Advocating the Avocado

While we have discussed the properties of avocado oil in other articles, let’s turn our attention to the benefits of eating the fruit itself. While not exactly low in calories, if taken in moderation, Avocadoes make an excellent addition to salads and light meals adding a wonderfully smooth creamy texture and aroma that brings out the natural flavour in other ingredients. What are the nutrient qualities of Avocadoes? They contain folate (the natural form of folic acid), which is one of the B vitamins needed for cell division and blood cell formation. A lack of folic acid in pregnant women can increase the risk of various birth defects. Folate is also thought to be important for men’s sexual health. Avocados also contain potassium, which is needed for balancing electrolytes in our bodily fluids; vitamin E, an antioxidant known to slow down the ageing process and help protect against certain types of cancer and heart disease; lutein, an antioxidant that can protect against eye diseases such as cataracts; and finally betasitosterol, a plant compound that can inhibit the absorption of cholesterol and help lower blood cholesterol levels. As many of you will already know, catching an Avocado when it is newly ripe can be quite tricky. It’s so disappointing to cut one in half only to find a rubbery centre. It is best to go for the fruits that have a “give” in the stalk and possibly the ones which are labelled as “ready to...

Best Hot Air Fryers | Almost Oil Free Cooking

Air Fryers have been around for a while, but can you really cook crunchy, tasty chips and breaded chicken with just hot air and a teaspoon of oil? These machines are the pick of the best – I prefer the Philips brand personally, on a cheat day I really like sausages cooked this way, withn no fuss and moist meat with a minimum of effort, but it makes a treat of butternut squash or sweet potato “fries”. Best of all your children will love them and you will rest easy knowing they are getting one of their five a day! Philips HD9220/26 AirFryer with Rapid Air Technology, BlackCheck PriceGoWISE USA 8-in-1 Electric Air Fryer with Digital Programmable Cooking Settings 2.5 QT BlackCheck PricePhilips HD9230/26 Digital AirFryer with Rapid Air Technology, BlackCheck PriceT-fal FZ700251 ActiFry Low-Fat Multi-Cooker with nonstick interior, BlackCheck PriceBig Boss 9063 1300-watt Oil-Less Fryer, 16-Quart, RedCheck PriceLiving Basix LB100 Jet Fry Oil-Free Fryer with Adjustable Temperature Control and TimerCheck...

Tea and its power on brain connectivity

Here in good old Blighty it would be hard to find someone who didn’t enjoy a cuppa. For many an old fashioned cup of tea is a perfect start to the day and a much needed “pick me up” all day long. Now recent studies have shown that the feel good factor might be because of improved brain connectivity and cognitive function. Scientists have discovered that drinking tea may even protect the brain from age associated decline due to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. And before you start thinking that your favorite cup of Tetleys couldn’t possibly be as good for you as green tea or oolong tea, well black tea drinkers too were found to have superior cognitive funtion and memory than non tea drinkers. However, green tea drinkers in large quantities enjoyed much better performance in memory tests and brain connectivity. Currently, much of the research carried out to date has explored preventative effects of tea on cognitive decline, but there are also some exciting developments that may point to tea as a treatment for dementia. There’s nothing like a cup of black tea in the morning and I then move on to green tea throughout the day. Nowadays it comes in so many varieties (and Tetleys make green tea blended with black tea too) that you will always find one to tantilise your...

Fish oils, weight loss, and health

Fish oils are often touted as panaceas for a variety of health conditions, and supplementation is often described as having a positive impact on our metabolic health. In this MotivatingMax article we explore the power of these good fats and consider the evidence base out there. Fish do not produce omega-3 fatty acids themselves, rather they accumulate them in their tissues by eating either microalgae or prey fish (that have, in turn accumulated omega-3 fatty acids). Microalgae are also known to provide a high payload of antioxidants such as iodide and selenium. The combination of anti-oxidants and fish oils is apt as the former protects the fragile polyunsaturated lipids from oxidative damage. What kinds of fish are highest in Omega-3 fatty acids, the fish oils that are generally held to be the most beneficial for our metabolism? The answer is the fatter, predatory fish such as swordfish, tilefish, sharks, and albacore tuna. The drawback to consuming the meat of these fish is that, owing to their privileged position atop the food chain, these species can also accumulate toxic substances through a process known as biomagnification. This has led several health bodies, including America’s Food and Drug Administration to propose limiting the consumption of such species due to potentially damaging levels of substances such as mercury, dioxin, PCBs and chlordane. What beneficial effects follow from consuming the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil? Over the last decade research has pointed to the ability of these fats to curb or aid in the prevention of various conditions that entail some form of inflammation; examples being hypertriglyceridemia and possibly heart disease. There are several mechanisms at play here but the most likely pathway is blood thinning that prevents clotting. At present there is mixed evidence for the utility of fish oils in the treatment of psychological conditions such as clinical depression and...

Let the sunshine in! Vitamin D and health

Vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin” as it can be synthesised from cholesterol if adequate sun exposure if forthcoming, is actually a group of fat soluble steroids that functions as hormones. The reference to hormones simply means that they are used as chemical signallers in a complex chain of instructions that we will refer back to shortly.  From a scientific standpoint, Vitamin D does not truly own the name “vitamin” because it does not have to be obtained from the diet. The study of Vitamin D rose to prominence when it was discovered that an abject lack of the substance led to a bone deficiency affecting children- known as Rickets. This brings to mind that fact that Vitamin Ds play a vital role in mineralisation and bone health. Vitamin D in the blood reflects both sunlight exposure and dietary intake. An important point to grasp is, whereas the sunlight –driven synthesis of Vitamin D operates in a feedback loop to prevent toxicity (e.g., it is self regulating), this does not apply to supplemental intake. In fact, little is understood about the potential for toxicity following over supplementation.  Of course, a debate still rages about the cancer risk that may or may not be caused by sunlight exposure, which renders it difficult for health bodies to make recommendations on the amount of time that should be spent in the sun to maximise Vitamin D synthesis. Calcitriol, the biologically active form of vitamin D produced in the kidneys circulates as a hormone in the blood, and thus regulates the concentration of calcium and phosphate in the bloodstream and promotes bone growth and deposition. Other functions include controlling inflammation and the natural cycle of cell repair. In terms of the proposed health benefits of supplementation, the evidence is contradictory. The most reliable finding is that taking Vit-D supplements may contribute to...

Garlic… It doesn’t just ward off vampires!

Garlic, like olive oil, is one of the key components of a “Mediterranean diet” often associated with health and longevity. This article is about the potentially beneficial effects of Allicin- the active ingredient in garlic. This compound was first isolated and studied during the second world war and is notable for a distinctively pungent smell. The MotivatingMax take on Allicin is that the odour of Allicin may actually be the key to its positive effects as it serves as a mildly toxic phytochemical (plant substance) which promotes an immune response. It may be that the bitterness of Allicin is part of the plant’s natural defence mechanism against attack from pests, but the dosage is negligible to humans and so may have a positive impact. There is considerable evidence to suggest that Allicin has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects. The evidence of the anti-inflammatory properties of Allicin is particularly strong; especially in the case of animals. In rodents and other test animals, Allicin may reduce atherosclerosis and fat deposition, and lower blood pressure, while exerting anti-thrombotic effects. While blood cholesterol levels have been positively affected in animals, a 2007 Archives of Internal Medicine study cast doubt on whether it would have the same effects in humans; the results stopped short of being statistically significant. As we stated at the top of the article, Allicin is a mild toxin. Hence, excessive ingestion may have negative effects- such as the irritation of stomach lining cells. However, this is extremely unlikely to occur in the sort of quantities that are ingested by those taking Allicin supplements or consuming garlic as part of a balanced diet. When preparing garlic, is worth bearing in mind that (as with many fruits and vegetables) when the skin around each clove is cut or crushed then the antioxidants inside have a very short lifetime, some of them decomposing in...
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