Combine plain, vanilla or your favourite yogurt with sliced bananas, fresh or frozen pitted cherries, and sprinkle with oatmeal granola or oats. The yogurt contains tryptophan which helps us get to sleep, and calcium, which helps our bodies to produce melatonin. Bananas relax our muscles with potassium and magnesium, along with more tryptophan. Tart cherries and oats provide melatonin, as well. If you need more sweetness add some liquid honey, which increases our insulin level and helps the tryptophan to do it’s work. Good night!
Certain foods are known to help us get to sleep naturally. So wouldn’t it be great to have an evening snack that combines some of these foods? Some foods increase glycine, serotonin, tryptophan or melatonin. You might first try incorporating a relaxing warm beverage as part of your nightly routine.
Glycine is an animo acid. It has been found to increase serotonin without increasing dopamine levels. We become more relaxed, and glycine has also been shown to reduce “spinning thoughts”. It’s available in supplements, but chamomile tea has been shown to increase glycine, so this is worth considering. However, consult your doctor, because you can be allergic to chamomile, especially if you are allergic to daisies or asters, and if you are taking medicine to lower blood pressure, or if you are like me and have low blood pressure already, chamomile may make your blood pressure too low. Also chamomile that is too concentrated can cause nausea or vomiting. This all seems a little risky to me for a first step.
I’m a fan of warm milk instead of chamomile tea. I add a little bit of liquid honey to make the milk more palatable. Not all of us can do dairy, though. If you can, the milk contains the animo acid tryptophan, which helps us to get in to that first stage of sleep. Milk also contains calcium, which is needed for tryptophan to help create serotonin. The honey raises insulin levels, so that the tryptophan can affect our brain more easily and help us with those next stages of sleep. Sleep tight. I will follow up with some bedtime snacks another night.
If I could find Blueberry Hill, I’d be thrilled. We used to pick wild blueberries in the forest near our summer cottage in Northern Ontario. I have tried to plant blueberry bushes a few times in my country yard, and while the bushes grew, I neglected them for a few weeks in the hot weather, and lost them, never getting to harvest their delicious berries. I will give it a better go in my next home.
There are different varieties of blueberry bushes growing naturally around the world. The blueberries that we tend to buy commercially are native to North America. Blueberries are better for you purchased fresh, but it is certainly handy to have them on hand in frozen form. A recent study showed that frozen blueberries had much lower levels of the anthocyanin delphinidin (a flavonoid) than fresh. Wild lowbush varieties of blueberries are more nutritious than highbush berries. However, just because something is labelled as wild doesn’t mean it hasn’t been sprayed. That label can mean that the berries are of the lowbush variety, but they can still be sprayed! So wild does not mean organic. For example an American study of domestic blueberries found 42 different pesticides on domestic blueberries!
So if you can find fresh, locally grown organic blueberries buy them! I will still enjoy my frozen blueberries in the winter here, and I will try to buy organic frozen. In smoothies, on my cereal, in my yogurt and in blueberry pie.
Blueberries contain Vitamins K and C, manganese, fiber and copper. They also are rich in anthocyanin which is an antioxidant. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood vessel function and slow mental decline with age.
A study showed that rats fed blueberries, had reduced abdominal fat and lower cholesteral.
Other studies showed that blueberries reduced breast cancer tumors in mice and slowed the spread of the disease. So if you are a rat or mouse, I’d recommend blueberries. As a human, needing to reduce abdominal fat and cholesteral, and wanting to avoid cancer I’m going to bet on blueberries as a superfood and include them in my diet anyway.
I confess to having been overly conservative in the past about trying new vegetables. So Swiss Chard was not on the menu at our house, until sometime in the last year or so. We all know that dark green or colourful vegetables are more nutritious, and Swiss Chard in my grocery store comes in dark green, or a dark green leaf with red stems. No, it’s not rhubarb, and yes we know not to eat rhubarb leaves!
In the vegetable aisle, in the winter, I am able to purchase a large bunch of this leafy green with solid stalks for about $2.99 Canadian. In the summer, I can grow it in a pot in my yard – but I have to keep it raised to protect it from the rabbits. This Swiss imposter is actually from Sicily, and therefore considered part of a Mediterranean diet. It’s leaves are larger and just a tad firmer than spinach, and seem to last a little longer in my fridge than spinach.
There’s nothing like a hot bowl of soup on a cold day. I make “fresh” soup a few times a week. There is no need to follow a recipe, or cook everything from scratch. For me soup is about incorporating some fresh superfoods, using up some leftovers, and throwing in some frozen vegetables.
Begin with a broth or stock. If you have frozen some broth made from boiling down your latest roast turkey, chicken or beef, or if you have made your own vegetable broth, that’s wonderful. Throw a few cups in a pot. If not, pull a box of broth or dried soup mix out of your cupboard and add some water.
Chop some stored root vegetables. Slice a big carrot into thin rounds, dice an onion, chop some potatoes and throw them in the pot. Boil them for five minutes or so, until the once firm vegetables are fork tender, but not too soft. Next add some frozen vegetables, like peas, corn and or beans. Turn down the heat to low. Chop up any leftover cooked vegetables or meat, and toss them in. Add canned drained legumes if you like, and possibly canned stewed tomatoes. Finally chop some fresh swiss chard,
spinach or whatever green is in your crisper. Cook just til everything is warm, and the greens are just wilted. Season to taste and serve.
The point of soup is to enjoy fresh superfoods, while using up the leftovers.
We know that superfoods should be nutritious, and have special powers, and this is the case with raspberries. Raspberries provide us with vitamins and fiber. They are known to have a high level of ellagic acid, which is supposed to prevent cancer by preventing cancer cells from growing. They also contain gallic acid, quercetin and vitamin C which are antioxidants and help with heart, circulation and aging issues. Finally, they have anti-inflammatory properties.
The best part about raspberries, is that in season, they grow in my yard and the farms in the neighbourhood, so locally grown is always good. When they are not in season, they are easy to find in the frozen aisle, and can be added to desserts, smoothies, yogurt and cereal. What good be better?
Antioxidants are compounds which occur naturally in many foods including fruits and vegetables. They are also available as supplements. There are thousands of antioxidant compounds, including resveratrol, flavanols, lycopene, polyphenols, phenols,and beta carotene.
Oxidants or free radicals may be produced naturally in our bodies, and also in the environment, and cause cell damage. So antioxidants essentially prevent, slow or stop cell damage caused by free radicals. The antioxidants are substances with the ability to add provide an electron. Each antioxidant has its own chemical properties and behaviors and so have different roles, and they work together with other substances. So while antioxidants may seem like the new magic pills, there interaction is complex and not fully understood.
There is so much excitement about antioxidants, that it would seem like we should just take supplements of all of the antioxidants out there. However in a few trials of antioxidants, negative effects occurred. A trial of beta-carotene on men were heavy smokers was stopped, when there was an increase in lung cancer rates. Another trial found heavy smokers who had been exposed to asbestos, also had an increase in lung cancer rates when taking beta-carotene with vitamin A. Other studies have not shown this increase however. In another study women taking Vitamins C, E, beta carotene selenium and zinc, had higher rates of skin cancer.
What does this mean? It means that we still don’t understand the complexities of antioxidants, particularly when they are taken artificially in supplement form. When something is good for us, we shouldn’t necessarily take artificially large doses to expect the same effect. More is not always better, and we have a lot to learn.
Welcome to The Superfoods Project. As part of our quest to feel and look younger and healthier, my better half and I have been trying to add healthier foods to our diet. We have been looking at the foods we already eat and enjoy, new foods, and new ways to incorporate foods to our daily life. In the Superfoods Project we will, identify foods, examine why they are superfoods, and try out some new recipes. Some of the posts will be pulled from a previous blog which has a different niche. Bon Apetit!
Today, New Years day, I am starting with one simple superfood, that may not make the lists – but the stores are closed today, so I am enjoying 2 poached eggs, on one slice of rye toast, no butter with a glass of orange juice. Which, according to Loseit.com is 321 calories -from Loseit.com:
2 Egg, Poached, Large 156 calories
1 Pc Rye Toast 82 calories6 ounces Simply Orange no pulp orange juice 83 calories
So why do I feel eggs are a superfood? Most superfoods that are trending are harder to find, or from some exotic location. Eggs are readily available, and I may even see a few chickens walking free range around my neighbourhood. Each egg contains about 6g of protein and contains, vitamins A, E, D, B vitamins, folate and iron, among other things.
Now eggs have been getting a bad rap for years, because of their high cholesterol count, and the nutrition of our eggs depends on what the chickens have been eating. With Omega 3 eggs, the chickens have received omega 3 enhanced feed. Their eggs have been shown to have 39% Arachidonic acid, which is an inflammatory fatty acid. Reducing inflammation is said to be one of the keys to living longer, so that sounds good to me. They also had 5 times as much Omega 3 as in regular eggs. Another study showed that free range eggs, are lower in fat, cholesterol, and higher in Vitamins A, E, Beta Carotene, and Omega 3 than regular eggs.
So if I am able, since I am worth it, I will purchase free range or Omega 3 enhanced eggs whenever I can.