Spice Up Your Health

This month has More Herbs, Less Salt Day — an occasion designed to encourage herbal intake and less sodium in your daily diet. Flavor your food with these feisty items:

Oregano. While it seasons your Italian dishes, oregano is also a natural anti-microbial agent — protective against viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Its rich anti-oxidant levels also may help prevent breast and ovarian cancers. Oregano oil acts as an anti-histamine and has cell regeneration properties. Try oregano in marinades, sprinkled over grilled chicken, or combined with garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese for a healthy bread dip.

Rosemary. This plant has anti-inflammatory properties. In tea form, it can help alleviate headaches and acts as a natural astringent. Research also shows it’s a free-radical fighter that may combat cataracts. Add rosemary to liven up sauces, or leave in its plant form as an indoor air freshener.

Mint. Found often in teas, this cool, crisp leaf soothes rattled nerves and can calm queasy stomachs — with studies suggesting it aids treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Mint may also help reduce tumor growth. Evidence shows that its potent phytochemicals may work to cut off blood flow that nourishes the tumors. It has external medicinal benefits too. Recent studies found that dousing a cold compress with mint oil and rubbing it over joints can relieve pain and discomfort associated with arthritis.

Water Aerobics

Water’s natural buoyancy gently resists your efforts — strengthening muscles without stressing your joints or back. It’s perfect for senior citizens, pregnant women, and anyone recovering from injury. The over-exaggerated nature of these exercises taxes your lungs and heart — so you reap cardiovascular and respiratory benefits too. Before fall makes its debut, take to the water and enjoy the benefits of water exercises.

Core strength: Holding onto the pool deck, place your back up against the side of the pool and elevate your legs to 90 degrees. Maintaining the L position, slowly swing your legs from one side to another, resisting the urge to sag in your chest or lower back. At center, bend your legs in and back out and repeat 10 times.

Shoulders: Raise your arms out to the side in horizontal position 10 times; then repeat your reach out in front of your body 10 times. Hold your arms out in front of you and perform small circular motions in both directions, gradually increasing the size of the circle to that of a basketball.

Legs: Bring your legs up to a perpendicular position. Open them to a V angle and then close 10 times to work your hips and thighs. With your legs pointed straight down, perform scissor kicks to help tone the hamstrings and quads. Both exercises will engage your abs too.

Family Fun

Busy schedules mean families have little time to play together. In honor of Family Fun Month, try these ideas to help foster confidence, bonding, and health in you and your kids.

Host a mini Olympics. Use your backyard or a park as the setting for games and events that cater to the whole crew. Hold crawling and jumping races. Make obstacle courses with pillows, crates, chairs, sandboxes, and sprinklers. Have older kids help the younger ones. Your imagination is the only startup tool you need to make this a gold medal winner.

Prepare a meal together — one the whole family can enjoy. Try homemade pizza and let everyone select an ingredient to add. Encourage colorful decorations from the veggie bin. Studies show that children are more apt to eat healthy meals when they participate in preparation. Plus you’ll promote involvement and responsibility, all while getting a little help in the kitchen.

Read as a family, even with older kids — you’ll build unity and literacy in the household. Extend your reading nights into writing campaigns, asking each family member to pen notes of thanks to a sibling, parent, child, or other family member. Give younger kids a chance to draw pictures instead.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Great tomato flavor that has been passed down for generations!

Unique in shape, color, size, and flavor, heirloom tomatoes are fast becoming the most popular tomatoes around. For those who appreciate a tomato in its simplest form, any of the numerous heirloom types will certainly delight the palate.

Heirloom tomatoes must be open-pollinated (not a hybrid) and are produced suing classic breeding practices. They can be grown in greenhouses in a controlled atmosphere or outside in a field. Either way, heirloom tomatoes have a taste that can be enjoyed fresh or as a recipe ingredient. Some favorite heirloom tomatoes are Black Crimson (from Russia’s Crimean Peninsula), Cherokee Purple (originally grown by the Cherokee Indian tribe in Tennessee), Brandwine (an Amish variety), and Marvel Stripe (aptly named for its radial, red striations).

Because heirlooms come in such interesting shapes, colors, and sizes, simply look for those with maximum coloring that are plump, smooth skinned, and feel heavy for their size. If the tomatoes are somewhat soft and yield to touch, then they are fully ripe, and must be used immediately. Heirlooms should not be refrigerated unless they have already been prepared, or if they are completely ripened and would otherwise spoil if left at room temperature. To store, place tomatoes stem end up in a closed paper bag, with or without an ethylene-producing fruit like a banana or apple to hasten the ripening process.

Like regular tomatoes, heirlooms are an important source of vitamins A and C. Heirloom tomatoes are also fat free and contain no cholesterol, which makes them a healthy addition to a meal. So enjoy something old and something new with heirloom tomatoes while they are available now through the end of October in your produce department.

Bragg Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If your health is as important to you as flavor, aroma and taste, take a look at olive oil! Here’s great news: Olive oil is considered a “perfect food”. It has been used for centuries and some claim it to be the original health food. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in 400 B.C., wrote about the benefits of olive oil, calling it the “great health therapeutic”. He recommended it to his patients for the treatment of cholera, ulcers, muscular and joint pains, dry skin and many other conditions.

Olive Oil – Centuries of Health

Even earlier, on the island of Crete as far back as 2500 B.C., olive oil is mentioned in Greek mythology, and in the Bible over 200 times. It was used in religious rituals and to anoint monarchs at their coronation. The Egyptians, Phoenicians and Greeks believed this miracle tree fruit brought health, peace and prosperity to their civilizations.

The olive tree is often called the tree of life because of the therapeutic nectar of the fruit. When used as a medicinal balm, olive oil stimulates circulation, enhances and beautifies the skin and complexion and strengthens the hair.

Olive Oil – Source of Energy

Olive oil is an excellent source of energy and is easily digestible. It reduces gastric acid and helps in the healing of ulcers. It aids digestion, relieves constipation, and is beneficial to the pancreas, liver and gallbladder. It strengthens bones and enhances skin, helps regulate the body’s endocrine metabolism and stimulates the absorption of calcium and minerals which, in turn, helps stimulate growth.

Olive Oil – Health’s Liquid Gold

How can this “liquid gold” be so good for you? Among the therapeutic benefits, olive oil is also easily absorbed by the human body. The chemical structure of fat is important for it to be easily absorbed. If the fat is saturated, in one long chain, then the body cannot break it down and it becomes indigestible and then can clog the bloodstream! The healthiest oils have mono and unsaturated fats, and a weaker chain structure that is more easily broken down by the body in the digestive process.

Olive Oil Helps Lower Cholesterol

Olive oil is high in healthy monounsaturated fat and studies show it lowers blood cholesterol, especially the “harmful” or LDL-variety (low density lipoproteins), while protecting the “good” or the HDL (high density lipoproteins) type. A certain amount of fat is vital to our health because fat carries important vitamins like A, D, E and K into our precious rive of life, the bloodstream.

Health Crusader Patricia Bragg is pleased to announce that this healthy food is one of Bragg Healthy Organic Products. Their olive oil, family owned and organically grown, is extra virgin and is first pressed.

It is always 100% cold-pressed, which is the healthiest way to extract the oil. It can be used right after its extraction from the fruit. We consider it a natural, healthy organic fruit oil!

Health Prize Winner – Bragg Organic Olive Oil

Bragg organic olive oil has a delicious fruity, buttery taste which adds flavor and aroma to salads, veggies, pastas, pestos, bread, sauces, sautés, potatoes, popcorn and most foods. It has won prizes for the “Highest Quality” in Andria, Italy from the tasters in blind olive oil taste tests.

All of Bragg olives are hand picked, not forced machines shaken, to ensure that each olive is at the desired state of ripeness and not bruised. Then the olive are cold pressed within 24 hours to assure highest possible quality is produced. Take taste test! You will agree! It is one of the finest organic olive oils available today – Patricia says, “Try it – You will love it!”