November 29, 2011

Chokeberry

Chokeberry, botanically, the fruit belongs to the rosaceae family of the genus aronia. Scientific name: Aronia melanocarpa.

At least two species of choke berries are cultivated widely, black and red. The plant bears numerous small, about 1 cm size fruits with relatively thick, pigmented skin. Red berries are sweeter in taste than black berries; the latter are slightly bitter in taste; however, black and blue berries are rather rich in anthocyanin anti-oxidants.

Health benefits of chokeberries:
  • Chokeberries are low in calories and fats but are rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber.
  • Black chokeberries compose significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins. Total anthocyanin content in the choke berries is 1480 mg per 100 g of fresh berries, and proanthocyanidin concentration is 664 mg per 100 g (Wu et al. 2004, 2006). Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries on regular basis offers potential health benefits against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections. (- By Dr. Paul Gross, 2007-07-09).
  • Laboratory analyses of anthocyanins in chokeberries have identified the following individual chemicals: cyanidin-3-galactoside, quercetin, peonidin, delphinidin, petunidin, epicatechin, caffeic acid, pelargonidin and malvidin. These flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants have proven health benefits through scavenging dangerous oxygen free radicals from the body.
  • Cancer research on anthocyanins, where black choke berry preparations were first used to inhibit chemically induced cancer in the rat esophagus by 30-60% and of the colon by up to 80%. Effective at both the initiation and promotion/progression stages of tumor development, choke-berries are a practical research tool and hold a promising therapeutic source, since they contain highest amount of anthocyanins among native North American berries [J. Agric. Food Chem. 50 (12): 3495–500].
  • They also rich in flavonoid anti-oxidants such as carotenes, luteins and zeaxanthins. Zeaxanthin has photo-filtering effects on UV rays and thus protects eyes from age related macular disease in the elderly (ARMD).
  • Chokeberries are also good source of many antioxidant vitamins like vitamin-C, vitamin A, vitamin E, beta carotene and folate and minerals like potassium, iron and manganese. 100 g of fresh berries provide about 35% of daily recommended levels of vitamin C.
  • The oxygen radical absorbency capacity or ORAC (measurement of antioxidant strength of food items) demonstrates choke berry with one of the highest values yet recorded -16,062 micro moles of Trolox Equivalents (TE) per 100 g.

Safety profile

  • Choke berry contains oxalic acid, a naturally occurring substance found in some fruits and vegetables, which may crystallize as oxalate stones in the urinary tract in some people. It is therefore, in individuals with known history of oxalate urinary tract stones may not have to eat too much of these fruits and, vegetables especially belonging to the brassica family. Adequate water intake is advised in these individuals to maintain normal urine output. Oxalic acid also interferes with the absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium.

October 18, 2011

Buckwheat

Talk about buckwheat, Sprinkle Pistachio Salad At The Pennsylvania State University researchers recently gave unpleasant tasks to volunteers:
  • Eating 1.5 ounces of pistachios (about 1 handful) every day.
  • At the end of this 4-week study volunteers who chewed nuts in total cholesterol levels dropped an average of 6.7% and LDL cholesterol fell 11.6%.
  • This decline has great health benefits. Decrease in total cholesterol by about 7% lower risk of heart disease up to 14%.
Pistachios are one of the best sources of plant sterols. These compounds are known to reduce cholesterol absorption.

Keep in mind one ounce contains about 160 calories. So, less seasoning if sprinkled some pistachio salad.

Or reduce the butter and oil. Use buckwheat honey, honey has been used for treatment since ancient times.

If applied on wounds, honey is a natural antibacterial ointment. Researchers now say, the efficacy of honey deeper.

Laboratory trials showed that honey slows the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol lead to plaque in blood vessels. The best type of honey in slowing oxidation is Buckwheat.

Blueberry

The fruit that grows in the summer in North America, grows wild like a bush, a lot of properties contained therein. For the efficacy of Blueberry (Vaccinum corymbosum) are:
  1. Its function is able to have a potassium content of blood pressure control for patients with hypertension, prevent the development of vascular damage to the kidney, the glomerulus, and tubules, Lower risk of stroke, Lower urinary calcium excretion and decreasing kidney stone formation Lowering bone demineralization (osteoporosis) Lower risk of ventricular arrhythmias in patients with ischemia heart, heart failure, and right ventricular hypertrophy.
  2. Containing iron can increase blood-forming substance, here is very good for women.
  3. In the anthocyanin compounds contained in phytonutrients Where anthocyanins act as anti-oxidants (Oxidants are free radicals that will stick with the cell membrane and damage as well as the genetic material of cells). Preventing aging malicious function.
  4. Manganese-containing chemical elements that are anti-inflammatory substances. Smoking also causes inflammation of the blood flow smooth. Increasing memory capacity. This is expressed by doctors Jeremy Spencer, from the Department of English Department of Food Bioscience. He said, scientists have proved the potential and health benefits of fresh fruit. "Riset we proved that blueberries are very good for you and can increase the memory capacity," he said as quoted by the BBC.
  5. Keeping the substance that makes nitric oxide remains flexible artery walls which is a condition that can prevent heart disease.
  6. Containing ciprofibrate to help lower cholesterol, which in turn may protect the liver are still many abortion of vitamins A, C, calcium, phosphorus and other essential minerals. Another benefit of the roots of blueberry fruit is processed into tea can relieve pain during childbirth and relax the mother, and leaves are also drunk as a tonic for the blood booster purify the body and relieve cough.

Almond

Almond oil is produced from sweet almond (Prunus amygdalus) and bitter almond (amygdalus amara Aprunus).

Sweet almond oil is used as a carrier oil unt uk blended with essential oils are beneficial for skin, hair, and others.

Almond oil of sweet almond oil can also be used as massage and aromatherapy. Whereas bitter almonds can be used for various culinary.

History of Almond Oil

Almonds are rich in history. Starting from Greek mythology to Shakespeare to modern times, people already benefiting from almond and its by-products.

In earlier times, in Turkey, people use almond oil for cooking, lighting, medicine, and perfume.

One of the main benefits of almond oil which is widely used as a lubricating emollients to the skin. Almond was very valuable in Asia, Persia, and the Mediterranean.

Almond Oil Types

Sweet almond and bitter almond oil produced is used for various purposes, ranging from cooking to skin care.

Is the producer of sweet almond carrier oil for aromatherapy and as a basic ingredient for skin lotions. Meanwhile, bitter almonds and Amaretto produce cooking oil.

Benefits of Almond Oil

Sweet almond oil is used as an effective massage oil, moisturizer for skin and face, and skin care. Sweet almond oil is great for all skin types, can relieve itching, pain, and dryness of the skin.

Almond oil does not penetrate as deep as other oils in the skin making it ideal as an aromatherapy massage oil with a pleasant fragrance and softness. Almond oil can also soothe inflammation, rashes, chapped lips, and sore muscles.

Almond oil is widely recommended for various uses. For hair, moisten fingertips with a few drops of almond oil.

Then gently massage the scalp. Sweet almond oil benefits for hair include care for the scalp and follicles, preventing hair loss, as well as providing strength and luster to the hair.

For internal health, almond oil helps digestion. In addition, according to Indian culture, almond oil is a pain reliever and drugs to lower cholesterol levels.

Many people in various parts of the world that take advantage of almond oil. However, if you are allergic to nuts should avoid almond oil.

Cherry

In addition to making jam and bread, cherry fruit was believed to help muscle recovery after strenuous physical activity. This discovery brings new hope for marathon athletes and patients with inflammatory diseases.

Dr Glyn Howatson, an expert in physiology and sports science from the University of Northumbria prove it by examining 20 runners who will compete in the arena of the London Marathon.

Athletes are divided into 2 groups, which were first intake of Montmorency cherry juice 2 times daily for 5 days before the race, as well as 2 days after. The second group was given placebo juice (empty without cherry), with the same time and frequency.

Within 48 hours after the race, the group given Montmorency cherry juice showed a faster physical recovery than the other groups. Runners in the group also experienced less inflammation, which is generally experienced by the muscles after a strenuous physical activity.

"Running long distances such as the London Marathon can cause muscle damage and inflammation caused by oxidative stress in athletes. It took several days for recovery, and at that time a atet physical activity will be hampered," said Dr Howatson.

Anthocyanins are found in several types of Montmorency cherries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Research shows, phytochemical compounds is effective to accelerate recovery after strenuous physical activity.

Although still require further study, Dr Howatson believes this discovery not only useful for marathon athletes. The study, done with Jess Hill, PhD student from St. Mary's University College, the thought can be developed for handling a wide range of inflammatory diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Montmorency cherry is the garden varieties of cherry (Prunus cerasus) derived from the French, which was widely cultivated in the U.S. and Canada. This fruit is the most popular cherry varieties in the U.S., is widely used as materials for making tarts and jam. Michigan and Wisconsin including Montmorency cherry producing regions in the world.

Cherry is a sweet or sour fruit is very healthy. Rich in vitamin C as well as potassium which regulate blood pressure (325 mg per cup), fiber prevention of cancer (3 mg) of sour cherry contains beta carotene which helps prevent cancer, six times more than the sweet cherry. Can help boost immunity and reduce the risk of respiratory infections such as colds and flu.

While the highest fiber fruits cherry found on his skin, "says Felicia Busch, a nutritionist St. Paul, Minn., as well as the author of The New Nutrition from Antioxidants to Zucchini. It can be heart healthy and can help diabetes.

Cherimoya

Cherimoya including small fruit trees growing on rocky ground, dried, and exposed to direct sunlight. This tropical fruit has many names, depending on its origin. People call it serikaya Malaysia (which means full of grace). In Guatemala, the name cherimoya. In addition, Sharifa (India), noi na (Thailand), mang cau te (Cambodia), fan li chi (China), aajaa thee (Myanmar), Sakya (Taiwan), sweetsop (Caribbean), or sugar apple (United States) . Annona squamosa own Latin name, but often confused with Annona reticulata (custard apple, soursop alias). Srikaya was still allied with soursop. Plants that came from the West Indies this will bear fruit after 3-5 years old. Cherimoya often planted in the yard, cultivated, or growing wild, and can be found up to a height of 800 m dpi.

Shrub or small tree has a height 2-5 m, the thin bark grayish, toxic sap skin. Stemmed leaves, stiff, alternate location. Leaf blade oblong to elliptic form of narrow, pointed tip and pangkai, flat edge, 6-17 cm long, 2.5 to 7.5 cm wide, green leaf surface, the bottom of bluish green, slightly hairy or bald. Flower petals 2-4 (dealing), exit and end of the shaft or the armpit leaves, yellow green color. The fruit is fruit apparent, form a ball or cone, bumpy surface, the color green and white berserbuk, 5-10 cm cross section, if the cook, the men will separate themselves from one another. Bluish green color. White flesh, sweet taste. Seeds shiny black cook.

Nature and Benefits
The roots are bitter, cold nature. Efficacious anti-inflammatory, anti-depressants. The leaves are bitter, chocolate, its a little cold. Efficacious astringent, anti-inflammatory, laxative intestinal worms, as well as accelerate the ripening boils and abscesses.

Nutritious seeds stimulate digestive enzymes, abortivum, anthelmintic, and insect killers. Nutritious bark astringent and tonic. Young fruit and seeds are also efficacious antiparasitic.

Chemical Ingredients
The root and bark contain flavonoids, borneol, kamphor, terpenes, and alkaloids anonain. In addition, the root also contains saponins, tannins, and polyphenols. Seeds contain oil, resin, and toxic materials that are irritants. The fruit contains amino acids, fruit sugar, and mucilago. Young fruit contains tannins.

These herbs generally contain alkaloids asporfin type (anonain) and bisbenziltetrahidroisokinolin (reticuline). In the organs of plants found cyanogen compounds. Leaves, bark and roots contain WN. Ripe fruit pulp that has been found sitrulin, aminobutyric acid, ornithine, arginine. (At Annona muricata: proline, aminobutyric acid). On the other Annona species is on Annona glabra, Annona muricata discovered class of polyphenolic compounds (quercetin, kafeat acid, leukoantosianidin, kumarat acid).

Seeds containing compound and a compound derived polyketide bistetrahidrofuran; asetogenin (skuamostatin C, D, anonain, anonasin A, anonin 1, IV, VI, VIII, IX, XVI, skuarnostatin A, bulatasin, bulatasinon, skuamon, ncoanonin B, neo desasetilurarisin, A neo retikulasin, skuamosten A, asmisin, skuamosin, sanonasin, anonastatin, neoanonin) Penernuan results of other studies that skuamosisnin A, skuamosin B, C, D, E, F, G, H, 1, J, K, L, M, N; skuamostatin B, fatty acids, amino acids and proteins.

Constituent fatty acid composition of seed oil fatty cherimoya composed of methyl palmitate, methyl stearate, methyl linoleic.

The leaves contain alkaloids isokinolin tetrahydrofuran, p-hidroksibenzil-6 ,7-dihydroxy-1,2,3,4-tetrahidroisokinolin (demetilkoklaurin = higenamin).

Flowers contain asarn kaur-1 6-ene-1 9-oat informed as active kornponen srikaya interest.

Chempedak Fruit Benefits

Chempedak is a plant that produces fruit can be eaten. Chempedak fruit sold in many markets including farmers' markets and vegetable markets. Saintifiknya name is Artocarpus champeden. This point comes from the region of Southeast Asia namely Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

Fruit is a staple saka Chempedak which may reach a height of 20 meters so. He has a compact leaf-shaped kebanyakkannya elliptik. Courant under leaf veins (midrib) is usually filled with fine hairs. Shaped leaf base acute to obtus when hujung leaf-shaped kebanyakkannya kupsidat. Portion of dark green leaves when the Courant under the light green leaves. There varieti Chempedak where the top surface of the leaf is said when there is little malap varieti where he looks shiny. Chempedak almost resembles a basic staple jackfruit. Perbezaannya clear on where the leaf stalk hujung Chempedak there are fine hairs dihujung brown leaf stalks when the jackfruit encountered no fluff.

Chempedak fruit is monoecious where the male flowers and female flowers are on the same subject. But once male and female flowers are in a different bunch. Tuft male and female flowers initially formed within the sheath of lime green. If the growing bunch, sheath will first break down and pulled out rates will rise. Sheath will exchange colors into the war and later will fall.

The fruit is rarely planted extensively Chempedak kerana he easily attacked by bacteria, namely Erwinia caratovora where the principal branches are attacked will issue a blackish colored sap and branches eventually will die.

Fruits are also not suitable Chempedak easy ditengelami planted area of ​​flooding or high soil moisture levels. Just so easy to die in the region. For areas such as sandy soil Brisbane, just less fruitful if irrigation and pembajaan are often not carried out.

Tuft male flowers and female flowers composed of many clusters of flowers are joined. Selalunya tuft male flowers and short tapered with size so lebihkurang 1.5 x 5.5 sm and sm contained on hujung twigs and branches are also on the subject. When pulled the female flowers are usually more plump and big and is only found in the main branch of our other features. Male flowers, after 4-5 days will uncoil reput become blackish and later died when the female flowers will form fruit growing.

Fruit Chempedak

Fruit Chempedak be in season produce fruit in a year where there is only one main season. This berbedza with jackfruit where the fruit not be in season. Chempedak fruit is known as multiple fruit 'perceived that he composed many of the female flower clusters rather than in one bunch. Fruit Chempedak take a period of 100 to 120 days to mature after the flowers unfold.

Fruit Chempedak also almost the same as the fruit of jackfruit where the skin is filled with soft spikes are short. Walaubagaiman Chempedak any fruit is smaller than jackfruit.

Ingredients Benefits:
  • Substances in per 100 gram
  • Energy or power = 117.0 (very high, the danger for people with diabetes),
  • Moisture = 66.7 g,
  • Protein = 2.5 g, fat = 0.4 g,
  • Carbohydrates = 25.8 g,
  • Fiber = 3.4 g,
  • Ash = 1.2 g,
  • Calcium = 40.0 mg,
  • Phosphorous = 5.0 mg,
  • Iron = 1.1 mg, 25.0 mg 
  • Potassium = 246.0 mg,
  • Carotene = 80 ug,
  • Vitamin B1 = 0.16 mg,
  • Vitamin B2 = 0:15 mg
  • Niacin = 0.5 mg
  • Or Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) = 7.17 mg

October 15, 2011

Carambola

Carambola fruit of a tree is a plant that originated from the tropical parts of America and then spread to many other tropical countries in the world including Indonesia. Form small starfruit tree, reaching 10 m high with a trunk that is not so big and has a diameter of only about 30 cm. In general, star fruit cultivars planted in the yard (home gardening yards), which is cultivated as a shade plant in the pages of the home. In the Americas, star fruit known as "star fruit" and a popular type of star fruit is favored by the people starfruit "Florida".

In plant taxonomy, leatherback are classified as follows:
Kingdom: Plantae (plants)
Division: Spermatphyta (seed plants)
Sub-division: Angiospermae (seeds enclosed)
Class: Dicotyledonae (two seed pieces)
Order: Oxalidales
Family: Oxalidaceae
Genus: Averrhoa
Species: Averrhoa carambola L. (Sweet starfruit)

Star fruit is the fruit of non-klimaterik so that harvesting of the fruit must be done when the fruit matures on the tree. Harvesting is usually done by looking at his skin color changes from green or yellowish-green to yellow or yellow-orange.

The maximum sugar content contained on the perfect yellow fruit, but fruit is very fragile, easily broken and can easily be injured. Therefore, the star fruit is usually harvested when its color changes to a halt. Yellow fruit with a 50-70% harder than the perfect fruit yellow or yellow-orange, fruit with this color considered a commercial maturity. The color of star fruit will continue to grow after harvest, however only a few changes in its quality.

Star fruit is classified into types of fruits that are not too sensitive to cold damage (chilling injury). However, during the cold storage held at a temperature of 0oC or 5oC for 2 and 6 weeks there are symptoms such as cold damage small spots on the surface of the skin and brown on all sides of ribs edge. The symptoms of this cold damage will increase along with the length of storage time. Fruits are harvested when still green will be more susceptible to cold damage.

September 24, 2011

Growing Cape Gooseberries

Cape Gooseberries (Physalis peruviana) comes originally from South America as you might guess from its botanical name but it grows extremely well in Ventnor. It is related to the tomato, potato, and other members of the nightshade family and closely related to the tomatillo but not to the gooseberry or Chinese gooseberry.

Also known as ‘Incan Berries’, the latest ‘superfood’, they contain vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, B12 and are high in phosphorous. They also contain 16% protein which is very high for a fruit.

The fruit is a small round berry, about the size of a marble, full of small seeds. It is bright yellow when ripe, and very sweet, making it ideal for adding to fruit salads, pies and jam making. Each berry is covered in a papery pod, if this is left on they will keep for 30 -45 days at room temperature, possibly longer.

cgooseberry_flowerAll parts of the plant, except the fruit, are poisonous. It is in flower from July to October, and the seeds ripen from August to November.

It requires well drained soil of any type and will grow in poor soil too. Grow in partially shade or full sun. If the soil is too rich you will get loads of leaves and not so much fruit, so go easy on the feeding and manure.

It is not very cold hardy in this country but can be grown as a herbaceous perennial in milder areas or at the base of a sunny wall, in other words it will look as though it has died in the winter but will regrow in the spring. In colder areas you will have to plant new seeds every year indoors or a greenhouse in April/May.

Cape Gooseberry plantIt is a bushy plant that will reach 1 – 1½ metres tall. It is a good idea to pinch out the top growing shoot to encourage lots of side stems that will all bear fruit when it gets to about 30cms tall. It has beautiful flowers and does make an attractive addition to the garden.

I am having a go at growing two of these for the first time this year, I am going to put one in the ground and one in a pot so I can see how well they grow in containers. (ventnorpermaculture.wordpress.com)

Camu Camu Foods High in Antioxidants

In the Amazonian flood plains between Peru and Brazil grows a bushy tree- Myrciaria dubia- better known as Camu-Camu. After the sweet smelling, white waxy petals drop it develops small red/purple colored fruit that looks like a cherry. Among herbalists, camu-camu is known for its astringent, antioxidant, anti inflammatory, antiviral, analgesic and emollient and nutritional properties and is also a source of phosphorus, protein, iron, niacin, thiamin riboflavin, beta-carotene, calcium, and three different amino acids. It is a rich source of flavinoids.

People who use Camu-camu for its vitamin C have found that just 1-2 grams of this natural source is a better immune system booster and large doses of commercially available synthetic Vitamin C. Camu-camu is about 2-3% Vitamin C by fresh weight, which is an exceptional concentration and testifies to Camu-camu’s value as an antioxidant. And, as you are probably aware, antioxidants are important when it comes to my two other favorite “antis” anti- inflammatory and anti-aging (of which I am especially fond).

Camu-camu is currently being studied to access its mood balancing properties. As published in the Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Healing (1998) by Gary Null, Ph.D. Camu-camu is number two in terms of the potency of the chemical compounds it contains with mood balancing properties. While the connection has not been thoroughly researched, it appears that Camu-camu might provide nutritional support for the brain’s own production of mood balancing chemicals. Additionally, research has been published linking vitamin C and an increased level of serotonin.

Dr Mike Adams, (who’s called the Health Ranger) had this to say about Camu-Camu:
“I’ll tell you a secret about camu. Camu-camu is the highest natural source of vitamin C in the world. And it’s not just one isolated chemical (ascorbic acid), it’s the full symphony of protective antioxidants. My research on this herb, based in part of the works of Dr. James Duke, leads me to the conclusion that camu-camu crosses the blood-brain barrier and offers extraordinary protection to the nervous system. There is no question in my mind that this product can drastically reduce eye disorders, including macular degeneration, as well as protect the brain and nervous system from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.” (aiowithac-11.com)

September 21, 2011

Cantaloupe Benefits

It is no wonder that the cantaloupe with its refreshingly rich flavor and aroma and minimal number of calories is the most popular variety of melon in the United States. Although they have become increasingly available throughout the year, their season runs from June through August when they are at their best.

The cantaloupe derives its name from the ltalian papal village of Cantalup, where it was first cultivated around 1700 A.D. It belongs to the same family as the cucumber, squash, pumpkin and gourd, and like many of its relatives, grows on the ground on a trailing vine. Cantaloupe are also referred to as a netted melon because it has a ribless rind with a distinctive netted skin. Inside of the melon there is a hollow cavity that contains seeds encased in a web of netting. Cantaloupe is also known as rockmelon in several parts of the world.


This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Cantaloupe provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Cantaloupe can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Cantaloupe, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

Health Benefits

Cantaloupe Gets an A+

Our food ranking system qualified cantaloupe as an excellent source of vitamin A on account of its concentrated beta-carotene content. Once inside the body, beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A, so when you eat cantaloupe it's like getting both these beneficial nutrients at once. One cup of cantaloupe is just 56 calories, but provides 103.2% of the daily value for vitamin A. Both vitamin A and beta-carotene are important vision nutrients. In a study of over 50,000 women nurses aged 45 to 67, women who consumed the highest dietary amount of vitamin A had a 39% reduced risk of developing cataracts. In another study that looked at the incidence of cataract surgery and diet, researchers found that those people who ate diets that included cantaloupe had half the risk of cataract surgery, while those who ate the highest amounts of butter, salt and total fat had higher risks for cataract surgery. Beta-carotene has also been the subject of extensive research in relationship to cancer prevention and prevention of oxygen-based damage to cells.

Cantaloupe also emerged from our food ranking system as an excellent source of vitamin C. While beta-carotene and vitamin A are fat-soluble antioxidants, vitamin C functions as an antioxidant in the water-soluble areas of the body. So, between its beta-carotene and vitamin C content, cantaloupe has all areas covered against damage from oxygen free radicals. In addition to its antioxidant activity, vitamin C is critical for good immune function. Vitamin C stimulates white cells to fight infection, directly kills many bacteria and viruses, and regenerates Vitamin E after it has been inactivated by disarming free radicals. 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. One cup of cantaloupe contains 112.5% of the daily value for this well-known antioxidant.

In our food ranking system, cantaloupe also qualified as a very good source of potassium and a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, folate, and niacin (vitamin B3). The combination of all these B complex vitamins along with the fiber found in cantaloupe make it an exceptionally good fruit for supporting energy production through good carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar stability. These B complex vitamins are required in our cells for processing carbohydrates (including sugars), and cantaloupe's fiber helps ensure cantaloupe's sugars are delivered into the bloodstream gradually, keeping blood sugar on an even keel.

Cantaloupe's Pro-vitamin A Promotes Lung Health

If you or someone you love is a smoker, or if you are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, then making vitamin A-rich foods, such as cantaloupe, part of your healthy way of eating may save your life, suggests research conducted at Kansas State University.

While studying the relationship between vitamin A, lung inflammation, and emphysema, Richard Baybutt, associate professor of nutrition at Kansas State, made a surprising discovery: a common carcinogen in cigarette smoke, benzo(a)pyrene, induces vitamin A deficiency.

Baybutt's earlier research had shown that animals fed a vitamin A-deficient diet developed emphysema. His latest animal studies indicate that not only does the benzo(a)pyrene in cigarette smoke cause vitamin A deficiency, but that a diet rich in vitamin A can help counter this effect, thus greatly reducing emphysema.

Baybutt believes vitamin A's protective effects may help explain why some smokers do not develop emphysema. "There are a lot of people who live to be 90 years old and are smokers," he said. "Why? Probably because of their diet. The implications are that those who start smoking at an early age are more likely to become vitamin A deficient and develop complications associated with cancer and emphysema. And if they have a poor diet, forget it."

If you or someone you love smokes, or if your work necessitates exposure to second hand smoke, protect yourself by making sure that at least one of the World's Healthiest Foods that are rich in vitamin A, such as cantaloupe, is a daily part of your healthy way of eating.

Protect Your Vision with Cantaloupe

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

In this study, which involved over 100,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants' consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. Food intake information was collected periodically for up to 18 years for women and 12 years for men.

While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease.

Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but by simply slicing some cantaloupe over your morning cereal, topping off a cup of yogurt or green salad with a half cup of berries, and snacking on an apple, plum, nectarine or pear, you've reached this goal.

In summer, what could be a more cooling or delicious lunch than half a cantaloupe filled with cottage cheese and topped with your favorite nuts and a sprig of mint? It's easy to see how fruit, especially cantaloupe, can become a regular part of your healthy way of eating.(whfoods.com)

Camu Camu

There's a lot of attention focused on superfoods these days. People are interested in foods that can give them high-density nutrition, protect them from chronic disease, and even help reverse disease. One of the best (but little-known) superfoods is actually a superfruit, and like many superfruits, it comes from the rainforest regions of our planet. This one in particular comes from Peru, it's one of the most nutrient-dense foods and offers considerable disease-prevention benefits. It contains high-density nutrition. This superfruit is called camu camu, or the camu berry.

The camu berry is best known for its unusually high vitamin C content. Vitamin C, as you may know, has many uses for preventing chronic disease. Natural (not synthetic) vitamin C is an antioxidant that prevents free radical damage to the DNA of the cells throughout your body, which helps in the prevention of cancer and heart disease (among other health problems). Vitamin C also prevents colds and even the flu. It is a huge immune system booster and an all-around power-packed vitamin -- but only in its full-spectrum natural form.

There's no food on the planet with a higher concentration of vitamin C than the camu berry. How high a concentration? Consider this: oranges are generally known for their high vitamin C content. However, oranges often only have around 1,000 ppm of vitamin C. Sometimes they can have as high as 3,000 or 4,000, but that's unusual, especially given the way they are commercially grown today. The camu berry can have concentrations as high as 50,000 ppm or about 2 g of vitamin C per 100 g of fruit. That means that the camu berry provides 50 times more vitamin C than an orange (on an ounce-for-ounce basis).

So what exactly does vitamin C do for your body?

One of the best-known uses for vitamin C is in protecting your nervous system. The nervous system includes your brain, eyes and all the nerves running throughout your body that tell your heart when to contract, your lungs when to breathe, and your muscles when to flex -- it's the electronic system of your body. When your nervous system is under assault by unhealthy foods or environmental toxins, your quality of life begins to fade rapidly.

If you don't have a fully functional nervous system, you may experience symptoms like depression. You may lose the ability to focus sharply. You may have what is sometimes called brain fog. You may find you don't learn as quickly or you can't remember things as well. Eventually, you may end up with a diagnosis of dementia or even Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease is associated with the buildup of plaque on brain nerves, and recent research in mice shows that this plaque is reversible. Through nutrition and brain exercise you can actually reverse the buildup and remove the plaque, restoring your brain to a more youthful state. It's just like any other muscle in your body: when you use your brain and give it good nutritional support, it will work well for you and avoid degenerative conditions.

The eyes are an important part of your nervous system. Many people have vision problems and there's a lot of disinformation about the cause of these problems. Eye impairments are typically diagnosed as physical deformities of the eyes, but this is usually false. Doctors will tell you that your eye is too long or the lens isn't shaped right. This is something with which I strongly disagree.

I'm 38 years old and I have perfect vision that I maintain through nutrition. I have outstanding night vision and no need to wear glasses or contacts. This is accomplished through the frequent intake of berries and superfoods like camu camu, goji berries and cacao (chocolate).

Source: naturalnews.com

Buah Merah

While there's a whole gamut of cancer treatment options available; which is the best one to use depends upon the type of cancer as well the stage that the cancer has reached. Though the prevailing trend is to resort to more traditional cancer treatment options, cancer patients are not restricted to them. There are a variety of alternative and natural options (some new, some old) for treating cancer.

Traditional Cancer Treatment Options

Traditional cancer treatment options are often referred to as cut, poison and burn (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation).

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, which involves the use of chemical agents or drugs to destroy cancerous cells, forms the core treatment of malignancies. These drugs work by targeting fast-growing cells and the type and combination of drugs depends upon the type of cancer. Though chemotherapy has been proven to be effective, it can give rise to a host of side-effects including hair loss, fatigue, diarrhea, loss of appetite, anemia or low red blood cell count, neutropenia or low white blood cell count, mouth sores and shortness of breath.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy ionizing radiation from varied sources including x-rays, gamma rays, protons and neutrons to shrink tumors and kill cancerous cells. It is used almost half of all cancer patients; either by itself or in combination with other cancer treatments. External-beam radiation therapy, which involves using radiation that is emitted from a machine outside the body is more common than internal radiation therapy, in which a radioactive material is implanted in the body near the tumor or cancer cells.

Surgery

Surgery often entails a biopsy, which is done for diagnostic purposes. Surgery that is done to remove the cancerous tissues is often followed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which reduces the risk of the cancer recurring and also to destroy any cancer cells that may be left behind in the affected part of the body.

The kind of surgery depends on which part of the body has been affected by cancer as well as the extent of the cancer. In breast cancer patients the options could include lumpectomy, in which only the lump is removed; segmentectomy, in which part of the breast is removed or mastectomy, in which the entire breast is removed.

Alternative Cancer Treatment Options

Traditional cancer treatment options form only art of the story. An increasing number of health professionals are now exploring alternative cancer treatment options that encompass the whole individual.

Nutrition Therapy

Maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes foods rich in antioxidants and beta-carotene, is the best way to provide your body with the nourishment it needs to fight cancer. Proper nutrition helps minimize nausea and fatigue that are the main side-effects of traditional cancer treatments and are a critical component of the healing process.

Buah Merah or Red fruit, found primarily in the Indonesian island of Papua, has very high levels of anti-oxidants, beta-carotene and tocopherol and offers hope to all cancer patients. Beta-carotene and tocopherol have strong anti-carcinogenic properties and help by boosting the immune system and retarding the growth of cancer-causing cells. Buah Merah also contains Omega 3 and Omega 9 as well as linolenat, oleat, dekanoat and linoleat acids; all of which act as active medicinal compounds and also help in the prevention of diabetes mellitus, heart diseases, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

Naturopathy

Naturopathy is a system of treatment that focuses exclusively on using the healing powers of nature such as sunlight, water and air. It is supplemented with therapies such as massage as well as a wholesome diet. Naturopathy is by and large a holistic kind of treatment and includes homoeopathy, ayurveda, therapeutic nutrition, hydrotherapy or botanical medicine. It is based on the belief that the body is self-healing and will recover and repair by itself spontaneously if it is given a healthy, conducive environment.

Pain Control

Though, to a certain extent medication can be used to manage pain, Acupuncture is gaining popularity as a means to control the pain experienced by cancer sufferers. The pain could be brought on by the cancer itself or as a side-effect to the cancer treatment. Prevalence and severity of pain depend on the extent, location and type of cancer as well as pain threshold of the person afflicted by cancer.

Breadfruit

Breadfruit trees grow to a height of sixty to eighty (60-80) feet with a clear trunk to 16ft, becoming three to six (3-6) feet in width. It has many spreading branches, some thick with lateral bearing branches and others long and slender with foliage clustered at their tips.

The leaves, evergreen or deciduous depending on climatic conditions are bright green and somewhat glossy on the upper surface, a dull green on the underside with conspicuous yellow veins. Its ovate shape spans with a nine to twenty four (9-24) inches long, eight to sixteen (8-16) inches wide base that more or less deeply cuts into seven to eleven (7-11) pointed lobes.

These leaves when withered or going dry fall to the ground. They are raked into heaps and burned, preventing a breeding ground for mosquitoes when it rains.

This high yielding fruit plant produces two to three hundred fruits in a season. However, most breadfruit varieties also produce a small number of fruits throughout the year; so fresh breadfruits are also available, but occasionally rare when not in season. These fruits are bright green in color when young, with tiny hexagons carved all over it. When ripe, they have a dull green color. They are beautiful to see and hold.

Breadfruit is an all purpose fruit. It is a stable food in many tropical regions. They are rich in starch and before being eaten, they are numerous ways you can prepare a variety of dishes from these fruits.

When parboil, they can be stored in zip lock bags and frozen for future use. In addition it can be cooked, crushed and stirred to make breadfruit Coo-coo, a variation of shepherd's pie, breadfruit casserole and more depending on the ingredients you use. On weekends, throughout many countries in the West Indies breadfruit is the first choice dish when cooked and served with pudding and souse.

There is a variety of ways in making soup. However, breadfruit is an excellent choice in adding to the ingredients in making your soup. Oh! it is delicious,try it sometime.

Whole fruits can be roasted over an open fire. When it is almost finish, core it and fill with onion, seasoning, butter (or edible oil) optional, sugar and or coconut milk. Let the fruit finish cooking for ten to fifteen (10-15) minutes, peel and serve.

Calabash

Calabash or bottle gourd or long melon is a vine generally cultivated either young or for fruit which is used as a vegetable. The gourd may be allowed to mature, dried and then used as pipe, utensil or bottle. Because of its bottle like size it is given the common name bottle gourd. The fresh fruit is light green in colour with smooth skin and white flesh. The round varieties are known as calabash gourds. It is one of the first varieties of plants generally used as a bottle not as a vegetable in the olden times. The plant derives its name from a Spanish word which means long melon.

Calabash is cultivated mainly in the tropical and subtropical areas all over the world. There is controversy regarding the origin of these plants. Some believe that they are native to Africa while others say that they are native to Asia. They grow very easily in wild. They are under cultivation in Europe much before Columbus discovered America. The rind of the domesticated calabash is waterproof and thick.

Calabash is used as a vegetable in Chinese cuisines may be fried or used in soups. The Chinese name of calabash is hulu. In Japan the larger varieties are generally used as containers while the smaller ones are used as vegetable. It is dried and sold in the form of marinated strips and is often used in making rolled sushi. In Burma it is a very popular fruit and the young leaves are boiled and eaten with hot spicy fish sauce. In Central America they are toasted and mixed with other ingredients to make a drink known as horchata. In India it is known as lauki and in Tamil Nadu the large gourds are used as floats while learning swimming in rural areas.

The shoots, tendrils and leaves are used as vegetable. The guard can be dried to make smoke pipe tobacco. Like other members of the cucurbitaceae family they are also known to contain cucurbitacins which are cytotoxins. A toxic compound known as tetracyclic triterpenoid cucurbitacin is present in the fruits and vegetables of this family and it is responsible for the bitter taste and can even cause ulcers in the stomach. In very extreme cases some individuals have died after consuming the calabash juice.

In Caribbean calabash is generally used as utensils, such as cups, bowls, and basins especially in the rural areas. It can be used as a container for carrying water as well as a equipment while going for fishing. In some Caribbean countries they are even painted and decorated and used as shoulder bags which are sold to tourists. In West Africa hollowed bodies of these plants are used as utensils for household purposes. They are used to clean rice and are also used as food containers. Small ones are used as containers for drinking palm wine. They are also used by some musicians to make musical instruments.

September 17, 2011

BlackBerries

Blackberries were perceived by the ancient cultures as being a wild plant, and historical accounts for a backyard culture of blackberry bushes are few. The Greeks used the blackberry as a remedy for Gout, and the Romans made a tea from the leaves of the blackberry plant to treat various illnesses.

John Bartram, the early American explorer, botanist, and writer founded the first United States Botanical Garden, in 1728. In the early American colonies, William Bartram in his book, Travels, noted that General Oglethorpe was sent to the colony of Georgia in 1733 to investigate the possibility of establishing various temperate and subtropical plants which might "prove valuable for Georgia farms and orchards." William Bartram noted further in his book, Travels, that he his father, John Bartram, were sent to explore the Southern colonies that included East Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Alabama to take an inventory of plants growing there after the Spanish were expelled by the English. Bartram reported that just outside of Mobile, Alabama, it "grows here five or six feet high, rambling like Brier vines over the fences and shrubs."

Much of the first modern blackberry variety development was done in America, beginning with Judge Logan of California in 1880, and the release and introduction of the Loganberry.

The Boysenberry was developed from a natural selection saved from the abandoned farm of Mr. Rudolf Boysen by USDA member George Darrow, along with Walter Knott, a California fruit and berry enthusiast, whose wife began making berry preserves, and that farm later became the famous Knotts Berry Farm, located near the Walt Disney amusement park in California.

The Youngberry was developed in 1905 in Morgan City, Louisiana; it is a cross between Luther Burbank's, Phenomenal Berry, and the Austin-Mayes Dewberry, a trailing blackberry. This berry had excellent qualities, such as taste and high yields, and it soon replaced the Loganberry of California after its release.

Blackberry plants, Rubus spp., can not be truthfully separated accurately by taxonomists into species, because the original species that existed centuries ago have intercrossed themselves in the natural state so completely, and the natural selections have reached a critical composition and complexity, that cannot be adequately recreated through backcrosses. Blackberry vines and bushes grow in the native state on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. The adaptatation factor to growing blackberries is broad and the cold hardiness of the blackberry bushes and vines extends into extremely cold territories. The bush form blackberry is more cold hardy than the trailing blackberry vines, and the range of growth extends into the northwestern portions of the United States. The trailing blackberry vines are considered by most taxonomists to be: Rubus macropetalus, Rubus loganobaccus, and Rubus ursinus. Erect blackberry bushes that are recognized as native genera are: Rubus frondosus, Rubus argutus, and Rubus allegheniensis.

Thorns are present in native blackberry plants and the thorns prevent grazing wildlife, animals and birds from eating the vines before the berry bushes flower and later when blackberries are produced. When the blackberries grow and ripen, they are not only consumed by wildlife animals and birds, but they have been enjoyed by humans for centuries. Luther Burbank wrote in his book, Fruit Improvement, in 1921 that many hybrids had been developed by his efforts and others to grow thornless blackberry bushes and vines. These thornless creations were at first inferior in taste and quality to the thorny species; however, modern hybridizers of thornless blackberry plants have created the cultivars:

The most important new hybrid, the Triple Crown, was released by the USDA. These new thornless blackberry bushes are released for growing in the Middle Atlantic and Pacific Northwest. The Triple Crown is thornless and ripens early to midseason. The fruit is firm and black with a balanced sub-acid sweet taste and is aromatically pleasing. This berry release is expected to be the sensational highlight for gardeners everywhere expecting high quality and growing adaptation. Other, older thornless blackberry releases are: Apache, Hull, Thornfree, Black Satin, Arapaho, Navaho, Chester, and Boysenberry. All these blackberries have overcome the sticky problems of the original thornless blackberry hybrids. Commercial thorny blackberry production has been stimulated by an introduction of these blackberry released cultivars: Austin-Mayes dewberry, Chicasaw blackberry, Shawnee blackberry, Kiowa blackberry, Choctaw blackberry, Cherokee blackberry, Cheyenne blackberry, Lawton blackberry, and the Ouchita blackberry that makes you say 'ouch' when you pick them. Most of the above released blackberry cultivars are hybrids of a Brazos blackberry and Darrow cross.

Blackberries please the taste of humans as well as that of animals and are believed by many wildlife conservationists to be the most important naturalized growing plant that provides food for wildlife.

Wildlife animals and birds eat blackberries as food or receive a thorny protective cover from blackberry bushes or vines that wind along fences, animals such as quail, doves, turkey, raccoons, opossums, and believe it or not, bears. Perhaps children enjoy eating a fistful of blackberries from wild plants growing at the edge of the woods in summer, and then return home with the tell-tale purple stains on their teeth, lips, and clothing. Wild blackberries are delicious when they grow in profusion at the wood's edge into bushy plants or as trailing vines called dewberries. The delicate balance of a sweet and sour taste can stimulate the senses from the new hybrid cultivars towards heights unequaled by other berries or fruits.

Much of the early American blackberry hybridization was done by Luther Burbank, who introduced his Phenomenal Berry and even a white blackberry, but it was too soft to successfully ship commercially.

Although most botanists classify blackberry plants into 3 types, Erect, trailing vines, and semi-erect plants, the in-between semi-erect plants, theoretically, could be actually an erect plant loaded with ripe berries. That semi-erect classification offers little clarification of taxonomic principles.

Blackberries fresh from the vines are useful in many foods; they are delicious in frozen packs, canned, as blackberry wine, ice cream, fresh blackberry juice, blackberry pies, blackberry jelly, blackberry jam, and best of all when eaten as a fresh fruit. Many health benefits come from eating blackberries that are rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins along with being a good source of the minerals potassium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium.

September 11, 2011

Bullock's Heart Facts

Although somewhat less esteemed than the cherimoya and atemoya, the custard apple or bullock's heart is well-liked in many parts of the world. In poor varieties the flesh is usually a bit less flavorful than its well-known relatives, but thankfully better varieties are spreading, having fairly good-flavored flesh. Fruits often have colorful skin with creamy, white or pale yellow flesh.

Description: Small tree to 20-35ft. Leaves can be quite pretty but trees often take on irregular shapes. The tree is popular as a rootstock for other Annona species. Bullock's heart have an advantage over other Annona's in that they tend to ripen slightly later in the year than their relatives, so during certain times of the year, only bullock's heart are available.

Hardiness: It is tropical, but full -grown trees show hardiness to 26F.

Growing Environment: Grow in full sun. Water regularly.

Propagation: Usually by seeds. There are few named varieties and better strains are propagated by air layering and grafting.

Uses: Almost exclusively eaten fresh.

Native Range: Native to the Caribbean region but has spread across Central and South America, as well as Africa and Asia.

Benefits of Mulberry

For the past 5,000 years, mulberries have been widely cultivated and used for several health benefits associated with them. Mulberries are found in four main varieties including red, black, white, and wild mulberries. Though there exist nearly a hundred varieties and thousands of local sub-varieties of mulberry, but you can easily find a mulberry tree almost at any altitude or climate around the world.

Mulberry as a Medicine

Also referred to as Morus fruit, the mulberry plant, there are hundreds of species of Morus and in China, you can find the white mulberry. The mulberry plant is primarily used for raising silkworms, which consume mulberry leaves as their primary source of food. China is one of the major silk producing countries since past many ages and is considered as world's primary sources of silk.

Silk is a natural fiber that allows air to pass through the fabric. This is because the fabric comprises 18 varieties of amino acid, and thus absorbs humidity naturally. Silk takes out moisture from your skin, therefore, you do not feel sticky during sleep. Silk is a poor conductor of heat or electricity. As a result, your body maintains its natural temperature. Besides getting health benefits by eating mulberries, you can also earn substantial income too by growing mulberry trees.

Benefits of Eating Mulberry

Mulberry contains low amount of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium while quite high in vitamin C, Vitamin K, Magnesium, Potassium, and Iron. Eating mulberries regularly helps you in maintaining good health and losing weight. Therefore, those looking to gain weight are advised against doing eating mulberries.

Mulberries are also a rich source of resveratrol, which is a compound with anti-cancer properties. Mulberries contain lots of anthocyanins, which guard against cardiovascular diseases. The fruit has also proven ability to fight with harmful virus and bacteria.

A Japanese study indicates that mulberry powder, if included as dietary supplement, helps in preventing diabetes.

The best thing about eating mulberries is they make a healthy snack that also taste good, and provides you several health benefits if consumed regularly.

September 8, 2011

Black Currant

Black currants have always offered health benefits but they are more popular today than ever before. This could be primarily due to new information coming out about how the fruit, especially when used to make black currant tea, can be used to treat a range of health issues.

High in vitamin C, they are often used to strengthen the immune system and lessen the chances of heart ailments. Women going through menopause have reported that it helps with a range of problems, from water retention to headaches. It also promotes calmness.

It is hard to find a condition that black currants can't help. It maximizes liver, kidney and even pancreatic function. Those who use currants, often in black currant tea, often feel better, neither overly stimulated or tired. Their moods are more even and they have steady energy levels through the day.

Unfamiliar with black currants? It is a plant which has both berries and leaves that can be harvested and used to restore and maintain health.

It makes a nice tea. A good, strong black currant tea should be a deep purple color, a sign that it is fresh and full of vitamins. Weaker variations will be lighter in color but the darker teas are the best.

They are used in a range of products, not only in tea but currant juice and even syrups. Each product has its uses but many people find that black currant tea is easiest to incorporate into their daily diet. It is also a refreshing change from other types of tea and coffee usually served during meals.

Their benefits are intensified when the leaves are dried and used for teas. Most consumers prefer to buy the tea already in tea bags. If a homemade tea is desired, simply take cut fresh leaves, dry them and use at least 2 teaspoons per cup of boiling water (the leaves will need to be in a tea ball or else strained from the water before drinking).

It's tea has a number of health benefits and is an excellent alternative for those trying to stop using caffeinated beverages. Over time, caffeine can cause heartburn, nervousness and sleep problems. It's tea has none of these issues and has been used for centuries as an herbal treatment by natives of Asia and Europe.

Now the hot beverage's popularity has spread to America and throughout the world. Because it helps prevent inflammation in the body, it is a natural choice for those trying to avoid arthritis, heart disease and even tooth and gum problems. Because of the vitamin C in the tea, it has powerful antioxidant properties, so useful when combating the effects of pollution and other environmental changes.

People who suffer from heartburn are often excited - and delighted - to discover that black currant tea can reduce or even cure this condition. It also promotes vitality and energy so that they feel well enough to start and stick with an exercise program. Both the tea and increased exercise can halt heartburn in its tracks. In contrast, excess caffeine can weaken the immune system and cause restlessness and anxiety.

Black currant tea is also the clear winner when choosing between caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages. Not only does it promote a sense of calm and well-being but it helps the digestive system and adds vitamins and antioxidants to the body. Caffeine may offer a short-term boost in energy but may do more harm than good, while this tea offers clear health benefits.

Bilimbi

  • Origin: Malaysia and Indonesia
  • Tree: height: up to 6m
  • Fruit: length: 5 cm
  • Diameter: 1-2 cm
  • Seasons: almost all year round

Bilimbi tree is quite attractive, with its short trunk dividing into many upright branches which have clusters of leaves, mainly at the tips. The flowers are small, deep red and have a long strong, sweet scent. The bilimbi fruit is narrow, oblong and has five shallow ridges running along its length. The fruit is crisp when unripe, turns from bright-green to yellowish-green, when ripe and falls to the ground. The outer skin is glossy, very thin and tender, and the flesh greenish-white, juicy and extremely sour. It has a few (about 6) flattened seeds about ¼ inch wide, smooth and brown.

Other Name:
  • India : Bilimbi
  • Indonesia: belimbing, besu
  • Thailand: taling pling
  • Philippines: kamias
  • Haiti: blimblin
  • Cuba: grosella china
  • El Salvador and Nicaragua: mimbro
  • Venezuela: vinagrillo
  • Argentina: pepino de Indias
  • France: cornichon des Indes
Nutritive Value per 100 g:
  • Vitamin A: 0.035 mg
  • Vitamin C: 15.5 mg
  • Protein: 0.61 g
  • Calcium: 3.4 mg
  • Phosphorus: 11.1 mg
  • Iron: 1.01 mg
  • Thiamine: 0.010 mg
  • Riboflavin: 0.026 mg
  • Niacin: 0.302 mg
Medicinal Benefits:
  • The juice is effective as eye drops (regarded as a magic curative).
  • Decoction of leaves or the juice of the leaves, are often consumed as a cure for venereal disease.
  • A leaf decoction is taken to relieve rectal inflammation.
  • The fruit is given to children as a protection against coughs.
  • A flower infusion is believed be effective against coughs and thrush.
  • A leaf infusion is a remedy for coughs and is taken after childbirth as a tonic.
  • The leaves are applied as poultice on itches, swellings of mumps and rheumatism, and on skin problems.
  • The fruit and leaves are applied on bites of poisonous insect.
  • Syrup made from Bilimbi fruit is taken as a cure for fever and inflammation and to stop rectal bleeding and alleviate internal hemorrhoids.
Culinary uses:
  • The juice of the fruit is popular for making cooling and refreshing drinks similar to lemonade.
  • The most common use for the fruits is a flavoring for fish and meat dishes. It also use for pickling and is substituted for mango in chutney. To reduce acidity, it may be first pricked and soaked in water overnight, or soaked in salted water for a shorter time; then it is boiled with much sugar to make a jam or an acid jelly. A quicker pickle is made by putting the fruits and salt into boiling water. This can be kept only 4 to 5 days.
Other uses:
  • The high acid content of the juice makes it a good agent for removing stains from the skin.
  • The juice is useful for bleaching stains from white clothe, and also tarnish from brass.
  • In olden days it was used for cleaning the blade of a keris, the short, wavy dagger of the Malays.
  • The juice serves as mordants (serves to fix color) in the preparation of an orange dye for silk fabrics.

September 6, 2011

Benefits of Bilberry

Bilberry is made from a little blue berry that is related to blueberries and cranberries. Bilberry is a powerful anti-inflammatory. The herb is also a powerful antioxidant and has glucoquinine (lowers blood sugar levels). Bilberry contains flavonoids called anthocyanosides that protect the collagen structures in the blood vessels of the eye. Bilberry is used to treat eye problems such as Macular Degeneration, diabetic neuropathy, and/or cataracts.

Benefits of Bilberry

Bilberry is found mostly in dark skinned fruits. It is used to treat diarrhea, vericose veins, and mucous membrane inflammation. The herb is beneficial in the treatment of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and in eye health.

This herb may also help night vision. During World War II, British Pilots ate bilberry jam before going out on night flights. They claimed it improved their vision. It is believed that the bilberry herb helps the eyes to adjust to changes in light quickly. This is one of the greatest benefits of bilberry and can be very beneficial for ones eyes according to many studies.

In Europe it is used to treat venous insufficiency- a condition that causes swelling and varicose veins. It further relieves pain and itching, and it also. Helps combat skin ulcers on the legs. Reynaud's disease may benefit from bilberry. Reynauds causes pain and numbness in the outer extremities (fingers, toes and nose) when cold.

Bilberry improves circulation and makes artery walls. The herb may reduce inflammation, ease gastro-intestinal problems, and gum problems that have been linked to heart disease. Diarrhea and mouth sores can benefit from Bilberry as well. Bilberry has strong antiseptic properties, relieves peptic ulcers, diabetes, fibrocystic diseases, and painful menstruation.

Our conclusion For The Benefits Of Bilberry

Because of Bilberry's strong antioxidant composition, the herb makes an excellent free radical scavenger, which helps combat the cell damage that leads to premature aging and disease. The most noted benefit that we briefly discussed above, is its ability to treat a range of problems relating to ones eye health. For example, the herb protects collagen structures in the blood vessels of the eyes, thus promoting healthy capillaries that carry many vital nutrients, such as oxygen-rich blood to your eye muscles.

Various Studies have confirmed that the benefits of bilberry go even further than one might be aware of. The herb can be useful for protecting against macular degeneration, cataracts, night blindness, and poor or fading vision. We believe bilberry to be one of the best herbs available for the protection of ones eyes health. Clinical studies have even shown that if given orally to healthy people, it improves visual accuracy. Our conclusion is that everyone should consider consuming bilberry as it helps as part of an overall maintenance of ones health.

Other benefits of bilberry include treating menstrual cramps and helping aid stomach ulcers. Varicose veins, thrombosis, angina, and poor circulation may also be improved with the use of bilberry, as the herb helps with healthy blood flow.

Our last point to note is that bilberry contains a substance called glucoquinine, which has the ability to lower ones blood sugar levels significantly and its antioxidant, anthocyanin, within the herb itself, can reduce high blood pressure.

Possible Precautions for those considering using Bilberry

Some side effects related to the use of Bilberry, include the possibility of: stomach upset, dizziness, or headache. It could cause diarrhea, and thin out blood. Caution should be used as bilberry could interfere with medications. However, there are no known adverse interactions with prescription drugs, or have there been any harmful effects noted in the literature for this herb to the best of our knowledge. As always, though, use your common sense when taking nutritional supplements: if you notice any unwanted side effects, discontinue usage, or reduce your dosage level straight away. Remember to always consult with a qualified physician before beginning supplementation of any kind.

Pregnant or nursing women should always refrain from supplementation with nutritional products until they speak with their personal doctor.

Our opinion on the Bilberry Herb

The evidence for bilberry's benefits as a herb are long, varied, and shown in many clinical trails when it comes to treating eye disorders and maintaining clear vision in healthy individuals. However, many of the recent beneficial discoveries need further study in our opinions to validate the benefits further. Among these new findings are bilberry's benefits for menstrual cramps and helping treat stomach ulcers.

Because of the many benefits of bilberry, along with more or less unknown adverse side effects, we would say it is a supplement well worth checking out especially since there is a lack of side effects of bilberry -- unlike many other herbs on the market.

Tips On Getting The Best Benefits Of Bilberry

1. Make sure you purchase a bilberry supplement produced with a standardized extract. Standardized extracts contain the highest level of therapeutic benefits within the herbs. Most other herbal supplements on the market, however, do not even contain the amount of ingredients stated on the label. This is worrying within the nutritional industry and consumers need to take this issue seriously.

2. Dosages range from 20 to 160 mg. However, people who are in good overall health should take lower dosage levels, but maintain long term use. However, those people with specific conditions, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, etc mentioned above in our article, may wish to supplement with dosage levels in the higher ranges, but do not go over what we have stated above.

Bearberry For The Skin

Historically, bearberry has been one of the most successful treatments of urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and a host of other illnesses. Bearberry is a powerful tonic for the body, and its antiseptic properties are excellent for the skin as well. Bearberry is one of the many ingredients that are becoming more prominent in skin care products today. Cosmetic companies are seeing the need to create skin care products with natural ingredients to fight skin conditions and offer safer alternatives, especially for those with sensitive skin and allergies.

Common antiseptics like witch hazel are still widely used today to treat wounds, acne, and other skin conditions. Natural resources like herbs and berries were the only form of medicinal or cosmetic treatment available. Now, these natural enhancements are making way to today's mainstream cosmetics. These cosmetics happen to be the most successful product lines available to combat a variety of skin conditions.

One of the little known secrets to bearberry is the hypopigmenting component. This component has a whitening effect on the skin, making bearberry perfect for those want to treat freckles, age spots, or vitiligo. Used alone, bearberry can dramatically change the tone and color of the skin. Because of the powerful whitening effects, bearberry is combined with other ingredients in cosmetics to have a subtle effect on the skin. This way, the bearberry will be mild enough to lighten problem areas without overbleaching. Used regularly, bearberry can remove the most stubborn pigmented areas of the skin.

Another benefit to the potent properties of Bearberry is the bacteriostatic action that works against Staphylococci, the staph responsible for the MRSA superbug. Any skin care product with Bearberry may also help the fight against the superbug, in addition to the other benefits for the skin.

Bearberry also increases the cell turnover rate and it is an excellent antioxidant. It works to fight free radicals, preventing additional skin conditions, and works as a natural sunscreen.

Too much sun exposure can cause skin cancer, and the first sign of skin cancer is the presence of melanoma, usually in the form of freckles, age spots, and moles. Bearberry can reverse the damage from the sun, and may very well play a role in the prevention of skin cancer.

Various studies have concluded the benefits and the risks of using sunscreen. Dermatologists only look at the skin, so they are going to recommend using a sunscreen. While sunscreen may block out the sun's rays, it will also block out the needed Vitamin D component, the same component responsible for the prevention of breast and other cancers. It may seem like a catch 22, but keep in mind that natural ingredients like bearberry will let you have your cake and eat it too. With Bearberry, you can enjoy the sun, reverse the signs of sun damage, and protect against further damage of the sun.

Bearberry, like any other herb or medicinal remedy, is not allergy-free for everyone.

September 3, 2011

Barberry

Barberry is one of the oldest medicinees. Not too long ago thousands of lives were being saved with the help of mixtures prepared from barberry root. Those mixtures would diminish fever, control common cold and lung infections.

Description of Barberry plant

Barberry, named scientifically as "Berberis Vulgaris", is a thorny shrub with yellow flowers, small red fruits and leaves which are narrow at the base and narrow and serrated on the edges; it grows along with other shrubs at the edge of fields or the outskirts of forests. It's a decorative herb through its nicely colored flowers and fruits which last throughout the year including winter time and through its leaves that change color during the autumn season. Barberry is often cultivated as a hedge in parks and gardens.

barberry It is also planted around houses where because of its thorny aspect that keeps away any unwanted guests. However, barberry is a propitious host for "Puccinia graminis" (stem rust of wheat), and for that reason it's forbidden for the barberry to be cultivated in certain areas like the agricultural ones.

The herb has been used throughout the time for its medicineal characteristics. In the traditional Chinese medicine, barberry was mentioned more than 3000 years ago.

Proprieties of Barberry

In the chemical composition of the herb there are a considerable number of active substances. The bark contains a large number of alkaloids (berberine, berbamine, oxyacantha) and tanines. Barberry fruits contain glucose, fructose, malic acid, pectine, vitamin C. The active substances from the herb bring about the following effects: haemostatic, diuretic, vasodilator, hypertensive, antibacterial (kills bacteria and parasites), and anti-inflammatory. Berberine, the potent agent has numerous usages in controlling different illnesses (stimulates digestion and reduces the gastrointestinal pains) and at the same time it toughens the immune system.

Treatments

Among the most recommended usages of barberry are those against diarrhea (and in its more serious forms - cholera), against fever, anemia and also against hangovers. It's also efficient against a considerable number of infections - malaria or the lung infections, while controlling the secretions of the mucous membrane. It has a strong sedative effect, decreases the blood pressure and is also a uterine stimulant. Barberry can be administrated to help correct the growth of the spleen.

Preparations

Barberry can be ingested as an aliment due to its generous supply of vitamin C. Its fruits are used for making juice, syrup and jam.

Only the dry crust from the roots and stem is being used in medicinal purposes. Barbarry can be found on the market under the forms of tea, tincture, pills and ointment. Usually the percentage of berberine from those products is between 8 and 12%.

Following is the shortened version on how to prepare the barberry decoct: 1/2 of powdered barberry crust is boiled in a cup of water for 5 minutes, after which it is let to cool down and then is strained. The final mixture gets poured in a cup (2 a day at the most), almost half an hour before dinner. For gargling (against sore throats) the decoct is prepared from one spoon of powdered barberry crust mixed with 0.5 liters of water.

As for the tincture, it should be consumed three times a day in doses of 1.2ml.

As a remedy against kidney problems it's recommended that the next recipe based on barberry crust to be put into use: Finely cut bits of barberry get added in a bottle half filled with plum brandy at 35-40 degrees Celsius until the bottle is filled to the brim. It gets covered with a cork and is let to sit for about 20-30 minutes in a heated place, after which it gets strained. This mixture lasts for five years and is considered a true miracle in fighting the kidney illnesses. It is administrated 2-3 times a day by using a spoon.

Against conjunctivitis the use of cataplasms with powdered barberry crust is recommended.

Warning

Exceding the recommended doses leads to the occurance of side efects (nausea, vomit, dizziness, convulsions) and can also lead to nosebleeds, kidney failure, swells of skin and eyes, blood sugar decrease. The mixturees made from crust of barberry are forbidden to children, pregnant women or women in lactation period. In cases of interaction between this herb with other medicinee to avoid side effects, the advice of the physician should be asked for.

August 30, 2011

Barbados Cherry

Malpighia emarginata is a tropical fruit-bearing shrub or small tree in the family Malpighiaceae. Common names include Barbados cherry, Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry and wild crapemyrtle. Barbados cherry is native from Southern Mexico, Central and South America, but now being also grown as far North as Texas and in subtropical areas – Asia and India. It is known for being extremely rich in vitamin C although it also contains vitamins A, B1, B2 and B3 as well as carotenoids and bioflavonoids which provide very important nutritive value and a possible use as an antioxidant. This vitamin C produced by the fruit is better absorbed by human organisms than synthetic ascorbic acid.

Uses

As food
Close-up on the blossom and unripe fruits

The fruit is edible and widely consumed in the species' native area, and is cultivated elsewhere for its high vitamin C content. There are 1677.6 mg of vitamin C in 100 g of fruit.

* Fruit can be used to make juices and pulps, both very rich in vitamin C and antioxidants;
* Barbados cherry fruit can be used to produce vitamin C concentrate;
* Baby food and juice

A comparative analysis of antioxidant potency among a variety of frozen juice pulps was carried out, including the Barbados cherry fruit. Among the eleven fruits' pulps tested, Barbados cherry was the highest-scoring domestic fruit, meaning it had the most antioxidant potency, with a TEAC (Trolox equivalent antioxidant activity) score of 53.2 mmol g.

Absolut Vodka released Absolut Los Angeles, a limited-edition spirit flavored with Barbados cherry, açai, pomegranate, and blueberry, in July 2008.

Chiquita's Strawberry-Banana C-Optima drink, sold in 4-packs of 125ml apiece in Belgium and Germany, advertises on its lid that it contains 3 Barbados cherrys and 200mg of Vitamin C.

Other uses

Barbados cherry is a popular bonsai subject because of its small leaf, fruit and fine ramification. It is also grown as an ornamental and for hedges.

August 27, 2011

Bael

Common Names

English: Wood apple, Bengal Quince
Hindi: Bael, Sirphal
Scientific Names

Species: Aegle marmelos Correa
Family: Rutaceae
Uses

Various parts of the tree are used for its curative, pesticidal and nutritive properties. Fresh half ripe Bael fruit is mildly astringent and used to cure dysentery, diarrhoea, hepatitis, tuberculosis, dyspepsia and good for heart and brain. Roots have antidiarrhoetic, antidote to snake venom, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. The Bael fruit is one of the most nutritious fruits, rich in riboflavin and used for the preparation of a number of products like candy, squash, toffee, slab, pulp powder and nectar. The leaves and seed oil have pesticidal properties.
Origin

Woody tree, native to India. Now naturalized in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and most of southeastern Asian countries.

Crop Status

A perennial woody tree grown in kitchen gardens, boundary plantation around mango orchards and in forest plantations in most of the states of India.

Traditional Medicinal Uses

It is used as a medicine to cure a number of diseases in India. It's medicinal properties have been listed within "Charaka Samhita," an early medical treatise.

Nutrition

The deficiency of nitrogen and zinc is common in Bael orchards and can be corrected by soil application or foliar spray.

August 23, 2011

Babaco

Common name - Babaco, Mountain Papaya are the few names in which Babaco is known by.

Origin - The babaco is known to have originated in the central south highlands of Ecuador .

Appearance - Babaco is an attractive torpedo shaped fruit with an effervescent flesh hence it is also called the champagne fruit . When sliced crosswise, the facets of this fruit gives a pentagonal outline which gives it the scientific name of Carica pentagona. The texture of this golden fruit is very light and refreshing. The babaco fruit is just like a papaw with a single, knobbly stem dividing into two or more branches at the top. It bears a few large, sparse flowers and lobed leaves which forms on the trunk and branches.

Nutrients in Babaco

Babáco is best eaten raw. It contains three times the amount of papain as in papaya and is considered as an excellent source of vitamin A and C. Our body needs vitamin C which mainly helps to heal wounds and also to maintain healthy gums.


Babaco Facts

1) The capacity of a matured babaco tree is nearly between 38 to 100 fruits per year.
2) Fruits are harvested only when they lose their green colour and turn yellow all over.
3) Babacos require a very warm, humid climate and perfect drainage. They are not tolerant to strong winds and hot dry conditions.
4) All babacos are female and do not require pollination, which means all the fruits are seedless.
5) The babaco plant has an average life span of about eight years.
6) The babaco plant is damaged by air frost, and sometimes will be killed in severe air frosts.
7) Babaco fruits may get damaged easily, hence it should be handled very carefully.

Babaco - disease controller

Babacos are remarkably tough and disease-resistant. They are very susceptible to root rot diseases when they become saturated with water or full of water. Severe root rot diseases in babacos can only be treated by chopping down the plant and either treating the soil with a fungicide or,chopping out the whole root system and leaving the ground empty by without planting any other fruit tree there for at least a year.

Prolonged humidity can also bring on powdery mildew, which coats the leaves in a pale, powdery substance. This can be easily treated with either milk sprays (one part milk to 10 parts water) every 10 days or a commercial brand remedy. Prevention is always better than cure – good drainage, plenty of light, and good air circulation around the plants will prevent the trees from the occurence of such problems. Babacos need humidity to set fruit. Crowding them to together may cause the fungal problems to develop.
Diseases in Babaco

The major pests affecting the babaco fruit and the tree are the

* Two spotted mite - Tetranychus uraticae
* Strawberry mite - Tetranychus atlanticus

Controlling these diseases is very difficult since most miticides are phytotoxic to babaco leaves. Predatory mites may give reasonable control. Slugs and the California brown snail may damage the fruit and must be controlled.

August 20, 2011

Avocado

What's New and Beneficial about Avocados

* Consider adding avocado to salads, and not only on account of taste! Recent research has shown that absorption of two key carotenoid antioxidants—lycopene and beta-carotene—increases significantly when fresh avocado (or avocado oil) is added to an otherwise avocado-free salad. One cup of fresh avocado (150 grams) added to a salad of romaine lettuce, spinach, and carrots increased absorption of carotenoids from this salad between 200-400%. This research result makes perfect sense to us because carotenoids are fat-soluble and would be provided with the fat they need for absorption from the addition of avocado. Avocado oil added to a salad accomplished this same result. Interestingly, both avocado oil and fresh avocado added to salsa increased carotenoid absorption from the salsa as well. That's even more reason for you to try our 15-Minute Halibut with Avocado Salsaa great-tasting recipe that can help optimize your carotenoid health benefits.

* The method you use to peel an avocado can make a difference to your health. Research has shown that the greatest concentration of carotenoids in avocado occurs in the dark green flesh that lies just beneath the skin. You don't want to slice into that dark green portion any more than necessary when you are peeling an avocado. For this reason, the best method is what the California Avocado Commission has called the "nick and peel" method. In this method, you actually end up peeling the avocado with your hands in the same way that you would peel a banana. The first step in the nick-and-peel method is to cut into the avocado lengthwise, producing two long avocado halves that are still connected in the middle by the seed. Next you take hold of both halves and twist them in opposite directions until they naturally separate. At this point, remove the seed and cut each of the halves lengthwise to produce long quartered sections of the avocado. You can use your thumb and index finger to grip the edge of the skin on each quarter and peel it off, just as you would do with a banana skin. The final result is a peeled avocado that contains most of that dark green outermost flesh so rich in carotenoid antioxidants!

* We tend to think about carotenoids as most concentrated in bright orange or red vegetables like carrots or tomatoes. While these vegetables are fantastic sources of carotenoids, avocado—despite its dark green skin and largely greenish inner pulp—is now known to contain a spectacular array of carotenoids. Researchers believe that avocado's amazing carotenoid diversity is a key factor in the anti-inflammatory properties of this vegetable. The list of carotenoids found in avocado include well-known carotenoids like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lutein, but also many lesser known carotenoids including neochrome, neoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and violaxanthin.

* Avocado has sometimes received a "bad rap" as a vegetable too high in fat. While it is true that avocado is a high-fat food (about 85% of its calories come from fat), the fat contained in avocado is unusual and provides research-based health benefits. The unusual nature of avocado fat is threefold. First are the phytosterols that account for a major portion of avocado fats. These phytosterols include beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol and they are key supporters of our inflammatory system that help keep inflammation under control. The anti-inflammatory benefits of these avocado fats are particularly well-documented with problems involving arthritis. Second are avocado's polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs). PFAs are widely present in ocean plants but fairly unique among land plants—making the avocado tree (and its fruit) unusual in this regard. Like the avocado's phytosterols, its PFAs also provide us with anti-inflammatory benefits. Third is the unusually high amount of a fatty acid called oleic acid in avocado. Over half of the total fat in avocado is provided in the form of oleic acid—a situation very similar to the fat composition of olives and olive oil. Oleic acid helps our digestive tract form transport molecules for fat that can increase our absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like carotenoids. As a monounsaturated fatty acid, it has also been shown to help lower our risk of heart disease. So don't be fooled by avocado's bad rap as a high-fat food. Like other high-fat plant foods (for example, walnuts and flaxseeds), avocado can provide us with unique health benefits precisely because of its unusual fat composition.

Health Benefits


Promote Heart Health

Before reviewing special health areas in which avocados truly shine in terms of their health benefits, it's worth remembering the big picture. That's exactly what Victor Fulgoni and his fellow researchers at Nutrition Impact, LLC did when they reviewed data from the federal government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES 2001-2006) and the dietary intake of 14,484 U.S. adults. Amazingly, only 273 adults participating in this study reported consumption of avocado within the last 24 hours. Amongst the 273 participants who reported recent consumption of avocado, however, nutrient intake was found to be significant higher than other participants for several vitamins (vitamin E and vitamin K), several minerals (potassium and magnesium), and at least one desirable macronutrient (total dietary fiber). Avocado consumers were also determined to be lower in weight and lower in body mass index than non-consumers. Total fat intake, total monounsaturated fat intake, and total polyunsaturated fat intake was higher in consumers of avocado, even though their overall calorie intake was not significantly different from non-consumers of avocado. This nationwide comparison of avocado consumers and non-consumers doesn't prove that avocado consumers get health advantages from avocado. Nor does it prove that avocado consumption makes us lower in weight. But it does point us in the general direction of viewing avocado as a health supportive food that may give us a "leg up" in terms of health and nourishment.

Wide-Ranging Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

The ability of avocado to help prevent unwanted inflammation is absolutely unquestionable in the world of health research. The term "anti-inflammatory" is a term that truly applies to this delicious food. Avocado's anti-inflammatory nutrients fall into five basic categories:

* phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol
* carotenoid antioxidants, including lutein, neoxanthin, neochrome, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, violaxanthin , beta-carotene and alpha-carotene
* other (non-carotenoid) antioxidants, including the flavonoids epicatechin and epigallocatechin 3-0-gallate, vitamins C and E, and the minerals manganese, selenium, and zinc
* omega-3 fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (approximately 160 milligrams per cup of sliced avocado)
* polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PSA)s

Arthritis—including both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis—are health problems that have received special research attention with respect to dietary intake of avocado. All categories of anti-inflammatory nutrients listed above are likely to be involved in avocado's ability to help prevent osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. One especially interesting prevention mechanism, however, appear to involve avocado's phytosterols (stigmasterol, campesterol, and beta-sitosterol) and the prevention of too much pro-inflammatory PGE2 (prostaglandin E2) synthesis by the connective tissue.

Optimized Absorption of Carotenoids

No single category of nutrients in avocado is more impressive than carotenoids. Here's a list that summarizes key carotenoid antioxidants provided by avocado:

* alpha-carotene
* beta-carotene
* beta-cryptoxanthin
* chrysanthemaxanthin
* lutein
* neochrome
* neoxanthin
* violaxanthin
* zeaxanthin

Optimal absorption of these fat-soluble phytonutrients requires just the right amount and combination of dietary fats—and that is exactly the combination that is provided by avocado! Included within avocado are generous amounts of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that makes it easier for the digestive tract to form transport molecules (chylomicrons) that can carry carotenoids up into the body. This great match between avocado's fat content and its carotenoids also extends to the relationship between avocado and other foods. Consider, for example, a simple salad composed of romaine lettuce, spinach, and carrots. This simple salad is rich in carotenoids, and when we eat it, we definitely get important carotenoid benefits. But recent research has shown that if one cup of avocado (150 grams) is added to this salad, absorption of carotenoids will be increased by 200-400%! This improvement in carotenoid absorption has also been shown in the case of salsa made with and without avocado. (That's even more reason, we think, to try our recipe for 15-Minute Halibut with Avocado Salsa!)


Supports Cardiovascular Health

Avocado's support for heart and blood vessels might be surprising to some people who think about avocado as too high in fat for heart health. From a research standpoint, however, many metabolic aspects of heart health - including levels of inflammatory risk factors, levels of oxidative risk factors, and blood fat levels (including level of total cholesterol) - are improved by avocado. In addition, we know that heart health is improved by intake of oleic acid (the primary fatty acid in avocado) and by intake of omega-3 fatty acids (provided by avocado in the form of alpha-linolenic acid and in the amount of 160 milligrams per cup). Since elevated levels of homocysteine form a key risk factor for heart disease, and since B vitamins are very important for healthy regulation of homocysteine levels, avocado's significant amounts of vitamin B-6 and folic acid provide another channel of heart support.

Research on avocado and heart disease remains in the preliminary stage, with studies mostly limited to lab studies on cells or animals fed avocado extracts. But we fully expect to see large-scale human studies confirming the heart health benefits of this unique food.

Promotes Blood Sugar Regulation

One of the most fascinating areas of avocado research—and one that may turn out to be the most unique for health support—involves carbohydrates and blood sugar regulation. Avocado is relatively low-carb food, with about 19% of its calories coming from carbs. It's also a low-sugar food, containing less than 2 grams of total sugar per cup, and falls very low on the glycemic index. At the same time, one cup of avocado provides about 7-8 grams of dietary fiber, making it an important dietary source of this blood sugar-regulating nutrient. Given this overall carb profile, we would not expect avocado to be a problematic food for blood sugar unless it was eaten in excessive amounts (many cups per serving).

Within its relatively small carb content, however, avocado boasts some of the most unusual carb components in any food. When it is still on the tree, avocado contains about 60% of its carbs in the form of 7-carbon sugars. In sizable amounts, 7-carbon sugars (like mannoheptulose, the primary carb in unripened avocado) are rarely seen in foods. Because of their rare status, food scientists have been especially interested in the 7-carbon sugars (mannoheptulose, sedoheptulose, and related sugar alcohols like perseitol) found in avocado. The 7-carbon sugars like mannoheptulase may help regulate the way that blood sugar (glucose) is metabolized by blocking activity of an enzyme called hexokinase and changing the level of activity through a metabolic pathway called glycolysis. Research in this area is still a long way from determining potential health benefits for humans from dietary intake of these 7-carbon sugars. But it's an exciting area of potential health benefit for avocado, especially since this food is already recognized as low glycemic index.

One final interesting observation comes from this research on avocado and its carbs: after five days of ripening (post-harvest, beginning with removal of the avocado from the tree), the carb profile of avocado changes significantly. The 7-carbon sugars change from being the predominant form of carbs in avocado (60%) to being an important but minority component (between 40-50% of total carbs). With ripening, the 5-carbon sugars—especially sucrose—become the predominant carbs. While it's too early in the research process to draw health-oriented conclusions from this information, these findings may be encouraging us to consider degree of avocado ripeness as an important factor in its health benefits. We already know to stay away from an extremely overripe avocado that has become overly soft and has developed dark sunken spots on its skin. Perhaps off in the future, we'll be able to zero in on exact amounts of avocado ripeness that offers different types of unique health benefits, including carb-related benefits.

Anti-Cancer Benefits

The ability of avocado to help prevent the occurrence of cancers in the mouth, skin, and prostate gland has been studied in a preliminary way by health researchers, mostly through the use of lab studies on cancer cells or lab studies involving animals and their consumption of avocado extracts. But even though this anti-cancer research has been limited with respect to humans and diet, we believe that the preliminary results are impressive. The anti-cancer properties of avocado are definitely related to its unusual mix of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients. That relationship is to be expected since cancer risk factors almost always include excessive inflammation (related to lack of anti-inflammatory nutrients) and oxidative stress (related to lack of antioxidants). But here is where the avocado story gets especially interesting. In healthy cells, avocado works to improve inflammatory and oxidative stress levels. But in cancer cells, avocado works to increase oxidative stress and shift the cancer cells over into a programmed cell death cycle (apoptosis), lessening the cancer cell numbers. In other words, avocado appears to selectively push cancer cells "over the brink" in terms of oxidative stress and increase their likelihood of dying, while at the same time actively supporting the health of non-cancerous cells by increasing their supply antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. We look forward to large-scale studies in this area involving humans and dietary consumption of avocado.