Tag Archives: health

Lingonberries are super food, but only for the brave

The Finnish forests are now full of free-for-all superfood! The blueberry season is almost finished, but now it’s the perfect time to go and pick lingonberries for the winter!

This weekend I’m visiting my parents in my dear old hometown Tampere, always relaxed and nice. Also the weather was on our side, so this afternoon we decided to be brave and head to the forests.

Why brave? The challenge of picking lingonberries in the perfect spot that “only” my parents know is that one is not alone there. These hoods are packed with nasty deer flies (in Latin Lipoptena cervi, in Finnish hirvikärpänen), who come there because the forest is also popular among elks.

Someone would think we are exaggerating looking at the preparations below, but covering everything you can and closing your sleeves with some painter’s tape was only a clever and quite necessary precaution before entering the forest… as we immediately found out.

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Super stylish berry picker ;)

A super stylish berry picker… not! 😉

I don’t have photos of our little friends but after we returned to our car after 2 hours in the forest (and with 35 litres of lingonberries, all the buckets full!) we found these flies all over our bodies. Disgusting! Especially my dad seemed to be popular among them, as he’s the biggest one and these flies look for human heat.

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But it was worth it, the forest was beautiful and gave you some special energy. Looking and tasting the lingonberries now makes one feel satisfied. Tomorrow we’ll freeze the berries and enjoy extra vitamins in the winter.

What is a lingonberry? Wikipedia tells that lingonberries are native to boreal forest and Arctic tundra throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Eurasia to North America.

The berries contain many organic acids, vitamin C, A and B (B1, B2, B3), potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. They also contain phytochemicals that are thought to counteract urinary-tract infections, and the seeds are rich in  omega-3.

The amazing fact is that 90 per cent of this super food is left in the forests of Finland. And at the market lingonberries cost about 4 euros per litre. What a waste! Maybe the deer flies are too big a challenge for us.

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Sinusitis is a nasty lurgy. I’ve solid experience of this strange disease now, as it has been my (too) faithful friend for more than 2 weeks. It started as a “normal” flu, which then got stuck in the sinus.

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Looks funny, eh? Acupuncture socks – a true ex tempore purchase from the Danish shop “Tiger”, which sells miscellanous stuff you didn’t think you’d need, now in Helsinki too. Anyway, maybe I’ll return these ones, as I fell ill with a flu despite the pressuring treatment offered by my boyfriend.

Then, the dear doctor prescribed me antibiotics and antihistamine, which I took scrupulously for 10 days – for nothing, it seems! Last Sunday the pills ran out and I was still feeling really tired and run-down… Especially at the office: the smallest task seemed like the most complicated project of the year.

Luckily I was mature enough to go and visit the doctor again this morning – and the simple (and so difficult) truth of this life was confirmed once more: if you’re feeling ill it’s because you’re ill.

To my own surprise, I even had a light fever in the morning! And sinusitis is still there, going strong. No surprise. So the doctor prescribed me even stronger antibiotics and antihistamine. As stupid as a feverish person can be, I then biked to the office as I’m “absolutely irreplaceable”, hehe… Anyway, my colleagues were wiser and told me to go home early.

So at 4pm I was already lying on the sofa with woolen socks on, drinking tea and watching stupid daytime TV. A program called “Swedish Millionaire Mothers” just finished, and now there is Finnish Top Model going on. But I’m ill and allowed to do and watch anything I want! I’m only not allowed to get up from this sofa. And the boyfriend is entitled to pamper me – luckily he’s good at it (and I think/hope he likes it too…)

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This is the autumn view from our sofa – not a bad one, at all! Luckily, because the last weeks I’ve spent more time on this sofa than in many months before…

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Baana – the newish bicycle route combining the centre of Helsinki with Ruoholahti. A great invention! Even if it looks very grey these days – like everything here.

However, last Sunday – the last day of taking antibiotics – I tried to convince myself that now I’m perfectly fine and healthy! Little did I know. The sun was shining, so I took my camera and went for a short walk alone – noticing that it’s not normal to sneeze every 5 minutes… Anyway, mentally this was a good thing for me, as I had been mostly inside the flat for the whole week.

We live in the centre, Southern Helsinki, very close to the sea… So I decided to say walk there and say hello to my beloved friend.

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Amazing! I had never noticed these stairs near our flat. It’s so important to walk slowly and look around every once in a while.

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Everyday beauty.

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Jätkäsaari Harbour

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Friends! It’ll be my birthday in the end of October… And this beauty is being sold. Just an idea. 😉

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Jätkäsaari Harbour – this ferry goes to San Petersburg.

IThe sea… Why do so many people love it? We really do, as the BBC article People really do like to be beside the seaside, study says explains.

“Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.
Robert Henri

I agree! And primitively speaking, it makes us people to feel safe to contemplate the horizon – and know that no enemies are approaching that way.

Anyway, I continued my walk towards Kaivopuisto and noticed – to my big joy – that another “Baana”, bicycle route has been opened here, also on old railway tracks. Great job, City of Helsinki!

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Kaivopuisto – finally at the sea. This view is curious – the water in the front is actually an artificial bond.

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Cafe Ursula – a recommendable place by the sea in Kaivopuisto.

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Sinusitis is a nasty friend but Helsinki can be pretty – even in October

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The poor eat chips and the rich eat scallops – is it only about money?

People tend to think that Finland is a very equal country. Sure it’s true in most matters, for example when it comes to gender equality.

But it’s also true that those with less education, who are unemployed and poor die younger and are sicker than those who have a good education, job and a higher income. No surprise, but the phenomenon is still quite new here and we are not sure how to talk about it being “politically correct”.

Scallops - one of the symbols of the happy wealthy peoples' eating habits. Credit: Kala-auto

I just found out that in Finland we actually have exceptionally big differences when it comes to the mortality rate between the different socioeconomic groups. When a 35-year-old worker’s life expectancy is 74 years, his boss can easily expect to live 6 years longer. Quite a few years to spend in traveling, playing golf and enjoying your grandchildren.

Unhealthy stuff that is supposed to be so cheap - on the cost of our health?

When it comes to your health, one of the most important factors is the food you eat. And Finns are fatter than the other Nordics: only  33% of Finnish men and 48% of women are of normal weight.

Not everyone is getting fat, though, as eating habits are fast differentiating between the groups. Simplifying a bit, it seems that every day the rich eat better and better while the poor consume worse and worse products. Why?

Yes, the food is very expensive here in Finland. Some say that this is why the poor buy pizzas, chips, white bread, cookies, candy – filled with additives. But are they really so much cheaper?

OK let’s make a fast comparison:

  • A kilo of fresh potatoes: 0,75€ 
  • A pack of potato chips: 3€ 

= the healthy option is cheaper – like in many other cases!

Also our forests and lakes are full of clean superfood: berries, mushroom, fish… You just have to go and pick it.

Now the state is starting to tax harder all the unhealthy stuff. My wild guess is that this won’t make things better and Finns healthier.

I think it’s more a question of human mentality. For example, when you are unemployed and have lost your dream, what’s the point of staying fit and eating vitamines?

Food circle - all the kids remember this from the Home Economics classes. In theory at least...

The gap is widening between those who care about their health and those who are letting go. It’s normal that you don’t feel like cooking a healthy dinner if your life seems miserable. Maybe you order a pizza and to the sofa – definitely not the healthiest and probably not even the cheapest option.

Sometimes it’s a question of knowledge – even if here in Finland every kid has at least 1 year of compulsory classes of Home Economics where they are taught about healthy diet and how to cook it.

I’m of course generalizing. There are many exceptions.

And Finns are good at blaming the others. Perhaps we can blame the cold climate? When it gets -20C outside you grave for sugar and fat – you don’t feel like eating a salad but something hot and filling!

Or maybe it’s in our genes? Finns love sugar. We drink about 70 litres of limonades and sodas and consume 10 kilos of candies per person a year. Something should be done… soon.

Finns want to pick their own candies of as wide a selection as possible.

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