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.
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
Water, we can’t live without it, and consuming it on its own has a myriad of health benefits such as keeping us hydrated, aiding in weight loss, and keeping our skin, hair, and nails looking great. Plus, it can aid in digestion, maintain the balance of body fluids, energize muscles, help kidneys and bowels with regular function, and so much more. But…do you sometimes get tired of water and wish that it actually tasted like something other than, well, water? You are in luck. There are a number of easy-to-grow, delicious and nutritious herbs and fruits that you can add to your water.
You’ve probably heard of drinking lemon water for any number of ailments, and though there is limited scientific research to back up many of its purported benefits, there is still plenty of proof that should inspire you to include lemon water in your morning routine. Additionally eating lemons and enjoy lemon zest throughout the day can help boost your health. Unlike many other health fads and fleeting trends, this wellness aid is more than just smoke and mirrors. Read on for our favorite reasons to drink a glass of warm (or cool) lemon water as soon as you step out of bed and enjoy the zest all day long!
Can help keep you hydrated
It is well known that the majority of the population is severely dehydrated. In fact, 75% of Americans fall short of the recommended minimum daily water consumption, which is 10 cups per day. That means that three out of every four people are living in a chronic state of dehydration and forcing their bodies to work overtime to compensate for lack of water.
Often, the reason that so many people cite for their uninspiring water intake is a dislike for the way water “tastes.” Fortunately, getting into the habit of drinking water with lemon first thing in the morning will give you a great, hydrated start to your day. Even if you don’t like the taste of water, a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice can make it infinitely better.
Supports healthy digestion
Lemon water encourages the liver to produce bile, which is required for proper digestion, and it can help flush out toxins from the body and prevent buildup. Getting your digestive system on the right track early in the morning is critical for proper bowel function throughout the day. Don’t forget to add some lemon zest in with your daily meals as well to further help your body digest the food you eat all day long!
Boosts your immune system
Millions of people around the country are bracing themselves for the upcoming cold and flu season. As Halloween decorations start to emerge, so do the nasty bugs hanging out on bathroom door handles and public transportation, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike a vulnerable immune system. Now is the time to load up on fresh, whole foods, and do whatever you can to boost your body’s natural germ-fighting capabilities.
This preparation includes drinking a daily glass of lemon water, as this tart fruit has loads of natural vitamin C that helps your cells produce infection-fighting antibodies.
Can aid in weight loss
This study found that the polyphenols in lemons can reduce and suppress body fat accumulation, while the pectin fiber in lemons can help curb appetite and reduce hunger. These abilities combined could help you in your wellness journey. Remember, weight loss does not happen overnight, and there is no magic drink that will (on its own) make you thinner. Lemon water and lemon zest should be enjoyed in conjunction with a healthy whole foods diet, daily exercise, and reduction in sugar consumption.
Helps freshen breath
There’s nothing like waking up to nasty morning breath. Unfortunately, no matter how well you brush your teeth, you may be subject to halitosis in the morning. Drink a glass of lemon water to help eliminate that foul odor and encourage saliva production.
How to enjoy lemon water:
All you need is two ingredients…filtered water, and a lemon. It’s that easy. Simply squeeze one half or a whole lemon (depending on how much flavor you want) into a tall glass. Fill the remaining way with filtered water and sip away. The water can be cool in the summertime for a refreshment from the heat or hot in the winter for a warming beverage. Add a squeeze of honey, if desired, for a hint of sweetness to combat the sour lemon. Drink through a straw to help protect your teeth’ enamel from the lemon acid, and always swish your mouth with a sip of plain water after drinking to eliminate residue on your teeth.
Add any of the following ingredients for an extra health boost:
- A few sprigs of mint
- Slice of fresh ginger
- Dash of cinnamon
- Sprinkle of turmeric
Another great way to get your lemon fix is to add fresh lemon juice and zest to an ice cube tray and freeze. These handy lemon cubes will shorten your morning routine even more and ensure you never miss a day.
-Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener
Lemons, one of the most popular citrus fruits of all time. Along with other fruits and vegetables, Christopher Columbus brought lemons with him on his second voyage to the New World in 1493, and they have been growing in Florida since the sixteenth century.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases like stroke, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are the main causes of disability and death in the United States. However, unbeknownst to most, a large percentage of chronic diseases can actually be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. The key is to keep all organs – such as your liver and colon happy and supported so that they can do their job keeping you healthy.
How to prevent chronic diseases
Most chronic diseases are associated with unhealthy lifestyles and dietary choices. These include poor nutrition, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking tobacco, chronic stress, and a sedentary lifestyle. These are the major contributors to the development and progression of many preventable chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and many types of cancer.
Fortunately, they are within your own hands to change. By being more physically active, following a balanced diet, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco products, you could reduce your risk of developing many of these chronic conditions and diseases.
Even if you already suffer from arthritis, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or any other chronic condition, eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods and getting regular exercise — whether walking, jogging, or swimming — will help you effectively manage your illness. You’ll also be able to prevent complications and prolong your life at the same time.
Why don’t more patients choose a healthy lifestyle?
Although doctors suggest healthy behavior to help manage or prevent chronic diseases, most patients simply aren’t prepared to start or maintain these healthy changes. Many patients understand the principles behind a healthy lifestyle, but don’t know how to get the help they need. If this is you, consider interventions such as exercise training, nutritional counseling, and stress reduction techniques, like yoga, meditation, tai chi, or spending time in nature.
In addition, consuming raw, organic vegetables can provide numerous health benefits, whether you have a chronic disease or not. However, if you consume more fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet, you are less likely to have chronic diseases. This is because raw, organic veggies and fruits provide essential nutrients for overall health and maintenance of your body.
Getting more fruits and vegetables into your diet doesn’t have to hard, either! This recipe will boost your energy, detoxify your liver and colon, improve your digestive health and enhance your vision.
For this recipe, please use raw, organic ingredients for maximum benefits.
- 4 oranges
- 2 carrots
- 1 beet
- Add the ingredients to a juicer.
- Serve fresh in a tall glass. Enjoy!
Supporting great liver health couldn’t be easier – love your liver and other major organs by feeding them what they crave!!
–Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener
If you aren’t already obsessed with avocadoes, you are in the minority. This precious fruit is full of healthy fat, fiber, potassium, and so much more. How could you not love it? But what can you do with that leftover pit once you’ve enjoyed your green treat? Read on to find out.
Growing fruit is easier than it sounds, even in a limited space. There are several types of fruit that can be grown in pots. Container-grown fruit allows you to have a little orchard even if your outdoor space is limited to a patio or balcony. And, you can bring the pot in for the winter if you choose a fruit that is not hardy. Check out the best fruit varieties to grow in containers and some tips on how to get a good harvest.
Why would you want to sprout an avocado seed? Well, the most simple answer: because you can! There are not many fruits and vegetables that are near as fun to grow from seeds as avocados. Some seeds are a real pain to get started. For instance, seeds of peaches, plums, and apricots need to be either subjected to cold stratification or their hard pits broken mechanically before planting.
Just as the foods you eat influence your heart, kidneys, liver and all other major organs, your brain is also impacted by what you put in your body. Treat it right, and you may be able to stave off future neurological complications, including the development of neurodegenerative diseases.
Study finds link between diet and brain size
If you look at the available research, there are numerous studies that show a clear connection between a nutrient-rich diet and brain size, as well as brain function. This is particularly the case when eating a Mediterranean diet.
This month, a new study was published in Neurology. After studying 4,213 people in the Netherlands, it was found that diet may have a profound effect on the brain. The average age of these participants was 66 years old (none of the participants were living with dementia at the time of the study).
After filling out a questionnaire based on their intake of 400 items in the past month, the researchers focused their attention on diet quality. More specifically, they examined the participants’ intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grain products, nuts, fish, dairy, tea, unsaturated fats and oils, processed and red meat, alcohol, salt, and sugary beverages.
The participants were then each ranked based on the quality of their diet. They were given a score between zero and 14. The average score was seven. Following this analysis, all participants underwent an MRI scan. Measuring a number of metrics, the average brain volume was found to be 932 milliliters.
After adjusting for other variables (sex, education, age, smoking, and physical activity), it was found that a higher diet score was linked to a larger brain volume. In previous studies, those with a greater brain volume were shown to have higher levels of cognition.
Overall, those who consumed a healthier diet had an average of two more milliliters of total brain volume in comparison to those who did not eat a healthy diet. To put this in perspective, a brain volume that is 3.6 millimeters smaller equates to one year of aging.
These five foods can help reduce brain shrinkage
The study above is not the first of its kind and it won’t be the last. In fact, past research shows that a diet rich in key vitamins, minerals, and fats can stop the brain from shrinking. In comparison, eating “junk food” has the opposite effect.
Starting today, consume more of the following five foods while maintaining a balanced, active lifestyle.
1. Wild-caught fish
Unlike farmed fish, wild-caught fish is not as heavily exposed to toxins, antibiotics, and other harmful chemicals. Known to offer the body and mind essential omega-3 fatty acids, fish may also reduce brain shrinkage. In one key study, it was found that adults who took fish oil, who had not yet developed Alzheimer’s, experienced less brain shrinkage and cognitive decline in comparison to those not taking fish oil.
2. Dark leafy greens
It was recently found that kale and other dark leafy green vegetables may help keep the brain up to 11 years younger. As published in Neurology, older people who ate at least one serving of leafy greens daily, experienced lower rates of decline on tests of thinking skills and memory. High in folate and B-12, these B-complex vitamins have been shown to reduce brain shrinkage across time.
3. Olive oil
A staple of the Mediterranean diet, quality olive oil has been shown to protect brain tissue. Not only has it been attributed to less brain shrinkage, but also healthier neurons. Loaded with anti-inflammatory and antioxidants properties, olive oil is also believed to reduce the risk of genetic mutations in the brain.
Nuts provide your body with a range of key nutrients, including healthy fats and vitamin E (which is high in hazelnuts and almonds). Walnuts are one of the top nuts for brain health, and just one-quarter of a cup provides nearly 100 percent of your daily recommended DHA (an omega- 3 fatty acid found in the human brain, skin, retina and cerebral cortex). Brazil nuts are also highly recommended.
When it comes to inflammation, blueberries can act as a natural line of defense. Also, based on their high concentration of antioxidants, these little nutritional powerhouses are believed to protect brain cells from damage. The research shows that the regular consumption of blueberries is linked to increased blood flow to the brain. It has also been found that blueberries help protect against (and in some cases reverse) cognitive loss due to brain injury, stroke, and normal aging.
When it comes to your neurological health, it is also important to note that there appears to be a significant connection between heart and brain health. This means that you should address and properly manage any cardiovascular conditions, including hypertension and diabetes.
On that note, I’m going to leave you with this quote from T. Colin Campbell, one of my favorite American biochemists. He is also a nutrition educator and once said, “Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected.”
Feed your body and mind what it needs, and it will help you take care of the rest!
– The Backyard Vitality Team
Perhaps you have grown theme gardens before like butterfly, tea, salsa, or salad gardens. But have you ever considered growing your very own energy garden? An energy garden is packed with homegrown goodness that can give you just the right amount of energy before a hard workout.