9 Health Benefits of Almonds

 

Do you know how beneficial almonds are for your health?

Almonds are my favorite nut. Most mornings I add 7 to 10 almonds to my breakfast.  Almonds are tasty and nutritious as most people will agree.

9 Health Benefits of Almonds:

1.  They reduce heart attack risk.
Those who consume nuts five times a week have about a 50 percent reduction in risk of heart attack according to the Loma Linda School of Public Health.

2.  They lower ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Almonds added to the diet have a favorable effect on blood cholesterol levels, according to a clinical study by Dr. Gene Spiller, Director of the Health Research and Studies Center, Inc.
 

3.  They protects artery walls from damage.
It was found that the flavonoids in almond skins work in synergy with the vitamin E, thus reducing the risk of heart disease (Research at Tufts University).
 

4.  Almonds help build strong bones and teeth.
The phosphorus in almonds helps make this possible.

 

5.  They provide healthy fats and aid in weight loss:

6.  Almonds lower the rise in blood sugar and insulin after meals.
 

7.  They help provide good brain function. 
Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, nutrients that boost brain activity and may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
 

8.  They nourish the nervous system.
According to Ayurveda, almonds help increase high intellectual level and longevity.

9.  They alkalize the body.
Almonds are the only nut and one of the few proteins that are alkaline forming.  When your body is not alkaline enough, you risk osteoporosis, poor immune function, low energy and weight gain.

 

Did you know?

Almond Nutrition:

 

Almond History:

Almonds are thought to have originated in western Asia and North Africa. They have been written about in many historical texts, including the Bible.

 

The almond tree is one of the earliest domesticated tree nuts, because wild almonds produce cyanide; even eating a few dozen at one time can be fatal.

 

How to Store:

Keep them in an airtight container so the oil does not go rancid. Almonds keep best in a dark, cool environment such as your refrigerator, where they can stay good for up to two years, according to the Almond Board of California.

If you want them to last up to four years, freeze them in airtight containers.

Almond Concerns:

Make sure all almonds are not pasteurized and not irradiated, as this makes them nutritionally deficient. Read more about this: The Killing Of California Almonds

Wild almond varieties are toxic, domesticated almonds are not.

It is estimated that one to two percent of the population is allergic to tree nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and macadamia nuts), peanuts or both.

Wait until children are at least one year old before feeding them any kind of nuts.

 

8 Tips for eating or cooking:

Let’s get these tasty almonds into our diet.

1.  How to get the nutrition from almonds: Almonds can be difficult to digest and may stress your pancreas. Like all nuts they contain phytate which makes them difficult to digest. To get maximum nutrition it is best to soak them before they are eaten or roast them. Almonds are one of only a few nuts that will actually sprout when soaked. When you soak them it neutralizes the phytate, allowing the nutrients from the nut to be released. Watch a video explaining more about sprouting nuts and seeds here:  Sprouting Nuts and Seeds video

2.  Almond flour is great in gluten-free cooking and baking.

3.  Almond Milk with its mild flavor and light color is a very good alternative for those that need to be dairy free, soy free or vegan.

4.  Green almonds
 are dipped in sea salt and eaten as snacks on Iran street markets.

5.  Eat almonds with the skin,
 as it contains more than 20 antioxidant flavanoids.

6.  Almond oil 
is good for cooking at high temperatures; it has a high smoke point.

7.  Use on the skin and in hair: It’s so gentle and moisturizing that it is great for baby massage.

8. Eat your almonds in this delicious Nutritious Nut Loaf.

 


50 REASONS TO DRINK WHEATGRASS EVERYDAY

 

1. Wheatgrass Juice is one of the best sources of living chlorophyll available today. However, to get the full benefit, the chlorophyll must come fresh from a living plant.

 

 

2. Wheatgrass juice contains up to 70% chlorophyll, which is an important blood builder. The chlorophyll molecules closely resemble that of the hemin molecule, the pigment which combines with protein to form hemoglobin. The major difference is the chlorophyll molecule contains magnesium as it’s central atom, and the hemin molecule contains iron. The molecular structure of these two substances is almost identical in all other respects.

 

 

3. Chlorophyll is the molecule that absorbs sunlight and uses its energy to synthesize carbohydrates from CO2 and water. This process is known as photosynthesis, a complex biochemical pathway in which solar energy is used to convert water and carbon dioxide to glucose and other carbohydrates, and is the basis for sustaining the life processes of all plants. Since animals and most humans obtain their food supply by eating plants, photosynthesis can be said to be the source of our life also.

 

 

4.Chlorophyll contains enzymes and super- oxide dismutase, a copper-containing protein found in mature red blood cells. This enzyme decomposes superoxide radicals in the body into a more manageable form, thereby helping to slow down the aging process.

 

 

5. Chlorophyll is the first product of light and, therefore, contains more light energy than any other food element.

 

6. Wheatgrass juice contains crude chlorophyll (as opposed to pure) and can be taken orally and as a colon implant without side effects. In addition, scientists have never found wheatgrass to be toxic in any amount when given to either animals or humans.

 

 

7. Science has proven that chlorophyll arrests growth and development of unfriendly bacteria.

8. Chlorophyll is antibacterial and can be used inside and outside the body as a natural healer. The United States Army exposed guinea pigs to lethal doses of radiation. The guinea pigs fed chlorophyll-rich vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli had half the mortality rate as those fed a non-chlorophyll diet.

 

 

9. Chlorophyll can be extracted from many plants, but wheatgrass is superior because it has been found to have over 100 elements needed by man. If grown in organic soil, it absorbs 92 of the known 115 minerals from the soil.

 

 

10. Liquid chlorophyll has the ability to get into the tissue, where it can actually refine and renew them.

 

 

11. The bland soothing effect of chlorophyll (wheatgrass) ointments are very beneficial to the treatment of various skin diseases involving the outer and underlying layers of the skin, including: itching and burning of the rectum; ivy poisoning; weeping and dry eczema and even in conditions caused by insect bites or infection.

 

 

12. Doctors R. Redpath and J. C. Davis found chlorophyll packs inserted into the sinuses had a drying effect, clearing up congestion, and giving immediate relief. Congested head colds were cleared up within 24 hours.

 

 

13. Liquid chlorophyll washes drug deposits from the body.

 

 

14. Chlorophyll neutralizes toxins in the body.

 

 

15. Chlorophyll helps purify the liver.

 

 

16. Chlorophyll improves blood sugar problems.

 

 

17. In the American Journal of Surgery (1940), Benjamin Gruskin, M.D. recommends chlorophyll for its antiseptic benefits. The article suggests the following clinical uses for chlorophyll: to clear up foul smelling odors, neutralize Strep infections, heal wounds, hasten skin grafting, T cure chronic sinusitis, overcome chronic inner ear inflammation and infection, reduce varicose veins and heal leg ulcers, eliminate impetigo and other scabby eruptions, heal rectal sores, successfully treat inflammation of the uterine cervix, get rid of parasitic vaginal infections, reduce typhoid fever, and cure advanced pyorrhea in many cases.

 

 

18. Dr. Birscher, a research scientist, called chlorophyll “concentrated sun power.” He said, “chlorophyll increases the function of the heart, affects the vascular system, the intestines, the uterus, and the lungs.”

 

 

19. Wheatgrass juice can dissolve the scars that are formed in the lungs from breathing acid gasses. The effect of carbon monoxide is minimized since chlorophyll increases hemoglobin production.

 

 

20. Wheatgrass is high in oxygen like all green plants that contain chlorophyll. This is beneficial because the brain and all body tissues function at an optimal level in a highly- oxygenated environment.

 

 

21. It is a nutritionally complete food which will sustain the growth and development of laboratory animals and humans alike. Wheatgrass has what is called the grass-juice factor, which has been shown to keep herbivorous animals alive practically indefinitely.

 

 

22. Wheatgrass juice is a superior detoxification agent compared to carrot juice and other fruits and vegetables.

23. The starch of the wheat berry is stored energy which when converted to simpler sugars is a quick energy source. It is especially good for athletes because it is a juice and is assimilated in 20 minutes or less, and uses very little of the body’s energy to extract the nutrients..

 

 

24. Because 1 ounce of juice equals 2 pounds of produce nutritionally, it naturally shuts off the appestat in the brain.

 

 

25. Wheatgrass contains a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, including the thirteen essential ones, combined with dozens of trace elements and enzymes.

 

 

26. Wheatgrass juice is an effective healer because it contains all minerals known to man, and vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, l and K. It is extremely rich in protein, and contains 17 amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

 

 

27. Farmers in the Midwest who have sterile cows and bulls put them on wheatgrass to restore fertility. (The high magnesium content in chlorophyll builds enzymes that restore the sex hormones.)

 

 

28. Wheatgrass juice cures acne and even help to remove scars after it has been ingested for seven to eight months. The diet, of course, must be improved at the same time.

 

 

29. Wheatgrass juice acts as a detergent in the body and can be used as a body deodorant.

 

 

30. A small amount of wheatgrass juice in the human diet   helps prevents tooth decay.

 

 

31. Wheatgrass juice held in the mouth for 5 minutes will help eliminate toothaches. It pulls poisons from the gums.

 

 

32. Gargle wheatgrass juice for a sore throat.

 

 

33. Drink wheatgrass juice for skin problems such as eczema or psoriasis.

 

 

34. Wheatgrass juice helps to keep the hair from graying.

 

 

35. Pyorrhea of the mouth: lay pulp of wheatgrass soaked in juice on diseased area in mouth or chew wheatgrass, spitting out the pulp.

 

 

36. Wheatgrass juice improves the digestion.

 

 

37. Wheatgrass juice is an excellent skin cleanser and can be absorbed through the skin for nutrition. Pour green juice over your body in a tub of warm water and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse off with cold water.

 

 

38. Wheatgrass implants (enemas) are great for healing and detoxifying the colon walls. The implants also heal and cleanse the internal organs. After an enema is evacuated, implant 4 ounces of wheatgrass juice. Retain for 20 minutes.

 

 

39. Wheatgrass juice improves arthritis. Soak a cotton sock with 6 ounces and place on affected area, cover with plastic bag.

 

 

40. For minor eye irritation apply strained wheatgrass juice mixed with half pure water in an eyecup for 15 – 30 seconds.

 

 

41. Massage 6 ounces into the scalp and cover with shower cap for 15 minutes to help eliminate dandruff.

 

 

42. Wheatgrass juice can be used as a douche for many feminine complications.

 

 

43. Wheatgrass juice is great for constipation and keeping the bowels open because it is high in magnesium.

 

 

44. Wheatgrass juice reduces high blood   pressure and enhances the capillaries.

 

 

45. Wheatgrass juice can remove heavy metals from the body.

 

 

46. Wheatgrass juice is great for blood disorders of all kinds.

 

 

47. Another benefit of wheatgrass is you can grow it in just about a weeks, right in your own home.

 

 

48. Wheatgrass is gluten-free because it’s cut before the grain forms.

 

 

49. Dr. Earp Thomas said, “Wheat is the king of all grain foods”. He found that an ounce of wheatgrass in a gallon of fluoridated water would turn the fluorine into harmless calcium-phosphate-fluoride compound. Used in wash water it adds softness to the face and hands. In the bath, it is most soothing. It stops bleeding, eases itching, and helps sores and pimples to heal. Dr. Thomas further discovered that fruits and vegetables contaminated by sprays were thoroughly cleaned and the negative food transformed by wash water with a wisp of wheatgrass placed in the water.

 

 

50. And finally – by taking wheatgrass juice, one may feel an increase in strength and endurance, renewed health and spirituality, and experience an overall sense of well-being.

 

 

9 Top Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

1.  Heart Healthy Magnesium

One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which participates in a wide range of vitally important physiological functions, including the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules of your body), the synthesis of RNA and DNA, the pumping of your heart, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of your blood vessels, and proper bowel function.

 

Magnesium has been shown to benefit your blood pressure and help prevent sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack, and stroke, yet an estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient in this important mineral.

 

2.  Zinc for Immune Support

Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc (one ounce contains more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral). Zinc is important to your body in many ways, including immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, your senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and male sexual function.

Many are deficient in zinc due to mineral-depleted soils, drug effects, plant-based diets, and other diets high in grain. This deficiency is associated with increased colds and flu, chronic fatigue, depression, acne, low birth weight babies, learning problems and poor school performance in children, among others.

 

3.  Plant-Based Omega-3 Fats

Raw nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). We all need ALA, however, ALA has to be converted by your body into the far more essential omega-3 fats EPA and DHA -- by an enzyme in which the vast majority of us have impaired by high insulin levels. So, while pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of ALA, I believe it is essential to get some of your omega-3 fats from animal sources, such as krill oil, as well.

 

 

4.  Prostate Health

Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men’s health. This is in part because of their high zinc content, which is important for prostate health (where it is found in the highest concentrations in the body), and also because pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate). Research suggests that both pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds2 may be particularly beneficial in supporting prostate health.

 

 

5.  Anti-Diabetic Effects

Animal studies suggest that pumpkin seeds may help improve insulin regulation and help prevent diabetic complications by decreasing oxidative stress.4

 

 

6.  Benefits for Postmenopausal Women

Pumpkin seed oil is rich in natural phytoestrogens and studies suggest it may lead to a significant increase in good “HDL” cholesterol along with decreases in blood pressure, hot flashes, headaches, joint pains and other menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women.5

 

 

7.  Heart and Liver Health

Pumpkin seeds, rich in healthy fats, antioxidants and fibers, may provide benefits for heart and liver health, particularly when mixed with flax seeds.6

 

 

8.  Tryptophan for Restful Sleep

Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” Eating pumpkin seeds a few hours before bed, along with a carbohydrate like a small piece of fruit, may be especially beneficial for providing your body the tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production to help promote a restful night’s sleep.7

 

 

9.  Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Pumpkin seed oil has been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. One animal study even found it worked as well as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritis, but without the side effects.8

 

 

 

DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS MACA?

7 Top Health Benefits of Maca

 

Maca, a root that belongs to the radish family, is most commonly available in powder form. Grown in the mountains of Peru, it has been called “Peruvian ginseng.” Maca’s benefits have been long valued, and has recently been popularized as a supplement and food ingredient. There are no serious known side effects of maca, but like any other supplement it should not be taken in large amounts. When you first start using maca, it’s best to begin by taking smaller amounts and building up; even 1/2 teaspoon is a good place to start. And at the other end, 1 tablespoons (of the powder) is an average daily dose. Rotating a few days on and a few days off is often recommended. Taking too much can lead to adverse effects and throw your hormones out of whack. If you experience this, you should take less or wean yourself off completely.

 

Maca is good in smoothies, salads, drinks, cooked foods, and juices. A couple of easy and tasty ways to use it: Our easy No-Bake Vegan Cocoa Maca-roons; and two delicious smoothies — Mocha Maca Banana Smoothie and Strawberry-Vanilla Maca Smoothie. Don’t add it to anything that’s very hot because it will lose all its benefits. The taste can be a bit odd at first but it gets more tolerable and it depends on what you mix it with. Its flavor has been described as “malted” or like toasted oats. Smoothies, puddings, raw sweets, and juices seem to be the best ways to use maca powder. Please be aware that other than the nutritional benefits provided by the vitamins and minerals, the other benefits are anecdotal, as maca has not been formally studied. A great resource that includes a lot of information on maca, as well as how to incorporate it into recipes, is Superfood Kitchen* by Julie Morris. This beautiful book also includes lots of others superfoods in addition to maca, including berries, seeds, grasses, green leafy veggies, and more.

 

 

1. Vitamins
Maca is rich in vitamin B vitamins, C, and E. It provides plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids.

 

 

2. Sexual function
Maca is widely used to promote sexual function of both men and women. It serves as a boost to your libido and increases endurance. At the same time it balances your hormones and increases fertility.

 

 

3. Women’s health and mood
Maca relieves menstrual issues and menopause. It alleviates cramps, body pain, hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings, and depression. If you are pregnant or lactating you should avoid taking maca.

 

 

4. Energy
Within days of using maca your energy level may increase. It is also known for increasing stamina. Many athletes take maca for peak performance. If you find yourself tired most of the time, experiment with maca to see if it helps. Just a small amount could be exactly what you need for a boost!

 

 

5. General health
Maca helps your overall health in a number of ways. It supplies iron and helps restore red blood cells, which aids anemia and cardiovascular diseases. Maca keeps your bones and teeth healthy and allows you to heal from wounds more quickly. When used in conjunction with a good workout regime you will notice an increase in muscle mass.

But be very cautious if you have a cancer related to hormones like testicular and ovarian, among others. If you have liver issues or high blood pressure you should ask your doctor before taking maca.

 

 

6. Skin
Many people take maca for skin issues, as for some people it helps to clear acne and blemishes. Another benefit for your skin is that is decreases sensitivity. In hot or cold weather, maca may help your skin withstand extreme temperatures.

 

 

7. Mood balance
If you find yourself overcome with anxiety, stress, depression or mood swings, maca may help alleviate these symptoms, though of the evidence is anecdotal. Some have reported an increase in mental energy and focus.

 

Energy: Most people feel their mood and energy level lift almost instantly. Users report their energy, stamina and endurance.

 

Sex Drive: Maca has been shown to increase not only the male sex drive, but the production of sperm as well.

Fertility: Maca increases fertility in both men and women.

 

Migraines: If you suffer from migraine headaches you might want to try maca. Because most migraines are related to an imbalance in hormone levels, or fluctuating hormone levels, maca works by leveling out those levels. Maca doesn’t create any hormones in the body – it just helps the body produce them more consistently and effectively. It helps balance the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone. Maca also helps restore balance to the hypothalamus and pituitary glands – the body’s master gland system.

 

Memory: Maca enhances memory as well as our ability to learn and process mentally. It makes us more alert and aware.

 

Wounds: Maca speeds wound healing and benefits the circulatory system as well.

 

Vitamin packed: Maca includes 55 phyto-chemicals, including vitamins B1, B2, B12,

and Vitamin C, zinc. It has amino acids, calcium and phosphorus as well.

 

Immune Booster: Maca’s 22 fatty acids function both as a fungicide and as a local antiseptic. These actions, along with the natural Vitamin C and zinc are believed to help aid in overall immunity enhancement.

 

Stress: For people with adrenal stress from work, disease, exercise or PTSD, maca can reduce the effects of cortisol on the adrenal glands and other organs so impacted by a “Type A”, high pressure lifestyle or job. Athletes, executives and anyone with an active life will appreciate how maca helps address the destructive actions of mental, emotional and physical stress on the body. Maca can help lower high blood pressure and how the body burns and utilizes food.

 

Thyroid: The Thyroid gland controls the rate at which the body produces energy from nutrients. Maca contains an alkaloid extract which activates the body’s natural calcitonine hormones, which regulate the metabolism of calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) in the blood. The hormone is secreted by the thyroid and the parathyroid. It acts in the intestines, bones, and kidneys to increase the (Ca2+) in the plasma. It also aids in wound healing through blood clotting. (Dr. Chacon — Peru)

 

Pancreas: Maca also boosts the work your pancreas does in keeping your blood sugar levels even. The pancreas is a vital part of the digestive process. If the duct from the pancreas become blocked for some reason the digestive fluids of the pancreas may digest the pancreas itself, or lead to pancreatitis, or pancreatic cancer.

 

Thymus: Your thymus is the organ responsible for the health of your immune system. It produces the T-cells that fight off infection and disease, especially important if you are getting treatment for HIV, AIDS or cancer. Maca contains vitamin C as well as trace elements of zinc. Researchers found out years ago that C and zinc, when taken together, help boost the immune system function of the thymus gland. Part of maca’s adaptogenic value may be its ability to enhance the thymus’ cell mediated immunity.

 

 

Definitions

You’ll often hear various terms, such as “phyto-chemical”, or “adaptogen” used when describing Maca. Here is a list of the most common terms and what they mean:

Phyto-chemical – Phyto means “plant,” and “phyto-genisis” is the study of plants and “phyto-chemical” is the study of the chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants. For instance, the substance that gives blueberries their dark blue color is a phyto-chemical. Scientists generally use the term to refer to those plant chemicals that may have a biological significance, but are not yet established as essential nutrients.

 

Adaptogen – An adaptogen is a new class of metabolic regulators (such as maca) which increase the ability of an organism (people or animals) to adapt to environmental factors (stress, diet, toxins, disease etc) and to avoid damage from such factors without causing any side effects from its use. Ginseng, a very popular root herb around the world, is another example of an adaptogen. The concept and name is accepted and used among mainstream researchers as well as many medical professionals.

 

 

How long will it last?
Maca will keep up to a year if kept in a cool, dry, dark place, but like most supplements and herbs, fresher is better and more potent. Use it within a few months of ordering if you’re using it at home. If you’re adding it to smoothies at a smoothie bar, chances are it’s very fresh since it’s something most smoothie bars go through quickly since it’s in high demand.

 

Is it a liquid, powder, tablet, gelatin or capsule and which is best to use?
Maca comes as all of the above, and it’s recommended that you use whatever form best suits you and your life style and preferences. Powder or liquid forms are best if using it in a smoothie. If you use a preferred method (liquid for instance) over a recommended method (powder) you’re more likely to take it consistently. It only works when you take it, so use a form you’re most likely to be comfortable with taking over time. Consider things like taste and how you plan to take it. Many people like to put it in a smoothie; others prefer to dissolve it in water, while others like to take it in pill or capsule form. People react to different forms differently. Some people feel no difference on the liquid and respond well to the powder. It’s up to the individual. The price may vary as well – with powders being less expensive than liquid for instance.

 

What is the difference between cooked, raw, and gelatinized maca?
In
Peru, maca root is traditionally cooked before it is used. Peruvians roast maca roots or boil and mash them like potatoes. One benefit to using cooked maca is that it is easier to digest than the raw root. If you try raw maca and find it upsets your stomach, you can find a supplement or powder that comes from cooked maca. Another option if raw maca irritates your stomach is the gelatinized form. The process of gelatinizing maca uses low heat and pressure to separate out the fibrous parts of the root. This makes the maca more digestible.

 

Is there a difference between raw and organic?
Yes, depending on the supplier there is a difference, notably in the way it is handled. Organic doesn’t necessarily mean raw. Some manufacturers lightly heat their maca, and cooking, even slightly, means the maca is not raw. If raw is important to you, ask your supplier or smoothie bar owner about their maca. Lightly heating it makes it easier for some people to digest, but does not impact the potency of the root.

 

What does it taste like?
Different people say different things about the taste, and raw maca tastes different than dried but in general, maca has an earthy taste that is mildly nutty with a hint of butterscotch. It’s easily blended into superfood smoothies, various milks, chocolates, or mixed into flour for dessert recipes and doesn’t have a strong taste when combined with other foods or liquids. Although people in Peru and some restaurants do cook with maca bread, soups etc. Maca is used as a tea, as a spice, in yogurt, chocolate bars and as a supplement.

 

How often should I take it?
Just as with any exercise, herb, supplement or product, it’s wise to cycle, or take some time off from time to time so your body doesn’t become so used to it that the benefits lapse. Typical schedules vary. You may want to take it for a week then take a week off. Or you can do a month on, a month off and so on. Listen to your body and follow a schedule that works best for you! If you’re asking if you can have a couple of smoothies a day, the answer is probably, depending on how much you put in the smoothie and how your body responds to it. If you find yourself staying awake, unable to sleep, or feeling very alert, you might want to cut back.

 

 

Turmeric Health Benefits

Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the bright yellow of the spice rainbow, is a powerful medicine that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic.

A Potent, Yet Safe Anti-Inflammatory

The volatile oil fraction of turmeric has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models. Even more potent than its volatile oil is the yellow or orange pigment of turmeric, which is called curcumin. Curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, curcumin's anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin. Unlike the drugs, which are associated with significant toxic effects (ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, intestinal bleeding), curcumin produces no toxicity.

An Effective Treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Curcumin may provide an inexpensive, well-tolerated, and effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, recent research suggests. In this study, mice given an inflammatory agent that normally induces colitis were protected when curcumin was added to their diet five days beforehand. The mice receiving curcumin not only lost much less weight than the control animals, but when researchers checked their intestinal cell function, all the signs typical of colitis (mucosal ulceration, thickening of the intestinal wall, and the infiltration of inflammatory cells)were all much reduced. While the researchers are not yet sure exactly how curcumin achieves its protective effects, they think its benefits are the result of not only antioxidant activity, but also inhibition of a major cellular inflammatory agent called NF kappa-B. Plus, an important part of the good news reported in this study is the fact that although curcumin has been found to be safe at very large doses, this component of turmeric was effective at a concentration as low as 0.25 per cent—an amount easily supplied by simply enjoying turmeric in flavorful curries.

Relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Clinical studies have substantiated that curcumin also exerts very powerful antioxidant effects. As an antioxidant, curcumin is able to neutralize free radicals, chemicals that can travel through the body and cause great amounts of damage to healthy cells and cell membranes. This is important in many diseases, such as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventual damage to the joints. Turmeric's combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disease find relief when they use the spice regularly. In a recent study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was compared to phenylbutazone and produced comparable improvements in shortened duration of morning stiffness, lengthened walking time, and reduced joint swelling.

Help for Cystic Fibrosis Sufferers

Curcumin, the major constituent of turmeric that gives the spice its yellow color, can correct the most common expression of the genetic defect that is responsible for cystic fibrosis, suggests an animal study published in the Science (April 2004). Cystic fibrosis, a fatal disease that attacks the lungs with a thick mucus, causing life-threatening infections, afflicts about 30,000 American children and young adults, who rarely survive beyond 30 years of age. The mucus also damages the pancreas, thus interfering with the body's ability to digest and absorb nutrients.

Researchers now know that cystic fibrosis is caused by mutations in the gene that encodes for a protein (the transmembrane conductance regulator or CFTR). The CTFR protein is responsible for traveling to the cell's surface and creating channels through which chloride ions can leave the cell. When the protein is abnormally shaped because of a faulty gene, this cannot happen, so chloride builds up in the cells, which in turn, leads to mucus production.

The most common mutation, which is called DeltaF508, results in the production of a misfolded protein. When mice with this DeltaF508 defect were given curcumin in doses that, on a weight-per-weight basis, would be well-tolerated by humans, curcumin corrected this defect, resulting in a DeltaF508 protein with normal appearance and function. In addition, the Yale scientists studying curcumin have shown that it can inhibit the release of calcium, thus allowing mutated CTFR to exit cells via the calcium channels, which also helps stop the chloride-driven build up of mucus. Specialists in the treatment of cystic fibrosis caution, however, that patients should not self-medicate with dietary supplements containing curcumin, until the correct doses are known and any adverse interactions identified with the numerous prescription drugs taken by cystic fibrosis sufferers.

Cancer Prevention

Curcumin's antioxidant actions enable it to protect the colon cells from free radicals that can damage cellular DNA—a significant benefit particularly in the colon where cell turnover is quite rapid, occuring approximately every three days. Because of their frequent replication, mutations in the DNA of colon cells can result in the formation of cancerous cells much more quickly. Curcumin also helps the body to destroy mutated cancer cells, so they cannot spread through the body and cause more harm. A primary way in which curcumin does so is by enhancing liver function. Additionally, other suggested mechanisms by which it may protect against cancer development include inhibiting the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation and preventing the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth.

Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth and Metastases

Epidemiological studies have linked the frequent use of turmeric to lower rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer; laboratory experiments have shown curcumin can prevent tumors from forming; and research conducted at the University of Texas suggests that even when breast cancer is already present, curcumin can help slow the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs in mice.

In this study, published in Biochemical Pharmacology (September 2005), human breast cancer cells were injected into mice, and the resulting tumors removed to simulate a mastectomy.

The mice were then divided into four groups. One group received no further treatment and served as a control. A second group was given the cancer drug paclitaxel (Taxol); the third got curcumin, and the fourth was given both Taxol and curcumin.

After five weeks, only half the mice in the curcumin-only group and just 22% of those in the curcumin plus Taxol group had evidence of breast cancer that had spread to the lungs.

But 75% of the mice that got Taxol alone and 95% of the control group developed lung tumours.

How did curcumin help? "Curcumin acts against transcription factors, which are like a master switch," said lead researcher, Bharat Aggarwal. "Transcription factors regulate all the genes needed for tumors to form. When we turn them off, we shut down some genes that are involved in the growth and invasion of cancer cells."

In another laboratory study of human non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cells published inBiochemical Pharmacology (September 2005), University of Texas researchers showed that curcumin inhibits the activation of NF-kappaB, a regulatory molecule that signals genes to produce a slew of inflammatory molecules (including TNF, COX-2 and IL-6) that promote cancer cell growth. In addition, curcumin was found to suppress cancer cell proliferation and to induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis (cell suicide) in the lung cancer cells. Early phase I clinical trials at the University of Texas are now also looking into curcumin's chemopreventive and therapeutic properties against multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer, and other research groups are investigating curcumin's ability to prevent oral cancer.

Turmeric and Onions May Help Prevent Colon Cancer

Curcumin, a phytonutrient found in the curry spice turmeric, and quercitin, an antioxidant in onions, reduce both the size and number of precancerous lesions in the human intestinal tract, shows research published in the August 2006 issue of Clinical Gasteroenterology and Hepatology.

Five patients with an inherited form of precancerous polyps in the lower bowel known as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) were treated with regular doses of curcumin and quercetin over an average of six months. The average number of polyps dropped 60.4%, and the average size of the polyps that did develop dropped by 50.9%.

FAP runs in families and is characterized by the development of hundreds of polyps (colorectal adenomas) and, eventually, colon cancer. Recently, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen) have been used to treat some patients with this condition, but these drugs often produce significant side effects, including gastrointestinal ulcerations and bleeding, according to lead researcher Francis M. Giardiello, M.D., at the Division of Gastroenterology, Johns Hopkins University.

Previous observational studies in populations that consume large amounts of curry, as well as animal research, have strongly suggested that curcumin, one of the main ingredients in Asian curries, might be effective in preventing and/or treating cancer in the lower intestine. Similarly, quercetin, an anti-oxidant flavonoid found in a variety of foods including onions, green tea and red wine, has been shown to inhibit growth of colon cancer cell lines in humans and abnormal colorectal cells in animals.

In this study, a decrease in polyp number was observed in four of five patients at three months and four of four patients at six months.

Each patient received curcumin (480 mg) and quercetin (20 mg) orally 3 times a day for 6 months. Although the amount of quercetin was similar to what many people consume daily, the curcumin consumed was more than would be provided in a typical diet because turmeric only contains on average 3-5 % curcumin by weight.

While simply consuming curry and onions may not have as dramatic an effect as was produced in this study, this research clearly demonstrates that liberal use of turmeric and onions can play a protective role against the development of colorectal cancer. And turmeric doesn't have to only be used in curries. This spice is delicious on healthy sautéed apples, and healthy steamed cauliflower and/or green beans and onions. Or, for a flavor-rich, low-calorie dip, try adding some turmeric and dried onion to creamy yogurt.

Turmeric Teams Up with Cauliflower to Halt Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer—the second leading cause of cancer death in American men with 500,000 new cases appearing each year—is a rare occurrence among men in India, whose low risk is attributed to a diet rich in brassica family vegetables and the curry spice, turmeric.

Scientists tested turmeric, a concentrated source of the phytonutrient curcumin, along with phenethyl isothiocyanates, a phytochemical abundant in cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and turnips.

When tested singly, both phenethyl isothiocyanate and curcumin greatly retarded the growth of human prostate cancer cells implanted in immune-deficient mice. In mice with well-established prostate cancer tumors, neither phenethyl isothiocyanate nor curcumin by itself had a protective effect, but when combined, they significantly reduced both tumor growth and the ability of the prostate cancer cells to spread (metastasize) in the test animals.

The researchers believe the combination of cruciferous vegetables and curcumin could be an effective therapy not only to prevent prostate cancer, but to inhibit the spread of established prostate cancers. Best of all, this combination—cauliflower spiced with turmeric—is absolutely delicious! For protection against prostate cancer, cut cauliflower florets in quarters and let sit for 5-10 minutes; this allows time for the production of phenethyl isothiocyanates, which form when cruciferous vegetables are cut, but stops when they are heated. Then sprinkle with turmeric, and healthy sauté on medium heat in a few tablespoons of vegetable or chicken broth for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and top with olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce Risk of Childhood Leukemia

Research presented at a recent conference on childhood leukemia, held in London, provides evidence that eating foods spiced with turmeric could reduce the risk of developing childhood leukemia. The incidence of this cancer has risen dramatically during the 20th century, mainly in children under age five, among whom the risk has increased by more than 50% cent since 1950 alone. Modern environmental and lifestyle factors are thought to play a major role in this increase.

Childhood leukemia is much lower in Asia than Western countries, which may be due to differences in diet, one of which, the frequent use of turmeric, has been investigated in a series of studies over the last 20 years by Prof. Moolky Nagabhushan from the Loyola University Medical Centre, Chicago, IL.

"Some of the known risk factors that contribute to the high incidence of childhood leukemia are the interaction of many lifestyle and environmental factors. These include prenatal or postnatal exposure to radiation, benzene, environmental pollutants and alkylating chemotherapeutic drugs. Our studies show that turmeric—and its colouring principle, curcumin—in the diet mitigate the effects of some of these risk factors."

Nagabhushan has shown that the curcumin in turmeric can:

Improved Liver Function

In a recent rat study conducted to evaluate the effects of turmeric on the liver's ability to detoxify xenobiotic (toxic) chemicals, levels of two very important liver detoxification enzymes (UDP glucuronyl transferase and glutathione-S-transferase) were significantly elevated in rats fed turmeric as compared to controls. The researchers commented, "The results suggest that turmeric may increase detoxification systems in addition to its anti-oxidant properties...Turmeric used widely as a spice would probably mitigate the effects of several dietary carcinogens."

Curcumin has been shown to prevent colon cancer in rodent studies. When researchers set up a study to analyze how curcumin works, they found that it inhibits free radical damage of fats (such as those found in cell membranes and cholesterol), prevents the formation of the inflammatory chemical cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and induces the formation of a primary liver detoxification enzyme, glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzymes. When the rats were given curcumin for 14 days, their livers' production of GST increased by 16%, and a marker of free radical damage called malondialdehyde decreased by 36% when compared with controls. During this two week period, the researchers gave the rats a cancer-causing chemical called carbon tetrachloride. In the rats not fed curcumin, markers of free radical damage to colon cells went up, but in the rats given turmeric, this increase was prevented by dietary curcumin. Lastly, the researchers compared giving turmeric in the diet versus injecting curcumin into the rats' colons. They found injecting curcumin resulted in more curcumin in the blood, but much less in the colon mucosa. They concluded, "The results show that curcumin mixed with the diet achieves drug levels in the colon and liver sufficient to explain the pharmacological activities observed and suggest that this mode of administration may be preferable for the chemoprevention of colon cancer."

Cardiovascular Protection

Curcumin may be able to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Since oxidized cholesterol is what damages blood vessels and builds up in the plaques that can lead to heart attack or stroke, preventing the oxidation of new cholesterol may help to reduce the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. In addition, turmeric is a good source of vitamin B6, which is needed to keep homocysteine levels from getting too high. Homocysteine, an intermediate product of an important cellular process called methylation, is directly damaging to blood vessel walls. High levels of homocysteine are considered a significant risk factor for blood vessel damage, atherosclerotic plaque build-up, and heart disease; while a high intake of vitamin B6 is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

In research published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, when 10 healthy volunteers consumed 500 mg of curcumin per day for 7 days, not only did their blood levels of oxidized cholesterol drop by 33%, but their total cholesterol droped 11.63% , and their HDL (good cholesterol) increased by 29%! (Soni KB, Kuttan R).

How Turmeric Lowers Cholesterol

Tumeric's cholesterol-lowering effects are the result of the curry spice's active constituent, curcumin, which research reveals is a messaging molecule that communicates with genes in liver cells, directing them to increase the production of mRNA (messenger proteins) that direct the creation of receptors for LDL (bad) cholesterol. With more LDL-receptors, liver cells are able to clear more LDL-cholesterol from the body.

LDL-receptor mRNA increased sevenfold in liver cells treated with curcumin at a concentration of 10 microM, compared to untreated cells. (Liver cells were found to tolerate curcumin at levels of up to 12. microM for 24 hours). (Peschel D, Koerting R, et al. J Nutr Biochem)

Practical Tips:

Help increase your liver's ability to clear LDL-cholesterol by relying on turmeric, not just for delicious fish, meat or lentil curries, but to spice up healthy sautéed onions, potatoes and/or cauliflower; or as the key flavoring for a creamy vegetable dip. Just mix plain yogurt with a little omega-3-rich mayonnaise and turmeric, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with raw cauliflower, celery, sweet pepper, jicama and broccoli florets. Be sure to choose turmeric rather than prepared curry blends. Recent research indicates the amount of turmeric (and therefore curcumin) in curry blends is often minimal.(Tayyem RF et al.,Nutr Cancer)

For the most curcumin, be sure to use turmeric rather curry powder—a study analyzing curcumin content in 28 spice products described as turmeric or curry powders found that pure turmeric powder had the highest concentration of curcumin, averaging 3.14% by weight. The curry powder samples, with one exception, contained very small amounts of curcumin. (Tayyem RF, Heath DD, et al. Nutr Cancer)

Protection against Alzheimer's Disease

Growing evidence suggests that turmeric may afford protection against neurodegenerative diseases. Epidemiological studies show that in elderly Indian populations, among whose diet turmeric is a common spice, levels of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's are very low. Concurrently, experimental research conducted recently found that curcumin does appear to slow the progression of Alzheimer's in mice. Preliminary studies in mice also suggest that curcumin may block the progression of multiple sclerosis. While it is still unclear how it may afford protection against this degenerative condition, one theory is that it may interrupt the production of IL-2, a protein that can play a key role in the destruction of myelin, the sheath that serves to protect most nerves in the body.

A number of studies have suggested that curcumin, the biologically active constituent in turmeric, protects against Alzheimer's disease by turning on a gene that codes for the production of antioxidant proteins. A study published in the Italian Journal of Biochemistry (December 2003) discussed curcumin's role in the induction of the the heme oxygenase pathway, a protective system that, when triggered in brain tissue, causes the production of the potent antioxidant bilirubin, which protects the brain against oxidative (free radical) injury. Such oxidation is thought to be a major factor in aging and to be responsible for neurodegenerative disorders including dementias like Alzheimer's disease. Another study conducted jointly by an Italian and U.S. team and presented at the American Physiological Society's 2004 annual conference in Washington, DC, confirmed that curcumin strongly induces expression of the gene, called hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) in astrocytes from the hippocampal region of the brain.

Curcumin Crosses Blood-Brain Barrier, May Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

Research conducted at UCLA and published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry(December 2004), which has been confirmed by further research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (April 2006), provides insight into the mechanisms behind curcumin's protective effects against Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease results when a protein fragment called amyloid-B accumulates in brain cells, producing oxidative stress and inflammation, and forming plaques between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain that disrupt brain function.

Amyloid is a general term for protein fragments that the body produces normally. Amyloid-B is a protein fragment snipped from another protein called amyloid precursor protein (APP). In a healthy brain, these protein fragments are broken down and eliminated. In Alzheimer's disease, the fragments accumulate, forming hard, insoluble plaques between brain cells.

The UCLA researchers first conducted test tube studies in which curcumin was shown to inhibit amyloid-B aggregation and to dissolve amyloid fibrils more effectively than the anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen and naproxen. Then, using live mice, the researchers found that curcumin crosses the blood brain barrier and binds to small amyloid-B species. Once bound to curcumin, the amyloid-B protein fragments can no longer clump together to form plaques. Curcumin not only binds to amyloid-B, but also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, supplying additional protection to brain cells.

Turmeric Boosts Amyloid Plaque Clearance in Human Alzheimer's Patients

The most active ingredient in turmeric root, bisdemethoxycurcumin, boosts the activity of the immune system in Alzheimer's patients, helping them to clear the amyloid beta plaques characteristic of the disease.

In healthy patients, immune cells called macrophages, which engulf and destroy abnormal cells and suspected pathogens, efficiently clear amyloid beta, but macrophage activity is suppressed in Alzheimer's patients.

Using blood samples from Alzheimer's patients, Drs. Milan Fiala and John Cashman have shown that bisdemethoxycurcumin boosts macrophage activity to normal levels, helping to clear amyloid beta. Fiala and Cashman also observed that bisdemethoxycurcumin was more effective in promoting the clearance of amyloid beta in some patients' blood than others, hinting at a genetic element. Further study revealed the genes involved are MGAT III and Toll-like receptors, which are also responsible for a number of other key immune functions. Bisdemethoxycurcumin enhances the transcription of these genes, correcting the immune defects seen in Alzheimer's patients. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jul 31;104(31):12849-54.

 

 

 

 

9 Top Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

 

1.  Heart Healthy Magnesium

One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which participates in a wide range of vitally important physiological functions, including the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules of your body), the synthesis of RNA and DNA, the pumping of your heart, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of your blood vessels, and proper bowel function.

Magnesium has been shown to benefit your blood pressure and help prevent sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack, and stroke, yet an estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient in this important mineral.

 

2.  Zinc for Immune Support

Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc (one ounce contains more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral). Zinc is important to your body in many ways, including immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, your senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and male sexual function.

 

Many are deficient in zinc due to mineral-depleted soils, drug effects, plant-based diets, and other diets high in grain. This deficiency is associated with increased colds and flu, chronic fatigue, depression, acne, low birth weight babies, learning problems and poor school performance in children, among others.

 

3.  Plant-Based Omega-3 Fats

Raw nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). We all need ALA, however, ALA has to be converted by your body into the far more essential omega-3 fats EPA and DHA -- by an enzyme in which the vast majority of us have impaired by high insulin levels. So, while pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of ALA, I believe it is essential to get some of your omega-3 fats from animal sources, such as krill oil, as well.

 

 

4.  Prostate Health

Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men’s health. This is in part because of their high zinc content, which is important for prostate health (where it is found in the highest concentrations in the body), and also because pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate). Research suggests that both pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds2 may be particularly beneficial in supporting prostate health.

 

 

5.  Anti-Diabetic Effects

Animal studies suggest that pumpkin seeds may help improve insulin regulation and help prevent diabetic complications by decreasing oxidative stress.4

 

 

6.  Benefits for Postmenopausal Women

Pumpkin seed oil is rich in natural phytoestrogens and studies suggest it may lead to a significant increase in good “HDL” cholesterol along with decreases in blood pressure, hot flashes, headaches, joint pains and other menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women.5

 

 

7.  Heart and Liver Health

Pumpkin seeds, rich in healthy fats, antioxidants and fibers, may provide benefits for heart and liver health, particularly when mixed with flax seeds.6

 

 

8.  Tryptophan for Restful Sleep

Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” Eating pumpkin seeds a few hours before bed, along with a carbohydrate like a small piece of fruit, may be especially beneficial for providing your body the tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production to help promote a restful night’s sleep.7

 

 

9.  Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Pumpkin seed oil has been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. One animal study even found it worked as well as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritis, but without the side effects.8