.  Choose bunches of celery that look crisp and snap when pulled apart, instead of those that are wilted and rubbery.  The leaves should be pale to bright green, with no yellow or brown spots. The leaves actually contain more vitamins and minerals than the stalks.

You can eat it raw or cooked and still enjoy its health benefits.  Add it to tuna or chicken salad, soups, or leafy green salads. Eat it as a snack spread with some guacamole, hummus, or unsweetened nut butter.

Bonus:  Research has shown that celery contains compounds that may help prevent cancer cells from spreading!

Now you know!

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Natural Health Consultant

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

My granddaughter celebrated her 8th birthday with a blue tongue!

Ava had so much fun picking out a “dog” cake, which was basically two chocolate cupcakes covered with a mountain of bright blue frosting to resemble a long-haired dog of some kind, with two beady chocolate eyes!  It was quite the conversation piece!  She ate one of the cupcakes, and her tongue was, you guessed it, bright blue!  She enjoyed her birthday indulgence, and then threw the rest of the “dog” into the garbage can.  I don’t like to preach nutrition at a birthday party, so we just laughed, wrinkled our noses, and enjoyed the day.

Most of us can handle the artificial food dyes that we eat during occasional celebrations, but it’s the daily indulgences on a regular basis that can hamper our health!

Blue #1, blue #2, green #3, red #3, red #40, yellow #5, and yellow #6 are artificial food dyes made from coal tar or petroleum.  They have been linked to allergies, asthma, hyperactivity in kids, and cancer.  The United Kingdom has asked companies to stop using most artificial food dyes as food additives, and to place warning labels on any packages that contain them.

You need to read the ingredients labels to check for these colors in everything from salmon, yogurt, Gatorade, fruit punch, candy, gum, cookies, ice cream, baked goods, cereals, cake mixes, frosting, pickles, sausage and hot dog casings, cheese, and butter, to supplements and medications.  For a listing of foods and food colorings they contain, visit www.brainfoodselector.iatp.org (Center for Science in the Public Interest).

Some safer coloring agents include turmeric, blueberries, and beets.

Remember, even if you aren’t sensitive to synthetic food dyes, it’s the cumulative effects that can lead to health problems.  Your best defense is to read those ingredients labels! Teach your children to read them, too. I showed my five-year-old grandson the label of the Gatorade he had had been drinking, and when I read yellow 6 on the label, I asked him if he would eat a yellow crayon.  He said “no” and that he wouldn’t be able to drink that Gatorade again!

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Natural Health Consultant

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.