As a nutritionist, I love smoothies and if you start incorporating them in your diet, I am sure you will fall in love with them too. There is a smoothie recipe to suit every taste or dietary preference and are an excellent way of increasing your consumption of fruits, vegetables and other nutrient dense foods.
Smoothies have become an ever increasingly popular wellness food and are always best when made from scratch as the commercial varieties are often loaded with added sugars or other unhealthy ingredients.
There are many types of smoothies that range from fruit based, green vegetable smoothies and one of the latest trendy smoothies in New York and London is the hummus shake where chickpeas is one of the ingredients.
Let’s discover the world of smoothies by first finding out what is a smoothie, their health benefits, their negative side, whether they can help with weight loss and of course some smoothie recipes.
What are smoothies?
Smoothies are thick, creamy beverages usually blended from frozen or fresh fruits, vegetables, juices, yogurt, nuts, seeds, dairy, plant milk, water or cooled herbal teas.
Many smoothies include frozen produce or ice cubes to give the final product the cool, icy consistency of a milkshake. However, their flavour profiles vary tremendously depending on the ingredients.
Popular ingredients in homemade and store-bought smoothies include:
The Different Types of Smoothies.
There are three main categories of smoothies although they often overlap between them:
The Health Benefits of Drinking Smoothies
Smoothies are a fantastic way of increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. These foods are high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Together, these nutrients may reduce inflammation, improve digestion, combat constipation, and lower your risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, age-related mental decline and not to forget that these foods also reduce wrinkles, diminish dark circles and keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
Athletes can also benefit from drinking smoothies as they can be drunk as a pre-and post workout, muscle building and carb-loading, offering the essential ingredients at the right time to complement workouts and fuel the body.
When making smoothies at home, use whole fruits, such as a ripe banana, to add sweetness instead of honey or maple syrup.
Do smoothies aid weight loss?
Smoothies are frequently marketed as a weight loss tool. Research suggests they may be effective for this purpose as long as they’re not causing you to exceed your daily calorie needs.
If you prioritize ingredients low in calories and high in protein and fiber, your smoothie may keep you full until your next meal. Whole fruit, vegetables, nut butters, high protein cottage cheese and plain yogurts are all excellent weight-loss-friendly ingredients.
Keep in mind that your nutritional needs and ability to lose weight vary depending on many factors, including age, activity level, medical history, and lifestyle habits.
Made Just for You !
What I like most about smoothies is that they can be tailored to suit your needs, especially if you have a specific health or fitness goal in mind. They can become a healthy snack or meal replacement.
There’s a common misconception that smoothies are inherently low calorie snacks, but some smoothies pack over 1,000 calories depending on their size and ingredients.
Generally, a 200–300-calorie smoothie with 10 grams of protein is a great snack, whereas a 400–800-calorie smoothie providing at least 20 grams of protein is better suited as a meal replacement. It’s best to assess your goals and calorie needs to determine your specific needs.
The difference between the two may be as simple as adjusting the serving size.
When making smoothies at home, be sure to control your portion size. Fats like nuts, seeds, nut butters, full fat yogurts, and avocado will provide more calories but increase nutrient density. Avoid using sugary add-ins like syrups or chocolate sauces as they will provide more calories without quality nutrients.
The Fat Burning Banana Ginger Smoothie
Serves: 1 Prep Time: 5 minutes
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 cup frozen Ardo blueberries or Ardo fruitberry mix from Foodsaver
One frozen medium ripe banana or frozen Ardo banana puree from Foodsaver
One tablespoon grated ginger or frozen Ardo diced ginger from Foodsaver
½ cup of spinach leaf from Foodsaver
ADDITIONAL: for a hit of protein add a serving of your favourite protein powder
High Protein Smoothie
Serves: 1 Prep Time: 5 minutes
This smoothie is high in protein, lower in carbohydrates and is a great one for weight loss and also as a recovery drink after a workout.
Blend, drink and enjoy !
The Trendy Hummus Shake !
Serves: 1 Prep Time: 5 minutes
What I really love about hummus shakes is that they are so"creamy" and smooth.
Tip: Frozen chickpeas can be used. They are usually in packs of 1 kg. Boil about 3 cups at a time and store them in the fridge for easy access. They are very convenient, because they only need about 15 to 20 minutes of boiling.
Variation: Strawberries, apple or pear is a great substitute instead of banana. You can also turn it into a chocolate shake by adding a tablespoon of cacao.
There are some key foods that individuals should minimize or eliminate from their regular meals in order to shed pounds quickly and safely.
Overeating and poor habits are hard to change but easy to develop. Changing habits is hard, especially at first, requiring determination, discipline and dedication (the three D’s) to make long lasting permanent changes.
One of the basic problems regarding weight loss is a fatal mix of dietary confusion with an increasingly inactive yet stressed lifestyle. Our diets and eating habits are highly imbalanced. Our level of physical exercise is generally not enough to keep pace with what we eat and with the stresses we bear.
The key to weight loss success is to develop healthy eating and healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !
We are what we eat.
The first steps that you can take is to avoid eating refined foods, processed carbohydrates, sugar, excess fatty rich foods, fried foods and foods with additives or synthetic colouring. Avoid genetically engineered foods. You may also take it a step further and opt for organic foods versus conventional ones.
Examples of foods to avoid are:
A simple rule to keep in mind when supermarket shopping is: “The brighter and more colourful the packaging of a product is, the more you should stay away from it !”
Boosting Metabolism Naturally…
The top four foods that I like to recommend which boost your metabolism, improve the digestive process and speed up the weight loss process are:
Spirulina: This superfood is amazing, it is rich in vitamins E, B12, C, B1, B5, and B6 as well as beta-carotene, and the minerals zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. All these substances play a part and are critical to being able to perform exercise and burn a maximum amount of calories. The reason it assists with weight loss is due to the fact that it is approximately 60% protein.
Protein slows down how fast food moves through the digestive system and stabilizes blood sugar levels, which, for most people, means feeling full longer, as well as not reaching for additional snacks or eating huge amounts at subsequent meals.
Seaweeds: Seaweed helps you lose weight by inhibiting the action of an enzyme that controls the digestion of fat. Seaweed fiber also blocks the absorption of fat by the body as it contains a substance called alginate. Research has shown that among a variety of foods tested, seaweed fiber was the most effective in helping people lose weight. Seaweed also curbs your appetite and makes you feel full thereby decreasing your intake of food. It controls levels of blood sugar and this in turn decreases your food cravings. This also can also assist you in weight loss.
Lemons: Start your day with lemon water. Add juice of half lemon to a large glass of water. Lemons strengthen your immune system, aids digestion, is a diuretic, clears the skin and helps with weight loss.
Carob Powder: Carob inhibits digestive enzymes because it contains chemicals known as tannins. It has also been reported to help with weight loss, diabetes and manage cholesterol levels. Carob may assist with weight loss by helping to burn fat and calories in the body and also increasing the metabolism. Add 1 teaspoon of carob powder to hot water. Enjoy as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon beverage. Beware as it has mild laxative qualities so don't overdo it ! You are now on your way to flat tummy kingdom
There are some meal-planning strategies and dietary tips that individuals can use to maintain an active metabolism. These are:
Exercise in the Morning: Studies show that an early-morning workout will boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories than if you exercise later on in the day.
Breakfast: Without an ounce of a doubt, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives your body essential nutrients, jump starts your brain, gives your metabolism what it needs to get working for the day and keeps you slim.
Studies have found that what you eat for breakfast tends to influence what you eat the rest of the day.
Also, people who eat breakfast are significantly less likely to be obese and have diabetes than those who don’t.
People can enhance the weight-burning potential of their diet that go beyond making nutritional food choices by adding in fat burning herbs, spices and exercise.
Fat burning supplements can be added to your weight loss regime although I do not recommend them as most of them are high uric acid-forming and damage the kidneys and liver.
You could add thermogenic herbs to your diet. Most of these mentioned are found in pill form or drink them as teas – have at least 3 mugs a day to get an effect !
Thermogenic herbs help the body generate heat that burns fat. They help reactivate the metabolic rate thereby promoting weight loss. They also increase the energy and boost athletic performance. Apart from burning excess fat in the body, some thermogenic herbs also may help improve digestion
Herbs and Spices
Spicy foods, especially the ones that contain capsaicin, are especially thermogenic and can raise your metabolic rate for up to three hours after eating. Hot peppers including, the more common cayenne peppers, all contain capsaicin. Other thermogenic herbs and spices are: cinnamon, green tea, fennel seed, garlic, ginger, ginseng, guarana, horseradish, kola nut, ma huang, mustard seed, parsley, and turmeric.
Few weight-loss programs are effective without increasing physical activity. To lose weight or mass, we need to reduce intake and increase output.
Reducing fat stores and adding muscle improves energy utilization by using more calories for active metabolic tissues. Exercise also improves general metabolism and vitality and lowers that important “set point” allowing us to maintain lower weight and body fat with the same food intake.
At a good level of exercise, the body will burn more calories than usual, even 12 hours afterward. Regular exercise is clearly needed to keep fat off.
Based on a chart taken from the Mayo Clinic, running clearly comes in first. Exercise should be fun and enjoyable so it would be best to choose an activity that you like.
Calories burned per hour*
Based on a 72kg person
The best exercises over the summer season are the ones that you can do by the beach such as swimming, walking, cycling, light jog or run and definitely some kettle bells in an air-conditioned room !
There are many more watersports that you can take advantage of such as peddle boats, SUP, windsurfing and for the adventurous some water skiing.
The mountains also offer a "cooler" version where you can enjoy some hiking, cycling and swimming in lakes or pools.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a lot of information about the virus and its effects on mental health.
That’s because coronavirus and the social, financial and psychological implications it carries can seriously impact one’s mental wellbeing.
Government legislation, mass media coverage, and the increasing global death toll will cause a lot of stress, especially for the older population, children, and people with a history of mental health problems.
It’s of the utmost importance that we try to remain as composed as we can during this time.
The fear and anxiety that is gripping the nation are as contagious, if not more so than the illness itself.
To continue reading ....
A useful guide about guarding mental health during the coronavirus pandemic
Another useful resource page is 'COVID-19 and Substance Abuse'
Summer is here and there’s nothing quite like the sizzle of the grill !
Eating healthy certainly doesn’t have to be boring. It’s especially important now more than ever due to Covid-19, to eat quality foods for wellness and avoid ultra-processed foods.
People who eat a well-balanced diet tend to be healthier with stronger immune systems and lower risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases.
Here’s ten delicious and nutritious barbecue ideas to enjoy:
1. Grill up some fish
Grilled fish can be a delicious, healthy alternative to red meat on the barbecue. Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fish has been linked to a number of health benefits, including supporting your heart, brain, immune and mental health. Choose fresh fish like salmon, sea bass, cod and whole perch and enjoy a tasty protein hit.
2. Get creative with salads
Fresh, light and full of flavour, salads are the perfect way to balance out your barbecue meal. Serve up green leafy salads with nutritious ingredients like this quinoa superfood mix and add in some grated raw carrot. Other options are chickpea and rice salads or a classic Greek salad topped with feta.
3. Choose healthier cuts of meat
You can make a big difference in lowering the fat content of your barbecue by choosing leaner cuts of meat. Choose loin or round cuts of red meat and pork, look for choice or select grades of beef rather than prime, and trim off the excess fat before cooking. Red meats are higher in red iron and zinc which support the immune system.
If you’re cooking chicken, a good trick for lightening it up is to remove the skin first – the skin soaks up all the juices and fat while it’s cooking. Choose chicken breasts instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs).
4. Burgers (meat or veggie)
If you love burgers, you could go for the pre-made variety or attempt to make your own super healthy versions. The trick is to buy lean minced meat either, beef, chicken or turkey (or lentils, chickpeas or kidney beans for a filling vegetarian option).
5. Skip heavy marinades and condiments
Lighten up the salt, sugar and fat content of your barbecue by swapping heavy, preservative-filled marinades with simple ingredients like olive oil and fresh herbs and spices.
6. Corn on the Cob
A barbecue isn’t quite a barbecue without corn on the cob with a little quality butter and salt. Say no more.
7. Serve healthier snacks
Ditch the bag of potato chips and try raw veggies like carrot, cherry tomatoes, capsicum and celery sticks served with a yummy, nutritious guacamole, yogurt or salsa dip.
8. Infused Colourful Waters
Skip the fizzy, sugary soft drinks or beers and drink plenty of water. If you want something a little more exciting, try some unsweetened iced tea, sparkling water or infused colourful waters with slices of lemon, oranges and a few berries.
9. Grilled Halloumi
A Cypriot barbecue has got to have some halloumi cheese ! Serve with sliced tomatoes and pita bread. Heavenly ! Halloumi is a great source of calcium, but it is high in fat and salt – so a little slice will do.
10. Barbecued Shrimp Kebabs With Garlic and Herbs
Shrimp are the ideal choice for weight loss. They pack a protein punch for very few calories. Four large shrimp (30g) have about 30 calories, 6 grams of protein and minimal fat. Shrimp are a good source of vitamin D, selenium, omega-3’s the antioxidant astaxanthin and even contains several energy-boosting B-Vitamins.
If you would like to purchase any products from Foodsaver, here is a link to their online foody store: https://foody.com.cy/en/menu/foodsaver or visit their stores found island wide.
Did you know that ninety per cent of serotonin is made in the gut ?
Serotonin is the happy hormone which helps to stabilize our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. This hormone affects your whole body. It enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other. Serotonin also helps with sleeping, eating and digestion.
By eating well and feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut, the body's ability to generate serotonin is significantly increased, helping you feel more relaxed, happy, and confident.
The digestive system is now seen as fundamental to our overall health in most traditional medicine systems. Digestion has a strong influence on our nervous, hormonal and immune systems. The role of foods is now increasingly recognised in conditions not previously associated with diet: auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis; mood and behaviour problems such as autism, ADHD and depression; degenerative disorders such as Alzheimers's and arthritis; allergic conditions including asthma and eczema.
Inflammation underlies these and most chronic disease like obesity, heart disease and cancer. We can modify these destructive inflammatory responses by the kinds of food we eat and how we eat them. Common problems like heartburn, indigestion and constipation can be managed with understanding how to use foods, herbs and spices in self-care.
There are obviously other factors that affect our digestive health, such as our stress load: sleep, diet, alcohol, smoking, weight, liver function, circulation, mood, exercise, chemicals, food quality etc, but you can begin to support your digestive health by understanding the basic digestive functions and being mindful of your body.
Here are some common digestive herbs, along with their health benefits which you should experiment with in your cooking, or drink them as herbal teas:
1. Ginger: Ginger is warming and calming to the digestion, anti-nausea and anti-microbial to many common stomach bugs. Warms cold hands and feet.
2. Turmeric: Turmeric is carminative - meaning it can relieve bloating, liver supporting, an anti-microbial and a powerful anti-inflammatory.
3. Fennel: Fennel can also help relieve bloating and is stimulating to the liver. It improves appetite, increases milk production and eases colic. It expels upper respiratory catarrh, is an eyewash for conjunctivitis and has a balancing estrogenic action.
4. Caraway: Caraway is a supreme herb for the digestive system, eases stomach cramps and nausea, helps expel gas from the bowel and prevent fermentation in the stomach.
5. Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a warming stimulant to appetite and circulation. Antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal. Helps reduce blood sugar and ulcer causing Helicobacter pylori.
6. Garlic: Garlic is anti-microbial, and probiotic due to its inulin and other compounds, which supports cardio-vascular health. Onion, shallot and leek belong to the same Allium genus family and have similar actions.
7. Rosemary: Rosemary is a stimulating carminative that helps to clear your liver and head.
8. Peppermint: Peppermint is refreshing as well as antispasmodic, cooling and anti-microbial. It's useful in coughs and colds, supports liver function and helps stop itching when used topically.
9. Dill: Dill is calming and can be used as a sedative. It's useful to promote restful sleep, dispel colic and cramping pain. It's a key ingredient in gripe water.
10. Allspice: Allspice is warming and settling to the gut. The eugenol content promotes digestive enzymes, is analgesic and antiseptic. Most beneficial when drank as a tea after a meal.
11. Tulsi (Holy Basil). Is a herbal plant traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to reduce fever, strengthen the immune system, calm nerves, and act as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Studies have shown that Tulsi (Holy Basil) can lower cortisol the stress hormone and blood sugar levels to help our bodies cope with stress. Research has also shown that ursolic acid and triterpenoic acids both of which are found in Holy basil effectively improve the body’s response to stress and reduce the amount of cortisol released during stress. It’s no coincidence that Tulsi has been nicknamed “nature’s stress reliever”
Modern living in large cities have had a negative impact on our physical and mental health.
Stress and modern living for most people go hand in hand and has been scientifically linked with various diseases but also with bad life decisions such as bad nutrition, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of sleep and stressful relationships.
For mental health, research has proved that exercise, praying and meditation can help us better control our lives, focus, and solve our problems. They also contribute to our feeling blessed with what we have, which reduces anxiety.
Gratitude is a wonderful trait to develop. A well know exercise to remind ourselves of all the things that we can be grateful of, is to have a gratitude notebook or diary. Once a day write down three things you are grateful for. It could be as simple as the running hot water you have in your house or the beautiful smile your child gave you. It’s a great exercise to remind ourselves of how many good things we can be grateful for in our daily lives.
It is relevant now more than ever our greeting and toast ‘stin ygeia mas’ – to good health, as we wish our fellow human beings to be strong and healthy and full of life !
All over Cyprus and Greece, there are a great variety of cuisines, practices, and recipes, often connected with Christianity and fasting (called ‘nistia’ which I see as a great opportunity to detoxify the body) and connected with meditation, praying, good deeds, and positive thoughts about our fellow humans.
But the context is always the widespread Mediterranean diet – with local variations based on the available seasonal ingredients and location.
Ancient traditions also connect food with the environment. The rocky hills of Cyprus, Epirus and Crete are better for goats and sheep, where people made cheese from their milk. And in Macedonia’s rich valleys near Lake Kerkini, water buffalo have survived and give us their delicious products.
The same applies to plants – we have a large variety of wild and domesticated edible plants rich in nutrients that we can add into our diets including fruits like figs, oranges, lemons and pomegranates grown in coastal regions right up into mountainous areas where apples, pears, cherries, apricots and so many other fruits are found.
There is a consensus on what constitutes the Mediterranean diet, which nutritionists believe is best reflected in traditional Greek food: Meals are rich in fruits and vegetables and sprinkled with many different herbs and spices which add to the antioxidant content of the food.
The key to long term health is to create healthy eating and healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life ! The Greek Mediterranean Diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating and living.
In the Mediterranean diet pyramid, every meal is ideally based on fruits, vegetables and mostly whole grains. These form the base of the pyramid, along with olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices. Next are fish and seafood, which should be eaten often – at least twice a week. Poultry, cheese, eggs and goat’s yogurt follow next; moderate portions of each are acceptable daily or weekly.
At the very top of the pyramid are meats and sweets; these foods should be enjoyed less often, only on occasion.
In times of Covid-19 – avoid sweets made with sugar and use raw unprocessed honey, carob or grape syrup in small amounts. Sugar has been known to depress the immune system.
Mediterranean cuisine is naturally vegetarian-friendly and appeals to all ages and nationalities. The sheer variety of ingredients create dishes that are both comforting and yet have rich, complex flavours.
The most important component of the Mediterranean diet might very well be social, with an emphasis on enjoying meals together with family and friends… make a point of sitting down as a family to eat or prepare meals together whenever possible and hopefully in the near future we will be eating with friends too.
In people found in well know Ikaria, Okinawa and Sardinia we can see that they are connected in common nutritional principles of eating a mostly unprocessed plant based diet which is the key to longevity and to keeping your immune system working healthily and in addition they all live a lifestyle free from stress, live closer to nature and have naps !
Enjoy the videos. Ikaria nutrition and Ikaria Siesta.
Aronia is also known as chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) which is an antioxidant-rich fruit that is commonly consumed in Eastern Europe and Russia.
Aronia have been used in folk medicine by Native Americans as a treatment for the common cold. This little berry is said to offer a range of health benefits related to oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is a destructive process linked to many chronic diseases. It occurs when DNA-damaging free radicals overwhelm the body. Aronia is thought to fight oxidative stress by providing potent antioxidants known to knock out free radicals and offer additional health benefits.
Aronia may be useful in treating conditions related to oxidative stress. Free radicals can damage your DNA which may contribute to the development of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other conditions.
In a research review published in 2010, scientists evaluated 13 studies, finding that chokeberry's mixture of procyanidins, anthocyanins, and phenolic acids "constitutes one of the most potent natural antioxidants."
Authors of a 2017 study also examined the antioxidant benefits of chokeberry. They concluded that the berries have the potential to provide both medicinal and therapeutic benefits and may contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases including metabolic disorders, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
In a small study published in 2010, researchers found that aronia berry extract may benefit people with metabolic syndrome—a cluster of health problems linked to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, including excess belly fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and inflammation.
For two months, 25 patients with metabolic syndrome took 100 mg of chokeberry extract three times daily. Study results showed that the patients experienced significant decreases in blood pressure, C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), and LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
Another preliminary study evaluated the effects of chokeberry extract on obese mice who consumed a high-fat diet.
Researchers found that the mice treated with the extract showed decreases in body weight, triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and improved insulin sensitivity. It is too soon to tell, however, if these benefits will occur in a human body.
Chokeberry may help keep blood sugar in check in people with diabetes, suggests a small study published in 2002. After drinking 200 ml of a sugar-free, artificially sweetened chokeberry juice daily for three months, diabetes patients showed a decrease in fasting blood sugar levels.
Chokeberry juice also appeared to reduce total cholesterol levels.
A review of studies was published in 2017 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition where researchers examined evidence linking chokeberry to antidiabetic effects. The study concluded that there is evidence suggesting that the berries' antioxidants have potential in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Other preliminary studies are investigating the potential of using chokeberry extract in the treatment of hypertension and related cardiovascular conditions.
Some people also use chokeberries or chokeberry supplements to treat conditions including:
There is not enough evidence to know if chokeberry fruit or chokeberry extract can aid in the treatment of these conditions.
Aronia is found in many forms. A common favourite is to drink aronia berry juice or as a concentrated juice, where you take a small shot per day. It can be found as a powder or flour which you can use in baking, capsules even as vinegar which you can use in salads.
It has a tart taste similar to that of sour cherries.
Possible Side Effects
Experts suggest that drinking chokeberry juice or taking chokeberry extract as medicine is possibly safe for most adults. However, some people may experience side effects including constipation or diarrhea.
People with diabetes should exercise caution when using chokeberry. The fruit can lower blood sugar so it is important to watch for signs of low blood sugar and monitor your blood sugar carefully.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also exercise caution with chokeberry or chokeberry extract as there is not enough evidence to know if it is safe.
List of Scientific Studies Specific to Diseases
When you’re feeling down, it can be tempting to turn to food to lift your spirits.
However, the sugary, high calorie treats that many people resort to have negative consequences of their own.
While many of us reach for stodgy comfort foods when the blues kick in, snacking on mood-boosting nutritious foods will help to keep you healthier and happier too.
Thankfully, there are some lifestyle solutions that don’t cost a fortune, and can be done from home that can help anyone struggling with depression, anxiety and stress.
Here are some foods and lifestyle solutions to boost your moods:
Anxiety Causing Foods to Avoid
High sugar foods, caffeine and alcohol provide short-term relief from feeling anxious. However they can intensify the feeling of anxiety or stress if too much is consumed
Did you know chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are one of the oldest and most popularly consumed crops in the world. Chickpeas have been a part of certain traditional diets for over 7,500 years!
They belong to the legume family and offer a range of health benefits. Chickpeas help to increase satiety, boost digestion, keep blood sugar levels stable, increase protection against disease and more. In addition they are very high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
Chickpeas Nutrition Facts:
Just one cup serving of chickpeas contains (in daily recommended values):
They are also quite low in carbohydrates with only 35 grams in a one-cup serving. In addition, they are quite low on the glycemic index which is estimated to be 23.
Chickpeas can help benefit your health in the following ways:
Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels:
Chickpeas, like all legumes, are a form of complex carbohydrate that the body is able to slowly digest and use for energy. Chickpeas contain starch, which is a slow burning carbohydrate that the body does not react to by suddenly spiking glucose in the blood (1).
Increases Satiety and Helps with Weight Loss:
Chickpeas are high in both protein and fiber, which helps to make you feel full and to curb food cravings and unhealthy snacking. Studies have shown that consuming fiber is correlated with having a lower body weight (3).
Chickpeas help you lose weight by making you feel satiated and hence less likely to over snack on healthy or unhealthy junk foods between meals.
Improves Digestion Thanks to a High Fiber Content:
Chickpeas are very high in fibre with roughly 6-7 grams per half cup serving.
Fiber facilitates in healthy digestion by increasing the healthy bacteria in the gut and decreasing the unhealthy bacteria. It also combats constipation which ensures the quick removal of toxins and waste from the body.
The high amount of fiber in chickpeas is responsible for making you feel full, aids in heart health, helps to control blood sugar levels, guards against cancer, heart disease, diverticulosis, kidney stones, PMS, obesity, and more.
Helps Protect Against Heart Disease and Cancer:
Chickpeas have been shown to help balance unhealthy cholesterol levels, to reduce hypertension, and to protect against heart disease.
Beans help to keep the arteries clear from plaque build-up, maintain healthy blood pressure levels, and decrease the chances of cardiac arrest and stroke. In fact studies show that having just one daily serving (about 3/4 cup cooked) of beans of any kind can help to decrease chances of a heart attack and to help balance “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Consuming beans has also been shown in studies to have protective benefits against cancer, in particular colon cancer, due to their high fiber content (6). In studies, garbanzo beans were demonstrated to stall cancerous cells from further forming (7).
Provides Essential Vitamins and Minerals:
Chickpeas nutrition boasts high levels of iron, zinc, folate, phosphorus, and B vitamins, all of which are especially important for vegetarians and vegans who may be lacking in these essential nutrients due to avoiding animal products.
Folate: is one of the B-vitamins and is needed to make red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, convert carbohydrates into energy, and produce DNA and RNA. Adequate folate intake is extremely important during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence. It is also beneficial to athletes.
Zinc: this mineral may enhance immune function, stabilize blood sugar levels, and help keep your skin, eyes, and heart healthy.
Zinc deficiency can include frequently getting sick with colds, leaky gut syndrome, consistent digestive problems like diarrhea, poor eye health, infertility, thinning hair, and even stunted growth in children.
Magnesium, Manganese and Vitamin B6: Chickpeas are loaded with these 3 nutrients which help reduce common symptoms of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) and are also vital for athlete’s optimum performance.
Protein plays an important role in nearly every function in the body, from our vital organs, muscles, tissues and even hormone levels. Consuming enough healthy protein helps you to naturally slow ageing, create hemoglobin and important antibodies, to control blood sugar levels, help with muscle building and maintenance, give us lasting energy, fight bacteria, make us feel full, and help to heal wounds and injuries too.
Chickpeas have about 15g protein per cup of cooked chickpeas.
Those who are most at risk for not consuming enough protein are children, vegans and vegetarians.
Protein deficiency can result in muscle weakness, fatigue, low energy, eye problems such as cataracts, heart problems, poor skin health, imbalanced hormone levels and more.
Chickpeas are often eaten as a stew cooked with other vegetables or as a dip called hummus, roasted as a crunchy snack or as I have discovered lately the new trend in New York and London are hummus shakes ideal for the whole family for adults, kids, babies and teens !
TIP: When chickpeas are combined with a source of healthy fat, like tahini for example which is the case with hummus, nutrient absorption is further increased.
18th March 2020
I thought I should say something about the coronavirus for readers of this blog. I need to state that the situation is fast moving, facts are changing, and I am not asking anyone to go against any current medical advice.
Here, I am simply providing advice that I believe, currently, may be of benefit to people out there. I am acutely aware that there is controversy swirling about, but I will not promote anything that can cause any significant harm – but may cause significant good.
I have tended to look back a few years in time for some evidence, because current, emerging evidence is subject to massive bias and controversy, with various vested interests getting involved. The ‘older’ evidence has not been done in a rush and is therefore more measured.
1: Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
COVID-19 appears to impact the lungs more than any other organ and COVID-19 can be thought of as a ‘viral’ community acquired pneumonia. There has been evidence for several years that anti-inflammatory agents e.g. ibuprofen, naproxen (NSAIDs) may worsen community acquired pneumonia. As highlighted in this 2017 paper:
‘Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs may Worsen the Course of Community-Acquired Pneumonia: A Cohort Study:
Our findings suggest that NSAIDs, often taken by young and healthy patients, may worsen the course of CAP with delayed therapy and a higher rate of pleuropulmonary complications.’ 1
There is now anecdotal evidence, particularly from France, that patients who take NSAIDs do considerably worse. It has been suggested they may lead to an increased death rate.
ADVICE: Avoid NSAIDs if possible
2: Vitamin C
Vitamins always cause massive controversy, and the mainstream medical community tends to be highly critical of the use of vitamins. However, vitamin C has been found to have many, many, positive impacts on the immune system. It also protects the endothelium lining blood vessels – thus preventing/delaying passage of pathogens from the bloodstream.
I include the full abstract from the 2017 paper ‘Vitamin C and Immune Function.’ It contains a great deal of medical jargon, but I have highlighted the most important parts.
‘Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Vitamin C supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, thereby potentially protecting against environmental oxidative stress.
Vitamin C accumulates in phagocytic cells, such as neutrophils, and can enhance chemotaxis, phagocytosis, generation of reactive oxygen species, and ultimately microbial killing. It is also needed for apoptosis and clearance of the spent neutrophils from sites of infection by macrophages, thereby decreasing necrosis/NETosis and potential tissue damage.
The role of vitamin C in lymphocytes is less clear, but it has been shown to enhance differentiation and proliferation of B- and T-cells, likely due to its gene regulating effects. Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. In turn, infections significantly impact on vitamin C levels due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements.
Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. Prophylactic prevention of infection requires dietary vitamin C intakes that provide at least adequate, if not saturating plasma levels (i.e., 100–200 mg/day), which optimize cell and tissue levels. In contrast, treatment of established infections requires significantly higher (gram) doses of the vitamin to compensate for the increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand.’ 2
In short, Vitamin C can help prevent respiratory infections. It can also help to treat established infections, although much higher doses are required. This seems to fit with emerging Chinese data which appears to be showing considerable success with high dose intravenous Vitamin C in treating coronavirus.
It is unlikely that anyone working in the medical system in the West will agree to using high dose Vitamin C as part of any management plan. However, if your loved one is extremely ill in hospital I would recommend speaking to the doctors and asking if this can be added.
Whilst it is possible that vitamin C may prove ineffective, it also does no harm. Those who are currently attacking the use of Vitamin C and attacking those who believe vitamin C may be beneficial are, I believe, mainly concerned with their personal reputations.
ADVICE: Take at least 2g of Vitamin daily C to ‘prevent’ infection, probably more like 5g. Increase the dose to at least 10g if you are suffering symptoms.
COVID-19 appears to enter the body using the ACE2 receptor (found on the surface of many cells, particularly in the lungs. Also found in high concentrations in the heart and kidneys.
Because of its affinity to ACE2 receptors (and the more widespread Renin Aldosterone Angiotensin System or “RAAS”) COVID-19 is causing upset with the whole system – in complex ways. The system itself is complex.
To remind those of a more technical bent, here is the system:
I wished to make it clear that if COVID-19 impact on the RAAS system, trying to work out the resultant abnormalities, is not easy.
There are two main drugs that are designed to lower blood pressure by ‘interfering’ with the RAAS system. ACE-inhibitors (angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors), and ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers). They are very widely prescribed.
Some people have suggested that these drugs should be stopped. Others have suggested that they should be continued. You may be able to see why the advice is contradictory, given all the possible interactions.
However, it does seem the COVID-19 creates hypokalaemia (a low blood potassium level). A rising potassium level indicates recovery from the virus. This is probably due to interference with the hormone Aldosterone due to degradation of many ACE-receptors in the body.
ADVICE – currently not enough information to provide any advice on ACE-inhibitors and ARBs.
However, increased consumption of potassium, if symptomatic, can be advised. Dose?
‘People who eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables tend to have a high potassium intake of approximately 8000 to 11,000 mg/d,’ 3
So, up to Ig a day appears perfectly safe, and if more is being lost through the kidneys with COVD-19, there appears to be little danger of overdosage.
4: Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine
These drugs normally used to treat/prevent malaria (and are also used to treat various ‘immune’ disease). However, they have been found to be effective in treating other viruses and seem to have been highly effective against COVID-19 4. These drugs will only be available as part of medical management. They cannot be bought over the counter (in any country, as far as I know).
If you, or a loved one, is seriously ill, I would urge you to ask for – one or the other – to be used. Hydroxychloroquine has fewer side effects (drug related adverse effects)
ADVICE – Ask for one of these drugs if you, or a loved one, is seriously ill with COVID-19.
5: Vitamin D
This one is simple. Vitamin D has important effects on the immune system 5. A low vitamin D level in the winter is almost certainly why flu epidemics occur in the winter months. [Vitamin D is synthesized in the sun by the action of sunlight].
ADVICE – take at least 2000iu vitamin (preferably D3) daily.
I hope some people have found this useful. If anything I have written here proves to be wrong, or dangerous, I will change it. However, I am working on the basis here of ‘first, do no harm.’ The worse thing that any of this advice can do, I believe, is to NOT work.
Link to the original article on Dr. Malcom Kendrick's website: https://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2020/03/18/coronavirus-covid-19/amp/?__twitter_impression=true
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !