Top 10 Functional foods

1.) Turmeric: This is a bold spice found in the majority of Indian cuisine.  Turmeric is unique because it has over 100 different holistic compounds in it.

Why do you need it? Turmeric contains a polyphenol called curcumin  which is a strong anti-inflammatory agent.  This spice also promotes your immune system.

How can you use it?  You can add this to your morning smoothie to kick up the flavor or look for new Indian and Middle Easter recipes on Pinterest (everyone’s favorite obsession.)

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2.) Ginger: It is the root of a flowering plant.  There a many varieties of ginger found around the world.

Why do you need it? It is used to ease nausea and motion sickness.  It is a diaphoretic which helps your body stay warm from within and promote sweating.  This effect can help during cold and flu season.

How can you use it? Ginger can be used in a variety of ways: raw, in tea, candied, in sauces, and dried.  You can buy fresh ginger in the grocery store, peel it and chop or mince and then store it in a freezer bag in the freezer. Individual portions can be added frozen to your meal or smoothie.

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3.) Bitter melon: A fruit common in Asian cooking, you can usually find it in Asian Markets throughout the year.

Why do you need it? The fruit contains three active substances with anti-diabetic properties, including charantin, vicine and an insulin-like compound known as polypeptide-p. These substances work to help reduce blood sugar levels.

How can you use it? Peel it first, then cut in half and remove the seeds, slice into half moons and try adding to your next stir-fry.

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4.) Green Tea:  Green tea and black tea are actually the same tea leaves, the difference comes in how they are processed after harvesting.  Black tea is oxidized and green tea is dried before oxidization can take effect.

Why do you need it?  Of the teas, green tea in particular is an excellent plant source of antioxidants. It also supports a healthy gut flora and can even help with weight regulation by helping to decrease hunger hormones. A good cup of hot tea can also help to create a sense of calm and relaxation.

How can you use it? Brewing green tea at too hot of a temperature can make it more bitter.  You can read a lot of differing information on brewing temperature but the consensus seems to be to keep the water below boiling, try for a range of 140°F – 185°F.  Let the tea steep for 1-3 minutes (you’ll have to experiment with the time, the lower the temperature, the longer you’ll need to brew), remove your tea bag and enjoy.

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5.) Bone broth: Bone broth is a go-to food when someone has a cold, usually in the form of chicken soup. It is known to support the immune system.

Why do you need it? Bone broth has other wonderful benefits to include gelatin to support skin and joints, and the amino acid glutamine, which supports the gut lining.

How can you use it? Making your own bone broth can be very simple, check out this great bone broth recipe from Ondi on our last post about functional foods.

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6.) Honey:  a.k.a. Liquid Gold, a.k.a. nectar of the gods.

Why do you need it?  If you consume local honey, harvested close to where you live, it can help reduce seasonal allergy symptoms.  The anti-inflammatory effects of honey can help suppress coughs.  Honey is full of antioxidants.  Honey is a natural sweetener that doesn’t increase your blood glucose levels as much as refined sugars (depending on amount you intake).

How can you use it? Try using honey in place of sugar in some of your recipes.

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7.) Garlic: the better liked cousin to onion.

Why do you need it? Garlic can be used for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.  In it’s raw state garlic has antibacterial and antiviral effects both topically and when ingested. Once cooked the allicin that allows those effects degrades.

How can you use it? Try to use both raw and cooked garlic to get the best benefits from it.  If you find mincing garlic a chore, using a garlic press will speed up the process considerably and save your hands from that garlicky smell.  So go ahead and add all the raw garlic you want to your salsa!

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8.) Oats: Rolled oats and steel cut oats are the two most popular forms of oats, but you can also find them in their whole form as groats.

Why do you need it?  Is used to help reduce LDL levels and therefore reduce risk of heart disease.  The higher levels of the fiber in oats that contain beta-glucan can help improve immunity and prevent constipation.

How can you use it? Oatmeal is probably the easiest way to to use oats.  You can make them in your crock-pot, in the Instapot, as overnight oats in the refrigerator or follow the directions on the box.  Do you have a great oat recipe?  We’d love for you to share it with us.

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9.) Cinnamon: Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of trees found in Asia.  Most cinnamon sold in the US comes from the Cassia tree.

Why do you need it? This spice is loaded with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is known to help with blood sugar regulation by helping to reduce insulin resistance in the body.  It’s anti-inflammatory actions help reduce risk of heart disease.

How can you use it? Cinnamon can be added to so many things, try adding some to your morning coffee or tea, your post work-out smoothie, or sprinkle some on top of your occasional ice-cream treat.

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10.)  Chamomile:  This is a flowering plant found in many parts of the world.

Why do you need it?  It reduces feelings of anxiety and increases relaxation.  Can help with wound healing and reduce inflammation.

How can you use it? Chamomile can be consumed in a tea or even used in a topical compress.

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