Orange fruit nutrition facts and health benefits

Orange fruit nutrition facts

and juicy
orange fruit contains an impressive list of
essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals for normal growth and
development and overall well-being.

Botanically; orange is the citrus fruit belonging in
the Rutaceae family, of the genus; Citrus. The genus citrus also
other related species of oranges such as pomelo, tangerine
(mandarin orange), yuzu, lemon, and grapefruit.
Scientific name: Citrus

oranges- citrus sinensis.
Oranges-Citrus sinenesis.

Orange is a tropical to semitropical, evergreen,
small flowering
tree, growing to about 5 to 8 m tall, and bears seasonal fruits that
measure about 3 inches in diameter and weigh about 100-150 g. Oranges
are classified into two general categories, sweet and bitter, with the
former being the type most commonly consumed. Popular sweet-varieties
include Valencia,
Navel, Persian variety,
and blood orange.

mandarine orange nagpur orange from india

Photo courtesy: orphanjones
Nagpur (India)

Tangerines are related varieties of oranges
distinguished by loose, easily peeled shin (pericarp) and sweet juicy
flesh (arils). They are also known as mandarin oranges in
Europe and Satsumas
in Japan. Just as oranges, these too belong to the Rutaceae (citrus
Family) and known scientifically as Citrus

Fruits belonging to the citrus
group are described as
“hesperidium,” (A hesperidium is a scientific term to describe the
fruit structure belonging to the citrus group. In fact, the fruit is a modified berry
with tough, leathery rind. Orange peel
contains many volatile
oil glands in pits. Interior flesh is composed of
called carpels,
made up of numerous fluid-filled vesicles that are
actually specialized hair cells).


benefits of oranges

  • Nutrients in oranges are
    plentiful and diverse.
    The fruit is low in calories, contains no saturated fats or
    cholesterol, but is rich in dietary fiber, pectin. Pectin, by its virtue as a bulk laxative, helps to protect the mucous membrane of the
    colon by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by
    binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon. Pectin has also been
    shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing its
    re-absorption in the colon by binding to bile acids
    in the

  • Oranges, like other citrus
    fruits, are an
    excellent source of vitamin
    (provides 53.2 mg per 100 g, about 90% of DRI); Vitamin
    C is a powerful
    natural antioxidant. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the
    develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge
    harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the blood.

  • Orange fruit contains a
    variety of
    phytochemicals. Hesperetin,

    and naringenin
    are flavonoids found in citrus fruits. Naringenin is found to have a
    bio-active effect on human health as antioxidant, free radical
    scavenger, anti-inflammatory, and immune system modulator. This
    substance has also been shown to reduce oxidant injury to DNA in-vitro
    studies. Total antioxidant strength (ORAC) of oranges (navel variety)
    is 1819 µmol TE/100 g.

  • Oranges also contain very
    good levels of vitamin A,
    other flavonoid antioxidants such as alpha and beta-carotenes, beta-cryptoxanthin,
    and lutein.
    These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A
    is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and
    is essential for vision. Consumption of natural fruits rich in
    flavonoids helps the body to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

  • It is also a very good
    source of B-complex
    vitamins such as thiamin, pyridoxine, and folates. These vitamins are
    essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to

  • Orange fruit also contains
    a very good amount
    of minerals like potassium and calcium. Potassium is an important
    component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and
    pressure through countering sodium actions.

Citrus fruits, as such, have long been valued for
their wholesome nutritious and antioxidant properties. It is
scientifically established fact that citrus fruits, especially oranges, by
virtue of their abundance in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, have many proven
health benefits. Moreover, it is now beginning to be appreciated that
the other biologically active, non-nutrient compounds in the citrus
fruits such as phyto-chemical
antioxidants, soluble and insoluble dietary fiber
helps in
cutting risk for cancers, chronic diseases like arthritis, obesity, and
coronary heart diseases.

See the table below for in depth analysis
of nutrients:

Oranges (Citrus sinensis), Fresh,
Nutritive Value per 100 g. Total-ORAC- 1819 µmol TE/100 g.
(Source: USDA National
Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient
Energy 47 Kcal 2.5%
Carbohydrates 11.75 g 9%
Protein 0.94 g 1.5%
Total Fat 0.12 g 0.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
2.40 g 6%
Folates 30 µg 7.5%
Niacin 0.282 mg 2%
0.250 mg 5%
Pyridoxine 0.060 mg 4.5%
Riboflavin 0.040 mg 3%
Thiamin 0.100 mg 8%
Vitamin C 53.2 mg 90%
Vitamin A 225 IU 7.5%
Vitamin E 0.18 mg 1%
Vitamin K 0 µg 0%
Sodium 0 mg 0%
Potassium 169 mg 3.5%
Calcium 40 mg 4%
Copper 39 µg 4%
Iron 0.10 mg 1%
Magnesium 10 mg 2.5%
Manganese 0.024 mg 1%
Zinc 0.08 mg 1%
Carotene-β 71 µg
Carotene-α 11 µg
Crypto-xanthin-β 116 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 129 µg
Lycopene 0 µg

and storage

Orange fruit
season begins from October and lasts until February. Mature fruits are
generally harvested from the tree using machines, and thus may sustain
minor, superficial injuries. Such small abrasions, however, on the
fruit surfaces usually do not influence the quality of the fruit.

In the store,
buy fresh fruits that feature firm, yet yield to gentle pressure
but rebound immediately. Fresh oranges have bright color, devoid of any
wrinkles on the skin, should feel heavy for their size, and impart
sweet aroma. Avoid any overtly soften fruits with spots and mold as
they tend to perish early.

Oranges can be
kept at room temperature for a week or so. They can keep
well for up to two weeks inside the fruit/vegetable compartment of the home
refrigerator. Keep them loose in the fruit container and place in the
area away from excessive moisture as they tend to get mold infection
early. Store freshly squeezed orange juice inside the freezer
compartment for later use. Store dried orange zest in a cool, dry place
in an airtight glass container away from moisture.

and serving tips

orange-carpels orange-juice
Juicy carpels,
inside the fruit.
Orange fruit

You may carry orange fruit
along with you wherever you go without
much cumbersome. Fresh oranges can be eaten at anytime, anywhere; just
them under running water to remove surface dirt and any pesticide
residues, peel the skin, and enjoy!

Remove skin
after scoring
superficially on the skin with your fingers or using a knife. Remove
rind and fibers and gently peel off membranes and seeds. They are
usually be eaten this way. They can also eaten by slicing the fruit
horizontally into two halves and scooping out sections of the halves
with a spoon.

Orange fruit
juice is a well cherished
drink all over the world. However, raw fruits are considered wholesome
than their juice in terms of antioxidant benefits. Soluble and
insoluble fiber content is also lessened to a great degree in the

If you wish to
go for
fresh orange juice, then prepare it yourself at home instead of
commercial drinks that may contain preservatives and artificial
colorants. Bring the fruit to room temperature if kept in the

The outermost
part of the rind grated using zester to produce orange
zest, which also have many culinary values for its flavor rich oil

Here are some Serving tips:

  • Orange fruit sections are a great addition to
    green and fruit salads.

  • Orange fruit juice can be a re-freshening
    intra-day drink.

  • The fruit is also used in the preparation of
    desserts, jams, and jellies.

  • Orange
    zest (peel)
    is also used in preparation
    of popular dishes for its rich flavor.

  • Dried orange blossoms and leaves are
    used as herbal tea.


Insecticide sprays are widely
applied over orange crops. Therefore, it
is recommended to wash the fruits in cold running water before use.
Organic orange fruits are devoid of these chemicals and are best suited
zest preparation. (Medical

<<-Back to Fruit nutrition from
Orange fruit
. Please visit
here for visit an impressive list of all variety of fruits
complete illustrations of their nutrition facts and health benefits.

<<-Back to Home

Visit here
for very informative pages on:-

Further Resources:

1. USDA National Nutrient

2. Stanford School of Medicine
Cancer information Page- Nutrition
to Reduce Cancer Risk

3. JN-The Journal of nutrition– The
Hypoglycemic Effects of Hesperidin and Naringin Are Partly Mediated by
Hepatic Glucose-Regulating Enzymes in C57BL/KsJ-db/db Mice.

chestnuts nutrition facts and health benefits

Chestnuts nutrition facts

Starshy, sweet, rich in flavor, chestnuts are popular
cool-season edible nuts of the northern hemisphere. They are native to hilly
forests of China, Japan, Europe, and North America.
Botanically, the nuts belong to the beech
or Fagaceae
family, in
the genus: Castenea.
Scientific name: Castanea

Castaneas are very large deciduous trees. They are
monoecious, bearing both male and female flowers (“catkins”), in the
same tree. They have a remarkable survival history to narrate. Early in the 20th
century, the once mighty American-chestnut tree was almost wiped out by
pathogenic fungus chestnut blight (Cryphonectria
). A renewed interest has been growing since
then to revive native chestnut trees throughout of the USA.

chestnut catkins with burr japanese chestnuts
Note for flowers (catkins) with immature fruits
Photo courtesy: selkovjr
Chestnuts-Japanese variety,
(C. crenata).

Photo: courtesy: kanko

Once pollinated, female flowers develop into large
spiny burr or involucres, each enclosing about 2-3 edible kernels. The
fruit is quite larger compared to its peers like cashews, macadamia,
etc. Each nut
features smooth, glossy, dark-brown outer shell, 1-1.5 inch in
diameter and weighing 8-12 g depending upon the species. Inside, there
is a outer brown but inner creamy white, sweet and starchy kernel.

Four main species of chestnut trees are being
cultivated around the world for their nuts; Castanea sativa in
Europe, C. dentata
in North America, C.mollissima
in China and C. crenata
in Japan. United States is the chief importer of chestnuts from
European Union, although China has been the largest exporter of nuts
worldwide, especially to Japan.

benefits of chestnut

  • Chestnuts, unlike other nuts and
    seeds, are relatively low
    in calories
    ; contain less fat but
    are rich in minerals, vitamins and phyto-nutrients that benefit

  • Chestnuts chiefly made of starch in contrast to other seeds
    and nuts, which are high in calorie, protein, and fat. Chestnuts nutrition
    composition is almost similar to that of other staple starch foods such
    as sweet potato, sweet corn, potatoes, plantain, etc.,
    Nevertheless; they are
    still good sources of minerals, vitamins and some good-quality protein.

  • They are a good source of dietary fiber;
    provide 8.1 g (about 21% of RDI) per 100 g. Fiber diet helps lower
    blood cholesterol levels by limiting excess cholesterol absorption in
    the intestines.

  • Chestnuts stand out from other edible nuts
    for their distinctive nutrition profile. They are exceptionally rich in vitamin-C. 100 g
    nuts provide 43 mg of vitamin C (72 % of DRI). Vitamin C is required
    for matrix formation in teeth, bones and blood vessels. Being a strong
    anti-oxidant, it offers protection from harmful free radicals.

  • Again, as in green-leafy vegetables, chestnuts
    are rich in folates,
    which is quite a rare but unique feature for nuts and seeds. 100 g nuts provide 62
    µg of folates (or 15.5%). Folic acid is required for the formation of
    red blood cells, DNA synthesis. Adequate consumption of food rich in
    folates during the peri-conception period helps prevent neural tube
    defects in the fetus.

  • Like true nuts, they too are rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty
    like oleic acid
    (18:1) and palmitoleic
    (16:1). Studies suggest that monounsaturated fats
    (MUFs) in the diet help lower total as well as LDL (bad cholesterol)
    and increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels within the blood.
    Mediterranean diet which is rich in dietary-fiber, MUFs, omega fatty
    acids and antioxidants help prevent coronary artery disease and strokes
    by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

  • The nuts are an excellent source of minerals
    such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc,
    besides providing a very good amount of potassium (518 mg / 100 g).
    Potassium helps counter hypertensive action of sodium, lowers heart
    rate and blood pressure. Iron helps prevent microcytic-anemia.
    Magnesium and phosphorus are important components of bone metabolism.

  • Further, they are also rich in many important
    B-complex groups of vitamins. 100 g of nuts provide 11% of niacin, 29%
    of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), 100% of thiamin, and 12% of riboflavin.

  • Chestnuts, like hazelnuts
    and almonds, etc., are
    free in gluten. And for the same reason, they are one of the popular
    ingredients in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas for
    gluten-sensitive, wheat allergy, and celiac disease patients.

  • Chinese chestnuts
    (C.mollissima) are good in vitamin A; provide 202 IU per 100 g.

See the table below for in depth analysis
of nutrients:

Chestnuts, European, raw, unpeeled (Castanea sativa),

value per 100 g.

(Source: USDA National
Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of
Energy 213 Kcal 11%
Carbohydrates 45.54 g 35%
Protein 2.42 g 4%
Total Fat 2.26 g 10%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 8.1 g 21%
Folates 62 µg 15.5%
Niacin 1.179 mg 7%
0.509 mg 11%
Pyridoxine 0.376 mg 29%
Riboflavin 0.168 mg 13%
Thiamin 0.238 mg 20%
Vitamin A 28 IU 1%
Vitamin C 43 mg 72%
Sodium 3 mg 0%
Potassium 518 mg 11%
Calcium 27 mg 3%
Copper 0.447 mg 50%
Iron 1.01 mg 13%
Magnesium 32 mg 8%
Manganese 0.952 mg 41%
Phosphorus 93 mg 19%
Zinc 0.52 mg 5%
Phyto-sterols 22 µg

Selection and

chestnuts in South Korean market
in a market.

Chestnuts are
cool season crops, begin available in the markets from October through
March, peaking in December. In Asia and Europe, they are still
and processed by traditional methods.

In the stores,
choose big sized, fresh nuts. Since they are rich in starch and fewer
fats than most other nuts, they tend to spoil rather quickly if exposed
to air and excess humid conditions for a longer period. To verify
freshness, cut open some sample nuts and check for heavy, meaty,
creamy-white kernel inside since oftentimes it is difficult to find out
damaged nuts by their external outlook. Avoid those with greenish mold
developed between the convoluted folds, kernel and its outer shell.

should be treated more like vegetables and fruits than nuts when it
comes to their storage. Once at home, pack them and store inside the
refrigerator, set with high relative humidity where they remain fresh
for a few weeks.

Preparation and serving methods

Chestnuts are
savored for centuries by Native
Americans as their staple foods, used like modern-day potatoes. The
nuts are very sweet and flavorful.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Enjoy them raw, boiled or by roasting. To
    roast, make few small incisions over the dome-side to prevent them busting.

  • In
    Japan, steamed chestnut rice (kurigohan)
    is a popular autumn dish. In Korea, a kind of sweet dessert known as yaksik is prepared
    using chestnuts, jujube fuirts and pine
    mixed with glutinous rice for the new year celebrations.
  • The nuts are used as one of the main
    ingredients in poultry stuffing, especially in Thanksgiving turkey.

  • Chestnut flour is also favored in many Tuscany recipes such
    as polenta, sweet breads,
    biscuits, cakes,
    soups and

  • Marron
    is extremely popular in Europe
    where large sized, high
    quality European chestnuts (marrone di lucerna ) used. To prepare
    marron glace or glazed
    , the nuts are soaked in water, then
    dipped and heated in gradual concentration of sugar-vanilla syrup for
    several days. Thus candied nuts are then subjected to dry under
    heat/sunlight before packing.

  • They are
    also used to
    make chestnut butter-cream.

<<-Back to Nuts and seeds
from Chestnuts
Please visit here
for an impressive list of nuts with complete
illustrations of their nutrition facts and health benefits

<<-Back to Home

Visit here
for very informative pages on:-

Further Resources:

1. USDA National Nutrient

2. Stanford School of Medicine
Cancer information Page- Nutrition
to Reduce Cancer Risk

3. University of Kentucky-college of

Onion nutrition facts and health benefits

Onion nutrition facts

Can you imagine a recipe
without the onions in it? This wonderful bulb-vegetable, one of the oldest
edible food sources known to
humankind, is found in a bewildering array of recipes and
preparations, be it your favorite salad, or mouth-watering gravy or
curries. It has also
been in used in traditional medicines since ancient times for its
health promoting and curative properties.

Botanically, the vegetable
belongs to the Alliaceae family, in the genus, Allium
and known scientifically as: Allium cepa.

spanish onion white variety onion oriental onion
Spanish or red onion. White variety. Oriental type.

The onion plant grows about 2 feet tall and bears an
underground globular
stem, which consists of modified leaves arranged in whorls. There are
many cultivar onions grown around the world. The average crop takes
about three to four months time. Top greens or scallions
and flower heads are also
eaten all around the world.

Sharp, pungent smell of onions is due to its
sulfur compound, allyl
propyl disulphide
. Spanish red onions are generally less
strongly flavored than white or brown varieties, which makes them ideal
for use in raw salads.

(Allium cepa L. var.
is a variety of the onion that produces a cluster of small-elongated
bulbs from a single planted bulb.
Shallots are relatively smaller and tastes sweeter than onions.

benefits of Onions

  • Onions are very low in calories (just 40
    calories per 100 g) and fats; however, rich in soluble dietary fiber.

  • Phyto-chemical compounds allium
    and Allyl
    in the onions convert into allicin
    by enzymatic reaction when its modified leaves are distorted (crushing,
    cutting, etc.). Studies have shown that these compounds have
    anti-mutagenic (protects from cancers) and anti-diabetic properties
    (helps lower blood sugar levels in diabetics).

  • Laboratory studies
    show that allicin
    reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting the HMG-CoA reductase
    enzyme in the liver cells. Further, it also found to have
    anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal activities.
  • In addition, Allicin
    decreases blood vessel stiffness by releasing nitric oxide (NO) and
    thereby bring a reduction in the total blood pressure. Further, it
    blocks platelet-clot formation, and has fibrinolytic action in the blood
    vessels. Altogether, it helps decrease in overall risk of coronary
    artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.

  • Onions are rich
    source of chromium,
    the trace mineral that helps tissue cells respond appropriately to
    insulin levels in the blood. It thus helps facilitate insulin action
    and control sugar levels in diabetes.

  • They are an also good source
    of antioxidant flavonoid quercetin,
    which is found to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and
    anti-diabetic functions. 

  • They are also good in antioxidant vitamin,
    vitamin-C and mineral manganese. Manganese is required as a co-factor
    for anti-oxidant enzyme, superoxide
    In addition,
    anti-oxidants in them help provide relief
    from cold and flu by exerting anti-inflammatory actions.

  • Onions are also good in
    B-complex group of vitamins like pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, folates
    and thiamin. Pyridoxine
    or vitamin B-6 helps keep up GABA levels in the
    brain, which works against neurotic conditions.

See the table below for in depth analysis
of nutrients:

Onoin (Allium
Nutrition value per 100 g.

(Source: USDA National
Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of
Energy 40 Kcal 2%
Carbohydrates 9.34 g 7%
Protein 1.10 g 2%
Total Fat 0.10 g 0.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 1.7 g 4.5%
Folates 19 µg 5%
Niacin 0.116 mg 1%
0.123 mg 2.5%
Pyridoxine 0.120 mg 9%
Riboflavin 0.027 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.046 mg 4%
Vitamin A 2 IU 0%
Vitamin C 7.4 mg 12%
Vitamin E 0.02 mg 0%
Sodium 4 mg 0%
Potassium 146 mg 3%
Calcium 23 mg 2%
Copper 0.039 mg 4%
Iron 0.0.21 mg 3%
Magnesium 10 mg 2.5%
Manganese 0.129 mg 5.5%
Phosphorus 29 mg 4%
Zinc 0.17 mg 1.5%
Carotene-beta 1 µg
Cryptoxanthin-beta 0 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 4 µg

Selection and storage

Raw onions are
available during all the seasons. Depending on the variety, they can be
sharp, spicy,
tangy and pungent or mild and sweet. In the store,
they are available in fresh, frozen, canned, pickled, powdered, and
dehydrated forms.

While buying,
look for fresh ones that are clean, uniform, well-developed without having opening at the
neck and feature crispy, and dry outer skins. Avoid those that show
sprouting or have signs of black mold (a kind of fungal attack) as they
indicate that the stock is old. In addition, poor-quality bulbs often
have soft spots, moisture at their neck, and dark patches, which may
all be an indications of decay.

At home, store
them in cool dark place away from moisture and humid
conditions, where they keep fresh for several days. They can also keep
in the refrigerator; however, you should use them immediately once you
remove from the refrigerator since they tend to spoil if kept at
room temperature for a longer periods.

Preparation and
serving methods

Trim the ends using a sharp knife. Then peel the outer 2-3 layers of
until you find fresh thick pinkish-white whorls. You can slice or cut
them into fine cubes depending upon the recipe type. Top greens and
flower heads are also edible. Spring onions or scallions are
favored in fast food

Here are some serving tips:

onion pizza cheese burger with lettuce, onion, tomato
Delicious pizza with cheese and black olive
Photo courtesy: The essential vegetarian
Cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and onion.
Photo courtesy: Sharon
  • They are used either chopped or sliced, in
    almost every type of food, including fresh salads, or as a spicy

  • In India and Pakistan, onions are one of the
    most sought-after ingredients in cooking where they used in curries,
    stir-fries, soups, stuffing, pastes, sauces, etc., everyday.

  • They are one of the common
    ingredients in the Chinese “chowmein” (a kind of recipe with chopped
    onions, scallions, cabbage,
    sweet bell
    , chili
    sauce mixture.

  • They are used extensively
    in Mediterranean and continental cooking in salads, cheese pizza,
    burger, soup,
    tart, rolls, stuffing…etc.

Safety profile

Raw onions can cause irritation
to skin, mucus membranes and eyes. This
is due to release of allyl
gas while chopping or slicing them. The gas when
mixed with moisture (water), converts into sulfuric acid. Allyl
sulphide is concentrated more at the ends, especially at its root end.
Its effect can be minimized by immersing the trimmed bulb in cold water
for few minutes before you chop or slice it. (Disclaimer).

Further resources:

1. Stanford School of Medicine Cancer
information Page- Nutrition
to Reduce Cancer Risk
(Link opens in new

2. Onions- University of Illinois extension
opens in new

3. USDA National Nutrient database.

Eggplant (Brinjal) or aubergine nutrition facts and health benefits

Eggplant (Brinjal) nutrition facts

Eggplant or Brinjal,
is a very low calorie vegetable and has healthy
nutrition profile; good news for weight watchers! The veggie is
popularly known as aubergine
in the western world.

Botanically, aubergine belongs to Solanaceae
family and named as Solanum
. This perennial plant is native to Indian
subcontinent and now grown in many tropical and semitropical regions.

deep blue variety egplant Eggplant varieties brinjal
blue variety.
Green variety.

Several varieties of aubergines are grown all
around the world. Depending on the cultivar type, they vary greatly in
size, shape, and color. Generally, aubergines fall into two broad
categories, either oval shaped, or thin and elongated.

The plant reaches
about 3-4 feet tall in quick time and bears many bright fruits.
Each fruit has smooth, glossy skin. Internally, it
features off-white color pulp with numerous centrally arranged small,
soft seeds. Fruits are generally harvested when they reach maturity
but just short of full stage ripeness.

benefits of Eggplant (aubergine)

  • Eggplant is very low in calories and fats but
    rich in soluble fiber content. 100 g provides just 24 calories but
    contributes about 9% of RDA (recommended daily allowance) of fiber.

  • Research studies conducted at the Institute of
    Biology of São Paulo
    State University; Brazil
    suggested that eggplant is
    effective to control high blood cholesterol.

  • The peel or skin (deep
    blue/purple varieties) of aubergine has significant amounts of phenolic
    phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins.
    Scientific studies have shown that
    these anti-oxidants have potential health effects against cancer,
    aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases.

  • Total antioxidant strength measured in terms
    of oxygen radical
    absorbance capacity
    (ORAC) of aubergines is 993 µmol
    TE/100 g. At value 15; they are one of the low glycemic index
    (GI) vegetables.

  • It contains good amounts
    of many essential B-complex groups of vitamins such as pantothenic acid
    (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1),
    niacin (B3). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body
    requires them from external sources to replenish and required for fat,
    protein and carbohydrate metabolism.

  • Further, this vegetable is an also
    good source of
    minerals like manganese, copper, iron and potassium. Manganese is used
    as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide
    Potassium is an important intracellular
    electrolyte that helps counter pressing (hypertension) effects of

See the table below for in depth analysis
of nutrients:

Aubergine (Brinjal), (Solanum
), raw, Nutritive value per 100 g

(Source: USDA National
Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of
Energy 24 Kcal 1%
Carbohydrates 5.7 g 4%
Protein 1 g 2%
Total Fat 0.19 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 3.40 g 9%
Folates 22 µg 5.5%
Niacin 0.649 mg 4%
0.281 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.084 mg 6.5%
Riboflavin 0.037 mg 3%
Thiamin 0.039 mg 3%
Vitamin A 27 IU 1%
Vitamin C 2.2 mg 3.5%
Vitamin E 0.30 mg 2%
Vitamin K 3.5 µg 3%
Sodium 2 mg 0%
Potassium 230 mg 5%
Calcium 9 mg 1%
Copper 0.082 mg 9%
Iron 0.24 mg 3%
Magnesium 14 mg 3.5%
Manganese 0.250 mg 11%
Zinc 0.16 mg 1%

Selection and storage

aubergine plant with fruit fresh aubergines1

aubergines in a farmers market.

Eggplants are
available afresh
all around the season. In the markets, varieties of eggplants
varying in size, shape, and color are put
for sale.

Buy healthy
looking, firm, shiny, bright-colored fruits that feel heavy and solid.
Take a close look at the stalk; if it is stout, firm, and green; that
means the fruit is fresh.

Avoid those
shriveled, soft in hand and with wrinkles, surface cuts or bruise.
Always avoid over-mature, old-stock, and sunken eggplants as they taste
bitter and, therefore, unappetizing.

At home, they
can be kept in cool place for use in a day or two but ideally should be
stored inside the refrigerator set at high relative humidity, where
they keep fresh for few days.

Preparation and serving methods

asparagus-eggplant sandwich
Eggplant-asparagus sandwich.
Photo courtesy from:
The essential vegetarian cookbook

Wash eggplant
thoroughly in cold water before use. Trim the stalk end using a sharp
knife. Sprinkle a pinch of cooking salt or soak pieces in salt water to
remove the bitter compounds. Whole fruit, including its skin and fine,
tiny seeds are edible.

Whole, cubed,
or sliced; aubergine can be used in variety of recipes.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Spicy fried aubergine slices in general used as
    a favorite
    side dish in salads and appetizers.

  • Brinjals, as they have popularly known in
    South-Asian region, feature mainly in many kinds of
    cuisines. It can be
    stew fried, roasted, baked or ground (baingan bartha, baingan chutney)
    the preparation of variety of

  • In Southern India, it is chopped into cubes
    and used in curry, chutney, and
    rice (brinjal

  • In Southern Europe, Turkey, and Middle-East
    where aubergines are one of the common ingredients used in
    variety of delicious recipes like mousaka (eggplant casserole), baba
    ghanoush (mashed eggplant preparation similar to South Asian baingan ki
    bartha), breadcrumbs, imam bayildi (stuffed-aubergine), etc. 
  • Stewed Asparagus
    spears sandwiched with an aubergine slice is a popular recipe in
    Mediterranean region.

  • It is also widely used in pickling.

Safety profile

Eggplant (aubergine) contains a very small amount
of nicotine than any other edible plant with a concentration of
0.01mg/100g. However, the amount of nicotine from eggplant or any other
food is negligible and therefore, shall not warrant against its usage.
So, enjoy! (Medical

Further resources:

1. University of Agriculture Extension-Watch
your garden grow.

2. USDA National Nutrient Database.

Tamarind nutrition facts and health benefits

Tamarind nutrition facts

Sweet and tangy, tamarind is one of the widely used
spice-condiments found in every South-Asian kitchen!

Tamarind is a very large tree with long, heavy drooping
branches, and dense foliage. Completely grown-up tree might reach up to
feet in height. During each season, the tree bears curved
fruit pods in abundance covering all over its branches. Each pod has
hard outer
shell encasing deep brown soft pulp enveloping around 2-10 hard
dark-brown seeds. Its pulp and seeds held together by extensive fiber

Botanically, the tree is among the large tropical
trees belonging to the family of Fabaceae,
in the genus: Tamarindus.
Scientific name: Tamarindus indica.

tamarind fruits in a tamarindus indica tree tamarindus indica, tamarind tree
Tamarind pods.
Note for brown color
fruits (pods) hanging down from a branch.
Photo courtesy:
Tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica).

Tamarinds are evergreen tropical trees native to
Africa. They grow
throughout tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, South Asia,
South America and Caribbean islands for their fruits.

benefits of Tamarind

  • Tamarind fruit contains certain health
    benefiting essential volatile chemical compounds, minerals, vitamins
    and dietary fiber.

  • Its sticky pulp is a rich source of non-starch polysaccharides
    (NSP) or dietary-fiber such as gums,
    hemicelluloses, mucilage, pectin
    and tannins. 100 g of
    fruit pulp provides 5.1 or over 13% of dietary fiber. NSP or dietary
    fiber in the food increases its bulk and augments bowel movements
    thereby help prevent constipation. The fiber also binds to toxins in
    the food thereby help protect the colon mucus membrane from
    cancer-causing chemicals.

  • In addition, dietary fibers in the pulp bind
    to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their
    re-absorption in the colon; thereby help in expulsion of “bad” or LDL
    cholesterol levels from the body.

  • While lemon
    composes of citric acid,
    tamarind is rich in tartaric

    Tartaric acid gives sour taste to food besides its inherent activity as
    a powerful antioxidant. (Anti-oxidant E-number is E334). It, thus,
    helps human body protect from harmful free radicals.

  • Tamarind fruit contains many volatile
    such as limonene,
    geraniol, safrole, cinnamic acid, methyl salicylate,
    s. Together these compounds account for the
    medicinal properties of tamarind.

  • This prized spice is a good
    of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium,
    zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an
    important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart
    rate and blood pressure. Iron
    is essential for
    red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases

  • In addition, it is also rich in many vital
    vitamins, including thiamin
    (36% of daily required levels), vitamin-A, folic acid, riboflavin,
    niacin, and vitamin-C. Much of these vitamins plays antioxidant as well
    co-factor functions for enzyme metabolism inside the body.

uses of Tamarind

  • Its pulp has been used in many traditional
    medicines as a laxative, digestive, and as a remedy for biliousness and
    bile disorders.

  • This spice condiment is also used as
    emulsifying agent in
    syrups, decoctions, etc., in different pharmaceutical products.

See the table below for in depth analysis
of nutrients:

Tamarind (Tamarindus
value per 100 g.

(Source: USDA National
Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient
Energy 239 Kcal 12%
Carbohydrates 62.50 g 40%
Protein 2.80 g 5%
Total Fat 0.60 g 3%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
5.1 g 13%
Folates 14 µg 3.5%
Niacin 1.938 mg 12%
0.143 mg 3%
Pyridoxine 0.066 mg 5%
Thiamin 0.428 mg 36%
Vitamin A 30 IU 1%
Vitamin C 3.5 mg 6%
Vitamin E 0.10 mg <1%
Vitamin K 2.8 µg 2%
Sodium 28 mg 2%
Potassium 628 mg 13%
Calcium 74 mg 7%
Copper 0.86 mg 9.5%
Iron 2.80 mg 35%
Magnesium 92 mg 23%
Phosphorus 113 mg 16%
Selenium 1.3 µg 2%
Zinc 0.10 mg 1%
Carotene-ß 18 µg
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 µg

Selection and storage

tamarind pods
pods. Note for brown color, tart and sweet-flavored pulp enclosed
inside semi-hard shell.

Fresh tamarind
pods are available in late spring and early summer seasons.
However, processed tamarind types such as compressed
tamarind blocks, ready-to-use slices, paste, concentrates, balls, etc
can be more readily available in the condient stores and spice

Choose fresh
unbroken pods packed in boxes. If you are purchasing processed form,
buy the product from a well reputed authentic brand. Avoid old,
desiccated pulp, or off-smelling products. 

Once at home
store the pods or pulp inside the refrigerator where it will stay fresh
several months.


tamarind sauce
and chilli pavlova.
Photo courtesy: Rc

sweet and sour, tamarind is
one of the most sought-after ingredients in Indian, Middle Eastern and
South-East Asian cooking. In some Indian households, the pods are cut
open and fresh pulp is used as and when required. The seeds are then
manually removed by beating the pulp with “wooden stick”, kept at home
for the same purpose. One may also use paring knife to separate

In general, a
small portion of the pulp is soaked in half a cup of warm water for
10 minutes. Swirl the pulp with your fingers so that it is
dissolved evenly in water to prepare a thin sauce. Strain the juice
a filter or thin cloth sieve before use in cooking.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Tamarind is a common ingredient all over India
    and South-East Asia in curries, “rasam”, chutneys, as well as in
    vegetable and
    lentil recipes.

  • The pulp is also favored in “hot and sour”
    soups as well in marinades.

  • The juice made of tamarind pulp with
    addition of dates, sugar,
    honey, cardamom,
    and coriander seeds
    are a refreshing drink marketed in different parts of the world.

  • Its pulp is also used in confectionaries as
    solidifying agent.

Safety profile

Tamarind has no known reported cases of allergic
or toxicity, and may be safely used in pregnancy and in nursing mothers.


The information and reference guides on this website are intended
solely for the general information for the reader. It is not to be used
to diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a
substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health
professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice
on medications.)

<<-Back to Spices
from Tamarind.

here for an impressive list of healthy
spices with
complete illustrations of their nutrition facts and health benefits.

<<-Back to Home

Visit here
for very informative pages on:-

Further Resources:

1. USDA National Nutrient
(opens in new window)

2. Gernot-Katzer’s spice pages. (Opens
in new window)

Broccoli nutrition facts and health benefits

Broccoli nutrition facts

is a cabbage family vegetable grown for its nutritious
flower heads. Its green or purple florets have
been known for several noteworthy, unique phyto-nutrients that
are found
to have disease
prevention and health promoting properties.

Botanically, the vegetable is a member of large cruciferous
family of vegetables, which
also include cauliflower,
brussel sprouts,

Scientific name: Brassica
oleracea var. italica.

broccoli broccoli
Broccoli head. Young broccoli in the field.

Broccoli is a cool-season crop and demands fertile
rich and well-drained soil to flourish. Technically, broccoli is
categorized into two main types according to their appearance; heading
and sprouting. Heading variety forms a large, solid head, whereas
sprouting types forms many smaller heads or florets.

Mature plant bears about 4-10 inches wide, dark
green to purple color flower-head depending on the cultivar type. Its
central thick stalk measures about 6-10 inches in length. Both stalk
and fleshy flower heads are edible.

Several different hybrid-mix of broccoli have developed with
family members such as broccoflower
(hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower), broccolini (broccoli
and chinese-kale), etc.

benefits of broccoli

  • Broccoli is one of the very low calorie
    vegetables; provides just 34 calories per 100 g. Nevertheless, it is
    rich in dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants that have
    proven health benefits. Total antioxidant strength measured in terms of
    radical absorbance capacity
    of broccoli is 1632 µmol TE/100 g.

  • Fresh Broccoli is a storehouse of many phyto-nutrients such
    as thiocyanates,
    indoles, sulforaphane, isothiocyanates
    and flavonoids like beta-carotene
    cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zea-xanthin
    . Studies have shown
    that these compounds by modifying positive signaling at molecular
    receptor levels help protect from prostate, colon, urinary bladder,
    pancreatic, and breast cancers.

  • Fresh vegetable
    exceptionally rich source of vitamin-C.
    Provides 89.2 mg or about 150%
    of RDA per 100 g. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and
    modulator, helps fight against flu causing viruses.

  • Further, it contains very good amounts of
    another anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-A.
    100 g fresh head provides 623 IU or 21 % of recommended daily levels.
    Together with other pro-vitamins like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene,
    and zea-xanthin, vitamin A helps maintain integrity of skin and mucus
    membranes. Vitamin A is essential for healthy eye-sight and helps
    prevent from macular degeneration of the retina in the elderly

  • Broccoli
    (green tops) are an excellent source of carotenoids
    and vitamin A; (provide 16000
    IU of vitamin A per 100 g
    ) contain these compounds,
    times greater than that in their flower-heads.

  • Fresh heads are an excellent source
    of folates;
    contain about 63 µg/100 g (Provides 16% of RDA). Studies have shown
    that consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits rich in folates during
    pre-conception, and pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects in the

  • This flower vegetable is rich source of
    vitamin-K; and B-complex group of vitamins like niacin (vit B-3),
    pantothenic acid (vit.B-5), pyridoxine (vit.B-6), and riboflavin. The
    flower heads also have some amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Furthermore, it
    is also a
    good source
    minerals like
    calcium, manganese, iron,
    magnesium, selenium, zinc and phosphorus.

See the table below for in depth analysis
of nutrients:

Broccoli (Brassica
oleracea var. italica), fresh, raw,
Nutrition value per 100 g

(Source: USDA National
Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient
Energy 34 Kcal 1.5%
Carbohydrates 6.64 g 5%
Protein 2.82 g 5%
Total Fat 0.37 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
2.60 g 7%
Folates 63 µg 16%
Niacin 0.639 mg 4%
0.573 mg 12%
Pyridoxine 0.175 mg 13%
Riboflavin 0.117 mg 9%
Thiamin 0.071 mg 6%
Vitamin A 623 IU 21%
Vitamin C 89.2 mg 149%
Vitamin E 0.17 mg 1.5%
Vitamin K 101.6 µg 85%
Sodium 33 mg 2%
Potassium 316 mg 7%
Calcium 47 mg 5%
Copper 0.049 mg 5.5%
Iron 0.73 mg 9%
Magnesium 21 mg 5%
Manganese 0.210 mg 9%
Selenium 2.5 µg 5%
Zinc 0.41 mg 4%
Carotene-ß 361 µg
Crypto-xanthin-ß 1 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 1403 µg

and storage

broccoli heads are
available year around. In the market, choose fresh,
bright, compact, firm textured flower heads with rich
flavor. Avoid those with overmature florets featuring yellow flower
excessive branches and hollow stem. Whenever
possible, go for organic farm products to get maximum health benefits.

Once at home,
rinse flower heads by dipping it upside down in salt
water for up to 30 minutes and then clean in running cold water before
use in cooking in order to remove any pesticide residues
and dirt.  Broccoli greens should also be treated in the same
way as you do in washing any other greens like spinach.

Eat broccoli while they
are fresh. Otherwise, it can be
placed inside the
refrigerator wrapped in a zip pouch where it may keep well for few

Preparation and serving methods

flower heads, stalks and leaves are edible. Broccoli
sections are being used in varieties of delicacies. Tough
stalks and thick leaves are trimmed using paring knife.

Here are
some preparation tips:

broccoli recipe
Broccoli recipe(photo:
The essential vegetarian cook book)

  • Young,
    tender, broccoli heads
    may be eaten raw
    or as salad.
  • Its flower heads are much sought-after in
    stir-fries; either alone or with other vegetables, beans and poultry,
    in mouth-watering recipes mixed with sauce, oil, onions, pepper, and garlic.

  • Extensive boiling and microwaving of broccoli has been
    found to destroy heat sensitive vitamins like folate, anti-oxidants
    like vitamin-C, and some of its anti-cancer phyto-nutrients. However,
    few of other
    brief preparation methods such as mild-steaming, and gentle braising
    shown not to alter much of the composition of these compounds.


other members
of the cruciferous family,
broccoli contains “goitrogens” which may cause swelling of thyroid
gland and therefore, should be avoided in individuals with thyroid
dysfunction. However, it may be used liberally in healthy
persons. (Medical

<<-Back to Vegetable
from Broccoli
Please visit here for an
impressive list of
vegetables with complete illustrations of their nutrition facts and
health benefits.

<<-Back to Home

Visit here
for very informative pages on:-

Further Resources:

1. Stanford School of Medicine
Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk
(Link opens in new Window).

2. USDA National Nutrient database.

3. University of Agriculture Extension-Watch
your garden grow.

Plantains nutrition facts and health benefits

Plantains nutrition facts

Plantains, also known as plátanos, are closely
related cultivars of fruit or dessert banana;
however, they eaten as vegetables much like fellow tropical produces such as potatoes, taro, breadfruit, yam, sweet potatoes, etc.
Indeed, they are one of the staple sources of carbohydrates for larger
populations in Asia, Oceania, Africa, and Central Americas for
centuries, served in main courses.

As in bananas, plantain too belong to the Musaceae family. It was thought to have developed in the nature by hybridization of two wild species of
Muscaceae, Musa
acuminata Colla (AA)
and M. balbsiana Colla (BB),
and consist of chromosomal triploid AAB genome.

plantain fruit raw green and ripe plantans
Photo: Shiv.
Raw as well as
ripe plantains in a
Photo courtesy: Luigi Guarino

Plantain is quite different from dessert banana, being
taller and larger and more drought tolerant. It is a perennial
herbaceous plant that develops from the underground rhizome. Like
it too flourishes well under tropical moisture-rich, humid low-lying

At maturity, the rhizome gives rise to flower
(inflorescence) that
is carried up along a smooth, elongated, un-branched stem piercing
through the centre of the pseudo-stem, finally emerging out at the top
in between its leaf cluster. The flower subsequently develops
into bunch, consisting of 3 to 20 hands, with each bunch holding
at least 5-10
fingers (fruits).

plantain, Inflorescence and tender plantain stem
Plantain (right) with Inflorescence
and and tender banana stem in a market.

Raw green plantains can only eaten after cooking.
Each fruit measures about 3 to 10 inches or more in length depending
upon the cultivar type. They tend to have coarser external features
with prominent edges and flat surfaces unlike smooth, rounded contour in
. The flesh inside is starch rich with tiny edible
seeds concentrated at its core. Ripening process, however, enhances
flavor and sweetness since much of its starch converts to sugar, similar to
as in the case of fruit bananas but to a lesser extent.

Plantain flower (inflorescence) as well as its interior stem too are eaten
in various kinds of recipes in South-Asian regions.

Health benefits of plantains

  • Plantain has more calories weight for weight
    than in the fruit bananas. 100 g plantain consists of 122 calories,
    while dessert banana hold only 89 calories. Indeed, they are very reliable
    sources of starch and energy; ensuring food security for millions of inhabitants worldwide.

  • It contains 2.3 g of dietary fiber per 100 g
    (6% of DRA per 100 g). Adequate amount of dietary-fiber in the food
    helps normal bowel movements, thereby reducing constipation problems.

  • Fresh plátanos have more vitamin C than
    bananas. 100 g provide 18.4 mg or 31% of daily required levels of this
    vitamin. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop
    resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free

  • Plantains have more vitamin
    bananas. 100 g fresh ripe plantains contain 1127 IU or 37.5% of daily
    required levels of this vitamin. In addition to being a powerful
    antioxidant, vitamin A plays a vital role in the visual cycle,
    maintaining healthy mucus membranes, and enhancing skin complexion.

  • As in bananas, they too are rich sources
    of B-complex vitamins, particularly high in vitamin-B6
    (pyridoxine). Pyridoxine is an important B-complex vitamin that has a
    beneficial role in the treatment of neuritis, anemia, and to decrease homocystine (one of
    the causative factors for coronary artery disease (CHD) and stroke
    episodes) levels in the body. In addition, the fruit contains moderate
    levels of folates, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin.

  • They also provide
    adequate levels of minerals such as iron, magnesium,
    and phosphorous. Magnesium is essential for bone
    strengthening and
    has a cardiac-protective role as well.

  • Fresh
    plantains have more potassium
    than bananas. 100 g fruit provides 499 mg
    of potassium (358 mg per 100 g for bananas). Potassium
    an important component of cell and
    body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure,
    countering negative effects of sodium.

See the table below for in depth analysis
of nutrients:

Plantains (Musa species),
Nutritive Value per 100 g
(Source: USDA National
Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient
Energy 122 Kcal 6%
Carbohydrates 31.89 g 24.5%
Protein 1.30 g 2%
Total Fat 0.37g 2%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
2.30 g 6%
Folates 22 µg 5.5%
Niacin 0.686 mg 4%
Pyridoxine 0.299 mg 23%
Riboflavin 0.054 mg 4%
Thiamin 0.052 mg 4%
Vitamin A 1127 IU 37.5%
Vitamin C 18.4 mg 31%
Vitamin E 0.14 mg 1%
Vitamin K 0.7 µg 1%
Sodium 4 mg <1%
Potassium 499 mg 10.6%
Calcium 3 mg <0.5%
Iron 0.60 mg 7.5%
Magnesium 37 mg 9%
Phosphorus 34 mg 5%
Zinc 0.14 mg 1%

and storage

Plantains and bananas
Plantain (left) and banana.
Photo courtesy: satanoid.

Plantains of
all the varieties are readily available in the USA supermarkets all
around the year. At maturity, they are generally harvested unripe and carried to the market for sale.

Look for firm,
mature, deep green,
well-formed plantains that feel heavy in hand. Do not buy overripe,
damaged, split fruits, as they stay poor. Once at home,
store them open at room temperature for up to 4-5 days.

ripened, plantains too, like bananas, are very
fragile and show decay in short time span.

and Serving methods

Plantains are
inedible raw and should be eaten only after cooked. 

To prepare,
just wash the raw fruit in cold water and mop dry using paper cloth.
Using a paring knife trim both ends. Then, cut the fruit into short
lengths, split the skin superficially along the ridge and peel the skin
gently away from the flesh to get the pulp. Oftentimes, the whole fruit
may be barbequed with its skin. Otherwise, its peeled flesh may be cut
into thin slices, grated, chunks; treated much
like potatoes in many traditional African and West-Indian dishes.

Plátano can be
delicious once cooked and usually served in
main dishes as the chief carbohydrate source in many parts of the

fried plantains plantain chips tostones
Fried plantains.
Photo courtesy: Purdman1.
Plantain chips (vaazhakka upperi)-India Tostones
are other Caribbean
Photo courtesy: John Stephen.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Plantains make delicious savory recipes, used
    in place of potatoes in
    grills, mashed, bake, or fries.

  • In South-Indian Kerala state, plantain chips (vaazhakka upperi) seasoned
    with salt and pepper, is a popular snack.
    Tostones (plátano, fried twice), prepared in a similar way are
    again a popular snacks in
    the Caribbean and Latin Americas.

  • Its flower head (inflorescence) and interior icicle-white,
    tender stem (vazhai thandu in Malayalam) too are eaten in various kinds
    of recipes in South-Asian regions.

  • Sopa de plátano is a popular Caribbean soup
    preparation that used green platanos, garlic,

  • Mashed plantain is served with fried onions is
    a national breakfast dish in Dominican Republic. Mashed platanos are
    served with rice, eggs, beans,
    poultry, fish, etc., in these regions.

Safety profile

Being a close
relative of bananas, plantains too often can be a cause for skin and systemic allergic
reactions in some sensitive individuals. The fruit may elicit urticaria and may cause potentially
serious gastrointestinal
symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
“Oral allergy syndrome,” is a condition in which eating banana family
foods may cause itching and swelling
in the mouth or throat within hours.

Another kind of allergic reaction may be related to plant latex(Medical disclaimer).

<<-Back to Vegetable

from Plantains
Please visit
for an impressive list of all variety of fruits with
complete illustrations of their nutrition facts and health benefits.

<<-Back to Home

link to visit very informative pages on:-

Further reading:

1. Musa species-Banana and plantains.

2. USDA – Nutrient Database for
Standard Reference.

Capers nutrition facts and health benefits

Capers nutrition facts

Unique, piquant flavored capers are flowering buds
of a low-growing caper shrub. The buds, indeed, are one of the most
ingredients in the kitchens all around the Mediterranean basin. The
buds botanically belong to the family of Capparaceae, in the
genus: Capparis.
Scientific name: Capparis

The plant is a spiny, trailing, deciduous shrub
native to the Mediterranean. It prefers warm humid climate and grows in
abundance all over the Cyprus, Italy, Greece, North African
and some
Asia Minor regions. The shrub begins producing flower (caper) buds from
third year of plantation.

capers buds in caper bush pickled capers
Note for small immature flower buds.
Photo courtesy: cruccone
Pickled capers in the bowl.
Photo courtesy: naotakem

In general, their small cream colored buds are
gathered by handpicking in the
early morning hours of the day which otherwise would unfold
into a beautiful
whitish-pink four sepal flower with long tassels of purple stamens.
Soon after harvesting, the buds are washed and allowed to wilt for few
hours in the sun before putting into jars and covered with salt,
vinegar, brine, or olive oil.

In commercial practice, capers are categorized
and sold by their size in the markets. Smaller sized buds are more
valuable than large ones. Non-pareil
are some
small buds while capucines,
are sold as big sized ones.

Health benefits of capers

  • Being flower buds, capers are in fact very low
    in calories, 23 calories per 100 g. However, this spice-bud contains
    phytonutrients, anti-oxidants and vitamins essential for optimum

  • Capers are one of the plant sources high in
    flavonoid compounds rutin
    (or rutoside) and quercetin.
    Capers are in-fact very rich source of quarcetin (180 mg/100 g)
    second only
    to tea leaf. Both these compounds are powerful anti-oxidants.
    Research studies suggest that quercetin has anti-bacterial,
    anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and
    anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Furthermore, rutin
    capillaries and inhibits platelet clump formation in the blood vessels.
    Both these actions of rutin help in smooth circulation of blood in very
    small vessels. Rutin has found application in some in trial treatments
    for hemorrhoids, varicose veins and in bleeding conditions such as
    hemophilia. It also found to reduce LDL cholesterol
    levels in obese individuals

  • The spicy buds contain healthy levels of
    vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin K, niacin, and riboflavin. Niacin
    helps lower LDL cholesterol.

  • Furthermore, minerals like calcium, iron, and
    copper are
    present in them. High sodium levels are because of added granular
    sea salt (sodium chloride).


  • Caper parts have been used to relieve
    rheumatic pain in traditional medicines. 

  • The spicy caper pickles traditionally added to
    recipes as appetite stimulant. In addition, they help relieve
    stomachache and
    flatulence conditions.

See the table below for in depth
of nutrients:

canned, Nutrient value
per 100 g

(Source: USDA National
Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of
Energy 23 Kcal 1%
Carbohydrates 4.89 g 4%
Protein 2.36 g 4%
Total Fat 0.86 g 3%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 3.2 g 8%
Folates 23 mcg 6%
Niacin 0.652 mg 4.5%
0.027 mg 0.5%
Pyridoxine 0.023 mg 2%
Riboflavin 0.139 mg 11%
Thiamin 0.018 mg 1.5%
Vitamin A 138 IU 4%
Vitamin C 4.3 mg 7%
Vitamin E 0.88 mg 6%
Vitamin K 24.6 mcg 20.5%
Sodium 2954 mg 197%
Potassium 40 mg 1%
Calcium 40 mg 4%
Copper 0.374 mg 42%
Iron 1.67 mg 21%
Magnesium 33 mg 8%
Manganese 0.078 mg 3%
Phosphorus 10 mg 1%
Selenium 1.2 mcg 2%
Zinc 0.32 mg 3%
Carotene-ß 83 mcg
Carotene-α 0 mcg
Cryptoxanthin-ß 0 mcg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 mcg

and storage

If you are
not from the countryside then you most likely can find these
beautiful tiny olive-green buds filled in a narrow tall glass jar
submerged in their pickling medium in the spice stores and groceries.
Pickled capers are readily available around the year in the

soon after their harvest, the buds are hand washed and allowed to dry
in the sun for few hours before being put into tall jars containing
vinegar, brine, or olive oil.
Alternatively, they can also be preserved
in coarse sea salt alone.

In general,
small size buds (less than one centimeter) are considered more
flavorful than the larger buds (more than 1 cm diameter).
Capers should be preserved by immersing in the pickling medium;
otherwise, they will develop an off-flavor. Once you open the jar, make
sure the bottle is refrigerated for future use. Use stainless steel
spoon or fork to take them out from the jar.


its tender shoots, as well as immature berries are used in
cooking. Raw buds have neutral flavor and need to be processed in
pickling medium to develop unique piquant, tangy flavor. 

They feature
in variety of cuisines worldwide, especially in the Mediterranean

tuna with caper sauce
Tuna with caper sauce and lemon.
Photo courtesy: naotakem

Here are some
serving tips:

  • They are added to prepare tartare (tuna,
    venison, salmon, etc) and tonnato sauce.

  • The pickled buds used as a flavoring in
    antipasto salads and as a topping in pizzas.

  • Capers render special taste to vegetable,
    veal and fish (especially along with anchovie sauce) recipes.

  • Remoulade
    is a popular aioli
    or mayonnaise
    based sauce in northern Europe uses capers brine as one of the main


Capers are safe to use in cooking. Their use may
be limited in pregnancy. Patients undergoing any surgical intervention
may have to avoid them as they act as blood thinner and may result in
excessive bleeding. (Medical

<<-Back to Spices from CapersPlease visit
here for impressive list of
healthy herbs with complete illustrations of their nutrition facts,
medicinal properties, and health benefits.

<<-Back to Home
link to visit very informative pages on:-

Further Resources:

1. USDA National Nutrient

2. Journal of Agricultural and Food chemistry- Bioactive components of Capparis spinosa. L

Flax seed nutrition facts and health benefits

Flax seed nutrition facts

Flax seed, also known as linseed, is one of
the ancient cultivated crops since Mesopotamian times, grown for its
oil seeds and fiber. Its chewy seeds are packed with full of
nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, and essential
vitamins. Off late, nutritional and health benefits of flax have widely
drawn the attention of nutrition researchers as well as health
enthusiasts alike across the globe.

Flax belongs to the family of Linaceae,
of the genus of Linum,
and botanically named as Linum

flax-seed flax
seeds (L.usitatissimum).
(Photo courtesy: AlishaV)
yellow flax.
courtesy : AlishaV)

Flax is one of the easily cultivated crops that
flourishes well both in tropical as well as
subtropical climates, with its higher production as a field crop noted
in some fertile river valleys. It is an erect annual plant growing about 1
to 1.5 meters tall and bears light-blue colored attractive flowers.

linseed flower
blue Linseed (flax) flowers.
(Photo courtesy: Acradenia)

Flax fruit pod is a round, dry capsule 6–9 mm
diameter, containing
several brown or golden-yellow seeds (depending on cultivar type). The
seeds feature smooth, glossy surface and flat shape that somewhat
appear like sesame seeds,
but quite larger, measuring about 5–7 mm in length.

In general, there exist two common
cultivars of flax; one is predominantly grown for its oil seeds and the
other variety for fiber. Seed flax generally features brown,
yellow or golden-yellow color seeds, with
most types having similar nutritional values and equal amounts of
short-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

benefits of Flax seed

  • As in other oil seeds, flax too is one of the
    very high-calorie foods. 100 g of seeds contain 534 calories or 27% of
    daily-required levels. Further, the seeds are an excellent source of
    numerous health-benefiting nutrients, dietary fiber (mucilage), minerals,
    antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.

  • Flax seed is rich in monounsaturated fatty
    acids like oleic acid.
    It is also one of the top plant sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids
    such as linoleic acid,
    alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and arachidonic acids
    . Regular
    intake of small portions of flax seeds in the diet helps to lower total
    as well as LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good
    cholesterol” levels in the blood. Research studies suggest that
    Mediterranean diet that is rich in fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids
    and omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent coronary artery disease and
    strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

  • Flax seeds are perhaps one of the most widely
    available botanical sources of n−3 or ω (omega)-3 fatty acids. Flax
    seed oil consists of approximately 55% ALA (α-linolenic acid). One
    spoonful of flax seed oil provides about 8 g of omega-3 fatty acids.
    Research studies have suggested that n-3 fatty acids by their virtue of
    anti-inflammatory action help lower the risk of blood pressure,
    coronary artery disease, strokes and breast, colon and prostate
    cancers. Adequate quantities of n-3 oils are required for normal infant
    development and maturation of nervous system.

  • The
    contain lignans,
    a class of phytoestrogens considered to have antioxidant and cancer
    preventing properties.

  • Flax
    an excellent
    source of vitamin E,
    especially rich in gamma-tocopherol;
    containing about
    20 g (133% of daily-recommended values) per 100 g. vitamin E is a
    powerful lipid soluble antioxidant,
    required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus
    membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.

  • The seeds are packed with many important
    B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic
    acid, vitamin B-6, and folates.
    Thiamin is an essential co-factor for carbohydrate metabolism and helps
    prevent beri-beri
    disease. Folates help prevent neural tube defects in the fetus when
    consumed during pre-conception period and pregnancy.

  • Furthermore, flax
    seed is
    rich source of
    minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and

  • Flax or linseed oil has flavorful nutty aroma
    and has been used in cooking, and as “carrier” or “base oil” in
    traditional medicines and in pharmaceutical uses.

See the table below for in depth analysis
of nutrients:

Flax seeds (Linum
Nutritional value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National
Nutrient database)

Principle Nutrient
Energy 534 Kcal 27%
Carbohydrates 28.8 g 22%
Protein 18.3 g 32.5%
Total Fat 42.16 g 170%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
27.3 g 68%
Folates 87 µg 22%
Niacin 3.08 mg 19%
0.985 mg 20%
Pyridoxine 0.473 mg 36%
Riboflavin 0.161 mg 12%
Thiamin 1.64 mg 137%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 0.6 mg 1%
Vitamin E 19.95 mg 133%
Vitamin K 4.3 µg 3.5%
Sodium 30 mg 2%
Potassium 813 mg 17%
Calcium 255 mg 22.5%
Copper 1.12 mg 124%
Iron 5.73 mg 72%
Magnesium 392 mg 98%
Manganese 2.48 mg 108%
Zinc 4.34 mg 39%
Carotene-ß 0 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 651 µg

Selection and

Flax seeds are
available in the market year around. In the stores, one may come across
different forms of flax such as whole dry seeds, roasted, ground, etc.
Attempt to buy whole, golden-yellow flax seeds instead of ground
(powder) as it ensures that the seeds are intact in nutrients,
unadulterated and have a longer shelf life.

There are two
varieties of flax seeds; brown and yellow or golden, with most types
having similar nutritional values and almost same amounts of
short-chain omega-3 fatty acids. The seeds should feature bright, brown
or golden-yellow (depending on the variety) color, smooth, compact, and
uniform in size and feel heavy in hand. They are generally available in
the airtight packs as well as in bulk bins.

Whole flax seeds may be placed in cool dry place for many months, while
the ground form should be placed inside airtight container and kept in
refrigerator to avoid them turn rancid.


Flax seeds are
rich in poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Exposing the ground seeds for
longer time in the powder form oxidizes their fatty acids and deprives
them of their nutritional value. Therefore, generally, the seeds are
ground in a coffee or nut/seed grinder just before use in order to
preserve their nutrition-profile.

The seeds can also be enjoyed as snacks either roasted,
salted, or

  • Flax
    seeds are
    nutty yet
    pleasantly sweet in taste. Ground seeds are a great addition as
    toppings in yogurt, desserts, shakes, cereal based dishes, etc.

  • Ground
    seeds often
    sprinkled over salads, desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice
    cream based preparations.

  • Flax
    is widely used in
    confectionery, as an addition to biscuits, sweets, muffins and cakes.

Safety profile

Flax-seeds have no harmful effects on health when
used in small quantities. However, flax contains lots of mucilage fiber in
their coat which when eaten in large amounts may cause stomach pain,
bloating, and laxative diarrhea. Eating raw flax seed is not advised
for its risk of cyanogen-glycosides toxicity

In addition, lignans in flax possess estrogen-like
activity. It is therefore, excess consumption of flax, and its products
may not be advised during pregnancy for its possible hormone
interactions. (Medical disclaimer).

<<-Backto Nuts nutrition
from Flax seed
visit here for an impressive list of nuts and seeds with
complete illustrations of their nutrition facts and health benefits.

<<-Back to Home

Visit here
for very informative pages on:-

Further reading:

1. Refer StanfordMedicine
cancer center
information page-Nutrition to reduce
cancer risk

National center for
alternative medicine: NCCAM:
Flax seed.

3. USDA National Nutrient Database.

Jicama nutrition facts and health benefits

Jicama (yam bean) nutrition facts

Jicama, also known as yam bean, is a round, fleshy
taproot vegetable of bean family plants. Its underground starchy root is
one of the popular
edible root vegetables grown in many parts of Central American, South
Asian, Caribbean, and some Andean South American regions. It’s
refreshing; crispy, ice-white, fruit-like root can be eaten raw or
cooked in
a variety of sweet as well as savory dishes worldwide.

Some of the common names of yam bean are Mexican water chestnut, Mexican
turnip, sengkwang, yacon
is pronounced as hecama.

Scientific name: Pachyrhizus

Jicama roots (P.erosus).
Photo courtesy: Gary soup

Jicama is a perennial vine plant growing
vigorously under semitropical and tropical climates. It has similar
growth characteristics as that of lima bean or any other bean species
plant. The most distinguishing feature, however, is that it bears
globular, fleshy, turnip-like starchy edible root below the ground
surface. Unlike other starch roots such as potato,
wherein the peel may be eaten; jicama features thick dust-brown color
inedible skin. Inside, its white starchy flesh has crisp texture and
fruit-like succulent, sweet-starchy flavor. Each tuber weighs about 250
to 1200 g.

There exist at least five different cultivar types of
Pachyrhizus species; however, only three popular jicama cultivars include Pachyrhizus erosus (Mexican
yam bean
), Pachyuhizus ahipa (Andean yam bean),
tuberosus (Amazonian yam
bean, jíquima
). P. erosus (‘jícama de leche’)
or Mexican yam bean is the popular variety imported in the USA. Another
cultivar, P. palmatilobus, locally known
as ‘jícama de leche’, has deeply lobed leaflets, milky sap and somewhat less
agreeable taste.

benefits of Jicama

  • Jicama is one of the very low calorie root vegetables;
    carrying only 35 calories per 100 g. However, its high quality
    phyto-nutrition profile comprises of dietary
    fiber, and anti-oxidants, in addition to small proportions of minerals,
    and vitamins.

  • It is one of the finest sources of dietary fiber; particularly excellent source of oligofructose
    , a soluble dietary fiber.
    The root pulp provides 4.9 mg or 13% of fiber. Inulin is a zero
    calorie sweet inert
    carbohydrate. It does not metabolize inside the human body,
    which make the root an ideal sweet snack for diabetics and

  • As in turnips, fresh yam bean tubers are
    also rich in vitamin C;
    about 20.2 mg or 34% of DRA of vitamin C per 100 g. Vitamin-C
    is a powerful water-soluble anti-oxidant that helps body scavenge
    harmful free
    radicals, thereby offers protection from cancers, inflammation and
    viral cough and cold.

  • It also contains small levels of some of
    B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, pyridoxine,
    pantothenic acid and thiamin.

  • Further, the root provides healthy amounts of
    some important minerals like magnesium, copper, iron and

See the table below for in depth
of nutrients:

Jicama (Pachyrhizus
Fresh, raw,
Nutrition Value
per 100 g,

(Source: USDA National
Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient
Energy 38 Kcal 2%
Carbohydrates 8.82 g 7%
Protein 0.72 g 1%
Total Fat 0.19 g <1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
4.9 g 13%
Folates 12 µg 3%
Niacin 0.200 mg 1.5%
0.135 mg 3%
Pyridoxine 0.042 mg 3%
Riboflavin 0.029 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.020 mg 2%
Vitamin A 21 IU 1%
Vitamin C 20.2 mg 34%
Vitamin E 0.46 mg 3%
Vitamin K 0.3 µg <1%
Sodium 4 mg <1%
Potassium 150 mg 3%
Calcium 12 mg 1%
Copper 0.048 mg 5%
Iron 0.60 mg 7%
Magnesium 12 mg 3%
Manganese 0.60 mg 3%
Zinc 0.16 mg 1%
Carotene-ß 13 µg
Carotene-α 0 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 µg

and storage

Jicamas are
generally available year around in the markets. Generally, they enter
through land route and flood the USA markets from the Central American
countries during spring and summer.

well-formed, firm, round, medium sized tubers. Avoid soft, shriveled,
or tubers with surface cuts, cracks and bruise skin.

Once at home,
jicamas can be stored much like potatoes. They have very good shelf
life and keep well in a cool, dry, dark place for about 2-4 weeks.
Exposure to temperature below 10 °C results in chill-induced changes in
color and texture. Also, prolong storage converts
its starch into sugar, which makes the roots less
sought after in savory dishes.

sections, cubes or slices, however, should be placed inside the

and serving methods

Wash in cool running water and dry mop like in other tubers. Peel off
thick fibrous skin using a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Peel and
other plant parts contain rotenene,
an organic poison; and therefore, should be discarded. It then can be
cut into cubes, sliced, or chopped to fine sticks in a ways desired. It
can be cut into cubes, sliced, or chopped to fine sticks in a ways

Fresh jicama
is used much like a vegetable and is an important
starch source in much of Central America. It stays crisp when cooked,
making it one of the wonderful vegetable in stir-fries.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Raw jicama has sweet succulent apple like
    fruity taste. In many parts of Mexico, fresh tubers are cut into
    cubes/sticks and sprinkled with lime
    juice, salt and dressed with olive
    and paprika or ground chilli

  • Jicama is a favorite root vegetable in Mexican
    cooking where it is used in salads, slaw, stews, stir-fries, soups…etc. It mixes well
    with other common vegetables and fruits like orange, pineapple, carrot,
    green beans
    as well as with poultry, meat and seafood.

  • Outside of the American continent, this tuber
    is among the popular starch root in many south and southeast region. In
    Malaysia, where it is known as bengkoang,
    fresh young
    tubers are sliced and eaten with other fruits like pineapple, apple,
    raw mango, sweet potato…etc, in rujak

  • In Indonesia, they are served with much
    like Malayan salad but with added rujak
    made from palm sugar,
    shrimp paste, chili peppers, and sautéed peanut
    paste. Also,
    as a rujak tumbuk,
    wherein all the above-mentioned ingredients ground
    in a wooden mortar and served in a banana leaf.

  • Apart from salads, another popular oriental
    dish that uses jicama and turnips is popiah, a
    fresh spring roll.

Safety profile

Jicama plant contains significant levels of
fat-soluble organic
toxin, rotenone.
It is concentrated especially in the leaf tops, stems
and seed pods but at much lower levels in the roots. Several studies
found that it is linked to the development of
However, peeled roots are safe for human
consumption, including in children.
Rotenone works at cellular level inhibiting several metabolic enzymes
like NADH dehydrogenase
in the mitochondria. Outside, it is used as
environmentally safe broad-spectrum insecticide, piscicide (to poison
fish), and pesticide. (Medical

<<-Back to Vegetables from JicamaVisit here
for an impressive list of all variety of vegetables with
complete illustrations of their nutrition facts and health benefits.

<<-Back to Home

Visit here
for very informative pages on:-

Further Resources:

1. USDA National Nutrient

2. Stanford School of Medicine
Cancer information Page- Nutrition
to Reduce Cancer Risk

3. Norton, L. B. 1943. Rotenone in
the yam bean (Pachyrrhizus erosus).

4. Rotenone.