Good morning! I hope you had a great Easter and are enjoying the longer nights this week. Before we get into the health info this week, first an announcement....

I'm running a marathon, in ANTARCTICA! It's 26.2 miles in the Autumn, think ice, dog sleds, and COLD!  Here's hoping the training on the ice skating rink at Alexandra Palace pays off over the next few months.

I'd love to be able to help more people so this week I am asking you to forward my email to one of your family members or a friend. If you copy me in, they can ask me some questions about health, fitness etc and I can add them to my weekly email list.  If you find my emails helpful, I'm sure they will too!

Food of the week

This week’s ‘Food of the Week’ is the chickpea. Chickpeas are a member of the legume family and they can be eaten either in their natural form, or modified in order to enable their use in other ways. High in many essential nutrients, chickpeas are mainly sourced from Asian and Mediterranean countries. Chickpeas are often ground down to create chickpea flour, or as it also sometimes known, gram flour. Chickpeas are fantastic for a healthy diet and weight loss due to their low glycemic index value and high levels of dietary fibre. By eating chickpeas, you can help to keep your blood sugar levels more stable and the metabolism of glucose more efficient. By including chickpeas (or other legumes or beans) into your healthy diet, you can help to negate the effects of other high glycemic index foods, as they will help to reduce your overall GI intake.
 
The major benefits of chickpeas:
 
•  Fiber Advantage and Weight Loss: Like other beans, chickpeas are rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that collects cholesterol and ferries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent other digestive disorders.

•  Protein for Vegetarians: Chickpeas are a good source of protein. Combined with a whole grain such as whole-wheat carbohydrate, they provide amount of protein comparable to that of meat without the high calories or saturated fats.

•  Manganese for Energy Production: Chickpeas are an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, which is essential in energy production and antioxidant defenses. Just one cup of garbanzo beans supplies 84.5% of the daily value for this mineral.

•  Iron Boost: Chickpeas can boost your energy because of their high iron content. This is particularly important for those who have recently undergone surgery, and menstruating women or pregnant women. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism.

•  Stabilizing Blood Sugar and Low Glycaemic Index (GI): Soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, chickpeas can help to balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. They have a low GI value of 28 - meaning the carbohydrate in them is broken down and digested slowly. This is helpful for weight loss as it controls the appetite.

•  Heart Healthy: Regular intake of Chickpeas can lower LDL (bad) and total cholesterol. Chickpeas contain significant amounts of folate and magnesium. Folate lowers the levels of the amino acid homocysteine and strengthens the blood vessels.

•  For Women: Garbanzo contain phytochemicals called saponins, which can act as antioxidants. They may lower the risk of breast cancer, protect against osteoporosis and minimizes hot flushes in post-menopausal women.
 
Some tasty recipes using chickpeas:
 
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/10757/roast-summer-vegetables-and-chickpeas
 
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/summer-chickpea-salad

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