7 Fantastic Health Benefits of Almonds

Written by: Helen

Welcome to another Fit Food Friday.  If you are trying to snack healthily (which can be one of the hardest aspects of healthy eating) then nuts can be your best friend.  They are both nutritious and filling, and come with some pretty fantastic health benefits (as long as you aren’t allergic to them…obviously).

 

1) Nutrition

To name a few of the nutrients you can get from almonds: manganese, copper, vitamin E, phosphorous, monounsaturated fats and calcium (so not bad for a little nut eh?)

 

2) Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

Nuts and seeds in general have been shown to be heart healthy foods.  Studies have shown that those who ate nuts on a regular basis had a lower risk of heart disease.

 

3) Healthy Fats

We need to be eating fat in our diets, it’s just that we should be eating more of the good fats (in foods such as nuts, oily fish and avocados) than the bad fats.  So although almonds are quite high in fat, most of it is monounsaturated fat, which has health benefits.

 

4) Diabetes

In studies almonds have shown to decrease rises in blood sugar after meals.  One study showed that, when eaten alongside a food high on the Glycemic Index (food that causes blood sugar to rise quickly) almonds significantly lowered the Glycemic Index of the meal and lessened the rise in blood sugar afterwards.

 

5) Longevity

This applies to nuts in general.  Research that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who ate a handful of nuts every day lived longer than those who never ate nuts.  Other studies have shown similar results.

 

6) Weight

As I mentioned they make a great healthy snack.  Some people avoid nuts because of their fat and calorie content.  However, studies have linked the consumption of nuts to weight loss rather than weight gain.  Moderation is the key but nuts can definitely play a part in a healthy diet and are a good food to eat if you are trying to lose some weight.

 

7) Lower Cholesterol

Almonds have been shown to be one of the foods that can help lower cholesterol.  One study showed that it boosted levels of Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant, and prevents oxidation of cholesterol which can clog arteries.

 

Almonds have also long been an ingredient in all sorts of lotions, right back to ancient Egypt and are still used in many today.  Almonds come from almond trees, and it is the seed of the fruit that we call the almond nut.

You can obviously just grab a handful of almonds and enjoy, but here are a few other ways you can also eat them.  Just click on the recipe titles to be taken to the link.

 

Almond & Lemon Crusted Fish with Spinach

Almond-&-Lemon-Crusted Fish with Spinach

 

 

Lentil & Almond Burgers

Lentil & Almond Burgers

Are you a fan of almonds?  Do you snack on nuts? Let me know below.  If you want other Fit Food Fridays straight to your inbox don’t forget to subscribe.  Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Reference

World’s Healthiest Foods

MNT

Care2

10 Simple Ways to Improve Your Sleep

Written by: Helen

In my last post I talked about relaxation (you can read that here).  One factor that improves our ability to relax is a good night’s sleep.  Sleep deprivation can impact different aspects of our lives including our physical health, our emotional health and our relationships.  

At some point or other, most of us, will have groaned despairingly as the alarm clock beeps, dragged ourselves out of bed half-asleep, brushed our teeth with shaving cream and left the house wearing odd shoes (just me then?). It is awful trying to function when you are tired.

I want to sleep. Picture Quote #1

Here are just a few of the benefits we get from a good night’s sleep:

  • Aids our metabolism so can help with weight loss
  • Improves our concentration
  • Improved immune support
  • Better memory

Bedtime can become stressful when you aren’t sleeping right.  It can seem that the more you try to get to sleep, the more allusive sleep can be.  If sleep is an issue for you then here are 10 things to try for a better night’s sleep:

 

1) Don’t eat too late

This gives chance for digestion to take place before you go to bed and so won’t keep you up.

 

2) Cut down on caffeine

Be aware of how much caffeine you drink in a day and don’t drink any for at least 4 hours before bed if sleep is an issue.

 

3) Make relaxation a part of your bedtime routine

Here are some ideas:

  • Gentle stretching before bed
  • Meditation
  • Soak in the bath
  • Reading a book
  • Bedtime yoga sequence- here is one from DoYouYoga

4) Check your bedroom environment

  • Think about blackout shades or an eye mask
  • If noise is an issue you could try earplugs
  • Make sure the room is well ventilated and at a comfortable temperature
  • Check your pillows and mattress- most mattresses need replacing after 10 years

 

5) Don’t force it

This comes back to night-time being stressful when you are struggling to sleep.  If you really can’t sleep then get up and do something relaxing, read a book for a moment and then try again.

 

6) Don’t clock watch

This doesn’t help and can add to the pressure.  This may mean facing your alarm clock away from you so you aren’t constantly checking it.

 

7) Keep your bedtime routines and times consistent

This isn’t just something that’s helpful with children. This works for adults too.  Your body will get used to going to sleep at certain times and, if you can stick to the same routine, then your body will recognise when it’s time to shut down for the night.

Every night I go to sleep late, and every morning I realize it was a bad idea. Picture Quote #1

 

8) Don’t drink right before bed

This is to limit loo trips in the night.

 

9) Ban digital from the bedroom

I mentioned this in my last post, but it is a good idea to have a reprieve from the digital world before bed.  Give yourself half an hour away from your phone and laptop and relax before bed.

 

10) Use your breath

I have mentioned before that I am currently reading a book about proper breathing.  If you are kept awake at night by to-do lists and worry, then a breathing exercise before bed could help.  Try taking deep breaths in and then as you breathe out try and visualise your worries leaving with your breath.  This can take a bit of practice but is certainly worth a try if you are prone to staying awake worrying.

 

If you do have trouble sleeping then I hope some of these tips can help.  Is there anything that you do to help with sleep?  Do you have trouble sleeping or are you one of those people who can switch off as soon as their head hits the pillow?  Let me know below.  If you’d like to subscribe so I can send you healthy posts to your inbox, just pop your email into the box.

Why You Need to Relax NOW!!! (& 10 ways you can do it)

Written by: Helen

Why relaxing is important for our health & top tips

Relaxation is important for health.  However, I do think that relaxing properly takes some skill.  You would think that it would be easy, and you simply need to sit down and say, “Right, I’m going to relax now.” However, certainly in my case, it can be difficult to switch my brain off and let my body have a moment to completely relax.

I’ve thought about this more recently because I’m reading a book about the importance of breathing (hint-breathing is important).  I’m finding it really interesting (perhaps watch out for a post about it soon) because I hadn’t given it too much thought.  My body does it automatically so I must be doing it right. Right?  Wrong! All these years I’ve been breathing wrong, who would have thought.

The way I relax is very similar.  I know that taking time to relax is good for my health, but do I really make adequate time for it, and do I really think about it enough?

I remember that when I found out the harm that stress can do to our health I was surprised.  There’s nothing wrong with a little stress; thank goodness, because there’s not many people who can manage to completely avoid it.  However, excessive amounts of prolonged stress can have consequences.

  • It can cause headaches and an upset tummy.
  • It can impact blood pressure.
  • It can cause chest pains.
  • It can lead to insomnia.
  • It can cause us to feel depressed and anxious.
  • Heart disease- it can cause high blood pressure and heart problems.
  • Asthma- studies have shown that stress can worsen asthma.
  • Alzheimers Disease- an animal study showed stress impacted this disease and that reducing stress may slow down its progression.
  • Accelerated ageing .
  • Lowers immunity.

So reducing and learning to manage stress in our life is good for us.  We need to ensure we truly are giving ourselves the ‘time-out’ that we need.

Reiki

 

My 10 Tips for Relaxation

The First 3 I think are the most important with regards to relaxation

1) Put aside regular time and make it part of your normal routine.

“I don’t have time”, I hear you cry.  This could be 5 or 10 minutes a day to do some breathing exercises, or half an hour or an hour each week to soak in the bath, but, if you aren’t doing so already, it’s important to give yourself this time, and if you don’t make the time then it won’t happen.

2) Breathing

This simple act can have great power in helping us relax.  There are lots of breathing exercises; you could consider visiting a meditation or yoga teacher who could help.  An easy thing to do is, once a day, or when you’re feeling stressed, take time to breathe deeply, really filling and emptying your lungs.  It’s amazing what a difference this can make.

3) Find what suits you.

We all are different so it makes sense we relax differently.  There’s no point saying ‘you must relax in a hot bath’ if you’re the type of person who hates baths and only showers.  Find something that you’re comfortable with.

4) Take time out from computers and phones and all digital devices at least half an hour before bed.

This has been shown to help our minds unwind and relax before bed.

5) Address sleep issues.

It is hard to relax if we aren’t sleeping well.  Some of the above may help with sleep, also not eating too close to bed.

6) Herbal teas

Some herbal teas such as chamomile or lemon balm can help you unwind (you can read more about herbal teas here)

7) Music

Buy or download some relaxation music.  You could play this whilst doing breathing exercises, or having a bath, doing some yoga or drinking a cup of tea.

8) Try an activity that helps with relaxation, such as meditation or yoga.

You can join a group or there are videos on YouTube so you can do it at home.

9) Connect with nature

Here is a link to a BBC News article I found interesting.  It says we may come to a point where doctors prescribe nature because research has shown that nature soothes the mind.  So find a local nature spot and take a walk.

10) Try something creative

Again, this may not work for you, but I enjoy writing and find that relaxing and therapeutic.  You could try taking up a craft or drawing, many people find these sorts of activities a good way to have some ‘me’ time and relax.

 

Do you sometimes struggle to relax?  And what do you find works for you in terms of relaxation?  I’d love to hear from you.  If you want me to alert you of future healthy posts just pop your email address in the box.  Thanks for reading 🙂