Kimchee – What are the health benefits of kimchee!

Kimchee - what are the benefits to our health
Kimchee – what are the benefits to our health

Never heard of kimchee?  Then let me be the one to introduce you this really amazing (and healthy) food.

But before I start I should explain that my love of kimchee is about 25 years old now.  It started in a sadly long defunct restaurant in South Wimbledon, London whose name escapes me for the moment. (It was great and real shame it closed.)

The evening we went (a Saturday I think) my eating life changed.  For the first time I tried Kimchee – the spicy fermented cabbage which is the hallmark of Korean food.    Talking to the gentleman who ran the place I was told that there are around 100,000 different types of fermented and picked vegetable dishes on the peninsula.  It was then a decided (by my wife and I) that our next holiday had to be to Korea. When we went we find it was (and still was on subsequent visits) a paradise for those who love hot and tasty food, wonderful people, great scenery and some of the finest sights in Asia.  (Ad for Korea over but do go… you won’t regret it).

Back now to the discussion of kimchee and why it is good for you.

As you may have picked up fermented foods (such as sauerkraut) are the fashion of the moment.  Kimchee comes into this category of tasty things.

The first point is that kimchi (an alternative spelling) is low in calories and high in fibre which makes it a great part of a weight loss program!

Secondly it is very high in vitamins.  In particular vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and vitamin C.  I’m told that the vitamin C content is upped by the fermentation process.

Kimchee is also a great source of antioxidants.  You can read up about the benefits of anti-oxidants at our previous blog.

But most importantly it is probiotic.  According to the NHS “Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts promoted as having various health benefits. They’re usually added to yoghurts or taken as food supplements, and are often described as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria.”  Again we have a whole blogful of data here on probiotics.

So what is Kimchi useful for health-wise?

  1. Diabetes comes to mind. Koreans, it seems, have a lower incidence than say the
    Kimchi - why it is great for you
    Kimchi – why it is great for you

    US and this has been attributed to the kimchi in the diet.  And it does help reduce blood sugar levels.

  2. Yes I was a bit surprised by this as well!  But again the great bacteria produced by eating kimchee do their job!
  3. Lowers cholesterol. Now kimchi has a high level of garlic which may well help reduce Cholesterol.
  4. Boost the immune system.
  5. General digestive health including bowel problems. Here both the fibre and the bacteria come into play.
  6. Aids weight loss and helps fight obesity!
  7. Anti-aging properties. Collagen produced by the bacteria helps keep you skin in tip top condition!

So where can I get kimchee?  Well these days a lot of supermarket chain sell it otherwise specialist Asian stores are your beast!

Otherwise you might even want to consider making your own.  Here is the recipe I use.

PS  I should mention that kimchi smells quite strong.  So both my wife and I have had complaints when we have taken it into work.

PPS It is not just vegetables which are fermented.  I once tried fermented fish guts.  You should too.

 

 

5 great ways to lower cholesterol naturally!

5 great ways to lower cholesterol naturally!
5 great ways to lower cholesterol naturally!

High cholesterol is the bane of the developed world.  In the modern world we have more, better and much easier to prepare food than in previous centuries. But, this also means,  far too many of us now have the opportunity to overindulge.  (I’ll put my hands up here and say I’m one of those guilty of what I have to call greed).   The problem with this kind of eating is that it does have the tendency to raise our cholesterol levels.

According to the NHS evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol can increase the risk of:

narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis)

heart attack

stroke

transient ischaemic attack (TIA) – often known as a “mini stroke”

peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

So I think we can all agree that we need a few ideas of reducing our cholesterol levels.

So I thought I would share the following five tips which you can use to help reduce your cholesterol with our recourse to medication.

a) Yes indeed I know healthcare professionals sound like a broken record on the subject of drink.  But it is important to cut down (if you do drink) to cut a glass or two a day.  Oh and make sure that you have a few drink free days each week including weekends.

b) Smoking tobacco. If you still smoke please please do give up.  Please check out a previous blog post with a few tips to help you quit.

c) Now I know that many pixels have died in the cause of lecturing us about taking more exercise.  But it also has numerous other benefits as this article shows!

d) Chronic stress can impact on your cholesterol levels.  To have a look at these great ideas for reducing stress in your life.

e) Foods fortified with plant sterols and stanols. Foods which contain sterols and stanols include corn, coconut, olive and sunflower oils, beans, corn, peanut butter, almonds, oranges, apples, and avocados.  A great way of getting down your cholesterol.

 

If you do have any concerns about your cholesterol levels please do speak with a medical professional as they are best able to advise on your best course of action!

And if you do have any other tips for reducing cholesterol please do share them in the comment section at the bottom of this blog post.

So what are Trans Fats and how can we avoid them?

Are trans fats bad for you?
Are trans fats bad for you?

Artificial trans fats can be formed when oil goes through a process called hydrogenation, which makes the oil more solid (known as hardening). This type of fat, known as hydrogenated fat, can be used for frying or as an ingredient in processed foods.

Artificial trans fats can be found in some processed foods such as biscuits and cakes, where they are sometimes used to help give products a longer shelf life. However, in recent years many food manufacturers have removed trans fats from their products.

Trans fats can also be found naturally in some foods at low levels, such as those from animals, including meat and dairy products.

Are trans fats bad for you?

What type of fruit is this?
What type of fruit is this?

Consuming a diet high in trans fats can lead to high cholesterol levels in the blood, which can cause health conditions such as heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. However, most people in the UK don’t eat a lot of trans fats.

We eat about half the recommended maximum of trans fats on average, which is why the more commonly eaten saturated fat is considered a bigger health risk. For more information, see Is saturated fat bad for me?

Reducing your intake of trans fats

If you want to reduce your intake of trans fats, you should:

  • avoid products that list partially hydrogenated fat or oil on the label
  • include lots of fruit and vegetables in your diet
  • use fat-free or low-fat dairy products
  • try to eat fewer biscuits, cakes and pastries
  • use liquid vegetable oil for frying at home
  • when eating out, try to eat fewer fried foods

What are superfoods? This is eye opening


Superfoods
Superfoods

What are superfoods?

We examine the evidence behind the health claims of 10 of the most popular so-called superfoods.

So-called, because there is no official definition of a “superfood” and the EU has banned health claims on packaging unless supported by scientific evidence.

But that hasn’t stopped many food brands from funding academics to research the health benefits of their product.

The superfood trend exploits the fact that healthy lifestyle choices, including diet, can reduce our risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and cancer.

The food industry wants to persuade us that eating some foods can slow down the ageing process, lift depression, boost our physical ability, and even our intelligence.

Many of us want to believe that eating a single fruit or vegetable containing a certain antioxidant will zap a diseased cell.

The problem is that most research on superfoods tests chemicals and extracts in concentrations not found in the food in its natural state.

Garlic, for example, contains a nutrient alleged to help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. But you’d have to eat up to 28 cloves a day to match the doses used in the lab – something no researcher has yet been brave enough to try.

Foods that have been elevated to superfood status in recent years include those rich in antioxidants (such as beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, E, flavanoids and selenium) and omega-3 fatty acids.

Antioxidants are chemicals thought to protect against the harmful effects of free radicals, which are chemicals naturally produced in every living cell and known to cause cell damage.

However, evidence about this and other health benefits of antioxidants is inconclusive. In a review of the scientific evidence in 2011 (PDF, 188kb), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found no evidence that the antioxidant action on free radicals observed in the lab was of any benefit to human health.

On the other hand, some research suggests that certain antioxidant supplements may be harmful (PDF, 2.72Mb).

While the concept of a “miracle food” remains a fantasy, it’s pretty well-established that obesity and alcohol are the two most common causes of major long-term illness and increased risk of premature death.

Importance of a balanced diet

Diet plays an important role in our health, but there is concern that too much focus on individual foods may encourage unhealthy eating.

“No food, including those labelled ‘superfoods’, can compensate for unhealthy eating,” explains Alison Hornby, a dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association (BDA).

“If people mistakenly believe they can ‘undo’ the damage caused by unhealthy foods by eating a superfood, they may continue making routine choices that are unhealthy and increase their risk of long-term illness.”

Dietitians avoid the term “superfood” and prefer to talk of “super diets”, where the emphasis is on a healthy, balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables and wholegrain foods.

There is good evidence that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of some chronic diseases and increase life expectancy.

This diet includes plenty of fruit and vegetables, olive oil and legumes, and less meat and dairy foods than the typical Western diet.

Hornby says: “When it comes to keeping healthy, it’s best not to concentrate on any one food in the hope it will work miracles.

“All unprocessed food from the major food groups could be considered ‘super’. All these foods are useful as part of a balanced diet.

“You should eat a variety of foods, as described by the eatwell plate, to ensure you get enough of the nutrients your body needs. Focusing on getting your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is a perfect way to start.”

We’ve teamed up with the BDA to look at the best available research to see if the health claims of 10 popular “superfoods” add up. Click on the foods listed below to see the evidence:

Abdominal aortic aneurysm – what are the signs, symptoms, causes and treatments of an Abdominal aortic aneurysm

Abdominal aortic aneurysm – what are the signs, symptoms, causes and treatments of an Abdominal aortic aneurysm

Welcome to the first in our series of posts in conjunction with NHS Choices were we look at the signs, symptoms, causes and treatments of a particular medical condition.  Today we will focus on abdominal aortic aneurysms.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a swelling (aneurysm) of the aorta – the main blood vessel that leads away from the heart, down through the abdomen to the rest of the body.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Abdominal aortic aneurysm

The abdominal aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body and is usually around 2cm wide – roughly the width of a garden hose. However, it can swell to over 5.5cm – what doctors class as a large AAA.Large aneurysms are rare, but can be very serious. If a large aneurysm bursts, it causes huge internal bleeding and is usually fatal.

The bulging occurs when the wall of the aorta weakens. Although what causes this weakness is unclear, smoking and high blood pressure are thought to increase the risk of an aneurysm.

AAAs are most common in men aged over 65. A rupture accounts for more than 1 in 50 of all deaths in this group and a total of 6,000 deaths in England and Wales each year.


This is why many men are invited for a screening test when they turn 65. The test involves a simple ultrasound scan, which takes around 10-15 minutes.

Symptoms of an AAA

In most cases, an AAA causes no noticeable symptoms. However, if it becomes large, some people may develop a pain or a pulsating feeling in their abdomen (tummy) or persistent back pain.

The following video gives an excellent overview of the condition – in particular who AAA is screened and treated.

An AAA doesn’t usually pose a serious threat to health, but there’s a risk that a larger aneurysm could burst (rupture).

A ruptured aneurysm can cause massive internal bleeding, which is usually fatal. Around 8 out of 10 people with a rupture either die before they reach hospital or don’t survive surgery.

The most common symptom of a ruptured aortic aneurysm is sudden and severe pain in the abdomen.

If you suspect that you or someone else has had a ruptured aneurysm, call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

Read more about the symptoms of an AAA.

Causes of an AAA

It’s not known exactly what causes the aortic wall to weaken, although increasing age and being male are known to be the biggest risk factors.

There are other risk factors you can do something about, including smoking and having high blood pressure and cholesterol level.

Having a family history of aortic aneurysms also means that you have an increased risk of developing one yourself.

Read more about the causes of an AAA.

Diagnosing an AAA

Because AAAs usually cause no symptoms, they tend to be diagnosed either as a result of screening or during a routine examination – for example, if a GP notices a pulsating sensation in your abdomen.

The screening test is an ultrasound scan, which allows the size of your abdominal aorta to be measured on a monitor. This is also how an aneurysm will be diagnosed if your doctor suspects you have one.

Read more about diagnosing an AAA.

Treating an AAA

If a large AAA is detected before it ruptures, most people will be advised to have treatment, to prevent it rupturing.

This is usually done with surgery to replace the weakened section of the blood vessel with a piece of synthetic tubing.

If surgery is not advisable – or if you decide not to have it – there are a number of non-surgical treatments that can reduce the risk of an aneurysm rupturing.

They include medications to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and quitting smoking.

You will also have the size of your aneurysm checked regularly with ultrasound scanning.

Read more about treating AAAs.

Prevention

The best way to prevent getting an aneurysm – or reduce the risk of an aneurysm growing bigger and possibly rupturing – is to avoid anything that could damage your blood vessels, such as:

  • smoking
  • eating a high-fat diet
  • not exercising regularly
  • being overweight or obese

Read more about preventing aneurysms.

[Original article on NHS Choices website]

Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Abdominal aortic aneurysm