Carrots: Beta Believe It

Cups_Of_Prevention_Alison_Drake_carrots

Carrots

"Eh... What's up, doc?" Bugs Bunny may have encouraged generations of children to eat carrots, and that’s a truly wonderful thing! Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables in the world, and apparently one of the most recognizable to children. Carrots are probably best known for their rich supply of the antioxidant nutrient that was actually named for them: beta-carotene, which is also what gives them their vibrant color. However, these delicious root vegetables offer so much more, including a wide variety of antioxidants and other health promoting nutrients. The most extensive research conducted on the effect of dietary intake of carrots on our health, is in cardiovascular benefits and anti-cancer benefits.
Eating carrots has been associated with reduced risk for several types of cancer including breast cancer. The high amounts of antioxidant carotenoids in carrots can reduce precancerous cell changes that may lead to the development of breast tumors.
Scientists believe that the alpha-carotene and beta-carotene in carrots reduce oxidative stress and free radicals in the body and therefore, reduce your cancer risk.  It is worth including here that carrots have been found to be very beneficial in reducing the risk of lung cancer (among the top 3 cancers in women) probably due to their extremely high vitamin A content, which is vital to lung health. Taking supplements of beta-carotene and vitamin A are not as beneficial as eating the carotenoid rich foods, nor nearly as delicious :) When possible, opt for organic carrots as conventionally grown carrots are among the most contaminated vegetables in terms of pesticides. If organic isn’t available to you, wash them thoroughly or peel them.

Added Benefits

Carrots are also an excellent dietary source of fiber and contain some vitamin C and B vitamins, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese. As well as their antioxidant properties they have antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects. Their many other health benefits include reduced cholesterol, prevention from heart attacks, improved vision and reduced signs of premature aging. They can also boost your immune system, improve digestion, detoxify the body and improve oral health. Whew! Something I learned recently, is if you buy those pretty carrots with the green leafy tops, you should remove the tops before storing them in the refrigerator, because they will cause the carrots to wilt, as they pull moisture from the roots!

Time to cook!

We’ve all enjoyed a crunchy carrot stick with hummus or dip. Another super easy way to prepare them is to steam them. Simply fill the bottom of the steamer with 2 inches of water and bring to a rapid boil. Slice carrots ¼-inch thick and steam for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. To add a little pizazz, toss the carrots with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and your favorite herbs.

Carrot Apple Ginger Soup

I LOVE this soup recipe from Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows www.ohsheglows.com! In fact, I LOVE just about everything Angela Liddon makes. Her book “Oh She Glows” is one of my absolute fav’s and is one of my go-to gift giving books! http://ohsheglows.com/2011/05/03/carrot-apple-ginger-soup/ IMG_5301

Garlic Roasted Carrots

Colorful and delicious! This recipe for Garlic Roasted Carrots from Chungah at Damn Delicious www.damndelicious.net is simple, quick and easy. http://damndelicious.net/2015/01/17/garlic-roasted-carrots/ IMG_7146edit

Baked Carrot Fries

I just had to include a little healthy fun with this wee treat fromHannah Healy at Healy Eats Real www.healyeatsreal.com! The better fry... give them a try! http://healyeatsreal.com/baked-carrot-fries-paleo-vegan/ IMG_3094-1 Did you grow up watching Bugs Bunny! Did he make you a carrot fan? Share below. email_signoff1

Brown Rice: Wholey Grains!

Cups_Of_Prevention_Alison_Drake_rice_whole_grains

Brown Rice & Whole Grains

Why brown is better than white... It’s not just about the color - the fact is brown rice IS better than white rice. Brown rice is unrefined, unpolished and only has the surrounding hull of the rice kernel removed which means it retains its nutrient-dense bran and germ layer. White rice on the other hand is milled and polished and stripped of all its healthy nutritional value :( Brown rice is brimming with goodness and flavor unlike its shiny white competitor.
Brown rice is abundant in powerful antioxidants and fiber that protect against those pesky free radicals. It is also helpful in the prevention of various types of cancer, including breast cancer. The potent antioxidants in brown rice have the ability to bind to harmful cancer-causing toxins in the body.
It is worth highlighting here this a particular benefit in colon cancer prevention (one of the top 3 cancers that affect women). This prevents the toxins from attaching to the lining of the colon and helps the body to eliminate these offenders. A study done in the UK (35,792 women) found that a diet rich in fiber from whole grains, such as brown rice offered significant protection against breast cancer for pre-menopausal women. Young women – eat up! There are several other great sources of whole grains. I’m including a wee list of a few of them below and have noted if they are Gluten-Free (GF).
  • Amaranth (GF): Amaranth has a high level of very complete protein.
  • Barley: Hulled barley is the true whole grain. However, pearled barley, still retains most of its whole-grain nutrients and fiber.
  • Buckwheat (GF): Despite its name, Buckwheat is actually wheat free.
  • Millet (GF): Very nutritious and easy to digest.
  • Oats: Easily digested, oats provide B vitamins. Oatmeal and oat bran are excellent for lowering cholesterol.
Oats are inherently gluten-free, but are frequently contaminated with wheat during growing or processing. Several companies currently offer pure, uncontaminated oats.e.g. Bob’s Red Mill, Cream Hill Estates and GF Harvest
  • Quinoa (GF): (keen-wah) A high quality protein.
  • Rice (GF): Choose brown rice or black, purple, red or wild rice for healthful benefits.
  • Wheat: Whole-wheat bread and pasta are widely available.
When choosing whole-grain products, make sure the word “whole” is on the label. Multi-grain, seven-grain and bran breads are not necessarily whole-grain products. If the ingredient list on a wheat bread lists only “wheat” and not “whole wheat,” it’s not a whole-grain product.

Added Benefits

Brown rice is an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and niacin (vitamin B3). The fiber rich content in brown rich has been shown to reduce high cholesterol levels and help keep blood sugar levels under control. Its also been shown to help control your weight, boost the immune system and is rich in anti-depressant qualities. Since brown rice still contains its oil-rich germ, it is more susceptible to becoming rancid than white rice, therefore be sure to check the expiration date and once opened, store it in an airtight container. To extend its shelf life, you can always store it in the refrigerator. Like all grains, before cooking rice, especially that which is sold in bulk, rinse it thoroughly under running water and then remove any dirt or debris that you may find. After rinsing brown rice, add one part rice to two parts boiling water or broth. After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Lentil Brown Rice Soup

It’s soup season and this soup includes so many of the healthy ingredients I love! This Lentil Brown Rice Soup is from Christine at First Home Love Life www.firsthomelovelife.com http://www.firsthomelovelife.com/2014/01/lentil-brown-rice-soup.html LENTILSOUP1-680x1024

Brown Rice Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

This colorful salad fromfrom Vianney at Sweet Life www.sweetlifebake.com would also make a fabulous side to any meal! http://sweetlifebake.com/2014/03/12/brown-rice-salad-cilantro-lime-dressing/#axzz3pX3mg6fV salad-brown-rice-recipe-VianneyRodriguez-sweetlifebake Do you have a favorite go-to whole grain? We’d love to know what you use and how you prepare it. Share below. email_signoff1

Mango: Mango Tango

Cups_of_Prevention_Alison_Drake_Mango

Mangoes

Just the word mango conjures up images of a tropical paradise! According to the National Mango Board (Yes, there is such a thing) studies found that people who ate mango regularly had healthier diets than those who didn’t.
Mangoes are not only delicious but they’re a nutritional powerhouse, containing over 20 vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Mango is popular for its luscious taste and texture, but now you can feel good about eating it more regularly and not just as a treat!
Mangoes contain numerous compounds with suspected or demonstrated cancer-fighting properties, including beta-carotene, quercetin, catechins (remember them) and more! These powerful antioxidants have the ability to neutralize free radicals throughout the body preventing them from causing cell damage, and therefore reducing your risk for cancer. The polyphenols in mango have been shown to have an impact on several different cancers, but are most effective on breast cancer and colon cancer. Research is ongoing studying the ability of bioactive components in mangoes to reduce cancer-promoting cells, specifically in breast cancer. Scientists have determined that despite the fact that each variety of mango contains slightly different concentrations of antioxidants, they are all good sources of beta-carotene and polyphenols, so you can feel good about eating whatever variety is available to you. SPECIAL NOTE: Mangoes should be avoided during radiation treatment, as they have been shown to protect the cells against cell death caused by radiation damage, increasing the possibility that you will lesson the impact of radiation on breast cancer cells.

Added Benefits

Mangoes are a good dietary source of vitamins A and C and contain some B vitamins, as well as calcium magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Researchers found that adults who ate mango had lower body weight, higher intake of fiber and lower intake of fat, all of which are associated with better cardiovascular health. Mangoes contain certain enzymes, which promote efficient digestion, can help with indigestion and have stomach-soothing properties. The high amounts of vitamins A and C helps build and maintain collagen, which is particularly fabulous for your skin and hair! Yay!!

Mango Quinoa Salad

Mango is delicious on its own, or popped in a smoothie, but if you’d like to create your own tropical paradise right at home try this quinoa salad from Olivia at Primavera Kitchen www.primaverakitchen.com http://www.primaverakitchen.com/mango-quinoa-salad-recipe/ Mango-Quinoa-Salad

5-Ingredient Mango Salsa

This simple salsa from Ali at Gimme Some Oven www.gimmesomeoven.com can be eaten with chips or makes a delicious topping for fish or fish tacos! Ali also includes directions on how to select, peel and dice a mango, for anyone who’s new to this luscious fruit! From Ali at Gimme Some Oven www.gimmesomeoven.com http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/5-ingredient-mango-salsa-recipe/ Mango-Salsa-11 Do you have a memory of enjoying mango in an exotic location? Share below so we can all live vicariously through you. email_signoff1

Green Tea: Catcha-What?

Cups_of_Prevention_Alison_Drake_Green_Tea

Green Tea

What could be simpler than making a cup of tea? Having grown up in Scotland, making tea was an ongoing event. Everyone is always “putting the kettle on” and I love that! I’ve always been a big fan, but I no longer take my tea the way I used to (with a hefty splash of milk). Now that I’ve discovered the virtues of Green Tea, I’ll never go back! Green tea has been well studied for its cancer-fighting and cancer prevention properties. All edible plants have some antioxidant activity, but green tea is a superstar in this arena.
Green tea is rich in these naturally occurring plant compounds (polyphenols) and within the group of polyphenols are flavonoids, which contain catechins. The most well studied and seemingly powerful of these catechins is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to have a positive effect on many different diseases and health issues, including several types of cancer.
Laboratory studies have shown that EGCG slows the growth of breast cancer cells and can also be extremely effective at protecting cells against DNA damage caused by free radicals. EGCG can also discourage the growth of the blood vessels that feed the tumors. Pour me another!

Added Benefits

Green tea helps fight inflammation in the body and has been shown to have neuroprotective, antioxidant, and antihypertensive properties and may reduce the risk of stroke. Green tea may also improve glucose metabolism and has been shown to support weight loss. I’m always looking for ways to help protect my bones and green tea consumption has been found to be associated with increased bone mineral density. I’ll take it! When I’m at home I like to use loose-leaf green tea. I’m hooked on the Jasmine Green Tea from Rishi, thanks to Mandy Reckers, my amazing naturopathic doctor for turning me on to it! I have a glass mug with its own built in infuser and lid that makes the job easy peasy! Plus the tea looks so pretty through the glass. This happens to be the one I use, but there are others out there. Another thing I love is the “ceremony” around tea. It’s like a special little break in your day…a time to pause and catch your breath! In case you’ve never been into making hot tea, and as simple as it sounds, just don’t quite know where to start, I’m including a link to a short and sweet video that shows you how. A great point that is mentioned in the video is that you can reuse the tea from your infuser and have another cup, and another….

Preparing Green Hot Tea

Preparing Green Hot Tea from Maya Tea Co. on Vimeo.

Whipped Coconut Green Tea Moisturizer

Now for something completely different! Stephanie Gerber from Hello Natural www.hellonatural.co explains some of the beauty benefits of green tea in her wonderful Whipped Coconut Green Tea Moisturizer. http://hellonatural.co/whipped-green-tea-coconut-oil-moisturizer/ 402f4e3a5c254a0c6831a8b5f8fd9954 Do you drink green tea? Do you have a special way you prepare it or a favorite time of day you enjoy it? Share below. email_signoff1

Broccoli: King of Cruciferous

Cups_of_Prevetion_Alison_Drake_broccoli

Broccoli

It’s no wonder that broccoli has been crowned king when it comes to cancer-fighting properties.   Hundreds of studies have been done on broccoli and its cruciferous family, and in addition to its many health benefits, cancer prevention is its claim to fame! Broccoli has been associated with reduced risk of several different types of cancer, and the research is strong when it comes to breast cancer specifically. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Broccoli contains indole-3 carbinol (I3C) a phytochemical that simply put converts the “bad” or stronger form of estrogen to a safer, weaker version. Studies have also shown that I3C actually caused cancer cells to self-destruct! LOVE that! So, I3C is invaluable in protecting the body.
It just blows my mind that nature created such an amazing food with such special powers! Oh, but there’s more! The next cancer-fighting superstar in broccoli is sulforaphane, a phytochemical also found in other cruciferous vegetables. It’s thought that this compound might help remove or neutralize carcinogens or affect your body's hormone levels in a positive way to prevent hormone-related cancers. Sulforaphane also increases enzymes in your liver that help destroy cancer-causing chemicals you may consume or be exposed to in your environment. This compound has even been called one of the most powerful anti-carcinogens found in food. If this doesn’t get you eating broccoli, I don’t know what will :)

Added Benefits

Brocolli is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin A (as natural carotenoids), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, the B vitamins and potassium. You might be surprised to hear that broccoli also contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which add to its anti-inflammatory properties. Broccoli also provides cholesterol-lowering benefits and has been shown to prevent heart disease. I admit I wasn’t a big fan of broccoli, but now I can’t get enough of it! First of all, I’ve grown to actually love the taste, but also every time I eat it, I can’t help but think of all the amazing things its doing for my body, and that makes me love it even more! You can keep it simple and steam your broccoli, which is always a good option, but if you’d like to spice things up a bit, give these recipes a try.

Broccoli with Asian Garlic Sauce

by Kaitlin from The Garden Grazer www.thegardengrazer.com http://www.thegardengrazer.com/2013/05/broccoli-with-asian-garlic-sauce.html broccoligarlicsauce2

Cleansing Green Soup

by Ella at Deliciously Ella www.deliciouslyella.com http://deliciouslyella.com/cleansing-green-soup/ soupblog-460x630 I’m including a link to a FABULOUS book that I recently acquired. It is all about the mighty and wonderful Brasssica family and how to cook them all! Not only is it packed with delicious, healthy recipes, but it is visually stunning, too. “Brassicas – Cooking the world’s healthiest vegetables” by Laura B. Russell http://www.laurabrussell.com/books/ Are you a broccoli lover… what’s your go to method of cooking? Share below. email_signoff1

Flaxseed: Lovely Lignans

Cups_of_Prevention_Alison_Drake_Flaxseed

Flaxseed

Exactly what are lignans and how might they help you prevent Breast Cancer? Lignans are natural plant compounds (phytochemicals) that are locked in the cell matrix of certain seeds, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables. They are similar in shape, structure and function to estrogen. However, the very BIG difference is that lignans are the kinder, gentler version and can actually help the body block the more aggressive estrogens from its estrogen receptor sites. By replacing these more troublesome estrogens with lignans, you may reduce your risk of cell mutations, and consequently of breast cancer.
Everyday we are exposed to hormone disrupting chemicals, through the food we eat, preservatives, our personal care products, our household cleaners, and so on, these “xeno-estrogens” can wreak havoc on your body’s delicate hormonal balance. Flaxseed is your friend and ally in blocking these foreign invaders. Once the “Bad” estrogen has been displaced, it can be properly metabolized and removed from the body as waste.
Flaxseed is without a doubt the richest source of plant lignans. Most plant foods contain some amount of lignans, however, researchers have ranked flaxseed as the #1 source of lignans in our diet. Flaxseed also contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid and is a good source of melatonin also known to offer protection against breast cancer. Wow, as if all that wasn’t enough, flaxseeds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits making them a logical candidate for cancer prevention. Chronic inflammation (even low level inflammation) and chronic oxidative stress are risk factors for the development of any cancer.

How much should I have?

Lignans usually pass through your system in 24-48 hours, so it’s important to eat them consistently, to gain the benefit. 1-2 tablespoons daily is a good amount. It is important to note that flaxseed is easier to digest and absorb when it’s ground versus the whole seed. You can buy it pre-ground or grind it yourself. Flaxseed can spoil quickly, so must be refrigerated.

Added Benefits

Flaxseed is also a good dietary source of vitamin E, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, folate, copper and zinc. It has cholesterol-reducing properties and its anti-oxidant benefits have long been associated with prevention of cardiovascular disease and more recently to decreased insulin resistance. When you first look at the bag of flaxseed, you might wonder how on earth you’ll incorporate it into your diet? It’s really quite easy. You can add it to smoothies, sprinkle it on cereal, yoghurt and salads. If you’re a baker, you can even add it to muffins or bread.

Let's get cooking!

This is a pretty fabulous recipe from Sonali at The Foodie Physician www.thefoodiephysician.com Sonali is an ER doctor and culinary school graduate who loves to combine her medical and culinary backgrounds to create healthy recipes.

Blueberry Banana Flaxseed Smoothie 

http://www.thefoodiephysician.com/2012/06/ingredient-911-flaxseed-superfood.html You can read even more about the virtues of flaxseed on her recipe post!

Flourless Pumpkin Pie Muffins

In keeping with the season, I’m treating you to a scrumptious and healthy recipe for Flourless Pumpkin Pie Muffins from Amanda at Running with Spoons www.runningwithspoons.com http://www.runningwithspoons.com/2014/09/08/flourless-pumpkin-pie-muffins/ Flourless-Pumpkin-Pie-Muffins Have you already embrace Flaxseed. How do you include it in your day? Share below. email_signoff1