Being type 2 diabetic I have to watch what I eat. So I wanted to share my new found knowledge with you dear reader. I would also like to hear from anyone who has started a similar regime, particularly if you are type 2 diabetic, to understand your pro’s and con’s et al.
Of course it goes without saying that a healthy brain feeds off of its environment, but what about your ‘eats’ or your supply of fuel. Put the right ingredients into your body, and your brain will work in tip-top fashion. Here are some of the best brain foods out there, some of which may surprise you!
There now follows a comprehensive guide to some of the healthiest cancer fighting foods known;
The humble almond contains about 26% carbs (12% dietary fibre, 6.3% sugars, 0.7% starch and the rest misc. carbs). Almonds are also a rich source of vitamin E. Approx. 20% of raw almond is high quality protein, a third of which are essential amino acids. Only an ounce of almonds contains 12% of necessary daily protein. They are also rich in dietary fibre, B vitamins, essential minerals and monounsaturated fat one of the two fats which potentially may lower LDL cholesterol. Typical of all nuts and seeds, Almonds also contain phytosterols, associated with cholesterol-lowering properties. All of this then means our humble yet powerful Almond can increase blood flow to the brain.
The proverb “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.“, addressing the health effects of the fruit, dates from the 19th century, and it very true! Research suggests that apples may reduce the risk of colon cancer,prostate cancer and lung cancer. By comparison to other fruits, and vegetables, apples contain relatively low amounts of vitamin C, but are a rich source of other antioxidant compounds. The apple’s antioxidant property prevents the damage to cells and tissues. The fibre content, while less than in most other fruits, helps to regulate bowel movements and may thus reduce the risk of colon cancer. They may also help with heart disease, weight loss, and controlling your cholesterol. The fibre contained in apples reduces cholesterol by preventing re-absorption, and (like most fruits and vegetables) they are bulky for their caloric content.
But dear reader you should know that apple seeds are mildly poisonous, containing a small amount of amygdalin, a cyanogenic glycoside. It is usually not enough to be dangerous to humans, but better safe than sorry kids!
There is also evidence from laboratory experiments that apples possess phenolic compounds which may be cancer-protective and demonstrate antioxidant activity. The predominant phenolic phytochemicals in apples are quercetin, epicatechin, and procyanidin B2. Even a small apple weighing roughly 149 grams contains roughly 77 calories.]
But you don’t have to stick to munching on them, oh no, apple juice concentrate has been found to increase the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in mice, providing a potential mechanism for the “prevention of the decline in cognitive performance that accompanies dietary and genetic deficiencies and aging.” Other studies have shown an “alleviation of oxidative damage and cognitive decline” in mice after the administration of apple juice.
Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong discovered that fruit flies who were fed an apple extract lived 10% longer than other flies who were fed a normal diet.
So the apple then is power food for mind , body and your emotions.
The second century physician Galen described asparagus as “cleansing and healing”.
Yes it makes your pee smell. It’s something I personally am looking to eat more of in the very near future – why? Because research shows that almost half of people with depression have low folate levels and Asparagus is packed with the nutrient.
Asparagus is very popular in the Netherlands, Spain, France, Poland, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland, and almost exclusively white. Yes there are two types of Asparagus!
Nutrition studies have shown asparagus is a low-calorie source of folate andpotassium. Its stalks are high in antioxidants. “Asparagus provides essential nutrients: six spears contain some 135 micrograms (μg) of folate, almost half the adult RDI (recommended daily intake), 20 milligrams of potassium,” notes an article in Reader’s Digest.
Research suggests folate is key in taming homocysteine, a substance implicated in heart disease. Folate is also critical for pregnant women, since it protects against neural tube defects in babies. Studies have shown that people who have died from Alzheimer’s Disease have extremely low to no levels of folate. Several studies indicate getting plenty of potassium may reduce the loss of calcium from the body.
Particularly green asparagus is a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps the body produce and maintain collagen, the major structural protein component of the body’s connective tissues.
“Asparagus has long been recognized for its medicinal properties,” wrote D. Onstad, author of Whole Foods Companion: A Guide for Adventurous Cooks, Curious Shoppers and Lovers of Natural Foods. “Asparagus contains substances that act as a diuretic, neutralize ammonia that makes us tired, and protect small blood vessels from rupturing. Its fibre content makes it a laxative, too.”
Water from cooking asparagus may help clean blemishes on the face if used for washing the face morning and night. “Cooked asparagus and its watery juices are very good for helping dissolve uric acid (causes gout) deposits in the extremities, as well as inducing urination where such a function may be lacking or only done on an infrequent basis. Asparagus is especially useful in cases of hypertension where the amount of sodium in the blood far exceeds the potassium present. Cooked asparagus also increases bowel evacuations.” – John Heinerman’s “Heinerman’s new Encyclopedia of Fruits and Vegetables
In my younger days I used to like a good beer or two, and one lead to another, to another etc If only I had known this next gem, back then! South Korean scientists discovered asparagus can help with hangovers. Research published in the Journal of Food Science, shows that extracts taken from leaves and shoots were found to boost levels of key enzymes that help break down alcohol. Maybe I’ll roll that one out at Christmas instead!
Berry colours are due to natural plant pigments, many of which are polyphenols, such as the flavonoids, anthocyanins, and tannins, localised mainly in berry skins and seeds. Berry pigments are usually antioxidants in vitro and thus have oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) that is high among plant foods. Together with good nutrient content, ORAC derived in the laboratory distinguishes several berries within a new category of functional foods called “superfruits“. However, there is no physiological evidence established to date that berry polyphenols have actual antioxidant value within the human body, and it remains invalid to claim polyphenols have antioxidant health value on product labels in the United States and Europe. But don’t despair, because it is known that the Flavonoids in berries may cut your risk for Parkinson’s disease because of their anti-inflammatory powers, research suggests. Blueberries in particular improve learning and motor skills.
Brussels sprouts, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anticancer properties. Although boiling reduces the level of the anticancer compounds, steaming,microwaving, and stir frying do not result in significant loss. Brussels Sprouts also contain tryptophan which converts to seroten in brain health, they and other brassicas are also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.
Broccoli is high in vitamin C, as well as dietary fibre; it also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium. A single serving provides more than 30 mg of Vitamin C so the more the merrier! The 3,3′-Diindolylmethane found in broccoli is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity. Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into an anti-cancer compound sulforaphane, though the benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled. Boiling broccoli reduces the levels of suspected anti-carcinogenic compounds, such as sulforaphane, with losses of 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 77% after thirty minutes. However, other preparation methods such as steaming, microwaving, and stir frying had no significant effect on the compounds. Broccoli is also an excellent source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. It also assists in brain functioning.
Broccoli has the highest levels of carotenoids in the brassica family. It is particularly rich in lutein and also provides a modest amount of beta-carotene. And, get this gentlemen – a high intake of broccoli has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Broccoli consumption may also help prevent heart disease.
Broccoli sprouts are often suggested for their health benefits too. Broccoli – the SUPER VEG!
Cabbage is a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C and fibre. It is a cruciferous vegetable, and has been shown to reduce the risk of some cancers, especially those in the colorectal group. This is possibly due to the glucosinolates found in cole crops, which serve as metabolic detoxicants, or due to thesulphoraphane content, also responsible for metabolic anti-carcinogenic activities. Purple cabbage also contains anthocyanins, which in other vegetables have been proven to have anti-carcinogenic properties. Cabbage is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. Research suggests that boiling these vegetables reduces their anti-carcinogenic properties. So another SUPER VEG with the power to help in lower the risk of brain, lung and prostate cancer!
- Sulforaphane, a compound released when cauliflower is chopped or chewed, may protect against cancer
- Other glucosinolates
- Indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that enhances DNA repair, and acts as an estrogen antagonist, slowing the growth of cancer cells
Just like Broccoli boiling also reduces the levels of these compounds, with losses of 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 75% after thirty minutes. However, other preparation methods, such as steaming, microwaving, and stir frying, have no significant effect on the compounds. My preferred method is to steam.
Again one for the gentlemen to take a note of, a high intake of cauliflower has been associated with reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer. It also cleanses white matter in the brain apparently.
Yes, Coffee! A recent British study found that 20 to 30 milligrams of caffeine can boost brainpower—that’s less than a cup of coffee. It helps sufferers of type 2 diabetes too, read on…..
Scientific studies have examined the relationship between coffee consumption and an array of medical conditions. Findings have been contradictory as to whether coffee has any specific health benefits, and results are similarly conflicting regarding the potentially harmful effects of coffee consumption.Variations in findings can be at least partially resolved by considering the method of preparation.
Coffee prepared using paper filters removes oily components called diterpenes that are present in unfiltered coffee. Two types of diterpenes are present in coffee: kahweol and cafestol, both of which have been associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease via elevation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in blood. Metal filters, on the other hand, do not remove the oily components of coffee = no touchy touchy, they bad.
In addition to differences in methods of preparation, conflicting data regarding serving size could partially explain differences between beneficial/harmful effects of coffee consumption.
Other studies suggest coffee consumption reduces the risk of being affected by Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, cirrhosis of the liver, and gout. A longitudinal study in 2009 showed that those who consumed a moderate amount of coffee or tea (3–5 cups per day) at mid-life were less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in late-life compared with those who drank little coffee or avoided it altogether. It increases the risk of acid reflux and associated diseases.
Most of coffee’s beneficial effects against type 2 diabetes are not due to its caffeine content, as the positive effects of consumption are greater in those who drink decaffeinated coffee. A study from the Republic of China (Taiwan) offered an answer as to why coffee may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. The authors reported that two major components of coffee—caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid—significantly suppressed the formation of human islet amyloid polypeptide (hlAPP) in their laboratory.
The presence of antioxidants in coffee has been shown to prevent free radicals from causing cell damage. A recent study showed that roast coffee, high in lipophilic antioxidants and chlorogenic acid lactones, protected primary neuronal cell cultures against hydrogen peroxide-induced cell death.
In a healthy liver, caffeine is mostly broken down by the hepatic microsomal enzymatic system. The resulting metabolites are mostlyparaxanthines—theobromine and theophylline—and a small amount of unchanged caffeine is excreted by urine. Therefore, the metabolism of caffeine depends on the state of this enzymatic system of the liver.
No, its true and it’s more than wishful thinking — chocolate can be good for you!
Not a whole bar—just a few ounces of cocoa can help you concentrate improving blood flow to the brain. Just like the Coffee (best quality filtered the better), with dark chocolate you should stick with as pure as you can get.
Studies show that eating chocolate, primarily dark chocolate, may contribute to improved cardiovascular health. Packed with natural antioxidants, dark chocolate and cocoa sit in the same good-for-you category as green tea and blueberries. That’s because chocolate comes from cacao beans (or cocoa beans), which grow on the cacao tree and are full of natural plant nutrients. Most of the studies to date highlight dark chocolate’s health values because it has the highest percentage of cocoa solids, therefore more flavanol antioxidants.
Dark chocolate and cocoa are rich in cell-protecting antioxidants, natural compounds found in fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. Recent studies have shown dark chocolate and cocoa may be good for your heart. In short-term clinical trials, dark chocolate has reduced blood pressure, improved blood flow, showed mild anti-clotting effects and may help prevent plaque formation in arteries. Read about the research on chocolate and your heart.
Despite its “sweet” reputation, chocolate has a low glycemic index — the measure of a food’s impact on blood sugar levels.
This means that eating chocolate, unlike other candies or sweet foods, will not cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash. This up-down, yo-yo effect can wreak havoc on your mood and energy level, and even throw off your natural hunger cues, making you feel hungry when you really aren’t.
Chocolate’s low glycemic index is not the only good news for people who must vigilantly watch their blood sugar. The antioxidants in dark chocolate and cocoa may aid the impaired circulation and unhealthy blood vessels that often precede the development of diabetes while also possibly improving cells’ sensitivity to insulin and glucose.
Dark chocolate and cocoa are rich in flavanols, plant-based antioxidants that studies show may improve blood flow and keep vessels healthy. Other antioxidants you may have heard of include Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
For people at risk for diabetes, these same flavanols may also help restore more normal function in cells to better control blood sugar. Insulin is the key that unlocks the door of a cell to allow sugar to enter and provide energy. When a condition called insulin resistance develops, the normal amount of insulin your body produces no longer works well. The cells can’t open up to pull sugar out of the bloodstream — resulting in higher levels of sugar in the blood. Scientists believe flavanols trigger the production of nitric oxide inside the cells, which stimulates the cell to accept sugar again.
When flavanol-rich chocolate was given to participants for 15 days, researchers saw lower blood sugar levels than before the treatment period. Of course the rules of moderation apply—diet and weight control for people at risk for diabetes is especially important. People with diabetes should consult their physician to determine an appropriate place for dark chocolate and cocoa in their diet.
Chocolate is one of nature’s most concentrated sources of theobromine, a mild, natural stimulant and molecular “cousin” of caffeine. However, unlike its cousin, theobromine does not strongly stimulate the central nervous system, nor does it have the same “eye-opening” power.
Theobromine has also been shown to reduce coughing and has been used in “natural” cough medicine preparations as a cough suppressant. The level of theobromine found to be effective in clinical trials is roughly 5 times higher than what is found in a typical bar of dark chocolate. While safe for humans, other species, such as dogs, lack the specific enzyme that metabolizes theobromine so eating chocolate can cause them to become overstimulated. It is strongly recommended that pet owners prevent dogs from eating chocolate.
Chocolate contains relatively small amounts of caffeine, about as much as a cup of decaffeinated coffee. A 1.5 ounce milk chocolate bar has 11 mg of caffeine, while a similar-sized dark chocolate bar has 27 mg of caffeine. In contrast, a 12-ounce mug of coffee has 200 mg.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) this compound may be responsible for some of the pleasurable feelings you get after eating chocolate because it releases natural feel-good chemicals called endorphins in your brain. PEA is released by the brain when people are falling in love. Perhaps this explains why chocolate and Valentines Day are so closely linked.
On average dark chocolate bar has 14 percent of the daily requirement for copper, a critical mineral that aids in the absorption of iron and is a key component of enzymes that form skin-strengthening collagen. An unsweetened baking chocolate bar delivers a whopping 22.5 percent of the daily requirement. Copper also is critical to heart health. During the early stages of development a diet low in copper can result in cardiovascular abnormalities and later on in life can contribute to the development of vascular disease.
Also on average a dark chocolate bar can deliver nearly 12 percent of your daily magnesium requirement. Studies show magnesium may help reduce the risk of several chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Up to 90 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended daily allowance of magnesium from their diet alone.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include leg cramps, migraines, fatigue, loss of appetite, depression, nausea and vomiting.
Cocoa and chocolate naturally contain iron, a key component of overall good health and the most common nutritional deficiency in the U.S. On average, a dark chocolate bar has nearly 7 percent of the required daily allowance. An average unsweetened baking chocolate bar packs in 13.3 percent of the daily requirement. Some specific brands of chocolate even have higher iron contents. The main function of iron is to help carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and other organs. If your body is low in iron, fatigue, irritability and headaches may occur. If the iron deficiency becomes significant, you can become anemic.
They’re packed with omega-3s—and people with the lowest levels of omega-3 fatty acid in their blood cells had smaller brains compared to those with high levels, according to a recent study in Neurology.
Fish provides us with a good source of high quality protein and contains many vitamins and minerals. It may be classed as either whitefish, oily or shellfish. Whitefish, such as haddock and seer, contain very little fat (usually less than 1%) whereas oily fish, such as sardines, contain between 10-25%. The latter, as a result of its high fat content, contain a range of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and essential fatty acids, all of which are vital for the healthy functioning of the body.
Fish can be prepared in a variety of ways. It can be uncooked (raw) (cf. sashimi). It can be cured by marinating (cf. escabeche), pickling (cf. pickled herring), or smoking (cf. smoked salmon). Or it can be cooked by baking, frying (cf. fish and chips), grilling, poaching (cf. court-bouillon), or steaming.
Many of the preservation techniques used in different cultures have since become unnecessary but are still performed for their resulting taste and texture when consumed.
A word of caution – Fish is the most common food to obstruct the airway and cause choking. Choking on fish was responsible for about reported 4,500 accidents in the UK in 1998! Chew, chew, chew then swallow, OK!?
It may be tiny, but it’s mighty: The flax seed carries one of the biggest nutrient payloads on the planet. And while it’s not technically a grain, it has a similar vitamin and mineral profile to grains, while the amount of fibre, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids in flax leaves grains in the dust.
Additionally, flax seed is very low in carbohydrates, making it ideal for people who limit their intake of starches and sugars. And its combination of healthy fat and high fibre content make it a great food for weight loss and maintenance — many dieters have found that flax seed has been a key to keeping them feeling satisfied.
Flax seed is high in most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese, but this little seed is just getting started. There are three additional nutrient groups which flax seed has in abundance, and each has many benefits. Add them to yoghurt or cereal to give your brain a boost.
The traditional medical form of ginger historically was called Jamaica ginger; it was classified as a stimulant and carminative and used frequently for dyspepsia, gastroparesis, slow motility symptoms, constipation, and colic. It was also frequently employed to disguise the taste of medicines! Some studies indicate ginger may provide short-term relief of pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting – possibly as it works as an anti-inflammatory.
- In Burma, ginger and a local sweetener made from palm tree juice (htan nyat) are boiled together and taken to prevent the flu.
- In China, ginger is included in several traditional preparations. A drink made with sliced ginger cooked in water with brown sugar or a cola is used as a folk medicine for the common cold. “Ginger eggs” (scrambled eggs with finely diced ginger root) is a common home remedy for coughing. The Chinese also make a kind of dried ginger candy that is fermented in plum juice and sugared, which is also commonly consumed to suppress coughing. Ginger has also been historically used to treat inflammation, which several scientific studies support, though one arthritis trial showed ginger to be no better than a placebo or ibuprofen for treatment of osteoarthritis.
- In Congo, ginger is crushed and mixed with mango tree sap to make tangawisi juice, which is considered a panacea.
- In India, ginger is applied as a paste to the temples to relieve headache, and consumed when suffering from the common cold. Ginger with lemon and black salt is also used for nausea.
- In Indonesia, ginger (jahe in Indonesian) is used as a herbal preparation to reduce fatigue, reducing “winds” in the blood, prevent and cure rheumatism and control poor dietary habits.
- In Nepal, ginger is called aduwa, अदुवा and is widely grown and used throughout the country as a spice for vegetables, used medically to treat cold and also sometimes used to flavor tea.
- In the Philippines, ginger is known as luya and is used as a throat lozenge in traditional medicine to relieve sore throat. It is also brewed into a tea known as salabat.
- In the United States, ginger is used to prevent motion and morning sickness. It is recognized as safe by the FDA and is sold as an unregulated dietary supplement. Ginger water was also used to avoid heat cramps in the US.
- In Peru, ginger is sliced in hot water as an infusion for stomach aches as infusión de Kión.
- In Japan it is purported to aid blood circulation – but scientific studies investigating these effects have been inconclusive.
It’s loaded with calcium which when in low supply can lead to anxiety, irritability, and slow thinking—all brain functions, and it’s tasty!
Depending on the variety, lettuce is a good source of vitamin A and potassium, with higher concentrations of vitamin A found in darker green lettuces, helping to increase blood flow to the brain. It also provides some dietary fibre (concentrated in the spine and ribs), carbohydrates, protein and a small amount of fat. With the exception of the iceberg type, lettuce also provides some vitamin C, calcium, iron and copper, with vitamins and minerals largely found in the leaf. Lettuce naturally absorbs and concentrates lithium. Makes a foundation for a great salad!
Click here to see the Huffington Post’s guide to Lettuce. No really!
These bad boys have some of the highest levels of the vitamin B12 which helps insulate your brain cells—important as you age.
|Serving size||3 ounces (85 g)|
|Total fat||1.9 g|
|Saturated fat||0.4 g|
Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the recommended daily value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the recommended daily value.
As they are the least processed forms of olive oil, extra virgin or virgin olive oil have more monounsaturated fatty acids than other olive oil. These types also contain more polyphenols, which may have benefits for the heart, but also help to reduce inflammation in your joints and cells.
- Calories : 119
- Fat: 13.50
- Carbohydrates: 0
- Fibres: 0
- Protein: 0
Evidence from epidemiological studies also suggests that a higher proportion of monounsaturated fats in the diet is linked with a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. This is significant because olive oil is considerably rich in monounsaturated fats, most notably oleic acid.
There is a large body of clinical data to show that consumption of olive oil can provide heart health benefits such as favourable effects on cholesterol regulation and LDL cholesterol oxidation, and that it exerts anti-inflamatory, anti-thrombotic, anti-hypertensive as well as vasodilatory effects. Additionally, olive oil protects against heart disease as it controls the “bad” levels of LDL cholesterol and raises levels of the “good” cholesterol, HDL.
Another health benefit of olive oil seems to be its property to displace omega-6 fatty acids, while not having any impact on omega-3 fatty acids. This way, olive oil helps to build a more healthy balance between omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats. Unlike saturated fats, olive oil lowers total cholesterol and LDL levels in the blood. It is also known to lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Olive oil contains the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid, antioxidants such as vitamin E and carotenoids, and oleuropein, a chemical that may help prevent the oxidation of LDL particles.
Your body simply cannot make vitamin C, and yet it needs it. A team of Oregon-based researchers recently found that the retina cells, any of which are the same type your brain is filled with, could burn out when denied C.
OK bear with, because there’s a lot of information and research completed on the benefits of Oranges that is relevant to this article. Get a coffee maybe?
In recent research studies, the healing properties of oranges have been associated with a wide variety of phytonutrient compounds. These phytonutrients include citrus flavanones(types of flavonoids that include the molecules hesperetin andnaringenin), anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acids, and a variety of polyphenols. When these phytonutrients are studied in combination with oranges—vitamin C, the significant antioxidant properties of this fruit are understandable.
But it is yet another flavanone in oranges, the hesperidin molecule, which has been singled out in phytonutrient research on oranges. Arguably, the most important flavanone in oranges,herperidin has been shown to lower high blood pressure as well as cholesterol in animal studies, and to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Importantly, most of this phytonutrient is found in the peel and inner white pulp of the orange, rather than in its liquid orange center, so this beneficial compound is too often removed by the processing of oranges into juice.
You probably already know that oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C— just one orange supplies 116.2% of the daily value for vitamin C — but do you know just how important vitamin C and oranges are for good health? Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body, disarming free radicals and preventing damage in the aqueous environment both inside and outside cells. Inside cells, a potential result of free radical damage to DNA is cancer. Especially in areas of the body where cellular turnover is especially rapid, such as the digestive system, preventing DNA mutations translates into preventing cancer. This is why a good intake of vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.
Free radical damage to other cellular structures and other molecules can result in painful inflammation, as the body tries to clear out the damaged parts. Vitamin C, which prevents the free radical damage that triggers the inflammatory cascade, is thus also associated with reduced severity of inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Free radicals also oxidize cholesterol. Only after being oxidized does cholesterol stick to the artery walls, building up in plaques that may eventually grow large enough to impede or fully block blood flow, or rupture to cause a heart attack or stroke. Since vitamin C can neutralize free radicals, it can help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol.
Vitamin C, which is also vital for the proper function of a healthy immune system, is good for preventing colds and may be helpful in preventing recurrent ear infections.
A Glass of Orange Juice is more protective than Vitamin C Alone – Consuming vitamin C supplements does not provide the same protective benefits as drinking a glass of orange juice, shows research by Italian researchers in the Division of Human Nutrition at the University of Milan, Italy (Guarnieri S, Riso P, et al., British Journal of Nutrition).
Seven healthy test subjects were given each of three drinks, two weeks apart: blood-orange juice containing 150 milligrams of vitamin C, fortified water containing 150 milligrams of vitamin C, and a sugar and water solution containing no vitamin C. Blood samples were collected immediately before the drink was consumed, then every hour for 8 hours, and finally 24 hours after consumption of each drink.
Blood samples were exposed to hydrogen peroxide, and free radical damage to DNA was evaluated at 3 and 24 hours. Only when orange juice was consumed was any protective effect seen. After drinking orange juice, DNA damage was 18% less after 3 hours, and 16% less after 24 hours. No protection against DNA damage was seen after consumption of the vitamin C fortified drink or the sugar drink.
While another study, which looked at much larger quantities of vitamin C, did show a protective effect from the vitamin alone, this research indicates that not only is the protection afforded by fruit more complex, but smaller amounts of nutrients like vitamin C are all that are needed for benefit.
Said lead researcher, Serena Guarnieri, “It appears that vitamin C is not the only chemical responsible for antioxidant protection.” In oranges, vitamin C is part of a matrix involving many beneficial phytochemicals (for example, cyanidin-3-glucoside, flavanones and carotenoids).”But how they are interacting is still anyone’s guess,” she added. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait until scientists figure this out to receive oranges’ DNA-protective benefits. Practical Tip: For the best DNA protection, skip the vitamin C—fortified bottled drinks and enjoy a glass of real (preferably organic as organic foods have been shown to contain higher amounts of phytonutrients), freshly squeezed orange juice—or simply eat an orange!
Owing to the multitude of vitamin C’s health benefits, it is not surprising that research has shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits high in this nutrient is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer. Yes, the humble orange can also provide protection against Cardiovascular Disease. A 248-page report, “The Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits,” released December 2003 by Australian research group, CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research), reviews 48 studies that show a diet high in citrus fruit provides a statistically significant protective effect against some types of cancer, plus another 21 studies showing a non-significant trend towards protection.
Citrus appears to offer the most significant protection against esophageal, oro-phayngeal/laryngeal (mouth, larynx and pharynx), and stomach cancers. For these cancers, studies showed risk reductions of 40-50%.
The World Health Organization’s recent draft report, “Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Disease,” concludes that a diet that features citrus fruits also offers protection against cardiovascular disease due to citrus fruits—folate, which is necessary for lowering levels of the cardiovascular risk factor, homocysteine; their, potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, protecting against stroke and cardiac arrhythmias; and the vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids found in citrus fruits, all of which have been identified as having protective cardiovascular effects.
One large US study reviewed in the CSIRO report showed that one extra serving of fruit and vegetables a day reduced the risk of stroke by 4%, and this increased by 5-6 times for citrus fruits, reaching a 19% reduction of risk for stroke from consuming one extra serving of citrus fruit a day.
The CSIRO Report also includes evidence of positive effects associated with citrus consumption in studies for arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment, Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, gallstones, multiple sclerosis, cholera, gingivitis, optimal lung function, cataracts, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Finally, the CSIRO Report notes that as low fat, nutrient-rich foods with a low glycemic index, citrus fruits are protective against overweight and obesity, conditions which increase the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke, and add to symptoms of other conditions like arthritis.
An orange has over 170 different phytonutrients and more than 60 flavonoids, many of which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and blood clot inhibiting properties, as well as strong antioxidant effects.
Phytonutrients, specifically, the class of polyphenols, are high in citrus with oranges containing 84mg Gallic Acid equivalents/100mg. The polyphenols so abundant in oranges have been shown to have a wide range of antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative and anti-carcinogenic effects. Although most of the research has centered on citrus polyphenols—possible role in cancer and heart disease, more recently, scientists have begun to look at their role in brain functions such as learning and memory.
An increasing number of studies have also shown a greater absorption of the nutrients in citrus when taken not as singly as supplements, but when consumed within the fruit in which they naturally appear along with all the other biologically active phytonutrients that citrus fruits contain. The Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits,” released December 2003 by Australian research group, CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
In animal studies and laboratory tests with human cells, compounds in citrus fruits, including oranges, called limonoids have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon. Now, scientists from the US Agricultural Research Service have shown that our bodies can readily absorb and utilize a very long-acting limonoid called limonin that is present is citrus fruits in about the same amount as vitamin C.
In citrus fruits, limonin is present in the form of limonin glucoside, in which limonin is attached to a sugar (glucose) molecule. Our bodies easily digest this compound, cleaving off the sugar and releasing limonin.
In the ARS study, 16 volunteers were given a dose of limonin glucoside in amounts ranging from those that would be found in from 1 to 7 glasses of orange juice. Blood tests showed that limonin was present in the plasma of all except one of the subjects, with concentrations highest within 6 hours after consumption. Traces of limonin were still present in 5 of the volunteers 24 hours after consumption!
Limonin’s bioavailability and persistence may help explain why citrus limonoids are potent anti-carcinogens that may continuously prevent cancerous cells from proliferating. Other natural anti-carcinogens are available for much less time; for example, the phenols in green tea and chocolate remain active in the body for just 4 to 6 hours.
The ARS team is now investigating the potential cholesterol-lowering effects of limonin. Lab tests indicate that human liver cells produce less apo B when exposed to limonin. Apo B is a structural protein that is part of the LDL cholesterol molecule and is needed for LDL production, transport and binding, so higher levels of apo B translate to higher levels of LDL cholesterol.
Compounds in Orange Peel May Lower Cholesterol as Effectively as Statin Drugs – there’s been statins mentioned recently in the news (I personally take them) but did you know that a class of compounds found in citrus fruit peels called polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs) have the potential to lower cholesterol more effectively than some prescription drugs, and without side effects, according to a study by U.S. and Canadian researchers that was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
In this study, when laboratory animals with diet-induced high cholesterol were given the same diet containing 1% PMFs (mainly tangeretin), their blood levels of total cholesterol, VLDL and LDL (bad cholesterol) were reduced by 19-27 and 32-40% respectively. Comparable reductions were also seen when the animals were given diets containing a 3% mixture of two other citrus flavonones, hesperidin and naringin.
Treatment with PMFs did not appear to have any effect on levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol, and no negative side effects were seen in the animals fed the PMF-containing diets.
Although a variety of citrus fruits contain PMFs, the most common PMFs, tangeretin and nobiletin, are found in the peels of tangerines and oranges. Juices of these fruits also contain PMFs, but in much smaller amounts. In fact, you’d have to drink about 20 glasses of juice each day to receive an amount of PMFs comparable in humans to that given to the animals. However, grating a tablespoon or so of the peel from a well-scrubbed organic tangerine or orange each day and using it to flavor tea, salads, salad dressings, yogurt, soups, or hot oatmeal, buckwheat or rice may be a practical way of achieving some cholesterol-lowering benefits. The researchers are currently exploring the mechanism of action by which PMFs lower cholesterol. Based on early results in cell and animal studies, they suspect that PMFs work like statin drugs, by inhibiting the synthesis of cholesterol and triglycerides inside the liver.
An Oranges’ health benefits continue with their fibre; A single orange provides 12.5% of the daily value for fibre, which has been shown to reduce high cholesterol levels thus helping to prevent atherosclerosis. Fibre can also help out by keeping blood sugar levels under control, which may help explain why oranges can be a very healthy snack for people with diabetes. In addition, the natural fruit sugar in oranges, fructose, can help to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high after eating. The fibre in oranges can grab cancer-causing chemicals and keep them away from cells of the colon, providing yet another line of protection from colon cancer. And oranges may be helpful for reducing the uncomfortable constipation or the opposite in those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.
Want to reduce your risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones? Drink orange juice! A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that when women drank 1/2 to 1 litre of orange, grapefruit or apple juice daily, their urinary pH value and citric acid excretion increased, significantly dropping their risk of forming calcium oxalate stones.
An orange a day may help keep ulcers away, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. In this study, researchers evaluated data from over 6,000 adults enrolled in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Study participants with the highest blood levels of vitamin C had a 25% lower incidence of infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), the bacterium responsible for causing peptic ulcers and in turn, an increased risk for stomach cancer. Researchers are uncertain whether H. pylori lowers blood levels of vitamin C or if high blood levels of vitamin C help protect against infection—either way, eating an orange or drinking a glass of orange juice each day may help prevent gastric ulcers. Lead researcher in this study, Dr. Joel A. Simon at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, urges people who have tested positive for H. pylori to increase their consumption of vitamin C-rich foods since this may help them combat H. pylori infection.
Consuming foods rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, an orange-red carotenoid found in highest amounts in oranges, corn, pumpkin, papaya, red bell peppers, tangerines, and peaches, may significantly lower one’s risk of developing lung cancer. A study published in the September 2003 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention reviewed dietary and lifestyle data collected from over 60,000 adults in Shanghai, China. Those eating the most crytpoxanthin-rich foods showed a 27% reduction in lung cancer risk. When current smokers were evaluated, those who were also in the group consuming the most cryptoxanthin-rich foods were found to have a 37% lower risk of lung cancer compared to smokers who ate the least of these health-protective foods.
New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition adds to the evidence that enjoying a daily glass of freshly squeezed orange juice can significantly lower your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Data collected by the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer Incidence (EPIC) – Norfolk study, a population-based, prospective study of over 25,000 subjects, showed that study participants with the highest daily intake of the carotenoids, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin, had a much lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis compared to individuals consuming the least of these beneficial phytonutrients. Those whose intake of zeaxanthin was highest were 52% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while those with the highest intake of cryptoxanthin had a 49% reduction in risk.
OK, I admit there was a hell of a lot of information there, but pretty dramatic benefits for doing something as simple as enjoying a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice each day!
Peppermint has a long tradition of medicinal use, with archaeological evidence placing its use at least as far back as ten thousand years ago. Whether it’s gum or teas, the smell has been associated with an increase in alertness and memory functioning by acting as a stimulant. The aroma of peppermint has been found to enhance memory. Peppermint flowers are large nectar producers and honey bees as well as other nectar harvesting organisms forage them heavily. A mild, pleasant varietal honey can be produced if there is a sufficient area of plants.
Peppermint has a high menthol content, and is often used in tea and for flavouring ice cream, confectionery, chewing gum, and toothpaste. The oil also contains menthone and menthyl esters, particularly menthyl acetate. Dried peppermint typically has 0.3-0.4% of volatile oil containing menthol (7-48%), menthone (20-46%), menthyl acetate (3-10%), menthofuran (1-17%) and 1,8-cineol (3-6%). Peppermint oil also contains small amounts of many additional compounds including limonene, pulegone, eucalyptol, caryophyllene and pinene. It is the oldest and most popular flavour of mint-flavoured confectionery. Peppermint can also be found in some shampoos, soaps and skin care products. Menthol activates cold-sensitive TRPM8 receptors in the skin and mucosal tissues, and is the primary source of the cooling sensation that follows the topical application of peppermint oil.
Peppermint oil has a high concentration of natural pesticides, mainly pulegone and menthone. In 2007, Italian investigators reported that 75% of the patients in their study who took peppermint oil capsules for four weeks had a major reduction in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms, compared with just 38% of those who took a placebo.
A second study in 2010, conducted in Iran, found similar results.
2011 research showed that peppermint acts through a specific anti-pain channel called TRPM8 to reduce pain sensing fibres. The authors feel that this study provides information that is potentially the first step in determining a new type of mainstream clinical treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Similarly, some poorly designed earlier trials found that peppermint oil has the ability to reduce colicky abdominal pain due to IBS with an NNT (number needed to treat) around 3.1, but the oil is an irritant to the stomach in the quantity required and therefore needs wrapping for delayed release in the intestine. This could also be achieved by using the whole herb or leaves rather than the volatile components alone.
I drink peppermint, and green teas for the same reason, I feel better after!
Pine nuts have a multitude of uses. They can be eaten raw as a snack, or can also be toasted. They can also be used as an accompaniment to meals and desserts. Probably best known for their use in pesto sauce, pine nuts have a very delicate taste and texture and are high in protein which makes them especially useful in a vegetarian diet. They can be eaten raw, when they have a soft texture and a sweet buttery flavour and are especially good in salads. They are delicious toasted as this brings out their flavour and adds a little extra crunch.
Like most nuts, pine nuts are high in protein (typically 14%). They typically contain 69% fat (largely healthy omega-oils: around 34% monounsaturated, 19% polyunsaturated and only 5% saturated). Pine nuts are around 1.9% fibre, and a typical 25g serving will contain around 173 calories.
Because pine nuts are oily and rich in protein, so they tend to go rancid quite quickly; store them in the fridge and they will keep longer.
The longer, thinner Asian varieties are higher in oil than American or Mediterranean types. Pine nuts have a rich buttery, resinous flavour and are used in many savoury dishes, especially vegetarian ones, but are particularly associated with Italian, Mediterranean and Asian cooking.
Rockmelon or Cantaloupe
Because the surface of a cantaloupe can contain harmful bacteria—in particular,Salmonella, it is always a good idea to wash and scrub a melon thoroughly before cutting and consumption. The fruit should be refrigerated for less than three days after cutting to prevent risk of Salmonella or other bacterial pathogens.
Random fact; a moldy cantaloupe in a Peoria, Illinois market in 1941 was found to contain the best and highest quality penicillin, after a worldwide search!
Intake of cantaloupe has recently been found to lower risk of metabolic syndrome. In a study involving hundreds of women living and teaching in Tehran, Iran, the lowest risk of metabolic syndrome was found to occur in women who ate the greatest amount of fruit. (In this study, the “greatest amount” meant a minimum of 12 ounces per day.) Five fruits contributed most to total fruit intake: apples, grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, and bananas. Women who consumed the largest amounts of these fruits were also determined to have the healthiest levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in their bloodstream. CRP is an indicator very commonly used to assess levels of inflammation, and it’s very likely that the anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in cantaloupe and other fruits contributed not only to these participants’ healthy levels of CRP but also to their decreased risk of metabolic syndrome.
Because the flesh of the cantaloupe is often pastel-like in colour (compared to the more vibrant colour of fruits like oranges), we sometimes forget how important cantaloupe can be as a fruit source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids). Researchers have recently measured the carotenoid contents of six different California-grown cantaloupe hybrids and discovered that their beta-carotene content can reach levels as high as 3,138 micrograms (per 100 grams of fresh weight). That’s about 30 times higher than the beta-carotene content of fresh oranges. Although this nutrient richness of cantaloupe still does not place it in the beta-carotene range for fresh carrots here (about 8,300 micrograms), it’s still an aspect of this delicious fruit that is all-too-frequently overlooked.
Aside from my Mrs, myself, and Popeye, I don’t know many folks that actually enjoy spinach in its many forms. Hopefully reading this you’ll change your minds. Filled with magnesium, these greens can help dilate blood vessels, boosting blood flow throughout the body and brain, according to Japanese researchers.
Spinach is at its best from May to October, but it’s available year-round. Look for vibrant green leaves without yellowing or signs of bruising. Smaller leaves are best for salads, whereas larger ones stand up better to heat. Bear in mind that spinach leaves shrink dramatically, so what looks like an enormous amount won’t be when it’s cooked.
Store dry spinach, loosely packed in a bag in the salad crisper of your fridge for up to one week. To freeze, blanch the spinach, squeeze the water out, then divide into serving portions in freezer bags.
People who ate a small handful every day improved their working memory by 19 percent, according to a recent study. Polyphenols in walnuts are thought to reduce improve communication between neurons. The nut that looks like a brain is also high in omega 3.
Researchers are convinced – more than ever before – about the nutritional benefits of walnuts when consumed in whole form, including the skin. We now know that approximately 90% of the phenols in walnuts are found in the skin, including key phenolic acids, tannins, and flavonoids. Some websites will encourage you to remove the walnut skin – that whitish, sometimes waxy, sometimes flaky, outermost part of shelled walnuts. There can be slight bitterness to this skin, and that’s often the reason that websites give for removing it. However, we encourage you not to remove this phenol-rich portion.
The form of vitamin E found in walnuts is somewhat unusual, and particularly beneficial. Instead of having most of its vitamin E present in the alpha-tocopherol form, walnuts provide an unusually high level of vitamin E in the form of gamma-tocopherol. Particularly in studies on the cardiovascular health of men, this gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E has been found to provide significant protection from heart problems.
Alongside trusty tomatoes, watermelon has moved up to the front of the line in recent research studies on high-lycopene foods. Lycopene is a carotenoid phytonutrient that’s especially important for our cardiovascular health, and an increasing number of scientists now believe that lycopene is important for bone health as well. Among whole, fresh fruits that are commonly eaten, watermelon now accounts for more intake of lycopene (by weight of fruit eaten) than any other fruit in the U.S.
Pink grapefruit and guava are two other important fruit sources of lycopene!
Health scientists are becoming more and more interested in the citrulline content of watermelon. Citrulline is an amino acid that is commonly converted by our kidneys and other organ systems into arginine (another amino acid). The flesh of a watermelon contains about 250 millligrams of citrulline per cup. When our body absorbs this citrulline, one of the steps it can take is conversion of citrulline into arginine. Particularly if a person’s body is not making enough arginine, higher levels of arginine can help improve blood flow and other aspects of our cardiovascular health. There’s also some preliminary evidence from animal studies that greater conversion of citrulline into arginine may help prevent excess accumulation of fat in fat cells due to blocked activity of an enzyme called tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase.
The bottom line: eating a fully ripe watermelon can really pay off in terms of nutrient benefits!
- Readers Digest
- Men’s Health Magazine
- Nigella Lawson
- Huffington Post
- Heinerman’s new Encyclopedia of Fruits and Vegetables
- Journal of Food Science
- The World Health Organization
- Harvard School of Public Health
- Chinese University of Hong Kong
- Agricultural Research Service
- The George Mateljan Foundation
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
- European Prospective Investigation of Cancer Incidence (EPIC)
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition
- “The Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits,” December 2003 (CSIRO)
- University of Milan (Guarnieri S, Riso P, et al., British Journal of Nutrition )
- Whole Foods Companion: A Guide for Adventurous Cooks, Curious Shoppers and Lovers of Natural Foods