Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Getting Rid of Menstrual Cramps

When most people think of relieving menstrual cramps, they think of taking a pain reliever, not of changing their diet. But there are many foods out there that can help lessen the pain of menstrual cramps, or even do away with them all together.


Bananas are rich in B6, which can really help give you less painful cramps. Try having a banana over your cereal each morning throughout the month to help keep your body's pyridoxine level high, and try eating a few extra ones when your period comes. They should really help alleviate symptoms.


Pineapple contains bromelaine, a natural muscle relaxer. Eating some pineapple or drinking pineapple juice can have the same effects as taking an over the counter drug- but it's much better for your body.


Not only is ginger an anti-inflammatory, but it also helps to block prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is the hormone that's released that causes painful cramping. Try sipping on ginger ale or a ginger tea all day to keep the cramps at bay.

Skim Milk

Milk is rich in calcium, which naturally helps to reduce cramps. Just 1 cup of skim milk contains a whopping 300mg of calcium, making it the perfect drink choice.

Dried Watermelon Seeds

Watermelon seeds are an easy snack and full of zinc. Studies have shown that if you make sure you get plenty of zinc starting about 4 days before your period occurs, you may be able to avoid getting cramps altogether. Snacking will also help stave off cramps- you should feel better as long as you can keep a full stomach.


Zinc rich chocolate is full of health benefits, and relieving cramps is one of them. Dark chocolate or cocoa is an especially smart choice. Since it contains zinc, it's better to start loading up on chocolate a few days before your period starts. Yum!


Salmon is full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are extremely nutritious. Omega-3 works as a natural anti-inflammatory and also helps to block the production of prostaglandins that are thought to cause cramping. Other fish high in Omega-3 are mackerel, trout, herring, sardines, and albacore tuna.

Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter is a great source of Vitamin E. Studies have shown that Vitamin E can help to reduce period cramps, and can also relieve pain after your period has started. If you have to stay away from peanuts, another great source of Vitamin E is sunflower seeds.


Chicken contains niacin, better known as B3. B3 has been used as a way to treat menstrual cramps since the 1950's. If you're a vegetarian, try getting your B3 dosage from lima beans or a bowl of Cheerios. 


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Foods High in Fiber

Right now fiber is the current healthy eating craze, and for good reason: fiber helps the body keep a healthy weight, relieves constipation, and can even help prevent diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Here are a few foods that are a great way to get a little more fiber in your diet.


In spite of the reputation of prunes, pears are actually one of the top high fiber fruits. Just one pear contains 5 whole grams of fiber. They're also a great source of vitamin C and the free radical fighting power of copper.


These tiny powerhouses make a great high fiber snack- one cup packs 8 grams of fiber. Try munching on them in between meals, or adding a healthy scoop of them over some yogurt or cottage cheese. You could even combine raspberries, pears, and other high fiber fruits like apples, figs, and blueberries to make a tasty fruit salad.


This low calorie nut is chock full of fiber, boasting 3 grams of it per ounce. Pistachios are also full of protein, making it a very filling snack for anyone on a diet. If you'd rather make pistachios a part of your meals, try slicing them up and serving them over a salad.


It's the perfect time of year for a lentil soup, and lentils are a perfect way to get some additional fiber. 1 cooked cup has over 15 grams of fiber, making it one of the best single sources for your daily dose. Lentils are also a great source of protein and folic acid.


One medium artichoke has about 10 grams of fiber, and around 60 calories, making it a great plate filler for someone on a diet. It's also jammed full of nutrients- it's a good source of Vitamin C, folate, anti-oxidants, and magnesium. 


This little green vegetable manages to carry over 8 grams of fiber in just one cup. They're also rich in Vitamin C and Calcium. Since cooking peas can diminish the amount of nutrients they provide, try steaming them instead. 

Brown Rice

Rice is a great meal stretcher for anyone on a food budget, but if you use brown rice, you'll have the added benefit of 3.5 grams of fiber per cup. Brown rice is also a great source of Vitamin B and of Calcium.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti

Switching to whole wheat spaghetti can really boost your fiber intake- 1 cup has over 6 grams of it. Whole wheat also is a great way to keep your heart healthy and your blood pressure low.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

How to Cure a Hangover

Using food to recover from a hangover is nothing new. "Hangover Foods" generates neatly 9 million results on Google. However, not all hangover cures were created equal. Here are some of the best hangover cures, and some of the foods you should stay far away from.

Good: Eggs

Eggs are naturally full of something called cysteine, a substance that can break down a toxin called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is what causes all the awful hangover symptoms, so the quicker you break it down, the quicker you'll feel better.

Bad: Coffee

While coffee has a great reputation as a hangover cure, that couldn't be further from the truth. Coffee is a diuretic, which means it will exacerbate the alcohol's dehydrating effect and leave you feeling even more sickly. It can be hard to resist the instant wake-up coffee brings, but it will be worth it in the end.

Good: Water

On the flip-side, keeping well hydrated with water will help your body to recover from the dehydration the alcohol has put it through. Adding a little salt to the water can help to replace the sodium your body lost the night before and speed up your recovery process even more.

Bad: Spicy Food

Spicy foods can't do much to help your body get back to normal, but they can irritate an upset stomach. Unless you have a craving and a strong stomach, this is better to stay away from.

Good: Ginger

While other foods may upset your stomach, ginger will soothe it and fight off any feelings of nausea that you may have. A cup of Ginger Ale or some sweetened Ginger Tea will also help your body get a small amount of sugar- just enough to replenish the glycogen you lost the night before.

Bad: Fast Food

Many people will swear up and down that the grease in fast food will "soak a hangover up", but unfortunately, it isn't true. Like spicy foods, fast food won't do much more than make you sick to your stomach. Save the junk food for another day.

Good: Bananas

A night of drinking takes a serious toll on your body's potassium supply, and bananas are just the food to build it back up. One banana contains a whopping 467 mg of potassium- just what your body needs.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Foods High in Iron

There are many people out there who don't get enough iron, but not everyone realizes that there are many ways to add iron to your diet outside of taking a supplement. Here is a list of some foods that will give your body a much-needed boost of iron.

Lean Red Meats

While red meat tends to be high in saturated fats, a lean cut like top round or eye of round will allow you to benefit from the meat's high iron and protein without compromising your diet. Lean red meat is also full of the mega healthy omega3 fats.

Fortified Cereals

Choosing a breakfast cereal that is high in iron is a great way to start out your your day. However, be careful when selecting your cereal- make sure that you also choose one with a low sugar count. There are plenty of healthy cereals on the market, so this shouldn't be a problem.


Just one medium sized potato contains 8% of your daily recommended iron intake. Potatoes are also full of Vitamin C and Vitamin B6, making them a great vegetable to serve alongside a meal.

Leafy Greens

Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, arugula, broccoli, or collard greens are full of iron and many other important nutrients. Adding some leafy greens to a salad or a soup can really help to beef up its iron levels.


Tofu is an incredible source of iron.. 4 ounces provides 33.8% of the recommend amount. If you're not used to cooking with tofu, it may take some getting used to at first, but tofu will pick up the flavor of almost anything you cook it with, making it very versatile. To change the texture of tofu, try sticking it in your freezer and then letting it thaw.

Sea Vegetables

Sea vegetables, also known as sea weed, are extremely rich in iron and very nutritious. While eating seaweed may sound strange, it's actually a cooking staple in many other cultures. There are lots of varieties of sea weed, just as wakami or dulse. Seaweed is especially great in a salad. Keep reading for a seaweed salad recipe!


Salmon is a great source of easily digestible iron. It doesn't offer as much iron as something like tofu might, but the amount it does have is easy for your body to process, and salmon is full of other nutrients. It's also quite delicious.


Almonds, cashews, or butternuts all make for a great high iron snack. Seeds can also be a great source of iron. Try snacking on some lightly salted pumpkin seeds this fall season.

Here's a recipe for a seaweed salad. It's a great way to add iron in a side dish, and makes a tasty snack too.

Iron-rich Seaweed Salad


  • 2 oz Wakame Seaweed
  • 1 Cucumber
  • Mesculin Mix as needed
  • 1 cup extra firm cubed tofu
  • 1tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Seasame Oil
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Pepper

Pour hot water over Wakame seaweed. Immerse the seaweed in water, then drain. Slice the seaweed into 1 inch lengths.  Slice the cucumber in half and seed it. Cut the cucumber into thin round slices and sprinkle the slices with salt. Tear the Mesculin mix into small pieces and arrange in a bowl.

Mix the Rice Vinegar, Seasame Oil, and Olive Oil, adding a pinch of pepper. Stir the ingredients until well mixed, then combine in the slices of seaweed and cucumber along with your cubes of tofu. Place on top of Mesculin mix and enjoy!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Foods that Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can cause many serious health issues. Food can be one of the biggest catalysts for either raising or lowering your blood pressure. Here are some suggestions on foods to add into your diet if you want to lower your blood pressure.


Spinach is full of magnesium, which helps to lower and maintain a healthy blood pressure level. The potassium in Spinach will also help keep you healthy and your blood pressure low.


It was mentioned above that potassium will help keep you healthy. Here's why- when your body's potassium levels are too low, it retains sodium. If your body has too high of a sodium level, it'll raise your blood pressure. Getting plenty of potassium will help keep your body balanced.

Dark Chocolate

Studies have shown that about 30 calories a day of dark chocolate can help lower your blood pressure. However, if you eat too much dark chocolate, it can lead to weight gain and other blood pressure raising effects, so you'll have to be careful not to overdo it.

Skim Milk

The combination of calcium and vitamin D in skim milk helps to significantly lower your blood pressure. Drinking skim milk daily can lower your risk for heart disease by as much as 15%.


Broccoli is full of minerals and fiber. A high-fiber diet has been linked to reduced blood pressure, and all the nutrients in broccoli will help to keep your body healthy. Other high-fiber vegetables include beans, carrots, cauliflower, corn, green beans, green peas, greens, legumes, peas, and potatoes with skin.


Fish is a great source of lean protein, and is also full of nutritious omega 3 fatty acids. Try eating fish like salmon, halibut, or cod.

Whole Grains 

Whole Grains are a healthy alternative to refined carbohydrates. Try replacing your bread, rice, and pasta with heart-healthy whole wheat alternatives.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Relieving Stress With Food

When you're overworked and stress, healthy eating habits can be one of the first things you toss aside. However, if you make sure to work just a few of these foods in your diet, you may find yourself being able to manage stress much better.


Broccoli is loaded with B vitamins, which reduce stress naturally. If you add broccoli as a side-dish to any of your meals, or just have it as a quick and easy snack, you should find yourself feeling more relaxed.


Asparagus is rich in folic acid, which naturally stabilizes moods. A good combination of folic acid and broccoli in your diet will have your body producing plenty of serotonin, a chemical that directly effects your mood.


Milk's not just loaded with B1 and B12 vitamins- it's also a great source of antioxidants and calcium. For a special treat, try adding a little dark chocolate. It's got loads of antiocidants, lowers blood pressure, and is another mood elevator.


Most types of fish are full of B vitamins, giving all the benefits mentioned above. However, sushi also contains seaweed, which contains stress-relieving riboflavin, magnesium, and most importantly, pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid helps keep your adrenal glands, which are a crucial part of stress management, healthy and working fine. Sushi made with tuna is an especially good choice.


Blueberries give your body a strong dose of antioxidants and vitamin C, keeping you healthy and your stress low. Blueberries are also a great source of fiber, helping to prevent ailments like constipation that are very common in times of stress.


Almonds aren't just a quick and easy snack- they contain vitamin B2 and E, magnesium, zinc and are a great source of unsaturated fat. Try carrying a package of almonds around with you and grabbing a handful when you think you might be in a stressful situation.


Carbohydrates boost serotonin levels, but only carbs found in whole-grains will keep you calm and relaxed without any sort of crash. Whole-grains are also digested slowly, keeping you feeling full so that you don't have to deal with the irritability that hunger brings.

Fortified Breakfast Cereal

Breakfast is called the most important meal of the day for a reason. Selecting a cereal full of essential vitamins and minerals will help you fight stress at the very start of your day. It will also kick-start your metabolism, helping you to be more alert and to have more concentration. Adding milk to your cereal will also give you those additional benefits.



Thursday, September 17, 2009

How to Stop a Headache

Many children and adults suffer from chronic headaches. There are several foods that can ease the pain of a headache, but there are also many foods that trigger headaches. Cutting these headaches from your diet may significantly reduce your headaches.

Aged Cheese

While aged cheese is full of calcium and easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant, it also contains something called Tyramine. Tyramine is a naturally found sustance that can conflict with monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor medications taken for headaches. If you're on one of these medication, it's best to cut out Aged Cheese and any other Tyramine containing food from your diet so that your medication can be more effective. Other foods high in Tyramine include salted, processed, canned and cured foods, red wine, and beans.


Caffeine is a double edged sword. It can help relieve headaches, and is even an active ingredient in some migrane medications, but when it is taken on a daily basis, it can cause more headaches. Many people rely on caffeine to get through the day, and it can be very hard to give up, but doing so can significantly reduce headache pain.


Citrus fruits are full of benefits, and for most people, they are fine to eat. However, scientists have found that some people may get headaches from citrus because they have an enzyme deficiency. If you've eliminated many foods and nothing seems to be relieving your headache pain, try cutting citrus from your diet.

Food Additives
Many food additives can trigger headaches, including nitrates, sulfites, MSG, and artificial sweeteners.


Alcohol can cause headaches as it is metabolized in the body. Big offenders include red wine, beer, whiskey, and champagne.

Cold Foods
Some people are extremely sensitive to cold foods and may get headaches from them. Headaches are more likely to happen if you are overheated when you consume them.

Other foods that have been known to trigger headaches include peanuts, peanut butter, other nuts and seeds, yeast, avocados, pizza, potato chips, ripe banana, soya products, and sourdough bread.



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cure For the Common Cold

Cold and flu season is fast upon us, and although there's sadly still no cure for the common cold, there are many food remedies that can both help prevent a cold or help you get over a cold quickly. Here are a few, along with a recipe.

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup is the most well known home remedy for a reason! The hot broth will help you decongest, as well as slow the congestion process, and while the chicken itself isn't that important, a good homemade soup is full of all sorts of ingredients that will help stave off a cold.

A few great ingredients to add are:

  • Garlic: Studies have shown that garlic helps the immune system fight off infections.
  • Parsley: Parsley is full of flavanoids, which are both anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories.
  • Thyme: Thyme contains thymol, an ingredient used in many cold medicines.
  • Cabbage, broccoli, or bell peppers: All of these are Vitamin C rich and are a great way to boost your immune system.
  • Ginger: Ginger actually has anti-bacterial properties! It's also a great sure for nausea.

Here's a recipe I like to use. If you're vegetarian or vegan, you can use tofu or beans and veggie broth in place of the chicken.

No More Cold Chicken Soup

  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/2 onion, cut in strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat - cubed
  • 1/4 head cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup brocolli
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Pour chicken broth into a large pot. Add in hot pepper flakes, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic poweder, black pepper, and onion. Boil over high heat, AND then reduce the heat to medium-low, keeping it at a simmer. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in cubed chicken, and cook until no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes. Stir the chicken and cabbage into the soup.. Simmer till cabbage is tender. Take your pot off of the heat and stir in the egg, parsley and thyme. Cool, and then serve. Makes 4 servings.

Ginger Tea

As mentioned above, both ginger and hot liquids are great for preventing or getting over a cold. Instead of flavoring your tea with milk or sugar, try adding lemon and honey. Honey can soothe a sore throat and is rich in enzymes, while lemon contains over 80% of your daily recommended value of Vitamin C.

Live Culture Yogurt

Yogurt is full of beneficial bacteria that will help strengthen your immune system. Though hot liquids are great for curing a cold, make sure you don't heat your yogurt- the heat will kill off all of the healthy bacteria.


About This Blog

Healing with Foods suggests nutritious foods that may be able to help with certain health problems. Healing with Foods does not give medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please consult your doctor.

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