Tag: nuts

Health benefits of macadamia nuts

Health benefits of macadamia nuts

MacadamiaNuts have been in the news for all the good reasons, for their innumerable health benefits. They are considered to be very healthy addition to our diets. Another yummy addition to the category of healthy nuts are macadamia nuts. These are delicious as well as very healthy. Let us have a look at their health benefits.

  • Rich in healthy fats- These nuts are very rich in healthy monounsaturated fat which are said to be cardio protective by reducing cholesterol levels and are great for clearing your arteries. Macadamia nuts are rich in palmitoleic acid, an omega-7 fatty oil that provides the building blocks for the enzymes that control the burning of fat and curb your appetite.
  • Macadamia nuts are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, selenium and flavonoids which are known to prevent cancers.
  • Macadamia nuts are rich in minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
  • Macadamia nuts provide our daily requirements of thiamine or vitamin B1, one of the vitamin which many of us are deficient in or do not get enough in their diets.
  • Although it is healthier than olive oil, it also has high smoke point and hence can tolerate high temperatures unlike olive oil and hence is a healthy oil for all cooking purposes. It can be used for baking purposes too and can replace oils and butter in baking.

Be careful of overeating these tiny dynamos, as these are rich in calories. One serving of macadamia nuts are about 10-12 nuts. They can work well as midday snack or can be sprinkled over salads. Go ahead indulge in moderation and enjoy its benefits!!!

 

Why Indian cooking is healthy..

Why Indian cooking is healthy..

Indian cookingIndian cuisine just like other cuisines follows the traditional methods of cooking. As we know that Indian food is now being eaten all over the globe. Various misconceptions that it is unhealthy, too rich in fat and oil and spicy, has made a lot of people think twice before opting for Indian food. In India, I am shocked to see so many of our cooking methods are dying out. Let us have a look at the facts that justify Indian cooking is healthy.

 

  • Seasoning–  I love it when my kitchen emanates with the lovely smells after I season my dishes. Add a teaspoon or two of oil/ghee for the portion cooked for the whole family is really harmless. In-fact, it helps to absorb the fat soluble vitamins from food and aids digestion. For eg. adding a teaspoon of oil to greens such as Spinach, amaranth etc helps to absorb the vitamin K from it.So chuck the boiled vegetables and boiled dal and get the seasoning on.

 

  • Mutual supplementation– Eating a cereal and pulse/ pulse and milk group/ cereal and milk group combination helps to meet the required protein intake. This is cheaper on the pocket and is healthy. Most of the vegetarians eat this way. Classic examples are khichdi, curd rice, dhokla, pongal etc.

 

  • Use of whole spices– Adding bayleaf, mustard, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, cloves etc helps in enriching our food with antioxidants, act as diuretics, add fiber to our diets.

 

  • Use of ground spices-Turmeric powder acts as an antiseptic and hence most of our meat our always washed and then smeared with turmeric. Fenugreek powder helps to reduce blood sugars.

 

  • Healthy cooking methods– Most of the dishes are ground, sauteed, steamed, stir fried, pressure cooking which are healthier methods and retain more nutrients than baking. Hence less trans-fats in the food. But sadly deep fried foods are a delicacy, that is where we fall back.

 

  • Fresh Ingredients– Most of the dishes are made from the scratch with fresh ingredients and always seasonal vegetables and fruits are used. Curry leaves, ginger, tamarind, lemons, raw mangoes etc are available in most of the Indian households.

 

  • Low processed food– Yes, canning, microwave dinners etc are non existent in Indian cooking. But yes, such foods are being imported for variety.

 

  • Natural preservatives– Salt, sugar, etc are the preservatives used rather than any chemicals being used.

 

  • High intake of vegetables– Most Indians feel their meals are incomplete without a sauteed vegetable. Tomatoes and onions are always used while cooking. Although intake of fruits depends on the affordability but again gooseberries, papayas, guavas, mangoes, star fruits, lemons are grown again in most of the gardens.

 

  • Use of nuts and seeds– Ground pastes of cashews, almonds, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, coconut etc provide good fats and are widely used for thickening and as the base for cooking.

 

Most of the Indian dishes are easy to cook and if these concepts are continued to be used, then Indians can continue to eat and stay healthy if moderates amount of exercise is added.

Ways to beat “Stress fat” aka Belly fat

Ways to beat “Stress fat” aka Belly fat

belly-fatWe are all familiar with “fat”. It is one term who all are fixated about. But the latest is “stress fat”. It is known that even if you eat healthy and exercise regularly, chronic stress can make you gain weight.

How does this happen?

Your body has various responses to stress. If you have had a stressful day, Your brain instructs your body to release adrenaline hormones which brings out stored energy so that you can fight or flee the stressful moments. But the at the same time, cortisol hormone is also released which will tell your body to replenish the spent energy, even though you have not used up many calories. These hormones can make you very hungry. So as long as you are stressed, cortisol keeps being released and hunger pangs are increased.

Cortisol hormone increases the visceral fat which is the fat surrounding your abdomen. This fat is dangerous as it surrounds the vital organs such as liver, pancreas etc and also releases fatty acids into your blood thereby raising the blood cholesterol, insulin levels and you are paving your way to heart diseases, diabetes and obesity.

As it is not completely possible to be immune to stress or get completely rid of it, you can learn to beat stress. By following few of these steps below, You can get your cortisol levels and your weight under control and improve your overall health at the same time.

Step 1: Exercise daily

Exercise is a wonderful stress buster. The blood circulates faster, thereby flushing out the cortisol hormone through the kidneys. Stretching exercises or any other form of exercise can help.  Utilize the time in your lunch break for a walk if you cannot exercise daily. Hitting the gym is a stress buster.

Step 2: Eat slowly
Wolfing down any kind of food can increase your belly fat, even the food is healthy. Eating while working or on the run, thinking about work or any unhappy thoughts or having an unpleasant conversation while eating can increase your stress levels. Pay attention to your food. “Art of Living” emphasizes that one should live in the present moment. Hence savor each bite and pay attention to feelings of fullness. This will help to prevent formation of belly fat.

Step 3: Stop being diet-centric
Stop focusing too much on your diet. Excess dieting can actually make you lose your self control as you are only thinking about eating. If you eat very less, your body experiences stress and the cortisol levels increase. When cortisol levels increase, your blood sugars go hay wire. To prevent this, Eat a balanced diet which will keep your sugar levels normal. It is always advisable to eat 6 small meals through the day. By eating this way, you wont be hungry nor will you be stressed about eating and you will effortlessly drop the extra kilos.

Step 4: Indulge occasionally
Do not deprive your self completely as this can make your cortisol levels go out of control as you are continuously stressing by reminding your self not to eat. Take a bite of what you love. I love chocolates but I stick to once a week bite but I do not devour the whole bar. You can make your indulgence healthier by opting for a healthier version but again healthy does not always mean low calorie, so stick to the “one bite policy”. Also keep them out of your reach. Do not stock them at home. They may become your late night boredom snacks, if you see them lying about.

Step 5: Decrease caffeine intake
Stress and caffeine are like dynamite. They together can raise your cortisol levels. This is something I make my clients understand who tell me that they keep sipping too much of coffee or tea. Cut down your trips to the coffee counter if you want to lose weight effectively. Quitting caffeine for sometime can help to speed up weight loss and decrease belly fat.

Step 6: Have a power packed breakfast

Deficiencies of various vitamins and minerals can lead to increased food cravings and eventually weight gain. So its important to eat a nutritious breakfast. My favorite breakfast is whole grain bread or wheat rotis with peanut butter with a different fruit daily especially citrus fruits for vitamin C. Whole grains provide vitamin B which help to break down food easily and peanut butter gives good fats which reduces stress hormones. So include nuts daily by sprinkling it over breakfast cereals. Include a Calcium source such as milk, yogurt etc.

Step 7: Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation is the major stressor on the body. Those who sleep less than 6 hours are known to gain weight. Ideal amount of sleep is 6-8 hours. It is also known that those who sleep less, are said to have higher levels of hunger boosting hormone called as ghrelin. So those who do not sleep enough, catch up on enough sleep. Remember to eat atleast 2 hours before going to bed. This is really good for digestion as well as for good sleep. Try to go to bed early. Ideal time to sleep is 10-11 pm.

Step 8: Meditate or get spiritual

Both have a calming effect on the brain and maintain the blood pressure. Being spiritual, helps to reduce stress and help in the production of feel good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.

Step 9: Listen to music
Listening to music while exercising is a great buster. So next time you go for a walk, do not forget your Ipod. Relax at home by listening to music.

Step 10: Get a massage
Massage therapy is great for relieving stress. You can get it done professionally or from your partner. It relaxes the muscles and helps in better blood circulation, thereby decreasing the cortisol levels.

Try out all these methods for a flatter belly and to lead a stress free life.

Skipping meals equals to skipping good health

Skipping meals equals to skipping good health

skipping_mealsSkipping meals is commonly seen among students and newly joined employees fresh out of college. This is a habit developed in teenage years and carried well into adulthood. Despite of knowing the consequences, this practice still continues.

Let us have a look at why it is harmful to skip meals and the consequences are as follows-

  • Low energy levels
  • Poor metabolism
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Poor concentration and performance at work
  • Memory lapses
  • Fainting spells
  • Poor disease resistance
  • Weak bones
  • Poor quality skin, hair and nails
  • Mood swings

Mainly meals are missed due to poor sleep-wake habits such as sleeping very late and waking up late and giving an excuse “I have no time to eat breakfast”. You cannot keep make excuses with your health.

When you skip meals, you go on a ‘fasting mode’. For example, Skipping breakfast gives you poor energy levels. You are anyways in a fasting mode 2-3 hours after dinner and through out the night. Your body goes through repair at night and is in a very low energy mode. That is why the first meal is called breakfast which means breaking the fast.

What about other meals? Skipping lunch and dinner too is not going to help.It is a common misconception that skipping meals will help you to lose weight. But this is not true. In fact ,if you eat very less, it can lead to fainting and this is not a great way to lose weight. Or the effect can be quite opposite. Skipping meals can lead to food cravings, binge eating and weight gain.

When you do not eat for a prolonged period of time, like when you skip a meal, your body goes into starvation mode and your metabolism slows down to preserve energy. This means that your body will compensate for the inadequate calories by burning fewer calories than it normally would. When your body goes into starvation mode it does not draw from its fat stores for energy, and this makes it virtually impossible to lose weight. Once you do eat, your body will store those calories, rather than use them, because it expects you to starve it again. Now you know why you remember a pastry or a bag of chips when you are extremely hungry as you have not eaten for a long time and also what it can do to you.

Eating less will lead to poor metabolism and this will lead to poor calorie burning.

Now how can you eat to get good health-

To execute a good performance and to remain alert at work, Eat small meals during the day. Instead of 2-3 large meals, eat six small meals in a day. This will keep your blood sugar stabilized and will help you to keep burning calories through out the day.

Try to wake up early than your usual time and eat breakfast. Eat snacks such as nuts, channa, milk which provide protein and also fruits which will help you to stabilize your blood sugars. Eat lunch and dinner approximately at the same timings and do not skip dinner saying you will just eat fruits or plainly just skip it.

A good meal plan will help you eat right and do not forget to add a 30 minute exercise routine, no matter how busy you are.

This will keep you fresh, alert and brimming with energy and also keep your bosses happy with your work!!!

Tips to snack; from the Site dietitian

Tips to snack; from the Site dietitian

carrot_sticksAs a dietitian, we too end up with hectic days and very less time to eat and exercise. Although I feel cranky if I miss my work outs but my toughest times are the snack times. I converse with patients from ten in the morning up till six in the evenings. This makes it hard for me sometimes to think of grabbing a healthy snack.

Snacks can really add up to calories if you do not keep a check on what you are eating.

The snacks I love to eat –

  • Pop corn with less or no oil.
  • Fruits- I always carry a zip pouch with cut fruits. I add a dash of pepper or chaat masala for a zing.
  • Carrot sticks, Julienne of red, yellow and green peppers are my favourite.
  • Boiled eggs if I do not have time to make a healthy snack after my work out.
  • Nuts- walnuts and almonds
  • Yogurt- Low fat categories helps me meet my calcium requirements.
  • Bananas- I have not included it in my fruits list as I consider this sometimes as my cover up for a late meal. If I know I am going to go with out food for a longer time, or if my meal mostly lunch is going to be delayed by more than an hour, I eat a medium sized banana. Keeps me active a little more longer. It reduces my hunger pangs and hence can work better.

Fruits and vegetables need a little pre-preparation but the efforts are worth while. Nuts can be just added in small air tight containers. Healthy snacking keeps me perked during my work and with out the guilt of unwanted calories.