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Nutrition

Cinnamon: main contraindications and side effects

As it is one of the most used spices in the kitchen and recognized for its variety of health benefits, it is difficult to think that cinnamon has contraindications and side effects . However, despite being little documented, we will delve into them.

Although there are different types of cinnamon, it is likely that you are regularly consuming the Cassia variety , which is the most common in stores and supermarkets. This type contains a high concentration of coumarin , the compound responsible for some of these contraindications and side effects.

Contraindications of cinnamon

We must start from two different concepts. One thing is the contraindications of cinnamon and another side effects. The former involve avoiding consumption to prevent health problems , while the latter are related to the negative reactions that excess can cause.

Patients on insulin treatment

Although this spice has been shown to have positive effects on lowering blood sugar, the consumption of cinnamon is not recommended in those who have diabetes and are being treated with insulin.

Why? Cinnamon can lead diabetic patients to experience hypoglycemia , a state in which sugar levels are too low. Considering that insulin’s job is to balance these levels, mixing it with the spice can alter its effectiveness.

Contraindications of cinnamon.
Cinnamon has specific contraindications that limit its use in certain population groups.

Keep reading: Uses of cinnamon and its medicinal properties

Cinnamaldehyde allergy

Stomatitis is a condition that causes redness and ulcers in the mouth, inflammation of the tongue and gums, burning or itching, which some people with an allergy to cinnamaldehyde , a compound found in cinnamon, may experience.

This condition occurs in people diagnosed with an allergy to the compound and also in those who abuse the consumption of cinnamon. It is recurrent in those who frequently use gum or flavored sweets.

Pregnancy status as a contraindication for cinnamon

Although the literature on the consumption of cinnamon in pregnancy is scarce, it is recommended to avoid it. It could stimulate the uterus and cause contractions , which, depending on the stage of pregnancy, can lead to the woman going through labor.

On the other hand, fissures in the placenta could also occur during pregnancy. Therefore, its consumption is also contraindicated during the lactation stage, because it would cause allergies in the baby.

Side effects of excessive consumption of cinnamon

Now we will describe the side effects of excessive consumption of cinnamon. That is to say, those health difficulties that we may face if we do not regulate the intake of this spice, which does not mean that we should leave it.

Hepatic injury

Excessive consumption of coumarin could cause liver damage , as scientific studies have referenced . Also, taking into account that cinnamon enhances the side effects of some medications, it is recommended to limit its use to avoid overloading the liver.

It is noteworthy that this component is present in higher concentration in Cassia , the most common type of cinnamon. For its part, the Ceilan type stands out for having a minimum concentration, which can be a good option to avoid future problems.

Possible risk of cancer

Although there have been no studies in humans that confirm the carcinogenic action of coumarin , there have been investigations in animals with positive results. The cancers that were identified affected the lungs, liver and kidneys.

Breathing difficulties

This side effect is related to the ease of inhaling the cinnamon powder. Those who have inhaled it by mistake know that it can cause shortness of breath, coughing and nausea . Since cinnamaldehyde is an irritant, throat discomfort may linger .

The greatest risk to our respiratory system is associated with the consumption of dried and powdered cinnamon. The particles in this presentation are tiny and, if they enter the lungs, cause permanent damage, associated with aspiration pneumonia.

How much cinnamon is considered a contraindication?

Side effects of cinnamon.
Some side effects of cinnamon come from the amount that is ingested.

To avoid the side effects of coumarin, present in cinnamon, the consumption of 0.1 milligrams per kilo of body weight per day is recommended. This means that, an adult of 81 kilograms could consume 8 milligrams of coumarin .

However, since a 2.5 gram spoonful of cinnamon can have 7 to 18 milligrams of this substance, the intake should be less than one tablespoon.

Children, on the other hand, are usually intolerant to coumarin, so its use should be evaluated in them, even in small doses. Keep this recommendation in mind, especially in children under six years of age.

Discover more: Benefits of spices

Cinnamon contraindications: stop consuming it?

In the event that you are a patient undergoing insulin treatment or have had liver failure, it is recommended to consult with the treating physician for the decision to stop consuming cinnamon.

Taking into account that, as we explained at the beginning of the article, the contraindications of cinnamon are different from the side effects, it is necessary that you avoid exceeding the consumption of this species . One of the benefits that has most popularized its use is the influence on weight loss, therefore it is easy to be tempted by products that do not include warnings.

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Nutrition

Pitaya, the pink exotic fruit

The pitaya is the fruit of the Hylocerus cacteus cactus . Coming from southern Mexico and Central America, there are different varieties of this tropical fruit. Among them is the one with pink skin that may have the pulp of the same color or white with some small black seeds inside.

Despite having an exotic appearance, it has a flavor similar to that of many other fruits. Some people describe it with a taste between kiwi and pear. Both for those who hear about it for the first time and for those who have it among their fruits of regular consumption, in the following article we will learn more about its composition and characteristics.

Pitaya properties and health benefits

Dragon fruit has sparked the interest of science in recent years due to its significant presence of nutrients . In this way, some of its most important effects have become known both for food and even for the cosmetics industry. Among its main benefits are the following.

Antioxidant

This is one of the main positive impacts of pitaya. As pointed out for a long time, it contains different compounds with this activity. Antioxidants are molecules that protect the cells of the body from the action of free radicals.

There is sufficient scientific evidence linking the latter to some chronic diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes or heart disease. Although free radicals are not the only cause, a diet rich in antioxidants can be preventive.

Pitaya in the foreground.
The pitaya is the fruit of a cactus. Characteristic of Central America, it is found in other world markets.

Know: The best fruits for your heart

Oligosaccharides with prebiotic effect

Part of the nutritional content of pitayas is made up of carbohydrates. Apart from glucose and fructose, it has significant amounts of oligosaccharides . These are more or less long chains of sugars.

It has been observed that this type of fiber cannot be degraded by gastric juices and enzymes. In this way, it reaches the colon undigested where it serves as food for intestinal bacteria. This is why it can be said that the consumption of pitaya is capable of stimulating the growth of some strains, such as bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus .

The relationship between a healthy microbiota and good health has a lot to advance. Today it is known to exert an influence in some situations, such as inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, metabolic syndrome and nonalcoholic fatty liver.

Strengthens the immune system

The body’s ability to cope with pathogens depends on some dietary factors. In this way, cells, including those of the defense apparatus, have all the necessary nutrients to function optimally.

As experts point out , it highlights the role of vitamin C and zinc, both present in pitaya fruit . Also from vitamin A (in this case beta-carotene, one of its precursors).

This nutrient has the ability to prevent infections, while ascorbic acid supports different cellular functions of the innate and acquired immune systems. In addition, a good part of these cells are found in the lymphoid tissue associated with the intestine.

The intestinal microbiota interacts with these, so all foods with a prebiotic effect keep it in good condition and facilitate this positive effect for the defenses.

Increase iron intake

Dragon fruit is one of the few fresh fruits that provides a considerable amount of iron. As will be seen later, in its nutritional composition, 1.9 mg per 100 grams of food represent around 10% of the necessary daily values ​​of this mineral. The existence of vitamin C facilitates its absorption.

Make presence of fruits in the diet

It is significant to highlight the value of pitaya as part of the fruit food group. Most of them have positive nutritional characteristics. Including them in the daily diet has, in general, positive effects for health and well-being.

Eating 3 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day is associated with a lower incidence of obesity , some types of cancer, and risk factors associated with cardiovascular problems, such as blood pressure. It also improves the state of the intestinal microbiota.

Nutritional composition

All the health properties of the pitaya are due to some of its components. Its nutritional value is similar to that of most fruits with a high content of water, fiber and vitamins. The detailed composition per 100 grams of fruit is as follows:

  • Water: 87  grams.
  • Protein: 1.1  grams.
  • Fat: 0.4 grams.
  • Carbohydrates: 11 grams.
  • Fiber: 3 grams.

In addition, in its composition some vitamins of group B stand out, such as B1, B2 and B3. It also has a remarkable amount of vitamin C and minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc. Finally, it is worth highlighting the presence of phytonutrients such as lycopenes (in the red pulp varieties), carotenes and phenols. 

Read more: Dragon fruit and its nutritional benefits

How to choose and eat pitaya

Pitaya in gastronomy.
The pitaya, in gastronomy, can be used in salads or as juice.

When selecting pitayas, they have to be bright red . Otherwise, if they are green, they are not just ripe. It is normal to have some spots on the skin, but if there are many, it is a sign that it is very mature. 

With a sharp knife it is cut in half lengthwise. The pulp can be separated with a spoon, just like when preparing an avocado .  It is important to ensure that there is no piece of skin left, as it is not edible. Once peeled and cut there are  different ways to taste it. We can do the following:

  • Cut it into cubes and eat it alone or with other fruits.
  • Incorporate it as one more ingredient in salads .
  • Drink it in juices or smoothies along with other fruits. Yogurt or milk can be added to them.

Pitaya is an exotic fruit with great nutritional interest

The importance of introducing fruits into the daily diet is supported by its many benefits in the body. One of them may be the pitaya; without a doubt, one of the most striking on the market.

It is light, provides fiber and a large number of vitamins and minerals . Its presence is positive for preventing chronic diseases, improving the state of the intestinal microbiota and strengthening the immune system.

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Nutrition

What is known about apricot seeds?

Usually, when eating a piece of fruit, most people end up discarding the pit. However, is it possible that nutrients with anti-cancer properties are concentrated inside? It seems that this is the case with apricot seeds.

In recent years, several researches have talked about the effects of these seeds. Even so, regulators warn about the risks of consuming them in excessive amounts, as they can cause cyanide poisoning. Are you interested in knowing more about it?

Apricot seeds

The nutritional composition and properties of apricot seeds are different from those of fresh fruit. In particular, they stand out for their fat content, which corresponds to half their total weight. To be more exact, it contains omega 3 and 6, 25% protein and 8% carbohydrates. 

Because of this, it has been talked about its possible benefits in stabilizing blood cholesterol and improving inflammatory diseases such as ulcerative colitis . Its ability to protect and hydrate the skin is also highlighted. Furthermore, in recent years it has been investigated for its components with anticancer potential.

The first references date back to 1920, when Dr. Ernst T. Krebs was already using it in the form of oil to treat people affected by this disease. However, in those tests it turned out to be too toxic. Consequently, their safety is still in doubt. 

Apricot seeds
Apricot seeds have been investigated for their possible effects against diseases such as cancer.

It may interest you: Discover the incredible benefits of apricot

Why is it considered anti-cancer?

In apricot seeds, components have been found that appear to have anticancer activity. In addition to the presence of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, this ingredient contains vitamin B17.

In this regard, Dr. Krebs related a deficiency of this vitamin with the appearance of cancer. In this way, he argued that supplying it in the form of a supplement could help to stop the growth of cancer cells.

This nutrient is also known by the names of “amygdalin” or “laetrile” (a proprietary brand name for a derivative). It is said, therefore, that when chewing apricot seeds, this chemical element degrades and hydrogen cyanide appears. In this way, the antineoplastic activity occurs, which appears to be an aid in stopping the growth of tumors.

But what do current studies say? Is it really effective? Well, today it is not considered a first-line treatment. Although it is applied in some occasions,  the National Cancer Institute of the United States does not consider it appropriate.

This is because studies have been done in animals and have not yielded positive results in humans. On the contrary, there are many doubts about the possible risks that it entails. Its use is even prohibited by the United States Government.

Discover: 6 habits that help in cancer prevention

Cyanide poisoning problems

The main health risk from apricot seeds is the possibility of cyanide poisoning. According to the European Union Food Safety Agency (EFSA), the fruit stones contain amygdalin. This substance releases cyanide and is absorbed by the body.

The main target of this chemical element is the central nervous system, along with the kidney and the thyroid. In high doses, this can cause a series of symptoms of poisoning, such as the following:

  • Sickness.
  • Fever. 
  • Headache.
  • Thirst.
  • Lethargy
  • Nervousness.
  • Joint pain.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Hypotension
  • Death (in some cases).

Studies carried out by EFSA indicate that a variable amount, between 0.5 and 3.5 milligrams of cyanide per kilo of body weight, can be fatal. The amount that is considered safe and as an acceptable intake is set at 20 micrograms per kilogram of body weight, which is equivalent to one large seed or three small ones.

Studies related to apricot seeds

Various scientific and clinical analyzes have been performed on the effect of amygdalin. Most of the research found has rejected claims that apricot seeds or laetrile have positive effects in treating cancer.

In favor

Despite the health claims that have been made about this compound, the evidence in favor is little. In this study in the journal Life Sciences , a positive effect is observed against pancreatic tumor cells, but the researchers themselves point out the need for more research.

Although laetrile was initially approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a possible treatment for cancer, the emergence of the many negative effects, the risk of poisoning, and the lack of scientific evidence have wiped out the existing permission for this use. . 

Studies related to apricot seeds
There is not enough evidence to say that apricot seeds help against cancer. On the contrary, studies warn of certain risks.

Against

On the other hand, the analysis and scientific positioning against vitamin B17 are more numerous. Or at least this is the decision that a good number of official organisms have taken. Unanimously, they do not advise its use, warn of the danger of poisoning and even prohibit it.

In the document on amygdalin, published by the National Cancer Institute, he cites his own studies carried out with the laetrile component. Both in animals and in laboratory investigations, no positive effects are observed. Neither of the treatment of amygdalin together with other active principles.

The New England Medical Journal publishes an article in 1982 that summarizes the results of a medical test with cancer patients. According to what was observed, the patients did not suffer an improvement regarding the cure of the disease or its symptoms. Nor was life expectancy extended. In fact their conclusion is clear: amygdalin is a toxic drug. 

In 2006, Cochrane review concluded that there is no significant evidence of the effects of amygdalin as a treatment for patients with cancer. 

Apricot seeds should be used with caution

The warnings about cyanide toxicity after consuming raw apricot kernels are serious and stringent. Still, as noted by the EFSA, there is no danger of eating fresh fruit. It is also safe to use oil, alcoholic beverages, aromas, fruit juices, marzipan, cookies or sweets. 

In addition, the oil that can be extracted is abundant in polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. These give it an interesting moisturizing effect that helps to take care of the skin barrier, especially in dry and damaged skin.

The medicine laetrile is not licensed as a valid treatment for cancer. But, as noted in this document, it can be found commercially available. It is important to be alert with its purchase, as it could be contaminated and not free of possible toxic effects. 

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Nutrition

Lemons and other citrus fruits, rich in vitamin C and antioxidants

Lemon, orange, mandarin, grapefruit, lime … Citrus fruits, so present in the Mediterranean diet, are rich in vitamin C and bioactive compounds, very beneficial for the body.

lemon, BULOS about feeding

Laura González, Nestlé’s Head of Nutrition and Health, talks in El Bisturí about the properties of lemons and other citrus fruits and reminds that the fruit should be eaten whole, and not in juice, to get the most out of it.

On this occasion, “El Abecedario de la Nutrición” focuses on these fruits characterized by their more or less acid taste and by the presence of essential oils in their skins and citric acid in their pulp, mostly.

These foods are rich in vitamin C and bioactive compounds, substances to which favorable functions for the body are attributed.

As for its consumption, it is recommended raw and fresh , although it is also usual to take them in the form of juices, and its essential oils are very valuable for pastries and cocktails.

The lemon

The lemon is native to China and India and was introduced to the Mediterranean basin by the Arabs.

There are many varieties depending on the size and color of its fruit, although in Spain the one that is most consumed is the large yellow one , with a thick and somewhat rough skin, very aromatic, and whose pulp has few seeds.

The ideal production time is between February and September, although it is available in our markets all year round.

“Regarding its nutritional value, it stands out for its high content of vitamin C, fiber and other bioactive substances. Although it is important to note that the fiber is concentrated mainly in the white part under the shell, where other substances that are very beneficial to health are also concentrated, such as limonoids or flavonoids ”, points out the nutritionist

When it comes to buying good lemons, they must be firm, appearing heavy for their size. Green to yellow in color, bright skin, with a strong citrus aroma and without drying wrinkles.

As for their conservation, they can be perfectly left at room temperature for several weeks, but they dehydrate easily in very dry environments.

Does lemon water help you lose weight on an empty stomach?

In recent times, the belief has spread that drinking a glass of water with lemon on an empty stomach helps in weight loss and detoxifies the body. However, Laura González makes it clear: it is just a myth .

“It is true that lemon is a citrus fruit with very little caloric content and rich in vitamin C and antioxidant substances, but drinking water with lemon, whether cold or warm, fasting or at any other time of the day, does not lose weight or is detox ”, he warns.

Other citrus fruits: orange and tangerine

lemons and citrus fruits
The juice orange season runs from November to September and the table orange season from October to June. EFE / Ym Yik

Orange and mandarin are the most consumed citrus fruits in Spain.

The juice orange season runs from November to September and the table orange season from October to June. However, that of mandarins starts earlier, in September, and lasts until May, depending on the variety.

To choose the best ones you have to select them like lemons, well hydrated, shiny skin, with a strong citrus aroma and without drying wrinkles.

Regarding their nutritional properties, they stand out for being rich in vitamin C and a source of fiber . In addition, like other citrus fruits, they contain bioactive compounds belonging to the family, such as carotenes and flavonoids.

The fruit, better whole than in juice

Laura González, head of Nutrition and Health at Nestlé, points out that excessive consumption of fruit juices and smoothies can enhance the consumption of free sugars and increase the risk of obesity.

“Chewing food makes its nutrients, including sugars, absorbed more slowly, in addition to providing a greater feeling of satiety. If they are taken in the form of juice, it should not exceed a glass of 150 milliliters a day ”, explains the nutritionist.

Remember that nectars and other fruit drinks, whether or not they contain added sugar, are not within the recommendations of five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day, and should be avoided.

“It is necessary to know that, although the juice contains part of the nutrients of the fruits and vegetables from which they come, the sugar that they contribute is calculated in the diet as free sugar, which is equivalent to added sugar”, he warns.

This does not happen with the one contained in whole fruits and vegetables, in addition to containing fiber.

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Nutrition

Feeding in pregnancy: eat for two, not for two

Pregnancy is an ideal time to rethink a woman’s eating habits. The nutrients it needs for proper development reach the fetus through the placenta, and it is just as important to eat the right foods as it is to avoid those less healthy. This is not the time to diet, but not to eat more than necessary

pregnancy feeding

As Laura González, head of health and nutrition at Nestlé, points out,  dietary recommendations for pregnancy and lactation are very similar to those that the general population should follow . The only thing that presents a greater variation are the energy needs, which, like the requirements of some nutrients, are somewhat higher.

“During pregnancy and lactation, energy needs are increased, but you do not need to eat for two or opt for a special or restrictive diet”, underlines the nutritionist.

In fact, it warns that pregnancy and breastfeeding are not times to diet and take fewer calories than the body needs, as it can negatively affect the fetus or the quality of the milk that the baby will take.

The energy requirements rise about 10% during pregnancy, which occurs after the sixth month. This is solved with a slight modification of the rations and, in most cases, pregnant women compensate without realizing it, because, in general, they eat more and reduce their physical activity .

Something similar happens during breastfeeding; appetite is a good indicator of how many calories a nursing woman should take in.

Weight before pregnancy is more important than during

The pregnant woman, as Laura González explains, should not be obsessed with weight . “Your weight before pregnancy is more important than your weight during. In fact, weight gains during pregnancy should be individualized based on the weight before it ”, he highlights.

Thus, in overweight or obese pregnant women , restrictive diets are not recommended, but rather a dietary intervention that redirects their habits towards a healthy diet. In these cases, the weight gain during pregnancy should be less than in women of normal weight.

Later, during breastfeeding, the previous weight is regained by following a healthy eating plan and breastfeeding for at least six months ; being better, if possible, keeping it until the year.

The nutrients a woman needs in pregnancy

Regarding nutrients, the recommendations for the intake of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, hardly change during pregnancy or during lactation; to follow a varied and healthy diet is enough.

An adequate supply of fiber and water is also convenient , especially in pregnant women, because during this period there is a certain predisposition to constipation. Vitamins and minerals are also very important .

Adequate calcium intake is essential to ensure the proper development of the baby and the health of the mother. It is recommended to take between three and four servings of dairy a day. EFE / Robin Townsend

“ Folic acid is a B group vitamin important for the development of the spinal cord and brain of the fetus. A deficiency can cause serious congenital anomalies known as neural tube defects ”, warns the nutritionist.

That is why women who could become pregnant are recommended to take supplements of this vitamin to ensure that they get a sufficient amount.

Then we have calcium , a mineral essential for bone health. In addition, adequate consumption during pregnancy, that is, about 1200 mg daily, reduces the risk of hypertension and preeclampsia.

“If you don’t get enough calcium, the baby will take it from the mother’s bones, which could affect her health later on. With three or four servings of dairy products a day we ensure a significant contribution of this mineral “, advises Laura González.

For its part, iron is essential to maintain hemoglobin levels in the blood. Foods rich in this mineral are red meat, liver and derivatives such as pate and legumes.

Advice from the nutritionist to follow an adequate diet in these stages

  1. Plan the weekly feeding to guide the purchase.
  2. Consume foods of vegetable origin such as legumes, nuts, cereals and whole grains such as bread, pasta or rice.
  3. Ensure, at least, five daily servings of fruits and vegetables , especially green leafy ones such as spinach, cabbage, lettuce or endive, a natural source of folic acid. As for fruits, strawberries, kiwi, orange, papaya or mango are recommended, rich in vitamin C.
  4. Ensure three servings of low-fat dairy , and avoid consuming cheeses that are not pasteurized and those made with raw milk.
  5. Choose assorted white fish and small blue fish , such as sardines or mackerel. Large blue fish, such as bluefin or emperor tuna, should be avoided because of their high mercury content.
  6. Avoid fatty meats and sausages, as well as pastries or sugary drinks.
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Nutrition

8 foods that provide vitamin D

Foods with an abundant content of vitamin D are essential in the diet. Although much of this nutrient is produced by exposure to sunlight, some products of animal and plant origin also provide it in significant quantities.

As an article published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics points out , optimal doses of vitamin D are essential for health. However, it is estimated that 50% of the world’s population has a deficit of it. How to get it? Below we detail options that you can incorporate into your diet.

1. Salmon

The salmon is one of the most important foods for their nutritional properties. In addition to providing an interesting dose of omega 3 fatty acids, it also contains vitamin D.

According to information from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food composition database , each 100-gram serving provides 526 IU (international units) of vitamin D, which is equivalent to 66% of the values recommended daily.

Even varieties such as wild salmon make a greater contribution. In the data compiled by a study in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology it is stated that this type of salmon contains up to 1,300 IU per serving.

Cooked salmon.
Salmon is a rich source of vitamin D, which also has other health benefits.

It may interest you: Who are the people most prone to vitamin D deficiency?

2. Crimini mushrooms

The crimini mushroom (Agaricus brunnescens) is also known as “Italian brown mushroom.” It has an appearance similar to the white mushroom, but its hat is brown. According to the SELF Nutrition Data database, they  provide 31.9 micrograms of vitamin D per 100 grams. That is, it reaches up to 160% of the recommended daily values ​​(DRV).

3. Herring

The herring is another variety of fish makes major nutritional contributions. In particular, it is a source of protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. It is typically served raw, canned, smoked, or pickled.

It is estimated that every 100 grams contains up to 216 IU of vitamin D, that is, 27% of the recommended daily values . However, when it is prepared in recipes such as pickle, this amount is reduced to 112 IU per serving (14% RDV).

4. Canned sardines

Sardines have become popular as an ideal food to improve the quality of the diet. There is even research that associates its consumption with better metabolic health. As if that were not enough, it also stands out as one of the most abundant foods in vitamin D.

Specifically, 100-gram servings contain up to 177 IU of vitamin D , or 22% of the daily values. Added to this, it also provides healthy fats, protein, and minerals.

5. Egg yolks

The egg is a food known for its versatility and for its properties. Although much of its protein content is in the white, the yolk contains essential fat, vitamins and minerals. Information compiled in the medical journal Advances in Nutrition  states that a yolk contains 37 IU of vitamin D (5% of the required daily value).

6. Fortified tofu

Tofu is one of the most popular soy-derived products. Usually it is distributed with formulas enriched with vitamin D in its composition. To be more precise, 100 gram servings contain up to 13% of the recommended daily values for this nutrient.

7. Fortified cereals

The fortified cereals are also foods that provide vitamin D. While its content is lower compared to the other sources mentioned, regular consumption is still a good option for this vitamin.

As detailed in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Composition Database, these foods provide between 54 and 136 IU of vitamin D (17% of the VDRs). 

8. Fortified yogurt

Due to the needs of vitamin D, both yogurt and other dairy products have been fortified with this nutrient . However, not all market presentations have this feature. That is why it is important to read the labels before purchasing the product. Often, it contributes 7% of the daily requirement of vitamin D.

Fortified yogurt.
Yogurt is a source of vitamin D when it is fortified.

What is the function of vitamin D in the body?

Vitamin D is a type of fat-soluble vitamin whose assimilation plays a very important role in health. Like other fat-soluble substances, such as A, E and K, it is absorbed with fat and stored both in the liver and in other lipid tissues.

According to a publication in the National Center for Biotechnology Information , there are two main forms of this nutrient in the diet: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). The latter, in addition to being present in foods of animal origin, is also obtained by exposure to the sun.

Among other things, it should be noted that D3 is twice as effective in raising overall blood levels. This, in turn, is associated with a number of health benefits . To be more precise, this nutrient has the following functions:

Don’t miss out on reading: Should we be taking vitamin D as a supplement?

What is the relationship between vitamin D and the sun?

Not surprisingly, vitamin D is also called the “sunshine vitamin.” Although the mentioned foods contain this nutrient, much of the production occurs when the skin is directly exposed to the sun. Even most people meet at least part of their needs in this way .

In addition, the vitamin D produced in the skin can last up to twice as long in the blood as compared to that obtained from the diet. For this reason, as an article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explains , it is advisable to sunbathe in moderation.

What are the recommended levels of vitamin D?

Recommended levels of vitamin D can vary based on age and gender . Also, it is possible that they change during pregnancy or when suffering from certain diseases. To be more precise, Medline from the US National Library suggests the following:

Infants

  • 0 to 6 months: 400 IU (10 micrograms -µg- per day).
  • 7 to 12 months: 400 IU (10 µg / day).

Children

  • 1 to 3 years: 600 IU (15 µg / day).
  • 4 to 8 years: 600 IU (15 µg / day).

Older children and adults

  • 9 to 70 years: 600 IU (15 µg / day).

Adults over 70 years

  • 800 IU (20 µg / day).

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • 600 IU (15 µg / day).

In the case of diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer or cardiovascular diseases, the amounts of vitamin D must be adjusted. If so, it is best to follow the doctor’s recommendations . Similarly, it is necessary to avoid exceeding the suggested dose .

The sun as a source of vitamin D.
The vitamin D that is obtained by the conversion of sunlight is active and key to metabolism.

Foods with vitamin D as part of a healthy diet

Foods that contain vitamin D are ideal to obtain it with the diet. However, they must be included in the framework of a healthy and varied diet  that provides all the nutrients that the body requires.

Also, remember that much of your vitamin D is obtained through exposure to the sun . That is why it is advisable to take sunlight in a moderate way, either in the morning until 11:00 or in the afternoon after 16:00.

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Nutrition

What is bulgur?

Have you heard of bulgur? This word is of Turkish origin and refers to an ingredient that is obtained from wheat and has been consumed since ancient times in the gastronomy of the Middle East. Today it is used in different parts of the world.

So much so, that in Latin American countries, such as Paraguay and Argentina, it is also used to prepare dishes, although in these places it is called burgundy wheat . Find out more details below.

Bulgur, a typical cereal in the Middle East

Bulgur is a whole grain product that is produced from wheat ( Triticum durum ). For the traditional preparation, the grains are cleaned and cooked in a cauldron with enough water.

From there, it is stirred evenly so that the cooking is even. This process takes time and generally uses medium heat until, after a certain time, the temperature is lowered.

Once they are cooked, they are drained and dried in the sun for as long as necessary. They are subsequently subjected to stripping and grinding. As a result of this stage, irregular grains are obtained that are sieved and classified by size into small, medium, pilaf and coarse .

In addition, the bran or outer layer they have is removed. Finally, drying is perfected by leaving the bulgur exposed to the sun for several days.

According to the study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology , all the steps that are needed for its preparation provide some functional characteristics. They give resistance to mold contamination and insect attack , as well as inactivating enzymes through cooking, which is also related to the inactivation of microorganisms.

Through processing, the nutritional quality of the wheat grain is improved , achieving an attractive flavor, while extending the useful life of the food. Therefore, we achieve a product for quick consumption that is economical.

Tabouleh plate.
Tabule is a classic preparation with burgundy that is optimal in summer due to its freshness.

Read also: Teff flour: what is it and what are its qualities?

How is it different from couscous?

Although couscous and bulgur come from wheat, they look similar and can sometimes be used to make the same dishes, they are not the same. In fact, there are marked differences between them.

Contrary to the process used for bulgur (which is cooked wheat), the couscous is prepared starting from a fine wheat flour is mixed with water and salt until a thick mass. From it, small balls like rice are made, which are then precooked to extend their useful life and to shorten subsequent cooking times.

In what recipes is bulgur used?

One of the typical recipes in which bulgur is used is tabouleh . This meal is a mixture of vegetables with wheat variants, ideal for the summer months.

It is also used to make keppe ( kepi in some countries), a dish that contains minced lamb meatballs rolled with this ingredient. It can be used to make risottos, fill vegetables and hamburgers, among other options.

Nutritional value of bulgur

Bulgur has the same nutritional properties as wheat. According to the study “Healthy bioactive components of bulgur” , this food contains proteins, complex carbohydrates and unsaturated fats. It is thus a source of the basic macronutrients.

It is also possessor of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus and zinc . Fiber, in particular, is a substance that is helpful in those with gastrointestinal disorders associated with constipation. Its regular consumption allows to stabilize the peristaltic movements avoiding constipation.

Finally, it should be noted that bulgur is a source of antioxidants and vitamins. The phenolic acids act by blocking free radicals that promote cellular aging, so their addition has beneficial effects on human health.

What benefits does it have on human health?

Some of the positive effects that regular consumption of this food has on human health are linked to the regulation of blood glucose and the enhancement of the immune system . On the other hand, its action in weight loss plans is not negligible.

Maintains normal blood glucose levels

Bulgur has a low glycemic index compared to other cereals. This is due to the amount of dietary fiber it has. In effect, what this component does is decrease the absorption of sugars.

Thanks to this, it maintains the sugar in its normal parameters within the circulation. For this reason, it is also associated as a preventive food for type 2 diabetes.

Avoid cell damage and improve the immune system

This provides food antioxidants, especially phenolic compounds and vitamin E . Thanks to this, it contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, as it protects cells from the damage exerted by reagents and toxic components. In addition, the minerals it contains are essential for metabolism .

Dishes with bulgur wheat.
The recipes with bulgur wheat are varied and its cooking is fast.

Promotes weight loss

Bulgur is an option to maintain an optimal weight , since if it is consumed in liquid preparations, such as soups or broths, it contributes to creating a greater feeling of satiety . What happens in these cases is that the fiber swells and fullness appears prematurely.

See also  Benefits of millet, the fashionable food

What to remember about bulgur?

As you have seen, this typical Middle Eastern food has nutritional properties identical to whole wheat. Therefore, its regular consumption is beneficial. It helps in the balance of blood glucose and the functions of the immune system.

In addition, due to its production process, it is cooked in a short time. The flavor it has is pleasant and can be incorporated into countless recipes . Go ahead and try it if you haven’t already, since today it can be purchased in various markets almost all over the world.

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Nutrition

B vitamins: characteristics, benefits and functions

The B-complex vitamins are a wide group of substances and not just one . Specifically, it is about 8 different micronutrients that play a very important role in obtaining energy through food.

Most healthy people meet their daily needs through food. However, in some situations it may be necessary and beneficial to use a supplement that contains all of them. These are the main uses, recommendations and dosage of group B vitamins.

What are the B complex vitamins?

Vitamins are substances that the body needs to grow and develop normally . Unlike macronutrients, they do not provide energy and are required in very small amounts. But a deficit can cause disorders and even lead to disease.

At the moment, a total of 8 components have been identified within this group of the B complex. There are a large number of substances that have also been called by the same name, but which today are not considered as vitamins. Some are inositol, carnitine or amygdalin.

The set of B vitamins performs important functions at the level of cellular metabolism . All of them are water-soluble, so the body eliminates their excesses through urine and there is no possibility of storage. Consequently, it is necessary to replenish adequate amounts on a daily basis.

Vitamin B6.
The B complex has a variety of organic functions, from the blood to the nervous system.

Discover: What are the water-soluble vitamins?

The B vitamins and their functions

At the moment, a total of 8 vitamins have been identified within this group. The foods in which they are abundant and the supplements that contain them provide specific amounts of all. In summary, these are its main functions:

  • B1 or thiamine:  vital for growth and proper function of organs such as the brain or the heart. 
  • B2 or riboflavin:  stands out for its antioxidant capacity and its participation in the elimination of drugs and toxins from the body.
  • B3 or niacin: collaborates in the proper functioning of enzymes . It helps the body repair DNA and has important functions in the digestive, nervous, and dermal systems. 
  • B5 or pantothenic acid:  stands out for its role in the synthesis of hormones and cholesterol. It is essential for the health of the brain and nervous system.
  • B6 or pyridoxine: helps the body to create new red blood cells and maintain the immune system.
  • B7 or biotin: promotes the growth of some tissues such as bones, hair and nails.
  • B9 or folic acid: the body uses it to create genetic material, such as DNA. In pregnancy it reduces the risk of birth defects in the brain and spine. 
  • B12 or cobalamin: helps in the proper maintenance of the nervous system and is necessary for the creation of red blood cells.

Dosage and commercial presentation

In the supplements of complex B, the 8 substances that compose it are usually presented together. However, it is also possible to find those that contribute each of them separately. The most common way to take them is in tablets . 

The vitamin and mineral requirements are established by specialized organizations and, in some cases, may differ a little according to the regions or countries consulted. The recommended daily intake (RDI) ensures that necessary amount thanks to which deficit diseases are avoided. The Office of Dietary Supplements states the following for B vitamins:

mens Women Pregnancy Lactation
B1 1.2 mg 1.1 mg 1.4 mg 1.4 mg
B2 1.3 mg 1.1 mg 1.4 mg 1.6 mg
B3 16 mg 14 mg 18 mg 17 mg
B5 5 mg 5 mg 6 mg 7 mg
B6 1.3 mg 1.5 mg 1.9 mg 2 mg
B7 30 mcg 30 mcg 30 mcg 35 mcg
B9 400 mcg 400 mcg 600 mcg 500 mcg
B12 2.4 mcg 2.4mcg 2.6 mcg 2.8 mcg

Some add-ons help meet these daily needs. On the other hand, there are others that provide much higher doses. Although they can be useful in some conditions, it is recommended to consult with the doctor before taking them.

Uses and benefits of B vitamins

This group of micronutrients performs a large number of essential functions in the body. But in addition, there are health benefits to taking vitamin B complex supplements. Let’s see what these specific uses are that have scientific endorsement.

Mood, anxiety and stress

There is a growing consensus that a person’s nutritional status is a factor that has an important effect on neurological and psychiatric disorders . And some nutrients are very positive in this regard. This is observed in a systematic review of the effect of supplementation of complex B on the mood. 

Studies clarify that the aforementioned vitamins can benefit mood in both healthy and at-risk individuals. The effects are clearer in cases of stress and depression. In contrast, the relationship is not observed in anxiety.

Topical application in case of wounds and injuries

Its effect has been investigated due to the role played by this group of vitamins in the development of epithelial cells. Certain combinations of B vitamins show a positive influence and their application locally can benefit the physiological process of wound healing. 

Contraindications and side effects

Since the B vitamins are not stored in the body, it is difficult to take amounts that can be toxic through food . Supplements are also safe to take as long as instructions are followed and dosages are adhered to. Even so, before using any food supplement, it is advisable to consult a specialist.

And it is that on some occasions side effects may appear.  According to data collected by the European Food Safety Agency , these are the possible harmful effects of some of the B vitamins:

  • Taking very high doses of B6 for a long time can cause neuronal damage.
  • Keep in mind that folate supplementation can mask the symptoms of B12 deficiency. As a result, it may be more difficult to make a good diagnosis.
  • Pantothenic acid in high doses can cause diarrhea.
  • Some forms of B3 (nicotinamide and nicotinic acid) increase blood sugar levels, cause hypotension, fatigue and liver damage.
Foods with vitamin B1.
The B complex vitamins are water soluble, so they are eliminated daily with the urine.

B complex is sometimes useful in supplements

To maintain good health, the B-complex vitamins can be obtained from the intake of green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, lean meats, eggs, and mushrooms . If you suffer from any disease or absorption problems, as well as if you are going through periods of pregnancy, lactation or the elderly, a supplement may be necessary.

In addition, they can be prescribed for specific health problems. However, it is necessary to consult a specialist before starting to take them to find the most appropriate in each case. Good use also requires never exceeding the specific doses and indications of each manufacturer. 

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Nutrition

Discover all the types and varieties of persimmons

Can all types and varieties of persimmons be differentiated when there are thousands of them? Only the great experts are able to appreciate the subtle nuances and differences that each and every one presents.

In general, it can be said that they are divided into two large groups: astringent and non-astringent. Although the varieties in each of them are very numerous. For all those who have not delved or still do not know this delicious fruit, we have more details below.

Persimmon or the fruit of divine fire

Persimmon, also known as rosewood or persimmon , is a tropical fruit of the Ebenaceae family. This name designates a small variety of trees that produce the fruit. Etymologically, the name of persimmon comes from the Japanese kaki which means ‘fruit of divine fire’. 

It is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries and you can find more than 2000 types and varieties of persimmons. From there it was introduced in Korea and Japan, making it later in California. Today it is a fruit consumed in many countries around the world .

They can be eaten raw, cooked or dried. In fact, all over the planet there are preparations with this fruit: puddings, cakes, jams, jellies or drinks. Apart from a delicate and sweet flavor, they provide a large amount of beneficial nutrients.

Persimón fruit on tree.
The varieties of persimmons are multiple and autumn is the time to get them.

Read more: Persimmon, a source of antioxidants

Main species of persimmons

The tree that produces persimmons or palo santos belongs to the genus Diospyros. Within this great group there are several species; the most frequent are Asian and Japanese. Although many of them bear fruits that are not edible for humans , the most frequent and that can be eaten are the following.

Chinese persimmon ( Diospyros kaki )

At a commercial level it is the most important of the three species that stand out. Native of the same country that gives it its name, Japan and Korea. Its fruits are usually sweet, with a spicy touch. The texture is smooth, but sometimes a bit stringy. They can be eaten when they are crisp, although they gain flavor with standing and become softer.

Japanese persimmon ( Diospyros lotus )

Commonly known as wild persimmon , it is native to Southwest Asia and Southeast Europe. It has been cultivated since ancient times and in the time of the Greeks it was known as a sweet of nature or fruit of the gods . The type of fruit it offers is rather small and its flavor is reminiscent of plums and dates.

Virginia persimmon ( Diospyros virginiana )

This species grows almost wild in the eastern half of the United States, but is also cultivated for its fruits and as an ornamental tree. It produces a fruit with a more oval shape and a paler color that can become bluish when ripe.

In the south and midwest of the United States it is abundantly found in the markets. It is widely used for culinary purposes in syrups, cakes or puddings. 

What are the varieties of persimmons?

In addition to differentiating them according to the species to which they belong, the different types of persimmons can be classified into two other general categories. Some are those that bear astringent fruits and others those that do not . Within these groups there are many different ones, depending on the type of pollination.

Astringent persimmons

These fruits fully ripen on the tree and, after harvest, some type of treatment is required to remove the astringency . This is due to the presence of tannins which, in turn, are responsible for giving the fruit a rougher texture and a bitter taste. Some of the most common are the following: 

  • Eureka : from a smaller tree that withstands dry and cold climates very well. It has a high productivity.
  • Hachiya – This one is large in size and also produces a good amount of fruit. Specifically, they are characteristic for having a conical shape and a strong strong orange color. It is one of the most astringent and when you can eat its meat it has a consistency similar to a pudding.
  • Bright red: it comes from a unique variety that is grown in the Valencian Community in Spain. It has a delicate skin and a slightly harder pulp than the rest. 
  • Koushu-Hyakume – This is the most commonly used for drying. 

Discover: Astringent diet to treat diarrhea

Non-astringent types of persimmons

All persimmons belonging to this species can be consumed once they are collected, as they do not require any further treatment. They are collected in late fall and during winter. Its flavor is sweeter than the previous ones:

  • Fuyu : its fruits are bright orange on the outside and slightly paler on the inside. Its pulp is compact and crunchy and may be reminiscent of fuji-type apples.
  • Honan red : very similar to the previous ones. The main difference is marked by their own name, since they have an orange tone much closer to red. Its flavor, on the other hand, is sweeter than fuyu.
  • Jiro : with yellow fruits and with an outstanding sweetness. It can be collected in early autumn.
  • Sharon: of Israeli origin, it is specifically a registered trademark that bears the name of the valley where it is grown. It comes from a cross of different varieties to which the astringency is chemically eliminated. It usually presents a softer fruit with little flavor that can be eaten hard.

The health benefits of different types of persimmons

The consumption of fruits is very positive for health. In the specific case of persimmons, its contribution in some nutrients such as dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, zinc or vitamins C and A.

In addition, it is a source of some phytonutrients not so well known, such as tannins, carotenoids and flavonoids. Thanks to them, the following positive effects on health can be mentioned:

  • They protect eyesight and promote the proper functioning of the immune system due to the presence of vitamin A.
  • They are allies of diets to lose weight, as they are light and have a lot of fiber .
  • They help prevent atherosclerosis and lower blood cholesterol.
Dried persimmons.
There are differences between the astringent and non-astringent varieties that involve the ripening process.

Various types of persimmons to choose from

Consuming this fruit is an excellent choice for a healthy diet. Although it has a marked sweet taste, it goes well with salty ingredients. For this reason, it can be added to all kinds of recipes: fruit salads, smoothies, mueslis, salads, with toast and cheese. 

Although there are thousands of local varieties, only a few are regularly marketed. You can browse and do research in small local markets to find less popular species and play with the different flavors and textures. 

Its season is very short and  the best months are from October to December . For proper conservation it is recommended to keep them in the fridge and handle them little. They may have blemishes on the skin, but this is not an indicator of poorer quality or damage.

All types of astringent persimmons must be eaten when they are ripe. This often means that the pulp is juicy and mushy, so you can use a spoon or reserve it for cooking. In contrast, the less astringent varieties (fuyu or sharon) are crunchy like apples.

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Nutrition

Blue or white fish: which is the best option?

Products from the sea are an essential element in the diet . They provide high-quality proteins and other essential nutrients for the functioning of the body. Now, many people have the doubt whether blue or white fish is better.

Next we will explain the characteristics of each one to resolve any question in this regard. Anyway, before starting it has to be clear what is the main characteristic that differentiates both products.

Fish are classified as white or blue depending on the amount of fat they have . Those with a higher lipid content are known as blue .

Blue Fish

As we have already mentioned, blue fish stands out for its fat content. The lipids inside are unsaturated. These have been shown to be beneficial for the cardiovascular system. They manage to reduce the risk of accidents related to the heart or blood vessels.

In parallel, some of these lipids , such as omega 3, are capable of regulating the body’s state of inflammation. This is beneficial in order to prevent complex pathologies linked to permanent cell damage. An example of the latter would be metabolic ones, such as diabetes.

Thanks to their lipid content, blue fish have a higher caloric value than white fish. For this reason, the portions that are consumed must be controlled , in order not to unbalance the caloric balance in favor of the intake, which would cause weight gain.

In addition, these foods stand out for their proteins of high biological value, necessary to ensure muscle health, as confirmed by a study published in Nutrients . At the same time, they have minerals such as iodine, necessary to avoid hormonal disorders of the thyroid gland.

In the market it is possible to find different varieties of blue fish. Salmon, sardines, tuna, anchovies and mackerel stand out.

Blue fish.
Blue fish is fattier than white fish and contains higher amounts of omega 3.

To know more: Is it possible to lose localized fat?

White fish

White fish is leaner than blue fish , that is, it has less fat. In addition, its water content is also higher. However, this does not mean that it is of poorer quality, since it also contains proteins and minerals that are essential to guarantee an adequate state of health.

Being less caloric, it is possible to introduce it with high frequency in the framework of a hypocaloric diet with the aim of reducing body weight. In fact, it is recommended to consume weekly more fish than red meat, understanding this habit as healthy and even capable of reducing the incidence of colorectal cancer.

The white fish that can be found in the market on a regular basis are hake, cockerels, seabass, sea bream and pomfret. All of them can be cooked both on the grill and in the oven, taking advantage of their nutrients and obtaining preparations with great palatability.

You may also be interested: Do protein shakes really work?

Main differences

Next, we are going to explain what are the most notable differences between both types of seafood.

Grease

As we have discussed, fat is the great differentiator. Oily fish contain it in a higher proportion , omega 3 being the main fatty acids in this type of food.

Nutrients in blue and white fish

There is another important nutritional distinction between white and blue fish, which is the content of vitamin D. This substance accumulates in fat and is therefore found in varieties of blue fish, being lacking in whites.

This nutrient is characterized by being essential for bone health . Keeping it at the recommended levels reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis, as stated in a study published in the Annual review of medicine.

It should be noted that vitamin D can be obtained in two ways: through diet or through sun exposure. However, food is not the most efficient means of guaranteeing adequate levels of the substance in the body.

Therefore, it is advisable to expose yourself to the sun on a regular basis, although taking the appropriate protection measures. In the event that this is not possible, it is necessary to increase the consumption of oily fish, eggs and enriched dairy products.

White fish cooking.
White fish, consumed in greater proportion than red meat, reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.

So: what is the best choice between blue and white fish?

In reality, there is no one type of fish that is clearly better than the other . The ideal is to alternate them throughout the week to guarantee a varied diet, this being one of the keys to health.

In any case, we can offer you a series of recommendations to ensure adequate and responsible consumption:

  • It is beneficial to consume oily fish at least 2 times a week.
  • Do not always resort to large ones, as these may contain mercury in their fat. To avoid this risk, choose small fish.
  • As much as possible, consume wild fish as opposed to farmed fish.
  • Do not neglect the measures established by food hygiene to destroy the microorganisms that are in the product.

Keep in mind that, if your goal is to lose weight, it may be appropriate to prioritize white fish over blue, as the latter is more caloric. Similarly, if your goal is to increase muscle mass , eat more fatty fish. Always try to avoid frying them so as not to damage their lipids .

The important thing is to consume fish regularly

Beyond the fact that blue fish is better or worse than white, it is worth noting the need to include food from the sea in the diet on a regular basis . The fact that these predominate over red meat is a healthy dietary habit. Accompany them with vegetables to further enhance their benefits.

Remember that fish provide essential nutrients, such as proteins of high biological value or minerals. In the event that the spines are an inconvenience, there are options on the market that present backs free of these elements.

Prepare them on the grill and you will see that the whole family accepts them . Anyway, avoid serving them with a sauce, as this will greatly increase their caloric intake.