One of the things the body needs for optimal health is minerals. They are used to perform various tasks, from transmitting nerve impulses to building strong bones. This article focuses on one mineral, in particular, iron. Iron plays a crucial role in maintaining good health. Therefore, it is essential to explore this vital mineral and take a look at Iron: the facts.
Minerals help the body grow, develop, and sustain a healthy state. The body uses minerals to carry out many diverse tasks, from building strong bones to transmitting nerve impulses. Some are even used to make hormones or sustain a normal heartbeat. They are essential for optimal health.
What is Iron?
As mentioned above, iron is a mineral. Its primary function is to transport oxygen in the hemoglobin of red blood cells all through the body, enabling cells to produce energy. Iron additionally aids with the removal of carbon dioxide.
Iron also contains myoglobin, a protein that supplies oxygen to muscles. The body additionally requires iron to make certain hormones.
How much Iron do we need?
The amount of iron required daily depends on age, sex, and the type of diet of an individual. Those on a plant-based diet require almost twice that of those on an animal diet. This gap in absorption stems from the body’s inability to absorb iron from plant foods as well as from animal foods.
The table below represents the recommended daily amount of iron needed for various ages and sex.
Birth to 6 months
Infants 7–12 months
Children 1–3 years
Children 4–8 years
Children 9–13 years
Teens boys 14–18 years
Teens girls 14–18 years
Adult men 19–50 years
Adult women 19–50 years
Adults 51 years and older
What foods provide Iron?
Iron can be found organically in numerous foods and is added to various enriched food products. Recommended amounts of iron consumed by ingesting an assortment of provisions along with the following:
Iron-enriched breakfast cereals and bread.
Lean meat, seafood, and poultry, including organ meats.
Nuts and some dried fruits, such as raisins and apricots.
White beans, lentils, spinach, kidney beans, and peas.
Dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, and turnip greens.
Nuts and seeds
The iron in food can be found in two forms: heme iron and non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is contained in iron-fortified food products and plant foods. Seafood, meat, and poultry contain both heme and non-heme iron.
The body takes in iron from plant sources better when ingested with seafood, poultry, meat, and foods that contain vitamin C, such as broccoli, citrus fruits, strawberries, sweet peppers, and tomatoes.
When the body does not have enough iron, it cannot produce proper amounts of hemoglobin. When this occurs, tissues and mus**cles do not get ample amounts of oxygen to work effectively. This situation results in a condition known as anemia or iron-deficiency anemia. This kind is the most common type of anemia.
Signs and symptoms of an iron deficiency differ based on:
How severe the anemia is
How rapidly it progresses
State of health
On occasion, individuals experience no symptoms at all.
Below are a few signs and symptoms of an iron deficiency, beginning with the most frequent.
Fatigue or feeling very tired a majority of the time is one of the most usual symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. This symptom can also be found in individuals who do not have sufficient iron, although they have not received a deficiency diagnosis.
This fatigue occurs because the body does not have the iron required to produce the hemoglobin protein that assists in transporting oxygen around the body.
Without sufficient hemoglobin, insufficient oxygen reaches the tissues and muscles, causing them to have less energy. Consequently, the heart has to work harder to move more oxygen-rich blood around the body, causing fatigue (reference).
Given that fatigue and tiredness are frequently a regular part of a busy, modern life, it can be challenging to diagnose iron deficiency with this symptom by itself.
On the other hand, some individuals with an iron deficiency can experience low energy and weakness, irritability, or difficulty concentrating.
Skin that is fairer than usual and pale coloring inside the lower eyelids is a sign of iron deficiency. It is the hemoglobin that gives blood its red color. Therefore, if the hemoglobin is less than it should be, the blood is a lighter red. This more delicate coloring will cause the skin to lose some redness.
Inside the lower eyelid should be a vibrant red. A pale pink or yellow color can be an indication of an iron deficiency.
This paleness can be seen all over the body or limited to one area such as: the face, gums, nails, inside of the lips, and lower eyelids. However, the lower eyelids may be the only place to notice this symptom for individuals with darker skin. This condition is seen in more moderate and severe cases.
Shortness of Breath
Since oxygen levels are low during an iron deficiency, muscles do not receive enough oxygen to perform everyday activities like walking. Therefore, the breathing rate will increase as the body attempts to get more oxygen. This scenario makes shortness of breath a usual sign.
If an individual finds it difficult to accomplish tasks that used to be effortless, such as walking, exercising, or climbing stairs, it could result from an iron deficiency.
An iron deficiency can bring about headaches, especially in women. Research is being conducted to link estrogen levels, dopamine dysfunction, and iron deficiency.
Headaches stem from many causes, but recurrent headaches can be an indication of an iron deficiency.
Irregular heartbeats can be a symptom of an iron deficiency. Since an iron deficiency causes low levels of hemoglobin, this puts an extra load on the heart to pump oxygen throughout the body. This situation can cause the heart to be faster than normal. This condition can lead to a heart murmur, enlarged heart, or heart failure but in extreme cases.
Dry and Damaged Skin and Hair
Whenever skin and hair have insufficient oxygen, they can become dry and weak. In critical situations, this can result in hair loss.
Restless leg syndrome has been connected to iron deficiency. Restless leg syndrome is a strong urge to move the legs while relaxed. Additionally, it can cause crawling and itching feeling in the feet and legs. Usually occurring at night, it can interfere with sleep.
It is not entirely understood what causes restless leg syndrome. On the other hand, research has shown that approximately 25% of individuals with iron deficiency anemia have restless leg syndrome. The incidence of restless leg syndrome is nine (9) times higher in individuals with an iron deficiency when compared with the rest of the population.
Therefore, individuals with iron deficiency anemia have a greater risk of experiencing restless legs syndrome.
Brittle or spoon-shaped nail, a symptom of less frequency, is called koilonychia. The first indication of this condition is when nails chip and crack easily. As it progresses, the middle of the nail becomes depressed while the edges rise, resembling the shape of a spoon.
The good news is, this is a rare side effect happening in only 5% of individuals with an iron deficiency and is only seen in acute cases.
Additional more nonspecific signs of an iron deficiency can include odd food cravings, depression, cold hands and feet, and more recurring infections.
Causes of Iron Deficiency
An iron deficiency can be triggered by various factors and can occur at practically any age. Some of the more frequent causes are:
heavy blood loss through menstrual periods or internal bleeding
inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
insufficient iron intake due to a poor diet
raised iron requirements during pregnancy
Additionally, bleeding in the stomach or intestines can be a common reason for anemia in adults that are not menstruating. This bleeding can be caused by:
a stomach ulcer
bowel or stomach cancer (although this is less common)
taking excessive amounts of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, for example, ibuprofen and aspirin
Iron supplements should only be taken if an iron deficiency or the risk for one has been diagnosed by a doctor and diet is not practical.
Iron supplements are available in pill and liquid form and can be purchased in stores and online [paid link]
It is important to note that taking iron supplements can cause some side effects, which include:
constipation or diarrhea
nausea or vomiting
These side effects can be minimized by using a specific type of supplement such as bis-glycinate chelate (reference).
To receive the most effectiveness from iron supplements, do not take them with antacids or milk since they can limit iron absorption.
Avoid or limit high fiber foods or foods containing caffeine since these can interfere with absorption also.
Please feel free to leave any questions, comments, concerns, or experiences with iron below.
Our gut is essential to our overall health. The gut is responsible for the health of our digestion, defense system, brains, moods, and even our quality of sleep. In fact, about 70 percent of the immune system (reference) is based in the gut, so making sure it is in excellent shape can be vital in addressing many of our bodily afflictions. But how do we keep our gut healthy? One of the items that keep the gut healthy is probiotics, which are bacteria, but of the friendly type. However, another item that contributes to the gut’s health is called prebiotics. Mutually probiotics and prebiotics are beneficial for the gut, but they assist differently. So, what are prebiotics, and what do they do? This article explains what are prebiotics about.
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are special plant fibers that are carbohydrates that the body cannot digest and travel to the lower digestive tract and do their work. They are a source of food for bacteria, the good bacteria that keep the gut healthy. Therefore, in other words, prebiotics feeds probiotics; they act as fertilizers for the gut.
The good bacteria in the digestive tract assist in protecting it from harmful microorganisms and fungi.
A 2013 study on bacteria in the gut substantiates that an expansive assortment of this good type of bacteria can improve the symptoms of depression, aid immune system functions, and help address obesity, among other benefits (reference). Also, some of the gut bacteria form vitamin K and short-chain fatty acids.
Short-chain fatty acids are the primary nutrient resource of the cells that line the colon. They support a strong gut barrier that aids in keeping out harmful viruses, bacteria, and substances. This additionally aids in reducing inflammation and can have the ability to reduce the risk of cancer (reference).
The Health Benefits of Prebiotics
On top of nourishing the good gut bacteria, prebiotics can also:
Alter the speed that foods produce increases in blood sugar (the glycemic index)
Help absorb calcium
Increases the fermenting of foods faster, causing them to spend less time in the digestive system. This avoids constipation.
Maintains the cells that line the gut keeping them healthy
Recent studies have been investigating if prebiotics can assist the managing of gut diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and how they might be a factor in controlling obesity.
Foods that have Prebiotics
Prebiotics can be found in numerous fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, including:
Legumes (peas and beans)
Many fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Fiber advances the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including certain kinds like Bifidobacteria.
The thing to understand about supplements is that there are many types. For example, one type of bacteria commonly used is lactobacillus. However, there are in excess of 120 kinds of lactobacillus, and approximately a dozen of them are used as probiotics.
In addition, there are several other kinds of bacteria, each of them with dozens of species, making a bewildering assortment of obtainable probiotics. When one type of bacteria is selected, the quantity in the supplement may differ between brands.
When considering a prebiotic, analyze the condition that requires attention and select the prebiotic based on that condition. It is important to note that while a probiotic can demonstrate potential in treating a gastrointestinal situation, it is probable that the research is still in its infancy.
While the supplement can have made a condition better for a small number of individuals in a minimal situation, it may not work as well in an actual setting. As always, when considering taking a supplement, consultation with a healthcare professional is advised.
Prebiotic Side Effects
According to reliable sources, a majority of prebiotics, as well as probiotics, can be used safely without side effects by the majority of adults that are healthy. In a few instances, abdominal discomfort, bloating, and flatulence can arise while the digestive system adjusts to the additional activity.
However, individuals who have IBS or any other gastrointestinal disorder should consult with their healthcare provider to get tailored guidance for incorporating prebiotics into their diet.
Keeping the gut bacteria balanced is essential for many aspects of health.
To accomplish this, one should consume plenty of prebiotic and probiotic foods because they help with promoting the ultimate balance between good and bad gut bacteria.
Speak with a healthcare provider to ensure the proper amounts of each are consumed. It is possible to consume too much or obtain side effects.
One of the things that can cause us some inconvenience is bacteria. Bacteria are microscopic, single-cell organisms that can be found everywhere, but most are harmless to people. However, there are some that cause infections known as bacterial infections. When these bacteria enter the urinary tract of men, they can cause a urinary tract infection in men.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection
The urinary tract includes the body parts that produce urine and remove it from the body. For men, these parts include the kidneys and bladder and the ureters and urethra. Ureters are the twin tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. The urethra is the conduit tube that transports urine from the bladder, which passes the prostate, continues through the penis, which leads it to exit the body.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are often classified into two (2) categories centered on their position in the urinary tract:
Lower tract infections include cystitis (bladder infection) and urethritis (infection of the urethra). Disorders of the lower urinary tract are commonly subsequent to intestinal bacteria that enter and contaminate the urinary tract below. This progression usually involves spreading from the skin to the urethra and subsequently the bladder. Urethritis can additionally be initiated by means of microorganisms transmitted through sexual contacts, such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia. An additional form of male urinary infection is prostatitis, a prostate inflammation.
Upper tract infections involve the ureters and kidneys and consist of pyelonephritis (kidney infection). Upper tract infections frequently transpire because bacteria have traveled upward in the urinary tract from the bladder to the kidney or bacteria carried in the bloodstream was retained in the kidneys.
Should unhealthy bacteria increase in any urinary tract area; this can cause a urinary tract infection in men. Although urinary tract infections (UTIs) are, to a large extent, more common in women, men can become infected as well.
Urinary tract infections are projected to have an effect on approximately 3 % of men worldwide annually. This statistic means that most men will have never had a urinary tract infection, especially if they are young.
In men over 50, the prostate gland, located near the bottom of the bladder and close to the urethra, can expand, and impede urine flow from the bladder. This state is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. This circumstance can hinder the bladder from completely emptying, increasing the probability of bacteria developing and producing an infection.
Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder lining) is more frequent in men who engage in anal intercourse and in those who are uncircumcised. Additional situations that enhance the risk of UFTs involve an obstruction, for example, that is subsequent to a partial blockage of the urethra known as a stricture, and medical procedures, such as rubber catheter tubes that may be inserted into the urethra to relieve a blockage.
However, when a urinary tract infection does develop in a man, it is severe and usually considered complicated. In addition, it is more probable to extend to the kidneys and upper urinary tract. Various cases may require surgery. This article addresses more about this condition, including its symptoms and treatment options.
Symptoms for Urinary Tract Infections in men
Men with urinary tract infections can have no signs or symptoms of the disease. However, when they do arise, they may include:
a slow urine stream or urine leakage
a sudden need to urinate
blood in urine
cloudy urine with a strong odor
frequent urge to urinate
inability to start urinating
pain during urination
pain in the central lower part of the abdomen
the release of only small amounts of urine at a time
Men with difficult cases may additionally encounter one or more of the symptoms below:
These symptoms are indicative that the disease has moved to the kidneys or the upper urinary tract. An infection that has reached this area is a more severe quandary that necessitates prompt treatment.
Urinary Tract Infection Diagnosis
Initially, a physician will inquire about symptoms and any prior incidents of a urinary tract infection. To fully determine the risk factors, the doctor could ask about sexual history, including the history of the individual’s partner’s history of multiple partners, sexually transmitted diseases (STD’S), condom use, and anal intercourse.
Next, the doctor will make a diagnosis of a urinary tract infection based on symptoms and the outcome of a physical examination and urine tests. When examining the results of a usual urinary tract infection, the doctor will observe both white blood cells, which fight infection and bacteria. The laboratory will identify the specific type of bacteria and particular antibiotics that can eradicate the bacteria.
In the case of men, a rectal examination will permit the doctor to evaluate the size and shape of the prostate gland. Suppose a patient is a young man with no sign of an enlarged prostate. In that case, the doctor may order additional tests to search for a urinary tract abnormality that increases the likelihood of infection. This action is taken because urinary tract infections are relatively rare in young men with normal urinary tracts. Therefore, additional testing may be requested that would involve intravenous pyelography or a computed tomography (CT) scan. This test would display a contour of the urinary tract on X-rays, ultrasound, or cystoscopy. This examination permits the doctor to inspect the inside of the bladder using a thin, hollow tube-like instrument.
With prompt and proper treatment, most urinary tract infections that have not led to other complications begin to improve in 1-2 days.
Preventing Urinary Tract Infections
The majority of urinary tract infections in men cannot be prevented. Practicing safe sex by using condoms will assist with avoiding infections as well as diseases spread during sexual contact.
In men with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), eliminating caffeine and alcohol or taking specific prescription medications can improve urine flow and prevent the buildup of urine in the bladder, which increases the likelihood of infection. A lot of men with urinary infections as a result of an enlarged prostate gland necessitate surgery to remove part of the gland. Since this surgical procedure can improve urine flow, it can also thwart infections.
The Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are treated with a variety of antibiotics. The laboratory tests on the urine can assist the doctor in selecting the best antibiotic for the infection. As a general rule, most uncomplicated lower tract infections will be entirely eliminated by five to seven days of treatment. Once the antibiotics are completed, the doctor might ask for another urine sample to ensure that the bacteria are gone. If either an upper tract infection or prostate infection is diagnosed, the doctor can prescribe antibiotics for three weeks or longer.
Men with acute upper tract infections can require hospital treatment and antibiotics administered through an intravenous catheter (through a vein). This action is especially apparent when nausea, vomiting, and fever further the risk of lack of fluids and prevent the use of oral antibiotics.
It is best to contact a doctor whenever a urinary tract infections symptom(s) is present.
Individuals age 50 or older should contact their physician if any of the following symptoms occur: difficulty in beginning urination, a decrease in the force of the urine stream, dribbling after urination, or a feeling that the bladder is not completely empty after urinating is finished. These may well be the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, a problem that can be treated successfully before it initiates a urinary tract infection.
Until more advancements in UTI treatment are available, antibiotics continue to be the most capable standard treatment. However, prescription medication does not have to be the only method for battle.
In conjunction with standard medical therapy, home remedies can be integrated to speed recovery and even help avoid any future infections.
Cranberries – Cranberries can contain a component that hinders bacteria from connecting to the urinary tract walls. It is then flushed out of the body.
Research is unsettled; therefore, more research is required. Some studies do indicate, however, that the risk of UTIs might be reduced with dried cranberries, unsweetened cranberry juice, or cranberry supplements which can be purchased online.
However, other studies indicate that using cranberries to prevent UTIs does not generate reliable results.
Consume ample amounts of water – Even though urinating can be painful with a UTI, consuming generous quantities of fluids is essential, mainly
water. Most adult individuals should make it a goal to consume between 6 and 8 8-ounce glasses of water daily.
The more water consumed, the more urination occurs. Urinating helps to flush dangerous bacteria from the urinary tract.
Do not hold urine – Holding urine for long periods can allow bacteria to multiply in the urinary tract. It is wise always to urinate when signaled.
It is also essential to ensure the bladder empties altogether when urinating and always urinate after sex.
Use probiotics – Probiotics promote healthy digestion and immunity. They may additionally be triumphant in remedying and preventing UTIs.
Although some research confirms probiotics to be efficient in UTI deterrence and cure, more research is required.
Intake ample vitamin C – Escalating the consumption of vitamin C can aid in the prevention of a UTI. Studies show that vitamin C reinforces the immune system and may assist in acidifying the urine to prevent infection.
However, some research demonstrates inconsistent data regarding vitamin C’s efficiency in treating UTIs, indicating that insufficient studies have been conducted to support this treatment.
Wear properly fitting clothing – Wearing cotton-lined and loose-fitting clothing can assist in treating ongoing UTI infections by assisting in maintaining the area dry and clean.
Clothing that is tight-fitting and certain fabrics can trap moisture that will allow bacteria to grow in the genital area, leading to infection.
The majority of urinary tract infections can be treated effectively with antibiotics. In a male individual with a urinary tract irregularity or an enlarged prostate (BPH), repeated urinary tract infections can occur if the underlying problem interferes with the free flow of urine.
It is crucial to treat urinary tract infections. The sooner, the better. Urinary tract infections left untreated turn out to be more and more acute as they spread further.
A urinary tract infection is typically easiest to treat when in the lower urinary tract. A condition that travels to the upper urinary tract is a great deal more challenging to treat and is most likely to spread into the bloodstream, leading to sepsis. This condition is a life-threatening occurrence.
The bottom line is, if you have any of the symptoms listed above, see your doctor–pronto!
Would you please leave any questions, concerns, comments, or experiences with UTIs below?
Nuts are generally regarded as a casual snack. However, nuts yield a host of nutritional benefits for our bodies. So much so that they can easily be included as a daily part of our diets. This article contains the facts about nuts, including their nutritional values.
What are Nuts?
What are nuts exactly? Are they vegetables, fruits, meats, a starch? Nuts are actually fruits. They are fruits made up of a hard shell that protects a kernel. The kernel is what we eat. While there are seeds referred to as nuts, but in plant classification, “nut” denotes that the shell does not release the seed but remains closed. Fortunately, nuts can be purchased already shelled and ready to eat.
Some of the most commonly consumed nuts are:
The Benefits of Nuts
Although nuts contain a high amount of fat, they have numerous significant health and weight benefits.
A Great Source of Many Nutrients – Nuts are exceedingly nutritious. One (1) ounce (28 grams) of mixed nuts contains:
Carbs: 6 grams
Copper: 23% of the RDI
Fat: 16 grams, including 9 grams of monounsaturated fat
Fiber: 3 grams
Magnesium: 16% of the RDI
Manganese: 26% of the RDI
Phosphorus: 13% of the RDI
Protein: 5 grams
Selenium: 56% of the RDI
Vitamin E: 12% of the RDI
Various nuts are higher in specific nutrients than others are. For example, one Brazil nut yields more than 100% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for selenium.
The carbohydrate matter of nuts is highly irregular. Hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts have fewer than 2 grams of digestible carbs per serving, while cashews have almost eight (8) digestible carbs per serving. For this reason, nuts are, in general, great food to eat on a low-carb diet.
Ladened with Antioxidants – Antioxidants, which include the polyphenols in nuts, are able to combat oxidative stress by counteracting free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage and escalate disease risk (reference).
A research study established that walnuts have a bigger capacity to battle free radicals than fish (reference).
In a study involving thirteen individuals, consuming walnuts or almonds elevated polyphenol levels and lessened oxidative damage considerably in contrast to a monitored meal (reference).
Another study found that 2–8 hours after ingesting whole pecans, individuals experienced a 26–33% drop in their levels of oxidized “bad” LDL cholesterol, a significant risk factor for heart disease.
However, research involving the elderly and adults with metabolic syndrome discovered that walnuts and cashews did not significantly impact antioxidant capacity, although some other markers improved.
Can Aid with Weight Loss – Ironically, although nuts are considered a high-calorie food, studies suggest that nuts can help with weight loss.
One study reviewing the results of the Mediterranean diet discovered that individuals delegated to ingest nuts decreased approximately two inches (5 cm) from their waists. This result was considerably more than individuals who were given olive oil.
In controlled studies, almonds have been steadily shown to advance weight loss rather than weight gain. Some studies suggest that pistachios aid weight loss also. (reference, reference).
In one study in overweight women, those eating almonds lost nearly three times as much weight and experienced a significantly more significant waist size decrease than the control group (reference).
Additionally, although nuts are relatively high in calories, studies indicate that the body does not take in all of them since a portion of fat remains trapped within the nut’s fibrous wall for the duration of digestion (reference).
For example, although the nutritional information on a packet of almonds could show that a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving has 160–170 calories, the body takes in only about 129 of these calories.
In the same way, more recent studies have discovered that the body takes in about 21% and 5% less calories from walnuts and pistachios, in that order, than previously reported (reference, reference).
Effective for Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome – Type 2 diabetes is a widespread disease that affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide.
Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Hence, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome are connected. For more on metabolic syndrome, see The Facts about Metabolic Syndrome on this website.
It is interesting to note nuts can be among the best foods for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes individuals. They are low in carbohydrates and do not increase blood sugar levels by a significant amount. Therefore, ingesting nuts instead of higher-carb foods should reduce blood sugar levels.
Research suggests that ingesting nuts can also decrease blood pressure, oxidative stress, and other health markers in individuals with diabetes and metabolic syndrome (reference, reference, reference, reference).
In a controlled 12- week study, individuals with metabolic syndrome who consumed just less than 1 ounce (25 grams) of pistachios twice per day encountered a 9% reduction in fasting blood sugar, on average (reference).
Also, when compared to the control group, the pistachio group had more significant reductions in blood pressure and C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker of inflammation linked to heart disease.
However, the evidence is mixed, and not all studies observe an advantage from consuming nuts in individuals with metabolic syndrome (reference).
Can Reduce Inflammation – Nuts have potent anti-inflammatory resources.
Inflammation is the body’s way of shielding itself from bacteria, injury, and other possible damaging pathogens.
However, chronic, long-term inflammation can cause organ injury and advance disease risk. The research proposes that consuming nuts reduces inflammation and supports healthy aging (reference). For more on inflammation, please see the article, The Dangers of Inflammation, on this website.
According to a study on the Mediterranean diet, individuals whose diets were supplemented with nuts encountered a 35% and 90% reduction in the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), respectively (reference).
In the same way, a few nuts, including pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and Brazil nuts, have been established to battle inflammation in healthy individuals and those with severe conditions such as kidney disease and diabetes (reference, reference, reference, reference, reference).
However, one study on almond intake in healthy adult individuals noticed little difference between the almond and control groups, though a few inflammatory markers lessened in those that ingested almonds (reference).
Although the body cannot digest fiber, the bacteria that live in the colon can. Various kinds of fiber operate as prebiotics or food for healthy gut bacteria.
These gut bacteria then ferment the fiber and turn it into beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs have potent benefits that include improving gut health and reducing the risk of diabetes and obesity (reference, reference).
Additionally, fiber helps an individual feel full and reduces the number of calories absorbed from meals. A study found that boosting fiber ingestion from 18 to 36 grams a day can lead to up to 130 fewer calories absorbed (reference, reference).
Below are nuts with the highest fiber content per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving:
Pistachios: 2.9 grams
Pecans: 2.9 grams
Peanuts: 2.6 grams
Macadamias: 2.4 grams
Hazelnuts: 2.9 grams
Brazil nuts: 2.1 grams
Almonds: 3.5 grams
Can Reduce the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke – Nuts are extremely good for the heart. A number of studies propose that nuts assist in lowering heart disease and stroke risk attributable to their benefits for artery function, bad LDL particle size, cholesterol levels, and inflammation ( reference, reference, reference, reference).
Studies have found that small, dense LDL particles can elevate heart disease risk further than larger LDL particles (reference, reference).
A study on the Mediterranean diet discovered individuals who consumed nuts had a significant decline in small LDL particles and an increase in large LDL particles and “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
In an additional study, individuals with normal or high cholesterol were arbitrarily allocated to ingest either olive oil or nuts with a high-fat meal. Individuals who were in the group that consumed nuts had improved artery function and lowered fasting triglycerides than the group that consumed olive oil, not considering their original cholesterol levels (reference).
Where to buy nuts
Nuts are delicious and widely available. They can be consumed whole, creamed (e.g., peanut butter), or chopped and used for toppings.
They can be purchased in grocery stores, and online [paid link]and come in various options, including raw, roasted, unsalted, salted, seasoned, or plain.
On the whole, it is more healthy to consume nuts raw or toast them in the oven below 350°F (175°C). Dry-roasted is the next-best option. However, it is best to avoid nuts that are roasted in vegetable and seed oils.
Nuts can be stored at room temperature or placed in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them fresh longer.
Comments, questions, and concerns may be left below.
Chocolate – one of America’s favorite comfort foods. There are very few people who are not fond of chocolate, even those who have to avoid it for one reason or another. Chocolate, besides its flavor, additionally has health benefits. This is particularly true for dark chocolate. So, what is dark chocolate about?
What is Chocolate?
Chocolate is a food substance produced from roasted cacao beans. It can be found in a solid form such as a candy bar, or it can be in a liquid form such as chocolate milk or hot chocolate. Chocolate finished for retail usually has sugar and sometimes milk added. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, contains less sugar and has a more bitter taste. There are three (3) principle types of chocolate: white, milk, and dark. This article is going to focus principally on dark chocolate.
What is Dark Chocolate about?
Dark chocolate is the second most popular chocolate behind milk chocolate. It has a unique deep brown color and is sometimes referred to as black or semisweet chocolate. Dark chocolate has increased in popularity as its health benefits have become more well-known.
Dark chocolate does not have a complicated structure. It is usually prepared from two ingredients: sugar and chocolate liquor. Occasionally vanilla and soy lecithin, which is an emulsifier, are added.
The FDA defines dark chocolate by stating that it must contain at least 15% chocolate liquor. However, it usually has closer to about 50%. Most high-quality dark chocolate does not have added dairy and can be a favorite for vegans as friendly chocolate. Not having dairy and less sugar gives dark chocolate a firmer texture than white or milk chocolate.
The Benefits of Dark Chocolate
It is quite nutritious – Dark chocolate is packed with nutrients that have a positive effect on health. A 100-graham Quality dark chocolate bar with high cocoa content is relatively nutritious as it has an adequate quantity of soluble fiber and is rich in minerals. It contains an abundance of zinc, phosphorus, selenium, and potassium.
It is important to note that these valuable nutrients come with 600 calories and a moderate amount of sugar. Because of this, dark chocolate, as with other foods, should be consumed in moderate amounts.
The fats contained in dark chocolate are favorable as well. The fats include primarily oleic acid, a fat that is healthy for the heart and found in olive oil, palmitic, and stearic acids.
Stearic acid has a nimble result on body cholesterol. On the other hand, palmitic acid can inflate cholesterol levels, making up one-third of the total fat calories.
Dark chocolate also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine. However, it is improbable to cause insomnia, as the caffeine is small compared to coffee.
Contains powerful antioxidants – Dark chocolate has an expansive variety of antioxidants, and it has considerably more than the majority of other foods. One of the ways antioxidant activity in food is determined is by measuring the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). The biological significance of ORAC values is questionable since it is determined in a test tube and may not have the same effect on the body.
However, it is important to note that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are amid the highest-scoring foods that have been tested.
Dark chocolate is ladened with biologically active organic compounds that function as antioxidants. These are comprised of catechins, flavanols, and polyphenols, among others.
A study has shown that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant execution, flavanols and, polyphenols than any other fruits tested, which included blueberries and acai berries
Can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure – The endothelium, the lining of arteries, can be stimulated by the flavanols in dark chocolate to produce the gas nitric oxide (aka NO). (reference)
Nitro Oxide functions primarily by sending signals to the arteries to relax, which in turn lowers the resistance to blood flow and consequently reduces blood pressure.
Numerous controlled studies indicate that dark chocolate and cocoa can advance blood flow and decrease blood pressure. However, the effects are generally mild (reference, reference, reference, reference).
Increases HDL and safeguard s LDL from oxidation – Several vital risk triggers for heart disease may improve by Ingesting dark chocolate.
Cocoa powder was discovered to considerably lessen oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol in men in a controlled study. It additionally raised HDL and dropped total LDL for those individuals with high cholesterol (reference).
Oxidized LDL occurs when the LDL cholesterol has acted in response with free radicals. This occurrence causes the LDL element to be reactive, making it capable of damaging other tissues, in this case, the lining of the arteries of the heart.
Cocoa has a plethora of powerful antioxidants that protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage (reference).
Another common risk factor for diseases like heart disease and diabetes is insulin resistance which the flavanols in dark chocolate can also reduce. (reference, reference, reference).
It is crucial to note that dark chocolate also includes sugar as an ingredient. This ingredient can have the opposite effect on blood sugar.
Can reduce heart disease risk – As mentioned above, the compounds in dark chocolate emerge to be substantially shielding against LDL oxidation.
This advantage should cause much less cholesterol to embed in the arteries, ultimately decreasing the risk of heart disease. Several long-term observational studies indicate a comparatively drastic progression in this area.
However, these studies were observational. Therefore, it is unclear precisely if it is the chocolate that decreased the risk. Nevertheless, it is conceivable that frequently ingesting dark chocolate can lessen the threat of heart disease.
Can protect the skin from the sun – Because of the bioactive compounds in dark chocolate, it can be advantageous to the skin.
The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the smallest quantity of UVB rays necessary to produce redness in the skin 24 hours post-exposure.
In a study of 30 individuals, the MED was more than twice as much after ingesting dark chocolate that was high in flavanols for 12 weeks (reference).
Could improve brain function – A study of volunteers in good physical shape revealed that consuming high flavanol cocoa for five (5) days enhanced blood flow to the brain (reference).
It may additionally improve mental function in older adults considerably with slight mental distress. It can further advance verbal fluency and a number of risk factors for disease (reference).
Substantial evidence verifies that cocoa may supply powerful health benefits and is particularly defensive against heart disease. However, beware that it is laden with calories, and a great deal of retail chocolate is not health beneficial and should be consumed in moderation. Therefore, an effort to choose quality chocolate is best. You can buy dark chocolate at local grocers or shop for it online. [paid link]
Dark chocolate characteristically contains some sugar. However, the amounts are generally small. The darker the chocolate, the smaller amount of sugar it will contain.
Questions, comments, concerns, or experiences with dark chocolate are welcomed below.
What is vegan about? Vegan is about veganism, which is the implementation of refraining from including animal products, principally in the diet. Additionally, it involves an associated perspective that rejects the commercial standing of animals. An individual who follows this diet or philosophy is known as a vegan.
The Vegan Society, a registered charity in the UK, has experienced unprecedented, positive interest in the vegan diet and a membership increase of 20% in the past three years. Veganism is sharing a stage of media attention in the US and Uk press, and other areas of Europe, unprecedented to what has been known before.
There were additionally other signs of a mushrooming interest in the vegan diet and lifestyle. For example, for two years, there have been indications from Google trends statistics for both the UK and worldwide indicating an increase of over 30% in the number of searches for the word “vegan.” In March 2013, a new record was set for the highest ever number of searches for the word ‘vegan.’ veganism is without a doubt gaining in popularity in the western world.
What is a Vegan?
Vegan and vegetarian diets mutually eliminate meat and seafood from their diets. Vegan diets additionally go a step further by vetoing every other food of animal origin. Therefore, in addition to steering clear of meat, vegans also steer clear of dairy products, eggs, and honey. Furthermore, vegan foods have no byproducts of animal agriculture, such as lard, whey, or gelatin.
Vegan individuals follow an entirely plant-based diet. Several kinds exist, and participants may follow them for an assortment of reasons. These consist of environmentalism, ethics, health, and religion.
Many vegans do not wear fur, leather, or anything else derived from an animal. Additionally, they reject the use of animals in other forms such as animal testing for cosmetics, rodeos, the circus, or horse-drawn carriages.
Veganism is a moral value that upholds living in unison with animals and omitting them from food, as well as clothing, entertainment, products, and labor. Veganism is about harm reduction.
The focus of this article is on the health and diet portion of vegans and veganism.
A vegan diet involves powerful benefits over a vegetarian diet. Eating vegetarian only decreases farm animal exploitation, whereas a vegan diet eliminates it entirely. A vegan diet may additionally offer health and environmental benefits over diets that contain dairy products and eggs. For these reasons, a lot of vegetarians eventually choose to go vegan.
What do Vegan’s Eat?
Becoming a vegan may not be difficult when considering the considerable selection of vegan foods available:
Beans, tofu, and tempeh
Bread and Pasta (some contain animal products)
Fruits and berries
Rice, wheat, and other grains
Vegan milk (soy, almond, pea, nut, hemp, etc.)
In addition, many of the most popular brands of chocolate, wine, and beer are vegan. Even dairy-free creamers for coffee are available. In addition, the world’s great cuisines present a continual variety of vegan meals.
Where to Buy Vegan Foods
All supermarkets stock an extensive assortment of vegan foods. In addition, a reputable natural foods store will offer even more options. Most carry a variety of vegan meats, types of milk, and cheeses. In the frozen section, one may find vegan waffles, burritos, and pizza. The desserts are not left out either. One can purchase vegan ice cream, brownies, cookies, and many other favorites. The better natural food stores sell at least one vegan alternative (Gardein, Beyond Meat, Miyoko’s Creamery, and Silk) for every popular non-vegan food including, cream cheese, mayo, eggs, to name a few. The selections are improving in view of the fact that vegan food producers are introducing tasty new products monthly.
It does not matter what non-vegan food one may desire to replace; it can be replaced with an excellent vegan equivalent. This includes everything from hot dogs to cream cheese to eggs. The majority of these products are plentiful in protein and additional nutrients. They can enable an individual to rid their diet of animal products without any feeling of sacrifice.
The Advantages of Being Vegan
To begin with, vegan diets are known to help individuals lose weight. However, they also offer an assortment of further health advantages.
For a kickoff, a vegan diet may aid with maintaining a healthy heart. Additionally, a vegan diet can offer some protection against type 2 diabetes and select cancers.
Here are some science-based benefits of a vegan diet.
Rich in certain nutrients
When switching to a vegan diet from a typical Western diet, meat and animal products are eliminated. This change will most likely lead an individual to rely more intensely on other foods. With a whole-foods vegan diet, alternatives are made in the form of fruits, peas, nuts, beans, vegetables, seeds, and whole grains.
Because these foods are composed of a more considerable percentage of a vegan diet than a typical Western diet, they can provide a higher daily intake of specific valuable nutrients.
A number of studies have stated that vegan diets have a propensity to yield added antioxidants, fiber, and beneficial plant composites. They additionally seem to be abundant in magnesium, folate, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E.
Vegan diets seem to be higher in iron, although iron plants’ form is not as bioavailable as is found in animal foods (reference).
On the other hand, not all vegan diets are created equal. For example, inadequately planned vegan diets may not provide sufficient amounts of vitamin B12, niacin, essential fatty acids, riboflavin (vitamin B2), calcium, iodine, selenium, vitamin D, or zinc (reference), (reference), (reference).
Because of this situation, it is crucial to go for whole-plant foods and fortified foods. One may need to think about supplements for nutrients, for example, zinc, vitamins B12 and D, and calcium, since these can be lacking in a vegan diet.
Can aid with weight loss
A growing number of individuals are turning to plant-based diets in expectation of shedding excess weight. This hope may be for a good reason.
Many observational studies suggest that vegans tend to be thinner and have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than non-vegans (reference).
Also, several arbitrarily managed studies, the ultimate standard in scientific research, drew the conclusion that vegan diets are more victorious with weight loss than the diets they were compared with (reference).
What’s more, a study evaluating the weight loss results of five (5) separate diets reasoned that vegetarian and vegan diets were as well-accepted as semivegetarian and standard Western diets (reference).
Although they were not always adhering to their diets completely, those taking part which was in the vegetarian and vegan groups even lost somewhat more weight than those on a typical Western diet.
Can lower blood sugar levels and improve kidney function
Switching to a vegan diet may additionally provide benefits for type 2 diabetes and declining kidney function. Without a doubt, vegans have a propensity to have lower blood sugar levels and higher insulin sensitivity. They can also have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (reference), (reference), (reference).
Studies have reported that vegan diets will lower blood sugar levels in diabetes patients more effectively than the diets from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the National Cholesterol Education Program (reference, reference).
In one 2009 study, forty-three percent of the contributors that adhered to a vegan diet could decrease their blood sugar-lowering drug, contrasted with only twenty-six percent of contributors who adhered to an American Diabetes Association suggested diet.
Research additionally proposes that individuals with diabetes who replace meat with plant protein can reduce their chances of poor kidney function, but this necessitates more research.
Moreover, several studies indicate that a vegan diet may have the ability to relieve symptoms of systemic distal polyneuropathy, a condition in people with diabetes that causes sharp, burning pain.
May protect against certain cancers
According to the World Health Organization, about one-third of all cancers can be prevented by factors within our control, including diet (reference). For instance, eating legumes on a regular basis can decrease the risk of colorectal cancer by 9–18% (reference).
Research also suggests that consuming at least seven (7) portions of fresh fruits and vegetables per day can lower the risk of dying from cancer by up to 15%.
Vegans usually eat additional legumes, fruits, and vegetables than non-vegans considerably. This advertence may clarify why a review of ninety-six studies established that vegans might gain from a fifteen percent lower risk of acquiring or expiring from cancer (reference).
Furthermore, vegan diets usually include additional soy products, which can protect against breast cancer (reference). Evading some animal products can additionally aid in reducing the risk of prostate, breast, and colon cancers. That may be because vegan diets lack smoked or processed meats as well as meats cooked at high temperatures, which are thought to advance certain kinds of cancers (reference, reference, reference, reference).
Vegans also steer clear of dairy products, which some studies suggest may slightly increase the risk of prostate cancer. Conversely, there is confirmation that dairy can assist in lessening the threat of other cancers, for example, colorectal cancer. Therefore, it is likely that avoiding dairy is not the factor that lowers vegans’ overall cancer risk.
It is important to note that these studies are observational. They make pinpointing the exact reason vegans have a lower risk of cancer unattainable.
Nevertheless, until researchers know more, it appears prudent to focus on adding the amounts of fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes ingested each day while restricting the intake of smoked, processed, and overcooked meats.
Can lower the risk of heart disease
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and fiber is connected to a lower risk of heart disease. Well-planned vegan diets usually comprise of all these foods in large quantities.
Observational studies evaluating vegans with vegetarians and the general population conclude that vegans may benefit from up to a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure (reference). Vegans can additionally have up to a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease (reference).
In addition, several arbitrarily managed research reports that vegan diets are considerably more efficient at decreasing blood sugar, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels than the diets they were contrasted with (reference, reference, reference).
This set of circumstances can be essentially beneficial to heart health. Because reducing high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels can reduce the risk of heart disease by 46%.
In contrast with the broader populace, vegans are inclined to ingest additional whole grains and nuts, which are excellent for the heart (reference,reference).
Can moderate pain from arthritis
Some studies have stated that a vegan diet has positive effects on individuals with various kinds of arthritis. One study arbitrarily allocated forty (40) individuals with arthritis to either ingest their omnivorous (plant and animal ) diet or switch to strictly a plant-based vegan diet whole-food for six (6) weeks (reference ). Those on the vegan diet reported higher energy levels and better general functioning than those who did not change their diet.
Additionally, several other studies propose a vegan diet can aid in improving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including pain, joint swelling, and morning stiffness (reference, reference). The vegan diet has elevated antioxidant, probiotic, and fiber substances and a shortage of some foods that may be responsible for these benefits.
A vegan diet can present a variety of health advantages. Essentially, health examiners up until now do not precisely understand what produces these benefits.
Therefore, pending further research, increasing the amount of nutrient-rich, whole plant foods in a diet can only benefit health overall.
The Disadvantages of being Vegan
Unfortunately, there is good and bad to everything and going vegan is no exception. Although a vegan diet has many advantages, it also has disadvantages.
For starters, although a vegan diet does not include any animal products, it does not automatically mean that it is healthy since it, by meaning, does not exclude a lot of sugar, gluten, or processed foods. Just look at the fame of fake meats that are highly processed and not essentially healthy by any means.
Below are some problems that can occur as a result of following a vegan
Legume protein can raise the risk of leaky gut
Because a vegan diet eliminates all forms of animal protein, consisting of meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, individuals following a vegan diet often turn to legumes as a plant-based protein source alternative.
However, legumes have high levels of anti-nutrients, which involve lectins and phytates, which can cause the intestines to become more permeable, also known as leaky gut.
In contrast, animal protein foods do not contain anti-nutrients and are among the highest sources of food nutrition for humans.
The risk is that when individuals eliminate animal protein from their diet and replace it with more legumes, there may be an amplified risk of gut irritation and inflammation. Although there are no direct human studies on this topic, it is a potential risk to be on the alert to avoid.
An avenue to counteract the potential effects of anti-nutrients can be to ingest more foods with natural probiotics, such as sauerkraut, fermented pickles, tempeh, and others. Additionally, an increase of probiotics in the system can help improve gut health overall.
Soy protein can cause hormone disturbances and elevated heavy metal intake
As mentioned earlier, as a result of excluding all forms of animal protein, a lot of vegans resort to soy as a protein source. Although unprocessed forms of soy may be acceptable for some individuals, processed forms of soy are frequently established in a vegan diet, including soy milk, tofu, and soy-based processed foods presented as meat substitutes.
Understand that processed soy foods are no healthier for human health than any other highly-processed foods, but they have an added risk of hormone interference because of phytoestrogens found in all forms of soy. Soy has also been a contributor to the intake of the toxic metal cadmium in vegans and vegetarians.
To aid in counteracting or avoiding any negative results from eating excessive amounts of soy, one may consider eating fermented soy sources such as tempeh or limiting the soy consumption to several times a week. It might also be advisable to avoid non-organic forms of soy, which can be a source of GMOs in the diet.
There is a risk of anemia
Iron-deficient anemia is the most widespread nutritional deficit worldwide, and mutually vegans and vegetarians are at a higher risk of this condition. Whereas plant foods do contain a form of iron, it is called non-heme iron, and it is considerably less absorbable by the body.
Iron-deficient anemia can cause severe symptoms together with fatigue, and females of child-bearing age should be aware of how a vegan or vegetarian diet can quickly lead to anemia.
Although iron supplements may help with reversing or preventing anemia, most women dislike taking iron supplements because of potential adverse side effects, including constipation.
Women of child-bearing age on a plant-based diet should have their ferritin levels checked regularly as it is essential to ensure they do not become anemic.
Increased risk of depression
Without a food source of omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oils and increased intake of omega-6 fatty acid from foods such as nuts, vegans might be at higher risk for depression.
Algae-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids are an alternative, but they can be expensive and hard to find. Also, because various vegan diets may include a higher than usual consumption of nuts, the stability of fatty acids in the body can still get off-balance.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be tested with a blood test and should be monitored if an individual commences experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety. It is crucial to contact a healthcare professional when depression starts to prevent the symptoms from getting worse.
It may additionally be wise to consider magnesium supplements to aid with anxiety.
There are issues linked with low omega-3 levels, and some are pretty serious. Pregnant women also need to be particularly aware of their omega-3 intake as the fatty acids help nurture fetal brain development.
Risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency
In view of the fact that vitamin B12 is only available in animal foods, vegans are at a considerably higher risk of experiencing a deficiency in this vital nutrient. Actually, most nutrition professionals concur that those on a vegan or vegetarian diet must supplement with a high-quality vitamin B12 supplement to circumvent permanent health conditions resulting from deficiency.
It is important to note that many individuals have a genetic variation known as MTHFR that can impact how B vitamins are absorbed. In this case, even specific B vitamin supplementation might not be enough to prevent a deficiency.
Individuals concerned about not getting enough vitamin B12 in their diet can ask their doctor for a vitamin B12 test.
Restraining of zinc absorption
In the same way as a lack of vitamin B12, vegan and vegetarian diets can result in a low zinc condition. It is speculated that the problem is caused by the higher consumption of plant foods that contain phytic acid, which can restrain the body’s capability to take in and process zinc.
In light of this possible issue with zinc absorption, nutritionists often recommend that vegans and vegetarians boost their zinc intake up to 50% of the recommended daily allowance to guarantee adequate levels.
Adequate zinc levels are especially crucial for boosting the immune system. Therefore, it is essential to consume enough zinc food sources or take a zinc supplement.
Plant-based sources of zinc are not as bioavailable as animal sources, so individuals must make certain they are getting enough.
Risk of consuming excess carbohydrates
Vegan diets are usually lower in protein and can cause blood sugar swings in some people. There is the additional risk of over-consuming carbs on a vegan diet, especially since legumes are often consumed as a protein source. However, they are excessive in carbohydrates.
Vegans may additionally substitute the calories from protein sources with refined carbs, including crackers, cookies, and bread. Over-consuming carbohydrates can result in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, blood sugar dysregulation, and other troublesome symptoms.
Eating a diet that includes moderate to higher protein levels has been shown to have a positive effect on satiety and weight management. It can be challenging to find beneficial protein foods on a vegan diet that are not also sources for carbohydrates (i.e., beans) or are soy-based.
Vegans may encounter fatigue or low exercise tolerance without a valuable source of lean protein in the diet. In that case, they may be required to think about adding protein powder to their diet.
This article has presented both the advantages as well as the disadvantages of a vegan diet. Seeing both sides of an issue allows one to make an informed decision.
Therefore, it is essential to consult with your healthcare provider to determine what type of diet is best for you.
Personally, when it comes to food and life in general, I have a moderate approach.
Since plant-based diets and animal-based diets both have their pluses and minuses, I chose to restrict overindulgence in either.
Questions, comments, and concerns, or experiences with being vegan are welcomed below.
Statistics undoubtedly show that, on average, women survive longer than men. For example, in the United States, the average life span of women is five years longer than men. The number increases to seven years worldwide. So the question becomes, why do men die earlier than women? This article explores the answer to this question.
The Gender Gap
The word gender is about social aspects of being a woman or a man, such as social stress, opportunity, and social expectations.
The ratio of men to women is generally equal in young adulthood. However, it begins to favor women over time.
This observation is interesting since women encounter elevated stress, additional persistent disease, more depression, and anxiety and are more likely to be victims of violence.
Women earn less income than men, and in many countries, they do not have the same human rights as men.
Yet, despite the social inequality women encounter, they live longer than men. This outcome is the case without a single exception in all countries.
For example, in the United States in 2015, female full-time workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, indicating a 20 percent gender wage gap. Yet, life expectancy for women in the US is 81.2 years compared to 76.4 for males.
Biology may be a contributing factor to this difference in life expectancy. Women have biological advantages that allow them to live longer.
For example, estrogen benefits women because it lowers low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (or LDL, known as “bad” cholesterol) and increases high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (or HDL, the “good” cholesterol), which lessens cardiovascular risk.
On the other hand, testosterone increases blood levels of bad cholesterol and decreases levels of good cholesterol. This situation places men at higher threat of hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
Then again, when it comes to chronic diseases, women have a propensity to have more of them. However, there is something to note at this point. Men and women have different forms of chronic disease. Women tend to have more nonfatal, chronic conditions, whereas men have more fatal conditions.
For instance, women have more arthritis, which is not fatal, even though disabling. On the contrary, men are at a higher risk of chronic diseases that are leading causes of death. Heart disease generally starts ten (10) years earlier in men than women.
Therefore, fundamental biological differences play a part in the life expectancy gap.
Women are more health-conscious about their health. Research has shown that, as a general rule, women are more health-conscious, and they have a higher awareness of their physical and mental symptoms. The consequence of this consciousness is healthier lifestyles and better health care use. Women additionally communicate better about their problems, which aids the course of diagnosis.
Men are less supportive of treatment and generally delay the initiation of treatment of any kind. These issues collectively affect men to be susceptible to therapeutic breakdowns.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, men are far more prone to neglect routine health screens and far less likely than women to have visited a doctor of any kind during the previous year.
A large number of men define unhealthy and risky behaviors as masculine, while they see health care use and health-promoting behaviors as feminine. Masculinity is a socially learned conception, and it can have detrimental effects.
Risky behavior and sensation-seeking add to the risk. Testosterone puts men at risk biologically, and it additionally puts men at risk behaviorally. It increases aggressiveness and, in a cascading effect, results in higher death
rates from accidents and homicide. One study found that baseline testosterone predicts future violent behaviors.
On the other hand, women systematically overestimate any type of risk, while men always underestimate it. This precedent has been detected regardless of the context. These include examples ranging from crossing a road to the perception of risk of a volcano, smoking, or a terrorist attack. With pedestrians, males breach more rules than females. With drivers, men more commonly breach the rules.
Accidents, such as motor vehicle crashes, are considerably more common among men than women. This finding is partly due to men’s greater sensation-seeking, risk-taking, underestimating risk, and propensity to be more reckless.
These differences extend to almost any task in life. This discovery partially explains why women internalize and contemplate and men externalize and act on (which requires a low-risk perception).
Substance use is also more common among men than among women. While that gap is narrowing, according to a 2011 study, men were 2.2 times more prone to misuse drugs than women and 1.9 times more prone to have drug dependence.
Among those with drug use problems, men tend to have more critical issues defined by the occurrence of using more than one substance and risky behaviors such as injection drug use. Men with drug use problems also seek care later than women. Men additionally drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol more regularly than women. Men are responsible for four out of every five cases of driving under a drug or alcohol influence.
The question that comes to mind is, why do men have a higher inclination to abuse illicit drugs and alcohol than women?
This precedent is in part due to sensation-seeking, which causes some men to search for experiences and feelings that are diverse, unique, complicated, and extreme. Peer pressure, gender roles, and higher acceptability for men of risky behaviors, additionally have a role. Although some of these desires may be due to testosterone levels, a substantial part is attributable to learned gender roles.
In addition to higher sensation-seeking, men tend to have more impulsive traits and higher punishment thresholds.
Previous research has indicated that masculinity plays a contributing role in depression and alcohol usage.
Men tend to be less socially connected. For reasons that are not entirely clear, individuals with fewer and weaker social connections (which seems to consist of men more often than women) have a tendency to have higher death rates.
Suicide is another consideration. According to a study, in most countries, men are more likely to die by suicide. For example, men are 3.5 times more likely than women to die from suicide in the US. This result is because men mainly use more lethal methods for suicide, such as firearms, according to a study.
According to another study, most suicides in the US are by white men. What’s more, according to the NY Times, suicides among this group are one reason why the mortality for middle-aged white American men is increasing.
One reason behind the excessive rate of suicide among men is the high stigma concerning psychiatric disorders and mental health care use. Therefore, when men go through stress, they are at higher risk of mental health problems such as depression than women, possibly because they do not talk about their emotions and seek care. Such a tendency to avoid mental health care is directly again related to masculinity, gender norms, and social expectations for men.
Unemployment is a significant cause of suicide globally. In the US, unemployment may have a more prominent role as a cause of suicide for men, resulting in a more considerable “human capital loss” among men than women.
Men have more dangerous jobs. To a significant degree, men outnumber women in some of the riskiest occupations, including firefighting, working at construction sites, and military combat.
Men tend to be larger than women. Across numerous species, larger animals have a tendency to die younger than smaller ones. Even though the significance of this effect is unclear in humans, it can work against male longevity.
How Can Men Live Longer?
Although there is not much that men can do about a few of these causes, others are adjustable. For example, since men tend to avoid medical care far more often than women, if men would report symptoms (such as depression), that would help. Additionally, staying on top of regular follow-ups for chronic medical problems (such as high blood pressure) could offset some of their tendency to die younger.
The best strategy by far is to have regular medical check-ups and screenings. It is the best way to get ahead of any medical situation because it results in early detection. We cannot work on a solution if we do not know the problem.
Personally, I have had three significant medical issues, and all of them were discovered during routine medical exams and screenings. This proactive action has resulted in rectifying two of them, and the third is in the process of decreasing.
These conditions could have progressed to critical stages without the check-ups and even resulted in other medical situations.
I urge all of us, especially men, to be proactive with our health instead of reactive. It is the ultimate strategy for longevity and can narrow the gap between men and women.
Questions, comments, and concerns are heartedly welcomed below.
Recently an article was published on this site, What is BPH about, that explained the condition of an enlarged prostate in males. This article discusses a supplement that can lead to relief from this condition. This supplement, Saw Palmetto, has additional health benefits as well. In this article, you will see what is saw palmetto about.
What is Saw Palmetto?
What is Saw Palmetto about? Saw palmetto is a species of palm used to produce a supplement packed with health benefits. The plant’s berries are regularly used in supplements to advance prostate health, equalize hormone levels, and inhibit hair loss in men.
Saw Palmetto and Prostate Health
The prostate is a gland (about the size of a walnut) situated amid the bladder and the penis in men that is responsible for maintaining sperm health. [Reference]
As the prostate increases in size, it constricts the urethra, the tube through which urine flows from the kidney. This compression can obstruct urine flow, which causes urinary frequency (especially at night), urine retention, weakened urination, pain, and possibly kidney damage.
The issues that trigger the prostate to enlarge are not completely understood. A leading theory involves activated testosterone and/or dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels and activity in the prostate.
An enzyme 5a-reductase converts testosterone to DHT. A pharmaceutical, finasteride, treats BPH by blocking this enzymatic reaction and lowering the amount of DHT in the prostate, decreasing prostate cell division and overgrowth of the gland.
In vitro evidence confirms that saw palmetto extracts also inhibit 5a-reductase activity, though its action is about 60 times weaker than finasteride.
To more reasonably explain how saw palmetto reduces symptoms, other mechanisms of action additionally have been proposed.
It appears that saw palmetto extracts inhibit DHT from binding to cellular receptors, which would be another way to decrease DHT’s ability to make prostate cells grow. Such an effect has been verified through in vitro (laboratory) experiments.
This action benefits beyond finasteride, which has only been shown to block 5a-reductase activity and consequently lower the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
Saw palmetto additionally has revealed in vitro spasmolytic effects on muscle tissues. One impact of BPH is increased smooth-muscle tone of the urethra and other pelvic floor muscles. This increased muscle tone may contribute to urethral spasm, which would explain some BPH symptoms. It is conceivable, although unproven, that saw palmetto extracts might relax these pelvic muscles and thereby reduce BPH symptoms.
An additional hypothesis is that saw palmetto extracts decrease estrogenic action in the prostate. Estrogen adds to BPH because it boosts intracellular DHT levels by lessening its elimination. With a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers at the University of Rome demonstrated that the anti-estrogenic and anti-androgenic actions exerted by saw palmetto extracts occur locally within the prostate, leaving serum levels of testosterone and estrogen unaffected.
Multiple mechanisms probably contribute to saw palmetto’s effects. For example, the herb’s anti-inflammatory properties are no doubt part of the equation. Saw palmetto extracts have been shown in vitro to restrain the assembly of inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes. This effect could significantly reduce prostate inflammation and BPH symptoms since the condition is associated with non-infectious inflammation. The swelling that is a consequence of this inflammation might explain the enlargement and some BPH symptoms.
Some research proposes that saw palmetto could support prostate health and may assist in preventing issues such as BPH and prostate cancer.
According to one test-tube study, saw palmetto berry extract reduced the growth of prostate cancer cells [reference].
Another test-tube study showed that saw palmetto prevented prostate cancer cells’ spread and growth by disabling specific cancer development
Other human and animal studies reveal that it may also be efficient at minimizing urinary symptoms and inflammation related to BPH [reference,reference, reference].
To more rationally justify how saw palmetto minimizes symptoms, other mechanisms of action have additionally been proposed.
It appears that saw palmetto extracts prevent DHT from fastening to cellular receptors, which would be another way to lessen DHT’s capability to cause prostate cells to grow. Such a result has been established through in vitro experiments.
This benefit is beyond finasteride, which has only been shown to block 5a-reductase activity and thus lower the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
Saw palmetto additionally has demonstrated in vitro spasmolytic effects on muscle tissues. One impact on BPH is increased smooth-muscle tone of the urethra and other pelvic floor muscles. This increased muscle tone may add to urethral spasms, which would account for some BPH symptoms. It is possible, although unproven, that saw palmetto extracts might relax these pelvic muscles and thereby reduce BPH symptoms.
Another theory is that saw palmetto extracts lessen estrogenic activity [chemicals that mimic naturally occurring estrogens) in the prostate. Estrogen is a factor that contributes to BPH because it increases intracellular DHT levels by slowing its elimination. With a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers at the University of Rome demonstrated that the anti-estrogenic and anti-androgenic actions exerted by saw palmetto extracts occur locally within the prostate, leaving serum levels of testosterone and estrogen unaffected.
Multiple mechanisms may contribute to saw palmetto’s effects. For instance, the herb’s anti-inflammatory properties are no doubt part of the equation. Saw palmetto extracts have been shown in vitro (lab tests) to inhibit the production of inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes. This effect could drastically reduce prostatic inflammation and BPH symptoms since the condition is associated with non-infectious inflammation. The swelling that is a consequence of this inflammation could explain the enlargement and some BPH symptoms.
Regardless of the causes of action, many clinical trials uphold the effectiveness of saw palmetto extracts for BPH treatment. There have been
at least seven (7) randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled experiments. All but one had positive outcomes with increasing urinary flow rate, reducing post-void residual urine volume, and lessening urinary frequency. On the other hand, none of the studies included a one-year follow-up, which is regarded as necessary to establish true efficacy.
*Considering the historical uses of saw palmetto and the current in vitro and clinical research data, the herb’s efficacy is undeniable. Although its method of action is not fully understood presently, saw palmetto extracts are undoubtedly effective at lessening BPH symptoms. The dose used in all the studies is 160 mg twice daily of the liposterolic extract, containing 85 to 95 percent free fatty acids. This concentration corresponds to a dose of 34 g of dried berries daily.
There are relatively few side effects with saw palmetto therapy. Inconsequential adverse effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort, insomnia, dizziness, headache, and myalgia have been reported. High doses can cause diarrhea. Patients with hormone-dependent cancer should schedule a consultation with their physician before taking saw palmetto.
As more information about this herb becomes known, its efficacy in other conditions will be explored.
Until then, using saw palmetto to treat BPH may be a safe and effective alternative to prescription medications and surgery for many men.
Other Health Benefits of Saw Palmetto
Prevents hair loss
Hair loss is a widespread condition that can be triggered by an assortment of factors, consisting of genetics, hormonal changes, specified medical conditions, and the use of medications, such as stimulants and blood thinners (reference).
Saw palmetto is frequently used to stabilize hormone concentrations and fight hair loss.
According to one study, saw palmetto can help block the activity of 5-alpha reductase (5α-R), an enzyme that converts testosterone into a hormone linked to hair loss called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
It may additionally prevent hair loss by reducing DHT uptake in the hair follicles and decreasing its ability to attach to specific hormone receptors.
In another study, saw palmetto was successful at increasing hair growth in 60% of men with male pattern baldness between the ages of 23 and 64.
Another study in 62 adults showed that applying saw palmetto topically for three (3) months increased hair density by 35%.
Improves urinary tract function
Urinary tract indicators and symptoms are frequent among older men and can include issues such as incontinence and difficulty urinating (reference).
Saw palmetto may improve urinary symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
One 12-week study in 92 men showed that taking two capsules daily of Prostataplex, a mixture of herbal supplements that include saw palmetto, helped improve urinary tract symptoms associated with BPH (reference).
In the same way, another trial with 85 men over the age of 45 found that treatment with 160 mg of saw palmetto twice daily reduced lower urinary tract symptoms, increased urine flow, and improved overall quality of life after six (6) months (reference).
On the other hand, more research is required to verify whether saw palmetto can additionally improve urinary tract function in the general population, including those without prostate issues.
Can decrease inflammation
Saw palmetto contains the antioxidants epicatechin and methyl gallate, which decrease inflammation, prevent damage to cells, and protect against chronic disease (reference, reference)
Some studies show that saw palmetto might have anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial in treating certain conditions.
For instance, one study noted that giving saw palmetto extract to mice that had enlarged prostate glands decreased swelling and several markers of inflammation, including interleukin 6 (IL-6).
Another study in obese rats with BPH found that saw palmetto effectively decreased inflammation and improved antioxidant status.
Although these results are promising, additional studies are needed to determine how saw palmetto may impact inflammation in humans.
Can help regulate testosterone levels
Saw palmetto is frequently used by men looking to increase testosterone levels naturally.
Adjusting testosterone levels can influence numerous health facets, including sex drive, mood, cognition, and body composition (reference).
Testosterone levels wane with age, and some research shows that low testosterone levels can be a factor for conditions like heart disease (reference).
Saw palmetto works by decreasing the activity of 5α-R — an enzyme liable for converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), another sex hormone, to help preserve testosterone levels in the body (reference).
One test-tube (Vetro) research established that the effectiveness of saw palmetto extract was comparable to finasteride in preserving testosterone levels. Finasteride is a medication used to treat hair loss and BPH by reducing the activity of 5α-R (reference).
Another study in 40 men discerned that treatment with saw palmetto decreased levels of DHT by 32% after six (6) months, indicating that saw palmetto was effective at sustaining testosterone levels (reference).
Positive research indicates that saw palmetto can assist with increasing testosterone levels, improving prostate health, reducing inflammation, preventing hair loss, and enhancing urinary tract function.
Saw Palmetto can have a positive effect on maintaining good male health.
Availability and dosage recommendations
Where to buy Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto is extensively available [paid link] in supplement form, making it vastly easy to add to a daily routine.
It is available in tablet, soft gel, and capsule form and is frequently combined with other ingredients that assist with enhancing prostate health, such as pumpkin seed extract (reference).
Less frequently, it may also be found in dried, liquid extract, ground, or powdered tea form.
As for dosage, the majority of research conducted uses saw palmetto in dosages of 320 mg per day, usually divided into two doses.
It is recommended to ingest saw palmetto with food to minimize digestive issues and prevent adverse side effects.
Questions, comments, concerns, and experiences with Saw Palmetto are welcomed below.
Canning foods, a practice for preserving food, was invented in France in 1809 by Nicolas Appert. Although canning has been around for an extended time, the question that appears often is, is it safe? How healthy is canned food? This article looks at these questions and provides the answer.
What is Canning?
Canning is a technique for food preservation in which food is prepared and sealed in an airtight vessel such as a jar or can. An advantage is canning provides a shelf life that typically ranges from one to five years, although it can be much longer under specific circumstances.
Canning was first developed in the late 18th century to provide a stable food supply for soldiers and sailors during a war.
The canning method can vary slightly by the processed product, but there are three (3) key steps. These are:
Processing. The product is first chopped, boned, peeled, sliced, pitted, shelled, or cooked.
Sealing. Once the food is processed it is then sealed in cans.
Heating. Cans are heated to destroy dangerous bacteria and prevent spoilage.
This process allows food to be shelf-stable and safe for consumption for 1–5 years or longer.
Common canned foods consist of fruits, vegetables, soups, meats, beans, and seafood.
The Advantages of Canning
Canned foods are convenient, affordable, and have a long shelf life. Additionally, canned foods are an effective and practical way to add increased nutrient-dense foods to a diet.
The availability of safe, quality foods falls short in many parts of the world, and canning aids in ensuring that individuals have a means of access to a wide assortment of foods throughout the year.
Actually, one can find almost any food in a can today.
Additionally, because canned foods can be stored safely for several years and usually involve minimal prep time, they are very convenient.
Furthermore, they are inclined to be less costly than their fresh counterparts are.
How Nutritious are Canned Foods?
Many feel that canned food is not as nutritious as frozen or fresh food. However, that is not always the case. The canning process does not impact fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Fat-soluble vitamins and minerals are additionally not affected. The issue with canning is the excessive heat employed can destroy water-soluble vitamins, like Vitamin B and Vitamin C.
One of the more interesting effects of canning is that a few compounds in food can multiply. Corn and tomatoes are great examples, given that they discharge antioxidants when heated. In general, the nutrients of canned foods are similar to foods preserved through freezing or fresh food.
The Disadvantages of Canning
Canned foods can contain trace amounts of BPA.
BPA (bisphenol-A) is a chemical used in food packaging, including cans, to prevent corrosion.
Studies have shown that the BPA in canned food may migrate from the
can’s lining into the food it encloses.
One study examined seventy-eight (78) canned foods and discovered BPA in over 90% of them. In addition, research has made it apparent that eating canned food is a principal source of BPA exposure.
In one study, contributors who ingested one (1) serving of canned soup every day for five (5) days observed more than a 1,000% increase in BPA levels in their urine.
Even though the confirmation is mixed, some human studies have connected BPA to health issues such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and male sexual dysfunction.
For individuals attempting to reduce their exposure to BPA, consuming an excessive amount of canned goods is not the wisest way.
For individuals that have BPA concerns, the following steps can be taken to reduce exposure:
Use BPA-free products. Companies are increasingly producing BPA-free containers. One can look for products labeled as BPA-free. If a product is not marked as such, note that a few, but not all, plastics labeled with recycling code 3 or 7 can contain BPA.
Avoid the heat. Do not place plastic containers in the microwave or dishwasher since the heat can cause them to break down over time and permit BPA to seep into foods.
Cut down on cans. Decrease the use of canned foods.
Use alternatives. Use stainless steel, porcelain, or glass containers for hot foods and liquids as a replacement for plastic containers.
Additionally, be on the lookout for canned foods containing multiple ingredients, like ready-made soups and pasta, as they often come with higher sodium and sugar levels. They are also some of the most common items too boot.
According to the Canned Food Alliance, canned soups were the most obtained canned item in the United States at 420 million cans in 2018. Further, Americans bought 78.8 million cans of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup by itself in 2018. Also, note that a single can contains 2,175 mg of sodium. That is almost the entirety of the 2,300 mg recommended sodium intake.
Other canned foods to bypass are vegetables and fruit packed in brine or syrup. A study printed in 2014 in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine discovered that these canned products tend to lose phenolic compounds that make for the flavors, color, and some of the health properties in produce, antioxidants, for example. This result was particularly true if they had been peeled or skinned.
Choosing canned fruits and vegetables that are do not contain these liquids will assist in avoiding this loss. Instead, one should go for products that are packed in water or its natural juice.
Canned foods can contain deadly bacteria.
Although it is extremely rare, canned foods that have not been appropriately processed can develop hazardous bacteria known as
Ingesting tainted food can cause botulism, a severe illness that can lead to paralysis and death if left untreated.
Most cases of botulism come from foods that have not been appropriately canned at home. It is important to note that Botulism from commercially canned food is rare.
However, it is important to never eat from dented, cracked, bulging, or leaking cans.
Some canned foods include added sugar, salt, and or preservatives.
Sugar, salt, and preservatives are occasionally added throughout the canning practice.
Some canned foods may have excess salt. Although this does not pose a health threat for the majority of individuals, it may be challenging for others, such as those with high blood pressure.
They can also include added sugar, which can also have harmful effects.
Excess sugar has been linked with an amplified probability of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. An assortment of additional natural or chemical preservatives may be included as well.
How to Choose the Right Canned Foods
It is wise to study the label on canned foods as well as the list of ingredients, as with all foods,
For individuals concerned about salt, choose the low sodium or no salt added option. Draining the fluid contents from and rinsing foods can additionally lower their salt and sugar contents.
In order to avoid excess sugar, fruits that are canned in water or juice instead of syrup is a viable option.
Some canned foods do not include any added ingredients in any way. However, the only way to know with certainty is to examine the ingredient list.
The Bottom Line
Canned foods can be a viable nutritious option when fresh foods are not accessible, as they provide essential nutrients and are incredibly convenient. Therefore, canned foods can be a part of a healthy diet, but it is critical to read labels and ingredient lists and choose accordingly. Bear in mind, that not all canned foods are created equal.
Also, understand that canned foods are also a considerable source of BPA, which can cause health issues.
Remember the necessity to read the labels.
Questions, comments, concerns, or experiences with canned food are welcomed below.
When was the last time you had a serving of beets? If you are like me, it has been a while. Yet, beets are one of the most nutritious vegetables around. Therefore, it is vital to know the value of beets.
What are Beets?
Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) is a root vegetable known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet, or plain beet.
Full of vital nutrients, beetroots are an excellent source of folate (vitamin B9), manganese, fiber, iron, potassium, and vitamin C.
Beetroots, as well as beetroot juice, have been linked with abundant health benefits, including lower blood pressure, improved blood flow, and improved exercise function. A lot of these beneficial results are due to their high content of inorganic nitrates.
Beetroots can be consumed raw but are more frequently cooked or pickled. Their leaves, known as beet greens, may also be eaten.
There are various forms of beetroot, several of which are notable by their color: dark purple, pink, white, or yellow.
What is the Nutritional Value of Beets?
Beets primarily consist of water (87%), fiber (2–3%), and carbs (8%).
One cup (136 grams) of boiled beetroot contains fewer than 60 calories, while 3/4 cup (100 grams) of raw beets boasts the following nutrients according to the USDA:
Carbs: 9.6 grams
Fat: 0.2 grams
Fiber: 2.8 grams
Protein: 1.6 grams
Sugar: 6.8 grams
Cook or uncooked beetroot yields about 8–10% carbs.
Simple sugars — such as glucose and fructose — make up 70% and 80% of the carbs in raw and cooked beetroots, respectively.
Beetroots are additionally a resource of fructans — short-chain carbs classified as FODMAPs. Some individuals are unable to digest FODMAPs, producing disagreeable digestive symptoms.
Beetroots have a glycemic index (GI) score of 61, which is measured as medium. The GI is a gauge of how quickly blood sugar levels rise after consuming a meal.
Alternatively, the glycemic drain of beetroots is only 5, which is very low.
This low number indicates that beetroots should not have a significant consequence on blood sugar levels in view of the fact that the total amount of carbs in each serving is minimal.
Beetroots have substantial quantities of fiber, yielding approximately 2–3 grams in each 3/4-cup (100-gram) raw serving.
Dietary fiber is essential as part of a healthy diet and is connected to a reduced risk of a variety of diseases.
Vitamins and Minerals
Beetroots are an excellent resource for many crucial vitamins and minerals such as:
Vitamin C. This well-known vitamin is an antioxidant that is central to immune function and skin health.
Folate (vitamin B9). One of the B vitamins, folate, is vital for average tissue growth and cell function. It is indispensable for pregnant women.
Manganese. An essential trace element, manganese, is originated in elevated amounts in whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits.
Potassium. A diet regime high in potassium can reduce blood pressure levels and positively affect heart health.
Iron. A crucial mineral, iron, has many vital functions in the body. It is required for the transport of oxygen in red blood cells.
What are the Health Benefits of Beets?
Now that we have seen the nutritional value of beets, what are the benefits to health? There are many health benefits of eating beets that are impressive and supported by science. Some of them are as follows:
Assists with controlling blood pressure – Heart disease, consisting of heart attacks, stroke, and heart failure, are one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Elevated blood pressure is one of the primary risk factors for the progress of these conditions.
Studies have shown that beets can considerably reduce blood pressure by up to 4–10 mmHg after a period of only a few hours.
The result tends to be greater for systolic blood pressure, which is when the heart contracts, than diastolic blood pressure, or pressure when the heart is relaxed. The effect may also be more substantial for raw beets than cooked beets.
These blood-pressure-lowering results are most likely due to the high concentration of nitrates in beets. In the body, dietary nitrates convert to nitric oxide, which is a molecule that dilates blood vessels, producing a blood pressure drop.
It is important to note that blood nitrate levels continue to be elevated for about six (6) hours after consuming a dietary nitrate. Therefore, beets only temporarily affect blood pressure, and regular consumption is required to experience long-term reductions in blood pressure (reference).
Can enhance athletic performance – Several reviews have recommended that dietary nitrates may improve athletic performance. Because of this reason, beets are frequently consumed by athletes.
Nitrates seem to have an effect on physical performance by improving the efficiency of mitochondria, which are responsible for producing energy in the cells.
Two (2) studies included seven and eight men who consumed 17 ounces (500 ml) of beet juice every day for six days extended time to exhaustion during high-intensity exercise by 15–25%, which is a 1–2% improvement in overall improved performance.
Consuming beets may additionally improve cycling and athletic performance and increase oxygen use by up to 20%.
One(1) small study of nine (9) competitive cyclists observed the result of 17 ounces (500 ml) of beetroot juice on cycling time trial performance over 2.5 and 10 miles (4 and 16.1 km). The result was, drinking beetroot juice enhanced performance by 2.8% over the 2.5-mile (4-km) time trial and 2.7% over the 10-mile (16.1-km) trial.
It is significant to note that blood nitrate levels max out within 2–3 hours. Therefore, it is best to consume beets 2–3 hours before training or competing to maximize their potential.
May Help Fight Inflammation – Chronic inflammation is connected with several diseases, for example, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and liver disease (reference).
Beets have pigments called betalains, which may potentially possess several anti-inflammatory properties (reference). Though, most of the research in this area has been conducted on rats. Further, beetroot juice and beetroot extract have been shown to reduce kidney inflammation in rats that were injected with toxic chemicals that are known to induce serious injury.
One study in individuals with osteoarthritis demonstrated that betalain capsules produced with beetroot extract decreased pain and discomfort linked with the condition.
While these studies propose that beets have an anti-inflammatory effect, more human studies are required to verify whether beets can be used to reduce inflammation.
Can advance digestive health – Dietary fiber is an essential element of a healthy diet. It has been connected to various health benefits, including
enhanced digestion. Beetroot has a substantial quantity of fiber. One (1) cup of beetroot contains 3.4 grams of fiber, making beets a good quality fiber resource.
Fiber evades digestion and travels directly to the colon, where it either nourishes the friendly gut bacteria or adds bulk to stool. This action can encourage digestive health, keep the body regular and avert digestive conditions such as constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and diverticulitis.
In addition, fiber has been connected to a narrowed risk of chronic diseases, including colon cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Can support brain health – Mental and cognitive performance organically regress with age.
For some individuals, this decline is considerable and can result in situations like dementia. A decrease in blood flow and oxygen source to the brain can contribute to this decline.
However, the nitrates in beets can improve mental and cognitive function by advancing the expanding of blood vessels and therefore escalating blood flow to the brain.
In studies, beets have been shown to mainly improve blood flow to the brain’s frontal lobe, an area associated with higher-level thinking, such as decision-making and working memory.
In addition, one report on individuals with type 2 diabetes observed the effect of beets on simple reaction time, which is a measure of cognitive function. During a computer-based cognitive function test, simple reaction time was 4% faster in individuals who consumed 8.5 ounces (250 ml) of beetroot juice every day for two (2) weeks than the placebo.
On the other hand, whether beets can be used in a clinical setting to advance brain function and decrease the risk of dementia is yet to be seen.
Can contain some anti-cancer properties – Cancer is a severe and potentially lethal disease typified by the unrestrained growth of cells.
The antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory nature of beets have caused interest in their capability to avoid cancer. Nevertheless, the current evidence is relatively incomplete.
Beetroot extract has been verified to diminish the division and growth of tumor cells in animals. One test-tube study using human cells established that beetroot extract, which is high in betalain pigments, decreased the growth of prostate and breast cancer cells.
It is essential to communicate that these studies were performed in isolated human cells and rats. Therefore, further research is required to determine if whether similar effects would be found in living humans.
Can aid with weight loss – Beets have some nutritional properties that can benefit weight loss.
Primarily, beets are low in calories and high in water. Therefore, increasing the intake of low-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables has been coupled with weight loss. Beets are no exception.
In addition, in spite of their low-calorie content, beets have moderate quantities of protein and fiber. Both of these are essential nutrients for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
The fiber in beets can additionally help support weight loss by decreasing appetite and advance feelings of fullness, consequently reducing overall calorie intake.
Although no studies have wholly tested the effects of beets on weight, adding beets to a diet can probably aid in weight loss.
The following is not a health benefit, but it is good to know.
Beets are not only nutritious, they are also really delicious and easy to include in a diet. They can be pickled, roasted, juiced, or steamed. They can also be purchased pre-cooked and canned for convenience.
When purchasing fresh, choose beets that are heavy for their size with fresh, unwilted green leafy tops still attached.
Dietary nitrates are water-soluble; therefore, it is best not to boil beets to make the most of their nitrate content.
Beets yield some notable health benefits.
Specifically, they are low in calories and an excellent resource of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C. They additionally contain nitrates and pigments that can help lower blood pressure and improve athletic execution.
Finally, beets are versatile, and delicious fitting well into a healthy and balanced diet.
Any questions, comments, concerns, or experience with beets can be left below.