Glorious Garlic

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By: Marlene Affeld ~

Native to Central Asia, garlic (Allium sativum) has been prized for over 7,000 years for its amazing culinary and medicinal properties. From the time of the ancient Romans, garlic, also known as the “stinking rose”, was believed to increase sexual potency and endurance during physical competition. Garlic is a species of the onion genus, Allium. Closely related to rakkyo, chives, leeks and shallots, garlic is attributed with antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Dioscorides, a Greek who lived in the first century A.D., practiced plant-based healing. Revered as the founder of modern pharmacology, Dioscorides routinely dispensed the pungent plant to treat bronchitis, cough, respiratory infections, leprosy, circulation problems, snakebites, rabid dog bites, and numerous other medical conditions. Ancient Chinese, Egyptian, Indian and Greek writings also praise the odorous bulb. Garlic was placed in the tombs of ancient Pharaohs as long ago as 3,200 B.C. Written in 1550 B.C., the Egyptian “Ebers Codex” presents 22 different medical formulations in which garlic was an integral ingredient.

Many European cultures employed garlic as protection against ghosts, evil spirits, vampires, and demons. However, throughout history, many religious sects forbade garlic, believing garlic to be a passion-arousing stimulant.

soup-727964_640Garlic, an indispensable seasoning in the cuisine of hundreds of cultures around the world, also has a wealth of well-documented health enhancing effects. In Korea, China and Italy, where the consumption of the pungent bulb is viewed as a protective against disease, per capita consumption is as high as 12 cloves each day.

“People have known garlic was important and has health benefits for centuries,” said Dr. David W. Kraus, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Biology at the University of Alabama. “Even the Greeks would feed garlic to their athletes before they competed in the Olympic games.”

food-877968__180“Many home chefs mistakenly cook garlic immediately after crushing or chopping it,” noted Dr. Kraus. Dr. Kraus advises, “To maximize the health benefits, you should crush the garlic at room temperature and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. That triggers an enzyme reaction that boosts the healthy compounds in garlic.”

Medical studies show that garlic helps fight infection, boosts the immune system, improves circulation, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol while helping to prevent many types of cancer including colon, breast and prostate. Garlic’s health benefits are attributed to its sulfur-containing compounds: diallyl trisulfide, diallyl disulfide and allicin.

Blame allicin for the pungent odor. The odor is caused by the interaction of the compound alliin and the enzyme allinase. Allinase enzymes are activated by water, heat and oxygen. This is the reason cooked, aged or pickled garlic does not present as pungent an odor as fresh garlic. Both the flavoring agents and the medicinal properties of garlic are strongest when raw.

spaghetti-706124_640Garlic also contains the anti- cancer agent germanium. In fact, garlic has more of this potent cancer-retarding agent than any other plant. Recent lab tests noted that mice fed garlic showed no signs of cancer, whereas mice fed a garlic-restricted diet developed the disease.

Garlic lovers should be aware that garlic could potentially interfere with prescribed anti- coagulants, so it is best to avoid eating garlic prior to a scheduled surgery. Although sensitivity is rare, some people may be allergic to garlic and should consult their health practitioner if they develop a severe headache, digestive tract irritation, an elevated temperature or skin blistering after handling or consuming garlic.

Because of its delicious flavor and powerful health benefits, garlic deserves a prominent place in a healthy plant-based diet and lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Health Benefits Of Nuts #GoNuts

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By: Marlene Affeld ~

Grab a handful and munch away. Energy dense nuts are good for you! Convenient and great for snacking, nuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber, magnesium, manganese, calcium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus and vitamins A and E. Nuts are also a rich source of l-arginine. L-arginine helps keep arteries flexible and less prone to dangerous blood clots that block blood flow and can lead to a stroke.

file0001859756979The United States Department of Agriculture divides nuts into two groups: tree nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, etc.) and peanuts (a legume). Peanuts are included because they are typically consumed in the same manner as tree nuts and present a similar nutrient profile. Be aware that some people are allergic to nuts. Reactions can be life threatening in sensitive individuals. If you, or a family member, are allergic to nuts, always read food labels. Food products labels must note if they contain nutmeats or have been prepared in a facility that processes tree nuts or peanuts.

walnut-101462_640When it comes to nutritional value, walnuts appear to pack the biggest punch. NuVal, a proprietary food scoring system developed by Topco Associates and Griffin Hospital of Derby, Connecticut (home of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center located in Braintree, Massachusetts) provides food-scoring systems to food retailers. NuVal gives walnuts a score of 82, closely followed by almonds with a score of 81. Pistachios score an impressive 69, peanuts 67 and cashews rank low with a score of 25.

The United States Department of Agriculture advises, “Walnuts have specifically been studied for their effect on serum lipids and blood pressure. Results have shown that incorporating a moderate amount of walnuts into a cholesterol-lowering diet decreases serum total cholesterol levels and favorably changes the lipoprotein profile in healthy men.”

The USDA reports that in response to growing national and international demand, United States production of nuts has increased substantially. Production has increased from 206.4 million pounds (shelled) in 1970 to more than 2.0 billion pounds produced by the middle of the first decade of the 2000s.

cashew-kernels-610481_640High LDL levels (low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol) in the blood are one of the major contributing factors in cardiovascular disease. New research data, provided by the research team of David Jenkins and Cyril Kendall at the University of Toronto, reports that dietary changes to incorporate mixed nuts into the diet have significant health benefits. A diverse variety of nuts, including roasted peanuts, help patients with type 2 diabetes control blood lipids (HDL and LDL cholesterol) and blood sugar levels (postprandial glycaemia). The Toronto research team concluded, “Two ounces of nuts daily, as a replacement for carbohydrate foods, improved both glycemic control and serum lipids in type 2 diabetes.”

Most nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help keep the heart healthy by preventing dangerous changes in heart rhythms that can trigger a heart attack. Nuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Whether they are use for baking, cooking or snacking, nuts desire a prominent place in a plant-based diet.

Deadly Spider Alert! – What’s Hiding In Your Bananas? #Venomous

After reading this article, I believe I will just buy locally grown bananas from the farmer’s market here on the Big Island and pass on those imported by the major supermarket chains.

891eb34f319f5a3dcb406a0e4b725437Mother Discovers Venomous ‘Erection-Giving’ Spider Eggs In Her Iceland Bananas – Yahoo News UK 11/18/15, 1:06 PM

Samantha Frampton, 24, found Brazilian Wandering Spider eggs infested in the bananas imported from Colombia – which has a lethal bite that can kill a human in just two hours

By Matt Payton | Yahoo News – 5 hours ago

A mother-of-two was shocked to find venomous spider eggs in bananas she has bought for her children.

Samantha Frampton, 24, found Brazilian Wandering Spider eggs infested in the bananas imported from Colombia – which has a lethal bite that can kill a human in just two hours.

Samantha carefully wrapped the bananas in a plastic bag and left them outside, but is now worried her house may be infested.

The Brazilian Wandering Spider’s venom is currently being studied for use in erectile dysfunction treatments – as it can give male victims a painful four-hour erection.

These spiders hide in banana plants during day thus explaining how they could have entered the fruit bought from Iceland.

Samantha, from Barnstaple in Devon, said: ‘I was about to hand him a banana and I noticed what first looked like a small cocoon – it looked like a silver, sealed web with leave on it.

‘I hate spiders anyway, but when I started seeing pictures of the webs and comparing the banana to some of those images. I immediately wrapped the banana in a carrier bag and put it outside – I just don’t know what to do.’

Iceland in Barnstable have confirmed that the banana has been sent to head office but declined to comment further.

Sugar Dangers #SugarHarmsHealth

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By: Marlene Affeld ~

More addictive than cocaine or heroin, sugar is a sweet white poison that triggers weight gain, feeds prostate, breast, endometrial and colon cancer cells, causes a host of chronic diseases and accelerates premature aging. If that isn’t enough, sugar rots our teeth.

Available in a diverse variety of forms with a host of different names, all of the following sweeteners are loaded with empty calories that offer little or no nutritional value.

  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Corn Sweetener
  • Sucrose
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Fruit Juice Concentrate
  • Corn Syrup
  • Sorghum Syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Sorbitol
  • Maltose
  • Lactose
  • Glucose

doughnut-380212_640Have you ever considered how much sugar you consume in a day, a week, a month or a year? Nutritionists advise that we should receive less than 10 percent of our daily calories from sugar. However, the majority of Americans dangerously consume sweeteners in amounts that are devastating to good health. Are we slowing killing ourselves one sweet taste at a time?

The statistics on sugar consumption in the United States cause serious alarm. Two centuries ago our forefathers ate less than 2 pounds of sugar a year. In 1900 the average U.S. sugar consumption rose to 90 pounds a year. By 1970, sugar addiction had skyrocketed to an average of 123 pounds a year per person. In 2013 the average American devoured approximately 152 pounds throughout the year or an average of 3 pounds a week.

Right now you are probably saying, “Hey, wait a minute. No way. That isn’t me. I don’t begin to eat that much sugar.”

Wrong! In all likelihood, you consume a lot more sugar that you realize. Sports drinks, fruit juices, sodas, over-the-counter medication and almost all processed foods are sources of sugar in the diet. Lunchmeats, bread, potato chips, dips, cheese spreads, ice cream, yogurt, salad dressings, steak sauce, pickles, and ketchup are but a few items on a seemingly endless list of foods we enjoy daily that contain hidden sugars. Research studies show that we consume approximately 500 calories a day of hidden sugars.

Recent market research shows that the majority of infant formula products contain as much sugar per serving as a 12-ounce can of your favorite sweetened soft drink, metabolically poisoning babies from birth.

Sugar And Obesity

thick-373064_640Considering our obsession with sugar, it comes as no surprise that there is an epidemic of obesity in America. Currently, greater than 30 percent of Americans are obese. An additional 64 percent of us in the age group of the population from 20- to- 74 years of age are overweight. That totals up to more than 129.6 million people that are or should be on a weight loss diet. If you have been counting calories and carbs with the intent of losing weight, hidden sugars may be the culprits sabotaging your success. Adult obesity isn’t the only problem. Obesity rates in adolescents have tripled over the past 30 years in America while childhood obesity rates have doubled.

Dr. David Ludwig, a renowned obesity and weight-loss specialist at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital advises, “Sugar-containing foods in their natural form, whole fruit, for example, tend to be highly nutritious—nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and low in glycemic load. On the other hand, refined, concentrated sugar consumed in large amounts rapidly increases blood glucose and insulin levels, increases triglycerides, inflammatory mediators and oxygen radicals, and with them, the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses.”

Excess weight puts us at risk for a wide range of life-threatening conditions including diabetes, hypertension, depression, and heart and kidney disease. While science has long been aware that excess sugar can increase our risk for heart disease, it took a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association to confirm that sugar actually affects the pumping mechanism of the heart and can increase the risk for heart failure.

All Sugars Are Not The Same

With so many different types of sugars and sweeteners available in the marketplace it is easy to become confused.

  • Glucose, dextrose and fructose are all simple sugars with the difference being in how your body metabolizes them. Dextrose and glucose are basically the same sugar. Food manufacturers usually elect to use the term dextrose in food labeling.
  • These simple sugars, when combined, create more complex sugars including thedisaccharide sucrose, commonly known as table sugar.
  • Widely used in processed foods, high fructose corn syrup is a combination of 45 percent glucose and 55 percent fructose.

Fructose Is The Worst Type Of Sugar For Our Bodies

Published in Time Magazine October 27, 2012, Robert H. Lustig M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist who has spent over 16 years treating childhood obesity, explains fructose’s addictive properties noting, “In animal studies, fructose causes the four criteria of addiction: bingeing, withdrawal, craving, and sensitization to other addictive substances (meaning after chronic exposure to sugar, it’s easier to get hooked on another drug). In humans, fructose lights up the reward center in your brain called the nucleus accumbens on MRI; but after repeated exposure, the reward center lights up less and less, so you need more and more to achieve the same effect. Fructose has effects on the reward center similar to alcohol; and just like alcohol, can lead to a “vicious cycle” of consumption and disease.”

Fructose itself isn’t the problem. The problem lies in how much we consume. On average, Americans daily consume an average fructose dose of 70 grams. This amount exceeds the recommended limit by 300 percent.

Loaded with high fructose corn syrup, soft drinks, sodas and energy drinks are the single largest source of calories in the American diet. An average 12-ounce can of sugar-sweetened soda contains about 150 calories, almost all from sugar.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports, “Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), particularly carbonated soft drinks, may be a key contributor to the epidemic of overweight and obesity, by virtue of these beverages’ high added sugar content, low satiety, and incomplete compensation for total energy.”

Over 40 years ago beverage manufacturers began switching out their sweeteners from sucrose to corn syrup as they discovered that high fructose corn syrup was a lot cheaper to produce and was approximately 20 percent sweeter than table sugar. What makes it a problem is that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contains the same two sugars as sucrose, but has an increased metabolic risk due to its manipulated chemical form.

Fructose and glucose do not bind together as in table sugar meaning the body does not have to break it down. Fructose is immediately absorbed, headed straight for the liver.

Fructose and alcohol present similar toxic effects on the liver. Fructose consumption can also promote elevated uric acid causing low-level inflammation throughout the body with long-lasting adverse health concerns. If you have ever suffered from gout, you know one of the painful consequences of uric acid build-up. Believe me, if you don’t know, you don’t want to find out.

Elevated uric acid levels can also cause inflamed blood vessels, a leading causes of strokes and heart attacks. Scientists are reporting a preponderance of evidence that suggests chronic inflammation also encourage the growth of cancerous tumors. Similar to ethanol metabolism, fructose metabolism produces a host of toxic effects including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Fructose is a trickster, fooling the metabolism by shutting down the body’s appetite-control system. Medical experts advise that ingesting fructose is worse for us health wise than eating fat. In fact, high fructose corn syrup makes us fat! Fructose leads to rapid weight gain target at the area where we least want to see it accumulate. In addition to fostering belly fat fructose consumption promotes increased LDL, decreased HDL, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure.

In her book, Lick The Sugar Habit, noted clinical nutritionist Nancy Appleton lists 124 reasons that sugar is bad for you. Highlights of the list are definitely “food for thought”.

  • Sugar raises cholesterol
  • Sugar can weaken eyesight
  • Sugar can impair DNA structure
  • Sugar may sap your brain power
  • Sugar can lead to periodontal disease
  • Sugar can cause anxiety, hypertension, loss of concentration and crankiness in children.
  • Sugar contributes to eczema in children
  • Sugar consumption promotes uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans a common yeast infection in women
  • Excess sugar consumption lowers our defenses against bacteria infection
  • Sugar contributes to osteoporosis

It is the consensus of the medical community that “fructose is the number one contributing factor to the current obesity epidemic.”

Kicking A Sugar Habit

calories-957767_640Darlene Kvist, a licensed nutritionist and author of the book “Dishing Up Nutrition” offers some sound advice on kicking a sugar habit noting, “It’s about biochemistry, not willpower. It’s important to recognize that sugar addiction is not simply a lack of willpower. For long-term recovery, it is absolutely necessary to balance the biochemical systems in the body, such as blood sugar, poor intestinal health, and insufficient brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). Only then can sugar addiction be overcome, otherwise relapse occurs similar to any other addiction. The number one tip for someone looking to free him or herself of sugar addiction would be to have an in-depth nutrition consultation. This is critical to address the unique biochemical needs of the individual. Treating sugar addiction is complex and different for each person.”

While quitting sugar isn’t easy, it is more than worth the effort to try to eliminate as much sugar from our diets as possible. Give it a try for at least two weeks. You will be amazed how you feel.

Alternative Sweeteners

In an effort to reduce their sugar intake and cut calories, many Americans opt to use alternative sweeteners.

  • Honey is a preferred substitute for sugar even though it about 53 percent fructose. In its pure raw state, honey used in moderation, offers many significant health benefits.
  • Stevia is a highly concentrated natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the South American stevia plant. Completely safe in its natural form with no unpleasant side effects, stevia provides the sweetness we crave without the calories making it an ideal alternative to table sugar.
  • Beware of Splendia. Sucralose, marketed as Splendia, is not a sugar in spite of its “sugar-like” name. Falsely advertised as “made from sugar” is actually a chlorinated artificial sweetener similar to saccharin and aspartame with all the same detrimental effects on our good health.
  • Sorbitol, xylitol, glycerol, mannitol, erythritol and maltitol are known as sugar alcohols although they contain neither sugar nor alcohol. Gaining in popularity as a sugar substitute these sugar alcohols are incompletely absorbed in the small intestine and provide fewer calories than sugar. However, they are not without their downside often producing unpleasant stomach distress including flatulence, bloating and diarrhea.
  • Falsely advertised as a natural sweetener, Agave syrup in a con on the public. In reality the syrup is typically highly processed and is approximately 80 percent fructose.
  • Found in Asian markets and health food stores, Lo han also known as luohanguo, is another natural sweetener derived from fruit that makes an excellent low calorie substitute for table sugar.

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Foods To Boost Your Sex Drive #IncreaseLibido

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By: Marlene Affeld ~

Maintaining a healthy libido or sex drive promotes emotional and physical health and can fortify and build intimacy with your romantic partner. Although insomnia, stress, hormonal shifts, smoking, lack of exercise, low self-esteem, and poor health can in general diminish libido, how amorous we feel is most often dependent on the foods we eat. The sex drive can be significantly increased through consuming anti-aging foods and supplements that provide the essential nutrients to spark sexual appetite and increase libido.

To enhance your sex drive, the food items you want to make sure are included in your daily diet are those high in amino acids, zinc, niacin, Vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium. Magnesium accelerates production of sex hormones such as estrogen, androgen, as well as various neurotransmitters that stimulate the sex drive.

The list includes celery, raw oysters, avocado, almonds, artichokes, mangoes, bananas, peaches, figs, strawberries, watermelon, beef liver, eggs, garlic, and of course everyone’s favorite, chocolate.

  • valentine-602744_640Chocolate – According to a research study recently released by the American Diabetic Association, chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a complex compound that releases endorphins and stimulates sexual desire. Chocolate is also high in magnesium, an important nutrient that provides a sense of comfort and satisfaction.
  • celery-692867_640Celery– The crunching, low-calorie vegetable is fantastic food source for sexual stimulation. Celery contains androsterone, the odorless hormone released through male perspiration that excites and creates a sexual response in women.
  • appetite-2039_640Asparagus– Planning a romantic dinner for two? Asparagus is the ideal side dish to increase sex drive and libido. A great source of B vitamins, including folate, B vitamins assist in the production of histamine, a regulator of a healthy sex drive in both men and women.
  • watermelon-833198_640Watermelon – If you are seeking to boost your sex drive, researchers at Texas A&M University have found a nutrient contained in watermelons known as citrulline, can have a Viagra-like effect on the body. Citrulline is converted into the amino acid arginine in the body. “Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, the same basic effect that Viagra has, to treat erectile dysfunction and maybe even prevent it.” Noted Dr. Bhimu Patil, Director of the project. Watermelon relaxes blood vessels. Blood vessels play an intricate and important role in satisfying sex.
  • bananas-652497_640Bananas- A nutritionally rich source of B vitamins and potassium, both of which provide energy, bananas contain the enzyme bromelain believed to drive up libido, and counter impotence in men.
  • file0001859756979Nuts-Chock full of essential fatty acids, nuts boost the production of sex hormones to heighten libido and sustain sexual performance. Nuts contain high levels of L-arginine, the amino acid known to improve blood circulation and promote erectile response. Pine nuts are especially high in zinc, an important mineral for sperm production and enhanced fertility.
  • fried-930379_640Eggs– Eggs support healthy sex function, especially their yolks, provide a serving of healthy cholesterol, a waxy substance that assists in producing the key sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. Eggs are also a nutrient-rich source of vitamins B5 and B6, both essential for balancing out hormones and managing stress.

file0001793805494Fruits and Vegetables– Fruits and vegetables are especially important as they are not only good for you, they help lower cholesterol which in turn stimulates blood flow to the body’s organs, most specifically the genitals. By addressing the underlying causes of low sexual desire as well as eating a diet rich in certain nutrients, you can help restore lost libido and experience a more gratifying sex life.

Obviously, many other contributing factors affect an optimal sex drive including trust, communicating with your partner, physical exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting plenty of rest. However, a few changes in your diet with the addition of libido-boosting foods can add welcomed vitality to your meals and kick-start your sex drive.

If you eat on the run and find it difficult to obtain your daily greens, Athletic Greens is a fast and easy way to ensure you give your body the nutrients it requires for optimum health.

The Amazing Health And Healing Properties Of Curcumin – The Anti-Aging Super Spice

anti-inflammatory-743044__180By: Marlene Affeld ~ Curcumin, the active part of the turmeric plant, is used as a seasoning in curries and other spicy dishes from the Middle East, Asia, and India. Curcumin (Curcuma longa) is what gives curry its distinctive bright yellow-orange color and unique spicy flavor.

Although many people use this spice in cooking, most people are unaware of the amazing natural health and healing benefits of curcumin. Curcumin, a bioactive substance that has antioxidant properties that are nearly ten times stronger than vitamins C and E, boosts immunity, reduces chronic inflammation at the molecular level, normalize cholesterol levels and prevents premature aging.

History of Curcumin

spices-541974__180CurcuminForHealth.com tells the story of curcumin, noting, “The history of curcumin – considered one of the most beneficial compounds from turmeric (Curcuma longa) dates back about 5,000 years. It was a principal healing agent in Ayurveda, and traditional Indian system of medicine, and recognized as a valuable ingredient long before it became popular as a supplement.

The bright yellow-orange pigment of turmeric is the primary source curcumin. Breaking this down further, there are sub-compounds or “fractions” of curcumin called “curcuminoids.” Turmeric contains demothoxycurcumin, otherwise known as “curcumin II”, bisdemethoxycurcumin, known as “curcumin III” and cyclocurcumin. These compounds make up, on an average, about 3 to 5 percent of turmeric, although some in some regions of India, the turmeric actually contains higher levels, reaching 6 to 8 percent because of locally favorable growing conditions and farming practices.

The curcumin products you’re likely to find in health food stores contain a mixture of curcuminoids, depending on the way they’ve been processed.

Turmeric is typically grown in warmer regions, including India, China, and Southeast Asia. The brightly colored complex of curcumin (well-known to anyone who has eaten curry) is sometimes referred to as Indian saffron, yellow ginger, yellow root, ukon, kacha haldi, or simply natural yellow.

After the roots are harvested, they are cleaned in water, cured and dried. After drying the root is ground for use as a spice, or the curcumin is extracted to be used for its health benefits.

These days, most people probably know curcumin by enjoying curry made with turmeric. The fat content of coconut milk and other ingredients in traditional Indian cooking help curcumin absorb in the digestive tract, so growing up eating curry very likely has some protective and medicinal effect. However, there is increasing research that shows that concentrated extracts of curcumin are very strong as well – plus, they have the benefit of being convenient and proven effective!”

Curcumeroids

Found within the turmeric root, and the powder made from the root that is used in cooking are active phenolic compounds called curcumeroids. Curcumin is one among the three curcuminoids found in turmeric. The key benefits of curcumeroids are that they soothe stomach pain, stimulate the secretion of bile, eases inflammation, and kill bacteria.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties Of Curcumin

Curcumin is the most potent anti-inflammatory of the three curcumeroids found in the Asian tuber. The significant anti-inflammatory properties make curcumin an effective anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical for chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory bowel disease; all without the dangerous and unpleasant side effects of many other prescription medications.

A recent research study among patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis showed that patients taking up to 1.7 grams of curcumin a day for two months reduced bowel symptoms and the need for other medications.

ArthritisToday.org reports, “Traditionally used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis turmeric/curcumin blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), the target of celecoxib (Celebrex).

Several recent studies show that turmeric/curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and modifies immune system responses. A 2006 study showed turmeric was more effective at preventing joint inflammation than reducing joint inflammation.

A 2010 clinical trial found that a turmeric supplement called Meriva (standardized to 75 percent curcumin combined with phosphatidylcholine) provided long-term improvement in pain and function in 100 patients with knee OA. In a small 2012 pilot study, a curcumin product called BCM-95 reduced joint pain and swelling in patients with active RA better than diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).”

Curcumin Is A Natural Antiseptic

Curcumin is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant in case of cuts, scrapes, bruises or wounds. Curcumin helps in reducing germs and bacteria, and in healing wounds faster.

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Curcumin and Cancer

Researchers now report that this member of the ginger family is capable of fighting cancer cell growth. Many healthcare providers suggest that if taken on a regular basis, either as a spice in your daily diet or as an oral supplement, turmeric can eliminate cancer from the body. Turmeric’s power in treating cancer lies with the presence of polyphenols, phytochemicals, anti-carcinogens, and antioxidants.

Dr. Meracola discusses the benefits of curcumin, noting curcumin:

  • Inhibits the transformation of cells from normal to tumor
  • Inhibits the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation
  • Helps prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth (angiogenesis)
  • Helps your body destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread throughout your body

The American Cancer Society notes, “Some proponents believe turmeric may prevent and slow the growth of a number of types of cancer, particularly tumors of the esophagus, mouth, intestines, stomach, breast, and skin.

Animal and laboratory studies have found that curcumin, an antioxidant that is an active ingredient in turmeric, demonstrated some anti-cancer effects in the lab. But human research is needed to determine curcumin’s role in cancer prevention and treatment in people. Several types of cancer cells are inhibited by curcumin in the laboratory, and curcumin slows the growth and spread of some cancers in some animal studies. Clinical trials are underway to find out if it can help humans as well.

Curcumin is being studied to find out whether it helps other diseases such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and stomach ulcers. It is also being studied to see whether it can help lower “bad cholesterol” and improve outcome in kidney transplants. A few early studies have been done in humans, but much more human research is still needed to find out if curcumin can be effective in these uses.”

NaturalNews.com reports on the interaction of curcumin and cancer, noting, “Research done by the Life Extension Foundation found that curcuminoids target ten factors involved in cancer development. This includes chronic inflammation, DNA damage, and disruption of cell signaling pathways. Curcumin supplementation was shown to destroy cancer cell mitochondria, disrupt the cancer cell cycle and arrest stem cell development that facilitates further cancer cell formation.

Curcumin regulates tumor suppressor pathways and triggers mitochondria-mediated death in the cancer tissue. Curcumin is anti-angiogenic, which means that it shuts down the ability of cancer cells to form new blood vessels for blood supply and fuel. This effect makes cancer cells more vulnerable to pharmacological treatments such as chemotherapy and other cancer-control drugs.”

Studies show that curcumin can also help prevent breast cancer in women at high risk from taking hormone replacement therapy. Scientists at the University of Missouri studied the pungent spice in mice, finding it inhibited a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) known to promote and support hormone-related tumors and other types of cancer. Curcumin also helped reduce changes in breast tissue linked to cancer.

Researchers in Texas confirmed that curcumin increased the effects of Taxol (a chemotherapy drug) and prevented breast cancer development in the lungs of mice. This same sensitizing effect is seen in other types of cancer including pancreatic, colon, gastric, blood, prostate, lung, bladder, head and neck, brain cancer, cervical cancer, multiple myeloma, leukemia, and lymphoma.

Most recently, a research study from Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital in Zheijiang, China indicates that curcumin is capable of inducing apoptosis (cell death) within triple negative breast cancer cells. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a type of cancer that defies conventional therapy.

Turmeric and Diabetes

2012 research studies conducted amongst persons with pre-diabetes found that curcumin delayed the onset of Type 2 diabetes. The study, conducted over a nine-month period, provided participants with either curcumin supplements or a placebo. At the end of the test period, 16 patients taking the placebo were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. None of the participants taking curcumin developed diabetes. The study results were attributed to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin.

Cardiovascular Disease and Curcumin

Curcumin offers protection from heart attack and stroke, making beneficial for people with diabetes who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. Scientists have discovered that curcumin found in turmeric, dissolves plaque that clogs arteries. When arteries clog, the heart is required to work overtime to deliver adequate blood to the organs. This activity leads to high blood pressure and may also cause enlarging and weakening of the heart. As a powerful antioxidant, curcumin supports healthy cholesterol levels.

ZipHeal.com reports on the health benefits of curcumin, noting, “Another one of turmeric health benefits is its capacity to improve cardiovascular health. Curcumin can stop the oxidation of cholesterol that results in cholesterol buildup on the walls of blood vessels and the consequent clogging of these vessels. This action of curcumin prevents strokes and heart attacks. Further, turmeric also supplies vitamin B6 to the body. This vitamin protects against the damage-causing substance homocysteine.”

Curcumin and Liver Disease

A research study recently conducted in Mexico showed that curcumin prevents acute liver damage through at least two mechanisms: its work as an antioxidant and by inhibiting NF-kappa-B activation and thus slowing down the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

A second study published in the Fundamental and Clinical Pharmacology Journal noted that curcumin is effective in preventing and reversing cirrhosis of the liver, likely by its ability to reduce TGF-beta expression. This data indicates that curcumin might be an effective antifibrotic and fibrolytic drugs in the treatment of chronic hepatic disease.

Among curcumin’s numerous benefits is its ability to function as a natural detox agent, thus clearing the liver of harmful toxins. Among these, it also protects the liver from the toxicity of excess alcohol consumption, chemicals, and certain medications.

NaturalNews.com reports on the powerful health benefits curcumin as an antioxidant, stating, “Turmeric is the fourth most antioxidant-rich herb with an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of 159,277. The curcuminoids boost levels of the body’s most potent antioxidants including glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase. These molecules are critical for the body to limit oxidative stress-related damage to the vital organ systems.”

Curcumin and Weight Loss

tape-403592_640Curcumin has been shown to reduce the incidence of obesity-related diseases. Much of the inflammation associated with obesity is a result in part to the presence of immune cells known macrophages present in fat throughout the body. The immune cells produce cytokines that promote inflammation in the heart, pancreas and liver. Scientific studies indicate that turmeric suppresses the activity and number of these cells thereby reducing some of the adverse consequences of obesity.

Curcumin promotes weight loss and the resulting incidence of obesity-related disease by stimulating the production of bile that breaks down fatty food. Taking one teaspoon of turmeric powder with each meal has been shown to help in losing weight.

PhysicanNaturals.com comments on how curcumin helps digestive problems, stating, “Those who are prone to the problems of severe indigestion may benefit from taking curcumin on a daily basis. It helps in increasing the bile production, thereby curing such problems completely.”

Curcumin and Alzheimer’s disease

dependent-100343__180FitLife.tv reports, “Curcumin in turmeric has a potential role in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive cognitive deterioration together with declining activities of daily living and behavioral changes. Various effects of curcumin, such as decreased Beta-amyloid plaques, delayed degradation of neurons, metal-chelation, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant property, improve overall memory in Alzheimer’s patients.”

Curcumin and Depression

GreenMedInfo.com announces, “A groundbreaking new clinical study proves that the turmeric extract known as curcumin is at least as effective as Prozac in treating serious depression. When one factors in the lack of side effects associated with the use of curcumin, it is not unreasonable to call the spice extract superior.”

A recently published study judged the antidepressant potential of the extract compared to prescription drugs. In this study, curcumin was compared to fluoxetine (one brand name is Prozac®) and imipramine (one brand name is Tofranil) in a scientific model of depression.5 It was also studied as an “add on” therapy with these commonly prescribed drugs.

Seven groups in total were tested, with one untreated group serving as a control, and others either with two different dosage levels of curcumin only, each prescription drug only, or each prescription drug paired with curcumin as an “add on” therapy.

The results in the curcumin groups were impressive. The high-absorption curcumin extract was just as effective as alleviating symptoms of depression as either prescription drug, but had none of the side effects (which include drowsiness and sedation, and some loss of motor skills).

In fact, the side effects are so strong that curcumin was unable to curb them when it was combined in treatment with the drugs.”

Curcumin and Hair Loss

hair-248049_640The active ingredient curcumin is a powerful antioxidant proven to be effective in fighting what is known as TGF-beta one, one of the main known causes of hair loss. A helpful remedy for hair loss is made from a tablespoon of turmeric added to a tablespoon of honey and ¼ cup plain yogurt. Massage the mixture into the hair. Leave the mixture on the hair for 20 to 30 minutes, and then rinse out.

Curcumin and Hepatitis B Virus

According to a study published in the June 2010 issue of FEBS Letters, curcumin, the potent property found in turmeric, can inhibit the growth of hepatitis B Virus by regulating and decreasing the proteins responsible for the multiplication of the nasty virus.

Curcumin Can Help Ease Cystic Fibrosis

Research studies now confirm that curcumin, the active agent in turmeric, is one of the most promising cures against cystic fibrosis, a severe form of respiratory infection. Although preliminary results are still inconclusive, a number of persons suffering from cystic fibrosis report a positive improvement in their symptoms after using turmeric on a regular basis.

Adding Curcumin To Your Daily Diet

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There is no doubt about it. Curcumin is a powerful nutrient. Turmeric can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in sauces, curries, stews and soups. To achieve optimal curcumin absorption, since curcumin is a fat-soluble nutrient, it is important to combine turmeric with good fats such as olive oil, coconut oil or milk. Adding a dash of black pepper for the piperine molecule enhances curcumin uptake. Adding black pepper to turmeric increases the absorption of curcumin by nearly 200 percent. You can also find fermented turmeric in an organic acid base at health food stores. Fermented turmeric has an extraordinarily high absorption rate. Turmeric, as a whole herb, remains in the digestive tract longer than curcumin, releasing antioxidant curcumin along with other beneficial substances.

Medical practitioners recommend turmeric supplements. However, turmeric is more effective than isolated curcumin for most inflammatory disorders including arthritis, tendonitis, carpel tunnel syndrome and autoimmune conditions. Take 400 to 600 milligrams of turmeric extracts, either in tablet or capsule form, three times per day or as directed by your physician. Seek products standardized for 95 percent curcumoids.

Because neither curcumin nor turmeric taken orally is well absorbed unless taken with black pepper or piperine, make sure that the one you choose contains black pepper extract or piperine. Be patient when taking turmeric supplements: the full benefits may not be apparent for eight weeks.

Cautions and Concerns

Whenever you add a new supplement to your diet, it is important to discuss the change with your healthcare provider. Curcumin can interfere with the functioning or metabolism of anticoagulants such as clopidogrel, Warfarin, and aspirin. While turmeric is known to decrease blood sugar levels (hypoglycemic effect) that may prove beneficial to persons at high risk of developing diabetes, it should not be used by known diabetics using hypoglycemic medication.

Turmeric may inhibit platelet aggregation. Persons with a tendency to bleeding or clotting should not take curcumin except under the advice of a physician.
Curcumin Research Studies

Phytother Res. 2012 Nov;26 (11):1719-25. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639. E-pub 2012 Mar 9.

A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis.
Chandran B1, Goel A.

“Curcumin is known to possess potent anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties. This pilot clinical study evaluated the safety and effectiveness of curcumin alone, and in combination with diclofenac sodium in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Forty-five patients diagnosed with RA were randomized into three groups with patients receiving curcumin (500 mg) and diclofenac sodium (50 mg) alone or their combination. The primary endpoints were a reduction in Disease Activity Score (DAS) 28. The secondary endpoints included American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for reduction in tenderness and swelling of joint scores. Patients in all three treatment groups showed statistically significant changes in their DAS scores. Interestingly, the curcumin group showed the highest percentage of improvement in overall DAS and ACR scores (ACR 20, 50 and 70) and these scores were significantly better than the patients in the diclofenac sodium group. More importantly, curcumin treatment was found to be safe and did not relate with any adverse events.”

By: Marlene Affeld

Spaghetti Squash – A Treasure Trove Of Heart Healthy Nutrients

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By: Marlene Affeld ~

Spaghetti squash, also known as vegetable marrow, vegetable spaghetti, fish fin melon or golden string squash, is a hard winter squash that derives its name of the characteristics of the flesh. When cooked, you can use a fork to easily strip the meat into golden-yellow strands resembling cooked spaghetti noodles. No, it doesn’t taste like spaghetti, but it does make a great vegetarian, gluten-free substitute for pasta in a diverse array of tasty dishes.

About the size of a football, an average spaghetti squash will provide several servings. Although the rind can be white or pale green, most spaghetti squash are a pale creamy yellow or orange. The center of the squash contains an abundance of large seeds and the fleshy meat is yellow to dark orange. The seeds can be washed, dried, tossed with olive oil and herbs and roasted. The roasted seeds are a crunchy addition to salads or a nutritious, guilt-free snack.

Spaghetti squash is a flavorful addition to a variety of dishes, such as casseroles, soups, and stews, or eaten raw in salads and sandwiches. When served as “spaghetti,” it can be topped with a variety of pasta sauces.

Origin Of Spaghetti Squash

zucchini-572542__180The savory and satisfying squash was first introduced in China in 1921 but was not brought to the United States until the mid-1930’s. During World War II, spaghetti squash was widely planted as a food staple, but only recently experienced resurgence in culinary popularity. Once a novelty squash found only in Asian markets, spaghetti squash is now available year-round in food markets across America.

Health Benefits Of Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a “super food” veggie. Not only is spaghetti squash low in carbohydrates, it is also a rich source of vitamins, beta-carotene, essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, minerals, and has outstanding antimicrobial properties.

A single serving of this versatile squash contains approximately 457 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A and over 50 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.

B vitamins include niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and folate. Folate is required for the formation and healthy development of new cells and may help prevent birth defects, making spaghetti squash a healthy food choice for pregnant women.

Antioxidants found in spaghetti squash include beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein, which are all supportive of optimum eye health. Heart healthy nutrients found in this bright-colored vegetable also include potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber.

Spaghetti Squash Pancakes With Spicy Pepper Sauce

Serves 8 to 10

Pancakes

  • 2 cups baked and chopped spaghetti squash
  • ¾ cup finely diced red sweet pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 small sweet white onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic
  • 6 Tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 Teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ -cup milk

Pepper Sauce

  • 1 small fresh chipotle, jalapeño or habanero pepper chopped.
  • 1 cup pepper jelly – melted over low heat on the stove top
  • ½ Teaspoon sea salt

Preparation

It’s easy to bake a spaghetti squash. First pierce the rind several times with a sharp fork or knife point to allow steam to escape during the baking process. Place the squash in a baking pan with 2 inches of water in the bottom and bake for one hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Split the squash in half and cool. Scoop out 2 cups of the strands and chop into 1-inch pieces.

While the squash is baking, combine the sauce ingredients in a glass bowl, mix well, cover and refrigerate.

Next, sauté the red pepper, garlic, celery, and onion, until tender but not brown, in 5 tablespoons of the coconut oil, reserving the remaining oil to coat the pan. Add black pepper and cumin and sauté for another minute. Let cool.

Sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt and place in a bowl. Blend the milk and eggs and add to the dry ingredients. Stir well to dissolve all lumps. Fold in the vegetable mixture.

Cooking

Heat a heavy cast-iron skillet to the point that a bead of water dances on the surface. Add remaining coconut oil to coat the skillet. Add the pancake batter in large a spoonful. Cook until crisp and golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately, topped with a generous dollop of the pepper sauce. Enjoy!

Amazing Medicinal Benefits Of Guavas #OptimumHealth

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By: Marlene Affeld ~

It’s guava season here on the Big Island of Hawaii. Enjoy!

What if I told you there was a super-fruit that could help you lose weight, decrease your cancer risk, help the body fight infection, keep your heart healthy, eliminate constipation, aid digestion, heal wounds, cure toothaches, protect the prostate, control diabetes, make your teeth whiter, fight dental problems such as toothaches, decay and gum disease, and turns back the clock on aging?

That’s right, I’m talking about guavas! The amazing health benefits of guava fruit are appreciated worldwide. Not only does guava help in the treatment of a plethora of medical conditions, it is a treasure trove of nutrition; a taste pleaser that does wonders for the body.

A Sweet Storehouse Of Nutrition

IMG_0011High in vitamin C, Vitamin A, B vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate, electrolytes, dietary fiber, and imbued with great taste; it is no wonder guava is considered a superfruit. Did you know that the edible rind of the guava fruit contains more than 5 times as much vitamin C as an orange?

What makes guava so special is that commercial cultivation of the fruit does not require excessive applications of toxic chemicals. Unlike the chemicals pesticides used in the cultivation of apples, grapes and other exotic fruits, guavas are one of the least chemically treated and sprayed fruits.

A Most Flavorful Fruit

fruits-601739_640Because of its wide distribution around the world, the origin of the guava is unknown. Guavas are plentiful in Africa as well as Central and South America, India and Asia. However, the sweetest and most flavorful guavas flourish in the fertile volcanic soil of the Hawaiian Islands. Favorite varieties are the lemon, apple and strawberry guava. The apple guava is the most recognized guava as it is grown commercially and traded in the international market.

If you live in Hawaii, guavas are abundant in the wild; touched only by the sunshine and washed by the rain. You can’t get any more organic than that! There is nothing sweeter than the delicate taste of wild ripe guavas picked sun-ripened, fresh from the tree.

The wonder fruit grows on evergreen trees that reach heights of 15-to 30 feet at maturity in the wild. The thin profile tree produces clouds of fragrant white flowers, followed by firm green orbs that mature to a golden yellow flavorful fruit when ripe.

The inside of the guava fruit is soft, pale pink to deep red and incredibly sweet. Each fruit contains from 100- to- 500 tiny seeds. The mouth-watering flavor is akin to a perfectly ripe pear. Once you have tasted a sun-ripen guava and enjoyed its lemony fragrance, you too will call guavas one of your favorite tropical fruits.

Fresh Is Best

guava-336958_640Green guavas are firm and hard. When ripe, guavas are golden yellow and soft to the touch. Guavas can be eaten fresh or consumed in the form of juices, syrups or jellies. Consuming fresh guavas provides a great deal more health benefits as the whole fruit contains the fiber. Juicing removes the fiber. Unfortunately, guavas are highly perishable and do not ship well.

Unless you have a guava tree in your backyard you will have to settle for pure bottled guava juice, available from health food stores and specialty markets. Concentrate dried guava powder is also available and makes a great addition to sauces, deserts and protein smoothies. Add powered guava to chilled coconut water for a freshening tropical drink. A shot of island tropical rum can be added for a flavorful cocktail. Serve over crushed ice, garnish with a slice of pineapple and a sprig of fresh mint.

Guava Benefits In Pregnancy 

woman-356141_640If you and your partner are experiencing difficulty conceiving, regular consumption of guava leaf tea has proven to be effective in increasing sperm production.

Guava is a true super-fruit for pregnant women and the unborn. It’s the folic acid that helps to prevent neural tube defects in the fetus that is most beneficial to baby. The fiber contained in guava prevents constipation and hemorrhoids that are a major problem for many women during pregnancy. Many women also have difficulty maintaining equilibrium in blood pressure during pregnancy. Management of blood pressure is crucial to prevent miscarriages and premature births. The remarkable nutritional components contained in guava fruits helps regulate blood pressure.

If you are pregnant and have yet to taste a guava, these are some of the best reasons for adding guava to your diet now.

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Guavas And Weight Loss

Because guavas are a low-calorie, cholesterol free, no indigestible carbohydrate fruit, it helps satisfy hunger pangs for an extended period of time, thereby assisting in weight reduction and the control of diabetes. The sweet tropical fruit presents a subtle acidic sweet taste that rapidly intensifies as you eat your way into the center. Don’t let the seeds or rind deter you; the entire fruit is tasty and edible. Here in Hawaii, locals enjoy fresh guava slices sprinkled with sea salt and a little chill powder.

Guavas are considered the best fruit source of the powerful phytonutrient, Lycopene. Medical research studies show that this antioxidant prevents the growth of cancerous cell, especially those in the breasts, lungs and prostate.

Brighter, Whiter, Healthier Teeth

guava-leaf-204980_640A decoction of guava leaves seeped in boiling water relieves toothache and painful gums while it helps brighten and whiten teeth. If you have a sore throat, a gargle with the solution helps relieve throat discomfort. Ingredients contained in both the fruit and the leaves protect teeth and gums and therefore are an important ingredient in many popular toothpastes and mouth rinses. Chewing a couple of fresh leaves or eating a guava also freshens the breath.

Powerful Pain Relief

All the medicinal benefits of the guava fruit are present in the deep-green leaves of the guava tree. Potent chemicals concentrated in the leaves such as carotenoids, polyphenoids, tannins and flavonoids. Guava leaves are packed with antioxidants as well as a host of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents and beneficial tannins making fresh guava leaves an effective pain reliever. Due to its host of medical benefits, guava leaf supplements are now available in the form of capsules or as guava leaf tea.

Guava Calms Stomach And Intestinal Distress

Botanists believe the guava to be native to Mexico and Central America where they have been a traditional herbal cure for diarrhea amongst the Indian Tribes of the Amazon. Mature fresh guava leaves are chewed as a remedy for diarrhea and stomach discomfort.

Drug.com reports that guava leaves contain beneficial triterpenes, phenols and flavonoids and are a rich source of quercetin, a natural antioxidant. Because guava also presents strong antimicrobial and antispasmodic properties, it is especially useful for treating diarrhea.

The Smoothest Skin

girl-610544__180The benefits of guava leaves when applied to skin disorders are quite remarkable. Acne blemishes and blackheads adversely affect the appearance of our skin. A concoction of guava leaves has proved effective in eliminating these unpleasant conditions. Guava leaves contain antiseptic properties that destroy acne-causing bacteria. For a rejuvenating facial mask, mix 2-to-3 tablespoons of dried guava powder with just enough warm water to form a thick paste. Apply to forehead, nose, cheeks and chin and allow paste to dry. Rinse thoroughly with cool water and pat dry. If fresh guavas are available, blend both the leaves and fruit in a food processor and use as a facial mask instead of the powder. Used as an abrasive scrub, ground guava leaves are helpful in clearing clogged pores and removing blackheads. Apply the guava paste mask three times a week until the irritation and inflammation heal.

The antioxidant properties found in guava leaves destroy the free radicals that damage skin. A decoction of mature guava leaves (steep a handful in boiling water and cool) can protect your skin from aging as well as help improve skin tone and texture. Make up a fresh batch weekly; store unused portion in the refrigerator. Apply twice daily with sterile cotton balls saturated in the healing liquid. This same decoction can be applied to contact irritations or as an instant pain relieving remedy for insect stings and bites. Guava leaves contain allergy-blocking compounds to relieve irritation and antiseptic properties to promote healing.

A Hair Loss Treatment That Works

If you are losing hair due to illness, stress or heredity, boil a batch of guava leaves in water until the water turns dark. Cool. Apply the liquid to the scalp as a rinse after shampooing. Allow the liquid to remain on the scalp for several minutes, and then rinse with cool water and towel dry. Apply the liquid twice a week until normal hair growth is restored.

Add Guavas To Your Diet

On the mainland, the traditional adage says that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” while here in the Hawaiian Islands, locals advise “a few guavas in season keeps the doctor away for a whole year.”

Remember to always check with your healthcare provider before taking supplements or making radical changes in your daily diet.

An Avocado A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

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By: Marlene Affeld ~

Considered by nutritionists as a “superfood,” the avocado is one of nature’s perfect foods. As far as “keeping the doctor away” the avocado does a better job than the apple.

David Fairchild, one of America’s most distinguished and published plant experts, comments, “The avocado is without rival among the fruits, the veritable fruit of paradise.” Fairchild goes on to state that due to its Irresistibly flavor, nutritional content and smooth, creamy texture, avocados should be part of everyone’s daily diet.

Nutritional Value

A single avocado contains up to 10 grams of fiber and 20 essential nutrients required for optimal health. Copper and iron found in avocados, aid in the regeneration of red blood cells. Ounce for ounce, avocados provide 35 percent more potassium than bananas.

It’s unfortunate that many people think of the avocado as high in fat and don’t include it in their diets as often as they should for optimum health. It’s true; an average avocado does contain 731 calories and 30 grams of fat and while 90 percent of calories in an avocado come from fat, it’s a heart-healthy fat.

Nutrient-rich avocados are high in monounsaturated fats (3g per serving). Monounsaturated fats reduce blood cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease when used to replace saturated fats in the diet. Healthy, monounsaturated fats also help reduce the risk of diabetes.

With 20 to 30 times more heart-healthy fats than other fruits, avocados provide a tasty source of energy for growing children and athletics. Because avocados are low in trans fats, saturated fats, and cholesterol, avocados can be enjoyed as a delicious part of your daily diet.

A typical serving contains only 150 calories. Avocados are sodium-free. An average avocado provides 3 g of fruit protein, 1.5 mg potassium, 1.4 mg iron, 95 mg phosphorus, 23 mg calcium, 8.6 mg niacin, and 660 I.U. of vitamin A. The fruit protein found in avocados is a healthy addition to vegetarian diets. Avocados are an excellent source of protein in countries where protein consumption is inadequate.

A typical avocado contains two-thirds of the minimum daily requirement of folate. The wealth of folate acid in avocados helps promote prenatal health, protect the body against strokes, prevents a type of life-threatening anemia, supports metabolism, and helps lower cholesterol in the blood. Folate acid in avocados also helps prevent breast cancer.

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that supports the immune system and aids in the development of connective tissue formation; helping wounds heals and wrinkles diminish. One serving of a fourth of an avocado, provides 82 mg vitamin C. High in fiber (75 percent insoluble and 25 percent soluble), nutrient dense avocados are a good source of B vitamins as well as vitamins E, A, D, and K.

Avocados are an ideal source of glutathione, an essential antioxidant that scientists warn is crucial to preventing heart disease, cancer, and aging.

An average avocado contains 76 milligrams beta-sitosterol, a natural plant sterol that helps the human body maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The 1999 issue of the American Journal of Medicine reports beta-sitosterol reduced cholesterol in 16 human studies.

People tend to think of carotenoids as concentrated in yellow, orange and red vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, squash, and peppers. Although nutrient-dense vegetables are storehouses of carotenoids, the avocado, in spite of its lush green tinted skin and pulp, contains an impressive array of carotenoids.

Avocados work as a nutrient booster, encouraging the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients such as lutein and alpha and beta-carotene, from the foods we eat in combination with avocados.

Lutein is a carotenoid, a natural phytonutrient and antioxidant. Lutein protects against cataracts and macular degeneration and other age-related diseases of the eye. An ounce of avocado supplies 81 mg of lutein.

One cup of fresh avocado, added to a salad of greens and carrots, increases the absorption of carotenoids from the salad by up to 400 percent. Carotenoids are fat soluble in the oil from the avocado. Add fresh avocados or avocado oil to salads, sauces and salsa to increase the health benefits derived from other fruits and vegetables.

Avocados provide an unusually high amount of a fatty acid known as oleic acid. Over half of the total fat in avocado is in the form of oleic acid, similar to the fat composition of olives and olive oil. Oleic acid assists our digestive tract in forming transport molecules for fat that can increase absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like carotenoids.

Avocados also enable the body to absorb more fat-soluble vitamins, including A, D, K and E, from the foods we eat.

Health Benefits Of Avocados

cheeseburger-820193_640Avocados prevent constipation, relieve the symptoms of Chron’s disease and stave off malnutrition. Anti-oxidant rich avocados help protect the body from diseases associated with heart disease, elevated cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

A recent 1996 study by researchers at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social in Mexico (Archives of Medical Research, Winter 1996) showed that volunteers consuming an avocado a day lowered their cholesterol levels by 17 percent in just one week.

Avocados are used in the prevention and treatment of breast and prostate cancer. Ohio State University reports nutrients taken from avocados prevent the development of precancerous cells that lead to lip, mouth and throat cancers.

Babies First Food

baby-655365_640Avocados are one of the ideal first foods for babies; the most nutrient dense food of all fruits suitable for feeding infants and small children. Easily digested, with a palatable texture and mild flavor, ripe mashed avocados can be sweetened with a few drops of organic honey to daily supplement an infant or young child’s nutritional requirements. When little ones are ready for “finger foods,” slice avocados in small chunks. Children love the bright color and smooth, creamy texture of avocados.

Avocado’s Role In Weight Management

scale-403585_640In spite of being high in calories, avocados are a valuable tool in attaining and maintaining a healthy weight. Consuming avocados speeds up the metabolism and quickly provides a sense of fullness, reducing the temptation to indulge in snacks high in carbohydrates or sugar. Dieters and diabetics, watching their carbohydrate intake, can indulge in avocados often. A one-ounce serving contains only 3 grams of carbohydrate and less than one gram of sugar.

Medical research validates the age-old belief that diets that contain 20- to- 30 percent calories from “heart-healthy” monounsaturated fats such as found in avocados, aids weight loss and supports overall good health. Instead of slathering on mayonnaise, cream cheese or butter on your bagel, biscuit or bread, substituted a few slices of avocado to cut calories, reduce unhealthy fats and increase your intake of monounsaturated fat.

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research suggests changing unhealthy eating behavior to healthy eating habits as a method of reducing belly fat. To fight belly fat, replace unsaturated fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and reduce consumption of refined carbohydrates. When dieting, always remember, to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Skin and Hair Care

Avocado Flower

Avocado Flower

Applying oil of the avocado seed directly to the skin keeps the skin supple, smooth, moist, and helps raw, irritated, red skin, eczema and psoriasis patches to heal faster. Prized for its ease of absorption and superior healing nature, avocado oil is also a natural sunscreen and windburn protection. Avocado oil also quickly heals chapped lips.

Avocado oil, massaged into the scalp daily, 30 minutes prior to shampooing, increases hair growth. Throughout the Caribbean, a powder made by grinding the dried seed of the avocado is used to treat dandruff.

To create a natural, healing facial mask, mash the flesh of one ripe avocado and 2 tablespoons of honey with 2 teaspoons of oatmeal and apply to the face. Allow the mixture to remain for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water. The mashed flesh of the avocado is also used as a soothing shaving cream. Some cultures chew avocado seed to reduce toothache pain. Others chew the skin of the fruit to relieve dysentery and ward off internal parasites.

Soak the avocado seed for 15 minutes in a small pot of boiling water. Cool the liquid and use as a poultice for sprains, muscle aches, and bruises.

Eating Avocados

food-930776_640Avocados are packed with flavor and ready for eating when fully ripe. Avocados do not ripen on the tree; they only ripen after they are picked.

If you have an avocado tree, pick the fruit as needed and allow to ripen at room temperature on a sunny windowsill. To encourage the ripening process, place the avocados in a brown paper bag or place in proximity to ripening apples or bananas. The organic gases the fruit produces when ripening, quickly softens your avocados.

Peeling An Avocado

Peel an avocado carefully to preserve its nutrient rich properties. Research indicates that the highest concentration of carotenoids, vitamins and minerals lies just beneath the dark green or blackish skin.

You do not want to remove the dark green flesh next to the peel. The recommended method of peeling is similar to peeling a banana. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Twist the two halves in opposite directions until they separate. Remove the pit and cut each half lengthwise to produce quarter sections. Grip the point of the peel with you thumb and index finger and peel, just as you would a banana.

Allow remaining avocados to hang on the tree until you are ready to use them. Select fruits that are free of marks or dents that can indicate bruising. Avocados should be firm, yet yield to gentle pressure. Soft, yet firm, avocados are used for slicing and to add to salads and sandwiches. Soft, overly ripened avocados are selected for sauces, dips, desserts and drinks.

Lactose intolerant persons can use avocados to add a creamy texture and taste to soups, spreads, sauces, smoothies and salsas.

History of Avocados

Archeological research indicates that the avocado originated in what is now Mexico between 7,000 and 5,000 years B.C. Since before the days of the Spanish Conquistadores, avocados were a staple in the native diets of people living in Mexico, Central, and South America. Grown from northern Mexico to the Andes Mountains of Peru, calorie-dense avocados were incorporated into a diverse array of culinary dishes, deserts, and liquors.

The conquistadores discovered a unique use for the milky juice contained inside the pit of the avocado. The sap-like liquid turns a deep red or black when it is exposed to air. The conquistadores applied the liquid as an indelible ink used to scribe documents and maps, some of which are still in existence today.

Also known as avocado pear, alligator pear, butter pear or butter fruit, the avocado is in the flowering plant family Lauraceae. Avocados derive their name from the Aztec word “ahuacata” (testicle) that refers to the shape of the fruit. The Aztec culture honored the tree. Avocados were known by the Aztec people as “the fertility fruit.”

Ancient Mayan, Incans, and Aztec Indian cultures believed the avocado to be an aphrodisiac with inherent sexual powers and a physical resemblance to genitalia. Young maidens consumed avocados to enhance their beauty and promote fertility. The sensual nature of the avocado is embodied in its soft, tantalizing flesh and hard pit. The intriguing fruit represented the ultimate sexual coming together of man and woman.

In ancient times, procreation was a sacred duty. Aphrodisiacs, such as avocados, were employed to ensure potency in men and fertility in women. The amazing avocado has a colorful and controversial history as a nutritious, healing food and a sexual stimulant.

For 10,000 years, natural healers have suggested avocados for encouraging sexual prowess and enhancing fertility. For centuries, it was considered scandalous to be seen buying, picking or eating avocados. Prevailing morality dictated such decadent behavior remain in private.

Throughout most of South America, avocados are known as “palta” or “abacate.” On Tobago and Trinidad the fruit is called “zaboca.” In France, avocados are “avocatier”. The Dutch call the fruit “avocaat.” In Spain, it is called “abogado.” There are more than 500 different varieties of avocados grown worldwide. In the United States, the two most popular brands of avocados are the thin-skinned smooth, bright green Fuertes variety and the rough and leathery black-skinned Hass variety.

Cultivation

Native to Mexico and Central America, avocados are now cultivated in sub-tropical and tropical climates worldwide. Avocados exhibit a deep green-skinned, meaty body that ripens to a deep, purplish-green after harvesting. Cultivated from seed, avocados trees require a warm climate, plenty of sunshine and nutrient rich, well-drained soil.

When planting, space avocado trees 50 to 75 feet apart. Mature avocado trees have a wide, spreading canopy, typically as wide as the tree is tall. When planting avocado trees, giving them adequate room to grow. Avoid planting near buildings, embankments, utility lines, ponds, cesspools, septic tanks, underground utilities, fences, roads, and property easements.

Dependent on the variety, evergreen avocado trees can grow from 50 to 75 feet tall and produce an abundance of individual fruits, each weighing from 8 ounces to 4 pounds. The fruit of the tree is a large berry that contains a single seed. The fruit may be egg-shaped, pear-shaped or spherical with a rough, leathery skin.

Avocados are fun and easy to grow. To start an avocado tree, plant a seed 4 to 6 inches deep in the soil. Provide plenty of water, and you will soon have a tree that will feed generations in the future. Avocados trees will produce an abundance of fruit within five years.

Within 5 to 7 years your avocado tree will be producing 200 to 300 fruits a season. Avocado trees do best in alternate years. One year the harvest will be sparse and the following year abundant. Wild avocado trees in Mexico have lived for over 400 years and are still producing fruit.

Plant an avocado tree as a living celebration of life or to honor an ancestor or loved one. Your avocado tree will share your love for centuries. If you live in a northern climate, you can still grow an avocado pit indoors in a sunny window or greenhouse.

  • Poke 3 wooden toothpicks into the side of an avocado pit in a triangular pattern, half way between the top and bottom of the pit. Balance the toothpicks on a small water glass or teacup.
  • Fill the container with water until the bottom of the seed pit is submerged. Place in a sunny location. Maintain the water level until the seed has sprouted and exhibits a large quantity of fine, white roots.
  • Once roots are evident, plant in soil in a 5-gallon flowerpot with good drainage. Avocado trees grown indoors will not produce fruit. However, avocados trees make an attractive, conversation-provoking houseplant.

References

California Avocado Commission

Nutrition

Ohio State University: Avocados May Help Prevent Oral Cancer

University of California: Agricultural and Natural Resources

Yes! You Can Say Pizza and Healthy Food In The Same Sentence

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By: Marlene Affeld

Do you and your family love pizza but don’t think it can be a part of a healthy diet? Pizza, a takeout staple in many homes, is typically high in saturated fats, salt, and calories and just too expensive for what you get for your money; good reasons to think twice next time you pick up the phone to order.

Not to worry, its possible to have healthy homemade pizza that is low in saturated fat, high in protein and fiber, loaded with nutritious veggies and tastes delicious. Making pizza at home is fun, costs a whole lot less than delivery and doesn’t contain “mystery meat” or artificial preservatives that could have negative accumulative effects on optimum health.

Boost fiber by more than 50 percent by using whole-wheat pizza dough, available in local supermarkets and health food stores. Check the label to make the crust does not contain saturated fat. Select thin crusts rather than thick to reduce calories.

Substituting low-fat part-skim mozzarella, ricotta or feta cheese for fat-laden processed regular cheese lowers cholesterol and saturated fat. Next pile on your favorite fresh organic vegetables in season for extra fiber and a treasure trove of nutrients. In addition to the typical peppers, onions, mushrooms and garlic topping, consider adding chopped spinach or kale, sliced eggplant, and sliced summer squash, zucchini or your choice of the many varieties of sweet and spicy peppers.

Don’t forget to add fresh fruits. Pineapple, mango, pears, kiwi and apples make excellent flavor enhancing toppings.

Be creative with fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil, cilantro, parsley, sage and oregano. Add a sprinkle of extra-virgin heart-healthy olive oil and spices and seasonings for enhanced flavor without adding a bunch of extra calories or carbohydrates.

Try a homemade pizza tonight! You are only limited by your imagination. Here are some additional healthy topping suggestions to get you started on the path to pizza nirvana.

  • Reduced-sodium marinara sauce – purchase premade or make your own
  • Pine nuts
  • Slivered almonds
  • Cashew nuts
  • Mashed steamed acorn squash, seasoned with a dash of curry as a sauce
  • Truffles
  • Artichoke hearts packed in extra-virgin olive oil
  • Olives – explore the many different nutrient-packed varieties available rather than settle for the cheap sliced black olives from the delivery guy.
  • Consider replacing high fat meats with chicken, turkey bacon or turkey sausage for a low-sodium, low-fat solution to high-fat, high sodium delivery pepperoni or sausage combinations.

This season, entertain guests with a sampling of mini personal pizzas or creative a festive spread of fresh toppings and allow guests to create their own pizza. Enjoy!

Grow Organic Mushrooms At Home!