One of my favourite aspects of a raw diet, is that my clients and I can gain a much greater variety of nutrition with significantly less effort. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends 6.5 cups of vegetables and 2-4 cups of fruit per day for general health while the Queen's University of Belfast Medical Research Department agrees 8 cups of vegetables per day is vital for a healthy lifestyle. Vegetables do not include starchy vegetables such as potato.
What does this mean for you? Imagine the amount of chewing that is required to consume 8 cups of vegies and 4 cups of fruit a day – for general health and wellbeing. If you wish to have greater health and vitality, that means increasing the amount to up to 12 and even 15 cups a day as some studies tout.8 cups is the equivalent of 1 large cucumber, 2 tomatoes, 1 avocado, 8 cos lettuce leaves, 40g sunflower sprouts, 12 English Spinach leaves, 8 kale leaves, 1 carrot grated, ½ beetroot grated, ¼ pumpkin cubed, ½ a head of broccoli, 1 apple, 1 banana, 250g blueberries, 2 peaches and 16 lychees. That makes for a lot of chewing!
By now I'm sure most of you have heard about the benefits of green smoothies. But have you thought about trying other types of smoothies? Being in a liquid form, these are quickly absorbed in the stomach and easily digested. They are also a fabulous platform for the potential to include some incredible superfood additions such as Maqui berry, lucuma, acai berry, chlorella, camu camu, spirulina, noni, Marine phytoplankton, maca and so much more!
One smoothie recipe I have been experimenting with lately is my Vegan Powerhouse Smoothie with Merry Berry Blend. I particularly like this blend as it has a unique powerful combination of fruits, herbs and superfoods. It contains acai berries, macqui berries, noni, maca, camu camu, goji berries, beetroot, rosehip, carrot, pineapple and raspberry powders. With the addition of probiotics and enzymes, the Merry Berry Blend is a very important addition to a raw food lifestyle.
The ingredients (in addition to probiotics and enzymes):
Acai builds and strengthens the immune system, fights infection, protects the heart, it has been shown to be a natural remedy for erectile dysfunction. Acai was also revered as an energy food, and traditionally pulped to make wine. Acai contains omega 3, 6 and 9 and vitamins A and C and calcium and iron. The acai berry is extremely high in antioxidants and anthocyanin, rich in protein fibre, vitamin E and iron. It is reported that acai helps promote vascular and digestive functions. Acai is naturally low in sugar and the flavour is described as a mixture of red wine and chocolate. It has been reported that acai reduces cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Boosts the immune system, improves cardiovascular function, improves skin clarity, restores skin rejuvenation thus helps to make you look younger, increases energy levels, helps with weight loss
Goji has long been believed to enhance circulation and the immune system, and also boost liver function, it contains high doses of Vitamin C, vitamin E, B1, B2 and B6, beta-carotene, it is rich in iron, having 15 times as much as spinach. Other minerals include manganese, zinc, copper, selenium, calcium, potassium along with the anti cancer and age rejuvenating trace mineral germanium. There are no fewer than 18 amino acids in goji berries, and they are also rich in polysaccharides which boost the immune system and abundant in unsaturated fatty acids. Other fabulous benefits include improved vision, increased energy, enhanced libido and better sleep.
The camu camu berry is the highest natural source of vitamin C that we currently know of on the planet. Traditionally, camu camu berry is used to support the immune system, maintain excellent eyesight, rebuild damaged tissues, purify the blood, creates beautiful skin, defends against viral infections, aids healthy liver function, boosts energy, supports strong collagen, tendons and ligaments, decreases inflammation, improves respiratory (lung) health, and helps maintain optimal clarity of mind in times of stress and anxiety. The camu camu berry is also an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and amino acids
Maca contains a class of chemical compounds known as glucosinolates, which are often associated with herbs known as aphrodisiacs.
"Maca is the great superfood coming out of Peru.... Maca is found growing at elevations of over 10,500 feet in the Altiplano region of the Andes. Its natural zone is an inhospitable region of intense sunlight, violent winds and below freezing weather. With its extreme temperatures and poor rocky soil, the area rates amongst the world's worst farmland, yet over the centuries, maca flourishes under these conditions. Maca has been used as an immunostimulant, for anemia, to stop bone-mineral loss, enhance memory, fight stomach cancer, as well as to alleviate depression, menstrual disorders, menopause symptoms, sterility and other reproductive and sexual disorders. Maca increases overall vigour -- especially sexual stamina and appetite." p. 109 (David Wolfe & Shazzie, Naked Chocolate)
Maca was domesticated about 2,000 years ago by the Incas, and primitive cultivars of maca have been found in archaeological sites dating as far back as 1600 B.C. Maca's health benefits are highly regarded - as Maca nourishes the glands and encourages the function of all the glands of the body such as the ovaries, testes, adrenals, pancreas, thyroid, and thymus. For energy, stamina, anaemia, immunity, and improved memory. For hormonal imbalances, to relieve hot flashes, menstrual disorders, youthful skin, improved sexual desire, normalising vaginal lubrication and improved emotional balance. Maca was sacred food given to warriors as a source of strength. "Dried maca powder contains more than 10% protein, nearly 20 amino acids, and 7 essential amino acid. As a root crop, maca contains five times more protein than a potato and four times more fibre. Although maca is not a complete protein it is such a great source of hormone precursors and amino acids that it provides many of the same effects created by a high-protein diet. Maca also helps the human body to produce more hormone precursors. Sufficient hormone precursor levels help improve bone and tissue mineralisation. Maca is also known to contain up to 20 trace minerals.
Noni has been touted as an all around “cure-all”. I often use it in my clinic to help those with coeliac or Chron's who are just not responding to a gluten & grain free diet. It has been used extensively for allergies, arthritis, asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, cholesterol, fibromyalgia, depression, diabetes 1 & 2, digestions, enlarged prostrate, heart disease, high blood pressure, immune system, kidney disease, pain, respiratory problems, skin disorders, sleeplessness, stress, Parkinson's Disease, multiple sclerosis and even assisting people to give up smoking.
Beetroot is a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C, and betaine, which is important for cardiovascular health. It functions by acting with other nutrients to reduce the concentration of homecysteine, a homologue of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine, which can be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Betaine functions in conjunction with s-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12 to carry out this function.
Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and thus help prevent cardiovascular problems
Rose hips are particularly high in Vitamin C content, one of the richest plant sources available. Rose hips contain plenty of lycopene, an important and strong antioxidant that is an integral part of low density lipoprotein (LDL) as well as of many cellular membranes. Rose hips also contain some vitamin A and B, essential fatty acids and antioxidant flavonoids.
A study of a rose-hip preparation for treating rheumatoid arthritis concluded that there was a benefit, apparently due to both anti inflammatory and anti oxidant effects.
Rose hips are used to help prevent colds and influenza
Carrots have many important vitamins and minerals. They are rich in antioxidants Beta Carotene, Alpha Carotene, phytochemicals and glutathione, calcium and potassium, and vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and E, protecting as well as nourishing the skin. They contain a form of calcium easily absorbed by the body. You also find copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous. and sulphur.
Carrot can enhance the quality and quantity of breast milk. It can improve the appearance of the skin, hair and nails. Studies have shown it can lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Carrot can help improve eye health, increase menstrual flow, regulate blood sugar and promote colon health because it is rich in fibre. Often used in cases of obesity, poisoning of the blood, gum disease, insomnia, inflamed kidney, liver, gallbladder, Alzheimer's disease, colitis, ulcer and painful urination to it's amazing nutrition and healing properties.
Pineapple has some amazing anti inflammatory properties such as the fabulous Bromelian enzyme. The enzyme also speeds up recovery after external injuries and reduces swelling and has been known to reduce 'ulcerative colitis'. I've used it with my cancer patients in certain conditions as well as those who have had MS.
Pineapple is really quite high in manganese, Vitamin C and B1.
Raspberries are in the top ten fruits and vegetables highest in polyphenol antioxidants. Anti-inflammatory ingredients include anthocyanins that improve eyesight and memory. Raspberries are gaining interest in the cosmeceuticals (healthy skin products) industry. Their tiny seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, affording a natural skin protection factor (SPF) between 25 and 50.
Article - "Cacao: The Cream of the Superfoods Crop"
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While you’re tucking in to your favourite
chocolate treat, think about this - chocolate is, in essence, a nut.
Just like an almond in fact, and contains a stack of super-dooper
properties that keep your body ticking over nicely just as it should.
But before you get too excited, the mass-produced chocolate tempting you
at the supermarket checkout is by no means the same thing as the
fabulous foodstuff that is the cacao bean… sorry!
Whereas most people are aware of the
health benefits of good quality dark chocolate (eaten in moderation, of
course), with its antioxidants, polyphenols, protein and host of
vitamins and minerals like zinc, calcium, chromium, iron, potassium and
magnesium, the true hero, cacao, is finally ready to take the spotlight
as the new kid on the superfoods block. And about time too!
chocolate products originally derive from the cacao bean, which comes
from the Amazonian cacao tree. This unusual variation of standard fruit
or nut trees forms football-sized pods in various colours on its trunk,
inside which grows the precious cacao seed. This raw, unprocessed seed
is the most basic form of chocolate, and contains a host of
naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals and chemicals that make it a
veritable superfood that’s a far cry from the majority of chocolate
products we are bombarded with in stores today.
Cacao is derived from theobroma cacao
beans, which literally translates as ‘food of the Gods,’ and that’s not
an exaggeration - these little beauties contain over 300 cracking
compounds, including protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, iron, zinc,
copper, calcium, beta-carotene, amino acids, omega 3, essential fatty
acids, potassium and magnesium, one of the best sources of stress
Another cheery chemical found in cacao is
the lipid anandamide, also known as ‘chocolate amphetamine’. This
causes changes in blood pressure and blood-sugar levels, leading to
feelings of excitement and alertness, and is naturally present in our
bodies when we’re feeling great. Legend has it that the Mexican Mayan
kings drank up to 30 pure chocolate drinks each day to maintain their
sprightliness, and thought so highly of the bean that it was even used
Yet with the 1800s came the advent of
machinery to crush cacao beans and, finally, the highly-processed
product loved across the world, milk chocolate. Making chocolate as we
know it is a complicated business, beginning with the roasting of the
cacao beans to kill bacteria, remove bitterness and develop flavour. But
this heat actually changes the bean's chemistry and dramatic reduces
the product’s antioxidant qualities. If alkaline chemicals or milk
products are used, as is the case in much mass-produced chocolate, the
chemistry is altered even further. Many of dark chocolate’s health
benefits remain, in fact, because there is no milk added during its
creation, allowing more natural antioxidants to remain.
The grinding process is then undertaken by
a machine called a melangeur, which has large rollers to mash the cacao
into a paste. This then goes into a press which splits it into powder
and butter, before sugar, an emulsifier like lecithin and other
flavourings are added.
process is the mysterious process of conching, which turns the mixture
into a smooth liquid that can be easily poured into moulds. This
involves constantly grinding the mixture to evenly distribute the cocoa
butter within the chocolate mass, making it smoother. The friction
created polishes the cocoa particles and makes them smoother, whereas
the rotation introduces air into the mass, removing bitter acids and
compounds. Tempering is the next step, which makes chocolate shiny and
breakable, and involves getting the crystals of cocoa butter to the
Compare this lengthy process to the
simplicity of the raw product itself and it’s pretty clear why it’s best
to stick to the natural stuff. Although cacao is one of the most
powerful superfoods around, the processing steps between picking the
beans and the chocolate they create transforms the ingredient into
something with very few health benefits.
Just some of the nastiesfound in
milk chocolate include Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate, an artificial
emulsifier which helps manufacturers use a smaller amount of cocoa
butter whilst creating the same texture, artificial flavours, corn syrup
and partially hydrogenated oil, which contains trans fats. Chocolate’s
biggest villain, however, is sugar, which is often the main ingredient
in cheap chocolate bars. In fact, such products can have a cacao content
as shockingly low as 4 to 10 per cent, and can barely be classed as
chocolate at all!
Our conclusion? Raw chocolate
has many, many times more unique and powerful nutrients than highly
processed chocolate, and if you’re a sucker for a sneaky square of
choccy, consider small amounts of raw cacao as a better option or a raw
chocolate bar such as Righteously Raw.
But don’t overdo it - cacao is a powerful substance with ingredients
that can affect the entire nervous system, and whereas the correct
amount can do much to boost the body, too much can do the opposite. The
equivalent of 40g of pure raw cacao at the most is both beneficial to
your bod and a tasty treat.
ways to incorporate this wonderstuff into your regular diet include
adding it to smoothies and shakes for a quick boost, using it to to
create delicious dessert and raw cacao treats. Simply arm yourself with
some cacao and prepare to reap the benefits!
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THIS WEEK'S READING
Are you deficient? How to get the most from your diet
Many leaders in the natural health movement agree that disease is caused by two things: toxicity and deficiency. Nutritional deficiencies are far more common than we may realise. Why?
Because our soils have become depleted in key nutrients from unsustainable farming practices and therefore the food grown in this soil is also deficient.
Our fruit and vegetables are often picked unripe and are gassed to artificially induce ripening. In most cases this practice drastically reduces the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients available.
Malabsorption. Malabsorption result from our body's inability to absorb and utilise vitamins, minerals and other nutrients contained in our food. This can be caused by the following:
Helicobacter infection in the stomach, (the bacterial infection that causes stomach ulcers).
Candida (Yeast infection), as a result of a bacterial imbalance in the gut due to a lack of probiotic bacteria.
Parasites acquired through the consumption of contaminated food and drink.
The inadequate production of stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) due to age degeneration, zinc deficiency, or the consumption of certain drugs.
Allergies to gluten, and lactose can result in a leaky gut wall, where food particles pass into the blood stream without being properly digested and utilised.
The consumption of certain food additives causes the body to excrete vitamins and minerals.
Exposure to heavy metals and other toxins
So what can we do to make sure our bodies are getting all the nutrients they need to thrive?
While most of us eating a balanced organic whole food diet can get a majority of our nutrients from the food itself, there are also circumstances when it is beneficial to use supplements and superfoods. But before we look at supplementing lets first see how we can obtain maximum nutrition from our food.
1. Eat fruits and vegetables that have been freshly picked as much as possible.
This means locally grown and in season. If I had the choice between eating a freshly picked conventionally grown orange or an organically grown orange that was picked 6 months ago 10 000 km away, I would choose the conventional orange. After 6 months in cold storage nearly all of the vitamin C disappears from fruit along with a whole host of other beneficial nutrients.
So how can you ensure that you are eating freshly harvested fruits and vegetables? Well nothing is fresher than harvesting from your own trees and veggie patch. We have recently become members of a wonderful project called Organic Farm Share which is a community owned organic farm in Northern NSW Australia. The farm is being designed to feed several hundred local families. If these are not options for you, sprouts can easily be grown in any home in either jars or special sprouting machines. Sprouts are the most alive of all living foods as they are still growing even in your fridge until the moment you eat them.
The next best option is to buy your produce from farmers or growers markets. If you are unable to buy organic, there are things you can do to clean the produce and minimise pesticide exposure like spraying with a solution on apple cider vinegar water and hydrogen peroxide.
2. Store your produce properly.
While harvesting and then eating organically grown produce straight from the plant is by far the best option for maximum nutrition it is not practical for many of us so knowing how to store your food is a very important factor in maximising its nutritional value.
Vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Unfortunately, after you pick vegetables, their nutrients start to break down. They continue to lose their nutrient value as time goes on. Light, heat and exposure to air can speed up that process, so it's important to eat vegetables as soon as you can after they're picked, or store them in a way that helps slow their nutrient loss.
Any type of storage results in some deterioration. Produce on store shelves has already begun to lose vitamins, and nutrient losses multiply each day. Wilting is a sure sign of nutrient loss, especially of climate-sensitive vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Lettuce, kale, silverbeet/chard and other leafy greens that are prone to wilting register a higher ascorbic acid reduction after several days of optimal cold storage than does cabbage, which is more resistant to wilting. Green beans lose 58 per cent of their original ascorbic acid during the first three days of refrigeration after harvesting.
While a certain amount of nutrient loss is inevitable, we can minimize it by purchasing the freshest possible produce and storing it under optimal conditions.
Refrigerate all leafy greens such as lettuce, dandelion, collards, mustard greens, chard, watercress and broccoli. They keep best when they are dry and wrapped in plastic or put in airtight plastic containers to prevent loss of moisture and vitamins. Cucumbers and eggplant, however, are best stored in paper bags in the crisper to protect against excess cold temperatures that cause the development of pitted, mushy spots.
Refrigerate carrots or store in a cool place in perforated bags or containers to allow air circulation. Protected from heat and light, carrots retain their nutrients for up to seven months. Their beta-carotene actually increases during the first five months of storage then remains stable for two months before decreasing.
Tomatoes tend to lose flavour if refrigerated. They are best stored loosely in a basket that permits air to circulate. Unripe tomatoes should be stored on a counter or on top of the fridge, which allows the ripening process to continue. Any type of produce that continues to ripen after picking, including unripe pears, peaches, and plums, must not be refrigerated. These should be stored in a brown paper bag at room temperature until ripe.
Citrus fruits may be stored at room temperature for several days and will last for up to two months if refrigerated. Apples must always be refrigerated. They will keep for several months, but gradual loss of nutrients, especially vitamin C, still occurs with lengthy storage. Store apples away from vegetables, or keep them in a plastic bag, as they give off ethylene gas as they ripen, promoting spoilage of other produce.
Here are a couple more tips on storing fresh produce
Store your vegetables whole. Don't slice them, as slicing vegetables exposed the flesh to air and light, which helps quickly break down the nutrients. Intact vegetable skins offer protection from light and air.
Store root vegetables in a dark, cool place like a cellar or low cabinet. Keep them in the crisper drawers, which are generally farthest away from the refrigerator lights and adjusted to be cooler than the rest of the refrigerator.
So as you can see when you bring your produce home, how you store it will make a huge difference to how long it will last and retain nutrients.
3. Nutrient dense superfoods
Another way to maximise you nutrient intake is to eat the most nutrient dense foods you can get your hands on.As you are probably already aware we consider fresh wild leafy greens to be the #1 superfood as they match human nutritional needs most completely. The second best would be more traditional leafy greens such as kale, spinach etc.
You may also like to take advantage of a wide range of dried and powdered superfoods which can be very high in certain nutrients and micronutrients. While fresh is always best it is still possible to benefit from some of these dried nutrient dense foods which are not commonly available fresh.
Here is a list of some of the more popular super foods.
AFA Blue Green Algae - 60% protein, long chain fatty acids, PEA. To detoxify body, increase mental focus and concentration, stabilize mood swings, balance blood sugar, decrease insulin requirement, decrease side effects of chemotherapy;
Spirulina – 60% protein, contains most of the essential minerals and vitamins, particularly iron and the B vitamins
Bee Pollen – rich source of high-quality protein since it contains all the essential amino acids plus quite a few more. Bee pollen contains vitamins A, B, C, and E, and is extraordinarily rich in most of the B vitamins, including folic acid (folate).
Chia Seeds – High in omega 3, 22% protein, a powerful source of the antioxidants that protect delicate essential fatty acids from oxidation
Cacao – high in antioxidants and magnesium and mood enhancing chemicals such as Anandamine
Maca – balances hormones, increases energy, full of minerals, vitamins, and protein, containing many of the essential amino acids, and particularly rich in calcium and magnesium,
Mesquite Meal – High in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, and is rich in the amino acid lysine
Purple Corn Extract – Powerful antioxidant with anti-mutagenic, antimicrobial and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Coconut Oil - Anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal; great for skin; assists weight-loss; assists body to burn fat; lowers bad cholesterol; lauric acid; important in building and maintaining immune system; doesn’t go rancid at room temp; Good for thyroid
Acai Berry – extremely high in antioxidants and essential fatty acids
Goji Berries - They contain 18 kinds of amino acids (six times higher than bee pollen) and contain all 8 essential amino acids (such as isoleucine and tryptophan). They also contain up to 21 trace minerals Goji berries are the richest source of carotenoids, including beta-carotene (more beta carotene than carrots), of all known foods or plants on earth! They contain 500 times the amount of vitamin C, by weight, than oranges making them second only to camu camu berries as the richest vitamin C source on earth. Goji berries also contain vitamins B1, B2, B6, and vitamin E.
2012 Probiotic superfood – Re-colonise the GI tract with the full spectrum of Lactobacillus (friendly) bacteria. Contains significant enzymes, vital amino acids and a broad spectrum of essential nutrients. Helps break down nutrients. Keeps the colon clean and healthy. Health effects of compromised probiotics: toxins in the GI tract - lupus & psoriasis, partially digested proteins - eczema, arthritis, & immune system disorders. Contains the complete Lactobacillus bacteria family.
Sea Vegetables – most sea vegetables including sea weeds such as kelp, Nori, dulse, arame and wakame to name a few contain highest levels of trace minerals and iodine that you will find in any foods. These important minerals are often found lacking even in organically grown produce.
There are many many more superfoods available with more arriving on the market all the time.
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