Sisal natural fiber is derived from the inside of the large leaves of the Agave Sisalana plant, native to Southern Mexico. It is the same cactus used to make aloe and tequila!
Sisal natural fiber has been cultivated since pre-Columbian times but it was first cultivated for commercial use in the late 1930s when its economic benefits were discovered in countries across the world.
The development of cheap synthetic fibers in the 1980s and 90s sent the sisal market plummeting. The 21st century has seen a resurgence of the use of sisal, as well as its waste byproducts, due to the growing public awareness of natural fibers in general and the fact sisal is sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Sisal used for rope and twine are the traditional uses for this fiber. However, sisal is such a diverse resource material, there has been a growth in new non-traditional uses of this plant as well.
Today, sisal is sustainably farmed across the world. Brazil, and right behind it, Tanzania, are the largest producers.The fiber of the sisal agave is also very similar to that if its relative, henequen (Agave Fourcroydes).
The Sisal plant is very hardy and grows well all year round in hot climates and arid regions, often those areas not suitable for other crops. It can be cultivated in most soil types except clay.
The sisal plant usually grows to about 3 feet high and is around 15 inches wide. The leaves from which the fiber is extracted are fleshy and rigid and grow out from the stalk in lance-shaped leaves that are gray to dark green. Each lance is 2 to 6 feet long and 4 to 7 inches across, ending in a sharp spine.
The plant can be harvested from 3 to 5 years after being planted and its productive life can be as much as 12 years (though usually falls between 4 to 8 years). Each plant will produce approximately 300 leaves (depending on location, altitude, level of rainfall, and variety of plant).
At some point anywhere from 4 to 8 years, the mature plant will send up a central flower stalk which can reach up to 20 feet high. Unpleasant smelling yellow flowers will emerge. After these flowers start to die, small plants develop called bulbils which fall to the ground and take root. Similar to other agave species, the old plant dies after flowering is completed.
Besides the bulbils, young plants can also be propagated from the rhizomes or underground stems of mature plants. These young plants are usually kept in nurseries for the first 12 to 18 months They are then transferred to the field at the beginning of the rainy season.
The outer leaves are cut off close to the stalk as they reach full length. The initial harvest is usually about 70 leaves from each plant, averaging around 25 leaves thereafter. The leaves need to be crushed, washed, and dried first before the fibers within them can be used.
The fibers to be extracted lie lengthwise in the leaves, most of them near the leaf surfaces. The fleshy pulp is very firm and must be scraped away by hand stripping or by a mechanical decortication process. The fibers must be removed from the leaves as soon as possible after they are cut in order to avoid the risk of damage during the cleaning process.
|Benefits of Legumes||
Primary BenefitsAs an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber, legumes are a highly satiating food. This means that for a relatively low amount of calories legumes make you feel fuller longer and, therefore, help prevent the hunger that can lead to unhealthy snacking and unwanted pounds. For about 115 calories, a 1/2-cup serving of cooked lentils provides about 9 grams of protein, 20 grams of mostly complex carbohydrates and less than half a gram of fat. It also supplies nearly 8 grams of fiber, or 31 percent of the recommended daily value. Most legumes contain significant amounts of insoluble and soluble fiber. Eating legumes several times a week promotes bowel regularity and helps keep blood sugar levels in check.
Secondary BenefitsLegumes are sometimes called “poor people’s meat” because they’re an inexpensive source of quality plant protein. They truly are an ideal meat substitute, however, because the vitamin and mineral profiles of legumes and meat are comparable. Whereas meat is also a source of cholesterol and saturated fat, however, legumes are a cholesterol-free food that contains virtually no saturated fat. For just over 110 calories, a 1/2-cup serving of cooked black beans delivers 32 percent, 15 percent and 14 percent of the daily values for folate, magnesium and thiamine, respectively, and about 10 percent each of the daily values for iron and potassium. Opting for legumes instead of meat two or three times a week promotes healthy cholesterol levels and helps protect against heart disease.
|Benefit of Nuts/Seeds||Nuts and seeds benefit your health by providing a source of dietary fiber. Fiber is a specialized type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods. It does not break down as it passes through your digestive tract, and the undigested fiber adds bulk to your stool to promote regular bowel movements. Fiber also helps slow the rate of digestion. This means that sugar from your meal enters your bloodstream slowly, leading to a gradual rise in blood sugar that leaves you feeling energized after you eat. Opt for flax seeds as an excellent source of fiber -- an ounce of the seeds contains a whopping 7.7 grams. An ounce of almonds boosts your fiber intake by 3.5 grams, while sunflower seeds contain 3.1 grams of fiber per ounce. An equivalent an serving of pistachios and pecans offers 2.9 and 2.7 grams,
A diet rich in nuts and seeds also helps keep you healthy as you age by preventing disease. People who regularly consume nuts tend to weigh less than those who rarely eat nuts, as well as face a lower risk for weight gain in the future. Nuts and seeds both help reduce the levels of inflammation in your body, according to the Linus Pauling Institute, which might reduce your risk of heart disease. Nut consumption also correlates with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
|Benefits of Seeds/Oils||Cardamom is packed with antioxidants. There are two kinds of cardamoms, green and black. Black cardamoms help in curing colds and cough and certain respiratory problems," shares Bangalore-based Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood. Steep some pods in water along with honey and drink this cardamom tea as an effective natural remedy for flu. It imparts warmth to the body.Cloves can help protect your stomach from ulcers. Most ulcers are caused by thinning in the layers of mucus that protect your stomach lining. Preliminary studies show that cloves can thicken this mucus, lowering your risk of developing ulcers and helping existing ulcers heal.Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease. It improves the function of the endothelium and is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant.
Sunflower oil is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin E which help in promoting skin health. These vitamins act as antioxidants. They help in regenerating damaged skin cells and getting rid of the acne causing bacteria. The oil is light and non-greasy and thus, it gets absorbed in the skin easily without blocking the pores. Sunflower oil also acts as a natural moisturizer and helps in treating dry, sensitive skin.