What exactly is a superfood? Superfoods are whole foods that have extremely high nutritional values and health benefits for a human body. Doctors, nutritionists and scientists around the world agree that eating superfoods not only prevents certain diseases, but also boosts your immune system, lowers your cholesterol, fights stress and even helps you to lose weight.
You probably heard many times about the health benefits and nutritional values of certain foods like tomatoes, blueberries, broccoli or spinach. These vegetables are of course great, but there are many other superfoods that have been used for centuries in different parts of the world for better health and longevity. The good news is these superfoods have already made their way to your local supermarket. You don’t have to travel far to find them. You just need to know what they are. I have listed three superfoods that you will easily find in your local supermarket.
In the United States, high nutritional values of blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and blackberries are well known. But there is another very powerful antioxidant in the berry family. It is called goji berry (sometimes called wolfberries). Goji berries in the US are usually found dried. They look like red raisins and has somewhat of a sweet and sour taste. They grow on an evergreen shrub in regions of China, India, Mongolia and Tibet. It is a newer kind of food/snack in the United States, but goji berries have been used for over 5,000 years by herbalists in different countries. Goji berries are especially known to keep the liver healthy. It is also known to boost immune functions, improve circulation, help eyesight and reduce inflammation. Like most fruits, it has essential vitamins and minerals in them too.
For the last couple of years, goji berries have been getting much attention as one of the anti-aging wonders. And it really is one of the best superfoods that you can eat, but remember, this is true only if you are eating the purest form of it. The market is overloaded with various marketing campaigns – goji berry chocolates and energy bars, goji berry teas and drinks, goji berry this and that. If you are buying these products to get the health benefit of goji berry, think again. It is like eating spinach on a fatty hamburger. Spinach itself is good, but it is still a fatty hamburger. This principle applies to any other superfoods. You need to eat wholesome foods and its purest form to absorb its benefits.
It is believed that pure juice from fresh goji berry helps to keep your liver healthy. The juice from the goji berry is also used for various medicines to treat various illnesses. It is popular to consume goji berry in your tea. Just drop a couple of dried berries in your cup of tea. Also, you can use them to garnish your salad or in stir-fries. Because goji berries are very delicate on the plant, they are usually not picked by hand; they are gently shaken from the vine. Then, they are set out under the sun to dry. They are not processed. This is the type of goji berry you should eat to absorb the health benefits. Avoid the processed products that claim to have goji berries in them. If you can’t find them fresh, try either frozen or dried goji berries.
This sweet tropical fruit is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Philippines. It has a thick dark purple rind that you cut open, inside is white creamy soft edible center that is full of vitamins and antioxidants. It is very sweet. Mangosteen requires a warm, very humid equatorial climate to grow. In the United States, the juice of mangosteen is becoming widely available. It is also available in tea form in your local supermarkets, if you can’t find the fruit.
Ointments made from mangosteen rind has been used in the medicine for skin infections, skin disorders, wounds and allergies throughout Southern Asia. The studies show that the primary active component of mangosteen is called xanthones. This powerful component is shown to have many benefits for a human body including anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial abilities. It is also shown to support immune system, fight stress and even uplift your mood.
Many studies said that the rind has nutritional values and contains cancer-fighting chemicals. Some studies even suggest eating the rind raw to absorb the cancer fighting benefits. I do not recommend eating the rind. The rind of the mangosteen is designed to be carefully cleaned and used in creams, ointments and sometimes capsules; it is not meant to be eaten raw, because the thick rind contains various unpleasant substances that is intended to discourage insects from eating the fruit in the center.
Whether you are trying mangosteen for health reasons or for just pure enjoyment, it is one fruit that is worth trying. I like it because of its sweet taste. All the other benefits are just a plus. If you can’t find the real fruit, try frozen, dried or in a tea form.
Mustard greens are related to kale, cabbage, collard greens and arugula family. It is a leafy green vegetable that is commonly used in Chinese, Japanese and Indian cuisines. This vegetable has been used in culinary preparation as far as 5,000 years back, and it is full of vitamin A, C and E and high in antioxidants. Many studies have shown that mustard greens, like many other greens, have anticancer effects. It tastes great, too. When cooked, it tastes a lot like spinach, but with more body. It is available year-round, but freshest at its peak from February until April.
The mustard plant that gives us the leaves also produces seeds. Mustard seeds are used for medicinal purposes too. It is also an important spice for many regional Asian cuisines. The seed is believed to have anti-inflammatory benefits. Mustard oil (made from mustard seeds) are used to preserve food. It is also used for body massages and believed to protect your skin and keep the skin healthy and moist.
Mustard greens are used in many vegetarian dishes, stir-fries, soups and curries. It also makes a wonderful side dish or an appetizer. To prepare mustard greens, just wash them and cook them in the olive oil with a little bit of fresh garlic on a medium heat. Then, add just a few drops of dark sesame oil. This is a quick, easy and a healthy side dish to any meal.
In the US, many food items have been altered to contain ingredients that our bodies don’t need. This causes many problems for our bodies: obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure just to name a few. This is simply because our bodies don’t need those chemically produced ingredients. So, on your next shopping trip, try one of these three superfoods: goji berry, mangosteen or mustard greens. Also, experiment with different health foods, and find the ones you like. There are many healthy foods that are absolutely delicious!!! When it comes to your health and body, always eat the purest and freshest foods that you can find. Cheers to your health!
Progressive Relaxation for the Mind and Body
There are many methods and techniques to induce full body relaxation. From the soothing touch of therapeutic massage to sitting in tranquil mindfulness meditation, deep relaxation is beneficial to body and soul. There’s no getting around it, life is busy. The busier it is, the harder it gets to find peaceful relaxing moments in the day. However, it’s important to carve some time out of the 24 hours in the day to search out that which makes us serene and calm.
Potential Benefits of Whole Body Relaxation
Benefits of deep relaxation may include more restful sleep, relief from stress, anxiety or depression, a stronger ability to focus, higher creativity and productivity levels, lowering of blood pressure and overall improved general health. Finding time to relax is as important to the body and mind as proper diet and exercise.
A Full Body Relaxation Exercise
This relaxation technique can be adapted to suit the person using it. It can be utilized in a group setting where others can benefit as well. Twenty to 30 minutes per day is an adequate amount of time to induce the relaxation response when first learning the technique.
- At a time where you won’t be disturbed, lie on a comfortable flat surface in “zero gravity” position. This position is semi-reclining with cushions under the lower legs to elevate them to be level or slightly higher than the heart. This positioning is extremely comfortable and takes pressure off all major points of the body while still providing adequate circulation.
- Turn on soothing music without lyrics. This may need to be done before lying down if a remote control or portable audio system is not being used. Typical audio for deep relaxation is massage music or that designed for meditation or visualization techniques. Some audio includes brainwave technology to induce the “alpha state” in the brain which is deeply relaxing.
- Cover up with a blanket if necessary as body temperature drops as the body relaxes more deeply.
- Begin to breathe, inhaling to the count of four, holding to the count of seven, and exhaling to the count of eight. Continue this for approximately six cycles, then return to your natural rhythm.
- Begin progressive muscle relaxation with the feet, working upwards through the body. Pay attention to any areas of tension or pain along the way and visualize sending breath into the areas to relax and soothe.
- As any thoughts wander in to your mind, simply allow them to come and go. Resume focus on your breath and inducing complete body relaxation by allowing muscles to release all tension they may be holding.
The relaxation exercise above is easy to do but difficult to master. It is important to carve out time during the day to be able to do it without disturbance from phone calls, children, pets or time constraints. Many people have varying degrees of difficulty with controlling unwanted thoughts. Knowing that it’s normal and natural to have thoughts come and go may help with the ability to do the exercise effectively.
A Body Relaxation Consideration
If it seems impossible to induce deep relaxation on your own, consider using pre-recorded guided meditation, guided visualization, or hypnosis audios. Sometimes, the ability to hear someone else’s voice may be more effective in allowing deeper focus and ultimately, complete body relaxation.