This 7 part herb, nut and fruit series gives you a way to slide these health gems into your week with minimum effort. What better way to keep the doctor away?
Herb in Focus: Coriander (Cilantro)
This wonder herb is full of nutrients and essential oils and boasts of antiseptic, analgesic, aphrodisiac and fungicidal properties. It has adequate amount of vitamins A, C, E and K including many essential oils and acids. The leaves are full of calcium, potassium, iron, manganese,sodium, carbohydrate, protein, fat, fiber , energy, folates, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin and thiamin.
With this impressive reservoir of substances, here’s why you should start including coriander in your regular food. It helps to:
- lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL)
- strengthen the immune system thanks to it’s antioxidant properties, the presence of quercetin (antioxidant), vitamin C and iron
- promote digestion through smooth movement of the digestive system, bowels and liver. It even eases constipation.
- stimulate the secretion of insulin from pancreas thus helps to regulates sugar level in the blood, especially of Diabetics.
- prevent Arthritis-the leaves are anti-inflammatory and thus relieve arthritic pain
- keep the kidneys healthy through it’s diuretic and detoxifying properties
- clear the skin of acne and blackheads. The leaves have antioxidant, anti-fungal, antiseptic and disinfectant effects that absorbs oil from the face. The Vit C gives the skin a smooth texture.
- reduce wrinkles- The high Vit A fights free radicals and thus controls many signs of ageing such as pigmentation and wrinkles
- keep mouth ulcers in check: Coriander contains Citronelol, which acts as antiseptic and antimicrobial
- prevent osteoporosis thanks to it’s calcium and mineral content (specifically present in the center part of the leaves), which help with bone regrowth, durability and prevention of bone degradation.
- prevent Anaemia as it has large amounts of iron
How to Coriander:
Soothing Coriander Face Mask: Toss 1/2 cup of oats, (check here for why oats is a cereal killer) 1/4 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of chopped cucumber and 1 handful of fresh coriander into a blender for about a minute, till the mixture starts looking smooth. Apply this mixture on your face and let it sit for 20 minutes or until hardened; then rinse.
Tasty Coriander dip: blend 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, 1/2 cup fresh coconut, 2 garlic cloves, a piece of ginger, 2 green chillies and salt. Add water for the desired consistency- preferably thick and pasty, not runny. For variations, add mint leaves, roasted peanuts or yogurt.
Nut in the spot: Cashew nuts
Cashews are very nutritious and are a powerhouse of proteins and essential minerals including copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and sodium. Like Coriander, they also contain a mouthful of goodness such as vitamin C, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2(riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), and vitamin K (phylloquinone).
Cashews have the following advantages:
- Heart health: Cashew nuts lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase the carrying capacity for HDL (good cholesterol). HDL is responsible to absorb the bad cholesterol from the heart and take it to the liver where it can be broken down. This is supported by a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) which states that nutrients in nuts, such as unsaturated fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants confer heart-protective, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Strong muscles and nerves: cashews are a good source of magnesium, which is vital for the healthy development muscles, tissues, organs of the body, to maintain blood pressure, boost the immune system, maintain the nerve function.
- Optimal bone & oral health: Cashews provide phosphorous, which is essential for the healthy development of teeth and bones. Phosphorous also aids in protein synthesis, absorption of carbohydrates and fats, and the maintenance of cellular health.
- Immune booster-Cashews contain zinc, which plays a vital role in the strengthening of the immune system against microbial infections, protein synthesis, and the healing of wounds.
- Cancer preventive: The proanthocyanidins and high copper content in cashew nuts help fight against cancerous cells and keeps away cancer, especially colon cancer.
- Better eye health:- Cashews contains a powerful antioxidant pigment called Zeaxanthin, which is readily absorbed by our retina and forms a protective layer over it, which prevents the eyes from harmful UV rays. This pigment also helps to prevent age related macular degeneration of the eye in the elderly.
- Great source of dietary fibre: Cashew nuts contain two essential dietary fibers i.e. oleic acid and palmitic acid which help to digest food better.
- Lustrous hair: Cashew nut oil, contains linoleic and oleic acids as well as copper, which enhances the hair colour and provides silky smooth texture.
How to Cashew nut:
Simply toss them into a salad, eat plain or roast before adding to a curry. Cashews have a rich flavour and dramatically enhance the taste of any dish.
Caution: stay away from highly seasoned, spiced and salted cashew nuts. They are best eaten in their natural form. Too many cashew nuts and you will see ill-effects. Keep your consumption to 10-15 a day.
Fruit of interest: Mango
Mangoes are enriched with a long list of nutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E,Vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, and choline.
Minerals- iron, potassium, calcium , phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper, and selenium and also contains protein, fiber, and carbohydrates.
Mango is not just an amazingly tasty fruit, but also has benefits which you might be surprised to know:
- Cancer-preventive:- Antioxidant compounds in mango have been found to protect against colon, breast, leukemia and prostate cancers.
- Cholesterol reductive:- The high levels of fiber, pectin and vitamin C help to lower serum LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL levels.
- Cardio-protective:-Mangoes contain Beta-carotene, Vitamin E, Potassium and Selenium, which enhance the functioning of the heart. Potassium helps the heart, nerves and muscles to work smoothly.
- Blood pressure regulatory::-The presence of potassium regulates the blood pressure and fluid mechanism in the body.
- Skin tonic: The high Vitamin A content makes the skin soft and glowing
- Good during pregnancy:- Mangoes are rich in iron and vitamins A, C, and B6 – all of which are beneficial for pregnant women. Vitamin A helps fight infections and prevents vision problems in newborns
- Vision-protection:- Mangoes are a rich source of Zeaxanthin which helps to improve eye health. They contain a carotenoid called cryptoxanthin which protects against age related vision degeneration.
- Digestive aid: because of their high fibre content, mangoes act like a cleanser for the stomach and intestines and also strengthen the liver.
- Brain Tonic: Mango, being a great source of iron and vitamin B6, is one of those ideal foods for brain health. Iron aids the normal functioning of the brain and vitamin B6 supports its cognitive development.
- Immune enhancer: vitamin C strengthens one’s immunity and zinc is important for maintaining the overall health of the immune system.
- Bone health: Vitamin C aids in the formation of collagen, which is important in the making of bones and connective tissues. Hence mangoes can reduce bony inflammation and arthritis.
- Fights heat stroke: Ripe mango juice is used as a restorative tonic to fight heat stroke. Its rich electrolyte and salt content keep dehydration and bay and fight off heat stroke.
How to Mango:
In Summer: Mango-Banana Smoothie: Blend together 1 banana (for more on Banana, click here), 1 mango, freshly expressed juice of 4 oranges and ice cubes if you like. Additionally to give it more of a tropical feel, you may add 1/2 cup of coconut milk. Adjust to desired consistency and beat the heat!
In Winter: Mango-Pumpkin-Walnut Soup: Saute de-seeded pumpkin cubes (1 small pumpkin) and then cook until soft in 3 cups of vegetable stock. Take off heat and add cubes of 1 large mango. Puree to form a thick soup. Flavour with salt, pepper, paprika and freshly toasted, ground walnuts. Garnish with nutmeg and slurp it down!