Series Part 3: Calcium, the Super Nutrient most of us are missing

This is Part 3 in my series:  4 Anti Aging Super Nutrients and the foods that contain them…

Calcium is essential to our very existence.  Despite the well known benefits and necessity of Calcium, most people get less than half of the daily recommended dosage.  Calcium has a laundry list of benefits:  Fueling bone growth and strength, lower blood pressure, heart health, cancer prevention, prevention of kidney stones and weight management. These anti aging properties of calcium easily land it in our Super Anti Aging Nutrient list.  Adults over 25 need 1000mg of Calcium per day.

Anti Aging Super Nutrient - Calcium
Anti Aging Super Nutrient - Calcium

When asked what foods contain calcium, most of us list milk, ice cream, cheese, and some fruits and veggies.  We all know that we need adequate amounts of calcium in our diet for strong bones and teeth.
Milk: although homogenized and pasteurized milk does have high amounts of this important mineral, it is generally not well absorbed or utilized in the body.  The good news is that there are many other great foods high in calcium that are easy to incorporate into your daily diet.

 

The following list offers you healthy sources of foods high in calcium:

1. Sesame Seeds

Sesame Seeds - Calcium
Sesame Seeds - Calcium

These white little seed-wonders are very high in calcium, as well as other important vitamins and minerals.  Raw sesame seeds possess almost 1000 mg of calcium per 100g serving.

 

 

2. Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds - Calcium
Chia Seeds - Calcium

Many people are unaware that chia seeds are very high in calcium (as well as the beneficial Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids needed for health). A 3.5 ounce serving can provide about 631mg of calcium.

 

 

 

3. Dark leafy greens

Dark Leafy Greens - Calcium
Dark Leafy Greens - Calcium

From greens to spinach to kale, getting our calcium from dark green leafy vegetables is an excellent health choice. Spinach ranks very high in calcium, with 291 grams of calcium per cup. A 100g serving of collards packs a 145 mg calcium punch. One cup of steamed bok choy has around 158 mg of the mineral. Kale ranks in with 139mg of calcium and the spicy mustard green has 103mg of calcium per 100g serving.

 

 

 

4. Flax Seeds

Flax Seeds - Calcium
Flax Seeds - Calcium

Not only high in calcium (256mg per 100g serving), flax seeds are also rich in omega-3 fats. Make sure to use ground or whole flax seeds, as the refined flaxseed oil loses its calcium levels during processing. Flax seeds are a great way to improve your intestinal health.

 

 

5. Quinoa

Quinoa - Calcium
Quinoa - Calcium

A light and healthy whole grain, one cup of cooked quinoa offers approximately 60-100 mg of calcium, not to mention a high amount of potassium, zinc and protein.

 

 

6. Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap Molasses - Calcium
Blackstrap Molasses - Calcium

This is an excellent sweetener for teas and baked goods. High in multiple vitamins and minerals, one tablespoon of this thick dark molasses will give you 172 mg of your daily calcium needs. Try it in your morning cup of organic tea or coffee.

 

 

 

7. Oranges

Oranges - Calcium
Oranges - Calcium

One cup of freshly-squeezed organic orange juice offers approximately 72 mg of calcium. Not to mention plenty of vitamin c, which will significantly improve the amount of calcium your body absorbs. Besides vitamin c and calcium, oranges are also a great source for potassium, vitamin A and beta carotene.

 

 

8. Beans

Beans - Calcium
Beans - Calcium

Many common beans are high in calcium. Winged beans possess 442mg of calcium per 100g serving. Many white beans are very high in calcium. Most white beans have approximately 175mg of calcium per serving. Navy beans are also a great source of calcium, with 127 mg per cup. These beans make an excellent soup base, when our bones most need the support of calcium.

 

 

9. Broccoli

Brocolli - Calcium
Brocolli - Calcium

One cup of these green florets offers approximately 74 mg of calcium, along with 120mg of Vitamin C which will help your body absorb the calcium. Broccoli also contains a high amount of vitamin K, vitamin A, folate and dietary fiber.

 

 

 

10. Dried Fruits & Nuts

Dried Fruits & Nuts - Calcium
Dried Fruits & Nuts - Calcium

Many dried fruits are high in calcium. In fact, eating five dried figs per day gives you 135 mg of calcium. Almonds are also extremely high in calcium. Raw, or ground into nut butter, almonds hold 266mg of calcium per 100g.

 

 

11. Dried Herbs

Dried Herbs - Calcium
Dried Herbs - Calcium

Who would have thought that adding dried herbs to your dishes would increase your calcium intake? Dried savory spice holds a whopping 2132mg of calcium per 100g serving. Other dried herbs that are calcium rich include dill, basil, marjoram, thyme, oregano, poppy seed, mint, celery seed, sage, parsley and rosemary.

 

Other Sources of Calcium

There are many other ways to get calcium in your diet. If you decide to supplement your diet with a high-quality calcium supplement, I would recommend taking calcium orotate.

~ Barbara

Series Part 2: Vitamin D, the Anti Aging Super Vitamin

This is Part 2 in my series:  4 Anti Aging Super Nutrients and the foods that contain them…

Anti Aging Super Nutrient - Vitamin D
Anti Aging Super Nutrient - Vitamin D

The proper daily dosage (1000mg) of Vitamin D is linked to a vast number of benefits, many of which affect the aging:  Preventing cancer, reducing heart problems and fighting inflamation.  Its linked to preventing multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, infection rates and boosting general immune system health.  Vitamin D has been marked as essential for preventing diseases. Its a no-brainer that this vitamin makes it into our list of Anti Aging Super Nutrients.

Although there are many foods in the supermarket that have been fortified with a synthetic form of Vitamin D, there are only a select number of foods containing vitamin D in them naturally.  Normally, our body takes in Vitamin D in the form of sun-synthesis through the skin. But in our modern times, our actual exposure to the sun is limited. This fact may be a principle cause of many ailments, including depression.  For this reason, it is extremely important to have a diet high in Vitamin D or take a Vitamin D supplement.

Shiitake Mushrooms - Vitamin D
Shiitake Mushrooms - Vitamin D

1. Shiitake & Button Mushrooms:
Surprisingly, the dried versions of shiitake mushrooms are high in Vitamin D. This may be due to the fact that these mushrooms are adept at sucking up sunlight. Shiitake is also rich in B Vitamins like B1 & B2. Make sure that you find mushrooms that have been dried in the sun, not by some artificial means, in order to extract the benefits of high Vitamin D content.

2. Mackerel:
A small, 3½ ounce portion of this Omega-3 rich fish will give you 90% of the recommended daily amount. Currently, the FDA recommends that we eat more of these oily fishes to infuse our bodies with the vitamins and omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA’s) that our body cannot produce on its own.

Sockeye Salmon - Vitamin D
Sockeye Salmon - Vitamin D

3. Sockeye Salmon:
A small 3½ ounces portion of cooked salmon will give you 90% of the Dietary Reference Intake for Vitamin D.   Make sure to purchase salmon that has been caught from the wild, if not, then sustainably farmed. Salmon eat zooplankton, an excellent source of the important vitamin.

 

Herring - Vitamin D
Herring - Vitamin D

4. Herring:
Fish like herring are so high in vitamin D because they are the part of our food chain that thrive on plankton, which is chocked full of the vitamin.

5. Sardines:
Sardines are one of the best foods containing Vitamin D. One small tin can of sardines will provide you with approximately 70% of your daily needs. These tiny canned fish are also a great source for Vitamin B12, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, protein and selenium.

6. Catfish:
Again, another fish that makes a habit of feeding on plankton, catfish are constantly taking in minuscule sea life that creates vitamin D from sunlight.

Tuna - Vitamin D
Tuna - Vitamin D

7. Tuna fish:
Eat 3 ounces of tuna daily for 50% of your Vitamin D needs. Fresh, wild-caught tuna is the most nutritious. Remember, eating oily fish can also lubricate the body with “good fats,” providing a host of health benefits to your body, like better memory and brain function.

8. Cod Liver Oil:
If you can stomach the strong aroma, this oil is super-rich in sunlight Vitamin D. This marvelously golden, yet terrible-tasting oil is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Incorporating this oil into your diet will help you increase your bones ability to stay strong and healthy. Because of its high Vitamin D content, cod liver oil has also been shown to prevent osteoporosis in adult, improve brain function and optimize the functioning of the nervous system. What is more, the oil holds 10,000 IUs of vitamin D. One tablespoon of the oil provides more than enough Vitamin D for the day.

Eggs - Vitamin D
Eggs - Vitamin D

9. Eggs:
Eggs are another food containing vitamin D  BUT in small amounts. Eating one egg will provide you with approximately 10% of your daily needs. Look for free-range eggs from a local farm, if possible.

10. Sunshine:
Okay, we know it’s not a food, but daily “doses” of sunshine can seriously up your Vitamin D intake. In fact, this vitamin has actually been referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’. Light hitting the skin from the sun’s rays stimulates the production of this vitamin and hormone. This is great news for those of us that can take a sun-bath daily. But for those of us in colder, cloudier climates, we can up our intake from the foods we eat.

Health Benefits of Vitamin D

There are many reasons to stock up on foods containing vitamin D. Health benefits of the vitamin include:

  • The prevention of chronic diseases such as many forms of cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension.
  • The protection and lubrication of your bones, teeth and hair.
  • The regulation of cellular growth and healthy cell activity
  • Overall reduction of the inflammatory response, a condition known to cause many chronic diseases, from cancer to diabetes to obesity.
  • Protection against adult osteoporosis
  • Reduction in the risk of breast cancer in perimenopausal women
  • Significant reduction in the occurrence of prostate cancer in African-American men

As I mentioned above, if you are a vegetarian or don’t eat fish, you can still get the same benefits by taking a vitamin d supplement or make sure to get plenty of sun on a daily basis.
~ Barbara

Series Part 1: Probiotics – The latest buzz in nutrients

This is Part 1 in my series:  4 Anti Aging Super Nutrients and the foods that contain them…

Anti Aging Super Nutrient - Probiotics
Anti Aging Super Nutrient - Probiotics

Have you heard about Probiotics?  I have.  It’s posted on blogs, discussed on Dr. Oz, shared from friend to friend……so what exactly is going on?

Apparently, as we age, our digestive systems slow down and their overall health status is dependent on our eating habits.  Well…I have had many periods where my eating habits would not be listed under ‘healthy’ living.  Plus I have inherited a little problem called IBS – irritable bowel syndrome which had gotten worse as I age.  So, when I heard about probiotics and their benefits, I decided to investigate.

According to Wikipedia, probiotics are live microorganisms that provide a strong health benefit when digested in adequate amounts.  Today, specific health effects are being investigated and documented including alleviation of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases, prevention and treatment of pathogen-induced diarhhea, urogenital infections, and atopic diseases.

In my studies, I learned that probiotics are friendly – live – bacteria found in the intestinal tract.  There are trillions of bacteria types in our colon; good ones and bad ones.  Warding off the bad by consuming the good allows our intestinal wall to construct a barrier against the bad.  Probiotics do this job and more: current evidence suggests that they may help in weight loss.  Current research states that one part of the obesity problem many are facing may be an imbalance of bacteria.  Adding probiotic foods daily will help balance your digestive system, resulting in an overall increase in the efficiency of digestion.

Ok, that did it for me.  Now – where do I find probiobic foods and how much do I need to eat?  It was far simpler that I expected.  While there is no RDA given for probiotics; recommended levels to maintain health, a count of 5-10 billion is adequate. Sound like a lot?  I thought it did until I realized that there are 17 billion probiotics in a 6 oz. serving of yogurt.  This is doable.

The TOP 10 PROBIOTIC foods:
Recommendation: 2 daily servings.

1. Yogurt
(6 oz. container = 1 serving)

One of the best probiotic foods is live-cultured yogurt, especially handmade. Low-fat is best; it can be plain, fruit flavored, or Greek-style. Look for brands made from goat milk that has been infused with extra forms of probitoics like lactobacillus or acidophilus. Goat’s milk and cheese are particularly high in probiotics like thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. Love milk? Try low-fat acidophilus milk – it tastes like low-fat milk! (1 cup = 1 daily serving)

2. Kefir
(1 cup = 1 serving)

Similar to yogurt, great for making smoothies, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of goat milk and fermented grains. High in lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria, Kefir is also rich in antioxidants. Look for a good, organic version at your local health food shop.

3. Sauerkraut
(1/2 cup – 1 serving)  Made from fermented cabbage (as well as other vegetables), sauerkraut is not only extremely rich in healthy live cultures, but also aids in reducing allergy symptoms. Sauerkraut is also rich in vitamins B, A, E and C.

4. Dark Chocolate

Yes, I did say chocolate! A good, high-quality dark chocolate has four times the amount of probiotics as many forms of dairy. This is only one of the health benefits of chocolate. Remember to eat chocolate in moderation.

5. Microalgae

This refers to super-food ocean-based plants such as spirulina, chorella, and blue-green algae.  These probiotic foods have been shown to increase the amount of both lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in the digestive tract. They also offer the most amount of energetic return, per ounce, for the human system.

6. Miso Soup

Miso Soup Probiotics
Miso Soup Probiotics

Miso is one the main-stays of Japanese traditional medicine, and is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator. Made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, adding a tablespoon of miso to some hot water makes an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup, full of lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria.

 

7. Pickles

Believe it or not, the common green pickle is an excellent food source of probiotics.

8. Tempeh

A great substitute for meat or tofu, Tempeh is a fermented, probiotic-rich grain made from soy beans. A great source of vitamin B12, this vegetarian food can be sautéed, baked or eaten crumbled on salads. If prepared correctly, Tempeh is also very low in salt, which makes it an ideal choice for those on a low-sodium diet.

9. Kimchi

An Asian form of pickled sauerkraut, Kimchi is an extremely spicy and sour fermented cabbage, typically served alongside most meals in Korea. Besides from beneficial bacteria, Kimchi is also a great source of beta-carotene, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, B1 & B2 and is one of the best probiotic foods you can add to your diet, assuming you can handle the spice, of course.

10. Kombucha Tea

This is a form of fermented tea high in healthy gut bacteria. This probiotic drink has been used for centuries and is believed to help increase your energy, enhance your wellbeing and maybe even help you lose weight. However, Kombucha tea may not be the best fit for everyone, especially those that already have a problem with candida.

Other Sources of Probiotics

Besides probiotic foods, you can get plenty of beneficial bacteria by taking a probiotic supplement.  Make sure they contain 10 to 20 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per dose.

As always, I am interested in your ideas or information.  Please post me a note if you have any favorite foods with probiotics. Your comments are greatly appreciated!

~ Barbara