Chaga, Inonotus obliquus, is a rather unusual looking medicinal mushroom species that’s not your typically polypore but one that grows as a black sclerotium or conk on the side of living trees.

The birch tree, being its preferred tree of choice, is believed to hold the most nutritional elements needed for the mushroom’s growth and condensed amount of beneficial myconutrients.

Inonotus obliquus has been a widely utilized ethnobotanical species in Russia, Scandinavia and Baltic regions throughout human history.

Naturally growing wild in colder climate zones of the Northern Hemisphere, including Canada and North America, it is highly adaptable to environmental extremes which encourage the release and concentration of immune responsive compounds, antioxidants and various phytochemicals needed for its continued survival.

Consumed as a decocted tea, hot water extract or liquid solution, the mushroom is considered a nourishing “superfood” and medicine for its transferred immune-modulating and protective influence.

Dark, rich chaga tea is a delicious tasting hot morning beverage with a bitter-sweet full-bodied flavor and makes a great coffee alternative if you’re trying to reduce caffeine consumption. Or likewise, powdered extracts can be added to coffee, teas or elixirs.

Here on this page, we will discuss chaga-specific nutrients and how this profound species can serve as a preventative healthcare approach to support long-term immune system functioning and well-being.

chaga-mushroom-holding-close-up

Health Benefits of Chaga Mushroom

Properties as a Biological Response Modifier and Adaptogen

The Inonotus obliquus mycelium, growing as a hard cork-like mass, works in relationship with the immune defenses and lignins of its host tree. Over a period of time, it builds up potent compounds that are edible to humans and likewise identified to encourage healthy immune functions.

One of the constituents created are the class of polysaccharides called beta-glucans.  Also found in other medicinal mushrooms, like reishi, coriolus and maitake, these are highly structured molecules with a developed length and frequency of branching side-chains.

They are often called “biological response modifiers” (BRMs) because of their potential ability to “modify” or “modulate” biological immunity either by increasing or suppressing immune response, depending on what is most needed by the organism. (*)

Chaga mushroom needs to be heated via hot water or alcohol to release its beta-glucan content. It can be consumed as a daily tea or extract to help restore and maintain optimal immune system responses.

Frequently called the “king of mushrooms”, Inonotus obliquus is a hardy fungal species adaptable to growing in extremely cold climates commonly reaching -40 °F (-40 °C). These conditions help to produce certain constituents like triterpenoid saponins, similar to those present in tonic herbs like gynostemma, ginseng and astragalus.

Regular use of adaptogens, like chaga, are proposed to improve the body’s ability to build resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue as well as environmental pollutants we are all invariably exposed to in our daily lives.

In this sometimes overwhelming fast-paced modern world, we feel that dietary adaptogens can be extremely important therapeutic superfood allies for maintaining long-term health over the course of a lifetime.

The best types of chaga to consume for highest benefits are WILD varieties that have matured to at least 5 years or older. This is because the adaptogenic compounds slowly build up potency and are developed through seasonal exposure to extremely cold temperatures.

chaga-mushroom-chunks-ground

Antioxidants and Other Immune Supporting Myconutrients

Antioxidants are molecular substances that can be naturally created by the body or acquired through dietary sources. They are known to be one of the key factors that control how fast humans age. Internal production of these micronutrients can decline significantly as we grow older, so it becomes especially important to increase consumption through the foods we eat as we move along in chronological years.

Antioxidant-rich food sources are valued for their ability to shield the body against the damaging effect of “free radicals” and protect against damage to cellular tissue and DNA structure.

Chaga is known to have one of the highest amounts of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants of any plant-based food or herb (*), a substantially dense array of which are concentrated into its black and rusty colored pigmentation.

Inonotus obliquus antioxidants include:

  • betulin
  • betulinic acid
  • lupeol
  • inotodiol
  • lanosterol
  • ergosterol
  • lanostane
  • melanin
  • superoxide dismutase (SOD)
  • beta-glucans
  • tripenoid saponins
  • zinc

Contains Betulinic Acid, Lupeol and Other Antimicrobials

One of the main active components unique to Inonotus obliquus is its high concentration of betulinic acid. This, along with lupeol, is a metabolite of betulin, a white powder-like material common to many birch species that holds powerful antimicrobial attributes.

Chaga extracts these triterpenes out of the tree bark, condensing a significant portion into its black sclerotium and into a form digestible by humans when prepared as a tea or tincture.

Both betulinic acid and lupeol have been shown to possess a wide spectrum of biological and medicinal activities that have been studied for their antiviral, antitumor and anti-inflammatory qualities. (*)

We like to buy whole one-pound chaga chunks for herbal preparations because they also come with a good portion of this potent burnt-like outer layer. Most quality suppliers, however, will always use mushrooms with a certain percentage of this exterior crust for highest beneficial nutriments, like betulinic acid.

Inotodiol, Lanosterol, Ergosterol and Lanostane

Two other antimicrobial compounds found in chaga include inotodiol, lanosterol as well as lanosterol’s metabolites, ergosterol and lanostane. The term antimicrobial makes reference to four main subcategories: antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitical and antibacterial.

These chaga-derived sterols can provide immune-supporting actions and, like other mentioned antioxidants, may help to combat oxidative damage to cellular DNA structure. (*)

From our personal experience, we have found the consumption of chaga tea to be a profound therapeutic ally for combating potential latent viral infections that can, over time, disrupt our innate immune responses and increase the risk of certain autoimmune diseases.

Regular consumption of the mushroom extracts or teas may also be able to greatly assist in eliminating the overgrowth of fungal yeast strains, like candida, in the GI tract. Because the intestinal tract works with the immune system via the “gut-associated lymphoid tissue” to make immune cells, maintaining a healthy diverse community of yeast and bacteria in the colon plays a major role in human immune function.

Chaga’s anti-inflammatory properties have also been traditionally used as a medicinal folk remedy for gastrointestinal disorders like ulcers, colitis and gastritis.

Rich Source of Melanin, Can Help to Protect the Skin

Also found in the crusted charcoal-like layer is the natural pigment called melanin. The word melanin in Greek means “black or dark” and is the pigmentation that gives the eyes (pupil), skin and hair their color. Also found in the nervous system, adrenals and pineal gland, it is a nutrient produced by the body, but can become depleted with stress, genetic triggers and age.

Chaga is one of the highest sources of dietary melanin in the plant world and can be taken to nourish nutritional deficiencies. It is found to be a potent antioxidant with potential DNA repairing actions and genoprotective effects. (*)

One of the top claimed health supporting properties of melanin uptake is that it helps to shield the skin from UV sun damage and radiation exposure. It is believed to do this by dissipating a large percentage of radiation as heat via a process known as “internal conversion”, an essential quality for providing photoprotection.

For this reason, many leading health experts consider internal consumption of chaga tea and preparations to be useful as a natural sunblock and radioprotective supplement.

chaga-tea-health-benefits

How to Use

Chaga Tea

While it is an edible mushroom, it is not typically ingested like culinary mushrooms due to its tough cork-like texture.

Most people, however, enjoy the rich taste of chaga tea as it has a pleasantly sweet, earthy and slightly vanilla-like flavor due to its vanillic acid content.

Although raw powder or tea bags can be simply infused into hot water, for highest health-enhancing effects it is best to simmer it in water for a period of time.

When using powder, decoction brew time is reduced compared to large pieces. When using powder, because there is more surface area, only 20-30 minutes simmering time is needed.

Larger conk chunks can be brewed on low heat for 1-8 hours, depending on the size. Lowholenger simmering times are believed to produce a stronger decoction and release more beneficial myconutrients, like triterpenes and beta-glucan polysaccharides. Decocted chunk pieces can be reused to make more tea as they still contain these valuable components.

When infusing straight ground powder into hot water, remember that it doesn’t dissolve and will need to be strained out.

Normal fruits and vegetables in Thailand are full of chemical pesticides!
56% of fruit and vegetables in Thailand, have chemical pesticide residues above the maximum allowable limit!!!
This % become worse (70,2%) in modern trade outlets as Tesco Lotus, Makro and Big C!
The Q Mark is not a safe guarantee, because unsafe for 61,5% Fruit and vegetables in fresh markets are unsafe for 54.2% of the test. Fruit and vegetables which have the Organic Thailand or other certified organic labels, are unsafe for 21%.
In Japan and the European Union, excessive chemical residues are only found in 4% of samples (in Thailand 56%).

“Pesticides are intended to kill unwanted organisms” but not only the agricultural results, pesticides also affect wildlife and human health, some can be lethal. More than 1,000 pesticides are widely used in agriculture in order to increase yield, improve quality and extend the storage life of crops.”
This is the report
Thai PAN has published the results of their second round of testing on chemical pesticide residues for 2016
Thai PAN has published the results of their second round of testing on chemical pesticide residues for 2016. It found that just over half the samples of fruit and vegetables tested contained chemical pesticide residues. Fruit and vegetable from supermarkets and labelled with the Q Mark were most frequently found to have problems. Once again, oranges, Chinese broccoli (kana) led the pack as the most frequently unsafe. As many as 20% of all samples tested were found to be contaminated with chemical pesticide residues that have already been banned and are not permitted in Thailand.

Today, the Thai Pesticide Alert Network (Thai PAN), led by its Coordinator Prokchol Ousap, held a press conference to release the results of the second round of testing on chemical pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables for 2016. Random samples of 16 commonly consumed fruit and vegetables were collected on 23-29 August 2016. This included red chilli peppers, holy basil (kaprao), long beans, Chinese kale (kana’), morning glory (pak bung), Chinese cabbage (prakadkhawpli), cabbage, cucumber, Thai aubergines (makueapro’), and tomatoes. The 6 fruits tested were oranges (Nam Pueng variety), papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, guavas, and dragon fruit. A total of 158 samples of fruit and veg were obtained from various sources. Own brand and unlabelled produce were collected from three modern supermarkets, Big C, Makro, and Tesco Lotus, and from three wholesale freshmarkets, Taladt Thai, Taladt Pathom Mongkol in Nakorn Pathom province, and Talat Sri Mueang in Ratchaburi province.

In addition, samples of fruit and vegetables labelled as “safe” and “organic” were collected from major stores and supermarkets such as Gourmet Market, TOPS, Home Fresh Mart, Max Value, Villa market, Lemon Farm, Golden Place, and Foodland. The samples were analysed in a laboratory certified with the ISO/IEC 17025:2005 standard, and tested for over 450 different chemicals for chemical pesticide residues using a multi-residue pesticide screen (MRPS). Overall, it was found that, of the 158 samples of fruit and vegetables, 56% had residues above the maximum allowable limit (MRL).

Ms Prokchol revealed that the source from which fruit and veg samples were most frequently found to have excessive residues were the modern trade outlets. As many as 70.2% of the samples from these three sources had pesticide residues above the maximum limit. From Tesco Lotus, 12/16 samples were unsafe, while Makro was next with 11/16, and Big C with 10/15 samples. As for the fresh markets, a total of 54.2% of samples had pesticide residues at levels above the maximum limit. The results for Taladt Thai were 10/16; Taladt Patom Mongkol 9/16; and Talad Sri Mueang 7/16. Prokchol noted “Talad Sri Mueang has initiated an interesting project, promoting the production of safe produce by farmers, dedicating one building to the sale of these products. The results clearly show that this was the source where the fewest contaminated products were found.”

The vegetables which were most frequently found to have excessive pesticide residues included Chinese kale with 10/11 samples, other results included red chillies 9/12, long beans and holy basil 8/12, morning glory 7/12, Thai aubergines 6/11, cucumber 5/11, tomatoes 3/11. Meanwhile, cabbage and Chinese cabbage were the least frequently contaminated, with 2/11 and 2/12 samples, respectively, found to have residues above the MRL. These results were consistent with the results of Thai PAN’s previous monitoring of residues over many years. As for the fruits, those most often found to have excessive chemical pesticide residues were Nam Pueng variety oranges for which all samples (8/8) were found to be contaminated. Results for the other fruits were dragon fruit 7/8; guavas 6/7; papaya and watermelon 3/6, and 3/7 respectively; and cantaloupe 1/7.

The test results revealed that vegetables which carried labels certified by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives were also frequently contaminated. In particular, the Q Mark was found to have excessive pesticide residues in 16/26 samples or 61.5% of samples. This is a higher frequency than the results of the testing carried out in March this year when 57% of Q-marked samples were found to be contaminated. Fruit and vegetables labelled “safe”, but without any associated certificates, were found to have residues above MRL in 5/10 samples.

Fruit and vegetables which have the Organic Thailand brand, certified by the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards, were found to have excessive pesticide residues in 2/10 samples. Other certified organic labels returned similar results, ie 2/9 samples. Produce which was labelled as “organic” and sold in different modern trade stores, but which do not refer to any certification scheme, were found to have excessive pesticide residues in 4/8 samples. (Pura Notes: because of these failures “Organic Thailand” Certification has in the meantime been discontinued, controls were deemed below par, and too easy to obtain. The government is aparently working on a new standard)

“One thing we need to realise is that chemical pesticides classified as type 4 hazardous materials –which are no longer allowed to be used in Thailand, that is Dicrotophos, Endosulfan, Methamidophos, and Monocrotophos – as well as type 3 hazardous materials which have not been authorised for use by the Department of Agriculture, that is Carbofuran and Methomyl, were found in 29/158 samples of fruit and vegetables, or 18.4%.“

Kingkorn Narintarakul Na Ayudthaya, of the Food For Change campaign, which works on food issues together with Thai PAN, called on the government to raise the issue of chemical pesticides safety as a national agenda. She noted that in Japan and the European Union, excessive chemical residues are only found in 3-5% of samples. She also called on the relevant government agencies to reform, as a matter of urgency, the food standards certification system of the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards. She said they should stop trying to promote organic agriculture standards, because it is not possible to show that produce labelled with government certification marks are any safer than other general produce on the market. (“Organic Thailand certification”)

Concerning the finding of prohibited chemicals in fruit and vegetables, Ms Kingkorn said “it is the responsibility of Suwit Chaikiattiyos, as the new Director General of the Department of Agriculture, to sort this out. He should cooperate with the Consumer Protection Police Division, using the evidence provided by Thai PAN to trace back and arrest those possessing or selling the above chemicals, who should be punished without delay”.

“Consumer groups should keep a close eye on the actions of the different government agencies involved and should be ready to collaborate with Thai PAN to use legal measures and consumer campaigns to reform our food and agriculture system to be safer in the future” said Ms Kingkorn.tag

High blood pressure is one of the most common ailments to affect man today, yet it is also one of the most easily remedied conditions.

While most people just accept high blood pressure as a common sign of aging, changing your lifestyle is the key to destroying that ridiculous “old age” myth…

Cutting all processed foods, meats, dairy and restaurant food you consume, along with eating nothing but whole and natural foods, combined with moderate exercise and adequate rest, is the corner-stones to reducing high blood pressure and maintaining a healthy, energetic life.

Fortunately, Fall provides a bounty of foods that are not only tasty but have just the right ingredients to get your blood pressure on track.

Squash, such as pumpkin, butternut squash, kabocha, and banana squash, is a delicious addition to any meal (or as a meal!) for those looking to lower and maintain healthy blood pressure. Squash boasts an impressive amount of the minerals magnesium and potassium, as well as some calcium. Adequate amounts of these minerals are important for maintaining healthy blood pressure, as they directly help to regulate proper blood vessel function (and thus blood pressure). In addition, squash contains numerous other beneficial nutrients, such as Beta-carotene and Vitamin C. Both these nutrients are important for helping to reduce inflammation in your body — reducing levels of inflammation is also important for reducing high blood pressure, but also important for reducing your risk for all other diseases, especially heart disease.

Brussels Sprouts are one of the most health-promoting foods you can consume! When it comes to blood pressure, they’re almost ideal! Brussels sprouts contain an impressive amount of potassium, one of those all-important electrolytes important for regulating blood pressure. Being a member of the cabbage family, they also contain large amounts of Vitamin C, Beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, and beneficial phytonutrients that decrease inflammation and help reduce your risk for all forms of cancer.

Apples are said to keep the doctor away for good reason! This fruit seems commonplace in the face of other ‘superfruits’ (like pomegranate and açaí) that we tend to forget it’s substantial health benefits. Apples contain a unique kind of soluble fiber called pectin. Pectin has been linked to lowering high cholesterol levels, reducing body inflammation, improving elimination, and reducing high blood pressure. Apples also boast a respectable amount of Vitamin C and an antioxidant called quercetin, which has been shown to increase oxygen availability in your lungs, thereby increasing overall endurance and relieving stress on your body.

Pumpkin Seeds, also known as pepitas, are usually available year-round at most grocery stores, but can be made fresh during the Fall! Pumpkin seeds contain large amounts of magnesium, an important mineral for maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood flower. A single serving of pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup) can contain as much as 50% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium! Pumpkin seeds also boast significant quantities of Vitamin E and zinc, two important nutrients required to promote optimal health, including supporting a healthy libido. Pumpkin seeds are especially beneficial for men, with numerous studies suggesting that consuming pumpkin seeds regularly will help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Yams are extremely beneficial to helping to reduce high blood pressure. Yams contain ample amounts of those important electrolytes magnesium and potassium, and also a hefty quantity of Vitamin C. Yams take the nutrition level up from potatoes in that they also contain large amounts of Beta-carotene, helping to reduce your body’s inflammation. In addition, yams having a lower Glycemic index than potatoes, making them an ideal choice for those looking to regulate blood sugar.

Kale is a nutrient powerhouse of a vegetable. Like the Brussels sprout, it is also a member of the cabbage family. I posted recently about the full health benefits of kale, but it’s so nutritious it was worth mentioning again! Kale contains a very large quantity of potassium, but also contains large amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, and Omega 3 fats — all of which are important for regulating a healthy blood pressure, and largely work in conjunction with each other!

No Fall or Winter is complete with the blood pressure reducing herb that is Cinnamon! While cinnamon is largely known for being delicious, it is most frequently touted for helping to regulate blood sugar levels. However, more recent studies have also shown cinnamon to be an important addition to helping regulate healthy blood pressure levels. The blood pressure regulating the effect of cinnamon has been shown to be even more powerful for those looking to regulate blood sugar levels. While it is unknown exactly why cinnamon is beneficial for regulating blood pressure, it likely has to do with lowering overall inflammation in the body. Sprinkle cinnamon on your oatmeal in the morning, or especially on your baked apples, oatmeal and squash!

The hype around intermittent fasting has quickly overwhelmed the health field as both a research interest and weight loss fad. Yet, the idea of fasting is far from a new idea. Fasting has an old and unique history. Cultures all over the world have fasted for different reasons. From religious, spiritual, and cultural rituals to expressions of protest and medical research, abstaining from the consumption of food has deep and varied roots. While there may be countless ways and reasons to fast, the most recent focuses on the benefits of the body.

Recent studies reveal new data regarding the short and long-term benefits of fasting. Intermittent fasting, in conjunction with a balanced plant-based diet, has been proven to streamline and enhance the body’s functions, from increased energy to managing healthy weight to mental clarity. With that said, there is a right and wrong way to fast. It’s incredibly important to educate yourself on the what, why, and how of fasting, as well as to speak with a nutritionist or doctor before attempting it.
The Terminology of Intermittent Fasting

Fasting is the “willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both for a period of time.” There are different categories of fasting depending on the reason for abstaining from food and/or liquids. Absolute or dry fasts refer to abstaining from all food and liquids, while water fasts allow only water and no food. Intermittent fasting allows for more flexibility by abstaining from food and liquid (besides water) for a designated period of time.

Intermittent fasting is when you rotate between periods of time that you eat and periods of time where you don’t. The most popular type of intermittent fasting is called the 16/8 where “you’re technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and restricting your eating to an eight-hour eating window.” Yet, intermittent fasting doesn’t have to be this drastic. Many people opt for a 13-hour eating window instead.

While this may seem challenging, the process is simplified by your body’s natural circadian rhythm.

Circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle, refers to “a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.” The internal clock is controlled by your hypothalamus and influenced by environmental factors such as sunlight and night. The circadian rhythm of your body is essentially a built-in shut off switch for at least six to eight hours every 24-hour period.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The benefits of fasting are only achieved when fasting is performed in a healthy and safe way. There is a plethora of misinformation being circulated around the internet and by word-of-mouth. One of the most important aspects to remember is that intermittent fasting doesn’t replace healthy eating and regular exercise habits. Fasting doesn’t equal a free ticket to gluttony.

With that said, when intermittent fasting is done correctly, the benefits are worth the work.
Healthy Weight Management

Weight loss is a billion dollar empire. From diet regimes to home-delivered meals to cookbooks, everyone is looking for the fastest and easiest way to drop unwanted pounds. The popularity surrounding intermittent fasting is largely due to its success in achieving fast and sustainable weight management.

With that said, there are a few factors that influence healthy weight management via intermittent fasting.

The first of these is psychological. Intermittent fasting teaches control over your hunger signals. When fasting, you refrain from eating, yet the desire to eat is still prevalent. Abstaining from food encourages mindfulness regarding the signals in your gut, what they really mean, and an opportunity to break bad eating habits.

The second is biological and relies on the relationship between fasting and insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is created by the pancreas and provides cells with energy. Among other important jobs, insulin “allows the cells in the muscles, fat, and liver to absorb glucose” from the blood, which then turns into energy, is converted into fat, or breaks down proteins. Recent studies suggest that intermittent fasting results in lower insulin levels. With lower insulin levels comes the ability for the body to burn more fat instead of sugar and therefore helps combat obesity, aids in obtaining a healthy weight, and supports weight maintenance.
Aging with Agility

While there is still much to learn about the connection between intermittent fasting and longevity, there have been some remarkable discoveries.

Research on this subject has been in the works for years. In the 1930’s, Cornell University nutritionist Clive McCay discovered that “rats subjected to stringent daily dieting from an early age lived longer and were less likely to develop cancer and other diseases as they aged.” Since that time, many studies have been conducted on the relationship between fasting and autophagy, the process that promotes cell death and regeneration. Autophagy has been seen to increase during periods of intermittent fasting, which allows DNA debris and biological waste products to be cleansed and renewed.

While there is no halting the clock, intermittent fasting may be an asset to aging with grace.
Enhanced Endurance

We may dream of the day that exercise comes naturally, yet that dream may not be so fantastical.

Intermittent fasting has been linked to enhanced physical endurance due to a molecule called glycogen. Glycogen are molecules that store glucose, which is an essential compound made of sugar that regulates blood glucose levels, as well as other systems.

An accomplished researcher and expert on the subject, Dr. Rhonda Patrick has pioneered new research by connecting glycogen, energy, and intermittent fasting. Glycogen stores take about 10 – 12 hours to be depleted at which time fatty acids are released from tissues. These fatty acids are converted into ketone bodies, water-soluble molecules produced in the liver, which travel to tissues and are then used for energy. Therefore, according to Dr. Patrick, it “makes sense that eating within a nine-hour window and fasting for 15 hours overnight may lead to endurance enhancements.”
Best Foods to Keep Your Belly FullSweet and Sour Pineapple Sticky Rice

Sweet and Sour Pineapple Sticky Rice/One Green Planet

Successful intermittent fasting relies on discipline and preparedness. It’s important to fill your eating time-frame with nutritional, balanced, and filling foods. This is even more prevalent for those on a plant-based diet. While vegetarian and vegan diets may feel like they add an additional challenge, it is an easy one to tackle.

One of the best ways to meet satiety is through knowing what makes food filling.

Filling foods generally have higher amounts of protein, fiber, and water, and low energy density. Prepare for your fast by consuming meals that are high in these ingredients and always make sure to drink lots of water. Use these recipes from the Food Monster App to get started.
Whole GrainsPersephone Bowl [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Persephone Bowl/One Green Planet

Incorporating whole grain into your meals is a great way to keep you full longer. Whole grains keep all parts of the kernel including the bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole grain digests slower, therefore the feeling of being “full” lasts longer.

Try starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal or porridge. Oats are high in insoluble fiber, yet low in calories and can be decorated with other filling ingredients such as nuts and seeds. Later in the day, try a few of these whole grain filled recipes: Mushroom and Kale Farrow Salad, Persephone Bowl, Buckwheat Pooris, or Roasted Beet Sorghum Salad With Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette.
Vegetables with Starch

Slow Cooker Winter Squash Quinoa Curry/One Green Planet

Starchy vegetables are heavier, heartier, and more robust. These include sweet and white potatoes, beets, pumpkin, corn, carrots, and a variety of winter squash. While these veggies may keep you full longer due to their high level of carbohydrates, be careful to not overuse them. Being carbohydrates, starchy vegetables also have high levels of sugar, which can be difficult for your body to break down.

Try a few of these winter squash recipes: Slow Cooker Winter Squash Quinoa Curry, Winter Squash and Sage Pizza, Winter Squash and Quinoa Rissoles, Butternut Squash Hashbrowns, and Butternut Squash, Potato and Kale Casserole.
Nuts and SeedsRaw Cashew Almond Cheese b

Raw Cashew Almond Cheese/One Green Planet

Nuts and seeds are great additives for a meal, as well as offer a hearty snack. Sprinkle them on your oatmeal, crush and roast them in squash dishes, or keep a baggie in your purse to nibble on. These tasty morsels are great tummy fillers due to the fact that they are packed with “protein and fiber and contain unsaturated fats that can help stabilize insulin levels.”

In vegan recipes, nuts offer a buttery and savory alternative ingredient for dairy-free cheese and toppings such as these Brazil Nut Vegan Parmesan, Raw Cashew Almond Cheese, or Baked Cashew Mozzarella recipes. Seeds, on the other hand, pack a punch of flavor and nutrients. Try a few different recipes to discover your favorite seed: Baked Sweet Potato With Pesto Pasta, Tomatoes, and Pumpkin Seeds, Rainbow Salad (with a sprinkling of hemp seeds), Super Weed Green Smoothie, or Red Lentil Burgers With Kale Pesto.
LegumesChili Lime Lentil Tacos With Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa [Vegan]

Chili Lime Lentil Tacos With Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa/One Green Planet

Legumes are a staple of plant-based diets due to their versatility. Some claim that legumes are more satiating than meat. They are high in fiber and protein and low in calories.

Lentils, one of the most popular of the legume family, is a must-have ingredient for the vegan kitchen. Try a couple of these recipes featuring lentils: Red Lentil and Butternut Squash Burgers, Chickpea Spinach Stew With Lentils and Quinoa, Chili Lime Lentil Tacos With Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa, Red Lentil Curry With Black Tahini and Roasted Cashews.

Ashwagandha
Withania somnifera

Ashwagandha (also known as Winter cherry) is an evergreen shrub-like plant found across India and West Asia. The roots are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for mental health, physical health, sleep

Bhunimba
Andrographis paniculata

Bhunimba (also known as king of bitters) is a bitter herb cultivated widely in Southern and Southeast Asia. The roots and leaves are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for immune function, digestion

Black Pepper
Bacopa monnieri

Brahmi (also known as water hyssop) is a perennial, creeping herb native to the wetlands of India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. The leaves are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for mental health

Cardamom
Elettaria cardamomum

Cardamom is an aromatic herb that grows in humid or very humid subtropical forests, and is native to India. The seeds are used for culinary and therapeutic purposes. It is best for immune function, digestion, mental health, respiratory function

Carom
Trachyspermum ammi

Carom (also known as Yavani, Bishop’s Weed) is an annual herbaceous plant with origins in Egypt and India. The fruits (called seeds) are used for culinary and therapeutic purposes. It is best for appetite, digestion

Chamomile
Matricaria chamomilla

Chamomile is a perennial, herbaceous plant found across Europe and Asia. The flowers and whole herb are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for mental health, sleep

Chitraka

Plumbago zeylanica

Chitrak (also known as White leadwort) is a large perennial shrub that grows in sub-tropical regions. The roots and leaves are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for digestion, energy

Coriander
Coriandrum sativum

Coriander (also known as Cilantro) is an annual herbaceous plant native to regions spanning from southern Europe and northern Africa to southwestern Asia. The leaves and fruits (called seeds) are used for culinary and therapeutic purposes. It is best for digestion, mental health, sleep

Guduchi
Tinospora cordifolia

Guduchi (also known as Heart-leaved moon seed, Giloy) is a perennial, deciduous, climbing shrub of weak and fleshy stem found throughout India. The leaves are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for immune function, mental health

Holy Basil
Ocimum tenuiflorum

Holy basil (also known as Tulsi) is an aromatic perennial plant native to the Indian subcontinent. The leaves are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for immune function, mental health

Kantakari
Solanum surratense

Kantakari (also known as Yellow-berried Nightshade) is a species of nightshade native to Asia. The roots are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for immune function, respiratory function

Kapi Kacchu
Mucuna pruriens

Kapi Kacchu (also known as Velvet bean) is a legume native to Africa and tropical Asia. The beans are used for culinary and therapeutic purposes. It is best for mental health

Licorice
Cyperus rotundus

Musta (also known as Nut grass) is a perennial plant native to Africa, Southern Europe, South Asia, and Africa The tubers are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for digestion, energy, physical health

Nutmeg
Myristica fragrans

Nutmeg is a dark-leaved evergreen tree, native to Indonesia. The seeds are used for culinary and therapeutic purposes. It is best for energy

Passion Flower
Boerhavia diffusa

Punarnava (also known as Hogweed) is a flowering plant occurring throughout India, the Pacific, and southern United States. The whole plant, roots and leaves are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for energy, physical health

Shankhapushpi
Evolvulus alsinoides

Shankhapushpi (also known as English speedwheel) is a creeper plant commonly found across India and Burma. The whole plant is used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for mental health

Skullcap
Embelia ribes

Vidanga (also known as False black pepper) is a woody creeper shrub native to India. The fruits and roots are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for energy, physical health, appetite

Overview

Your cholesterol levels are directly tied to your heart health, which is why it’s so important to make sure they’re in a healthy range. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, reports that 78 million adults in the United States had high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, in 2012. The organization also states that people with high LDL cholesterol are at a much higher risk of heart disease.

Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center, says it can take between three to six months to see lower LDL numbers through just diet and exercise, noting that it takes longer to see changes in women than men.

Read on for more information on how to lower your LDL levels.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that’s found in your body and that travels through your bloodstream. Your body needs a certain amount to function properly, but it produces all it needs. Cholesterol travels through your body with lipoproteins, which are soluble proteins that transport fats through the body.

LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, carries cholesterol to your body’s tissues and blood vessels. If your body has too much LDL, it will deposit the excess along the walls of your blood vessels, putting you at risk of a heart attack and stroke.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL), also called “good” cholesterol, takes excess cholesterol from your tissues and blood vessels back to your liver, where it’s removed from your body. HDL helps protect you from heart disease. So unlike LDL cholesterol, the higher the levels of HDL, the better.

Triglycerides are another type of fat that can build up in your body. A high level of triglycerides combined with a low level of HDL cholesterol also raises your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

How high is too high?

These levels can help determine which treatment options are best, along with helping to establish your overall risk of heart disease.

Total cholesterol

Good: 199 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or lower

Borderline: 200 to 239 mg/dL

High: 240 mg/dL or higher

LDL

Good: 100 mg/dL or lower

Borderline: 130 to 159 mg/dL

High: 160 mg/dL or higher

HDL

Good: 60 mg/dL or higher

Low: 39 mg/dL or lower

Triglycerides

Good: 149 mg/dL or lower

Borderline: 150 to 199 mg/dL

High: 200 mg/dL or higher

You can have high cholesterol and not know it. That’s why it’s important to be checked regularly. The American Heart Association recommends that all adults have their cholesterol checked every four to six years starting at age 20. More frequent checks may be needed based on treatment plans and other risk factors.

Lifestyle changes

Making healthy lifestyle changes is one of the most important ways to lower your cholesterol and improve overall health.

According to Dr. Eugenia Gianos, cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, you can lower your cholesterol levels by up to 20 percent through dietary and lifestyle changes alone, but that can vary depending on the person. “We give patients three months to see what effects occur with dietary changes,” she says.

Diet

In order to help lower LDL cholesterol, reduce saturated fat in your diet and increase dietary fiber. Saturated fats increase your body’s production of LDL cholesterol. Dr. Gianos says to cut saturated fat to less than 10 grams per day, and to eat 30 grams of fiber per day, 10 grams of which should be insoluble fiber.

Both doctors say that plant-based diets can help lower cholesterol and improve your overall heart and body health. They recommend the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet, because both emphasize high fiber levels and healthy fats.

The DASH diet includes:

  • plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • nonfat or low-fat dairy
  • lean proteins (such as fish, soy, poultry, beans)
  • healthy fats (for example, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils)
  • limited salt, sugar, processed foods, red meats

The Mediterranean diet includes:

  • plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • healthy fats like nuts and olive oil instead of unhealthy fats like butter
  • limited salt (substituting herbs and spices instead)
  • mainly fish and poultry for protein, with red meat in moderation (a few times a month)

Dr. Goldberg explains that she looks at the patient as an individual and tries to figure out why their cholesterol is high. She says a lot of her patients are busy and often eat quick meals out. In that case, Dr. Goldberg recommends that people focus on eliminating processed foods and refined sugars.

Exercise

Not being physically active can contribute to higher LDL levels and lower HDL levels. Aerobic exercise helps your body raise its HDL levels, which is important for protecting you against heart disease.

“Exercise is key. Exercise has cardiovascular benefits in addition to weight loss benefits. For weight loss, we recommend 60 minutes of moderate cardio per day,” says Dr. Gianos.

Activities like brisk walking, bicycling, dancing, gardening, swimming, jogging, and aerobics will all give you cardio benefits.

Looking forward

“If you’re going to use lifestyle to lower your cholesterol, you have to do it regularly. You can’t just do it for a few months and then quit,” says Dr. Goldberg. She also points out: “Some people are genetically programmed to make more cholesterol than others. The diet and exercise may not be enough for these people based on the level of their cholesterol and global risk for heart disease.”

Both Dr. Gianos and Dr. Goldberg agree that while some people do need medication, it’s not a substitute for healthy lifestyle changes. The two elements work together to protect you.

1. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves
Mentally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.

2. They don’t give away their power
They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond.

3. They don’t shy away from change
Mentally strong people don’t try to avoid change. Instead, they welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible. They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.

4. They don’t waste energy on things they can’t control
You won’t hear a mentally strong person complaining over lost luggage or traffic jams. Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives. They recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can control is their attitude.

5. They don’t worry about pleasing everyone
Mentally strong people recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. They strive to be kind and fair, but can handle other people being upset if they didn’t make them happy.

6. They don’t fear taking calculated risks
They don’t take reckless or foolish risks, but don’t mind taking calculated risks. Mentally strong people spend time weighing the risks and benefits before making a big decision, and they’re fully informed of the potential downsides before they take action.

7. They don’t dwell on the past
Mentally strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past and wishing things could be different. They acknowledge their past and can say what they’ve learned from it. However, they don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days. Instead, they live for the present and plan for the future.

8. They don’t make the same mistakes over and over
Mentally strong people accept responsibility for their behavior and learn from their past mistakes. As a result, they don’t keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead, they move on and make better decisions in the future.

9. They don’t resent other people’s success
Mentally strong people can appreciate and celebrate other people’s success in life. They don’t grow jealous or feel cheated when others surpass them. Instead, they recognize that success comes with hard work, and they are willing to work hard for their own chance at success.

10. They don’t give up after the first failure
Mentally strong people don’t view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use failure as an opportunity to grow and improve. They are willing to keep trying until they get it right.

11. They don’t fear alone time
Mentally strong people can tolerate being alone and they don’t fear silence. They aren’t afraid to be alone with their thoughts and they can use downtime to be productive. They enjoy their own company and aren’t dependent on others for companionship and entertainment all the time but instead can be happy alone.

12. They don’t feel the world owes them anything
Mentally strong people don’t feel entitled to things in life. They weren’t born with a mentality that others would take care of them or that the world must give them something. Instead, they look for opportunities based on their own merits.

13. They don’t expect immediate results
Whether they are working on improving their health or getting a new business off the ground, mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results. Instead, they apply their skills and time to the best of their ability and understand that real change takes time. — feeling happy.

The health benefits of a plant-based diet is plentiful. Plant-based meals can be cheaper, nutrient-rich, environmentally sustainable and better for animal welfare and your body. Despite that many people worry that they won’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet, and this is far from the truth.

Whether you are solely plant-based, vegan or vegetarian, transitioning into either of these, or simply choose to reduce your animal intake for better health for yourself and the environment; you can be sure that protein requirements can be readily met on a plant-based diet. These protein requirements can be met for any goals too. Whether that be overall health and wellness, fat loss or muscle growth (just google vegan bodybuilders and athletes and you will be amazed). Even Arnold Schwarzenegger has become a activist for veganism.

plant-based-protein-sources
For vegetarians eggs and dairy are sources of high-quality protein and can be added alongside a plant-based diet. For vegans there are a number of plant-based proteins that are incredibly healthy (more below). However, there are two things to be mindful of. Firstly, the protein digestibility and secondly that you are consuming complete proteins.

Complete vs Incomplete Protein Sources

A complete protein is a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of the nine essential amino acids. These amino acids are termed “essential” as they can’t be produced by the body, or produced in adequate amounts. Therefore, we must get them from dietary sources.

Some plant-based sources of protein are complete proteins, whereas others may be missing one or more of the essential amino acids. Some of the incomplete protein sources can be combined in a meal to create a complete protein. For example – rice and beans – which make a great vegan chilli dish or Mexican inspired meal!

However, there is no need to get caught up in ensuring EVERY meal has complete protein sources, particularly if your goal is every health, wellness, or even fat loss. The (easy) trick here is to ensure you are consuming a variety of protein sources over the day which will meet your essential amino acid requirements.

If your goal is more specific (i.e. muscle growth/hypertrophy, or if you specifically track your macros), you can easily ensure each meal contains complete proteins and the right protein amount for your goal

Complete Protein Sources (g = grams of protein / per):

Quinoa, cooked (8g /1 cup)
Tofu, cooked (8-10g /100g)
Tempeh, cooked (18g /100g)
Buckwheat, raw groats (23g /100g)
Rice & beans, cooked (10-15g /1 cup)
Soybeans, raw (36g /100g)
Hemp seeds (11g /30g)
Chia seeds (4g /2 tablespoon)
Spirulina (4g /1 tablespoon)

Incomplete Protein Sources:

Grains (e.g. brown rice = 5g /100g cooked)
Nuts and seeds (average: 6-9g /30g)
Legumes/beans (average: 7-9g /100g)
Vegetables (e.g. Green Peas = 8g /1 cup. Spinach & Broccoli =4-5g /1 cup)
Nutritional Yeast (4g /1 tablespoon)

Plant-based vs. Animal protein sources

The protein digestibility between plant protein (70-90%) and animal protein (85-100%) sources differ slightly. Therefore, when consuming a solely vegan diet, your protein requirements may increase.

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