Nuts.

It wasn’t very long ago that nuts were feared. – They were considered a dieting disaster, with far too high a fat and calorie content to be anything but bad for you! Recently though, extensive studies have shown that the opposite is actually the case. – Nuts are incredible for the human body. Recently there have been many health discoveries showing that nuts are a wonderful protein source that are great for everyone, and should be added to our diets.

Yes – nuts contain a lot of fat, and they are relatively loaded with calories considering that they are a plant food. Our understanding of fat has changed, however, and we now know that most of the fat in nuts is polyunsaturated or monounsaturated. These fats aren’t nearly as bad for you as others, aren’t as prone to causing weight gain, and most important of all, actually have the ability to lower your LDL cholesterol
levels. In fact, nuts have actually been shown to be extremely good for your heart – modern studies have concluded that a proper daily amount of nuts can lower your chance for developing heart disease by as much as 35%. – Astounding news for a food that was once feared for it’s possible weight gain and destructive cardiovascular effects.

Nuts are an incredible source of protein. – Protein is very important for our bodies, but unfortunately in a lot of places that it’s commonly found (Such as red meats), getting our recommended protein amounts can have negative side effects on our hearts. This makes nuts wonderful, because you can get a lot of protein from them without worrying about hurting your precious heart. They are especially great for vegans.

Nuts are terrific sources of energy. Protein is an important ingredient for energy, and when combined with the other minerals in nuts make them perfect for providing longer, more constant energy levels. In addition to proteins, nuts also happen to rich in the powerful antioxidants selenium and vitamin E. Anti-oxidants have recently been identified as having powerful anti-aging effects on the body due to their ability to block the damage caused by free-radicals, substances that contribute to early aging.

On studies involving nuts in daily diet, results showed that nearly all forms of nuts had similar effects, though the most beneficial nuts today are generally considered to be peanuts, almonds, and cashews. These studies also suggest that a good daily dosage of nuts be between 1 to 2 ounces to see receive the best benefit. While they are very healthy, nuts can be a rather addicting snack, and combined with their elevated levels of calories can cause weight gain if you don’t exercise a little discipline with your snacking. Fortunately, nuts also satisfy hunger very well.

Overall, nuts are a powerful food that is packed with surprising and astounding benefits. Their ability to reduce the risk of heart disease while protecting against aging and providing solid energy levels makes them a highly desired health food, as long as a person keeps their intake levels low. They are still loaded with calories, and can contribute to weight gain if high levels are consumed on a regular basis. If you keep your intake down, however, you’ll notice remarkable improvements in your health, and you can rest easier at night knowing that you are helping your heart and bettering your chances at escaping cardiovascular disease.

Stress Reduction :

The nutrients in several types of nuts helps protect your body against the damaging physical effects of being stressed out. One study looked at nuts rich in alpha-linolenic acid, like walnuts, and found that they had a heart-protective benefit during times of acute stress – which are known to cause cardiovascular strain. Almonds, thanks to high vitamin E, vitamin B and magnesium content can bolster your immune system when you’re stressed.

Heart Health :

Nuts, like almonds, hazel nuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts and cashews all play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease. That’s because nuts help reduce LDL cholesterol, and incorporate a dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and fiber, which has a heart-protective effect. Nuts are also rich in arginine, an amino acid that converts to nitric oxide in the body and helps blood vessels to relax.

Lung Cancer :

A diet rich in pistachios may provide some protection from lung cancer, according to preliminary research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference. The researchers theorize that the nut’s richness in gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E, may be the key to cancer protection, although further research is required.

Weight Maintenance :

The 2013 review of nut health benefits found a modest improvement in overall weight –  several studies have found that nuts can play a role in weight maintenance. That’s because nuts are satisfying – a “high satiety” food  that is metabolized slowly by the body, thanks to high fiber counts. In other words? Snackers are more satisfied after eating nuts than after eating foods of comparable caloric value, but less nutrient density.

Cholesterol :

A walnut a day may keep bad cholesterol away, according to a 2010 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine that found a 7.4 percent reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol and an 8.3 percent reduction in the ratio of LDL to HDL. What’s more, triglyceride concentrations declined by more than 10 percent.

Prostate Cancer :

Brazil nuts, which are high in the mineral selenium, may provide some protection against advanced prostate cancer, according to preliminary research presented at the American Association of Cancer Research. The research was conducted on a Dutch cohort study and found that men with high levels of selenium, tested from toe nails, were 60 percent less likely develop advanced prostate cancer within 17 years.

Brain Health :

Thanks to the healthy dose of vitamin E that nuts can deliver, they are considered a brain food – helping to prevent cognitive decline that happens with age. Peanuts (even though they are legumes, we commonly group them with nuts), in particular, may be a good choice because they are high in the B-vitamin folate, which improves neural health, reducing risk of cognitive decline. Beyond protecting against age-associated problems, a British Journal of Nutrition study found that walnuts improve working memory (not just reference memories), problem-solving and motor function.

Men’s Reproductive Health :

For men looking to start a family, walnuts may have an effect on sperm quality – Eating about two handfuls of nuts, one UCLA study found, could improve the quality of sperm, in terms of its “vitality, motility, and morphology. What’s more, pistachios may play a role in reducing erectile dysfunction, according to a study in the International Journal of Impotence Research.

So if you do not have an allergy to nuts – please do indulge – they are all good for you. Chop them up – sprinkle over salads and other meals, bake breads, whip up delicious nut butters, creams, milk, cheeses yoghurt’s, dips, sauces and dressings or simply munch as is!

Almonds, pistachios, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts.

Please do tell us in the comments – what your favourite way to eat nuts is!

~ Active Vegan ~

Whole Grains.

Stocking a healthy vegan pantry has never been easier than it is right now!

With a full on vegan pantry in play and the right mind set, you simply cannot go wrong! Remember to give your palette a couple of weeks to adjust and get used to not consuming animal products. Once your palettes have been ‘reset’ to clean and healthy whole foods, you shall never look back again!

Grains play an integral part of healthy health, and there are so many healthy whole grains out there that we assume not everyone has heard of or tried as yet!

This list may not be a surprise to someone who is already vegan however, it can be a great resource to someone who is about to climb on board the vegan train! It is important that you incorporate a healthy balance of vegetables, legumes, fruit, nut, seed, herbs and spices, and off course grains into your diet for optimum health.

Having the right and basic ingredients in your pantry means you can cook a healthy meal, hopefully in a short time after you come home from a busy and tiring workday. Being vegan is not difficult but it takes a little effort on our part, especially when we are starting out. A vegan pantry does not contain any animal products, yet you can make wonderful meals with what you have on hand.

The below list is a basic list which offers a wonderful variety of grains for you to try!

Whole Grains:

* Whole Wheat Couscous
* Brown Rice
* Quinoa (Pronounced Keen-wah)
* Amaranth
* Barley
* Oats
* Millet
* Spelt Flour:
* Whole Wheat
* Wheat Pastry flour (Good substitute for Maida or while flour)
* Teff Flour
* Soy Flour
* Besan (Gram flour)
* Rice Flour
* Beans flour (Any beans)
* Grains flour
* Semolina (Rava)

With these additions to your pantry you can make so very many dishes, everything from baked goods (bread etc), to pasta, pizza, pilaf, soups, stir fries, breakfasts, salads, burgers, desserts, breakfast, lunch and dinners, every dish can be veganized and it is very possible to live a healthy, cruelty free life every day!

Why Are Whole Grains So Healthy?

Whole-grain foods keep all parts of the grain.  Processed foods keep only the part called the endosperm, which is the flour portion of the grain. That makes whole grain foods better sources of:

various breads, whole grains, wheat

  • B Vitamins
  • Vitamin E
  • selenium
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Fiber

These and other nutrients are lost when the grain is refined for white rice or white flour.  Even though some vitamins and minerals are added back to refined grains after they go through the milling process, they still are not as good as the original.

Eating More Whole-Grain Foods:

To include more whole-grain foods in your diet:

  • Add barley or wild rice to soups, stews, and casseroles.
  • Choose:
    • oatmeal or another whole-grain cereal over corn flakes or other low-fiber cereals.
    • whole-wheat or whole-grain breads instead of bread made from refined flour.
      • Check the package to make sure the word “whole” is associated with the first item in the ingredient listing.
    • popcorn or whole-grain crackers instead of snacks made from refined grains.
    • brown rice instead of refined white rice.
    • whole-grain pasta instead of regular pasta.

How to Know If a Product Is “Whole” Grain

Remember that whole grain foods cannot always be identified by colour or name, such as multi-grain or wheat. Look for the “whole” grain listed first in the ingredient list on nutrition labels, such as:

  • whole wheat
  • whole oats
  • brown rice.

What the Research Says

The benefits of eating more whole grains are becoming clearer as scientists continue to examine the evidence.  Researchers analyzed several studies totalling 149,000 participants on the relation between whole grains and heart disease.  The findings showed a consistent association between eating at least 2 1/2 servings of whole grains a day and good heart health.  The health benefits, researchers found, include a lower rate of:

In addition, the American Institute of Cancer Research suggests that diets rich in whole grains can reduce the incidence of certain types of cancer. Whole grains contain nutrients and compounds that can protect cells from damage that could lead to cancer. These include:

Eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans could also eliminate  meat and processed meat in our diet –  foods that are linked to increased cancer risk.

 Points to Remember:

  • Eating at least 2 ½ servings of whole grains a day can be good for your heart. Balance these out with a variety of other vegan food group options.
  • Choose oatmeal or other whole-grain pasta, cereals, and breads instead of refined products.
  • Look for the “whole” grain listed first in the ingredient list on nutrition labels, such as:
    • whole wheat
    • whole oats
    • brown rice.

Unless you have celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or another reason to cut back, you don’t want to miss out on the health benefits of whole grains. You’re getting fiber, a healthy plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals and a variety of phytochemicals that will improve your health.

Whole grains help digestion, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, can help weight control, redistribute fat, make you feel full, regulate blood sugar, some grains even deliver calcium and vitamin C, they are a jolly good source of B Vitamins, they deliver essential minerals, may even reduce asthma risk, they cut markers of inflammation, may even lower cancer risk, they protect your teeth and gums, and may even help you live longer.

So go ahead, enjoy your grains! We would love to hear how you make use of them! Do share for everyone’s benefit of health!

~ Active Vegan ~

Apple Sauce

This so easy to make apple sauce in just 10 minutes is an absolute joy to have around if you enjoy cooking.

Very easy to make in no time at all. You could double up and refrigerate for up to a week or simply make fresh. Use for baking, cooking, smoothies, stunning with dessert or freeze as a sherbet. 1 egg = 1/4 cup apple sauce.

Apples are great for bone protection, they also help asthma, prevents alzheimer’s, lowers cholesterol, prevents lung. breast, colon and liver cancer, manages diabetes, and helps with weight loss! Please do try to purchase organic apples if you can.
For about 250 ml you shall need:

2 green apples
2 T syrup
125 ml water

To prepare:

Wash, peel and core your apples.
Cut into quarters. Make sure you take out the seed.
Add to your pot with other ingredients and allow to boil for about 10 minutes.
Allow to cool then blend until smooth.
Use immediately or bottle and refrigerate.

Big Luv from me Vegan Chef On The Run

Inspired by ~ Active Vegan ~

We would love to hear about your apple recipes! Do share the good news about versatile apples !

Why we love legumes!

Considering the health benefits of legumes, they ought to be known as “healthy people’s meat” instead of “poor people’s meat”, as they’re often called.

Also known as beans or pulses, they belong to an extremely large category of vegetables, containing more than 13,000 species and are second only to grains in supplying calories and protein to the world’s population.

Compared to grains, though, legumes supply about the same number of calories but usually two to four times as much proteins.

Despite their small size, beans pack a surprisingly rich and varied array of substances that are vital for good health.

Although it’s important to get all the amino acids, both essential and non-essential, it’s not necessary to get them from meat. In fact, because of its high unhealthy fat and cholesterol content – as well as the use of antibiotics and other chemicals in the raising of poultry and cattle etc, it is best to avoid animal derived food sources completely.

Beans, peas and lentils all belong to the legume family. You may also hear them called pulses, which is just another word for edible seeds. While their nutrient profiles vary a little from one legume to the next, most of them provide minerals, such as iron, magnesium and zinc. They all share two common characteristics: they’re excellent sources of protein and fiber.

Rich Source of Protein

Legumes provide more healthy protein per serving than other types of food. Beans, peas and lentils have about 15 grams of protein in a 1-cup serving. Women should get 46 grams of protein daily, while men need 56 grams every day, according to recommendations established by the Institute of Medicine. Based on these guidelines, a 1-cup serving of legumes supplies 33 percent of women’s and 27 percent of men’s daily protein.

Fiber for Heart and Digestive Health

Legumes are at the top of the list for sources of fiber. The insoluble fiber they contain prevents constipation. They also have soluble fiber, which helps keep blood sugar balanced and lowers the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream. Fiber’s ability to prevent cardiovascular disease is so important that the Institute of Medicine determined the recommended intake – 25 grams daily for women and 38 grams daily for men – based on the amount needed to protect against coronary heart disease. The fiber in legumes varies slightly, but most varieties provide about 16 grams in a 1-cup serving.

There are several different health benefits associated with the regular consumption of legumes. Some of them:

  • Reduction of cholesterol levels in the blood
  • Regulating the levels of blood glucose for diabetics
  • Preventing cancer and reducing its risks
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improving the function of the colon
  • Curing constipation, piles and other digestive related problems

The benefits of eating sprouted legumes apply not just to adults, but also children. Many people avoid eating this food type, mainly because they are not aware of the various legumes health benefits. Moreover, if cooked incorrectly, some legumes can be quite bland and tasteless. Fortunately most legumes are quite versatile, which is why they can be added to any dish, ranging from salads to soups. Many innovative parents also increase the nutritional value of dishes such as pizzas and pastas, by adding legumes to them.

Benefits of Legumes For Women

Studies show that women who eat legumes, like soy bean, regularly, are less likely to develop breast cancer in comparison to others. Moreover, most legume varieties are high in iron. They boost the iron stores in women who are menstruating & may be at a risk for iron deficiency.

There are several health benefits that have been associated with legume.

Legumes Nutrition Facts

Most health experts advise people to include a fair amount of legumes in their diet, mainly because this food type is high in several important nutrients.

  • Most legumes, like lentils and beans are high in selenium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, potassium and folate.
  • Certain varieties of beans, like soy bean, are packed with an anti-inflammatory compound known as saponins. This compound lowers the cholesterol levels, boosts the immune system and protects the body against cancer. However, cooking beans excessively destroys the saponins present in them.
  • For those who are vegan, legumes are one of the best forms of protein (not the only though, protein comes in many plant forms! ). Unlike meat, most legumes are low in cholesterol and fat, which is why they are much healthier in comparison.
  • The flavonoid content in some beans like garbanzo, work as healthy oestrogen and help relieve the symptoms of menopause in women
  • There is a significant amount of fiber present in legumes, because of which they improve digestion. Other nutrients that are found in legumes include vitamins, iron, starch and lime.

The number of calories may vary from one type of legume to the other. Given below is the caloric count for some of the common types of legumes:

  • Garbanzo beans (4 ounces) – 75 ounces
  • Kidney beans (4 ounces) – 94 calories
  • Boiled black eyed peas (4 ounces) – 120 calories
  • Baked beans, sugar-free (4 ounces) – 125 calories
  • Cranberry beans (4 ounces) 170 calories
  • Adzuki beans, sweetened (4 ounces) – 270

There is a lot of additional legumes nutritional information easily available through various resources, like online websites. Please do search further!

Protein:

Though most of us are aware of the fact that legumes are good for health, many of us do not know the exact nutritional value of this food type. Most types of legumes contain 20% to 25% protein. The protein content in legume is therefore, almost twice as much as what is found in rice and wheat. Another advantage of consuming legumes on a regular basis is that the digestibility of the protein is also quite high.

Carbs:

Carbohydrates can be divided into two types, depending upon their chemical structure. Simple carbs, usually present in sugar, enter the bloodstream at a very fast pace and provide your body with instant energy. However, the energy boost provided by simple carbs is usually followed by a crash. Complex carbs take longer to enter the bloodstream, but they provide the body with a steady source of energy. Therefore, complex carbs are much better for your health, as they prevent weight gain or cardiovascular problems. Legumes are an excellent source of complex carbs, which is why they should be consumed on a daily basis.

Vitamins:

Beans are usually rich in water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Some of the vitamins that can be found in various legumes include Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6 and & K. Beans like pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans and lima beans can provide your body with more than 20% of the daily vitamin value per serving.

Fiber:

Legumes are high in dietary fiber, which cleanses the colon, as it passes through your digestive system. The regular intake of fiber can reduce any blockage in the digestive tract, thereby decreasing problems like bloating, constipation and nausea. The fiber content in legumes also lowers risks of colon cancer and unhealthy cholesterol levels in the body.

Diabetics:

People who are diabetic are advised to reduce their intake of sugar and other foods that contain simple carbs. However, even if you are diabetic, your body requires some amount of carbs, preferably complex carbs, in order to get energy. Therefore, doctors usually recommend an increase in the consumption of legumes for diabetics. This is because the fat content in legumes is relatively low, as compared to many other foods. Moreover, though legumes are quite high in carbs, they contain complex carbs.

Recent studies show that a higher legume intake leads to around 40% reduction in the risks of developing type-2 diabetes. However, patients who are at a risk, or are suffering from diabetes, should consult a vegan nutritionist for daily recommended portions, before adding carbs to their diet. Consuming an excessive amount of any food, including legumes, could be quite harmful.

Digestion:

In spite of the fact that most legumes are highly nutritious, many people avoid them, mainly because they are a bit difficult to digest and can lead to the formation of excess intestinal gas. Fortunately, there are ways in which legumes can be made more digestible. Before cooking raw beans, you need to soak them in water, preferably for a couple of hours. Some varieties of beans, like chickpeas and kidney beans, should be soaked overnight before they are cooked. This helps removing some of the gas-causing substances, after which they become easier to digest.

Several people regularly consume legumes for digestion, so that they build up their body’s ability to process them. In case you are planning to do so, make sure that you start off with small quantities.

Allergy:

A food allergy takes place when the immune system in your body mistakes a certain food as being harmful and tries to fight it off. Then begins a process in which antibodies are produced, along with certain chemicals. It is the chemicals in the body that usually trigger off the symptoms of allergy. Several people are allergic to different types of legumes like nuts and soybean. In such cases, most health experts advise people to strictly avoid legumes for allergy control purposes. However, there are several foods that contain peanuts, peanut oil and soy products. Therefore, those who suffer from allergic reactions towards legumes should read all labels carefully, before consuming any foods.

Breast Cancer:

Several women check with doctors if they should consume legumes for breast cancer prevention. While legumes are highly healthy and nutritious, they do not specifically fight off breast cancer. However, they can improve a woman’s overall health and wellbeing, thereby reducing the risks of breast cancer.

For those women who are undergoing chemotherapy as a part of cancer treatment, constipation and other digestive problems are quite common. The fiber present in beans is also helpful in relieving some of the harmful side effects of chemotherapy. However, women are usually advised to avoid eating large quantities of legumes.

Cholesterol:

You can reduce the levels of cholesterol in your body, by consuming legumes on a regular basis. However, some varieties of legumes are better for cholesterol-reduction, as compared to the others. Given below are some of the most helpful legumes for cholesterol control:

  • Black beans
  • Black eyed peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Navy beans
  • Peas
  • Pinto beans
  • Soy bean
  • String bean

Legumes are a fantastic source of protein. Please do incorporate this wonderful healthy food source into your meal plan. Do have a variety in your vegan pantry, and always have some soaked, sprouted, ready, and prepared, on hand for your recipes!

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~ Active Vegan ~