New Year Healthy Foods Reminder, by Beverly Hicks Burch

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New Year Healthy Foods Reminder

By Beverly Hicks Burch

We’re starting the New Year off here in Alabama with the most significant “winter weather event” since 1996. That’s saying a lot because we closed 2010 with a white Christmas…the first I know of in my lifetime and probably the last. Now, we do have a subtropical climate in this area…most of the time, but we have had our share of cold (even frigid) weather and yes, s-n-o-w! When that happens stand by and watch the stampede to the store for bread and milk. It never fails…it always happens. “Snowpocalypse 2011” is being handled about like Y2K was handled…

With colder weather we also start to see more colds and flu. Today I was reading on my NookColor, my nifty birthday present from my Tall & Handsome. I had received the latest issue Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. This is a great little magazine I had subscribed to for years and can now receive it on my Nook.

The current issue has a great article reminding us about some foods to help get us through the cold and flu season…or any time of the year for that matter. Some I knew about, others were a surprise.

· This is something I have known about for years, but was reminded about in this article. Southerners take a lot of ribbing for our love of tea (usually iced and sweet and we’ll take that any time of the year thank you!). Well, black and green teas both are a wonderful source of polyphenols. These antioxidants help fight cancer, heart disease and boost your metabolism. If you’re drinking your tea hot, use water that is just under the boiling point and steep your tea for less than 5 minutes. Also, keep in mind that rooibos (red tea, one of my favorites) is also a good source of antioxidants and is minus caffeine, although the caffeine in green tea is minimal and the caffeine in black tea in minimal when compared to coffee. When making a cup of hot tea, brewing time also affects how much caffeine in the cup. My favorite source for hot tea is The Republic of Tea.

· Garlic and Allicin: Allicin is an organosulfur compound found in garlic. It can fight bacteria and stop viruses from reproducing. It also has an anti-fungal property. Allicin is the property in nature that protects garlic from pests…and probably stops vampire neck gnawing…just kidding…some research also suggests Allicin has antioxidant properties, protects against hypertension, atherosclerosis and anti-inflammatory properties.

· Broccoli (or any cruciferous veggie): sulforaphane (could this explain why cabbage smells the way it does when it’s cooking?!) is found in these veggies and is yet another organosulfur compound with wonderful healthy benefits. Like what you might ask? How does anticancer, antidiabetic and antimicrobial sound?

· Red Bell Peppers: Do you know how much vitamin C you need a day to protect yourself against germs? 90 mg…that’s all… Now, what do you think is your best source for vitamin C? If you’re like me you probably thought “an orange”. I did for years. But, actually your #1 source for vitamin C is a red bell pepper. Just a half of a red bell pepper will give you 76 mg of vitamin C while half of an orange will give you only 35 mg.

· Mushrooms: I’ll have to admit this is one of the hardest for me. For years my favorite line was “I don’t eat fungus” (kinda like the “I don’t eat bait” thing when it comes to sushi). Over the years I’ve grown more tolerable to mushrooms. It may have something to do with that Tall & Handsome guy I hang around with. It’s good to know my “acquired” taste hasn’t been for naught…it seems mushrooms have antiviral proteins that help fight off infections.

· Yogurt: One of my personal favorites, so much so that for years I made my own. For decades yogurt was viewed as a miracle food. We heard of stories of wizened people in Asia or some obscure place in the Soviet Union who had eaten yogurt made with yak milk all their life and now they were like 150…well, may only 103, but still, really old…at least in my eyes at the time. I’ll pass on the yak milk, because I’m afraid it would do just that…make me yak… Seriously, yogurt is an excellent source for probiotics also known as “the good bacteria”. Nowadays folks are paying big money for probiotics in health foods stores, but one study found that just a cup of yogurt per day reduced employee absenteeism. Seems like that’s a whole lot more economical and simpler than swallowing several pills (I already have more than enough thank you). I’ll take Black Cherry, please…

Now what do you do if you’ve missed the boat already, or maybe I should say already caught to boat to “Hacking and Sneezing”? Well, there’s a lot of truth in the old adage that chicken soup is Jewish penicillin. Seems studies have shown chicken soup can prevent inflammation that causes coughing and congestion. And, if you really want to step it up a notch and take care of that stuffy nose, throw in a dash of cayenne pepper. That’s a sure fired (no pun intended) way to reduce nasal stuffiness and you’ll be breathing easier before you know it!

Hope you enjoyed these little New Year food tidbits! Here’s to a healthy and Happy New Year!

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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