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Amazing health benefits of coconut water

Coconut water is the water like liquid that is found in unripe coconuts. In terms of health and goodness, coconut water is second only to water. It is extremely low in calories and full of nutrients. It is packed with calcium and minerals, and has more electrolytes than packaged sports drinks and more potassium than a banana.
The health benefits are:-
1. Helps in weight loss
It has absolutely no cholesterol, so does not increase body fat and also boosts your metabolism.

2. Lowers blood sugar level
Despite being naturally sweet, it is extremely low in sugar, so it lowers blood sugar levels and is very good for diabetics.

3. Lower blood pressure
It is low in sodium compared to energy drinks and high in chloride compared to sports drinks. Chloride reduces water retention in the body which lowers the kidney’s load and reduces blood pressure.

4. Regulates body temperature
Coconut water keeps you hydrated, which increases your body’s metabolism and even increases sweating. Sweating keeps your body cool and helps in regulating the body temperature.

5. Facilitates Digestion
Coconut water contains monolaurin, a monoglyceride which cleanses and soothes the digestive tract by actively killing intestinal worms that make digestion easier and reduce chances of digestive illnesses. Because of its high concentration of fibre, it aids in the prevention of indigestion and reduces the occurrence of acid reflux.

6. Controls Vomiting
Coconut water controls vomiting making it saviour for those suffering from ailments that cause vomiting such as typhoid, malaria or fevers.

7. Rich in Nutrient
Unlike any other beverage on the market, coconut water contains the five essential electrolytes that are present in the human body. These include: calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and sodium. Because of its unique composition, coconut water can be enjoyed by individuals with varying medical conditions.

8. Compatible with Human Blood
Since it is isotonic to human plasma, coconut water can be used in extreme emergencies to quickly rehydrate the human body if administered intravenously. It is not uncommon for coconut water to be used an an intravenous drip in poorer, third-world countries to save human lives.

9. Boosts Hydration
The ingredients in coconut water are way more effective at hydrating the human body than energy and sports drinks. Coconut water serves as an ideal energy drink with 294 mg of potassium and 5 mg of natural sugar per glass, unlike your favourite sports drink that only contains half of the potassium content and five times the amount of processed sugar. In addition, the sodium count is only 25 mg, which is relatively low compared to the 41 and 20 mg found in sports drinks and energy drinks respectively.

10. The Ultimate Hangover Remedy
Next time you overdo it and drink more than your belly can handle, consume coconut water to soothe your stomach. It will also replace those essential electrolytes that exit the body if you experience bouts of frequent urination and vomiting.

It’s very beneficial to consume coconut water during the summer, especially if you live somewhere where the temperature and humidity levels are high. It rehydrates your body and provides essential nutrients. Make coconut water an essential part of your regular diet to benefit from it.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo
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The Nutrients your Body Needs Every Day

A healthy and balanced diet is the key to a healthy body. But a balanced diet should include a variety of nutrients. Below is a list of nutrients and their sources, and their recommended daily values.

-Calcium: It is a vital nutrient for the body as it helps in providing strength to your bones. Strong bones are less prone to fracture and diseases like osteoporosis. Calcium also plays a role in nerve transmission, maintenance of healthy blood vessels and muscle contraction. The recommended amount of calcium is 1g/day. To meet the daily recommended value add dairy products like milk, curd, paneer and green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, etc to your diet.

-Fiber: Dietary fiber helps in proper bowel movement and provides bulk to your stool which decreases the chances of constipation. It also helps in regulating blood sugar levels in the body as the presence of fiber in food slows down the absorption of the sugar. Soluble dietary fiber helps in controlling the levels of cholesterol by reducing the levels of “bad” fat from the body. The recommended amount of dietary fiber is 40g/day. Include fruits, vegetable, whole grains and legumes in your daily diet.

-Magnesium: Many studies have shown that magnesium with calcium helps in improving the bone mineral density in the body. Magnesium deficiency can affect calcium metabolism and a fluctuation in the levels of hormones that regulate calcium can result in osteoporosis. It is associated with lowering the risk of coronary heart disease and helps in regulating high blood pressure. It also plays a major role in controlling diabetes, migraines, insomnia, and depression. Recommended amount of magnesium is 410mg/day. Include nuts, whole grains, wheat germ, fish, and green leafy vegetables in your diet to increase magnesium intake.

-Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a type of antioxidant which protects your body cells from free radical damage. Free radicals lead to break down of healthy cells and may contribute to heart disease and cancer. It also helps strengthening immunity. The recommended amount of vitamin E is 15mg/day. To get your daily dose of this vitamin include nuts, vegetable oil, eggs and green leafy vegetables in your daily diet.

-Vitamin C: Vitamin C is also a type of antioxidant that protects your body against free radical damage. Apart from this, vitamin C supports collagen production in joints. Collagen is a shock absorbing gel like substance which fills up the space between two bones in a joint. The recommended dose of vitamin C is 75-90mg/day. Rich sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, nuts, vegetables, etc.

-Vitamin A: Vitamin A plays a major role in maintaining vision, cell growth and promotes healthy tissue and skin. It also participates in physiological activities related to the immune system, inflammatory system, maintenance of epithelial and mucosal tissues, creation of red blood cells, and bone development. The recommended dose of vitamin A is 600-900 µg/day. Rich sources of vitamin A are sweet potato, carrot, spinach, Green leafy vegetables, etc.

-Vitamin D: Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium in the body and helps in building strong bones. It helps in regulating insulin activity and blood sugar balance in the body and prevents muscle weakness. The recommended amount of vitamin D is 600 IU/day. The food sources of vitamin D include milk, egg, and fatty fishes like salmon, tuna and some variety of mushrooms. To get your daily dose of vitamin D morning sunlight is the best source. There are hormones beneath the skin which produce Vitamin D with help from sunlight.

-Potassium: It is one of the electrolytes and even helps in managing electrolyte levels in the body. A diet high in potassium levels is associated with improved blood pressure control. It also contributes to improved kidney function, reduction in blood clotting, and more efficient opening of blood vessels. The recommended value of potassium is 4.7g/day. Five foods rich in potassium include Swiss chard, lima beans, potatoes, yams, and soybeans.

-Protein: Protein is the building block of tissues. It is required to repair the daily wear and tear of the cells in the body. Protein is an important part of the diet as it helps in building muscles. Recommended value of protein is 46-56g/day. To have recommended amount of protein in your daily diet include milk, curd, paneer, eggs, lean cuts of chicken, soy and beans in your diet.

-Iron: Iron is a part of red blood cells and helps in transportation of oxygen in the body. In case of iron deficiency, or anemia, the body’s efficiency to transport oxygen decreases. As a result you may feel lethargic and fatigued. The recommended amount of iron is 18g/day. Foods rich in iron include, green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and pulses, whole grain, etc.

To have a healthy and balanced diet chooses your foods wisely to maximize the benefits of different nutrients.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

How to Overcome Chocolate Cravings

Many people find it difficult to overcome their chocolate cravings. Here are some ways to control your cravings:

-Drink plenty of water: One of the major issues that cause chocolate craving is dehydration. Drink plenty of water to avoid cravings for chocolate. When your body needs water, you misinterpret it as hunger and start eating. So, the next time you have a food craving, go for a glass of water.

-Include magnesium in your diet: Craving for chocolate can be an indicator of magnesium deficiency in your body. Include green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, fish, whole grains, dairy products, etc in your daily diet to balance magnesium levels in your body.

-Don’t skip meals: Long gaps between meals or skipping meals, could lead to chocolate cravings. Going without food for a long time can disturb your body’s blood sugar level, leading to sugar cravings. So follow a healthy and balanced diet to avoid chocolate cravings.

- Physical Activity: Lack of physical activity can also lead to cravings for chocolate. Include a minimum of 30 minutes of intense physical activity in your daily routine to keep sweet cravings at bay. Exercise helps in balancing the body’s hormonal level and releases endorphins, also known as the ‘happy hormone’. This in turn even helps in managing stress levels.

-Replace milk chocolates with dark chocolates: Dark chocolate contains a high content of antioxidants and has many health benefits over milk chocolate. If you’d like to control your chocolate cravings, then go for at least 80% dark chocolate. However, most chocolates are packed with calories and fat, so always keep a check on amount you are consuming.

The next time when you crave any chocolates, keep the above in mind.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Preventing Osteoporosis

Lately women in the early 30′s are suffering from osteoporosis. The earlier average age was from 50 years, around the same time menopause would set in. The reason is with menopause the body experiences a dramatic drops in estrogen production that results in bone loss. This was labeled  as  a growing old diseases since the two big reasons for developing osteoporosis are when the body fails to form enough new bone or when the old bones are reabsorbed by the body, but not anymore.

Calcium and phosphate are two minerals that are essential for normal bone formation. Throughout youth, your body uses these minerals to produce bones. Mineral intake during adolescence and early adulthood lays the foundation of healthy bones for the coming years.  Not getting enough calcium and body not being able to absorb enough calcium from the diet adversely affects the bone production and bone tissues.

Bone is a dynamic living tissue that becomes strong when exercised or used and becomes fragile when unused. Mostly we are advised to eat foods rich in calcium for bone development but equally excluding foods that lead to loss of bone mineral in the body like sugar, sodas, table salt, coffee and alcohol. But are you forgetting nutrients which directly or indirectly benefit the bone health like vitamin D for better absorption of calcium, vitamin K which activates osteocalcin which is a bone protein which bonds calcium, vitamin C which improves bone absorption and other bone minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, boron etc.

Though dairy is the most popular source of calcium, many other nutrients required for prevention and better bone health can be consumed from plant based sources like vegetables and fruits which are rich in various nutrients. Optimum levels of the following nutrients in your diet will improve your bone health as well as overall fitness.

Women are more prone to developing osteoporosis than men due to two reasons first they are genetically born with a lower bone mass than men and secondly estrogen levels. Estrogen plays an important role in keeping bones strong and healthy, in both men and women. Changing levels of estrogen especially in women make them more vulnerable to this disorder.

Foods bad for bone health

Salt: Over consumption of salt than the daily requirement could make you lose calcium. You require 2400 milligram of sodium in a day. Not only you consume sodium through salt in foods but foods naturally contain salt which could create an excess. Eat salt in moderation to avoid loss of calcium.

Soda: Sweetened soft-drink and aerated drinks cause loss of calcium in the body and has been observed while excreted in urine. The phosphoric acid which is the fizziness in soda drinks could lead to faster loss of calcium.

Caffeine: Caffeine in excess of 100 milligram can cause loss of some calcium in the body. Caffeine is not consumed by the body just through coffee but some iced teas, energy drinks and other drinks contain them.

Alcohol: Alcohol blocks calcium absorption in the body and restricts bone building minerals to be absorbed properly. Bones become weak faster and can cause trouble while healing of bones due to alcohol consumption during fracture.

Some vegetables which immensely improve bone health and maintain them and avoid loss of bone minerals in the body are green peas, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, asparagus, oats, parsley, lemons, milk and dairy etc. Though milk and dairy are the best sources but these vegetables have various nutrients to support good bone health and prevent osteoporosis. Exercising, the often most forgotten factor, is critical to bone health as it helps in improvement of bone density and better absorption of nutrients.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Are Dates Healthy?

There are lots of speculations if dates are healthy or not? Calling it healthy or not so healthy depends on whether you should include it in your diet for its health benefits or you can use it as a substitute for sugar incase you are trying to lose weight. Dates are the fruits of the date palm which can be eaten fresh or dried though both the forms are nutritious. It helps in lowering cholesterol and and has anti-oxidation properties that protect the body against free radicals.

Dried Date fruit (Cr/freedigital)

Dates are high in fiber which relieves constipation and the high amount of carbohydrates in it provides high calories. The one drawback with dates is that it is high in glycemic index and contains a lot of sugar which can increase blood sugar levels. It is often substituted for sweets, candies or to control sweet craving as it is healthier than processed sugar and carries a lots of minerals and vitamins for the body to nourish with health benefits. But due to its high glycemic properties dates are associated with foods that can result in weight gain.

Dates have an average gylcemic index (GI) of 103, which is very high and not recommended for people on a weight loss program or suffering from high sugar levels. More and more health experts promote food that have low GI as the secret to long-term health reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes and also beneficial for sustainable weight loss.Foods with GI index less than 55 are considered Low Glycemic Index food (GI < 55). Foods with GI index between 55 and 70 are considered intermediate (55< GI <70). High Glycemic Index foods are with GI index more than 70 (GI >70).

Besides its single but important drawback dates have many other health benefits. They are high in potassium which maintains blood pressure and maintains nerves and muscles.The magnesium in dates help relive muscles, fatigue, nerves and reduces tension. Dates are rich in calcium, iron, copper and manganese with B vitamins to better enzyme activity. All the nutrition of the dried fruit promote better health.

You can eat the fruit raw or use your culinary skills in making delicious combinations with in in your diet. You could include it with milk, fruits, salads or bread. Its sweet and can be eaten when we are overburdened with work and mind seems wandering as it relives stress and anxiety with instant energy. (more…)

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Is Corn Healthy or Unhealthy ?

Corn has always been in news as the enemy of the dieters. Is it really as unhealthy as they speak of it to be? Let us understand what makes corn healthy or unhealthy and what is the best form to consume it in.

Corn can be eaten boiled, steamed or grilled and is highly nutritious in its natural form. It provides instant energy for the body as it is high in carbohydrates and its high amount of fiber provides a healthy digestive system. It is low in fat and it also tastes goods to eat it regularly alone or in combination of fruits, vegetables, cereals etc. It has anti-oxidation properties along with flavnoids, carotenes which helps it fight diseases and free radicals. Corn is rich in phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron and selenium. Corn is a good source of vitamins B1, B5, C, and E, as well as phosphorus.

Corn (Cr/freedigital)

Though eating corn in its natural form is healthier than eating it in some of its other processed products like corn syrup, fructose which are alternate substitute for sugar.

Another popular way of eating corn is as breakfast cereal made by combining milled corn with sugar.  The major ingredients include milled corn, sugar, iron, high fructose corn syrup and vitamins (A, B, C, D, and E). Cornflakes are high in glycemic index which quickly converts the sugar into energy which increases the blood sugar levels in the body and therefore not a healthy breakfast option, especially for those that need to control/manage their blood sugar.

Corn syrup is made from corn which is sweeter than sugar and is digested in our body in  an unhealthy manner and is fattening in the body when consumed. This corn syrup is cheap in cost and sweeter so it is used in various commercial products like chewing gums, toffees, cadies, baked products, indian sweets, cheap tomato ketchup, sweetened soda’s and beverages and drinks. It is highly substitued for sugar and is often used in baked products to maintain the moisture and keeps products fresher for longer periods.

Consuming corn in its natural form is healthy but high fructose corn syrup used products don’t provide the same health benefits as corn kernals as its constitution and nutrition value changes. Read nutritional value to know the form of corn used as it can hamper your weight loss and have not so healthy benefits on the body.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Healthy Seasonal Vegetables

Vegetables offer low calories, no fat (when eaten raw) and add lots of vitamins and minerals to the diet. Through out the year we see different vegetables in the departmental store or being sold by our local vendors. We encourage consumption of seasonal vegetables for two reasons, first they are cheaper and secondly they are fresher than those not in season. Most of the vegetables available in summer have high water content as they keep the body cool and replenish the lost nutrition caused due to sweating and general heat. Vegetables are also high in fiber content which keeps us fuller with a healthy digestive system.

Vegetables (Cr/freedigital)

Vegetables are not always tasteless and boring. If prepared well they can be better tasting than most of the processed food available. Besides they build immunity and improve the metabolic functions in the body. People especially watching their weight or suffering from any therapeutic condition or even just living healthy should include portions of vegetables in their diet either as salads or stir fried. You could eat vegetables raw, cooked, individually or in a combination with other vegetables, legumes, cereals, etc. Here are some seasonal vegetables that you can eat this season for good health.

Some summer vegetables and their benefits in keeping us healthy

Lady Finger/Okra/Bhindi: This vegetable is low in calories and it adds just 30 calories per 100 grams. It contains vitamins A, C, K and B vitamins along with flavnoids. It is rich in anti-oxidation properties and helps in vision. It contains important minerals as iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium. Healthy for people on weight loss as it makes you fell full and adds lots of nutrition too.

Tori/Ridge Gourd: It is beneficial for the stomach and helps reduce blood sugar levels. 100 gms of Ridge Gourd adds just 20 calories to the body. It is rich in nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin c, riboflavin, thiamin, iron and magnesium. The high fiber and low fat content make it effective for weight loss.

Pumpkin: A bowl of pumpkin will add just 30 calories to your diet besides supplying  a lot of vitamins and minerals to the body. It is rich in vitamin A, C and E along with iron, magnesium, potassium, niacin and dietary fiber for better digestion. It contains carotenoids which improve the immune system. It has anti-oxidation and anti-inflammatory properties.

Bottle Gourd/Lauki/Bottle gourd adds just 12 calories per 100 grams. It is 96% water and contains vitamin c and B vitamins. Sodium, iron, potassium are presnt in the vegetable and contains high amount of dietary fiber. It is extremely effective in weight loss, reduces constipation, improves complexion and has a cooling effect on the body.

Gavarfali/ Cluster Beans: Gavarfali (cluster beans) are rich in iron, folic acid, calcium and are an excellent source of fibre. They are best eaten with lentil dals. It only contains 25 calories every 100 gms. High in dietary fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals. Also recommended for weight loss as it  improves metabolism.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo