Nuts for Nuts!

Aw, Nuts!

Eating nuts have already been linked to reducing the risk of chronic disease, but now it’s clear consumption reduces inflammation.

In Boston, researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital have done several studies on the positive health effects of eating nuts. They, along with other scientists, have noted how the risk of developing chronic disease decreases when we consume nuts. For this study, the researchers wanted to figure out why this is true.

The lead epidemiologist at the hospital stated, “Our new work suggests that nuts may exert their beneficial effects in part by reducing systemic inflammation.”

The recent study revealed that eating at least five servings of nuts per week is incredibly helpful. Even adding nuts to meals three times a week showed to reduce biomarkers for inflammation.

The study states: “Researchers found participants who ate five or more servings of nuts per week or substituted red meat, processed meat, eggs or grains with nuts in three meals per week had reduced markers of inflammation than those who didn’t.”

Type-2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other chronic diseases can be triggered or made worse because of inflammation. If nuts are proving to reduce inflammatory biomarkers, then it makes sense that eating them will keep you healthier overall.

Many nuts contain similar properties such as fiber, antioxidants, healthy fats, etc. The scientists can attest that consuming nuts decreases inflammation. However, they still cannot pinpoint which element in nuts is to be thanked most for this discovery. It could be L-Arginine, unsaturated fat, fiber, something else, or a combination of a few.

That’s Just Nuts!

Here are some nutritional highlights about various types of nuts:

One ounce of almonds provides about 9% of daily adult recommended calcium and 27% of magnesium. They also contain zinc and vitamin E.

Cashews have a lower caloric content than many any nuts. They’re high in iron, zinc, and potassium.

Hazelnuts provide copper, biotin (great for hair and nails), and vitamin E.

Macadamia nuts are high in manganese and natural antioxidants.

Peanuts contain resveratrol (the compound in red wine that promotes healthy aging.)

Pecans contain the alpha and the gamma forms of vitamin E.

Pine nuts offer potassium, iron, copper, and zinc.

Pistachios– two ounces provide more potassium than a big banana.

Walnuts contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

There are over 50 different types of nuts from all over the world. Mix and match, consume and help keep your body inflammation-free.

For more articles on health, nutrition, and avoiding disease, check out www.GetThrive.com

Grocery List Essentials for Your Plant-Based Diet

It’s really exciting to make a conscious choice to eat more plant-based foods. It can also be daunting if you’re not sure what to fill your pantry with in order to prepare or cook yummy new dishes.

Additionally, you can find yourself spending a bit more in your budget to catch up on the basics, like nuts, seeds, and herbs. Plant-based chef Miranda Hammer (who also happens to be a registered dietician) has some great ideas for stocking up, especially if this is a new venture for you at home.

The idea is to flavor-up what could be bland. Using fresh produce is the start. Dress it up with dried, nonperishable, nutritious items. Your goal is to keep all your foods whole and unprocessed.

Hammer suggests shopping in the bulk bins at your local health food store or market. Since they need to turnover the products in a timely fashion, if they’re not all sold, they will often offer a decent discount.

Texture, Fiber, and Good Fats

Nuts and seeds are amazing sources of protein, fiber, and other healthy supplements. They are both terrific snacks alone, but the chef recommends using them as toppers on salads, oatmeal, ice cream, or cooked veggie dishes.

Get them raw and unsalted. Some preferred nuts are: walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews, and, of course, the go-to nut—peanuts. Tasty seeds include: chia, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, and flax.

Herbivore Alert

Dried herbs and spices are must-haves if you want exotic tastes. As we are hearing more often, many spices and herbs contain anti-inflammatory properties, which adds further benefit to their use.

You can also avoid using too much salt by incorporating another interesting spice instead. Hammer suggests investing in: cumin, oregano, turmeric, ginger, coriander, and thyme.

Beans, Grains, Oils, and Stand-bys

Another staple for plant-based pantries are beans and legumes. Some of these include: lentils, black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, and split peas. Of course any grains you buy should be “whole”—like in cereal, quinoa, brown rice, spelt, and bulgur.

Coconut, extra-virgin olive, avocado, and sesame are Hammer’s favorites. And delicious for dressings, sauces, or to dip in, balsamic vinegar, tamari, raw apple cider, and Dijon mustard are the recommendations.

Stock up on these items little-by-little. They should last in your pantry for a short while (some longer than others.) Buy your produce fresh and organic. With the combination of these items, you can make yourself some fabulous, healthy meals right in your own home.

7 Smoothie Recipes to Get You in Gear

Smoothies are a great way to pack lots of nutrients into one frosty drink. The key, however, is to prepare your smoothie with the healthiest ingredients, all while creating the yummiest flavor. Here are some recipes that are nutritious, delicious, and will boost your booty into high gear.

Main Smoothie Staples

There are a few categories of ingredients you’ll want to add to most or all of your smoothies. They are: protein, fiber, good fat, and fresh produce

Here are some examples. You can derive protein from: protein powder (pea protein has no dairy or soy); nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), seeds (pumpkin, flax, chia); good fats (coconut or flaxseed oil, avocado, almond butter), fiber (berries, carrots, squash, pumpkin), and greens (spinach, kale, chard, basil).

Feel free to mix and match within the food groups and improvise with the recipes.

Don’t skip the good fats thinking that will help your diet. You need the good fats to help you absorb all the nutrients in the powders and the whole foods. It’s the nutrients that boost your metabolism and actually help you lose weight and maintain optimum health.

The biggest detriment to store-bought smoothies is their sugar content. When making them at home, use stevia or honey if you feel you need to add more sweetness. These recipes, however, should be perfectly adequate without any type of sweetening additive. Toss all the ingredients in the blender (adding ice is optional) and tada! Your “get in gear” smoothie will appear.

APPLE PIE IN THE SKY SMOOTHIE

2 scoops vanilla protein powder
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ minced green apple
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon almond butter
8 ounces unsweetened vanilla almond milk

 

LIGHTING UP THE BLACK FOREST

 

2 scoops chocolate protein powder
1/3 cup pitted dark cherries
1/3 cup raspberries
1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
1 teaspoon organic unsweetened cocoa powder
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate almond milk

 

PUNCH IT UP PINA COLADA

 

2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1 teaspoon coconut oil
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
8 ounces original or vanilla unsweetened coconut milk

 

JUMPIN’ FOR ALMOND JOY

 

2 scoops chocolate protein powder
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 teaspoon coconut oil
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
8 ounces vanilla or chocolate unsweetened almond milk

 

PERKY PINK LADY

 

2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/3 cup raspberries
1/3 cup strawberries
1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
splash of unsweetened cranberry juice
8 ounces unsweetened plain or vanilla coconut milk

 

GREEN GO-GETTER

 

2 scoops vanilla protein powder
½ cup chopped spinach
pinch of fresh basil leaves
pinch of wheat grass
½ ripe avocado
½ minced green apple
8 ounces of unsweetened vanilla almond milk

 

SOCK IT TO ME CINNAMON

 

2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/3 cup blueberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut oil
8 ounces plain unsweetened almond milk

 

Any of these smoothies can replace one of your three main meals of the day. A suggested dietary habit can include one smoothie daily along with fresh, whole foods for snacks and other meals. For additional recipes, up-to-date food recommendations, and best health practices for you and your family, check out www.GetThrive.com

3 Healthy, Proven, Mood-Boosting Snacks

If you tend to lean toward low energy and/or depression, the foods you eat can either be culprits or heroes. Ingesting certain items can make you feel worse. But the good news is, there are foods and snacks that will actually help improve and boost your mood.

Moods, Hormones, Depression, and Inflammation

Sometimes we fall into phases of the dumps. Most of the time the cause is a chemical imbalance. If we’re stressed out all the time, the overload of cortisol eventually wears us down. If we’re not sleeping properly, our “body clock” falls out of rhythm and can lead to mild depression.

Probably one of the biggest culprits for causing the blues is the food we eat. If our diet is full of processed foods, wheat, refined sugars, our ability to process vitamins will be weak. If we’re malnourished, our brain responds by acting blah.

Over 80 percent of our serotonin (feel good) hormone lives in our gut. If our digestive system isn’t functioning optimally, it makes sense that our serotonin levels will be imbalanced. Then, how are we expected to feel good?

In fact, there can even be inflammation in your brain from certain foods. Reducing toxin overload will definitely pick up your spirits. Try choosing these healthy snacks and see if your mood gets the positive boost you’re seeking.

Walnuts

Grab a handful each day, and you’re sure to benefit nutritionally. These nuts contain Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which are neuroprotective compounds. They’re also high in antioxidants.

For women, walnuts have been found to help reduce nausea in pregnancy. But for men, in particular, these nuts have been shown to improve their mood by up to 28 percent. They also contain melatonin, which manages our circadian rhythm, helping us sleep better. Most everyone’s in a better mood after they’ve had a good night’s rest.

Hummus

This middle-eastern dip is so versatile and yummy. Its main ingredient is chickpeas, also know as garbanzo beans. Garbanzos are super high in folate, which is vitaminB9.

Studies have shown that many people who are depressed are also low in folate levels—sometimes even deficient. Perhaps that’s because low B9 levels are associated with low levels of serotonin. Garbanzo beans are higher in folate than even spinach and broccoli!

Hummus is generally a mixture of the beans with pureed sesame seeds, olive oil, garlic, and other spices. In most markets today, you can find plain hummus and also various flavors like: sun-dried tomato, sriracha, and avocado. It’s perfect for carrot, celery, or sweet potato chip dipping.

Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds

Grab a handful of seeds for snack, and you’ll find yourself happier for a couple of reasons. First off, there’s an element of satisfaction in crunching and chewing. Secondly, these seeds (along with hemp, flax, and chia) have the good fats. They help our bodies absorb nutrients from the other healthy foods we eat.

Happy belly makes for a clearer and balanced mind. So, don’t be afraid to snack on healthy grub. In fact, embrace it—it’s worth trying if it makes you feel better. Check out Thrive for other tips on nutrition and positive living.

Even More Nutty News

We’ve been reminded a lot lately about the health benefits of eating nuts. In this latest study, however, the findings are more impressive than ever.

What’s Not Nuts About Nuts?

Nuts are a food source that have proven to decrease inflammation. Since inflammation is linked to physical ailments such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and others, it’s a great thing when you can eat something that will help reduce levels of inflammation, right?

A couple of other advantageous things about including nuts into our diet are that they contain lots of fiber and protein. We need fiber to help digest efficiently and keep our pipes from clogging. Protein, of course, is a must if we want to maintain optimum levels of energy and good health. Protein helps maintain tissue, build muscle, repair and produce new cells, along with many other functions.

An Ounce a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

According to the study just published in BMC Medicine, a mere 1-ounce of nuts is enough to significantly lower the risk of major disease. And even though nuts are high in fat, they have the “good” fat. Nut studies are showing that consuming small portions of nuts can even lower the risk of obesity!

Researchers at Imperial College, London and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology analyzed 29 global studies on the effects of nuts on health. Those studies cumulatively included over 800,000 participants. What they discovered is that such a small amount of food (only 1-ounce of nuts) had an incredibly profound effect on lowering risk of disease—and in many cases, reduced disease in those already affected.

A small daily serving was found to reduce diabetes by almost 40 percent and cut premature death by 22 percent.

Getting Nuttier

Although the study claims that 1-ounce of nuts makes a huge difference, the researchers stressed that larger amounts did not improve health benefits exponentially. Adding the superfood into salads, oatmeal, or grabbing a handful is one more step towards healthy living. Substituting nuts for junk food is stellar—don’t just add nuts to a lousy diet and think that’s good enough.

Previously, we posted some nutritional highlights about various types of nuts. Here they are in case you missed it:

One ounce of almonds provides about 9% of daily adult recommended calcium and 27% of magnesium. They also contain zinc and vitamin E.

Cashews have a lower caloric content than many any nuts. They’re high in iron, zinc, and potassium.

Hazelnuts provide copper, biotin (great for hair and nails), and vitamin E.

Macadamia nuts are high in manganese and natural antioxidants.

Peanuts contain resveratrol (the compound in red wine that promotes healthy aging.)

Pecans contain the alpha and the gamma forms of vitamin E.

Pine nuts offer potassium, iron, copper, and zinc.

Pistachios– two ounces provide more potassium than a big banana.

Walnuts contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which helps reduce level of bad cholesterol.

There are over 50 different types of nuts from all over the world. Mix and match, consume and help keep your body inflammation-free. Thrive!

Let’s Toast to Breadless Breakfast Treats

Want to avoid bread, but still want a filling, satisfying, and healthy breakfast ideas? Look no further. Here are some breadless suggestions that are nutritious and simple to prepare for the entire family.

SWEET POTATO TOAST

Get a good lookin’ sweet potato and cut it into square-ish slices about ¼-inch thick. Place the “sweet-potato toast” into the toaster on the highest setting. When it pops up, send it through for another round of toasting.

Once removed from the toaster and onto your plate, drizzle a bit of coconut oil over the top. Then for the finale, dust with organic brown sugar.

Healthy Facts: Sweet potatoes are rich in calcium, potassium, vitamin A, B, and C, and fiber. Coconut oil has the good fat and helps you absorb the nutrients from your tater.

RICE-CAKE NUTTER TOAST

Grab an organic rice cake and place it the toaster onto a 2-3 setting. Remove when warm, and plunk onto your plate. Spread your favorite nut butter atop the “toast” rice cake—perhaps peanut, almond, or cashew.

If you’re like most and enjoy a healthy sweet treat, drizzle some organic honey or raw agave over your buttered toast.

Healthy Facts: Nuts all contain the good fat, and recent studies show they decrease systemic inflammation. Almonds provide calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin E. Cashews have a lower caloric content than many any nuts and are high in iron, zinc, and potassium. Peanuts contain resveratrol (the compound in red wine that promotes healthy aging.) Honey is an antibacterial, antifungal, and contains flavonoids and antioxidants.

POLENTA PLEASURE TOAST

You can make your own polenta (from corn meal), or you can purchase an organic “tube” from your local health food grocer. Cut rounded slices about ½-inch thick each. Place them in your toaster oven or oven for about 15 minutes.

Once it’s heated thoroughly and thickened, place your warm polenta slices on your dish. A fantastic treat is to top with an organic fig spread.

If you’re more into salty than sweet, you can top your polenta with crumbled feta cheese and a few pepita seeds, pine nuts, or both.

Healthy Facts: Figs are full of vitamin A, B1, B2, calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, and potassium. Feta cheese is perfect for the lactose intolerant as it’s made with goat or sheep’s milk. Pepita (pumpkin) seeds have protein and zinc and pine nuts contain iron.

If you choose to skip the crunch, you can use AVOCADO as a healthy, staple breakfast treat. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top and then sprinkle with a bit of Himalayan salt and black pepper. Sesame seeds are great too (and contain iron.)

Another option is steamed BUTTERNUT SQUASH. Drizzle with coconut or olive oil and then sprinkle with cinnamon. This can be a terrific diabetic remedy option as it helps control blood sugar levels.

For other nutritious food tips, check out www.GetThrive.com