NATURES BEAUTY - LULO

Continuing our 2018 theme of seeking out new and unusual produce and other types of foods to try, we present to you lulo. Also known as naranjilla, this exotic tropical fruit is a member of the tomato family. It is native to northwestern South America and is found primarily in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Panama.  The lulo plant is a spreading herbaceous shrub with thick stems. Some of its leaves have spines, but others are spineless.

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NATURES BEAUTY - JACKFRUIT

Also known as jak or nangka, jackfruit is a member of the fig, mulberry and breadfruit family. It is native to Sri Lanka and India, where it was first cultivated about 6,000 years ago but is nowadays regarded with disdain as a poor person’s fruit. The jackfruit tree has hundreds of individual flowers and fleshy petals. As the largest tree-borne fruit, one jackfruit can weigh as much as 80 pounds and be 35 inches long. The Jackfruit Company (www.thejackfruitcompany.com) says a single jackfruit tree yields two to three tons...

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NATURES BEAUTY - LILY

Easter is upon us, and no flower is more associated with the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection than the lily. Traditional lore says white lilies emerged where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the earth in his final hours on the cross. The ancient Greeks believed lilies came from the breast milk of Hera, the queen of the gods. In Roman mythology, Venus, the goddess of beauty, was jealous of the flower’s white loveliness. A European legend says if you approach an expectant mother holding a lily….

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NATURES BEAUTY - SPINACH

Who didn’t grow up watching those Popeye cartoons and envying the sassy sailor his guns, which popped up from his previously puny arms right after he ate a can of spinach?


And who, despite that, didn’t turn up his or her nose when Mom put a bowl of spinach on the dinner table?


Luckily, we’ve come a long way from despising spinach. It has quickly evolved into a must-have green for salads and smoothies.


Spinach is an annual flowering plant that was first cultivated in ancient Persia (today’s Iran). When it was introduced to ancient China, it was called the Persian vegetable. Spinach belongs to the chenopod family, which includes beets, chard and quinoa. There are three varieties of spinach: savoy, which has dark green, curly leaves and is sold in fresh bunches in most supermarkets; semi-savoy, a hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves; and flat or smooth leaf. When you have a spinach dish dubbed “Florentine” (such as lasagna Florentine or sole Florentine), it is because spinach was the favorite vegetable of Catherine de Medici, who was born in Florence, Italy.


Spinach packs a nutritional punch whether it’s fresh, frozen, steamed, boiled or flash fried. Low in calories, it is a good source of

vitamins A, B, C, E and K, as well as magnesium, manganese and folate. You will also find riboflavin, calcium, potassium and fiber in your spinach. Spinach is an excellent source of beta-carotene, the powerful disease-fighting antioxidant that is known to fight heart disease and cancer. The vegetable has several important phytochemicals, including lutein, which helps prevent age-related macular degeneration.


One source says the healthiest way to consume spinach is in juice form. Add a few leaves to your smoothie or blend it with other vegetables and fruit. Regular consumption of fresh, organic spinach juice has been shown to dramatically improve skin health.


Popeye probably didn’t realize spinach eases constipation and flushes out toxins from the colon. Spinach contains glycoglycerolipids, the main fat-related molecules found in the membranes of light-sensitive organs in most plants. They help protect the lining of the digestive tract from damage. New research shows spinach has the potential to protect against prostate cancer.

Although Popeye would have us believe spinach is nothing but iron and that’s why he was suddenly so strong after consuming some, spinach in fact contains substances that inhibit the absorption of iron. High levels of oxalate can bind to the iron to form ferrous oxalate, which means the body can’t use it. Another compound in spinach is oxalic acid, which blocks the absorption of calcium and iron. To counteract this problem, boil your spinach for one minute or pair it with a food that is high in vitamin C, such as oranges.


The story goes that a scientist miscalculated the iron content in spinach; a misplaced decimal point caused him to give spinach an iron value 10 times higher than it should have had. However it happened, Popeye’s message is still a good one: Eat your spinach!

TANYA TYLER

Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine

more articles by Tanya Tyler