Posts Tagged ‘Omega-3 fatty acid’

thCADXAK06Aztecs and Mayans began using chia seeds as early as 3500 BC.  They were ground into flour, pressed for oil and mixed into water for drinking.  They were considered “magical” because of their ability to increase stamina and energy over long periods of time.  After the Spanish conquered Latin America, the seeds faded away as the Spanish introduced their own foods.

Chia seeds contain fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin zinc, antioxidants and protein.  In fact, they have more omega-3 fatty acids than even salmon and deliver more calcium than skim milk (18% of daily intake value).  Chia seeds are also known to reduce caloric intake since they absorb up to 12 times their own weight and expand.

They can be eaten in breakfast cereals, yogurt, salad, baked goods, water, juices, and smoothies.  It is now also being added to chicken and cattle feed for more enriched eggs and milk.  I expect the popularity will only continue to grow for chia seeds because of their numerous benefits.


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thThe term “superfood” is not commonly used by dietitians and nutritional scientists.  In fact, there is not a legal definition and some have alleged that it has been used more as a marketing tool.  When the term is misused it can even be harmful when applied to foods that may have drawbacks.  In the European Union the marketing of products as superfoods is prohibited unless is it supported by credible scientific research.  Because that is not the case in the United States, one should exercise some judgment when trusting the item is a superfood.

The dictionary defines a superfood as “a food considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and well-being.”  For the purpose of this article, a superfood may contain one or more of the following:

  • Low in calories
  • Contain omega-3 fatty acids
  • High in fiber
  • Contain phytochemicals
  • Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  • Low in sat fats or contain health fats

There are many superfoods out there but here are a few common ones you may already be eating:

Blueberries – They are abundant with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids and high in potassium and vitamin C.  They can lower risk of heart disease and cancer.  They are also an anti-inflammatory which is a key driver in many chronic diseases.  To reap the benefits eat about ½ cup a day. . . fresh or frozen.

thCA37MZTWFish Rich in Omega-3 – Some examples are salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel.  Try to eat these wild and not farmed.  The Omega-3 in these fish help lower heart disease risk, help arthritis, and may help with memory loss.  You can also find Omega-3 in flax seeds and walnuts so you don’t have to just stick to fish.

Soy – A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that soy lowered cholesterol as much as statins (prescribed cholesterol medicine).  However, if you have a family history of breast cancer it is not recommended to eat extra soy.

Fiber – Good sources of fiber include whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables.  They help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Green Tea – It contains the antioxidant Epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG).  EGCG is an anti-oxidant contained in green tea that may have additional beneficial effects against age-related degenerative diseases.  A study in Spain and the UK showed that ECGC can inhibit the growth of cancer cells.  For more information on green tea check out http://wp.me/p1jVmD-jo

kaleDark Leafy Greens – Try kale, collard greens, or spinach.  They are a great source of Vitamins A, C, and K.  They also have plenty of potassium, folate and fiber.  They are low in calories and are another food that helps reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Though the term “superfood” may seem like a marketing ploy or fad, it has done a lot to inform about the benefits of eating natural foods and staying away from processed food.  Learn more about superfoods on your own and exercise that judgment to learn what works best for  you and your diet.

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Research has shown that what you eat and drink can protect your body against health issues to include heart disease.

One of the recommendations is to vary the types of fish, vegetables, whole grains, and other items you enjoy every day. This article reviews a list that has been put together by Deborah Hastings of Prevention.com of the world’s 25 top foods for your heart.  Here is the first bunch that you can mix and match these for a healthier diet.


Wild Salmon

Wild salmon (not farmed) – This fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids which improve the metabolic markers for heart disease. It also is packed with selenium.  Selenium has shown to boosts cardiovascular protection.

Sardines – This little fish is also loaded with omega-3s in the form of fish oil.  This increases “good” cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of sudden heart attacks.  Fresh ones are a better choice here as the canned type is high salt content.

Liver – I’m not one to eat liver but what do I know.  Liver contains fats that are good for the heart.   It also has large quantities of vitamins B12, B6, and folate which reduce the levels of homocysteine in the blood and that results in improving cardiovascular health and decreasing your risk of having a heart attack.

Walnuts – These nuts contain no cholesterol and a large amount of healthy fat. One serving contains 19.6 g, most of which is heart-healthy polyunsaturated fat. According to the Mayo clinic, walnuts and other nuts high in polyunsaturated fat promote healthy blood vessels. Walnuts are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may be helpful for heart disease and cancer prevention.

Almonds – Almonds are similar to walnuts and are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, the same type of fat found in olive oil that has positive health benefits. Consumption of monounsaturated fat is linked with reduced cardiovascular disease


Chia Seeds

Chia seeds – These seeds are a rich source of omega-3.  They are also high in protein, vitamins, calcium, antioxidants and fiber.   You can reduce bad cholesterol and plaque buildup by mixing them with yogurt, cereal, or soup.

Oatmeal – This is a great breakfast food that is also great for your heart.  Oatmeal contains a soluble fiber which is thought to decrease the amount of cholesterol absorbed by the intestines.  There a many types of oatmeal out there but pick the plain, non-processed kind. Instant and flavored oats are often drenched in processed sugar.

Blueberries – These berries are packed with resveratrol and flavonoids.  These antioxidants help prevent coronary disease. While it is best to eat these berries fresh you can also find them frozen or dried.

Coffee – Similar to blueberries, coffee is high in antioxidants. They are also rich in dietary fiber.  These beans are also helpful in type 2 diabetes prevention.  However, if you are a coffee drinker you may prefer to filter your coffee.  Drinking large amounts of unfiltered coffee is associated with slightly higher cholesterol due to diterpenes which raise your triglycerides.

Red Wine

Red Wine

Red wine – Many people enjoy a glass of red wine at the end of the day to help relax.  However, that is not the only benefit of red wine.  Like blueberries, red wine contains resveratrol.  It also contains the antioxidants flavonoids and polyphenols in addition to resveratrol.  Flavonoids decrease LDLs and increase HDLs which adds to heart health.  Polyphenols inhibit the formation of proteins that create plaque believed to destroy brain cells and they reduce the toxicity of plaque.

Green tea – Green tea contains antioxidants which we have already discussed the benefits.  It also protects against atherosclerosis by lowering LDLs and raising HDLs.  For more info on how green tea can help you brain, check out this article:  https://notsocorporatewellness.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/green-tea-for-your-brain/

Soy milk – Because this milk is plant-based, it contains no cholesterol and is naturally low in fat.  It also contains isoflavones, which has been shown to help reduce cholesterol.

Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate – Dark chocolate contains flavonoids which help repair damaged cells and prevent further damage from toxins. Without antioxidants, Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or the “bad,” cholesterol accumulates and can oxidize, resulting in plaque build-up in your arteries. Pick dark chocolates that are minimally processed to get the benefits.

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