Why I Love Olive Oil

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It seems like every week, different oils become trendy: flax oil, grape seed oil, avocado oil. These oils certainly have their benefits, but I mostly stick to my time-tested favorite, olive oil. I have blogged about the Mediterranean diet before and how I feel it sets the stage for a heart-healthy lifestyle—olive oil is just one of the reasons why this diet rocks! While I touched on olive oil in that blog, I am going to delve deeper here! You ready to learn to love olive oil? Here we go!

Olive oil is a type of monounsaturated fat—yes one of the healthy fats your body loves! The specific form of monounsaturated fat in olive oil is called oleic acid. Several studies have found that oleic acid helps reduce inflammation…and inflammation is the precursor to nearly every single disease—including cancer!

A lot of research has proven that oleic acid protects against heart disease; it lowers your LDL (BAD!) cholesterol, improves the function of the lining of the blood vessels, and may also help prevent blood clotting.

Olive oil is also loaded with antioxidants, which also help reduce inflammation. For example, one study found that the antioxidant, oleocanthal, found in olive oil, was as effective at reducing inflammation as ibuprofen.

Some of my clients are terrified of any fat, fearing that it will make them fat. But healthy fats like olive oil, are necessary for proper brain function and it is also necessary to help you absorb fat-soluable vitamins (vitamin D, K, A, and E). And as far as olive oil goes, a Spanish study examined college students consuming  olive oil for three years and they did not gain weight! My recommendation is to use it combined with balsamic vinegar as a salad dressing. You can also use it as opposed to butter why you scramble your eggs or make your omelets.

You don’t need tons of it, a tablespoon here and there is the perfect amount.

Be sure that you are using extra-virgin olive oil; this type is pressed most naturally and has the highest level of antioxidants and can withstand heat better for cooking. Also, make sure it is in a dark colored bottle so that light doesn’t impact the oil—otherwise, it can go rancid rather quickly.

Cheers to your heart, your brain, and your overall health!

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Celebrate World Pistachio Day with Me

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Happy World Pistachio Day! Yes, that’s right, today is a day to celebrate pistachios. Let me give me a little Pistachio 101 lesson on this little powerhouse. Related botanically to cashews and mangoes, pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees, and are one of the only two nuts mentioned in the Bible. Americans started enjoying pistachios in the 1800s, but the first commercial crop wasn’t harvested until 1976. Today, California produces 300 million pounds of pistachios a year. They are also produced in Syria, Greece, Italy, and Turkey.

These little green nuts. are packed with amazing nutrients, such as B-complex, healthy mono-unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamin E, copper and other minerals. Studies show that daily consumption of nuts, like pistachios, may reduce the risk of heart disease and may lower blood pressure. Emerging research shows that pistachios can help manage blood-sugar levels even when consumed with a high-carbohydrate meal. Now, that’s powerful!

Here are some more fun facts about pistachios:

  • One serving of pistachios is 49 nuts! No deprivation here!
  • New research shows that your serum antioxidant levels rise when you at pistachios.
  • New research also shows that your LDL (BAD!) cholesterol levels can lower when you eat pistachios.
  • Here’s my favorite! Pistachios can make you happy! These little green nuts are actually referred to as the smiling nut in Iran and the happy nut in China.

I enjoy many of the pistachio products made by Setton Farms. Pistachio Chewy  Bites are awesome and handy little snacks to take with me when I travel. They are so simple and natural and yummy-a pistachio cranberry combo. If you are a chocolaholic, you will love their Dark Chocolate Pistachios. If you like things to be spiced up a little, try their flavored pistachios. Setton’s flavored pistachios are available in five different flavors. Consumers can choose from Chipotle BBQ, Chili-Limon, Garlic Onion, Jalapeno and Salt & Pepper.

Did you know there were so many fun ways to enjoy pistachios? Try any of these—you will thank me!

 

Crazy for Kale…and other Leafy Greens

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As we mentioned in our blog about seaweed, April is Earth Month and we will be blogging about sustainable food choices. Load up your plate with leafy greens (kale, collard greens, arugula, spinach and chard are great choices) and you will be boosting your health and protecting the planet at the same time!

Leafy Greens for your Weight

Leafy greens are rich in fiber. When it comes to weight-loss, you must befriend fiber because it keeps you fuller longer and you will be less likely to have unhealthy snack attacks.

Leafy Greens for your Heart

Leafy greens are excellent for heart health. The fiber helps to lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Many leafy greens are chock-full of potassium, which helps to manage healthy blood-pressure levels. Research indicates that folate, found in leafy greens, may protect against heart disease.

Leafy Greens for your Brain

Folate is also great for your brain. Research shows that folate may protect against memory also. And because folate produces serotonin, leafy greens may help ward off depression.

Leafy Greens for your Bones

You probably know that in order to maintain healthy bones, you need calcium. Did you know that many leafy greens have more calcium than milk? For example, one cup of collard greens contains 357 milligrams of calcium and a cup of milk has 306 milligrams.

Leafy Greens for your Skin

Leafy greens contain a lot of water, which helps to hydrate your skin. The ample amount of vitamin C in leafy greens produces collagen, which is essential for your skin’s elasticity. Vitamin C and vitamin E, both found in leafy greens, team up to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays.

Leafy Greens for the Planet
Leafy greens grow more quickly than almost any other type of plant in most climates, making them an excellent low-impact food choice most seasons.

If you want to take up gardening, leafy greens are a low-maintenance choice to try! Give it a shot and let us know how it goes. In the meantime, load up on those greens—you will feel so vibrant!

Eat Seaweed for your Health & Sustainability

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luscious green underwater kelp forest at catalina island, califo

April 22nd is Earth Day. We should really celebrate Earth Day every day; within our blogosphere, we have decided to celebrate the earth all April long. We will feature several foods that are great choices to make if you care about the earth’s sustainability. Today’s entry is about seaweed.

Seaweed is becoming more sought-after than kale! It’s not just for sushi anymore. Foodies and restaurateurs have discovered phenomenal ways that seaweed can add flavor to anything from soups to meat and even dessert! The fact that seaweed is jam-packed with nutrients (iodine, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron to name a few) makes choosing seaweed as a food to learn to love, a no-brainer!

According to The Specialty Food Association’s 2016 Trend Forecast, seaweed is “set to explode thanks to its sustainability angle and umami appeal.”

Seaweed is one of the most sustainable foods you can consume; A World Bank study illustrated that seaweed farms could actually produce a negative carbon footprint because it is possible for these farms to absorb more carbon dioxide than they omit.

Umami, in Japanese, means “deliciousness.” Most people can easily point to four “tastes” they have been taught: bitter, sweet, sour, and salty; umami is the fifth taste; it is savory. Perhaps, one of the most popular ingredients that food manufacturers have used to give a umami flavor is Monosodium Glutamate (aka MSG); however, MSG has been shown to lead to a slew of health concerns. The Mayo Clinic claims that MSG can cause headaches, heart palpitations, excessive sweating, chest pain, nausea, and weakness. Who wants that, especially when you can obtain the same taste from a super-food, filled to the brim with health-boosting nutrients like seaweed?!

Reluctant to try adding seaweed to your own diet?! Are you imagining the slimy stuff you sometimes see when you swim in the ocean? Trust me, food manufacturers make it look much more appealing and its truly delicious. I love gimMe Health Food’s seaweed snacks. Their seaweed snack sheets are available in sea salt, sesame, teriyaki, and wasabi flavors. You can also add their seaweed crumbles to soups, salad, and even popcorn. Your condiments have never been so healthy; neither have your snacks!