Shingles and Nutrition

shinglesShingles and Your Diet

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that causes a rash that can be painful. According to MayoClinic.com, shingles typically resolves on its own, but medications can help hustle up the healing process and relieve pain. Certain nutrients have displayed pain-relieving assets, and incorporating these into your diet can help with shingles or painful difficulties.

First

Add foods to your diet that are rich in lysine. Or you can take a lysine supplement. Lysine is an amino acid that may prevent herpes virus outbreaks, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. Dietary sources of this amino acid include meat, cheese, sardines, eggs, soybeans, beans and legumes. Fenugreek seed is also a good source of lysine.

Second

Eat shellfish, eggs, beef and dairy products, all of which contain vitamin B-12.

Third

Take a vitamin E supplement. Mount Auburn Hospital recommends taking 1,200 to 1,600 international units per day of vitamin E for postherpetic neuralgia. Dietary sources of vitamin E include almonds, spinach, broccoli, mangoes, tomatoes, peanuts and peanut butter.

Fourth

Stock up on foods high in vitamin C and zinc. MayoClinic.com states that shingles outbreaks can occur due to an impaired immune system, and vitamin C and zinc are essential in promoting a healthy immune system. Good sources of vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, broccoli, leafy greens, peppers and potatoes. Oysters, red meats, chicken, legumes and whole grains are also good sources of zinc.

What to Avoid when you have Shingles

Shingles

According to the Mayo Clinic, shingles are red, raw and very painful blisters that can appear anywhere on your body but typically appear as blisters that wrap around your torso. If you have previously had chicken pox, are over 50 and have a weakened immune system, you are most at risk for contracting shingles. The CDC advises you to stay away from infants, pregnant women and others who have compromised immune systems until your shingles outbreak has passed.

Foods to Avoid

Avoiding certain foods can help alleviate symptoms of shingles. Arginine is an amino acid that your body produces naturally, but you should avoid foods that contain it. Arginine helps the herpes zoster virus to replicate. Chocolate, nuts and gelatin contain high levels of arginine. Also, don’t consume foods such as saturated fats or refined carbohydrates, because those might cause further inflammation. In addition, avoid alcohol and caffeine because these can weaken the immune system.

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Not Your Typical Pumpkin Season

Good for more than just delighting trick-or-treaters, the pumpkin is related to the squash and melon family and packs a nutritional antioxidant punch. The pumpkin is an autumn favorite, but you don’t just have to think about using one for decorating or pie.

What’s in Pumpkin: One cup of cooked, unsalted pumpkin has 49 calories and is a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene. Pumpkin seeds have protein, healthy fats, minerals and a small amount of omega-3 fats.

Choosing: Pumpkins intended for carving don’t always taste as good as sugar (also called baking or pie) pumpkins. Choose pumpkins that are firm, smooth and brightly colored and, when possible, with the stem still attached.

Storing: Pumpkin “pulp” can be frozen or canned. You can store whole pumpkins in a cool, dry place for up to three months. Once sliced, keep the pieces in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic for five to seven days. Place cooked pumpkin in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for three to six months.

Using Pumpkin this Season: Besides the iconic pumpkin pie, try your hand at pumpkin muffins, pumpkin rolls or maybe even pumpkin soup. You cook pumpkin like you would any other winter squash — peel it, slice it and remove the seeds. Then roast, boil or steam the pieces until tender. You can dice the cooked flesh into bite-sized pieces or puree them in a food processor.

You can also use the seeds. They’re easy to roast and are nutritious and flavorful.

So many ways to utilize seeds after carving pumpkins this season!

Health benefits of Pumpkin

  • It is one of the very low calorie vegetables. 100 g fruit provides just 26 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, it is rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins. The vegetable is one of the food items recommended by dietitians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
  • Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E.
  • With 7384 mg per 100 g, it is one of the vegetables in the Cucurbitaceae family featuring highest levels of vitamin-A, providing about 246% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for good visual sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help a body protects against lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • It is also an excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as α, ß carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin. Carotenes convert into vitamin A inside the body.
  • Zea-xanthin is a natural anti-oxidant which has UV (ultra-violet) rays filtering actions in the macula lutea in retina of the eyes. Thus, it helps protect from “age-related macular disease” (ARMD) in the elderly.
  • The fruit is a good source of B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid.
  • It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
  • Pumpkin seeds indeed are an excellent source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health. In addition, the seeds are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and health-benefiting vitamins. For instance, 100 g of pumpkin seeds provide 559 calories, 30 g of protein, 110% RDA of iron, 4987 mg of niacin (31% RDA), selenium (17% of RDA), zinc (71%) etc., but no cholesterol. Further, the seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to GABA in the brain.

    Pumpkin rolls are delicious year round

Key Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Promotes Prostate Health

For you men over 50 helping carve pumpkins this Halloween, be sure to save those seeds.  Pumpkin seeds help promote a healthy prostate and minimize the issues such as urination problems due to an enlarged prostate.  Prostate problems are most common in men over fifty.

  1. Better Bones

Although it is the season for scary ghosts and skeletons, I’m not talking about a great looking skeleton with good bones hanging on your door for the “trick or treaters”.  I’m talking about your bones.  Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc and are a great natural resource for this much needed nutrition.  Low levels of zinc are one of the links to osteoporosis.

  1. Arthritis Relief

In a recent study pumpkin seeds showed the same anti-inflammatory benefits as the non-steroid drug indomethacin.  The good news on these results is that the pumpkin seeds did not have the same negative effect of damaged fats (lipid peroxides) in the lining of joints like the anti-inflammatory drug.  Okay, so this study was conducted on animals, but the healing benefits of pumpkin seeds for arthritis relief is a potential benefit to humans.

  1. Lower Cholesterol

Another known benefit of pumpkin seeds is their ability to help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol.  That is because the seeds have phytosterols, a compound that not only helps lower cholesterol but helps protect against certain cancers.  In addition to pumpkin seeds, many other nuts and seeds have the phytosterol compound including pistachios, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, English walnuts and Brazil nuts.

Making Pumpkin Seeds

Although you can buy pumpkin seeds already dried and seasoned, baking your own seeds is a less expensive and much more fun.

  • Scoop out the seed from inside the pumpkin
  • Using a paper towel, lightly pat the seeds and remove any pulp
  • Spread seeds evenly on a paper bag and dry them overnight
  • Preheat the oven to 160 – 170 degrees F
  • Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes

You can add seasoning like garlic powder, onion powder or salt and pepper for extra flavor.

By baking at a low temperature, you are more likely to preserve the essential oils and get all the health benefits of your pumpkin seeds.  You can add your seeds to your favorite salads, sprinkle in your soup or chili, add to your sautéed veggies or just eat them as is.

Pumpkin can be used for breakfast too!

Sweet Sweet Potato Season!

Sweet Sweet Potato Season!

Sweet potatoes are a Native American super food that are nutrient-packed plants with orange or yellow flesh. They’re named for their sweet flavor caused by an enzyme that converts the potato’s starched into sugar.

Can you believe that a ½ cup serving of sweet potatoes has 90 calories and is an excellent source of beta-carotene vitamins A and C.

HOW TO CHOOSE: Select sweet potatoes that are firm and smooth and avoid ones with bruises or cracks. Also avoid choosing from a refrigerated display as the cool air can change the flavor.

HOW TO STORE: Store your sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place just like regular potatoes. Use room temperature sweet potatoes within a week.

HOW TO USE: Whenever possible cook sweet potatoes whole to retain the nutrients before peeling. Serve in place of baked potatoes or get creative with a recipe such as sweet potato pancakes.

Now, I know that everyone loves pumpkin pie around this time of year but, how about opting out that pumpkin for sweet potatoes?

Though traditionally considered a Southern or ethnic dish, particularly in African-American and Latino households, sweet potato pie is gaining traction as a Thanksgiving side.

One of the reasons sweet potato pie is offered as a pumpkin pie substitute is that the pies are similar in color and use mostly the same ingredients. The main difference is texture and taste.

What a sweet potato looks like when sliced open

 

SWEET POTATO FACTS

  • Sweet potatoes are not yams. They’re not even related.
  • Sweet potatoes originally hail from Africa.
  • Pumpkins and sweet potatoes are great sources of vitamins A and C and other nutrients.

 

NUTRITIONAL BREAKDOWN

Here’s a breakdown for a 1/8 slice of a 9-inch pie:

  • Calories: Pumpkin pie — 316; Sweet potato pie — 340
  • Protein: Pumpkin —7 grams; Sweet potato — 5 grams
  • Fat: Pumpkin —14 grams; Sweet potato —16 grams
  • Cholesterol: Pumpkin — 25 mg; Sweet potato — 20 mg

 

KEEP IN MIND

While the fat and cholesterol levels are about the same, depending on the recipe you use and whether it is homemade or commercial, the calories and other nutrients can vary widely.

Pie Crust

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup water

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water until mixture forms a ball. Divide dough in half, and shape into balls. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight
  • Roll out dough on a floured counter. Don’t overwork it.

Filling

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (roasted) or 1 small roasted long-neck pumpkin (press excess liquid). You will need about 1.5 cups of potato or pumpkin puree.
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

  • Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 400 degrees.
  • Place puree in large bowl.
  • Whisk in brown sugar and next 4 ingredients.
  • Transfer filling to crust.
  • Bake pie until filling is puffed around edges and set in center, about 45 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool. Can be made a day ahead. Cover, refrigerate

    Home-cooked sweet potato pie