Health and Nutrition

Healthy Thursdays: Is Coffee Healthy?

Is Coffee Healthy?Is coffee good for you? Does anyone really know for sure?

Coffee has long been controversial due to high levels of acidity, and, of course, because of the caffeine. The acidity can be harmful for some people with digestive problems, while caffeine is essentially an “upper” that can cause heart palpitations for some people when they drink large amounts. Some studies in fact show that drinking large amounts of java (some studies say more than five cups a day) can increase the risk of stroke, heart attacks, and other cardiac problems.

That said, other studies do show that it can help to prevent a large range of diseases and health problems. Studies have shown that it helps to prevent everything from Alzheimer’s Disease to some forms of cancer, as well as diabetes and Parkinson’s Disease.  Some studies looked at decaf while others looked at caffeinated coffee; some studies involved ingesting large amounts of java….so it’s hard to draw any conclusive results from many of the studies.

I have to wonder if the effects of caffeine vary widely from person to person given that some people are up all night with tremors after only a cup, while other people drink it black, practically by the gallon, with no ill effects.

So, coffee…health food or foe? Is it, like many things, good in moderation?  I hope so!

 

Healthy Thursdays: Onions Don’t Just Make You Cry

I knew onions had some health benefits, but when I did the research, I couldn’t believe how many health benefits they might offer.

Though I couldn’t find a statement from the WHO (World Health Organization), several sources state that the WHO promotes the use of onions to treat lack of appetite and prevent atherosclerosis (a condition that occurs when fatty material builds in the arteries, sometimes completely blocking them).  Onions and onion extracts are also used in some parts of the world to treat coughs and colds, asthma, and bronchitis.  They appear to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, they may inhibit tumor growth and bone loss, and they can control blood glucose levels.  If that’s not enough, they can help with sinus problems (helping to drain mucus from sinus cavities), and some people use them topically for antifungal/antibacterial treatments.  Wow – now that’s a superfood!

 

Healthy Thursdays: Spice Things Up with Cinnamon

I’ve always been fascinated by nutrition and the positive effects that food can have on our health.  We’ve all heard about blueberries being a super food, and know we should eat more fish.  Interesting….but I’m especially fascinated when I learn about lesser-known health benefits of foods (including herbs and spices).  For instance, cinnamon has many incredible qualities beyond its comforting, warm flavor.

Eating cinnamon can actually help to control your blood sugar levels.  This study also showed that it can also help control levels of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and total cholesterol.  I love cinnamon, so how to incorporate more into your diet?  A friend once suggested I sprinkle it in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches -it sounded strange, but it was great (I’m now allergic to peanuts, but it’s equally great with sunflower seed butter, which I now eat) – almost anything that you would eat with peanut butter is great with cinnamon.  Cinnamon is also a great addition to french toast batter, just sprinkle a little in with your milk and eggs.  Try sprinkling it on fall/winter veggies like squashes, sweet potatoes and pumpkins - it’s a great pairing whether you are roasting, pureeing, sauteeing or incorporating the veggies into a soup.  Cinnamon is a great addition to baked goods, too.  I recently made some raspberry-oat muffins that included cinnamon and it added a wonderful depth of flavor to my muffins!  It’s great in other baked goods, too - add it to brownies for Mexican brownies, or hot chocolate for Mexican hot chocolate.  (You can heat the milk on the stove with a cinnamon stick in it for great flavor).   You can even sprinkle some in with the ground coffee in your coffee maker to brew cinnamon flavored coffee!

Check back in the next few weeks as I talk about onions, coffee, and other foods!