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Amazing Health Benefits of the Common Potato


Potatoes are one of the most common and important food sources on the planet, and they contain a wealth of health benefits that make them all the more essential as a staple dietary item for much of the world’s population. These health benefits include their ability to improve digestion, reduce cholesterol levels, boost heart health, protect from polyps, prevent cancer, and manage diabetes. They strengthen the immune system, reduce signs of aging, protect the skin, increase circulation, reduce blood pressure, maintain fluid balance, reduce insomnia, and aid in eye care.Health Benefits of Potatoes

Health benefits of potatoes include the following:

Promote Weight Gain

Potatoes are primarily made of carbohydrates and contain very little protein. This makes them an ideal diet for lean and thin people who desperately want to put on weight. [3] The vitamin content includes vitamin C and B-complex, which also help in proper absorption of carbohydrates. That is one of the reasons that potatoes make up a large part of the diet of sumo wrestlers, as well as many other athletes who need large energy reserves in order to compete!

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Easy to Digest

Since potatoes predominantly contain carbohydrates, they are easy to digest and they also facilitate digestion. [4] This property makes them a good diet for babies or for those who cannot digest hard food, but need energy. However, remember that eating too many of them on a regular basis may cause acidity over time. Potatoes also contain a considerable amount of fiber or roughage, which is more in raw potatoes and cold ones than boiled or hot ones. This stimulates peristaltic motion and increases secretion of gastric juices, which eases digestion and prevents conditions like constipation while protecting the body from serious conditions like colorectal cancer. Fiber is also connected with scraping cholesterol out of the arteries and blood vessels, thereby improving heart health.

Skin Care

Vitamin C and B-complex, as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc, are good for the skin. [5] Apart from that, the pulp obtained from crushed raw potatoes, when mixed with honey, can work well in skin and face packs. This even helps cure pimples and spots on the skin. Again, this pulp, if applied externally on burns, provides quick relief and faster healing. Smashed potatoes and even water in which they have been washed are very good for softening and cleaning dark skin, especially around the elbows.



Treat Scurvy

The vitamin C present in potatoes can help prevent this disease, caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. [6] It is characterized by cracked lip corners, spongy and bleeding gums, and frequent viral infections. Although it is not found in first and second world countries as they have a ready access to vitamin C, it still exists in certain nations of the world, so the prolific presence of potatoes helps with this problem.

Treat Rheumatism

There are two parts to the effect of potatoes on this condition. Vitamins like calcium and magnesium help provide relief from rheumatism. Also, water obtained from boiling potatoes can relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatism. However, due to high starch and carbohydrate content, they tend to increase body weight which may have adverse effects on rheumatic people.

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Reduce Inflammation

Potatoes are very effective in reducing inflammation, both internal and external. [8] Since they are soft, easily digested, and have a lot of vitamin C (a very good antioxidant that repairs tissue wear and tear), potassium, and vitamin B6, they can relieve any inflammation in the intestines and the digestive system. They are a very good dietary element for those who have mouth ulcers as well. Therefore, people who suffer from arthritis and gout can use potatoes for their anti-inflammatory impact. However, potatoes can add to weight gain, which exacerbates these conditions, and are commonly eaten with meat and other rich foods that make gout worse, a fine balance must be struck.

Prevent Cancer

Certain types of potatoes, particularly red and russet ones, contain high levels of flavonoid antioxidants and vitamin A, like zeaxanthin and carotenes, and they can protect you against many types of cancer. [9] Also, a study at the Agricultural Research has shown that potatoes contain a compound called quercetin, which has been proven to have anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties. Finally, the high levels of vitamin A and C, both have antioxidant properties that can protect your body from the devastating effects of cancer.

Lower Blood Pressure

Since high blood pressure can occur for a number of reasons that include diabetes, tension, indigestion, nutrient balance, diet, and many others, different treatments are required. Luckily, potatoes can alleviate multiple possible causes and can be used to relieve high blood pressure due to tension. [10] They can also treat indigestion due to an abundance of vitamin C and fiber within, but they should be avoided if the high blood pressure is a result of diabetes. The fiber present in them is helpful in lowering cholesterol and improving the functioning of insulin in the body, which aids in the lowering of blood pressure. This is because there is a direct relationship between blood pressure and the glucose level in the blood; insulin helps regulate that glucose level. Furthermore, the potassium found in potatoes (46% of daily requirement per serving) lowers blood pressure, since it functions as a vasodilator.

Proper Functioning of Brain

Proper functioning of the brain depends largely on the glucose level, oxygen supply, various components of the vitamin-B complex, and certain hormones, amino acids and fatty acids like omega-3. Potatoes cater to almost all the needs mentioned above. They are high in carbohydrates, and thereby maintain good levels of glucose in the blood. This prevents the brain from letting fatigue creep in and it keeps your cognitive activity and performance high. Next, the brain needs oxygen, which is carried by the hemoglobin in the blood; its main constituent is iron.

Potatoes contain iron as well. Therefore, they help deliver oxygen to the brain as well. There are a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in potatoes that positively affect the function of the brain, including phosphorus, zinc, and the B complex vitamins. The vasodilating properties of potassium have also been connected to stimulation of brain function due to increased blood flow to it.

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Prevent Heart Diseases

Apart from the vitamins (B-complex and C), minerals, and roughage, potatoes also contain certain substances called carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin). Carotenoids are beneficial for heart health and the functioning of other internal organs. Again, since potatoes raise the glucose level in the blood and their over-consumption may cause obesity, which puts pressure on your heart, you must be careful about how often you use potatoes for this health benefit. This method of preventing heart diseases is not recommended for obese people or diabetics.

Treat Kidney Stones

Kidney stones, also known as renal calculi, are caused mainly due to increased levels of uric acid in the blood. In such cases, foods high in protein should be avoided, particularly animal proteins such as meat, turkey, shrimp, fish, eggs, and milk, as well as spinach, raw plantain, black grams, and certain beans, which drastically increase the level of uric acid in the blood. Iron and calcium also contribute to the formation of stones. Potatoes are rich in both of these so logically, they wouldn’t fit in as a preventative measure for kidney stones, but they also contain magnesium, which inhibits the accumulation or deposition of calcium (calcification) in the kidney and other tissues, thereby proving beneficial for the treatment of renal calculi.

Treat Diarrhea

Potatoes are an excellent component of an energy-rich diet for those suffering from diarrhea since they are easy to digest and contain mild roughage. [14] However, eating too many potatoes can cause diarrhea due to the excessive ingestion of starch.

Potatoes are one of the richest sources of starch, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. 100g provides 70 calories, however, they contain very little fat (just 0.1 g per 100g) and no cholesterol. The dietary fiber in potato increases the bulk of the stool, thus, it helps prevent constipation, decrease absorption of dietary cholesterol and there by lower plasma LDL cholesterol. Additionally, the rich fiber content also helps protect from colon polyps and cancer. Potato is considered a reliable source of carbohydrates in diabetics. Fresh potato along with its skin is a good source of antioxidant and vitamins. Red potatoes contain a good amount of Vitamin A, and antioxidant flavonoids like carotenes and zeaxanthins. A recent study suggests that flavonoid antioxidant, quercetin present in potatoes contain anti-cancer and cardio-protective properties.

Organic Food or Not?

Wondering if Organics is a better choice (Find out here)



James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.


Disclaimer

This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.


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Anti Inflammatory Foods


Inflammation today has become a distinct attack on your smiling body. Considered by many medical experts as the silent epidemic in our modern health and wellbeing and yet this seemingly fiery chemical reaction is part of our immune response, without inflammation, we can’t heal. Normal inflammation is positive is helping us deal with certain assaults of the body, however one of the main health issues today is inflammation out of balance, where it can damage the body, with conditions such as both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, appendicitis, bursitis, in fact anything ending in “itis”.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina inform us that  even the illnesses without an “itis” at the end, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, certain cancers, even Alzheimer’s disease, may be triggered in part by inflammation. Today we know that it’s very apparent that inflammation plays a role much more than we thought with respect to certain maladies. We are hearing more of autoimmune diseases where the body seems to turn on itself.

Foods that are sugar rich and high in saturated fat can elevate inflammation leading to an hyperactive immune system, possible leading to joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels.

I have listed here some foods that have anti-inflammatory functions, balancing the immune system. These foods can reduce heart disease risk, keep existing cardiac problems in check, reduce blood triglycerides and blood pressure, and soothe tender and stiff arthritic joints.

Add these items to your plate today.

Oily fish

Fish such as mackerel, tuna and sardines, salmon, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to reduce inflammation. However, to get maximum benefits, you need to eat fish regularly, more than once a week, and it should be cooked in healthy ways. Researchers from the University of Hawaii, found that men who ate baked or boiled fish (as opposed to fried, dried, or salted) cut their risk of heart disease by 23% compared to those who ate the least.  If some of your gang don’t like fish, then consider fish-oil supplements. They can cut inflammation, although a 2013 study found that if a diet is too high in omega-6 fatty acids (found in processed foods and vegetable oil), fish-oil supplements may reduce hyperactive inflammation.

Whole grains

Whole grains are rich in fibre which can reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the blood and they usually have less added sugar. People who consume a diet consisting mostly of grains as whole grains, as opposed to refined, white bread, cereal, rice, and pasta can help keep harmful inflammation at bay.  When choosing wholegrain products, be aware that not all products labelled “whole grain” are as healthy as their refined equivalent. Be sure to look at the label and make sure that the first ingredient is a whole grain as the first ingredient with no added sugars.

Dark leafy greens

According to some studies, Vitamin E may play a key role in protecting the body from pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines and one of the best sources of vitamin E is dark leafy greens, such as spinach, broccoli, kale, and collard greens. Dark greens and cruciferous vegetables also tend to have higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, and disease fighting phyto-chemicals, than their lighter-coloured veggies.

Nuts

Nuts are another source of inflammation-fighting healthy fats, particularly almonds, which are high in fibre, calcium, and vitamin E. Walnuts have high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fat. All nuts are loaded with antioxidants which can help your body fight off and repair the damage caused by inflammation. Nuts (along with fish, leafy greens, and whole grains) are a big part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to reduce inflammation in as little as six weeks.

Soy

Soy products are rich in isoflavones, estrogen-like compounds and according to several studies these may help lower CRP and inflammation levels in women and a 2007 animal study published in the Journal of Inflammation found that isoflavones also helped reduce Avoid heavily-processed soy whenever possible, which may not include the same benefits and the negative effects of inflammation on bone and heart health in mice.

is usually paired with additives and preservatives. Instead, aim to get more soy milk, tofu, and edamame (boiled soybeans) into your regular diet.

Low-fat dairy

Milk products are sometimes considered a trigger food for inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, because some people have allergies or intolerances to casein, the protein found in dairy. But for people who can tolerate it, low-fat and non-fat milk are an important source of nutrients. Yogurt can also contain probiotics, which can reduce gut inflammation.

“Foods with calcium and vitamin D, such as yogurt and skim milk, are good for everyone,” says Karen H. Costenbader, MD, associate professor of medicine and rheumatoid arthritis doctor at Harvard Medical School. In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, she says, “it is important to get enough calcium and vitamin D for bone strength, and possibly reduction of cancer and other health risks.”

Peppers

“Colourful vegetables are part of a healthier diet in general,” says Dr. Costenbader. “As opposed to white potatoes or corn, colourful peppers, tomatoes, squash, and leafy vegetables have high quantities of antioxidant vitamins and lower levels of starch.” Bell peppers are available in a variety of colours, while hot peppers (like chilli and cayenne) are rich in capsaicin, a chemical that’s used in topical creams that reduce pain and inflammation.

Be aware that peppers are nightshade vegetables which some doctors and patients believe can exacerbate inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis. “What helps one person may be harmful to another,” says Dr. Zashin. “You just need to pay attention to your diet and your symptoms, and stick with what works for you.”

Tomatoes

Tomatoes another nightshade vegetable may also help reduce inflammation in some people. (Of course, Dr. Zashin’s advice about what works for you, individually, applies here, as well.)  Juicy red tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which has been shown to reduce inflammation in the lungs and throughout the body. Cooked tomatoes contain even more lycopene than raw ones, so tomato sauce works, too and a 2012 Iranian study found that tomato juice consumption was also beneficial.

Beets or Beetroot

The brilliantly red coloured beetroot is a tell tale of its concentration of antioxidants. Beets (and beetroot juice) have been shown to reduce inflammation, as well as protect against cancer and heart disease, thanks to their hearty helping of fibre, vitamin C and plant pigments called betalains.

Ginger

Ginger is a common Asian and Indian cooking spice, in many studies have demonstrated their anti inflammatory properties. Dr. Costenbader says, “While the evidence in terms of RA inflammation is not very strong, they are vegetables and part of a healthy, vegetable rich diet,”

Turmeric

Turmeric is another common used spice and the ingredient that gives curry its yellow colour, works in the body by helping to turn off a NF-kappa B, a protein that regulates the immune system and triggers the process of inflammation, researchers say. Its relative ginger, meanwhile, has been shown to reduce inflammation in the intestines when taken in supplement form.

Garlic

These immunity-boosting foods have not only a traditional history of properties but modern scientific research has also shown them to have anti inflammatory benefits. In studies, garlic has been revealed to act similarly to NSAID pain medications (like ibuprofen), shutting off the pathways that lead to inflammation.

Onions

Onions contain similar anti inflammatory chemicals to garlic, including the phytonutrient quercetin and the compound allicin, which breaks down to produce free radical-fighting sulfenic acid.

Olive oil

“Anything that fits into a heart-healthy diet is probably also good for inflammation—and that includes healthy, plant-based fats like olive oil,” says Dr. Zashin, author of Natural Arthritis. A Spanish study in 2010, found that the Mediterranean diet’s myriad health benefits may be largely due to its liberal use of olive oil, especially the extra-virgin kind. The compound oleocanthal, which gives olive oil its taste, has been shown to have a similar effect as NSAID painkillers in the body.

Berries

All fruits can help fight inflammation, because they’re low in fat and calories and high in antioxidants. But berries, especially, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties—possibly because of anthocyanins, the powerful chemicals that gives them their rich colour. Studies have shown, for example, that red raspberry extract helped prevent animals from developing arthritis; that blueberries can help protect against intestinal inflammation and ulcerative colitis; and that women who eat more strawberries have lower levels of CRP in their blood.

Cherries

Oregon Health & Science University researchers in a 2012 presentation, suggested that cherries have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.” Researchers have found that cherry juice can reduce the inflammation in lab experiments by up to 50%; in humans, meanwhile, it’s been shown to help athletes improve their performance and reduce their use of anti-inflammatory pain meds. Experts recommend eating 1.5 cups of cherries, or drinking 1 cup of tart cherry juice, a day to see similar benefits. And yep, they’ve got to be tart—sweet cherries just don’t seem to have the same effects.


Food is Medicine Too!



Disclaimer

This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.


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