Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Overnight Oats

I am so not a morning person. I barely wake up until I have had about two entire pots of coffee…so being able to simply have breakfast ready ahead of time is idea for both me and my kids.

The perfect overnight oats is a sweet combination of your favorite fruit…(in this case===raspberries), nuts…(totally optional, but in this case, we’re using almonds)…sweetener—such as honey…and perhaps some extras such as  chia seeds, and obviously oats.

This is a nutritious, delicious, and filling breakfast that is a great way to start to your day.

Now for the recipe…(which, like smoothie “recipes,” doesn’t even really seem like a recipe because it’s so easy and pretty much common sense.

And also like smoothies, there is an endless combination of flavors that you could have…based on which fruit you choose, which flavor yogurt you choose, and so forth…

 

 

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Ingredients

  • Almonds…sliced, slivered, or chopped…1Tbsp
  • Chia Seeds, optional…2tsp
  • Honey, maple syrup,  or any other type of sweetener…which is totally a matter of personal preference)
  • Milk…1C milk…(once again, for hints on which kind of milk, check out this previous post…Visions of Veganism—Milk)
  • Oats…½C
  • Raspberries…1/2C fresh or frozen
  • Yogurt…1/4C plain Greek yogurt

 

 

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Instructions

Stir together milk, oats, yogurt, honey, chia seeds and pinch of salt until combined.

Pour into a pint-sized jar or resealable container.

Mix thoroughly.

Seal the lids onto the jars..

Refrigerate anywhere from six hours days.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making Marvelous Muesli

So now that we know what muesli is…how do we make our own…and what do we do with it once we have it made?!
Making your own muesli is super easy and takes only about five minutes to go…a perfect combination of nuts, seeds, and oats that is perfectly healthy and perfectly filling.

 

 

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The Math

Making your own muesli is also more of a mathematical formula…than a method that must be mastered….a matter or proportions and personal preference…
Typically you will want to use about…
  • 4 cups grains
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts/seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit

Start with a ratio of four parts grain + one part nuts/seeds + one part dried fruit.

Keep in mind that the more fruit you add, the sweeter it will be. The more nuts you throw in, the more expensive your grocery bill. Remember, also, that the grains will become soft when combined with milk or yogurt. Muesli with extra nuts will be overly crunchy; muesli with lots of fruit will be very chewy.

 

 

 

 

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The Grains

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Nuts/Seeds…1 cup

 

Nuts and seeds—such as…
  • Brazil nuts
  • cashews
  • chia seeds
  • coconut flakes
  • hazelnuts
  • macadamias
  • peanuts
  • pecans
  • pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • pistachios
  • poppy seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • sliced almonds
  • sunflower seeds
  • unsweetened coconut flakes.
  • walnuts

will give your muesli a delicious crunch,,,not to mention te fact that nuts and seeds will make your muesli even healthier because they contain omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

Choose any nut, seed, combination that you like…or omit them altogether if you’re allergic to them or simply don’t like them.

 

Before mixing your ingredients together, also take the time to toast your nuts in the same way that you do your grain. This will not only give the nuts a little extra crunch, but also make them more flavorful.

Don’t add oil or any other liquid to the pan when toasting your grains and nuts. Toasting the nuts release their oils, so anything added will make your muesli taste a little greasy.

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The Fruit…1C

 

The third ingredientw that you will want to add to your muesli—now that you have stirred together your grains and nuts/seeds, is/are fruit(2)…Dried fruit will add both sweetness and chewiness to your muesli.

This can be any fruit that you like…as long as it’s dried and not fresh. Adding fresh fruit will make your muesli too soft and cause it turn bad much more quickly.

There are no set-in-stone rules as far as what fruits to add…simply choose whatever fruits that you and your family like.

A few ideas as far as what fruits you could add…as long as they are dried or dehydrated…are…

  • apple chips
  • apricots
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • cherries
  • cranberries
  • currants
  • dates.
  • figs
  • mango
  • papaya
  • raisins
  • strawberries

Here are a few things to remember…as far as adding fruit to your muesli…

  • Add only enough d  to make your granola taaste seweter…but nout so much that your granola is too sweedt.
  • Avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar.
  • Chop up your dried fruit into bite-sized pieces before adding to your muesli.
  • Do not add any additional sugar to your muesli. You shouldn’t need it…and as we already know…it’s not good for you.
  • Experiment until you find the “perfect” recipe.Avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar.
  • Make sure that any dried fruit that you use does not contain dded sugar.
  • Save fresh fruit for when you actually get ready to eat your muesli.

 

 

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 The Spices

If you would like your muesli to have even more of a taste that your family will enjoy, feel free to add spices.  Spice (that are often used to make your muesli more flavorful include cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and ginger,

Store a cinnamon stick, a few whole cloves, or a vnanilla bean with your muesli to infuse different flavors.

 

 

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Stirring Your Muesli

Now that you have put all of your “stuff” into a container, put the lid on the container and shake until everything is combined.

 

 

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Storing Your Muesli

Store the muesli in an airtight glass jar or plastic container. Your muesli will stay good for  up to two months as long as it stays dry.

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Serving Your Muesli

 

The easiest way to enjoy your muesli is to add milk or stir it into some yogurt.  Waiting for about ten minutes to half an hour before eating it will soften up the grains a little.

You could also soak your muesli in milk overnight….at a 1:1 ratio. To make overnight oats, combine 2/3C muesli wotj 23C milk in a small lidded container. Refrigerate overnight. Enjoy cold in the morning.

A third option is to heating your muesli in the microwave before serving.

 

Soaking or cooking your muesli will break down the oats, making them easier to chew and digest…and making the muesli more nutritious becsuse the nutrients—such as the fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants. vitamins, protein, omega 3 and minerals found in muesli—are more easily absorbed by your body.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Yogurt…The Which

These days there are SO many yogurts to choose from…

 

So how do you know that will give you the most health benefits?

Here are a few things to look for…

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Milk

Nowadays yogurt not only can be made with the typical cow’s milk, but can also be made from one of the following…

  • almond milk
  • coconut milk
  • hemp milk
  • oat milk
  • rice milk
  • soy milk

These yogurts are great for people who are either vegan or lactose-intolerant. For more about different types of milk, check my previous post Visions of Veganism—Milk.

 

Each type of yogurt will have its own texture and taste…so keep trying different options until you find the one type of yogurt that you love the most.

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Sweetener

When choosing a yogurt, another choice that you must make is whether to buy the “light” kind of “the other stuff.”

While “the other stuff” typically contains sugar…the light kind contains the other “other stuff”—more specfically artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet.

I personally can’t stand the aftertaste from these sweeteners, so I always buy the “other stuff” that doesn’t contain “the other stuff.”

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Active Cultures and Probiotics

Choose a yogurt labelled that it contains active cultures. Also check the list of ingredients to see if any specific active cultures are listed.

One of the words closely associated these days with yogurt is jprobiotics.

But what exactly are probiotics?

And why should we give a flying flip if our yogurt contains probiotics or not?

Probiotics are “friendly bacteria” that are naturally present in the digestive system….but also can be found in yogurt because yogurt typically contains live cultures.

Probiotics supposedly can do great things like…

 

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The Which

Here are a few examples of some lower fat choices:

 

Dannon…

  • Activia…165 calories…3 grams fat…23% RDA calcium
  • Activia Light…105 calories…0 grams fat…22.5% RDA calcium
  • Creamy Fruit Blends…170 calories….1.5 grams fat…20% RDA calcium
  • Light & Fit…75 calories…0 grams fat…15% RDA calcium…15% RDA vitamin D

 

Stonyfield Farms

  • 130 calories…1.5 grams fat…25% RDA calcium

 

 

Weight Watchers

  • 100 calories….5 grams fat…30% RDA calcium…30% RDA vitamin D

 

Yoplait

  • Fiber One Non-Fat…120 calories…0 grams fat…15% RDA calcium…11.5% RDA vitamin D
  • Yo Plus…165 calories…2.2 grams fat…23% RDA calcium…15% RDA vitamin D Light…100 calories…0 grams fat…20% RDA calcium…20% RDA vitamin D
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Raspberries…The Which

 

Raspberries are another food that is high in antioxidants.
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Buying Raspberries

Buy certified organically grown raspberries because these have less likelihood to have been exposure to contaminants—such as pesticides and heavy metals. Look for the USDA organic logo on the container to make sure that they are “cerified organic.”.

Buy raspberries in their peak period—which is mid-summer through early fall…if any other season, opt for frozen raspberries instead.

Look for berries that are firm, plump, and deep in color….and avoid berries that are soft, mushy, or moldy.

Make sure that the raspberries are not packed too tightly whenever you are buying raspberries that are in a prepackaged container. The container should have no signs of stains or moisture because this  indicates that they might already be spoiled.

You will get the most nutritional value—including antioxidants and flavanoids—by choosing raspberries that are fully ripe.

 

 

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Storing Raspberries

Keep your berries, either in their original container or a glass or plastic container that has a sealable lid in the fridge…because they can mold quite easily at room temperature.

But before sticking them in the fridge first remove any molded or spoiled berriesso that they won’t quickly ruin the other berries.

 

 

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Freezing Raspberries

Fresh raspberries freeze very well. Wash them gently, using the low pressure of the sink sprayer. If you use more force when washing the raspberries, they won’ so that they won’t maintain their delicate shape.

After you finish washing them, pat them dry with a paper towel. Now “flash freeze” them. This means to arrange the raspberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet and stick the cooking sheet in the freezer until the berries are frozen,

After the berries are frozen, put them either in a Ziploc bag or a sealable plastic freezer container and stick them in the freezer.

The frozen raspberries will stay good for up to one year.

 

 

 

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Using Raspberries

Consume them within a couple of days after buying them because raspberries are highly perishable,

Here are a few suggestions…

 

 

For breakfast, try raspberries…

  • Added to cereal, oatmeal, or porridge
  • Blended as a smoothie
  • On top of pancakes or waffles
  • With yogurt and granola

A few more ideas are to use raspberries for…

  • Herbal teas
  • Jams and jellies
  • Salads
  • Sauces for chicken or fish

And last but not least, use raspberries for desserts such as Raspberry Crumble.

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Raspberries…The What

Now let’s move on to raspberries, a member of the rose (Rosaceae) family of plants— which also inclues apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, loquats, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, and almonds.

Raspberries are the third most popular berry here in the United States…right after strawberries and blueberries.

There are over 200 species of raspberries, but these typically belong to one of three basic groups…

  • Red raspberries
  • Black raspberries
  • Purple raspberries

 

 

Raspberries are “aggregate fruits”…which meas that they are actually composed of many small individual fruits….drupelets, and each one has its own seed….and “brambles” which means that they are prickly or thorny.

The countries that produce the most raspberries are Russia, Mexico (14.8%), Serbia (13.5%), the United States (13.0%), and Poland (12.8%).

Okay, enough is enough…right?!

So let’s now talk about the WHY we should include rasperries in our diet.

 

 

 

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Per Half Cup Fresh Raspberries

  • Calories…53
  • Dietary fiber…6.5 grams
  • Fat…0.65 g
  • Protein1.2 g
  • Sugar…4.2 grams
  • Calcium…(25mg…3% RDA)
  • Manganese… (62.7mg…32% RDA)
  • Magnesium…(22 mg…6% RDA)
  • Vitamin B1…(.-032 mg…3% RDA)
  • Vitamin B2…Riboflavin….(.038mg…3% RDA)
  • Vitsamin B3…Niacin…(.598mg…4% RDA)
  • Vitamin B5…Pantothenic acid…(.067 mg…% RDA)
  • Vitamin B9…Folate…21 μg…5% RDA)
  • Vitamin C…(26.2mg…32% RDA)
  • Vitamin E…(6%…0.87 mg)

Raspberries also contain biotin and omega-3 fatty acids…and have been proven to help prevent and treat diabetes, obesity, and arthritis….(don’t worry…this gets more exciting the next several posts)…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Cream of the Crop…Fruit

Cherries

Even though organic cherries can be quite expensive, it’s important to that you buy organic cherries because cherries maintain an average of five pesticides, including iprodione, a chemical that may cause cancer.

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Grapes

Since grapes contain such high levels of pesticides, you should also assume that non-organic wine will expose you to these high levels of pesticides also…and not only that,organic wines contain fewer sulfites, chemical preservatives that can trigger asthma-like symptoms.

Because grapes tend to mold, attract insects and ripen too quickly,, farmers typically use pesticides on their grapes.

And because grapes are so simple to grab right out of the bag and munch on without taking the time to wash them, not only are you munching down on the grape, but also an average of five pesticides per grape.

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Nectarines

Nectarines are another fruit that you should always buy organic.

Nectarines, especially imported nectarines, contain a high level of contaminants. In fact, studies havce shown that about 94% of the nectarines in a given sample contained anywhere from two to fifteen different pesticides.

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Peaches

 

Peaches are known to contain high levels of pesticides….in fact more than 99% of non-organic peaches have been shown to contain detectable pesticide residues, typically of four different pesticides.

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Strawberries

Of all the fruits found in your local grocery store or farmers market, strawberrie are the most important fruit to buy in organic form…in fact, if you can’t find organic strawberries, don’t buy any at all.

This is because strawberries are probably the most pesticide-contaminated food out there.

The Environmental Working Group has found that over 99% of strawberries contain at least two or more pesticides…many of them containing up to forty different pesticides.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Organic or Not…Here I Come

While two of my main goals lately have been to start eating healthier and to stop eating so much processed food, I also don’t want to blow my budget.

And when looking at my budget, one of my major expenses is Groceries.

And as if I wasn’t already forking over enough money on groceries, now that we’re trying to get healthier, I’m expected to spend even more by buying only organic products, right?

 

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What does organic even mean?

We’ve all been taught that buying organic foods is important. Buying organic can protect you and your family from any pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, toxins, antibiotics and other chemicals  used during the growing practices.

But what does “organic” really mean?

Although what’s considered “organic” varies from country to country, it’s typically required that In order for a food to be considered organic, it must be produced without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), sewage sludge and ionizing radiation.

 

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What does being classified as “organic” require?

Let’s look at a few of the requirements necessary for products to be  considered “certified organic.”

In order for animal products to be classified as organic, the animals cannot take antibiotics or growth hormones, must be fed only organic feed, must spend time outdoors and must have enough space to live comfortably.

Multi-ingredient foods, such as packaged and jarred foods, must contain 95% organic ingredients.

 

 

 

 

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But buying organic can be SO expensive.

Thankfully everything that you put into your cart doesn’t necessarily have to be organic.

There are foods that you should always buy “organic” and other foods you can save money on buying the other stuff.

And thankfully someone else has done this homework for you.

Each year the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization,..working with three organizations—the United States Department of Agriculture, the USDA’s Pesticide Testing Program, and the Food and Drug Administration…conducts tests to determine what are known as the “Clean Fifteen,” a list of the fifteen fruits and vegetables containing the least traces of pesticides, and the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of the twelve fruits and vegetables contain the most. These tests are known as the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

 

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Let’s Go Shopping

Now that we know…thank goodness…that buying organic is not required all across the board…and that someone else has already compiled this list for you, let’s take a look at which items you absolutely should be buying organic and which items you can get by without going organic…so that you can prioritize your shopping and still have the peace of mind that you’re limiting your family’s pesticide exposure…. hopefully saving us all some green when buying our greens.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Grapes…The Why

Like all other fruits, grapes contain several beneficial nutrients—such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

For example, one cup of grapes provides more than a fourth of the RDI for vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin vital for blood clotting and healthy bones…as well as vitamin C, necessary for bone and connective tissue health.

Another nutrient that you find in grapes are polyphenols, the antioxidants that give grapes and certain other plants their vibrant colors and give added protection against disease and environmental damage.

Below are some of the ways in which the nutrients in grapes may boost your health.

But before we get started, let’s look at the nutritional value of one cup of grapes…

  • Calories: 104
  • Carbs: 27.3 grams
  • Copper: 10% of the RDI
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Fiber: 1.4 grams
  • Manganese: 5% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 8% of the RDI
  • Protein: 1.1 grams
  • Riboflavin: 6% of the RDI
  • Thiamine: 7% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 27% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Vitamin K: 28% of the RDI
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Anti-Bacterial

Eating grapes boosts your immune system and protect you from certain diseases—such as the flu, chicken pox and yeast infections—because grapes contain “stuff” that helps fight against harmful bacteria and viral infections.

For example, grapes are a good source of the vitamin C that most of us already know is great for your immune system..

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Anti-Inflammatory

Inflammation defends the body against cell injury, irritation, pathogen invasions, and helps rid the body of such damaged cells.

However, having too much inflammation can lead to serious side effects—such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and pulmonary disease,

Grapes are one of the foods containing polyphenols that you can add to your diet to keep this from happening.

Antioxidant

Grapes contain hundreds of antioxidants such as vitamin C, manganese, beta-carotene, melatonin, resveratrol, quercetin, lutein, lycopene and ellagic acid.

These antioxidants are primarily found in the seed and the skin of the grape…and have been shown to do such great things as…

    • helping protect cell membranes from free radical damage
    • increasing our blood levels of glutathione, a critical antioxidant
    • increasing the ratio of reduced-to-oxidized glutathione
    • lowering biomarkers of oxidative stress.
    • lowering the levels of oxygen reactive molecules in our blood
    • preventing certain oxygen-related enzymes—such as xanthine oxidase and catalase—from becoming overactive
    • protecting against chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
    • reducing oxidation of fat
    • repairing the damage to your cells caused by free radicals, harmful molecules that cause the oxidative stress that can lead to several chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease

Red grapes, more specifically contain higher numbers of antioxidants because red grapes contain anthocyanins, the antioxidant that gives them their bright color.

Another important antioxidant found is grapes is resveratrol, another antioxidant, that protects against heart disease, lowers blood sugar and protects against the development of cancer.

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Blood Pressure

Grapes have as a low glycemic index which means that it has great blood sugar benefits—such as helping to control your blood sugar balance, insulin regulation, and insulin sensitivity.

In addition, one cup of grapes contains 288mg of potassium, 6% of the RDI, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and preventing your risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Potassium also help reduce the negative effects of having too much sodium in your diet.

If you’re considering adding grapes to your diet in order to improve your blood pressure, it’s probably best to choose either Concord or red grapes because their rich color indicates that they contain many flavonoids, such as resveratrol, which help lower your blood pressure, improve the fluidity of the blood, and relax the arterial walls.

 

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Bones

Grapes contain many nutrients necessary for maintaining bone health—including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, vitamin K, and vitamin C. In fact, one cup of grapes contains over 25% RDI for vitamins C and K.

Vitamin K is important because it increases the effectiveness of osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone mineralization, and promotes healthy calcium balance. One study shows that women who consume at least 110mg vitamin K each day are 30% less likely to break a bone than women who consume a lesser amount.

Copper found in grapes is essential for enzymes involved in the synthesis of bone components.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Grapes…The What

Okay, enough talking about fish..and why we should be eating it…and how to cook fish such as catfish and cod.

The true purpose of this blog is to slowly crawl our way up the Raw Foods Pyamid so that we can make important changes in our lifestyle and to learn how to cope with the Southern man’s rite of passage—type 2 diabetes.

Actually right now, before my ADHD self keeps going off one tangents, we are talking about antioxidants,

So far we have looked at how incorporating such foods as alfalfa sprouts, ,  beetsccrndark chocolate, eggplant, and fish can help up reap more of the benefits ot antioxidants.

Now let’s talk about another food that can help you get the antioxidantsw that you need—–

 

 

 

Grapes!!!

 

 

 

Grapes range the gamut from those with seeds and those without…the color spectrum from red, green, black, yellow, pink, and dark purple,…table grapes and wine grapes…and are concocted into such products such as juice, jam, jelly, wine, raisins, currants, and sultanas.

The perfect grapes are perfectly juicy and sweet, goodness….low in calorie…virtually fat-free…and full of essential nutrients and antioxidants to keep you kicking.

So in the next post we will be looking at the health benefits of adding grapes to your diet…join me over a glass of wine…shall we?!

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Eggplant…The Why

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Brain Power

The skin of the eggplant can make you smsrter and keep you that way by…

  • acting as an antioxidant
  • facilitating blood flow to the brain
  • helping to carry nutrients into your brain cells
  • helping to prevent memory loss and other age-related mental decline
  • moving waste out of your brain cells
  • protecting brain cell membranes from damage
  • serving as an anti-inflammatory

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Cancer

Eggplant contains polyphenols, anthocyanins, and chlorogenic acid….all of which help prevent and fight existing cancer by…

  • acting as a anti-inflammatory
  • blocking the enzymes that help cancer cells spread.
  • preventing new blood vessels from forming in an existing tumor
  • serving as an antioxidant

 

 

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Cholesterol

The fiber found in eggplant…(2.4 grams per 1C) may help control cholesterol levels.

Eggplant also contains chlorogenic acid, a key antioxidant that lowers the levels of “bad” cholesterol and reduces your risk of liver disease.

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Eye Health

Eggplant contains two specific antioxidants—lutein and zeaxanthin—which are hrlp prevent age-related macular degeneration and vision loss.

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Heart

As far as the heart, eggplants can lower your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease because of the fiber, antioxidants, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and many other nutrient that it contains

Eggplants…

  • act as an anti-inflammatory
  • help prevent heart-threatening plaque from buildup up around the walls of your arteries.
  • relax artery walls

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Weight Control

Eggplants can contribute to weight management because of their fiber content and low calorie count. The fiber found in eggplant supposedly helps you feel fuller for longer.