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Nutrition

Choosing the Sugar Substitute That’s Best for You

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Choosing the Sugar Substitute That’s Best for You

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average American adult should consume no more than 1.4 ounces of sugar per day. That adds up to 32 pounds per year which, if you’ve ever lifted a 32-pound bag of anything, is a considerable amount of food. The awful truth, though, is that the average American adult consumes 156 pounds of added sugar each year. With increasing warnings that link sugar consumption as contributing toward obesity, tooth decay, and possibly a laundry list of ailments, including heart disease, it’s no wonder so many people seek out sugar substitutes (alternative sweeteners), which contain fewer calories than refined sugar.

Alternatives to sucrose (refined sugar, table sugar) include natural and artificial sweeteners, ones that are best limited to sweetening coffee and tea, some that work well in baking, and even a few products that have been in use for centuries. Which one–if any–is right for you? Here are some popular choices:

Choosing the Sugar Substitute

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol derived from corn, beets, and other produce. It helps prevent plaque-causing bacteria from sticking to teeth, making it a good choice for sugar-free gum. While much sweeter than sugar, xylitol is only partially absorbed by the body, so it provides fewer calories than sugar. Beware: The more you eat, the more you risk gastrointestinal distress. For baking, it is recommended that you use half as much xylitol as you would sugar.

Stevia has grown enormously popular in the US in a short amount of time. This now-ubiquitous substance is extracted from a South American herb and is sold under the trade names Sweetleaf and Truvia. It is 40 times sweeter than sugar but has zero calories and will not cause a spike in blood sugar levels. It is not recommended for baking.

Sucralose, sold as Splenda, is created by chemically altering sugar molecules so the body does not metabolize it. It looks and feels like sugar, and it is ideal for adding to coffee and using it for baking.

Aspartame, sold as Equal and Nutrasweet, is popular in desserts. It denatures under heat, so do not use it for baking.

Agave Nectar, made from the same plant that gives us tequila, contains more calories than refined sugar, but it is much sweeter, so less is needed. Agave nectar has a high fructose content, which may make it a greater obesity risk than table sugar.

Sugar Substitutes

When researching a sugar substitute, keep in mind that the manufacturers themselves have funded some published studies on the subject, while competitors have published others. Even government studies are not free from corporate influence; food lobbyists influence those who legislate food safety. If we are to be truly certain that we are making the safest choice in a sweetener, there is only one way to go.

The Best Sugar Substitute

The best way to cut down on sugar in your diet is to cut down on sugar simply. Our bodies are not meant to be as sedentary as the average American’s has become over the past few decades. We don’t get the endorphin rush from working our muscles toiling in fields of grain or hunting down our entrees that our forbearers did. One reason we consume more sugar is to stimulate our brain’s pleasure centers, and this contributes toward a downward spiral of poor health.

When we try to fool our bodies that we are eating sugar, we aren’t doing them much good in the long run, regardless of whether we use substitutes for weight loss or to enjoy a varied diet within the limitations imposed by disease or health risk.

Rather than mimic unhealthy eating choices, we should adopt healthy choices. When you are thirsty, drink water; make soda an occasional treat. If you’re feeling low in energy, exercise: Walk with a loved one, take barefoot running, or hike in the woods. The benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise extend to every aspect of life.

Nutrition

Peanut Nutrition – What You Need to Know

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Peanut Nutrition – What You Need to Know

The world of nutritional health is surprising, to say the least. Ever so often we come across health articles that speak of a food’s benefits that we could hardly conceive of as a link between the two.

It’s true.

While water, milk, vegetables and fruits as well as lean meats are associated with better health, the one that surprised me the most was the benefits linked with peanuts.

The verdict on peanut nutrition is out, and it looks more than good…

Peanuts – Are They Any Good?

Yes, peanuts are good for you as they contain almost thirty essential nutrients. This can only mean one thing: these little beans will boost your health, no matter how you eat them.

Some of these nutrients include large amounts of protein as well as others such as folate, manganese, tryptophan, copper, Vitamin B2 and B3 – all tied with some benefits or the other.

So, while the matter on how beneficial peanuts are when it comes to the nutrients it has is settled, the next obvious question is whether or not consuming peanuts amounts to too many calories.

One hundred grams of peanuts amounts to 500 calories or so but don’t worry, most of this energy is dissipated, thanks to the fact that most people don’t chew nuts all that well. This is why a study found that heart health can be improved by eating peanuts while not gaining weight in the process.

But its uses isn’t limited to salted peanuts, peanut butter or being in candy form but also extends to industrial uses such as an ingredient for paint, cosmetics and soaps too.

Thanks to its nutritional value, peanuts are also used along with flour as paste to feed malnourished children and adults… and it has worked wonders so far.

Peanut Nutrition – What You Need to Know

So there’s no doubt that the answer to the question, is eating peanuts healthy is a proper ‘yes’.

But how might one ask?

As mentioned earlier, there are a number of health benefits associated with peanuts but the ones that really get your attention is the way it keeps you heart healthy since cardiovascular disease is the number one reason for deaths in the United States.

But that’s not all, they’re also known to lower the risk of breast cancer as well and even if they’re full of calories, they don’t add up to much since they are “very filling”.

Apart from lowering cholesterol levels and improving blood circulation while also being a proper brain food in boosting memory. But that’s not all – eating peanuts prevents gallstones, promotes fertility, fights depression and age-related cognitive decline.

The only documented pitfall is in eating raw peanuts, thanks to the presence of fungi, aflatoxins and Cyclopiazonic acid.

But apart from that, and once you roast raw peanuts, we’re good to go…

In Closing

So, what are your thoughts about peanut nutrition? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Also, here is an article that tells you all you need to know about natural peanut butter.

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Nutrition

What Happened to Organic Raw Almonds?

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What Happened to Organic Raw Almonds?

Salmonella, everyone’s favorite dessert, was linked to organic raw almonds in an unconventional and isolated incident, but it caused the California Almond Board to pass a ruling that requires all manufactured raw almonds to be pasteurized before hitting the supermarkets.

But in looking back to those 2 years ago, I’m sure we’d all posthumously agree: The jury’s out on this one. The ruling is just bizarre (for lack of a better word) and rather reflective of George Bush’ term at the White House (sorry, couldn’t help but take a dig) with the almond growers (who’ve undergone serious losses) and the customers (who have to look for outside sources for raw almonds) at the receiving end of it all.

Why? Due to two isolated cases of the salmonella infection

And what’s hard to understand is that almost 40,000 Americans die each year from a salmonella infection and I fail to understand (if we go by the numbers) how banning the selling of raw almonds will make the situation any better! Methinks, a result of misdirected enthusiasm, perhaps! Or is it another conspiracy theory?

So, in using logic, does this mean that the government should ban all fresh produce?

Why I ask this is because tomatoes, spinach, green onions, peanuts, grapes, melons, lettuce, and sprouts have at some point or the other over the past ten years been involved in salmonella outbreaks and I’m sure some of us are looking for a little consistency here!

Benefits of Organic Raw Almonds

And the very reason why I’ve taken sometime to rehash this matter is because ‘raw almonds’ (just like all those fresh veggies mentioned above) are definitely beneficial (as if that it isn’t obvious enough). In the Ayurvedic system of medicine, it is considered to be beneficial for the brain and nervous system and to help build one’s intellectual levels and maintain it as well.

According to Western Medicine, it improves one’s complexion, improves movement of food through the colon and prevents cancer. Very importantly, it is proven to maintain good cardiovascular health due to the presence of monounsaturated fat (‘good’ fat).

Now, the reason why people are making a big fuss about why almonds are being pasteurized is because, first and foremost, they know (and feel very strongly about) their right to choose nutrition suited to their needs is being regulated by the government which is an open contradiction to their constitutional rights.

Most importantly, the reason why people are so upset with this mandatory pasteurization procedure is because one method involves the use of propylene oxide which was used earlier as an insecticide, a known carcinogen.

With the discovery that it can cause cancer, California officials terminated its use. And now, it’s being used to pasteurize almonds and can cause similar side-effects. The other two methods such as Steam pasteurization and High heat cause almonds to lose their nutritional value, which means that the nutritional benefits mentioned above are lost too.

It’s rather unfortunate but true, so let’s hope that common sense prevails in the near future and almond lovers are able to enjoy them truly raw, rather than being lied to about raw almonds being currently made available in the market although pasteurized through these methods.

Have you ever tried true organic raw almonds?

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Nutrition

Almond Milk Nutrition

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Almond Milk Nutrition

ALmond Milk Nutrition

Just yesterday afternoon, a neighbor showed me this eleven-stringed instrument known as the ‘Oud’, which is very much like a guitar but is played very differently.

I was so fascinated by the absence of frets, the vibrato and harmonics that are played constantly when watching a professional perform for over six minutes while playing one their traditional wedding songs on the Oud.

And somewhere at the back of mind I thought, “Hey! These guys aren’t so bad either…” considering the social stigma that effects these chaps wherever they go. Even though the Islamic world is a closed and a painfully rigid culture that is far too controlled by their sense of spirituality, it felt right to consider that as they have contributed quite a bit to the world in every field even including nutrition.

For example, take almond milk, which has its uses as a nutritious baby food and is consumed as a healthy drink in the Middle East as well, and is catching up as a healthy replacement for those with allergies to milk (due to its casein content) and for those who wouldn’t touch a bottle of soy milk with a ten-foot pole.

Almonds

Whether based on superstition or not, almonds have always been considered nutritious in different parts of the world. In India, almonds are considered good for the brain (as if we don’t have enough already that causes enough trouble!) while in China, it is considered to be a symbol of enduring sadness and female beauty.

As quaint as all this sounds for the history buffs, this drupe (not nut) has a host of benefits that pertain to health & nutrition as well as in other areas such as spirituality and so on and so forth.

And so we before we learn how to make almond milk, let’s look at the benefits of drinking almond milk.

1) Rich in Vitamin E, an antioxidant, which is excellent for those undergoing detoxification programs.

2) Lowers the risk of heart attacks,  drops bad cholesterol levels and helps in weight loss due to its high unsaturated fat levels.

3) The best alternative for lactose intolerance, and for those who aren’t so fond of the taste of milk (but not necessarily allergic to it), almond milks comes with a light, nutty and crisp taste.

4) With a calorie amount of 70, one can down a glass of almond milk, without destroying your diet. Incidentally, the number of calories for cow’s milk is 86…

5)  Lastly, it works as an excellent substitute for vegans and for religious reasons and finally, lasts much longer than milk as it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

How to prepare Almond Milk

It’s very easy to prepare almond milk which can be done in 15 minutes. And here’s how:

What you need: 4 cups of water, a cup of almonds

Step 1: Add the 4 cups of water to the cup of almonds, and cover it with a lid.

Step 2: Refrigerate the container for 1-2 days.

Step 3: Next, blend the mixture of almonds and water until you get a smooth mixture.

Step 4: Use a cheesecloth to strain the smooth mixture obtained.

Step 5: Go ahead and drink like you would drink normal milk or use it for several dishes and other preparations that you can make normally.

In Closing

And so, some of us who aren’t so fond of the Soy Milk can finally bid it good bye. Hehe.

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