Balanced Diet

Health professionals recommend that to stay fit and healthy you should aim to eat at least five different portions of fruit and vegetables every day. For some people though this can seem like a lot to take in. Luckily, there are simple ways to make this easier and help you to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

balanced diet

Breakfast

It has long been known that eating a low fat breakfast can help to keep you slimmer but it is also a great opportunity to get one or two of your five a day. If you’re eating cereal then why not try adding a chopped banana or a cupful of berries? Not only will the fruit count towards your daily quota but it will also help to jazz up your old favourites. If you prefer eggs and bacon then add some grilled mushrooms or a grilled tomato on the side. Omelettes are easy to make healthier too by adding any variety of vegetables that you like to the mix before cooking (mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, sweet corn - whatever it is that you like).

Juice

There are hundreds of types of juices out there and most of them (especially those that are freshly squeezed) will count towards your five a day. Generally speaking, a 250 millilitre glass counts as one portion which makes it a quick and easy way to top yourself up. Fruit juice can also be bought in cartons that you can pack for lunch or just keep in your car or your handbag for a nutritious drink on the go.

Soup

Easy and quick to make soup is also a meal that is often crying out to have some veggies added to it. If you’re eating cream of chicken, why not add some mushrooms or a handful of sweet corn? Tomato soups work well with cooked kidney beans thrown in and lentils make a great addition to most vegetable soups. As well as upping the health factor of your meal the vegetables help to bulk it out which might help you feel fuller for longer.

Sandwiches

An old lunchtime favourite can easily be spiced up by adding in some salad or veggies. Shredded lettuce, chopped onions or sliced tomatoes work well with nearly everything or you could try being a little more adventurous with hot peppers, tasty olives or crunchy celery. Experimenting with sandwich fillings is also a good way to try things out whilst still keeping it familiar with your usual meats and cheeses.

Smoothies

All that you need is a blender! Making your own smoothies is a very easy way towards your five a day, simply take your choice of fruits (peeled and chopped) and add to low fat yoghurt in the blender. To up the health benefits even further you could try using a pro biotic yoghurt or adding a little linseed oil. If you’re vegan you could use soya yoghurt to achieve the same results. Once it’s blended you can keep your smoothie fresh in the fridge and serve on its own or over ice. Why not have a glass at breakfast with your veggie filled omelette or fruit loaded cereal for an extra dose of vitamin C to get you going first thing?

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A Snacking Revolution


healthy snacks

The website Graze.com delivers healthy snacks and fruit to people's desks and homes weekly for a low price. The site enables the customer to choose and rate their favourite munchies so the buyer can snack with pleasure and no guilt.

Benefits of Snacking

Believe it or not, there are benefits of eating between meals, provided the snacks eaten are healthy and nutritious. It gives busy people energy throughout a tough working day, helps to prevent overeating at meal times, and provides people easy opportunities to achieve the tough goal of eating five fruit and vegetables a day.

Graze.com was conceived by managing director Graham Bosher, also the man behind Lovefilm.com. The aim of his company is to improve the working person's eating habits, so to avoid that horrible post-lunch slump at the desk. Their are over 150 snack packs to choose from, and the firm is delivering over 80,000 boxes per month.

Range of Snacks

The range of snacks the website offers is extensive. There are the unusual packs of fruit and desserts, ranging from delicious oily olives and earthy nuts to the sweet and sugary crystalled ginger (one for acquired tastes and developed taste buds).

The basic dried fruits -- raisins, bananas, and apricots -- are there in abundant supply, and juxtapose nicely with the salty pistachios, slightly bitter almonds and moreish cashews, and even the occasional cheeky dark chocolate buttons.

Customer Service

Like most successful franchises, Graze.com is customer driven and focuses on the clientele's needs and wants. Each snack box is delivered first class in compact cardboard boxes with each snack tightly sealed in its own plastic, clear container. The boxes can comfortably fit through letter boxes and are easily recyclable.

In a week of postal strikes, Graze still has the customer at heart, offering a four snack pack as opposed to the normal three until the strikes abate, and restricting the delivery of fresh fruit to avoid wastage if the fruit goes "off."

At £2.99 for each weekly delivery, the service offers great value for money as dried fruit can often be expensive in major supermarkets. The boxes can be delivered to workplaces as well as the home, and buyers can choose which weeks the packages can be sent.

An introductory offer means that snack fans can have their first pack for half price, and the consumer can "rate" each individual snack on the website. If they don't like a certain food, the low rating given will mean that Graze will not send the food in future, and people can even design their packs according to their lifestyle needs.

The fun, healthy and succulent choice of snacks and treats means that office workers need never slump at their desks again.
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A Sweetener That Provides Missing Minerals

It's ironic that the byproduct of unhealthy refined sugar processing is full of beneficial and assimilable iron and magnesium, among other important nutrients. Why? Sugar cane has roots that go down as far as 15 feet below the ground. Thus the the mineral depleted topsoil is bypassed, enabling the plant to absorb minerals from richer, unspoiled bottom soil.
minerals

After sugar cane is processed to obtain refined empty calorie glucose spiking insulin debilitating white table sugar, the black gooey mess known as molasses is left with all the nutrients. The very best grade of molasses is unsulfured blackstrap molasses. It's not the best for sweetening, but it is the highest in nutrients. Unhealthy sulfur is an added preservative that you can do without.

A List of Nutrients

From just one tablespoon of unsulfured blackstrap molasses, you get an abundance of the following nutrients:
  • Magnesium: Many nutritional experts call this the master mineral because it is essential to more metobolic processes than any other one mineral. Because of poor topsoil, the greens that normally are the best source of magnesium are mostly insufficient. You should have half as much magnesium in your body as calcium.
  • Iron: Molasses contains more iron per serving than red meat! This can help vegans and vegetarians avoid anemia. And it's cheaper and safer as well.
  • Calcium: Molasses contains about the same amount of calcium that you'd get in a glass of cow's milk without the growth hormones. If you can't find organic whole raw milk, grab your unsulfured blackstrap molasses!
  • Potassium, which is nearly as essential as magnesium, especially for heart and kidney functions.
  • Vitamin B: Molasses is high in vitamin B complex, good for energy while helping your body cope with stress.
  • Chromium is a trace mineral that is rare in our diets. Helps your body maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  • Other Minerals: Molasses also contains manganese, copper, and selenium.
  • Enzymes: Molasses contains enzymes, which are the catalysts for metabolizing nutrients, and the reason why raw food vegans do that diet. But some blackstrap molasses and good veggie juicing will boost your enzyme levels regardless of your general diet.
Unsulfured blackstrap molasses is a food, and it's best to get your minerals from whole foods rather than supplement pills. This is agreed upon more and more by top nutritionists. Even if the supplement is food derived, the minerals lack the synergy of its natural food source.

Minerals are actually more important than vitamins because vitamins cannot be synthesized without minerals present. The order of importance for nutrients is oxygen, pure water, enzymes, minerals, then vitamins.

Using Molasses

If you intend to use the molasses contents in a couple of months or less, you won't need to refrigerate it. Since it is so thick, it's difficult to use in anything but warm or hot dishes. Molasses goes well with pancakes or waffles. Half-and-half with good organic syrup or honey will diminish the strong taste of molasses this way if you find it disagreeable.

Molasses is great for oatmeal or any other hot cereal as well. Remember, a tablespoon a day provides a lot of nutrition. Some have simply mixed a tablespoon in a half glass of warm water and gulped it down. This technique is especially useful repeated often daily to help recover from iron deficiency anemia.

Caveat: Many sugar cane growers use defoliants to get the cane leaves out of the way, making it easier to harvest them. There is such a thing as organic sugar. Try to track down molasses from organic sugar cane to optimize your health benefits by avoiding traces of chemical defoliants if you can.
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Adequate Fiber is Essential to a Healthy Diet

Dietary fiber, originating in plant tissue, is indigestible. Although it has no calories and no nutritional value, fiber in the diet plays a tremendous role in preventing disease and maintaining good health.

dietary fiber

How Fiber Works in the Body

As fiber is consumed and passed through the body organs, it acts as a sponge, absorbing many times its own weight in liquid. This causes the feces to become soft and bulky and more easy to be expelled from the body. This quick passage through the intestines and out of the body is important, as constipation is a source of discomfort and the beginning of many illnesses.

The fiber also acts as a buffer against colon of the cancer as if reduces the contact that the toxin-filled feces has with the walls of the colon. Likewise, it is believed by some scientists that the increases liquid-content of high-fiber stool will be effective in diluting carcinogen-causing agents.

Types of Fiber and How They Function in the Body

There are two types of fiber.

Soluble fibers dissolve quickly and become sticky as they dissolve. They include pectin, which is found in fruits, legumes, nuts and some vegetables. Some soluble fiber can lower blood cholesterol levels which will, in turn, reduce the possibility of heart attacks and heart disease. The addition of soluble fibers in the diet should be coupled with the decreased intake of fat to be effective. Soluble fibers can also help control blood sugar levels in individuals suffering from diabetes.

Insoluble fibers are found in bran, vegetables and whole grains such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread. Insoluble fiber is important for moving bulk through the intestines quickly and also helps to control the pH level in the intestine. This action alleviates constipation by producing regular bowel movement.

Increase Fiber Intake Naturally

Although it is important to include an adequate amount of fiber in the diet, it is not recommended to take huge fiber supplements on a regular basis. Fiber pills are also not recommended as they lack the nutrients naturally found in high-fiber foods. Too much fiber can be the cause of bloating, digestive problems and intestinal gas. Excessive fiber can also lead to zinc, iron and mineral deficiencies.

Become knowledgeable of which foods are high fiber and begin to add them slowly to the diet. The skin of fruits and vegetables can be scrubbed and eaten to increase fiber intake. Vegetables should not be boiled, but rather eaten raw or lightly steamed. Eliminate products with white flour from the diet completely. Instead consume whole-grain cereals and breads and brown rice.

Fiber for Weight Loss and Weight Control

Eating fiber can be helpful when trying to lose weight. It provides a feeling of fullness that will help reduce hunger. Using fiber for diet or weight control can help with overall body tone because extra water is also being added to the diet. Be sure to include enough protein and fat with each meal to ensure a balanced diet.
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Aloe Vera Heals Your Body

aloe vera
Typically aloe vera is thought of as a healing plant, the liquid being used most often for burns or abrasions to the skin. However, these are not the only benefits to the aloe vera plant. The pulp from the aloe vera plant is used in juices and in recipes to provide the same type of healing inside the human body.

Benefits of Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is loaded with vitamins and includes many essential vitamins that humans need on a daily basis, except for vitamin D. Aloe vera is also anti-inflammatory, which is one of the reasons it is used so often in beauty care products. It is often used externally to aid in healing; however, the juice and pulp of the aloe vera plant can be ingested internally to provide even more health benefits.

The aloe vera plant grows 12 months of the year, which increases its appeal for farmers and gardeners.

How Aloe Vera Helps the Inside of the Body

Aloe vera juice aids in digestion and helps the circulatory system because it helps with cell growth and the dilation of capillaries. Since aloe vera is anti-inflammatory, it helps heal the digestive tract and cleanse the colon. For a person to receive the benefits of aloe vera juice, they need to consume about four ounces a day to detoxify the body.

The British Journal of General Practice published the findings of ten studies involving the benefits of aloe. They discovered it was helpful in lowering glucose in diabetic patients and with such promising results more research is being conducted for clinical effectiveness.

Uses of Aloe Vera

Aloe gel is used topically for sunburn or other minor burns, and is also found in other beauty products that add hydration to dry skin. It is even used in products to aid the itchiness of insect bites. Aloe is used often in the summer because of the increase in outdoor activity combined with the increase in sunshine and mosquitoes.

Aloe vera gel is used to make juice once the yellow aloin is removed, which is very bitter. Aloe is also added to products such as yogurt, ice cream, cream cheese, spring water, tea and desserts, and is sold in health food stores such as Whole Foods, Wegmans , GNC and Trader Joes.

"We already see tendencies of Aloe Vera becoming a mainstream product. We are already delivering product to some beverage companies that blend our Aloe Vera with a soft drink type of drink,” says Australian Aloe Marketing Limited CEO Mats Johnson.
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Are Zero Trans Fat Cookies a Myth?

zero trans fat cookies

What is Trans Fat? Trans fat is another name for unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fat is the worst type of dietary fat. The National Academy of Sciences has released notices that there are no safe amounts of trans fats for consumption. They have clearly indicated that trans fats are neither a recommended part of a healthy diet nor a safe part of a healthy diet. Most researchers have found that trans fats increase the risk of heart disease, increase bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. Many nutritional organizations recommend limiting the consumption of trans fatty acids to only a trace amount.

Girl Scout Cookies

In 2005 The Girl Scouts launched a campaign to make their cookies “trans fat free”; however several of their cookies still have minimal amounts of trans fat which add up. In 2006 The Girl Scouts released an announcement that all of their cookies met the FDA requirements to be considered trans fat free. However, this requirement only states that the cookies have to be less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving. According to the nutrition information on a package of Girl Scout Carmel deLites, they contain partially hydrogenated oils, which produce trans fats. The serving size is only two cookies. Which means eating more than two cookies could result in consuming more than .5 grams of trans fat.

Chips Ahoy

Like Girl Scout cookies, Chips Ahoy falls under the FDA trans fat loophole. They are able to advertise a trans fat count of 0 mg per serving. However, clearly listed on the ingredient list is partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, which contains trans fat. So if you eat more than the recommended serving, which is pretty likely, then you are definitely consuming that dreaded fat. In fact, Nabisco even posts a disclaimer on their own site about the fact that their cookies containing the fat, but that they claim the zero amounts because of FDA requirements.

Other Cookies with Trans Fat

Many other cookies fall into this category of being just under the FDA trans fat loop hole. Other cookies which contain partially hydrogenated oils in some amount are Nutter Butters, most butter cookies, Nilla Wafers, many brands of peanut butter cookies, some Keebler cookies and numerous others. Consumers should check both nutrition and ingredient labels when trying to avoid trans fat foods.

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