Diet, Nutrition and a Zen Lifestyle

Gary Saggu's blog on the holistic path

Benefits of Spice Cumin

clock May 8, 2014 11:05 by author Gary Saggu

Cumin is eaten ground or in the form of seeds in many East Asian and African cuisines.  It has many health benefits.  Cumin contains carcumin which presents a lot of benefits.

Spme of the benefits of Cumin are:-

  • Valuable source of Iron and cures any iron deficiency
  • Controls blood pressure as it contains low sodium to begin with and has a strong flavor so one ends up eating less sodium. 
  • Ground cumin kills bacteria in foods (especially fish and meats) so is beneficial.

More spices to follow...

Enjoy 

-- Gary Saggu

www.garysaggu.com

www.garysaggu.net



Upcoming posts - are being prepared

clock August 27, 2013 10:23 by author Gary Saggu

- Healthy Oil Series (Part 4) Grapeseed oil and its benefits

Healthy Oil Series (Part 5) Avocado oil and its benefits

Tomatoes : The different types with nutritional value

- And more...

 

Gary Saggu



Healthy Oil Series (Part 3) Red Palm oil and its benefits

clock April 4, 2013 08:00 by author Gary Saggu

Long overdue but here is the blog post I have promised for a while on the benefits of red palm oil.  

What is it?

Red palm oil has a rich, dark red color when it is unprocessed.  It is derived from the pulp or the mesocarp of the fruit of the palm oil tree which also has the deep red color.  The palm oil tree is the African oil palm, Elaeis guineensis.  Red palm oil should not be confused by palm kernel oil which is derived from the seed of the palm tree.  (This article is about the benefits of unprocessed red palm oil and not the palm oil extracted from the kernel or the seed).  It is used in cooking especially in Asia and Africa.

How is it extracted?

It is cold pressed and best in an unprocessed organic state.  Indonesia and Malaysia have been the top producers of this variety.  

Nutrients in red palm oil?

Red palm oil is full of lycopene (also found in tomatoes) as well as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene(found in carrots) and these 2 nutrients give it its exotic red color.  Red palm oil is also very rich in Vitamin E in the form of tocotreinols.  A popular brand from Malaysia was available from Whole Foods - the bottle states no preservates or colors.  Also, 1 tbsp (~14g) has 14g of fat out of which 6.5g are Monounsaturates, 5.6g are saturates and 1.9g polyunsaturates.  It also contained 11.2mg of natural Vitamin E along with Natural Co-Enzyme Q10. Impressive but watch out for high saturates.

What are its benefits?

  • It may help lowering cholestrol and prevent heart ailments
  • Nutritional benefit (see above)
  • Promotes skin health
  • May aid in weight loss
  • Anti-oxidant and enables elimination of free radicals from body

 

Cons?

There is some talk of the massive deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia to accomodate for the high demand for palm oil worldwide.  Also, species like the "pygmy elephant" are becoming high risk due to this. 

I wonder what cooking with this almost exotically bizzare looking oil will be like.  I cannot wait to try...this weekend!

- Gary Saggu

Part 1 of this series - Olive Oil

Part 2 of this series - Macadamia Oil

My tech blog

 

 

 

Gary Saggu red pam oil photo



Why should you make fermented foods a part of your daily diet?

clock March 27, 2013 15:47 by author Gary Saggu

What is it?

Fermentation is the conversion of carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide(CO2) or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria etc. without the use of oxygen (anaerobically).  Wow, carbs and sugars into alcohol sounds really beneficial for the slow carb diet followers but there is more to that.  Fermentation is used to make wine, beer, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt and more.

 

Benefits of fermented foods?

  • Preservation - it is a natural way of preserving foods and increasing substantially the shelf life of some foods.
  • Fermentation is an all natural process provided no artificial ingredients are used.
  • Tasty and inexpensive - I love the taste of almost all fermented foods (even sauerkraut:) ).  Moreover, it is easy to ferment foods inexpensively.
  • Fermentation eliminates toxins from the food.
  • Improves digestion as the food is easier to digest and assimilate due to the fermentation process.
  • Friendly probiotics and bacteria in fermented foods that balance the bacteria in the intestines.
  • Many studies have shown that fermented soy, helps in preventing and reducing the effects of many diseases including cancer and heart ailments.  The macrobiotic diet is a big proponent of miso, made from fermenting soy beans, has many benefits including lowering high blood pressure.

Time for a serving of sauerkraut!

- Gary Saggu 

(My tech blog)



Healthy Oil Series (Part Deux) - Macadamia nut oil and its benefits

clock March 16, 2013 15:54 by author Gary Saggu

This is my second post on the healthy oil series - Read the previous post on Olive oil here.  I have been reading about the benefits of Macadamia nut oil a lot recently.  I had given up on the Macadamia nut after an article I read about a year and half ago that called the nut with not many nutrients and full of fats.  It was rated as the least useful of the 6 or 7 nuts profiles in this category.  I put it in my list of decadent nuts until I read about Macadamia nut oil and it benefits.  It made sense to me as nothing from nature has absolutely no benefit.

What is it?

It is oil extracted from the nut meat of the Macadamia tree.  This nut (and tree) natively grows in Australia as well as Brazil, Hawaii and other places.  The Macadamia nut trees, Macadamia integrifolia, prefer volcanic soil in more of a tropical climate.  The nut has a number of nutrients and the extracted oil has a number of anti-oxidants and is rich in monounsaturated fats.  The oil itself is clear, with a light yellow color and a distinctive nutty odor.  It is tasty, IMHO!

What are its benefits?

  • Heart and Head friendly:Since the oil is rich in monounsaturated fats(including Omega 3, 6), it helps in the lowering of the LDL cholesterol (bad) and helps in the maintenance of HDL (good) cholesterol. This oil may reduce the risk of heart problems and stroke.
  • As a beauty oil: Since the oil does not oxidise easily and has a rich, buttery feel on the skin it is used in creams and sunblocks. Full of anti-oxidants and the high fat content, it may help keep the skin supple and soft.  Also, loaded with Vitamin E, It may be the youth tonic I was searching for :). Btw, it is supposed to be also good for the hair and nails, although I have not tried it yet.
  • As a cooking oil: Since the oil can withstand high temperatures(smoke point at about 425 F) and has a great flavor, it is a good choice for cooking especially frying or sautéing. This oil also has a high shell life of almost 2 years.

I use it in my morning omelets almost every other day and am trying to integrate it in my diet.  While it is more expensive than other alternatives, it has become a regular in my kitchen. 

Next post on healthy oils will be on Red palm oil - Happy Saturday! 

- Gary Saggu

(My tech blog)



Interesting and questionable ingredients in common salt?

clock March 13, 2013 06:29 by author Gary Saggu

I was eating breakfast this morning and decided to indulge in a little salt.  As I was about to open the packet of salt, I decided to look at the ingredients.  I was quite surprised to see the list - Salt, Sodium Silicoaluminate, Dextrose and Potassium Iodide.

Salt - as expected Sodium Chloride (NaCl). Essential to human life but harmful to us in excess.

Sodium Silicoaluminate - an anti-caking agent used to prevent lumping in table salt.  I did some research on this and realized that there is speculation around it being linked to the progression of Alzheimer's disease.  This is also known as E554 and there is no way I can believe that it is good for the body.  My take is that anything with this synthetic of Silicon and Aluminium should be avoided.  IMHO, all E-ingredients should be avoided.

Dextrose - another mystery! According to the dictionary it is "The dextrorotatory form of glucose found naturally in animal and plant tissue and derived synthetically from starch.".  Personally, I do not want any form of sugar in my food especially in a sneaky way.  It is claimed by the salt makers that Dextrose keeps the Potassium Iodide stable (preventing its oxidation) but I am sure there are other ways to get iodine - naturally.  Also, definitely not good if you are on the slow carb diet (SCD)!

Potassium Iodide - (KI) This ingredient has a purpose - Iodine is a micro-nurient that enables proper functioning of the thyroid gland and used to prevent Goiter (swelling of the thyroid).  Some people argue the need of this in table salt as we need only a little bit of Iodine and it is present in sea vegetables, cranberries and strawberries (all organic I hope!).

Questionable ingredients in table salt - Gary Saggu

I have attached the photo for reference for all :-)! 

My take on this is to start eating natural unrefined sea salts from pure sources - like Celtic sea salt.  I will check in my local Whole foods and update this list.

- Gary Saggu

(My tech blog)



Healthy Oil Series - Olive oil and its benefits also virgin, extra-virgin or cold-pressed explained

clock March 9, 2013 16:33 by author Gary Saggu

I have come across so many articles about how great Olive Oil is and its many benefits.  So, I thought this necessitates a blog entry this Saturday evening as I was confused about some terms like virgin, extra-virgin and cold pressing.  

What is it?

Olive Oil is a natural juice(fat) of the Olive fruit that preserves the nutrients, taste and other aspects of the this fruit of this traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean basin.  Olive oil is a core component of the Mediterranean diet (more on that in the future) and allowed in SCD(slow carb diet).  This extract is rich in beneficial monounsaturated fats and its anti-oxidant substances.  If confused about anti-oxidants read my blog post about another important anti-oxidant here.

How is it produced? Different types of Olive Oil?  (I was confused about the following part the most)

Olive Oil can be extracted from the Olive fruit by chemical or mechanical means.  Mechanical means are the best and involve less processing.  These terms do not guarantee the quality or standard of Olive Oil, however, a good health food store will generally carry the top 2 varieties.  The following is a list in descending quality and nutritional benefit  :-

  • Extra virgin - extracted of the first processing of just ripe olives, it is the least processed and it is certainly the most nutrient rich.  Involves no chemical treatment at all and has less than 1% acidity.  
  • Virgin - extracted from the second processing of olives whose ripeness may be more. Its acidity is around 1.5% or less.
  • Pure - has some filtering and refining and it usually lacks strong flavor.  This processed, blended variety has higher acidity than 1.5%
  • Extra light, Refined Olive Oil and Olive oil - have varying degrees of processing involved and maybe considerably less beneficial than the top 2 in this list.  Variable levels of acidity which may be high sometimes and not good for us.

Like I said before Olive oil in a heath food store should really be in the top 3 types(really 2) only. Since there are not many standards and governance around the above mentioned terms, take them with a grain of salt and experiment and really examine the contents to make sure the olive oil will be what the label says.

What is cold-pressing?

Olive oil is produced by extracting the juice from the Olive fruit by mashing them.  Olive presses were used and traditionally operated by hand.  This first pressing produced very little oil and was called "cold pressing".  All extra virgin Olive Oil should be cold pressed to preserve its nutritional benefits.  

What are its benefits?

  • IMHO, Olive oil is rich in beneficial anti-oxidants and may be an important cancer fighter.
  • May be an important blood pressure(BP) regulator.
  • May even help lower LDL (low density lipo-protein) cholestrol - the bad kind.
  • May help with obesity as well.
  • Supposed to help against osteoporosis.
  • Also, maybe effective against stones in kidney and bladder.

As part of the slow carb diet that I am on, I am consuming enough olive oil everyday - definitely more than 2 tablespoons of extra virgin cold pressed.  Coming up next Macadamia Oil. Happy Weekend!

 

- Gary Saggu



Catechin - Demystified with its benefits

clock March 7, 2013 07:27 by author Gary Saggu

What is it?

Catechin is a type of a polyphenol and it belongs to a group of flavanols part of the flavanoid family.  I had recently discussed Naringin, another flavanoid, in a previous post. There are also types of Catechin and Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) is worth mentioning as it is a powerful one(found in tea).

 

What does it do? 

Catechin is a powerful anti-oxidant and helps in the removal of free radicals in our bodies.  Free radicals are harmful to our bodies at a cellular level greatly weakening it and leaving it vulnerable to infections or more seriously degenerative diseases, cancer, heart issues etc.

 

Benefits of Catechin

Yes there are many, IMHO.

- Catechin maybe a natural flu/cold fighter as it has a natural sterilizing effect killing bacteria. Some plants actually secrete catechin into the ground around them to the hinder the growth of other plants around them. Anyone want to wipe out competition around them this easily? Smile

- Catechin maybe good for the heart and may prevent many heart ailments.

- Maybe a weight loss tonic, fat burner and a blood sugar regulator.  I am going to try this and update my blog once I have some results, not that I am admitting that I need to lose weight :-)!

- Maybe an important player fighter against cancer.  Hopefully there wil be some scientific research on this in the near future.

Where is Catechin found?

IMHO, the best source is green tea.  Not to endorse any brands but I am drinking Tea's Tea (Unsweetened Green White Tea) which is rich in catechins.  And certainly mind the caffeine.

Also found in Acai, Peaches, Kola nut and even garlic and more.  (Isn't garlic amazing?)

Moral: Drink lots of green tea throughout the day, so the catechin from the green tea is entering the body. I certainly am! Enjoy.

- Gary Saggu



The Glycemic Index demystified...Part 1

clock March 5, 2013 20:12 by author Gary Saggu

I have come across the term Glycemic Index so many times and its about time this term gets explained.  In simple words, this is a measure of how quickly the blood sugar level rises after eating any type of food - ranging from meats to fruits.  The Glycemic Index or the GI of a food is a great comparative measure of what impact do different foods have on the blood sugar level.  The index is relative to the GI of Glucose which sits at a 100.

Therefore, a food with a low GI will release glucose more slowly in a prolonged manner compared to a hi GI food which causes a rapid almost abrupt rise in blood glucose levels.  Much research indicates that high GI foods may cause obesity.  I am personally experimenting with consuming low GI foods and willl update this blog with results.  I am in my third week of the slow carb diet.

Note that the GI does not measure the amount of carbs consumed and has no reference to it. Also, GI of a food having one value in many charts is misleading as its ripeness, types of same food, cooking methods, processing of the food, length of storage etc. changes its value.

More about the GI soon...Good Night!

- Gary Saggu



Naringin and its benefits

clock March 4, 2013 20:57 by author Gary Saggu

Naringin is the flavanoid in grapefruit that gives it that lovely bitter taste. Naringin exists in all citrus fruits but grapefruit seems to have it as its major flavanoid.  Btw, flavanoids are plant secondary metabolites - not directly involved in the growth of the plant but help in it.

Naringin may have a number of benefits :-

  • Antioxidant activity 
  • Lowering of the blood lipids. (lipids are mostly fats but may also be waxes, sterols etc)
  • Improvements in cognition
  • Some tests (on rats) have shown it to reduce the effects of diabetes.  In humans? IMHO, its beneficial.

Time for some grapefruit juice.

- Gary Saggu



About Gary Saggu

Gary Saggu is a writer/blogger, technologist, martial artist and a thinker.  He is also a KRI certified Kundalini Yoga instructor, PADI certified diver and a Reiki healer.  He has travelled extensively across Asia, Latin America and Europe for many years. 

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