Sprouting at Home

30 Aug

Health Benefits of Sprouts and Microgreens

What are sprouts and microgreens?

Sprouts are seeds that have been germinated.  This means that the seed has begun to grow.  Microgreens are the immature greens that can develop from these seeds.  They may contain leaves and start to look like small plants.  Microgreens emerge 7-14 days after germination.

Why should we eat sprouts and microgreens?

Sprouts and microgreens contain higher concentrations of vitamins and carotenoids than the mature plant into which they would develop (source).  They also contain high concentrations of phytochemicals, cancer fighting compounds (source).

Raw foodies tout sprouts as being a “predigested” food which they believe allows our bodies to better extract nutrients.  However, there aren’t any reputable sources supporting this.

Health risks

There has been much publicity about the health concerns associated with eating sprouts.

At least 40 outbreaks of foodborne illnesses have been linked to sprouts since 1973.  These outbreaks were likely due to seeds getting contaimned by animal manure which lead to bacterial growth.  This is why you should sprout yourself!

Note:  High risk groups should avoid eating raw sprouts, especially alfalfa sprouts and mung bean sprouts

(source)

You can do it yourself!

 

What can you sprout?

Pretty much any whole seed (see here)

What are the steps?

How I sprout (using wheat berries as an example):

1.  Rinse the wheat berries very well.

2.  Let them soak in filtered water for about 20 minutes.

3.  Pour off extra water and transfer seeds into a mason jar.

4.  Here is where you can get technical and buy sprouting jars….or use a pair of pantyhose.  I take the pantyhose and put them over the lid of the mason jar and secure them with a hairband.  I put the mason jar on a slight slant (prop up with a towel) to let excess water drain into the sink.

5.  Let sit 12 hours and then rinse and repeat.

6.  Continue for about 2-3 days until the seeds sprout and you see little “tails.”

7.  Put in fridge to eat raw, on salads, oatmeal, etc.

Note:  Each type of seed requires different amounts of time to soak and sprout.  You can learn more here

Question:

Do you eat sprouts?  Do you buy them or sprout your own?

Topics in Aromatherapy-Argan Oil

27 Mar

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang,shea butterpatchouli, kokum butter and avocado oil.  This week, we are going to talk about argan oil.

What is argan oil?

Argan oil is derived from the kernels of the argan tree (see above) that is endemic to Morocco  (source).  This oil is unique as it is mainly composed of  mono-unsaturated (up to 80%) fatty acids(source).  The oil is also very high in gamma -tocopherol (Vitamin E)(source) and have a high level of oleic and linoleic acids and phenols

What are the health benefits of argan oil?

Argan oil has shown to:

  • Reduces cardiovascular risk and may be  anti-atherogenic  (source)
  • Posess strong chemopreventive and anti-inflammatory properties likely due to its high Vitamin E content (source)
  • Perhaps have the ability to decrease the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation (which leads to atherosclerosis) in type 2 diabetes patients with dyslipidemia(source)
  • Perhaps have a role in reducing weight loss in diabetics, and even in inhibiting the development or progression of diabetes.(source)
  • Improve some of the metabolic and insulin signaling abnormalities associated with high fat feeding (in mice) (source)
  • Perhaps have the ability to prevent prostate cancer (source)
  • Have the ability to lower triglycerides in men (source)

How can I use it?

Argan oil is commonly used by Moroccans in the cooking as well as body care.  It is used to  treat damaged, dry or brittle hair  (source) and can be used in lotions and other body care products.
My hairdresser uses it but that is the only time I have ever seen it.
A really neat feature is that argan oil is made largely by a Argan Co-operative  which is a group consisting only of women in Morocco which manufactures oil on a large scale (source)
Question?
Have you ever heard of argan oil?

Topics in Aromatherapy-Avocado Oil

20 Mar

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang,shea butter, patchouli and kokum butter.

This week, we are going to talk about Avocado oil.

What is avocado oil?

Avocado oil is  pressed from the pulp around the avocado’s pit (source)

What health benefits are linked to avocado oil?

Avocados have been known to have lots of health fats, nutrients and anti-oxidants (source) in them.  Even though they have a lot of calories per serving, these calories come from fats that are good for you and may even help you loose weight.

The oil from the avocado is used is cosmetics and touted as good for your skin due to  Vitamin A, B1, B2, D, and E,  amino acids, sterols, pantothenic acid, lecithin, and other essential fatty acids. It is believed to be beneficial for those with sensitive skin or problem skin (source)

There have not been many studies looking at the supposed health claims of avocado oil for cosmetic purposes, however, one study found that a vitamin B(12) cream with avocado oil could be a  well-tolerated, long-term topical therapy of psoriasis (source)

How can I use avocado oil?

Avocado oil is a carrier oil which means essential oils can be diluted into this oil to be added to lotions, shampoos, etc.

Question?

Have you ever bought a product with avocado oil in it?  If so, what product was it?  Did you think it make your skin look or feel healthier?

Spicing your way to health with Garlic!

15 Mar

Welcome to the third post of my blog series, “Spicing your way to Health.”  In this series, we will focus on spices with documented health benefits and discuss easy and delicious ways you can add these spices to your everyday eating.  So far, we have  talked about curcumin and cinnamon.  Today, we are going to talk about garlic! 

What is garlic?

Allium sativum, garlic, is a member of the onion genus, Allium. It is closely related to the onion, shallot, leek and chive.

What are the health benefits of garlic?

Garlic has tons of healthy phytochemicals in it to help prevent and treat disease.  Lots of peer-reviewed articles have been written about the health benefits of garlic.

Here is a sampling of those studies:

  • Garlic supplementation reduced the accumulation of cholesterol in  animals (source)
  • Garlic extract has shown to improve blood lipid profile and decrease blood pressure (source)
  • Garlic inhibits platelet aggregation and, thus, may help prevent cardiovascular disease (source)
  • Garlic has favorable effects on cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and HDL-cholesterol (source)
  • Garlic has been used by herbalists for  hoarseness and coughs (source)
  • Garlic plus an anti-diabetic remedy improved glycemic control  (source)
  • A garlic based  mouthwash proved to be antimicrobial (but left the subjects with bad breath!) (source)
  • Garlic is anti-fungal (source)

Toxicity

Some people are allergic to garlic.

As a general rule, it’s never a good idea to take a herbal supplement for the same condition you are taking a pharmaceutical for, unless you are being supervised by a physician.

Question?
There are so many ways to eat garlic.  What’s your favorite way?  Have you ever tried to roast garlic?

Topics in Aromatherapy-Kokum Butter

13 Mar

Kokum Butter

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang,shea butter and patchouli.

This week, we are going to talk about kokum butter.

What is kokum butter?

Kokum butter is obtained from the Indian tree Garcinia indica. (source).  This tree is commonly known as kokum and has various names across India, including aamsol, aamsul, bindin, biran, bhirand, bhinda, bhrinda, brinda, bin’na, kokum (alternate spellings kokam and cocum), katambi, looikya, sour apple, panarpuli, ratamba (source)

Kokum fruit

The fruit is dried in the sun to get the spice aamsul or kokam which is a blackish-red color and used in dishes such as lentil soup (source).

What health benefits does it have?

According to Mountain Rose Herbs, a supplier of numerous natural products:

Kokum Butter is rich in essential fatty acids, which aid in cell oxygenation and make nutrients more readily available for use by skin tissues. Kokum Butter also contains antioxidant vitamin E.  Kokum Butter is a non-comedogenic (non pore-clogging) material that aids quick absorption and adds a premium texture to your cream emulsions. Kokum Butter helps regenerate tired and worn skin cells and supports skin elasticity and general flexibility of the skin wall. It has been used traditionally in India to soften skin and restore elasticity and as a balm for dry, cracked, rough and calloused skin. It is also beneficial for the treatment of many different conditions, such as:

  • Helps prevent dry skin and wrinkles
  • Helps regenerate skin cells (Source)

I looked to see if I could find any scientific literature backing up these claims, but I couldn’t find anything.

How can I use it?

Also according to Mountain Rose Herbs:

With its relatively higher melt point, it melts slightly at skin temperatures making it ideal for lipsticks and balms; it‘s also a great addition to bar soaps and skin lotions and may be easily incorporated into Lotions, Creams, and Body Butters. It is also wonderful to use in the summer as a moisturizer before and after sun exposure to reduce possibility of the skin peeling or becoming dried out.  Use as an addition to:

  • Creams, lotions, balms
  • Cosmetic foundations
  • Lipsticks
  • Conditioners
  • Moisturizers(Source)

I have been thinking about buying some kokum butter with which to make lotion.  I currently use shea butter, but shea butter is not very conducive to adding essential oils to.  Has anyone ever used kokum butter to make their own lotion?

Question?

Have you ever bought anything with kokum butter in it?  If so, what?

Spicing your way to health with Cinnamon

8 Mar

Welcome to the second post of my blog series, “Spicing your way to Health.”  In this series, we will focus on spices with documented health benefits and discuss easy and delicious ways you can add these spices to your everyday eating.  Last week, we talked about curcumin.  Today, we are going to talk about Cinnamon!

What is cinnamon?

Cinnamon is obtained from the bark of trees from the genus Cinnamomum.  These trees are native to South East Asia (source)

Actually, several species are sold as “cinnamon.”  From Wikipedia:

  • Cinnamomum verum (“True cinnamon”, Sri Lanka cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon)
  • C. burmannii (Korintje or Indonesian cinnamon)
  • C. loureiroi (Saigon cinnamon or Vietnamese cinnamon)
  • C. aromaticum (Cassia or Chinese cinnamon) (source)

The flavor of cinnamon is due to is essential oil which makes up about 1% of its composition (source)

What health benefits does cinnamon have?

Several studies have been carried out in vitro and in vivo concerning cinnamon.  Cinnamon has shown to:

  • Have activity against HIV-1 and HIV-2 (source)
  • Have some cancer preventing activity in colon cancer cells (source)
  • Impair melanoma cell proliferation, invasiveness, and tumor growth (source)
  • Improve fasting blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes(source)
  • Perhaps have some role in neuroprotection (source)
  • Have effects against obesity and insulin resistance (source)

How can you eat cinnamon?

I don’t think you need any suggestions on how to eat cinnamon.  Although you can buy it in pill form, why not just sprinkle some on your coffee:

put some in pumpkin pie:

make a satay sauce:

add some to oatmeal:

or try the cinnamon challenge:

Question?

What is your favorite way to eat cinnamon?  Did you know it had so many health benefits?

Topics in Aromatherapy-Patchouli

6 Mar

Patchouli

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang and shea butter.

This week, we are going to talk about Patchouli.

Patchouli is a herb of the mint family that has small, pale pink-white flowers. The plant grows natively in Asia and is cultivated in China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Taiwan, the Philippines,Thailand, and Vietnam and West Africa.

This herb is used in perfume and in products such as paper towels, laundry detergents, and air fresheners (source).

What studies have been done on Patchouli?

Patchouli has shown to be able to:

  • Protection against influenza infection in mice (source)
  • Be anti-inflammatory (source)
  • Act as a mosquito repellent (source)

Patchouli is is currently used in aromatherapy to help fever, headache, nausea, vomit, diarrhea, skin infections and bad breath as well as act as an aphrodisiac (source) but I couldn’t find any reputable sources proving these functions.

Question?

Have you ever heard of patchouli?  If so, in what products have you used it?

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