Picture
Healthiest Foods: Garlic
Garlic is widely used in folk and traditional medicine for the treatment of many diseases and ailments. The cultivation of garlic started about 5 thousand years ago. It was used by the Romans, Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, Jews, Arabs and many other cultures. Pythagoras called garlic "the king of spices". The earliest known references indicate that garlic was an important part of the daily diet of the Egyptians;  An Egyptian manuscript from that period includes 800 drugs, of which 22 were made with garlic.

Garlic is composed of nitrogenous substances, sodium, potassium, selenium, calcium, magnesium, silicon, sulfuric, phosphoric acid, vitamin C, D, B, phytosterols, extractives, and essential oils. Additionally, garlic is rich in phytoncides, such as  allicin, which is formed by the mechanical destruction of plants, that is - crushing or grinding cloves of garlic. According to some researchers, allicin has a strong bacteriostatic effect which helps cure infections faster. Garlic can also fight fungal infections, which makes garlic a much more valuable medicine than that of many of today's antibiotics.
 
Garlic contains more than four hundred different mineral components including many antioxidants which, have a number of positive therapeutic properties.

  • Garlic prevents aging and clogging of both major and peripheral arteries.
  • The healing properties of garlic help reduce the level of bad cholesterol in the blood.
  • It is very important to know that garlic  strengthens the immune system, thus increases the body's ability to withstand the harmful influences of the environment.
  • Garlic kills a large number of various bacteria.
  • Garlic helps protect against heart disease. Garlic reduces the synthesis of triglycerides in the liver which help prevent the development of atherosclerosis.
  • Garlic lowers blood pressure and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Garlic is a natural antibiotic and is an effective remedy for colds.
  • It is recommended to use garlic for disorders of the nervous system.
  • Garlic helps kill the cells of multiform glioblastoma's - a malignant brain tumor.
  • Garlic also acts as an anticoagulant, which thins the blood and prevents the formation of dangerous blood clots (helping to reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack).

 
 
Picture
Healthiest Foods: Dill
Dill is a medicinal plant whose seeds, leaves, and twigs equally possess healing properties.  Along with the tart taste and delicious aroma,  dill possesses such substances as flavonoids, monoterpenes (they are able to fight cancerous tumors), amino acids, and minerals. So what exactly are the healing properties of dill?


Traditional medicine has always valued dill for its beneficial properties. Dill is a medicinal plant whose seeds, leaves, and twigs equally possess healing properties.  Along with the tart taste and delicious aroma,  dill possesses such substances as flavonoids, monoterpenes (they are able to fight cancerous tumors), amino acids, and minerals. So what exactly are the healing properties of dill?

1. Dill has a beneficial effect on digestion. Essential oils contained in dill, contribute to the secretion of bile, thereby helping the digestive processes. Dill can help with stomach pains.

2. Dill helps with insomnia. Flavonoids and group B vitamins in dill have a soothing effect on our nervous system which happens through the secretion of hormones and enzymes in our body. Dill helps with sleep, so people with nervous system disorders should consume dill regularly.

3. Dill can fight dysentery due to essential oils which can successfully disinfect and suppress infectious foci.

4. Dill helps alleviate diarrhea which occurs from the indigestion and infection. Dill soothes irritated intestines, normalizes the stool, and essential oils fight microbial infection.

5. The fight against respiratory diseases is also in the competence of dill.  Antihistamines are the properties of monoterpenes and flavonoids (kaempferol), which cleanse the respiratory system if you have allergies.

6. A dill compress can help with sore eyes.   You can make the compress by using dill seeds immersed in boiling water for 2 minutes. Place cold to warm bags on closed eyelids. Within 20 minutes you will feel fatigue and inflammation disappear.  Dill can also be used to treat mimic wrinkles around the eyes, because it smooths and refreshes the skins surface.

7. The essential oils contained in dill are involved in the secretion of certain hormones, including those which regulate the menstrual cycle.

8. The seeds and leaves of dill are used to refresh your mouth due to the presence of essential oils. Aromatic substances possess antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. The essential oils in dill fight microbes in the mouth, as well as damage to the gums and the teeth caused by free radical compounds.

9. Recent studies have shown that monoterpenes, included in the composition of dill, help in the prevention of cancer. Due to monoterpenes the secretion of a enzyme called «glutathione-S-transferase» is activated,  thus neutralizing carcinogenic substances.

10. Arginine, present in dill, increases libido, strengthens bones and teeth, and can even help with hiccups due to calcium.


 
 
Picture
Healthiest Foods: Grapes
Throughout centuries, grapes and products derived from grapes, were used by humanity as a medication in the treatment of many diseases. Hundreds of medical studies have proved that consuming grapes has several health benefits such as helping with anemia, chronic kidney disease, arthritis, disorders of the digestive system, pain in the joints, also contributes to the improvement of metabolism and excretion of uric acid from the body.

Grapes contain more than 150 of biologically active substances.

  • Grapes are rich sources of vitamins A, C, B6 and folate

  • Grapes contain essential minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium. Magnesium helps muscle contraction and phosphorus helps form genes, being part of nucleic acids

  • Grapes have important antioxidants such as anthocyanins, flavones, geraniol, linalol, nerol and tannins. These phyto-chemicals have been proved to have an  anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-microbial, and anti-cancer activity.

  • Grapes are a powerhouse of phytonutrients called polyphenols that include flavonoids, phenolic acids, and resveratrol. These are found in the grape skin, stem and seeds. Resveratrol, a naturally occurring substance in wine that stimulates a gene known as SIRT1, may help reverse the signs of aging! The resveratrol found in red grapes helps to lower your blood cholesterol level and  helps to lower your risk of a stroke. Resveratrol is also one of the powerful anti-oxidant, which  plays a protective role against different types of cancers, coronary heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer's disease and viral/ fungal infections. Researchers have  found that consumption of grapes offers dramatic protection, against oxidative damage of the retina and prevent blindness.

  • Grapes also contain acids such as tartaric acids, malic acids, succinic, fumaric, glyceric, p-coumaric and caffeic acids. Caffeic acid is a strong cancer fighting substance.

  • Beta-carotene, lycopene, ellagic acid are also found in grape skins.


 
 
Picture
Healthiest foods: Shiitake mushrooms
Shiitake mushroom is absolutely harmless and can be used as a valuable culinary product, as well as, a remedy for many diseases. A wide range of useful properties in shiitake mushroom allow the use of this mushroom as a prophylactic and a means that prolongs youth and health.

Shiitake mushrooms contain 18 amino acids and vitamin B group vitamins - especially a lot of thiamine, Riboflavin, and Niacin. Shiitake mushrooms also have vitamin D,  fiber,  potassium, iron, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, sodium, enzymes and other biologically active substances. Back in 1969, chemists from the National Tokyo Research Center discovered lentinan from the shiitake. This substance effectively stimulates the immune system. As research showed, lentinan may slow down and limit the growth of certain cancers in combination with chemotherapy. It's a unique and rare polysaccharide, which has no analogue in herbal preparations. Lentinan increases the production of a special enzyme, which destroys the abnormal cells.

Due to the unique properties of shiitake, it is used as a preventive means for patients that are at increased risk of oncological diseases. Shiitake mushrooms can effectively fight the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

Asian tradition recommends the use of shiitake for tumors, flu, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, sexual dysfunction, and aging. Shiitake Mushroom acts as an enhancer for the immune system.

 
 
Picture
Pomegranate is among the most popular, nutritionally rich fruit.  Pomegranate is an excellent source of essential amino acids, vitamin A, C, E, B5, B3 or Niacin, Iron, folic acid, potassium, and antioxidant polyphenols.
The iron in pomegranate helps to prevent anemia symptoms that include dizziness, weakness, exhaustion. The research shows that Pomegranate has a very high level of polyphenol content which is a powerful antioxidant. Researches show that the content of antioxidant in pomegranate is higher than that of red wine, or green tea. In fact, pomegranate contains more antioxidants than any other natural food source. Thus, the major health benefits come from the high levels of antioxidants, specifically polyphenols, tannins and anthocyanins which are important in fighting free radicals which cause various types of diseases and aging.

Health benefits include:
  • Prevention of heart disease due to the high content of the antioxidants.
  • Reduction of bad LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Helping in reducing the plaque deposits in the arteries and prevent clotting of blood.
  • The research has showed that regular consumption of pomegranate is effective against prostate cancer,  diabetes, and lymphoma.
  • The vitamin C  in pomegranate helps to fight any kind of infections.
  • Possession of anti-inflammatory properties which can help in bringing the inflammation down.
  • Pomegranate is also good for your teeth since it possesses antibacterial compounds which can be helpful in preventing dental plaque.

How to Select
Choose large, firm and smooth-skinned pomegranate. A good quality pomegranate should have rich color, and has no cuts or blemishes.

How to store
Pomegranate can be stored at cool and dry place for up to one month. It can last for about two months if kept refrigerated.

How to prepare
Slice off the top. Score the skin in quarters and open it up. Then put each quarter underwater and use your fingers to ream the seeds from the inside. The seeds sink, and the white membrane floats. Pour off the membranes so the seeds remain.
Besides eating the seeds raw, you can also use them as garnishes for salads and desserts.

 
 
Picture
From a culinary and medical perspective, turmeric, is one the most important spices. Taking turmeric daily, in small doses, is supposed to be good for overall health as it cleans out your system and keeps your organs healthy.

Turmeric stimulates the production of bile which helps to break down fatty foods, which in turn, may help you lose weight. Taking one teaspoon of Turmeric powder with every meal may help in loosing weight. This of course doesn't cancel the fact that you need to eat healthy and exercise.

Turmeric has major antioxidant properties which helps fight diseases by destroying free radicals.

The most promising quality of turmeric is its ability to prevent cancer. This super-food can stop cancer from growing and spreading into other organs. It causes cancer cells to commit suicide.

Turmeric's anti-bacterial agents may help our body fight against colds, cough and flu.  Turmeric's key ingredient Curcumin is known for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which can help in healing cuts and wounds.

Turmeric improves liver function. This is done through the production of enzymes that break down toxins into materials that are easily eliminated by the body. Taking turmeric increases the production of these enzymes, thus improving liver function.

I am determined to use turmeric daily, and so here are some ways to add turmeric to your diet:
  • Include the spice as an ingredient in your regular meals.
  • You can make a tea out of turmeric. Boil about four cups of water with a spoonful of turmeric for about ten to fifteen minutes. Strain and drink.
  • Add turmeric into your daily smoothies
  • Add turmeric to a glass of warm milk which helps fight cold and flu
  • Or you can use turmeric supplements daily

 
 
Picture
Spinach and other green leafy vegetables  provide more nutrients than any other vegetables in the world. Spinach is packed with vitamins; it stores high levels of vitamin K and vitamin A.  Vitamin K is crucially important for bone building. Vitamin K triggers a compound called osteocalcin which produces calcium molecules inside the bone. One cup of fresh spinach gives you 200 percent of the daily value of vitamin K which makes spinach a great alternative to dairy for people. 
Vitamin A is important for reducing the amount of free-radicals in the body as well as preventing cholesterol from oxidation. 

Spinach contains several important phytochemicals, including lutein, which helps prevent age-related macular degeneration. It also has lipoic acid, which helps antioxidant vitamins C and E regenerate. The minerals in spinach are highly alkaline, making it helpful in regulating the body pH. Also the high alkalinity properties in spinach help people who suffer from inflammatory ailments, like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Spinach is an excellent source of folate.  Folate contributes to the growth and health of your cells. Spinach also contains magnesium which helps regulate blood pressure and prevent heart disease.

Cooked spinach is also an excellent source of iron, which is one of the primary components in hemoglobin which makes spinach a great blood builder. It reactivates the red blood cells and supplies fresh oxygen to the body. High levels of iron in spinach play an important role in energy production and metabolism. Raw spinach is a good source of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. However, if you overcook spinach, you will lose most of vitamin C.

Spinach is packed with flavonoids which act as antioxidants, protecting the body from free radicals. Researchers have found at least 13 different flavonoid compounds that act as anti-cancer substances. The various nutrients offer much in the way of disease protection. Current research suggests that are 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that not only serve as antioxidants but may also reduce the risk of cancer.

How to select
Look for crisp, fresh and green spinach leaves and avoid dry, yellow leaves.  Discard any spinach with blemishes. Choose spinach with thin stems since thick stems indicate the spinach has been overgrown.

How to store
Place spinach in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. Since spinach is best eaten fresh, consume within 2 to 3 days of purchase.

How to prepare
Rinse spinach under cold water in a colander and remove excess moisture before serving or cooking.

 

Cranberries

2/4/2013

 
Picture
cranberries
Without a doubt, cranberries play an important role in your holiday traditions. We think of cranberries as turkey's sidekick. But we don't realize that cranberries surpass the nutritional value of any Thanksgiving traditional dishes. There are a lot of reasons to get acquainted more with these wonderful berries. According to researcher Amy Howell of the Rutgers University’s Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research, cranberries are among the superstar foods proven to have health benefits.

And among the fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, cranberries rank at the top of the list. Antioxidants are necessary in combating free radicals that are damaging to the cellular structures and DNA. Thus, these antioxidants help to prevent aging, diseases and other health problems. Cranberries are also well-known for their ability to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Additionally, cranberries contain nutrients that act as antibiotics, fighting the herpes virus, supporting gastrointestinal and oral health. Cranberries contain citric acid and other nutrients that can prevent  kidney and bladder problems.
Cranberries are rich in vitamins; they contain high concentrations of vitamin C, dietary fiber, manganese and vitamin K. Vitamin C plays an important role in the growth and repair of tissues in your body.

Cranberries contain a large number of macro-and micronutrients, including calcium, magnesium, iodine, boron, and  others. Cranberry juice helps to enhance the body's immune system, it also protects against colds. Since cranberry juice contains proanthocyanidins, it can help block urinary tract infections. It prevents E. coli bacteria from sticking to the walls of the uterus and bladder. Regular consumption of cranberries normalizes metabolism. Cranberries are also known for their cancer preventive properties.

Season: October - December

How to select
Look for  shiny, plump, bright light red to dark red cranberries. Also, cranberries should be able to bounce.

How to store
Cranberries are very well preserved due to benzoic acid - a natural preservative. When placed in the freezer, cranberries will retain most of their nutrients. However, it is important to note that,  thawed cranberries should be consumed the same day, as thawed berries rapidly loose their nutrients.

How to prepare
Since cranberries are extremely tart, they can be combined with other fruits when cooked. Dried cranberries can be used in salads, or in place of raisins. You can also buy frozen cranberries which you can add daily to your smoothies.

 

Cayenne Pepper

2/1/2013

 
Picture
Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper comes from red, hot chili peppers which belong to the nightshade family.  
It is named after the city Cayenne (in French Guiana). In the 16th-19th centuries the city was a major port for the export of spices to Europe. Called a "King of Herbs", cayenne pepper was used traditionally by ancient healers and herbalists. They argued that this herb needs to be added to the top ten list of most useful herbs because the healing properties of Cayenne pepper reinforce the effectiveness of all the other nine herbs. One of the most famous herbalists, Dr. Shulze said, "If you master only one herb in your life, master cayenne pepper. It is more powerful than any other."  So what makes this herb so magnificent and beneficial to us? 


Cayenne pepper is high in Vitamins A, C, B complex, calcium and potassium which does wonders to the digestive system because it acts as a catalyst.  Long-term use of Cayenne pepper helps your body to fight and prevent infections. 
 
The amount of vitamin C in cayenne pepper excedes the amount in oranges, therefore, cayenne pepper strengthens immune response. Cayenne pepper also consists of phosphorus, iron, and calcium.  Cayenne pepper, taken with other medicinal plants, elevates and reinforces their healing properties.

Cayenne pepper helps stimulate blood flow and accelerates the transfer of nutrients to all cells in the body. Cayenne pepper promotes blood purification, which helps hormonal signals pass through the entire body smoothly and without delay.

Cayenne pepper reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by thinning the blood and improving blood circulation. It is also
effective for lowering high blood pressure.

Cayenne pepper contains Beta-carotine which exhibits antioxidant properties and helps repair and/or prevent damage caused by free radicals. Beta-carotene also can help to reduce symptoms of asthma.  Further, due to its stimulant properties, cayenne pepper increases the appetite, helps with indigestion, and stimulates metabolism (resulting in weight loss).

Cayenne pepper increases resistance to colds. It can also help reduce symptoms from a hangover, arthritis, asthma, kidney infection, or respiratory illness.

Capsaicin in cayenne pepper protects cells from the numerous attacks from toxic molecules, for example, tobacco and other toxins. According to Brazilian doctors, none of the available natural resources are able to accomplish incredible physiological and metabolic changes in the human body so quickly, as Cayenne pepper.

Cayenne pepper is also famous for its ability to increase potency in men. Capsaicin and essential oils in cayenne pepper improve blood circulation, and in particular, increase the blood flow to the pelvic organs.

Cayenne pepper also helps to relieve pain associated with toothaches, psoriasis, and herpes. Smelling cayenne helps relieve headaches.

As a recommended dose, you can mix half a teaspoon of cayenne powder in a cup of water, and take it two to three times daily.

 
 
Picture
Sweet potatoes belong to the Morning Glory family. They are one of the oldest vegetables in the world. They are truly a nutritional superstar; they are rated the number one nutritious vegetable by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. There are two common types of sweet potato: dry (yellow-fleshed) and moist (orange-fleshed). The orange-fleshed potatoes are known as "yams", which is a mistake since true yams are large root vegetables that predominantly grow in Africa and Asia.

Sweet potatoes are a great source of minerals such as manganese, folate, copper, and iron. They are high in calcium, potassium and beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A in the body. 1 cup of sweet potatoes contains 65% of the minimum necessary daily amount of Vitamin C.  Additionally, sweet potatoes have a glycemic load of 17 (the glycemic index shows the impact a certain food has on blood sugar levels); where a regular white potato charts as number 29 and they raise your blood sugar quickly by producing high numbers of insulin. 

Eating sweet potatoes can help protect you from alleviating muscle cramps which are caused by potassium deficiency. 
Potassium also helps to support fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, which stabilizes blood pressure. Sweet potatoes are also high in antioxidants, which help prevent inflammatory problems like arthritis, gout,asthma, and etc.

High levels of Vitamin A and beta-carotene in sweet potatoes indicate their excellent skin healing properties since  beta-carotene fights the free radicals which effect skin aging.

How to select
Even though sweet potatoes are available all year round, the actual season for fresh sweet potatoes is from October to January. Choose small to medium sweet potatoes. Large ones can be tough.
How to store
Keep sweet potatoes in a cool, dark place. Unfortunately, when sweet potatoes begin to go bad, the damage will be reflected in the flavor of the entire potato. Their shelf life is 1 to 2 weeks.
How to prepare
Make sure you eat the skin; it has the most fiber and is really good for you. Most of their healing properties reside in the skin. Additionally, consuming sweet potatoes with some amount of fat helps your body to absorb beta-carotene thoroughly. Recent research has showed that boiling or steaming sweet potatoes helps keep their glycemic index low.