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11 Amazing Benefits of Sweet Basil

Fresh sweet basil is floral, pungent, and readily available in the U.S. You’re probably well aware of the flavor it contributes to dishes, like pasta and salads. But what you may not be aware of are the powerful healing compounds associated with the essential oil. In fact, sweet basil oil can help the digestive, immune and nervous systems. If you haven’t tried it yet, here are some natural fixes that can really boost your health.=

Sweet basil’s essentials

Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), is a plant with thick foliage and small white flowers. Fresh basil projects a fresh and floral aroma, while the dried basil has a spicy and earthy scent. Like most herbs, sweet basil is loaded with health benefits. In fact, it’s a rich source of vitamin K, beta carotene, and iron. In addition, this herb has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

But the majority of basil’s benefits are attributed to its volatile oil and flavonoids. The preferred method for obtaining the oil is through steam distilling the flowers or the whole basil plant. These powerful, plant-based antioxidants reduce inflammation and help fight aging. Whether you take it internally or use it topically, here are some basil oil benefits you may want to consider.

1. Antibacterial and antifungal

Basil oil for cleaning

Basil oil has antimicrobial activity that fights a wide range of foodborne bacteria, yeasts, and even mold. A study published in Food Microbiology found that basil oil can stop the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Researchers looking for natural, toxin-free food preservatives, discovered that washing produce in a basil oil solution decreased shigella.

Shigella, a bacterium closely related to salmonella, produces abdominal pain, tenesmus, watery diarrhea, and dysentery. Other symptoms may include abdominal tenderness, fever, vomiting, dehydration, and convulsions. Interestingly, a solution made from one percent basil oil decreased contamination below levels at which it could be detected. Scientists suggest including basil in your salad to provide similar safeguards.

In another earlier study from Australia, researchers looked at the effects of basil oil against bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and molds. All five essential oils of basil showed antimicrobial activity against most of the organisms. That means you can use a solution of basil oil to remove bacteria and prevent contamination from kitchens and bathrooms. Simply combine basil oil with water in a spray bottle and wipe down surfaces.

2. Indigestion and cramping

Basil oil can help increase urine production, which in turn, can reduce water retention, uncomfortable bloating, and digestive issues. It’s also an effective antispasmodic and can reduce food and illness-associated cramping. Add one to two drops of sweet basil oil to warm water or tea. You can also inhale it or massage it directly into painful areas, such as the abdomen and lower back.

3. Constipation relief

Sweet basil oil can also provide natural constipation relief. Add one to two drops of sweet basil oil to warm water or tea. You’ll be feeling better in no time.

4. Flatulence and upset stomach

Basil oil for gas and upset stomach

Basil essential oil is also useful as a digestive tonic. Since basil oil has carminative properties, it prevents or relieves flatulence. In fact, it can provide immediate relief from gas. It also has colic qualities and is therefore used to alleviate bowel pain. Alternately, sweet basil oil can expel gas from the stomach and intestine, helping calm an upset stomach, suggests the University of Michigan Health System.

5. Prevents infections

Due to basil’s antibacterial properties, it may also treat several infections, including cuts, wounds and bladder infections. It’s also great for avoiding viral infections that attack and enter the body through other wounds.

6. Pain relief

Often used for arthritic pain, wounds, sprains, and headaches, basil oil is an analgesic and provides effective relief from pain. According to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, basil oil was found to reduce hyperalgesia in mice. Research suggests that sweet basil oil may also be a natural alternative for treating chronic painful conditions, such as fibromyalgia.

7. Anti-inflammatory

Basil’s powerful essential oils contain eugenol, citronellol, and linalool. These enzyme-inhibiting oils help lower inflammation — the root cause of most diseases. In a 2007 study, researchers found that sweet basil oil significantly reduced an induced inflammation response in rats. Researchers found that sweet basil showed important anti-inflammatory effects.

8. Insect repellent

Similar to citronella and thyme oil, the volatile oils found in basil make a good, natural mosquito repellent to prevent bug bites. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association investigated sweet basil oil as an irritant and repellent against mosquitoes. Pure essential oil was used in combination with absolute ethanol. Researchers found that sweet basil oil is a moderate mosquito irritant and repellent. However, they found that another variety of basil, hairy basil, was a much more effective mosquito repellent.

Make your own homemade bug lotion by diluting several drops of basil essential oil in a carrier oil. Massage into the skin as needed.

9. Anxiety relief

A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported that basil oil relaxed mice experiencing stress. The study found that the protective properties of basil (particularly holy basil) on the brain tissue protected mice against the detrimental effect of noise stress.

10. Cold and flu Relief

Basil oil for cold relief

If you feel a cold or flu coming on, basil oil may help diminish symptoms. This essential oil helps detoxify the body of bacteria and viruses. It also fights inflammation, pain, and fatigue. Simply add one to two drops to a steam bath. Alternately, make your own homemade vapor rub with eucalyptus oil and basil oil. Rub it into your chest to open nasal passages.

11. Air freshener

Sweet basil oil is ideal for eliminating odor-causing bacteria and mold in your home, car, and furniture. Combine basil oil with baking soda to remove stains and bacteria from pots or pans. You can even spray it inside your toilet, shower, and garbage cans.

Now that you know everything sweet basil can do, are you ready to give it a try? Here are all the ways that you can get it into your system.

Inhalation

Inhale the oil directly from the bottle or rub several drops into your palms. Hold your hands over, but not touching, your face to inhale.

Topically

Always dilute basil oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or almond oil. Use a 1:1 ratio before applying to the skin. Because it is potent, it’s best to start slowly. Basil oil may cause reactions in people with sensitive skin. Test before applying to the skin and avoid the face, neck, and chest prior to testing.

Internally

The FDA recognizes pure basil oil as safe for consumption, but only when using 100 percent therapeutic-grade, high-quality oil. Look for Ocimum basilicum and add a drop in water. Or, take it as a dietary supplement by mixing it with raw honey.

You won’t have any trouble finding sweet basil oil because it’s produced in the U.S. and harvested from February to September. So the next time you have a cold, or simply want to freshen your home naturally, give it a try. Your nose will thank you.

– The Backyard Vitality Team

8 Mental Health Benefits Of Community Gardening

The vacant lot that we would ultimately turn into a vibrant community garden was overgrown with grass grass that was taller than we were. We had to use machetes to cut it down, then we let the grass fertilize the ground and we began an extensive cleanup and leveling process.

But many hands make light work, and that garden is now a key source of vegetables and herbs for people in the nearby area. The benefits it brings, however, go well beyond the vegetables themselves. Children from the local school work the garden side-by-side with retirees fostering a sense of community.

Community gardens bring people together.

The mental and physical health benefits of community gardens are well documented. They include:

1. Developing social support and social skills

People who contribute to community gardens be it street and urban gardens, or gardens set up for a school, prison, hospital, restaurant or other places almost always make friends there, surveys have found. Gardens can be a great place to meet people you wouldn’t normally come across people outside your family and workplaces as well as a space to learn from others. In turn, people with these stronger social networks have an increased life expectancy and greater resilience to stress.

2. Sense of achievement

It’s a wonderful thing, to look after life and plants provide an achievable way to do this. In a community garden, you’ll often find yourself taking home vegetables and herbs, or giving them to your neighbors and being able to hold the literal fruits of your labor in your hands is rewarding and fulfilling.

Connect with others who share a passion for gardening.

3. A great use of leisure time

Sometimes work and caring duties can be so exhausting that the only leisure time we squeeze in involves a television. But, TV and Netflix aren’t great for mental health they promote lazy thought and the consumption of unhealthy food, encourage unrealistic expectations of life, and promote a sedentary lifestyle. Urban and community gardening, on the other hand, can be really relaxing, while also getting you moving in a chilled-out way. Respondents to a survey on community gardening said that it made them “happy…when things grow back in spring,” and, “I feel alive. I’d die if I stayed in my apartment.”

4. Decreased stress and pain

A garden is a great and convenient getaway from the stress of everyday life, and studies have found that gardens can lower pain levels and speed up the healing process, decrease stress and release tension. Community gardens can be especially beneficial to people in highly urbanized areas who don’t have a garden of their own or access to plants on a daily basis. In fact, researchers have found that gardening is more efficient at reducing stress than reading indoors or indoor exercise.

Community gardening gets you out of the house.

5. Better diet and lifestyle

People working in community gardens often feel inspired to eat better and are more motivated to exercise. Learning how vegetables grow and everything that goes into that process helps people to appreciate their food in a different way.

6. A greater sense of security

By getting to know one’s neighbors, people start to trust them and their alienation made all one’s neighbors’ strangers starts to break down. This leads to an increased feeling of safety and security.

7. Happiness

Research shows that nature evokes positive emotions, as well as facilitates cognitive functioning, and promoting recovery from mental exhaustion. People spending time in nature also have better concentration and attention levels.

8. Enhanced self-esteem

In-depth studies consistently find that gardening is great for self-esteem and just one session can be beneficial. The main reason is that a reduction in anger, confusion, tension, and depression is conducive to improving a person’s sense of self-worth.

Community gardening tips

Not everyone has a vacant block of land waiting around to be rescued. But there are lots of alternatives; a park in disrepair, the unused but accessible roof of a block of flats, the back porch of the local pub, a corner of a local primary school and even your own small patio or window sills can be used for seedlings or a shared worm composter.

Indulge your gardening hobby where you can.

If you don’t have access to green space and have to grow food on a rooftop, paved area, or patio, the following foods do really well in pots: oregano, tomatoes, basil, potatoes, beets, turnips, radish, rosemary, cucumber, lettuce, parsley, carrots, chilis, strawberries, cantaloupe, eggplant, peppermint, peppers, peas, onions, beans, kale, chard and medicinal plants like aloe vera work well as well.

For some non-edible plants that will lift your mood lavender smells wonderful and has been shown to lower stress on its own. Roses promote relaxation (and if they are organic, are edible as well) and the bright colors of sunflowers make most people feel happy.

Use a worm composter to reduce waste and generate fertilizer I made mine out of two bucket-like plastic containers in about ten minutes and throw your coffee grounds and eggshells straight into the pots.

-The Backyard Vitality Team

 

12 Tips to Keep Your Garden Harvest Fresh for Longer

Have you ever been so blessed by a massive harvest that you become overwhelmed? I know the feeling! Sometimes you just have so many fresh veggies that you become worried about using them all before they go bad. Believe me, this is a problem. However, you can turn your problem around if you follow these tips on preserving and keeping your harvest fresh for longer.

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35 Ways to Use Raw Honey for Great Health

Winnie the Pooh said it best when he said, “Eating honey is a very good thing to do.” This liquid gold has been a staple in my home for many, many years, and for good reason. The benefits of honey are seemingly endless. Everywhere I have lived, I have sought out raw local sources of honey for use in my kitchen, as well as for other medicinal purposes. I am also beginning to do my own research on keeping bees — partially because I use so much honey and partially because I find it absolutely amazing that bees provide us with this wonderful gift that I want to watch them work up close and personal.

I am not alone in my awe of honey. Ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Chinese, Romans, and Greeks used honey for treating wounds and to heal conditions of the gut. Hippocrates himself used honey and vinegar for pain, honey and water for thirst, and honey mixed with water and other substances for fever.

Medicinal properties of honey

Honey is truly a healing gift from nature, and is rich in medicinal properties:

  • Hygroscopic property

In its natural state, honey has very low water content, but it absorbs moisture when exposed to air. This hygroscopic property makes honey highly beneficial to dry skin by allowing it to better retain moisture. It also helps to speed up wound healing time.

  • Antibacterial property

One especially vital component in honey, glucose oxidase, is an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide. Research indicates that this is one of the main reasons why honey seems to have such powerful antibacterial and wound-healing capabilities. The production of hydrogen peroxide is just one of the remarkable ways that honey helps to kill bacteria and heal wounds.

  • Antioxidant property

Although darker honey generally contains more antioxidant power than light-colored, both are still a rich source of valuable antioxidants. Antioxidants go to work against free radicals and encourage new tissue growth. This, in turn, helps expedite the healing of damaged tissue and also helps skin appear younger and more radiant.

  • Honey is a nutritional powerhouse

Honey is also a nutritional powerhouse, containing glucose, fructose, and numerous minerals including calcium, iron, copper, phosphate, sodium chlorine, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Vitamins in honey include B6, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and a number of amino acids. It is also quite acidic, with a pH of 3.2. and 4.5. This helps prevent the growth of bacteria. It is also loaded with protective antioxidants.

Ways to use honey

There are literally hundreds of ways to use honey — here are 35 of my favorite. I hope you give some of these a try. You will be amazed at what you find.

1. Wound cleaner

Dab honey onto a minor burn or cut, lightly covering the wound like an antibiotic ointment. Research published in The FASEB Journal shows how honey kills off bacteria and helps speed healing time.

2. Diaper rash and nipple cream

Honey is a gentle way to soothe diaper rash.
Honey is a gentle way to soothe diaper rash (and nipples)

A New Zealand study investigated using topical pharmaceutical-grade manuka honey in place of traditional barrier cream for the treatment of redness, itching, and inflammation. Researchers found that symptoms improved in a similar fashion to using a traditional barrier cream. To help prevent diaper rash, try adding equal parts of honey to your usual diaper cream and use it daily. In the same manner that honey provides relief and healing for diaper rash, it is also a fantastic remedy for sore and inflamed nipples!

3. Hair conditioner

Honey makes for a great natural conditioner. Mix together 1/2 cup honey with 1/4 cup olive oil and warm slightly on the stove. Apply to your hair and then allow it to soak in by wrapping your hair in a towel. Once it is soaked in, rinse out your hair, preferably with cool water.

4. Natural hair remover

Mix one tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of lemon juice and three tablespoons of brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Warm slightly in the microwave and allow the mixture to cool, then apply to facial hair using a popsicle stick. Place a small piece of muslin cloth over the area and rub slightly. Apply a small amount of tea tree oil to the area where you removed the hair.

5. Burn treatment

The Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery published a paper based on an analysis comparing the use of medicated dressings (silver sulfadiazine) with honey dressings over a five-year period. When burn healing time was compared, those patients with the honey dressings healed in an average of 18.16 days, while those with the medicated bandages healed in 32.68 days.

Researchers concluded that the honey dressings made wounds sterile in a shorter time period and also improved healing time. Note: Only try this home treatment for minor burns. In the case of a serious burn, call the emergency room.

6. Makeup remover

Mix baking soda and honey together to make a paste and add a few drops of tea tree oil. Apply using a warm washcloth in a circular motion. Rinse with warm water.

7. Bad breath

If you suffer from bad breath, try a mixture of 1/4 cup water, one teaspoon raw honey, and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Gargle for three minutes and spit out for fresh breath all day long.

8. Face mask

A honey face mask can help improve skin conditions.
A honey face mask can help improve skin conditions.

Honey can effectively treat conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema, while coconut oil is great for relieving dry or irritated skin, as well as for reducing wrinkles. Combining them leads to super-soft, clear, hydrated skin! Mix one tablespoon coconut oil and one tablespoon raw honey in a small bowl with a spoon until it’s well combined.

Apply the mixture to your face and neck with your fingertips — gently — as sometimes honey can crystalize and be rough on your skin. Let it sink in for up to 20 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Simple, easy, and effective!

9. Strengthen nails

If you have weak, brittle nails, try mixing one tablespoon of honey with a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar in a shallow dish. Soak your nails for 10 minutes and rinse. Repeat weekly for strong and healthy cuticles and nails.

10. Relieve acid reflux

Raw honey coats the lining of the esophagus and provides relief to the burning caused by acid reflux. In a report posted in the British Medical Journal, Professor Mahantayya V. Math found relief from reflux when he ingested five milliliters of honey.

11. Balance blood sugar

Although honey is sweet, it has a fairly low glycemic index. The natural sugars in honey have a “slow-release” effect, which means it does not cause the sharp peak in blood sugar that other sweet substances (like refined sugar) do. The sugars in honey are therefore more slowly absorbed and metabolized. Despite its sweetness, honey will not cause blood sugar levels to spike as high or as fast as other high-sugar foods.

12. Natural cough syrup

You can make a very effective, tasty, natural cough syrup using the following ingredients: one cup of filtered water, 1/4 cup fresh ginger root, 1/4 cup marshmallow root, one tablespoon cinnamon, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, and one cup honey. Pour the water into a saucepan and add the dried herbs.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the volume is reduced by about half. Pour through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer to remove herbs. While the liquid is still warm, but not boiling, mix in the lemon juice and honey. Stir well and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

13. Dark circle remover

Mix one teaspoon of honey with one teaspoon of sweet almond oil and spread the mixture under the eyes. After about 20 minutes, wash the mixture off and follow up with a light layer of organic coconut oil. Repeat this treatment a few times a week to keep your skin looking great.

14. Lip moisturizer

A very easy way to heal and prevent chapped lips can be made with honey. Mix one part of warm, recently-melted beeswax to three parts olive oil. Then add one to two tablespoons of honey to the mixture. Once the mixture has been set, it’s ready to use.

15. Healthy sports drink

Commercial sports drinks are loaded with sugar and other not-so-healthy ingredients. However, it is very easy to make your own homemade sports drink using honey. Simply combine the following ingredients in a Vitamix and blend until the honey dissolves: 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, two cups water, 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt, and two tablespoons of raw honey. Take some of this mixture in a water bottle when going out on a long hike and you’ll feel hydrated and energized.

16. Improves healthy gut bacteria

Bees have a very diverse population of beneficial acid bacteria. A unique characteristic of raw honey is its ability to feed good gut bacteria and fight off bad bacteria. Good bacteria are essential for overall health and wellness. It forms the main defense against outside threats.

17. Relieve morning sickness

Honey can help to naturally alleviate morning sickness.
Honey can help to naturally alleviate morning sickness.

Organic honey works to relieve morning sickness for pregnant mothers. A warm tea made with honey and ginger is highly effective at calming a pregnant mother’s tummy.

18. Fruit-preserver

Preserving your fruits with raw honey makes them so much healthier. Simply use one part honey to ten parts water and cover your berries in the mixture. Much better than sugar!

19. Weight-loss aid

Hands down, honey is a better and far healthier sweetener than sugar. The body knows just what to do with this natural gift from the bees, and our cells can use it for energy. If you are looking to drop a few pounds, replace your sugar with honey. It will boost your metabolism and give you energy.

Just remember, all in moderation. You must eat a healthy diet and exercise for any permanent weight loss to occur. For an added boost, mix half a teaspoon of organic ground cinnamon in a cup of boiling water, then let it steep for 10 minutes. Add one teaspoon of raw honey and enjoy!

20. Infections in the mouth

Bacteria and viruses can cause oral infections that impact the teeth, gums, palate, tongue, lips, and the inside of the cheeks. Oral infections are very common. In fact, infections that cause tooth decay are the second most common infectious condition after the common cold.

Researchers in India have found that manuka honey worked just as well as commercial mouthwash, and better than chewing gum with xylitol, for reducing plaque levels. This they attribute to its outstanding antibacterial qualities. Manuka honey, taken orally, can help reduce gingivitis and keep the mouth healthy and free from harmful bacteria.

21. Treat insect bites

Mixing some lemon juice with honey makes a natural antiseptic solution; the natural sugar in honey kills the microorganisms, while the lemon partners with it to prevent bacteria from taking over. The combination will also reduce the swelling associated with insect bites, and decrease itchiness.

For best results, squeeze the juice of one lemon into two tablespoons of raw honey and spread on the infected area. Allow the mixture to remain on the skin until the swelling goes down. You’ll also notice a decrease in itchiness.

22. Fix fertility issues

Raw honey is also an effective natural remedy for fertility issues. It can be combined with raw goat milk to increase sperm counts in men. In women, it can increase the chances of successful fertilization.

23. Reduce the appearance of scars

Over time, a mixture of honey and baking soda can reduce the appearance of scars. Mix one tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of baking soda. Apply the paste to a scar and let sit for about 30 minutes. Rinse with cool water and pat dry. Do this daily until the scar begins to fade.

24. Treat yeast infections

Honey can help fight off a yeast infection.
Honey can help fight off a yeast infection.

There is evidence that applying raw honey in and around the vagina can help get rid of yeast infections. Apply the honey, let it sit for 30 minutes, then wash it off in the bath or shower.

25. Stockpile for emergency

Are you building up an emergency food supply for the apocalypse? Honey should be in it! This food never spoils — collections of it have actually been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. It also provides the perfect balance of glucose and fructose for energy, along with a ton of healthy vitamins and enzymes.

26. Soften skin

The same qualities that make honey good for your hair also make it good for your skin. It’s a great way to keep your skin naturally soft and clean. Just add two tablespoons of honey to a cup of hot water and let it dissolve. Add two to three drops of lavender essential oil, then pour the mixture into your bath.

27. Whip up healthy peanut butter

I love peanut butter but hate sugar. This is quite simply the most delicious peanut butter I have ever tasted, with natural sweetness from a healthy dose of honey.

28. Combat parasites

If you have parasites, try using a mixture of raw honey and apple cider vinegar. Simply add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of honey to a glass of water and drink it down!

29. Relieve a hangover

Because of its antioxidant properties, honey is said to neutralize the toxins created by consuming alcohol. The fructose in honey is thought to be the essential compound that helps the body break down alcohol into harmless byproducts.

30. Treat antibiotic-resistant superbugs

Antibiotic resistance is, according to the CDC, a leading world health problem. Doctors first began to notice resistance problems almost a decade ago, when kids with middle-ear infections stopped responding to the drugs they were being given.

Phenols found in manuka honey inhibit bacterial growth and promote healing. These antioxidants are not like synthetic antibiotics that promote the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Clearly raw honey is an impressive antimicrobial agent against a broad spectrum of bacteria and other infectious organisms.

31. Create a simple energy boost

If you start to feel a little lethargic towards the end of your day, a tablespoon of raw honey is just what you need. According to the American College of Nutrition, honey (unlike sugar) provides a nutritious carbohydrate that the body can use for immediate energy. When you are feeling low, take a teaspoon in a cup of warm water mixed with lemon or a scoop right from the jar!

32. Make salad dressing

Ditch commercial salad dressing and try this delicious and healthy option instead. Combine equal parts raw honey, balsamic vinegar and olive oil into a jar and shake lightly. Add herbs, pepper and sea salt to taste.

33. Treat allergies

Local honey can help to combat allergies.
Local honey can help to combat allergies.

Research contends that locally produced honey helps greatly with seasonal allergies. Try adding a tablespoon of local honey (produced during the season you have your allergy problem) to a tea made with nettle leaf for extra allergy relief benefits.

34. Topical antibiotic

Raw organic honey has been used as an antibiotic and topical treatment for abrasions and cuts for hundreds of years. For people with diabetic ulcers, it can be an effective treatment when many other topical treatments are unsuccessful.

35. Homemade dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is a delicious and healthy treat, in moderation. Make your own using honey (much better than sugar). Visit this site for an amazingly good recipe for some delicious little treats.

How to choose the best honey

Raw honey is honey in its purest state. According to the National Honey Board, there is no exact definition for raw honey. A honey label that says “untreated” or “unpasteurized” may be an indication, but not a guarantee that the honey is raw. Obviously, any honey labeled pasteurized is not raw. Don’t be fooled by words like “natural” or “pure” — they mean nothing in regards to honey processing.

To be sure that the honey you are purchasing is raw, it is best to get it from a local beekeeper who will tell you how the honey was obtained. The very best raw honey will also be organic — beekeepers must adhere to very strict regulations in order to be certified organic. Now go out and get some honey!

-Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach and Master Gardener

Yes, You Should Eat the WHOLE Avocado – Even the Pit

There aren’t many people out there who don’t like avocados. They’re creamy, delicious, brilliantly versatile, and undeniably one of the greatest superfoods available on supermarket shelves. Most people are aware of the wide-ranging health benefits that avocado flesh provides, but few know that the seed they throw away each time they eat an avocado can provide an impressive array of health-promoting properties. While the flesh of an avocado is packed with nutrients and healthy fats, you may be surprised to learn that over 70 percent of the total antioxidant concentration in avocados is contained in the seed. Here are five compelling reasons to stop you from throwing that next avocado seed away.

Reduce inflammation: The same powerful concoction of antioxidants in avocado seeds is responsible for their potent inflammation-fighting properties. Avocado seeds contain high concentrations of catechins and procyanidins, antioxidants that reduce inflammation associated with pain, swelling, stiffness, and impaired joint function. This heroic pair of antioxidants also promotes heart health and proper blood circulation.

Fight cancer: A 2013 study from the University of Antioquia demonstrated that extracts from avocado seeds had a pro-apoptotic influence on leukemia cells, meaning that the extract caused leukemia cells to die and left the normal cells healthy and stable. For this reason, avocado seeds could be an important way to fight or reduce your cancer risk.

Improve digestion: Avocado seeds have long been used in their native homeland of Mexico and Central America to treat a range of digestive issues, including dysentery and gastric ulcers. Today, avocado seeds can be used to promote healthy digestive function, with their potent concentrations of antioxidants and fiber helping to support your gastrointestinal tract by promoting the growth and maintenance of healthy gut bacteria.

Encourage weight loss: The same fiber found in avocado seeds that helps support healthy digestion can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Their high fiber content provides feelings of fullness and satiation, meaning you don’t get the same urge to eat as often. They can also help control your blood sugar levels, with stable blood sugar meaning you’re less likely to give in to food cravings throughout the day.

Support your skin: The powerful cocktail of antioxidants contained in avocado seeds can be just what your skin needs to become supple and clear. These antioxidants can help to rebuild collagen, promote the repair of cells damaged by free radical activity and generally just make your skin look and feel healthy.

How to eat avocado seeds 

Now that you’ve learned about the many benefits that avocado seeds can provide for your health, you’re probably wondering how the heck to eat them. They’re hard, heavy, and seemingly close to indestructible. 

The first step is to remove the seed from the surrounding flesh by cutting the avocado in half with a large sharp knife then whacking the knife down hard on the seed to stick it onto the blade. Use the edge of a cutting board to dislodge the seed from the knife blade, then cut it into quarters with a sharp knife, being careful of your fingers. The seed is actually surprisingly easy to cut with a suitably sharp knife.

Now throw the quarters into a powerful blender and process until you make a fine powder. Divide the resulting powder into two piles— one pile is enough for a single serving, so put the other pile in a storage container in the fridge. Now you can throw the powder into a smoothie mix, but be sure the other ingredients are relatively strong, as the seed powder can be quite bitter due to its tannins.

Nevertheless, don’t forget that the avocado seed is highly valuable and should not be forgotten! 

 

Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener

 

 

 

11 Rules for the Best Lawn in Your Neighborhood

It happens in neighborhoods all over the country, and perhaps in yours. With the first tiny sign that spring is around the corner, people get busy cleaning up their lawnmower blades, shopping for weed and feed, and chomping at the bit to win the “best lawn” award for their community. If having a lush and healthy lawn is important to you – and perhaps winning the best lawn award is something you aspire to do – the following rules for a great lawn might just propel you to the top of the class.

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Strange Gardening Techniques to Save Plants from Hot and Dry Conditions

As the summer season heats up, gardeners sometimes struggle to keep plants healthy and producing. To make matters worse, water restrictions often follow periods of drought and heat, causing gardens to suffer further. If you happen to live in an area, like me, that is particularly hot and dry all summer long; these water-saving gardening techniques are for you.

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Low on Money? 7 Ways to Make More Green with Green

When you think of side hustles, ways to make a little extra money, you may conjure up images of things like selling clothes you don’t wear, walking dogs, babysitting, or even baking and selling cookies. But, have you ever considered taking your love of plants, gardening, and homesteading (even urban homesteading) and using it to turn a quick profit?

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Drink This Plant Potion for Better Immunity and a Great Night’s Sleep

For as long as humans have been able to warm water, they have enjoyed herbal teas. Herbal teas are not really true teas like green, black, and oolong tea, which are all brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Herbal teas can be made from any part of a plant, including the roots, leaves, flowers, seeds, berries, or bark, and they can sometimes contain thousands of different compounds, each with distinctive healing capabilities. 

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Chili Paste for Achy Muscles (trust me, it works)

In 2015, the FDA increased the warnings associated with the use of over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Taking these painkillers comes with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Many are now questioning the use of painkillers for any reason.

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Rough Day? Rub These Plants on Your Temple and Breathe Deeply

Are you busy at work, busy with kids, busy with school, and just plain busy all the time? If so, you are not alone. Millions of Americans suffer from over-business, which leads to…you got it. Stress. There is nothing fun about being busy and feeling stressed about being busy. Quite simply, this is a recipe for disaster. Although it is important to slow down, on those days when you just can’t seem to catch a break, two easy-to-grow plants come to the rescue.

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