Have Sugar Cravings? This May Be Why!

A craving is an intense urge or desire to eat a specific type of food.

One of the most common cravings is for sugary foods. Some people have occasional sugar cravings and can indulge them without repercussions.

Others have cravings frequently. Giving in to the cravings repeatedly can undermine workout results. It can also lead to health issues: weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, mood swings, and more.

Let’s start with 2 explanations for cravings that we usually hear. I simply disagree that they’re the real causes of cravings.

Low Glucose

Dietitians often say sugar cravings are caused by low blood glucose. That occurs if someone hasn’t eaten in a long time, or skips breakfast for an early workout.

It’s true. But it’s not the whole story.

Sugar cravings occur when glucose drops too fast, rather than too low. That can happen if we eat junky carbs – sugar, white flour, instant mashed potatoes, and so on. Because they trigger lots of insulin, they’re fast “glucose-droppers.”

Biological Need

Some sources say cravings express a biological need and should be answered with the craved food. Salt cravings are the example they use to support this viewpoint.

Many people do crave salty foods after hard workouts, for example, and salt cravings may indicate a biological need for salt.

But that doesn’t apply to sugar cravings. We need some salt in our diets, but we don’t need sugar.

Besides, sugar’s an addictive drug. A drug addict gets cravings for his/her drug, but the drug isn’t a biological need. The cravings indicate withdrawal (more on that below).

Here are the craving explanations I’d submit as the real ones.

Too Little Fat

Sugar cravings result from a diet that’s too low in fats. Research documents a sugar/fat seesaw – one increases in the diet as the other decreases. Hormones and brain chemicals are involved – namely, CCK (cholecystokinin) and beta-endorphin (endorphins).

Eating healthful fats can help stop sugar cravings.


Withdrawal can occur when someone quits drugs, quits drinking, or quits eating sugar.

Alcohol, for example, stimulates 3 brain chemicals that are also stimulated by sugar. People in recovery often crave sugar and eat it frequently, possibly in large quantities. Sugary back-of-room treats at AA meetings illustrate this perfectly.

The problem is sugar can bring on a relapse.


One type of trigger is external – seeing or smelling appealing foods.

Internal triggering is called priming: eating a small amount of a trigger food makes us want more. It’s the result of a specific brain receptor for the chemical dopamine. Some people are more susceptible to priming than others.

Chronic stress

Short-term stress tends to decrease appetite. Chronic stress stimulates appetite, alters brain chemistry, and results in mood changes and cravings for sugar.

Rotten Moods

Any bad mood can trigger a sugar craving. Sugar alters brain chemistry and changes mood temporarily. But it can make things worse in the long run.

Serotonin Disturbances

Low serotonin in the brain may be linked with depression, seasonal affective disorder, or PMS. Chronic alcohol use and menopause both lower serotonin. Low serotonin can bring on sugar cravings.

Serotonin is made from tryptophan, an amino acid, one of the “building blocks” of protein. Eating too little protein can decrease serotonin and lead to cravings.

Insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) can reduce serotonin production – it prevents tryptophan from reaching the brain. Insulin resistance may be caused by genetics, obesity, chronic stress, or a diet that’s too high in fats, junky carbs, or fructose.

Fortunately, insulin resistance is reversible through diet.

Other Causes of Cravings

Eating sugar can – and will – prime cravings. Cravings can also result from a low-protein diet or B-vitamin deficiencies.

So What Can You Do?

The fastest way to eliminate any craving is to take 1 teaspoon of TwinLab Super-B Complex. B vitamins are co-factors in the formation of key brain chemicals that stop cravings.

[Please check with your doctor. Certain medical conditions are contraindications for this strategy. Also beware of overdoing it – high doses can cause side effects.]

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Risk Factors For Normal HDL Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol, produced by the liver and body’s cells is a cheese-like substance from animal products such as meat, dairy products, and eggs. Cholesterol comes in two forms, low density lipoprotein and high density lipoprotein. The low density cholesterol, LDL, is not good for you. However, high density cholesterol, or HDL, is good for you. The normal total cholesterol level is 200. Normal LDL levels are under 100. Higher levels can compromise normal HDL cholesterol levels required for good health.

Cholesterol levels that are out of the norm can cause health problems such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other health complications. A cholesterol level that is too high does not present symptoms. Nutrition and heredity are factors in high cholesterol, or hypercholesterolemia. Some aspects of cholesterol can be managed by lifestyle and nutritional controls, while others are not directly controllable.Among those high cholesterol risk factors out your control are gender, age, and heredity. The older you become, the more at risk you are for high cholesterol. Men over 45 years of age, and women over 55 years of age are in a high risk category for high cholesterol. When heart disease runs in the immediate family, such as a parent or sibling who has heat disease, your risk also increases. For men this means a father or brother who developed heart disease by age 55, are at greater risk than others. For women, this means that a mother or sister who has developed heart disease by age 65, indicates you have a greater chance.

Factors that contribute to high cholesterol that are within your control include diet, weight and an active lifestyle. A diet rich in saturated fat and cholesterol increases the total and the LDL-cholesterol levels. A diet low in cholesterol can balance out high cholesterol levels. Avoid using saturated fats, such as butter, when preparing or when eating food. Use canola oil, or olive oil instead of butter, vegetable oil, margarine, lard, or other shortening. Eat fish instead of meat.

Health professionals recommend eating fish, such as salmon or tuna, which have cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids about two or three times per week. Fish oil capsule supplements can also reduce cholesterol. Though not the same type as fish, plants such as soybeans, canola, walnuts, flaxseeds, and their oils also have omega-3 acids. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also contain cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber.An active lifestyle can improve your cholesterol level. Exercise or other physical activity lowers LDL, and increases HDL cholesterol by as much as 10%. An added bonus is that you lose weight. Obesity causes an increase in the LDL and a decrease in the HDL levels of cholesterol. Along with obesity, smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure are cardiovascular risk factors. Normal HDL cholesterol levels can be managed through a healthy diet, and lifestyle changes that increase exercise, and reduce smoking.

The Health Dangers of Sugary Sodas

How Popular are Sodas

Today, in the United States, sugary sodas are taking the place of healthier drinks like milk. There are lots of television and radio ads about sodas trying to get your attention to buy their sodas, but what they don’t tell you is how bad they are for you. These sodas, filled with sugar, cause not only weight gain, but type 2 diabetes as well. People who consume 1-2 cans per day of sugar, sodas have a 26% higher risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease along with obesity according to Harvard University.

How Much Sugar in Sodas

In a 20 ounce bottle of one sugar, soda it has 16-20 teaspoons of sugar. However, millions of Americans drink more than one 20 ounce bottle of soda per day. The more cans or bottles you drink, the more sugar you consume, which leads to weight gain. Some people believe that sodas fill you up, but they don’t. In fact, sugar increases hunger that leads to obesity. Suppose you had a high-calorie meal at McDonald’s with a sugar drink, you increased your calorie intake even more, up to over a 1000 calories.

Obesity is on The Increase

In the United States, 2 out of 3 adults are obese and 1 out of 3 children are also obese from drinking sugary drinks and that number will continue to increase over time. If you want to decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, then stop drinking these high-fructose sodas. Instead, choose healthy drinks like milk or sparkling water. That way you will lower your risk of adult-onset diabetes.

Sugar Turns Into Fat in The Liver

Sugar is composed of two molecules: glucose and fructose. Glucose metabolizes every cell in your body while fructose metabolizes only in your liver. When we consume these sugary sodas, our liver becomes overloaded and, as a result, the liver will store more fat, which makes us overweight. Some of the fat turns into high triglycerides (fats in the blood) that can lead to heart disease over time.

Increases Belly Fat

Sugar, especially fructose, stores body fat around your belly and other organs as well called visceral fat. During a 10 week study, 32 people drank two kinds of beverages, either glucose or fructose. People who drank glucose beverages had only subcutaneous fat (not related to metabolic diseases) while on the other hand, people who drank high-fructose sodas, had an increase of visceral fat that leads to metabolic diseases.

High Fructose Drinks Linked to Heart Disease

During the 60s and 70s studies have found that regular sodas were related to certain diseases like adult-onset diabetes, high triglycerides, (fats in the blood) and high cholesterol which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Risk of Cancer in Sugary Sodas

In a study of 60,000 men and women, those who drank regular soda had an 87% increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. In women after menopause, they were found to have an increased risk of endometrial cancer and an increase in colon cancer in both men and women.

Risk of Tooth Decay

Eventually, drinking too many regular sodas will cause tooth decay. Sodas have both phosphoric acid and carbonic acid which causes your mouth to be acidic. Sugar provides digestible energy for bad bacteria in the mouth; however, combine this with acids, it’s a disaster for your teeth and gums.

How to Stay Healthier

If you want to stay healthier over time and lose weight, avoid these sugary sodas. It will pay overtime.

How to Avoid Stress

The Question whether nutrition or stress is the most important factor in health has long been in dispute. However, both are most important, so it doesn’t matter.

Some people get away with poor diet if they are easy going, while others may survive the effects of stress through good diet. Others, who are not so fortunate in either case will suffer. If poor diet and stress are a dominant factor in their live, this will undoubtedly be a recipe for disaster.

On the other hand, if we get the diet right and are able to cope with stress, we are certain to thrive. If the other two key factors: regular exercise and minimizing exposure to chemicals are covered, we have the formula for excellent health.

Men and women who have never married die at younger ages than their married equivalents, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Single men between 25 and 64 years of age were approximately three times more likely to die than married men in the same age group, while single women in the 25 to 64 age group were approximately two-and-a-half times more likely to die than their married counterparts.
The higher rates of death were due to cancer, heart and other artery diseases, respiratory and digestive system diseases, car accidents, suicide and drugs.

Similarly, a recent seven year Swedish study found that middle-aged men who have recently endured high levels of emotional stress and have no-one to turn to for emotional support are three times as likely to die within several years as those who have ample supporting relationships.

So being single is a health hazard! Quips aside, there is considerable evidence to confirm this conclusion.

A Swedish study of 1,000 men, followed up from 50 to 70 years of age, found that one of the most important factors protecting them from disease and death, even after allowing for lifestyle factors like saturated fat r smoking, is the number outside of people that live under one roof! The more people you live with, the safer you are.
That’s why the family network is so important.

The second important factor is the amount of social contact that people have outside the home. In other words, the number of people in our lives is likely to be of major significance in our well being and survival.

Dr Dean Ornish of the University of California, made the observation of people with heart disease that, “underneath their differences they felt a sense of isolation from parts of themselves and their own feelings, isolation from other people and isolation from a higher force, whatever that meant to them.”]

Dr Robert Buist in ‘The Cholesterol Myth’, adds: “Ornish’s support groups quickly focussed on the concept that anything that promotes intimacy and communication is healing, while isolation, alienation and loneliness are probably among the great predictors of heart disease.”

If we are not fortunate enough to be part of a big family, we can keep regular contact with friends and relatives. Or in the absence of those, we can join a social group or sporting club.

And when we look at the bright side of employment, instead of whingeing and moaning about having to go to work as we sometimes do, we can appreciate the fact that the emotional support of being part of a team may be second only to the family in satisfying a major need that keeps us alive and well.

5 Alternative Proteins For Vegetarians

A healthy and balanced vegetarian diet can be a very effective solution to various health issues people face day-to-day. From lowering high cholesterol to losing weight, vegetarian food is a great option for treating all health problems. A lot of people are taking a turn towards vegetarianism to change their lifestyle completely. This situation poses a need of learning about certain protein-containing foods which can be eaten without choosing anything from the meat section.

Here, I’ve rounded up five proteins containing foods which can be proven animal-free alternatives for vegetarians. Indulge in these foods each day or weekly.

1) Chickpeas

Protein content: 7.3 grams in 1/2 cup

Also known as the garbanzo beans, they are laced with manganese and molybdenum. According to research, chickpeas provide you with 7.3 grams of protein in just half a cup. They are also a rich source of fiber, protein, iron, zinc and phosphorus which promote a healthy life. Make hummus, falafel and different curries with these beans and get enough protein you need.

2) Quinoa

Protein content: 8g per 1 cup (cooked)

It is one of the healthiest alternatives of protein in the health-food world. Quinoa is a great substitute for grains of meat, and can be eaten as an alternative to rice, pasta, and couscous. You can add the little seeds to your favorite salads, soups, and cereals, as well as quinoa, is a great addition to scrambled eggs. This protein enriched food not only enhances the taste of your meal but also provides the nine essential amino acids that your body can’t produce naturally. It’s also abundant in iron, fiber, manganese and magnesium.

3) Almonds

Protein content: 6g per 1 oz.

Want to lose your weight? Eat almonds before you hit the gym, because these are called natural weight-loss pills. Consuming a little more than a quarter-cup of the nuts can reduce weight more effectively than a snack of complex carbohydrates. Almonds are also a great source of vitamin E and good fats, so they can help you burn fat and carbs during workouts. Moreover, they promote heart health and fight chronic health diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

4) Cottage Cheese

Protein content: 13g per ½ cup

When it comes to healthy snacks, cottage cheese is one of the best choices. It is a great addition to your salads, can also be included into your curries and replaced with other fattening varieties of cheese. You can also eat it with your favorite fruits for a protein packed breakfast. Cottage cheese is rich in lean protein, calcium and low in calories.

5) Soy Milk

Protein content: 8g per 1 cup

As a traditional staple of East Asian cuisine, soy milk is a healthy mixture of oil, water, and protein. It is a fabulous source of protein and thoroughly deserves its status as a potential alternate for the meat. With low calories and zero cholesterol content, this healthy drink not only prevents you from over-eating but also keeps your metabolism from lowering. Use it in making your smoothies and milkshakes instead of regular milk and get high amounts of vitamin A, B12, vitamin D, and potassium to ensure your overall health.

Know Of The Benefits Of Taking Natural Herbal Medicines

Natural herbal medicines have been a part of the medicine world for a long time, and different cultures have used them in various ways. Some people use them for therapeutic purposes while others use them for medicinal purposes. The use of herbs is widely known to be safe because the ingredients are natural hence have very minimal to no side effects when they are taken. Nowadays, different doctors are advocating for the use of herbal medicine to treat various conditions and also for the well-being and the health of the body.

Herbal medicines come in the form of tablets, capsules, teas, tinctures, syrup, oils and also powders, and each of them has different ways into which it is used to benefit the body. The ingredients are extracted from plant roots, leaves, stems or even leaves and then used naturally while they are active.

The main purpose of natural herbal medicines is to help the body return to its normal state so that it can be restored whole. Different herbs when taken will work differently in the body systems and hence bring the desirable healing effects. The benefits of taking herbal supplements include:

· Restores the body’s natural balance and health in cases where the body is sick or has low immunity. They work by boosting the immune system function and also promote the well being of the body before any illness sets in.

· Improve cardiovascular health and circulation as they lower the cholesterol levels in the body and also the blood pressure by ensuring that the blood vessels are wide open, and blood circulation is good.

· Opens up the respiratory system, hence very minimal chances of getting colds,flu, allergies, coughs or tuberculosis.

· Used to improve memory as they improve blood circulation to the brain.

· Natural herbal medicines are used for overcoming depression, reducing exhaustion, stress, insomnia and also irritability as they help your nerves calm down by increasing the melatonin in the body hence the body relaxes and you get to sleep easily.

· Prevent motion sickness, nausea and stomach upsets as they act by blocking serotonin a chemical that is produced by the stomach and brain and causes stomach upsets and nausea. Some will also improve your metabolism.

· Treat persistent illnesses such as migraines, headache and also burns.

· Some of them have antioxidant properties which, when taken will reduce the radical cells in the body that cause toxic effects in the body such as cancer, diabetes.

· Reduce inflammation in the body, hence reduces the chances of getting inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis.

For maximum benefits of herbal medicines, different herbs can be:

· Added to your cooking as spices or marinating foods so as to add flavor.

· Mixed with your drinking water or tea as a single herb or mixed with other herbs

· Taken as a whole before eating or traveling either as capsules or tablets.

· Buy only from reputable herbalists and doctors as they know which offer the maximum benefit to the body.

· You can alternatively grow some of these herbs in your garden and ensure that they are readily available when you need them.

Natural herbal medicines cannot be used in cases where the conventional drugs are supposed to be used. It is important to seek medical advice before taking any herbal drugs while taking the conventional drugs so as to avoid any adverse effects on the body. The herbal medicines can also be bought over the counter, but it is also good to consult your doctor so as to get the correct dosage and also the exact type of drug for the particular ailment that you have. It is also good to be in the know of which type of herb you are taking, so ask before taking.

Health Benefits of Taking Tea

Oolong tea is a customary Chinese tea that has the great characteristics of both the dark tea and the green tea. As the leaves of oolong tea are somewhat oxidized subsequently they have a fruity flavor with charming fragrance. Oolong tea is considered to give various medical advantages that just make it prevalent among tea experts. Taking into account the technique for generation, handling and level of aging distinctive styles of oolong tea may have diverse flavors. Individuals can without much of a stretch from driving suppliers in their towns or urban communities.

The medical advantages of this tea can without much of a stretch be outlined underneath:

1. Taking some this tea frequently can decrease stoutness. The polyphenol present in this tea checks the fat digestion system and improves the capacity of fat cells in the body. Along these lines individuals who need to shed pounds can without much of a stretch take this tea after an elevated cholesterol dinner.

2. Free radicals that are created from cell digestion system or from outside sources may bring about tumor, diabetes, rheumatoid joint inflammation, atherosclerosis, stroke, neurodegeneration, and others. Polyphenols present in oolong tea go about as intense cell reinforcements and aides in the evacuation of hurtful free radicals.

3. Drinking this tea day by day can help you keep up a sound skin and keep it free from allergens and ceaseless skin issues. Logical investigations have demonstrated that patients experiencing dermatitis or other skin infection have profited a ton from drinking some of this tea day by day. One can without much of a stretch purchase this tea online and experience attractive and durable changes inside six months of utilization.

4. This tea has been found to control the measure of glucose and insulin and consequently checks the sudden plunges, in this manner being useful for the treatment of sort 2 diabetes. A study has observed that when consolidated with hyperglycemic drugs, diabetic patients can without much of a stretch keep the glucose level adjusted.

5. This tea with fruity flavor and solid fragrance invigorates the purchasers. This has been observed to be an incredible anxiety buster as the normally happening polyphenol and L-theanine found in tea leaves ties to those destinations that produce energy and expanded subjective movement prompting diminish in anxiety.

6. People who take tea consistently particularly green tea or oolong tea has the lower danger of getting skin malignancy. The danger of bosom growth and colorectal tumor additionally gets diminished because of devouring this tea routinely.

Considering all the aforementioned medical advantages, it can be securely said that taking oolong tea routinely is the best alternative with regards to selecting an invigorating drink. So make it a point to purchase this tea online from an all around presumed supplier and experience the distinction.

What Are The Benefits Of Organic Supplements?

Being healthy is important for each person and one way is by eating healthy balanced meals that have the essential nutrients to keep our bodies fit. However, there are times one is forced to take supplements so that they can ensure that they are giving the body the required nutrients. The best organic supplements provide nutrients in their natural form, and they contain many vitamins and minerals. The most common types of organic supplements are the green food concentrates and antioxidants that are derived from foods that are nutrient rich.

Organic supplements come in various forms such as tablets, capsules, teas, powders, tinctures and extracts which can be used differently. The natural supplements will contain herbs which have been used by many people in various ways. Herbal supplements are

There are various benefits that are associated with taking herbal supplements rather than taking artificial supplements. Some of these benefits include:

· The body readily absorbs the nutrients contained in the organic supplements faster than artificial supplements. They are also broken down easily so that they can function well in the body because of their slow release properties and by the time they are excreted from the body, they have had significant benefits in the body.

· They contain no side effects since they don’t have any chemical additives or by-products which may be toxic to the body. These supplements are very healthy to the body.

· The best supplements that are organic have high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are natural body nourishment, and they boost the function in the body and improve the overall health of an individual.

· They are safe to use because they don’t contain any harmful chemical such as synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides that are a threat to the environment. The organic supplement manufacturers will not use any chemicals in their produce, hence there is less of mercury, aluminium, and lead.

· Taking organic supplements help in lowering the stress levels in an individual. Most supplements have herbs that naturally work in the body by reducing stress and anxiety levels. This helps one have a balanced emotional status.

· They also help fight diseases within the body and lessen the chance of infection of bacteria, fungi, and other viruses. Maintain the health of the skin, colon function and managing the bowel movements. The supplements work by strengthening the immune system of the body and also facilitate the body functions.

· The best organic supplements ensure that you have a healthy heart as some herbs contain ingredients which will lower the cholesterol levels in the body. This will ensure that the body functions well and also regulates the blood pressure in the body

· For the women, they are very beneficial due to hormonal changes that occur during menstruation, pregnancy menopause or breastfeeding. The supplements will cover for any deficiencies during these times and ensure that the changes are kept in control.

When choosing the organic supplements, make sure that you check what ingredients are used, and you know them. Some supplements contain synthetic ingredients which may be harmful to the body. The ingredients in the organic supplements are mostly made from fruits and vegetables. However, you should not take a lot of organic supplements as they may cause harm to the body. Consult your doctor before taking any organic supplements if you are also taking any other kinds of medicine to avoid adverse effects when both drugs are mixed.

Always get your these supplements from certified sellers so that you get the best quality for your money. Get a brand that is well known not to manufacture fake organic drugs.

Health Benefits of Eating Rice

Rice is predominantly one of the most common foods of the world. In fact, it is eaten several times per day across different cultures. Still, it is one of the most misunderstood cereals or food. People across the world surrounded with many myths and misconceptions about eating rice, and the reason for this is the high concentration of carbohydrate and starch. While rice has great nutritional value and is among the healthiest foods of the world. When combined with fresh vegetables and spices it can make an incredible meal and can offer enormous health benefits.

No matter whether you are eating brown or white rice this food will offer valuable benefits in either of its forms. The range of benefits starts from one of the most admonished contents of rice that are carbohydrates. While, it is the presence of carbohydrate that makes rice one of the richest source of energy, and it acts as a fuel for the whole body. Carbohydrate present in the rice provides the uninterrupted supply of energy to the body.

Both white and brown rice have particular nutritional values altogether. White rice is a healthier choice as it resists oxidation. Mineral like calcium and iron are highly concentrated in white rice. And it is also a rich source of vitamin D, thiamine, riboflavin and various other Vitamins. Brown rice is considered as a whole grain, and is one of the best anti-oxidant. It is rich in selenium that restrains the development of common diseases like cancer, cardiac diseases and arthritis.

Gluten, the most problematic part of many grains is totally absent in rice and makes it a non-allergic grain. So it can, easily form part of the diet of those who are suffering from intestinal diseases and those who are allergic to proteins as it is gluten free food. It is also a safe option for all those who need a healthy source of carbs. Further, it contains a negligible amount of sodium and is considered as a great and safe food for all those who are in their stride to control salt intake in their diet.

Nearly half of the world is suffering from the problem of obesity, and rice is looked upon as an aid to lose or control weight. It has low fat and cholesterol content that can restrain the problem of obesity, and its consumption can lead to weight loss. Further the presence of healthy fibre in it allows overcoming the problem of constipation. Also, these fibres help in the growth of good bacteria that contributes to improving digestion and regularise the bowel movement.

Rice is both a nutritious and affordable food item, not only it provides great health benefits but also keep you prudent. Rice has a great use in Ayurveda to cure various imbalances of the body. Any rice dish can be prepared in few minutes and you will not only be served to enjoy a rich and tasty food but will also allow improving your overall health. Rice is a superb food, and you should include it as part of your well-balanced diet without any apprehension.

Leek and Family – 6 Choices for Health and Flavor

Also known as: Ramp or Wild Leek, Poor Man’s Asparagus

Likes: Sandy earth, the fridge crisper

Dislikes: His relative anonymity in the United States

Hobbies: Sautéing, roasting and grilling with a little olive oil

Find him: Simmering in soups, flavoring frittatas, adding subtle onion flavor to fish and chicken

Sure, you may have heard of him in passing, his name whispered at the farmer’s market or dropped here and there on restaurant menus, but do you really know Leek? He’s more subtle and less commonly used than some of his allium cousins to whom he’ll introduce; but he has a delicate flavor and rich history that will have you reconsidering his long and leafy greens next time you’re shopping at the market or dining out.Leek, with his delicate flavor, ready abundance and health benefits, has been enjoyed for thousands of years in Europe and has been immortalized as the national emblem of Wales. This humble garden celebrity was even penned into Shakespeare’s play, Henry V, in a reference to his prominent Welsh status. No autographs, please.

Leek is a good choice this time of year to help boost immunity with a little vitamin C. He is also a great pick during pregnancy for some added folic acid. On top of that, he has a dose of fiber for a healthy heart and weight. In fact, if you’re trying to lose weight, Leek is a natural choice to add flavor and fiber to your meals without a lot of added calories. Leek isn’t alone in all these benefits, though. If you’re looking for a similar flavor with nutrition in mind, you can also include Leek’s many cousins in your diet for their distinctive flavor and health benefits:

Onion – He’s the powerful, pungent workhorse of the family, and though he has a tendency to make you cry, his real passion is flavoring your everyday foods while he keeps you healthy. Studies have linked him to everything from reducing the risk of cancer to improving heart health. No wonder he’s one of the oldest cultivated plants!

Scallion – If you like just a dash of Onion-like flavor, he’s your guy. He has all the same benefits of his cousins, including helping reduce inflammation, and he’s a quick and easy addition to any dish with fewer tears.Shallot – She is the smaller, more delicate and subtle cousin to Onion. Shallot’s nutrition is a nice bonus to her flavor in salads, sauces, dips and more.

Garlic – He has a powerful flavor all his own and can help improve blood flow, heart health, and cholesterol levels when you add him to your daily diet.

Chive – She is the herb of the family, small and delicate and often used as just a simple and flavorful garnish. While she does have the same health benefits as her cousins, Chive is more concerned with flavor and presentation.

With so many members to choose from in the family and so many powerful health benefits along with flavor, Leek doesn’t know how you could go wrong!