Health Benefits of Legumes

three bean chili - Oct 16 14
three bean chili

What Are Legumes

First of all, what are legumes?  Legumes (also known as ‘pulses’) come from plants whose seed pods split on two sides when they’re ripe. So kidney beans, pinto beans, black (turtle) beans, chickpeas, lentils and even green peas and the yellow or green peas used for pea soup are all legumes. Soybeans (of which tofu is made) and good ‘ol “baked beans” are also in the legume family.

Nutritional Benefits

Legumes are high in insoluble fibre which helps keep our bowels regular. Legumes are also a good source of soluble fibre which can help lower LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels and are a good source of carbohydrate as well as protein, which makes them an affordable way to meet protein needs.  They also have a low Glycemic Index (GI), which means they are broken down slowly so you feel fuller for longer and they don’t cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, which makes them particularly good food for preventing and managing diabetes.

Complete Protein

In an exchange diet, 1 cup of legumes counts as a serving of carbs and a serving of protein. A dish made with legumes and served with a grain group makes a complete protein; that is, all the essential amino acids (ones our body can’t make) present in animal protein are present in a meal made up of legumes and grain.  So chickpea curry on rice, or hummus and pita, dal and roti, or chili and tortillas all make up a meal with complete protein. Meals like this provide “meat without bones”.

Cost

Legumes are inexpensive to buy, so including them as the main protein in meals with a side of grain can save lots of money on the grocery bills. No wonder cultures around the globe rely on legumes as a source of protein. Other benefits of legumes include:

  • High in B-group vitamins, phosphorous, and zinc
  • Good source of folate, which is essential for women of child-bearing age
  • Good source of antioxidants and phytonutrients
  • Low in saturated fat

 Bioavailability

Legumes are often promoted as being high in iron and calcium, however they also contain compounds in their basic structure that makes the iron and calcium unavailable to be used by the body. If you have a tendency to iron-deficient anemia, learning to time when to eat foods rich in iron and legumes is important.

“Beans , Beans Good for Your Heart…”

Most of us have heard the rhyme, but can anything be done to reduce this undesirable side effect.  Yes. Since legumes can be purchased dry (which need to be soaked before cooking) or canned, rinsing them well before cooking can eliminate most if not all of the gas-producing substances. When using the canned variety, rinse them in a colander with cool water before using.  This will remove most of the gas-producing substances as well as excess sodium (salt).  Discarding the soaking water of the dried variety before cooking virtually eliminates any gas!

Want to Learn More?

Learning to use legumes and timing when to eat them to maximize the absorption of key nutrients like iron and calcium isn’t difficult.  If you are vegetarian or simply want to eat healthier using non-animal based protein, legumes are a good group to know.  Why not click on the “Contact Us” tab above and send us a note.

Copyright ©2014 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.  LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this website, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without regular monitoring by a Registered Dietitian and with the knowledge of your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing something you have read in our content. 

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Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

romanesco cauliflower - Sept 29 2014
Romanesco

Before discussing the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables, what are they? Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables of the family Brassicae. Cruciferae takes its name from that Latin word for “cross-bearing” because the flowers of these plants have four petals resembling a cross. Vegetables from this family are cultivated and eaten around the world and include cauliflowerbroccoli, kale, cabbage and Chinese vegetables such as bok choi, gai lohn (Chinese broccoli) and Gai Choi (Chinese mustard greens). Even mustard seeds (both white and black) which are used widely in South Asian cooking are from this family of vegetables. Leafy salad greens such as arugula (also called rocket) are from the Brassica family, as are watercress and daikon radish and wasabi. These vegetables are rich in vitamin C as well as soluble fiber and are good sources of phytochemicals (active plant compounds that with many health benefits, including reducing certain forms of cancer).

Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in glucosinolates which are converted into compounds that have been found to have anti-cancer properties, especially against breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer. Compounds found in cruciferous vegetables have been found to cause an important liver enzyme from the Cytochrome P450 family to be expressed.  This enzyme has an important role in drug metabolism and synthesis of cholesterol. They also contain a few compounds which research indicates may protect the liver against damage.

Taste

Some people find that cruciferous vegetables taste bitter and other don’t. About 70% of people can taste a certain compound called PTC (phenylthiocarbamide) and to them cruciferous vegetables are perceived as bitter.  Cruciferous vegetables don’t actually contain PTC, but people who find that this compound tastes bitter will find cruciferous vegetables do too. Which people taste these vegetables as bitter depends on where one’s ancestors come from The lowest rates of tasting bitter from these vegetables (58%) are found amongst the aboriginals peoples of Australia and New Guinea and the highest rate (98%) amongst the indigenous people of North and South America. One study has found that non-smokers and those that don’t drink tea or coffee have a higher likelihood of tasting PTC than the general population. As well, there are certain cultures, especially Chinese and South Asians are taught to like foods with this slightly bitter taste and who in turn have been found to have lower incidences of colon, breast and prostate cancer as a result of eating many different foods from the Brassicae family.

Contraindications

Cruciferous vegetables contain enzymes that interfere with the formation of thyroid hormone (T3 & T4) in people with iodine deficiency and which can cause an enlargement of the thyroid, i.e. a “goiter”. Cooking cruciferous vegetables for 30 minutes significantly reduces the amount of these goiter-producing compounds. Since our bodies do not make iodine, this important mineral needs to come from the foods we eat. Since it has become popular recently for people to use sea salt instead of table salt (which is “iodized”) many people who don’t get enough iodine from other foods may be at increased risk of thyroid problems. The popularity of “juicing” and drinking smoothies made with cruciferous vegetables such as kale, watercress and arugula as well as using spinach and other greens that contain goiter-producing compounds in these drinks also puts people at added risk of thyroid problems.

Risks versus Benefits – how to know?

Getting the health benefits of reduced cancer risk and liver-protecting benefits by eating more cruciferous vegetables needs to be balanced with how much, how often and how (raw or cooked). Many popular health trends may sound healthy at first glance, but are they? Why not let our Dietitian help you on the road to better health? For more information, please click on the “Our Services” tab above to learn more about our various packages or click on the “Contact Us” tab to send us a note.

Remember, Nutrition is BetterByDesign !

Copyright ©2014 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.  LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this website, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without regular monitoring by a Registered Dietitian and with the knowledge of your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing something you have read in our content. 

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Gluten-free Tax Credit from Revenue Canada

 

 

 

 

Eating gluten-free is a lifestyle for some, but according to the US based National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, the additional cost for those with Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance) of eating gluten-free ranges from $4,000 to $14,000 over a four-year-period. Thankfully, the Canada Revenue Agency lists gluten-free food products as an eligible medical expense for those with medical need to avoid gluten and they offer a tax-credit to offset the costs. With the start of a new year, I thought it would be a good time to post something about the tax breaks available to those who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease / gluten intolerance.

Living gluten-free is expensive and even though the costs of gluten free products has come down significantly the last few years, a cost-comparison study from September 2013 by Dr. Mohsin Rashid, a gastroenterologist from Halifax found that on average that gluten-free foods are 162% more expensive than their corresponding non-gluten free product. This was reported in the study as “good news” as the cost was down from 242% in 2008.

Although slightly less than 1% of the population is diagnosed with Celiac disease (it’s estimated that up to 83% of people with Celiac disease are still undiagnosed), the demand for gluten-free foods has resulted in a $4.2 billion a year industry. This is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2016. Thankfully, with the increased demand has come increase variety of gluten free products; with the number increasing by nearly 80% between 2005 and 2010.

Financially, there is good news as well, in that that those with with Celiac disease have the opportunity to reduce some of the tax they owe each year through a special tax credit.

The Canada Revenue Agency enables those with Celiac disease to claim the “incremental costs associated with the purchase of gluten-free products as a medical expense”. That is, a person may claim the difference between the cost of their gluten-free food and the cost of comparable regular food. To support your claim for the credit, you’ll need:

  • A letter from your doctor on his/her letterhead, confirming your diagnosis
  • A physical receipt for each gluten free item that you are claiming

Now this where it gets cumbersome;

  • A summary for each item calculating the incremental costs

Unfortunately, the process of tracking one’s gluten free purchases over an entire year and then calculating the incremental difference, is time consuming and tedious. Based on the statistics above, all the work could save a person with Celiac disease between $1,000 to $3,500 per year.

If you have recently been diagnosed with Celiac disease, eating gluten-free is not optional. Learning to do it correctly involves significantly more than no longer eating regular bread or pasta. Gluten is contained in so many food products and even medications, that learning to know how to read food labels as a Celiac will benefit from the expert help of a Registered Dietitian that specializes is food allergies and sensitivities. Learning proper food handling techniques to avoid cross contamination in the kitchen at home is another skill that is indispensable. As for how to eat out in restaurants, that is another area a Dietitian with a specialty in food allergy and food sensitivity could make all the difference in the world. Why not give us a call and find out how we can support you in your gluten-free journey?

References

Canadian Celiac Foundation http://www.celiac.ca/

Canada Revenue Agency, Incremental Cost of Gluten Free Products http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/rtrn/cmpltng/ddctns/lns300-350/330/clc-eng.html

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness http://www.celiaccentral.org/

Rashid, M and Stevens, L Gluten-free and regular foods: a cost comparison Can J Diet Pract Res. 2008 Fall;69(3):147-50.

Copyright ©2014 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.  LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this website, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without regular monitoring by a Registered Dietitian and with the knowledge of your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing something you have read in our content. 

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