Category Archives: Blog

The Wonder of Dill Oil

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Dill oil was once considered a magic potion, but is an essential oil that works wonders for all ages. The oil is used for babies who suffer colic to mothers who want to increase their milk production.

Originally the Romans applied the dill oil topically before charging into battle, as they believed it could reduce nervousness and stress. Protecting against witchcraft was also believed, as well as being used as an ingredient for love potions.

Dill oil is known today for its versatility ranging from antioxidants and antifungal to antibacterial. It is usually used for digestive support, mostly for indigestion or constipation.

The dill plant has two variants, anethum graveolens, which is cultivated in England, Germany, Romania, Turkey, USA and Russia. Anethum dill is cultivated in many parts of India as a cold weather crop. The two types of dill oil are dill seed oil and dill weed oil. Dill seed oil is obtained from the mature seeds through steam distillation, and the dill weed oil through steam distillation of fresh herb. They also differ in odor and color. Dill seed oil is known for its caraway-like aroma and dill weed oil emits a strong, fresh and spicy aromatic odor.

Dill oil is known for its healing properties, such as:

  • Antimicrobial – contains a high concentration of carvone.
  • Antispasmodic – relaxing and calming effect that can help pacify spasmodic attacks.
  • Sedative – a sedating effect that may aid in inducing drowsiness.
  • Milk production – produces milk production for nursing mothers.
  • Healing wounds – mixed in lotions or creams to help heal wounds.
  • Vapor therapy – therapy for calming the nerves and relieving tension.

Some benefits of dill oil are in helping to promote restful sleep, reducing inflammation in the mouth and throat, helping to alleviate the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children by mixing with chamomile tea, used as a protection from head lice by rubbing it on the scalp and as a diuretic, and helps to treat urinary tract infection by regulating urine excretion without difficulty.

In order to achieve the therapeutic effect of dill oil, mix three drops of dill oil, two drops of lavender oil and two drops of lemon balm oil in an aromatherapy lamp. The relaxing effect creates a soothing feeling that assists in relieving panic, anxiety and stress. The minty, sweet and spicy aroma promotes sleep and helps relieve cramps. Use dill oil in the shower to get that refreshing and soothing feeling by adding three drops of the oil in your bathwater.

Dill oil is safe as a food additive, but skin rash may occur in people who are sensitive to it. Use a skin patch test prior to using if your skin is sensitive. A common side effect of dill oil is skin irritation, especially for those who are allergic to plants that belong to the carrot family.
–Dr Fredda Branyon

Vitamins A & C help erase cell memory

Your DNA is also affected by Vitamins A & C and not good just for your health. The Babraham Institute Researchers and their international collaborators have discovered how vitamins A and C act to modify the epigenetic memory held by cells. This is an insight, which is significant for regenerative medicine and our ability to reprogram cells from one identity to another. They published their research results in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).

For regenerative medicine, the best possible is to be able to generate a cell that can be directed to become any other cell, such as brain cells, heart cells and lung cells. Cells with this ability are present in the early embryo and give rise to the many different cells types in the body. We need to be able to force adult cells from a patient to regress back to possessing embryonic-like capabilities and to forget their previous identity for the purpose of regenerative medicine.

Identity of a cell is established at the DNA level by epigenetic changes to the DNA that don’t alter the order of the DNA letters but control which parts of the genome can be read and accessed. Every cell type has a unique epigenetic fingerprint that enforces and maintains specific patterns of gene expression appropriate to the cell type. In order to reverse cells back to the naïve pluripotent state this epigenetic layer of information has to be lost to open up the full genome again.

The Babraham Institute, UK, University of Stuttgart, Germany and University of Otago, New Zealand researchers worked together to uncover how vitamins A & C affect the erasure of epigenetic marks from the genome. The epigenetic modification was particularly looked at where a methyl chemical tag is added to the C letters in the DNA sequence. Low levels of this C tagging, called cytosine methylation, are shown in embryonic stem cells, but in the established cell types much more of the genome is marked by this modification. Removing the methyl tags from the DNA, called demethylation, is a central part of achieving pluipotency and wiping epigenetic memory.

Vitamin A enhances epigenetic memory erasure in naïve ESC by increasing the amount of TET (family of enzymes responsible for active removal of the methyl tags) enzymes in the cell, a greater removal of methyl tags from the C letters of the DNA sequence. They found that vitamin C boosted the activity of the TET enzymes by regenerating a co-factor required for effective action.

Dr. Ferdinand von Meyenn, postdoctoral researcher at the Babraham Institute and co-first author, said “Both vitamins A and C act individually to promote demethylation, enhancing the erasure of epigenetic memory required for cell reprogramming.” They found that the mechanisms of how vitamins A and C enhance demethylation are different, yet synergistic.

This improved understanding of the effect of vitamin A on the TET2 enzyme explains why a proportion of patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia are resistant to effective combination treatment with vitamin A. This could point the way to better management of the vitamin A resistant cases.

This study was funded by The Wellcome Trust, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the European Union EpiGeneSys Network of Excellence, the European Union BLUEPRINT Consortium, the Human Frontier Science Program, the Swiss National Science Foundation/Novartis and the German Research Foundation.

–Dr Fredda Branyon

Breast, Radiation-Free Mammogram Alternative

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There is a new method that identifies cancerous tumors by blood vessel structure. Around a million women in the Netherlands undergo mammograms for early detection of possible breast cancer. This x-ray is unpleasant and the researchers at TU Eindhoven are working on a breast-friendly method that does not use radiation and is more accurate. It generates 3D rather than the 2D images. Their proof of concept is published in the online journal Scientific Reports. Squeezing the breast tightly between two plates to produce one or more good x-ray photos is the current screening method. Not only is it unpleasant, but not without some risk. The x-rays themselves can be a contributor to the onset of cancer and it is often unclear if the anomaly found is malignant lesion or not. Of the cases, more than 2/3’s occur where something worrying can be seen on the x-ray photos and is a false-positive, after biopsies, and they are not found to be cancer. Now there might be an alternative.

The researchers have cleared a major scientific hurdle towards a new technology in which the patient lies on a table and the breast hangs freely in a bowl. With special echography a 3D image is made of the breast and any cancer is clearly identifiable on the generated images. They expect there to be many fewer false-positive results.

This particular technology builds on the patient-friendly prostate cancer detection method where the doctor injects the patient with harmless microbubbles. An echoscanner allows the bubbles to be monitored as they flow through the blood vessels of the prostate. The presence and location of cancer become visible. So far this method has not yet been suitable for breast cancer because of the excessive movement and size of the breast for accurate imaging by standard echography.

Libertario Demi, Ruud van Sloun and Massimo Mischi, researchers, have now developed a variant of the echography method that is suitable for breast investigation, known as Dynamic Contrast Specific Ultrasound Tomography. With microbubbles it uses the fact that they will vibrate in the blood at the same frequency as the sound produced by the echoscanner and at twice that frequency. You know where the bubbles are located by capturing the vibration.

They are using a phenomenon that Mischi happened upon by chance for the new method. The second harmonic was a little delayed by the gas bubbles and they have now developed a new visualization method. The more bubbles encountered by the sound on its route, the bigger the delay compared to the original sound. Thus they can localize the air bubbles and do so without any disturbance because the harmonic generated by the body tissue is not delayed and therefore discernible. Because the difference can only be seen if the sound is captured on the other side, it makes this method perfectly suited to organs that can be approached from two sides, like the breast.

An international and strong medical team is being put together to start performing preclinical studies. They expect the application in practice is ten or so years away and that the technology developed will probably not operate on a standalone basis, but in combination with other methods, will create a better visualization. Elastography might be a candidate whereby the difference in the rigidity of the tumor and health tissue can be used to detect cancer.

fastfood

How Fast Food Destroys Your Body

Hopping into your favorite fast food joint or stopping by the drive-thru tends to happen more often than some would like to admit. Fast food is cheap, convenient and marketed to us when we’re young, so we often ignore how negatively it can impact our bodies in the long run.

Having fast food too frequently threatens our health, and while an occasional night of indulgence wouldn’t hurt, a habit of eating out can be just as bad smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol on a regular basis.

1. Fast food increases your cancer risk.

PhIP is the most abundant heterocyclic amines found in meats served at the most popular fast food places. The substance, which materializes when meat is heated to a specific temperature, is associated with human colon, breast, and prostate cancers.

In addition, sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate are additives used to maintain the color of meat falsely and to inhibit bacterial growth. With that said, both chemicals can break down into nitrosamines or substances with the potential to cause cancer.

fastfood

2. Fast food is addicting and can lead you to obesity.

Casein, monosodium glutamate (MSG), salt, and sugar found in fast food are just some of the addictive components that keep you coming back for more. The high-calorie intake can also lead to obesity, which puts you at risk of developing chronic diseases.

3. Fast food negatively affects memory and cognitive function.

Fast foods like double cheeseburgers, fries fried in lard, milkshakes, and so on are high in saturated fats. Saturated fats can negatively affect the heart, but according to Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, high saturated fat intake may also adversely affect brain function and memory. She adds that higher consumption of saturated fatty acids may impair memory speed and prospective memory.

4. Fast food can destroy your kidneys.

Excess sodium can contribute to existing high blood pressure. If you have cirrhosis, congestive heart failure, or kidney disease, consuming too much salt can contribute to a dangerous buildup of fluid. Excessive sodium may also increase your risk for kidney stones and kidney disease.

5. Fast food can drain every bit of energy out of you.

Food is supposed to fuel you with energy, which is why we have meals and snacks in controlled portions throughout the day. With large portions that are high in fat, fast food delivers a hefty dose of calories all in one sitting. The excessive portions with little to no health benefits will only leave you feeling bloated and lethargic, and will ultimately cause you to pack on more pounds.

Effects on Society

More than 2 in 3 adults are said to be overweight or obese, and more than one-third of children ranging from ages 6 to 19 are also considered overweight. The growth of fast food chains in America is at full speed, and it seems to coincide with the growth of obesity.

Despite efforts to raise awareness, one study found that the amount of calories, fat, and sodium in fast food remains unchanged. As people get busier and continue to eat out more frequently, it could have adverse effects on expected lifespans of the existing and succeeding generations.

Planking Everyday Keeps the Physiatrist Away

Due to the minimal movement required, doing planks look deceitfully easy when in reality, it’s anything but.

Planking can immensely boost fitness levels, requires no equipment, and engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. It reaps great benefits for the whole body and may help in keeping the physiatrist away.

1. Doing planks decreases your risk of injury in the back and spinal column.

Planking is a type of exercise that builds muscle while ensuring that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine and hips. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), doing planks on a regular basis not only reduces back pain, but it also strengthens your muscles. They add that planking ensures a strong support for your entire back.

While some exercises like sit-ups and crunches can weaken and potentially injure the back, doing planks will provide the opposite and actually help strengthen it. What’s more, doing planks eliminates the constant strain caused by flexing by extending of the spinal column.

2. Doing planks promotes better bone and joint health.

Physical activity not only keeps our muscles toned, but it’s vital to achieve and maintain healthy bones and supple joints.

For instance, weight-bearing exercises are crucial to bone health. These types of activities put stress on the bones attached to our muscles, stimulating them to rebuild. Supporting your body weight, like you do when you plank, is an excellent weight-bearing exercise which won’t see you overdo it.

3. Doing planks improves the body’s core strength.

One of the greatest benefits of doing planks on the daily is that they strengthen the core — the muscles, bones, and joints that link the upper and lower body. Because of the way we utilize the core for support, to lift, turn, reach and bend — it is one of the most important areas of the body to work on. When your core strength improves, everyday tasks become easier, and you instantly feel stronger.

According to the ACE, “because the plank exercise requires minimal movement while contracting all layers of the abdominal fascia, it is an excellent way to strengthen the core, which, in turn, also helps reduce low-back pain.”

How to hold a plank position

Holding the plank position requires you to squeeze and engage all the main core muscle groups, namely the transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, external oblique muscle, and the glutes. In the simplest of terms, holding a proper plank position is as follows:

Step 1: Get on the floor and hold a push-up position.
Step 2: Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your body’s weight on your forearms.
Step 3: Keep your torso aligned and your body in a straight line from head to toe.
Step 4: Keep your head looking directly at the floor.
Step 5: Hold the position for as long as you possibly can.
Step 6: Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
Step 7: When your form begins to drop, don’t hesitate to pull the plug. Remember that you only benefit from a plank by actually doing it.

As with any forms of exercise, you risk injuring your body if you fail to use the correct technique. If you have any health issues or physical ailments, always consult your doctor before embarking on a new fitness routine.

Three Signs of Thyroid Cancer to Look Out For

We always associate a sore throat with common colds, allergies, or excessive exposure to pollutants. Fact is, it could be potentially serious, especially when it happens more often than usual. Thyroid cancer occurs when abnormal cells start growing in your thyroid gland. The thyroid gland, known for its butterfly shape, is located in the front of your neck. It plays an important role in how hormones regulate the way your body utilizes energy to function.

Thyroid cancer is quite an uncommon type of cancer, and experts don’t necessarily know its root causes. But like the majority of cancers, changes in the DNA seem to play a leading role.

Thyroid cancer can cause a few distinct symptoms:

1. A lump in the neck

Bumps and lumps are always something to be cautious of, and any lump that refuses to disappear within a few weeks should immediately be checked out. If thyroid cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes, the mass might be located on the side of the neck where the lymph nodes usually are instead of the front where the thyroid gland sits.

2. Difficulties in breathing and swallowing

As a mass grows, it could lead to a sore throat that interferes with your ability to breathe and swallow. If this difficulty in breathing and swallowing does not go away within a few weeks, it’s worth getting checked out.

3. Developing a hoarse voice

Your voice box sits right on top of the thyroid, so any changes to the gland could alter your voice, making you sound chronically hoarse.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you do develop thyroid cancer, your treatment options will depend on the size and stage of your tumor.

1. Ultrasound

Tumors that are less than 1 centimeter, also known as micro-papillary thyroid cancer, can be left alone. Your doctor might simply postpone the need for treatment and send you for an ultrasound every six months to ensure that nothing has changed.

2. Biopsy

In a difference case, if you have a lump in your neck that could potentially be thyroid cancer, your doctor may perform a biopsy of your thyroid gland to check for any cancer cells. A biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of the thyroid tissue is removed, usually with a needle, and then checked.

In cases where the results of a biopsy are not clear, you may need to undergo surgery to remove all or a portion of your thyroid gland before your doctor can diagnose you with thyroid cancer.

3. Immediate Removal of Tumor

Larger and aggressive tumors must be removed immediately, but it does not necessarily mean that you need to have your entire thyroid removed. Taking out your entire thyroid gland implicates the need for taking thyroid hormones for the rest of your life. There’s also a high risk of injuring the nearby parathyroid gland, which controls the body’s calcium balance. These days, many patients only remove part of the thyroid, specifically where the tumor is, which then allows a patient to dodge any side effects. Depending on the specifics, someone with thyroid cancer might also need radiation, chemotherapy, or targeted medication.

The odds of beating thyroid cancer are usually in favor of the patient. The survival rate for stage I and stage II papillary or follicular thyroid cancer is almost 100%.

Eat Your Potato Skins!

The potato, also called Solanum tuberosum, is a starchy crop favored amongst people of all ages. Although it has a reputation for being unhealthy, mainly because of how some fast food restaurants prepare them, the humble potato does have superb benefits.

In particular, the skin of potatoes consists of disease-fighting nutrients and weight-friendly fiber. If you incorporate potato skins into your diet, you get more healthy meals from each potato.

High Fiber Content

Fiber found in potato skins offer several health advantages. It’s great for preventing constipation and may reduce the risk of heart disease, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics claims that fiber also helps in maintaining a healthy weight.

Eating foods that are rich in fiber also aid in preventing blood sugar slumps that often cause hunger and mindless snacking. Up to age 50, women need at least 25 grams of fiber daily, while men should consume 38 grams. After the age of 50, both genders require less fiber intake. Potato skins are perfectly rich in fiber with 2 grams per ounce.

High Potassium Content

Potato skins are bursting with potassium, an essential mineral. Since it lowers blood pressure, studies have linked potassium with a lower risk of succumbing to heart attacks. The University of Maryland Medical Center claims that getting enough potassium reduces the risk of experiencing a stroke, but only if your potassium intake comes from food and not supplements.

Another benefit from eating potato skins is that because of its potassium content, it can prevent water retention that causes weight gain.

Vitamin C

When you think of vitamin C, citrus fruits like oranges immediately come to mind. But potatoes, including the skins, are excellent sources of the immunity-boosting vitamin. The human body needs vitamin C to support a healthy immune system. Vitamin C also helps produce enough collagen to build connective tissues and bones, as well as protect cells against harmful atoms created as a result of chemical reactions in the body.

One serving of potato eaten with the skin provides 45 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.

Other Nutrients

Potato skins also contain calcium, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, vitamin D, and phytochemicals which are great for reducing the risk of major chronic diseases. Since potato skins contain no fat, no cholesterol, and no sodium, they can easily be part of a healthy weight loss diet. Prepared in a healthy manner, two halves of potato skin contain roughly 114 calories.

Baked, Not Fried

More popular methods of preparing potato skins, such as deep frying or filling with sour cream and bacon, add unwanted fats and calories. To maximize its health benefits, consider baking the humble vegetable instead of deep frying.

Bad Potatoes?

Damaged potatoes with greenish hues or sprouts contain harmful chemicals that can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, and in rare cases, even death. Cooking cannot destroy the poisonous substances in such potatoes, so remember to examine and wash each vegetable thoroughly.

If you are attempting to change your diet for the better, make the humble potato part of it. As long as you prepare and eat it correctly, it will only serve your body well.

Exhaustion: A Health Indicator

Exhaustion: A Health Indicator

We often blame hectic schedules and busy lifestyles for our exhaustion, and most of the time, they really are to blame. But if you usually live a healthy lifestyle and get six to eight hours of sleep on a nightly basis, it can leave you wondering why you’re still tired.

If getting an adequate amount of sleep, trimming your social calendar, eating healthier, taking multivitamins, and cutting back on caffeine and alcohol fail to eradicate the symptoms of fatigue, then you may be in need of professional help.

Excess exhaustion could be a health warning indicating a serious medical condition. The following are three of the most common conditions you must know about.

1. Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep-disrupting problem that many are unaware of, usually because it happens during deep sleep. If you wake up feeling like you were up all night, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Brief interruptions of breathing characterize this disorder. During sleep, your airway passage closes or collapses for a few seconds, which, in turn, alerts your brain to wake you up to breathe. Someone with sleep apnea may stop breathing dozens or possibly hundreds of times a night.

Snoring signals sleep apnea and is followed by tiredness the following day. Since sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease, it’s important to consult your doctor as soon as possible.

2. Anemia

People with anemia lack red blood cells which may often cause them to experience episodes of weakness and shortness of breath. The triggers of anemia include an iron or vitamin deficiency, internal bleeding, blood loss, or chronic diseases such as cancer or kidney failure. Women are especially susceptible to iron-deficiency anemia because of blood loss during the menstrual cycle, and the body’s need for more iron during pregnancy.

The constant feeling of exhaustion is a major symptom of anemia. Other symptoms include insomnia, lack of concentration, heart palpitation, chest pain, and headache.

3. Thyroid Disease

With thyroid disease, even activities that require little to no physical effort can drain you. The thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland that sits low on the front of the neck, produces hormones that control your metabolism. Too much thyroid hormone, otherwise known as hyperthyroidism, speeds up metabolism, while too little thyroid hormone or hypothyroidism slows down metabolism.

Hyperthyroidism causes muscle fatigue and weakness, especially in the thighs. Leg exercises such as climbing and bike riding become increasing difficult once diagnosed with the disease. Other symptoms include unexplained weight loss, increased heart rate, irregular menstrual flows, and a dry throat.

Hypothyroidism symptoms include fatigue, inability to concentrate, and muscle soreness with no reason. Heavier and more frequent menstrual flows, constipation, weight gain, as well as experiencing colds and chills are also symptoms of hypothyroidism.

A Final Word

You might think that a hangover or an insanely busy schedule could be the culprit behind your lethargy, but the real reason for your exhaustion may be one of these serious health problems. If you are constantly feeling tired, consult your doctor for apt resolutions and treatment recommendations.

Warning Signs of Poor Intestinal Health

 

Warning Signs of Poor Intestinal Health

Exposure to high stress, processed meals, and heavy prescription medication is nothing out of the ordinary these days, which is why it’s no wonder that so many people suffer from constipation, bloating, and heartburns that are signs of poor digestion. Aside from the latter, many other symptoms indicate poor intestinal health. From bad breath to body odor, here are some of the lesser known indicators that you should watch out for.

Fragile Hair and Nails

If your hair and nails are breaking off too easily, it may be an indicator that your body is not producing enough acid to digest food properly. Inadequate stomach acid prevents the body from reaping nutrients like protein, calcium, and zinc, which are all vital to having healthy nails and hair.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, brittle hair and nails are considered to be an external representation of poor digestion because they reflect your body’s ability to absorb and digest nutrients.

Bad Breath

Bad breath that just refuses to perish no matter how many times you brush your teeth or gargle with mouthwash could mean that something is wrong with your digestive system.

Digestive issues are the little-known but significant cause of bad breath. A fishy breath could suggest kidney problems, while a fruity breath may signal uncontrolled diabetes. When there’s an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, the smell may worsen after consuming something sugary because the bad bacteria is feeding off the sugar.

Digestive system disorders, such gastroesophageal reflux, are also a cause of foul breath.

Lack of Energy After Eating

Although some people usually take naps after a meal, feeling weak and exhausted after eating may indicate poor digestion. When the system is under strain, it directs its energy to digest and assimilate food, leaving you feeling tired and sleepy.

Overeating is another problem, especially when you’re no longer hungry. Overeating makes it difficult for your body to fuel you and your digestive system. You can correct this by eating smaller meals with healthy snacks in between to make it easier for your digestive system to break down food.

Going for a quick walk after eating can help improve digestion. You can also try drinking a spoonful of apple cider vinegar mixed in a glass of water before each meal, which is beneficial in correcting some digestive issues.

Body Odor

Poor digestion causes the production of foul-smelling chemicals in the gut, which is then absorbed back into the body and eliminated through the skin in the form of sweat.

Since protein-rich foods can take longer to digest, they sometimes cause body odor. A 2006 study reported that a group of participants on a non-meat diet had a significantly more pleasant and less intense smell compared to the meat-eating participants.

If you are experiencing an unpleasant rise in body odor, especially after eating, then your digestive enzymes levels may be lower than ideal. Avoid consuming red meat which can be difficult for the body to break down.

A Healthy Diet is Key

Ultimately, a diet rich in whole foods and probiotics goes a long way in ensuring that your digestive system remains healthy. While it’s important to pay close attention to health indicators, you should still consult your doctor to diagnose and treat any possible medical conditions.

Salty Snack Alternatives

Sodium plays a significant role in enzyme operations and muscle contraction, but consuming too much salt often causes an increase in fluid retention, which does show up on the scale.

If you’re attempting to shed a few pounds and can’t control your salty cravings, there is absolutely no harm in indulging. As long as you maintain your calorie goals and avoid exceeding the recommended 2,300 mg of sodium per day, salty goodness doesn’t always have to be the enemy.

From fries to popcorn, salty snacks that will not sabotage your diet do exist.

1. Baked Potato Wedges

Deep fried potatoes coated in salt have a terrible reputation when it comes to weight loss, but there is a way to make them healthier. Try tossing potato wedges with one teaspoon of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, pepper, and cayenne. Roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes and turn the wedges once halfway through the cooking process. Don’t forget to keep the skin on to get the added fiber.

2. Organic Air-Popped Popcorn with Sea Salt

Popcorn is an excellent alternative to a bag of potato chips with only around 30 calories per cup. Popcorn successfully satisfies salty and crunchy cravings, but if salt alone does not please your flavor palette, popping it in a saucepan with olive oil and spices like cayenne pepper and garlic powder should do the trick.

3. Homemade Vegetable Chips

The beauty of home cooking is that you have full control over what goes into your food. You can satisfy your cravings without consuming all the unnecessary sodium and fat that are usually found in packaged chips. Aside from potatoes, there are dozens of vegetables that you can turn into chips — kale, sweet potatoes, beets, brussels sprouts, and turnips are excellent alternatives. Simply wash your desired vegetable, then slice them it into thin pieces. Toss them with a few tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with your choice of flavorings and spices. Lay everything on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until your desired crisp is achieved.

4. Baked Cashews and Walnuts

Aside from being packed with protein, nuts contain a good amount of fiber and unsaturated fats. They are also incredibly easy to spruce up. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and toss a 1/4 cup of cashews and walnuts with one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt, and one teaspoon of ground rosemary. Lay the nuts evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about five minutes or until golden brown and fragrant.

5. Baked Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries with Sea Salt

Don’t let the word ”sweet” or “potato” scare you. Combining the two words give you a vegetable that is high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, and potassium. Simply toss a thinly-sliced sweet potato with one teaspoon of olive oil, one tablespoon of lime juice, and 1/8 teaspoon of chipotle powder. After 30 minutes at 400 degrees, take them out and sprinkle with a dash of sea salt.

The next time you’re craving something salty and crunchy, consider pre-making some of these healthier alternatives instead of going to the chip aisle or sliding a dollar inside a vending machine. These alternatives are not only better for you, but they will also satisfy your craving for salty goodness.