1 Prunes rate much higher than blueberries in terms of anti-oxidants
Although much publicity has been given to the anti-oxidant capacity of blueberries, a lesser known fact is that prunes have more than twice that of
blueberries, raisins or raspberries and rate second only to Goji berries and black raspberries.
The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity) scale rates the anti-oxidant capacity of foods in units. On this scale prunes measure 5,770 units, whereas
blueberries measure 2,400 and red raspberries 2,400.
Apart from their anti-oxidant capacity, prunes also are very healthy: they are a good source of dietary fibre, protect against osteoporosis and osteopenia
and may help support bone health; they have a low GI rating and are a good source of Vitamins A and K as well as potassium, copper, boron and magnesium.
2 Just one Brazil nut a day can provide your recommended daily intake of Selenium
Brazil nuts are the richest dietary source of selenium and just one or two Brazil nuts a day can provide the recommended daily requirement.
Selenium is a powerful anti-oxidant that can improve cardiovascular health and fight cancer. It protects against toxic chemicals by combining with
them and aiding their removal from the body.
Selenium can also increase muscle strength: in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researchers tested the hip flexion,
leg extension and grip strength of 891 subjects and found that those with high selenium levels were stronger than those with lower selenium levels.
Brazil nuts are also a good source of Vitamin E. (However, don’t regularly eat more than two nuts a day as selenium can accumulate in the body and
have a negative effect on health.)
3 There’s more to lemon skins than the flavour
It may seem that the main use of lemon peel is the flavour imparted by the zest - not so!
Lemon skins contain phenolic compounds which are found mainly in the peel; many of these compounds are antioxidants which promote health and help prevent
degenerative diseases. Some of the antioxidants found in lemon pigments are even more effective than Vitamin C.
The highest concentration of the flavanoids found in lemons are in the peel and pith. Many of these flavanoids are antioxidants and some of these (PMFs)
are called ‘super flavanoids’. A lemon’s peel is
twenty times richer in PMFs than its juice.
Flavanoids have many health benefits, including improving the absorption of Vitamin C, reducing LDL cholesterol by up to 40%, reducing the risk of
heart disease, strengthening the walls of capillaries and encouraging good blood flow, fighting against cancer and enhancing DNA repair.
Rutin, one of the flavanoids found in lemon peel, has been found to bind to harmful heavy metals and aid their expulsion from the body. Coumarins,
phenolic compounds found in a lemon’s peel (mainly in its oil), are up to a hundred times higher than in its pulp. Coumarins are antioxidants and
can benefit our health by helping to prevent degenerative diseases and cancer.
A lemon’s pigments (which gives lemons their lovely yellow colour) are found mainly in itspeel and include carotenoids, which reduce the risk of heart
disease, keep arteries healthy and prevent the oxidation of ‘bad’ cholesterol; and beta carotene, which is converted into Vitamin A in the body,
promoting eye health and guarding against infection.
4 Healthy Onions: so much more than a tasty ingredient!
Onions contain flavanoids such as quercetin, a more powerful antioxidant than Vitamin E.
Quercetin has natural anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, anti-cancer, anti-viral, antihistamine and antioxidant properties.
Quercetin can help fight a variety of illnesses; it is an effective bronchodilator and can help treat coughs and colds, asthma and bronchitis; it may
also help hayfever sufferers. It may also help reduce symptoms like fatigue, depression and anxiety.
Quercetin has powerful anti-inflammatory properties; it reduces the production and release of histamine and allergic and inflammatory chemicals in
The allicin in onions helps reduce cholesterol; it has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activities; helps reduce blood pressure,decreases
risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and promotes heart health. It also helps protect against cancer and lowers blood sugar levels in diabetics.
Onions are a rich source of chromium, which helps to control blood sugar levels (especially important for diabetics) and maintain positive hormone
levels (also for PMT symptoms); and lowers cholesterol.
Onions contain Vitamin C and Manganese; and are a good source of B vitamins, especially B6 (for healthy cognitive and nerve function) and Folic acid.
Onions contain natural prebiotics which stimulates the growth of ‘good’ bacteria (probiotics) in the gut. Prebiotics can improve common complaints
such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), acne, food allergies and depression.
Onions can help protect against osteoporosis through the peptide GPCS which inhibits loss of calcium and bone minerals.
Although onions are about 89% water, they are also rich in soluble fibre. Some nutritionists say that as little as two or three onions per week can
have a positive impact on health.
5 Potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C
Potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C - one medium potato (an average serving of 175g/60z) provides more than 45% of the recommended daily
amount (RDA) of Vitamin C. That means that one medium jacket potato can provide almost half of your daily amount of Vitamin C!
Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant stabilizing free radicals, it aids collagen production, helps prevent cellulardamage, helps wound healing and supports
the body’s immune system. Potatoes contain more Vitamin C than tomatoes or sweet potatoes.
Potatoes have many other nutrients as well: of RDA, a medium portion (175g) of new potatoes boiled in their skins provide 9% of RDA for Folic acid,
up to 22% of Potassium, up to 30% of Vitamin 6, 11% Vitamin B1. It also contains Manganese and Iron.
Per serving, potatoes contain more Potassium than bananas (620mg in a medium sized potato). Potassium is essential for regulating fluid and mineral
balance in the body, vital for transmitting nerve impulses and helping muscles contract.
Potatoes are a very good source of Vitamin B6 which is essential for a healthy nervous system, cardiovascular health, and important for athletic performance
A medium potato with skin provides soluble fibre, which helps with weight loss (as it leaves you feeling full for longer) and helps lower cholesterol.
A baked potato provides more than 3g of fibre, mostly in the skin.
Potatoes’ reputation for being high in calories (and weight gain!) is undeserved, as it is not due to the potatoes themselves but the way they are
prepared or eaten. Fried, roasted or mashed with butter all add to the calorie content - but it is the added fat that makes the difference. Without
added fat, potatoes are a low calorie food.