Archived Articles - April 2015

Sprouted garlic: A super food, don't discard it

Many are of the wrong conception that garlic is poisonous, something like the misconception of some zealots that even seeds of apples and apricot are also noxious. In fact, having in complete knowledge regarding anything, overlooking every detail of entire picture, may often prove to be dangerous. It is important to ignore all such disinformation fear mongers.

Nevertheless, the toxic garlic theory holds some ground, especially if you purchase imported garlic that has been grown conventionally. In fact, more than 50 percent of the imported conventionally raised garlic is from China, while the remaining is imported from Mexico and some Latin American countries.

A report from Australia claimed that a part of garlic imported from China was grown on human feces. After the United States detained many large shipments of garlic from China and other countries owing to insect infestation and mold, these nations have undertaken fumigating and bleaching garlic with a very toxic pesticide called methyl bromide, which has been banned in several countries.

However, you have a preference. If you are willing to pay somewhat more, you can always buy organic garlic bulbs that have been grown locally. It is an irony that the toxic initiatives undertaken to prevent garlic from being spoiled, also holds back the capability of garlic that augments its therapeutic properties - sprouting.

Sprouted garlic healthier

Generally, many people believe that sprouted garlic bulbs, which are basically older garlic bulbs having green shoots emerging from the cloves, are useless. Since people think that such garlic has past its prime, they are usually dumped into the garbage bin.

Some older plant foods like potatoes can really be dangerous when they start sprouting, because they release noxious chemicals that are detrimental for humans. However, sprouted garlic does not release toxic substances.

Findings of a study funded by Institute of Planning and Environment for Technology in Korea, which was published in the ACS' Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry recently, revealed that sprouted garlic contains more antioxidants compared to the fresher and younger variety. In fact, the researchers were aware of the fact that when the seedlings develop into green plants, they produce several chemicals that are useful for protecting them from various pathogens.

Talking about the findings, researcher Jong-Sang Kim, PhD, elucidated that during sprouting, plants are very vulnerable to assaults by viruses, bacteria as well as insects. As a result plants manufacture various chemicals known as phytoalexins to protect themselves from such attacks. While majority of these compounds are toxic for insects and microbes, they are useful for the health of humans.

The research group led by Kim hypothesized that a comparable process might be taking place when older garlic cloves give rise to green shoots. The researchers discovered that extracts obtained from garlic that sprouted for five days contained the maximum antioxidant activity compared to extracts of raw, younger garlic.

In addition, when garlic sprouts, the metabolic profile of the vegetable is also changed. The metabolic profile of older garlic sprouted for about five or six days is different from that which has sprouted for four days or even less. As a result, the researchers came to the conclusion that sprouting garlic may be an effective way to enhance its antioxidant potential. However, the researchers are yet to find out the precise mechanism by which the antioxidant activity of garlic is enhanced.

In addition to the antioxidant activity, it has been proved that sprouted garlic also increases the anti-inflammatory, cardio-vascular health protection, immune boosting as well as the ability of eliminating 14 different forms of cancer cells. Garlic contains a sulfur rich compound known as allicin, which is not only very effectual against bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites, but also does not have any toxic reactions.

So it is advisable that you purchase some organically grown, local garlic bulbs from your neighbourhood stores or let some of the younger, fresh garlic to sprout in your storage closet or pantry with a view to augment their antioxidant attributes. Never throw sprouted garlic, because you now know its usefulness.

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Importance of coconut flour and the best way to use it

Traditionally, people have been cultivating coconut for its raw meat, milk, oil, and water. Most recently, it is also being cultivated for its flour. Currently, the Philippines is the largest coconut producing country in the world and it was also the first country to produce flour as a by-product from coconut milk production. At present, there is an increasing demand for natural, non-toxic plants for use as medicinal aids with a view to prevent as well as treat ailments. This has resulted in emphasizing the variety of health benefits of consuming different coconut products.

Several contemporary researchers recommend incorporating coconut flour to your healthy diet, as it possesses anti-bacterial and anti-fungal attributes, offering several health benefits. Irrespective of whether you are strictly taking a paleo diet, looking for a flour source that is allergy free or just want to invigorate your digestive as well as immune system, coconut is one of the best supplements for incorporating in your diet.

Coconut flour: What it is?

Originally, coconut flour producers sold this nutritious by-product of coconut milk production to peasants as a coconut meal. On their part, farmers knew that coconut meal was a wonderful organic source of fertilizer and also an animal food supplement. During the last few decades, findings of several researches showed that coconut flour offered several health benefits and could be consumed by humans as a super food. Its use has increased since then.

Coconut flour is obtained by pulverizing fresh coconut meat, which is subsequently dehydrated and defatted - in other words, the coconut oil is extracted. The end product is a fine powder whose appearance and texture is similar to wheat or grain flours. In fact, even a seasoned foodie can mistake the most pure form of coconut flour for other flours, as it does not retain the flavour of coconut.

A functional food

Compared to other different coconut products like oil, coconut flour not only offers special health benefits, but also a wonderful substitute for the usual flour.

Coconut flour is believed to be a functional food and it demonstrates properties that are considerably favourable for human health and an important nutrition source. It has been established that coconut flour contains elevated levels of protein, is an excellent source of dietary fiber, but does not enclose any gluten. On the other hand, coconut flour comes with a low glycemic index (GI).

Many health practitioners particularly recommend coconut flour for people enduring inflammatory problems following consumption of wheat or gluten. Even people with gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, diabetes and leaky gut syndrome can safely consume coconut flour.

How to use coconut flour

Although coconut flour has almost the same appearance, feel as may be even the smell as the usual refined flours, the former may prove to be expensive as well as frustrating to cook, unless you have the proper guidance. You should know that coconut flour is somewhat akin to a sponge and it can be quite challenging to cook such a permeable food.

Below are some tips on how you can successfully substitute coconut flour completely for wheat flour in any dish.

As coconut flour is highly absorbent, it can be used excellently as a thickening agent in soups, stews as well as smoothies. If you wish to use coconut flour for this purpose, it is advisable that you store it in a sealed container and place it in a freezer or fridge with a view to prevent it from forming clumps by absorbing moisture.

Nevertheless, you can always experiment with coconut flour. Usually, you need just one-fourth to one-third cup of coconut flour for every one cup of usual refined flour.

In general, recipes made with coconut flour include another source of protein like hemp powder or additional eggs to compensate for the binding attributes that is normally provided by gluten. You may also include flax seed with coconut flour for the former is not only a wonderful binder, but also offers several health benefits.

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Nine appetizing super foods you should try to augment your health

Most of you must have come across the term "super food" often while reading articles related to health issues. However, the term "super food" does not have any precise technical definition. In common terms, all foods that enclose exceptionally elevated level of nutritional substances or offer outstanding health benefits are known as super foods. Several vegetables, fruits and seeds that fall in this category and are loaded with nutritional value and compounds that boost our health are called super foods.

Meanwhile, Linda Milo Ohr of the Institute of Food Technologies has prepared a list of nine super seeds and super fruits that can be incorporated in your diet to provide additional nutrition and enhance your overall health. According to Ohr, the "super foods" listed by her offer health benefits that surpass their basic dietary profiles. As a result, these foods can be enjoyed regularly.

The nine super fruits and super seeds that find place in her list are as below.

1. Chia seeds: These seeds are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and are an excellent source of antioxidants, calcium, vitamins and other essential minerals. It has been found that compared to whole seed, milled chia seeds offer additional dietary benefits. You can often find milled chia seeds in several ready-to-drink mixes.

2. Acai berries: In recent times, the popularity of these super berries is increasing rapidly and there are several reasons for this. As far as the proportion of fatty acid is concerned, these berries are comparable to olive oil. In addition, acai berries are an excellent natural source of anthocyanins that offer wide ranging health benefits, including combating inflammation, regulating levels of blood sugar, augmenting memory and retarding the growth of carcinogenic cells.

3. Flaxseed: This is yet another popular super food that offers antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber. In addition to these nutrients, flaxseed also encloses phytoestrogens that help to enhance the functioning of the cardiovascular system. Findings of several studies have hinted that flaxseed can also lower cholesterol levels in the blood.

4. Blueberries: These berries are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, dietary fiber and essential minerals. It is believed that consuming blueberries helps to inhibit symptoms of aging process and also combat several forms of cancer. Therefore, it is not surprising that over the years blueberries have turned out to be one of the most preferred super fruits. It has been found that blueberries are also effective in lowering high blood pressure and alleviating stiff arteries.

Tom Payne, who is the industry expert for the Folsom, California-based, U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC), says that consumers consider blueberries to be a value-added substance associated with the health of the heart and a food that is effective in putting off cancer, inhibiting aging process, augmenting memory and improving vision.

5. Cranberries: These berries are very beneficial for the health of the urinary tract. In addition, cranberries also possess anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Cranberries are also excellent antioxidant source and are known to have positive effects on the oral health and the health of the cardiovascular system.

6. Sunflower seeds: Traditionally popular, sunflower seeds are packed with lots of nutritional elements, in addition to offering a savoury snack appeal. These super seeds contain elevated concentration of monounsaturated as well as polyunsaturated fats, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and protein. In addition, they enclose phytochemicals, which are plant-based compounds that help to perk up the immune system and even combat cancer.

7. Tart cherries: In addition to being packed with antioxidants and anthocyanins, it has been found that tart cherries are a potent anti-inflammatory agent too. When tart cherry concentrate was tested on some cyclists, it was found to be beneficial even after tiring cycling, as it lessened inflammation due to such exercise. In fact, use of tart cherry concentration helped to reduce the time taken to recuperate from the strenuous exercise of cycling.

8. Pumpkin seeds: This is another flavourful snack, besides being an excellent addition to salads. It is possible to roast and toast pumpkin seeds at home or, alternatively, you can purchase the prepared seeds from health stores. However, you can obtain the maximum benefits by consuming pumpkin seeds raw. You can eat them directly taken out from a ripened pumpkin. This is a super seed that encloses dietary fiber, protein and plenty of minerals, such as manganese, magnesium and phosphorus.

9. Avocados: This is an extremely versatile food having much savour and, at the same time, offers several health benefits. Avocado is one super fruit that encloses elevated concentration of "good" or "beneficial" fats, such as monounsaturated fats, which assist in reducing blood cholesterol levels and also support the health of your heart.

Precisely speaking, the number of super fruits and super seeds are very few. Irrespective of whether a fruit or seed has been categorized as "super", it is always beneficial to consume a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. It helps to sustain a general balance in the body.

However, it is always a good idea to incorporate a few of the super foods discussed above in your diet. At the same time, you should spend some time to find out about other nutrient-packed foods that will help to improve your overall health.

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Use onion extract to improve blood sugar, cholesterol levels naturally

Any reference of onions brings to one's mind the fact that this food causes your eyes to tear while cutting or a substance that caused undesirable breath when consumed raw. However, findings of a recent study undertaken by the Endocrine Society have showed that onion is not only a super food, but also possesses the potential to keep your blood sugar and cholesterol levels within normal limits.

Endocrine Society presented these details at its 97th annual conference held in San Diego, California. Experts utilized the occasion to explain the advantages of using onion bulb (scientific name Allium cepa) extract and described how researchers gave the extract to a series of subject, counting diabetic as well as non-diabetic mice and subsequently evaluated the effects with mice in the control group, who were not given the extract.

Potential benefits of onion extract for diabetic people

During the course of their study, researchers found that mice that received two doses (600 mg and 400 mg daily) of onion extract experienced a drop in their levels of fasting blood sugar by about 35 percent and 50 percent respectively. Researchers compared this to their basic or starting blood sugar levels before undertaking the study, when the mice were yet to receive any extract. In addition to the blood sugar levels, it was found that the extract also helped to lower the cholesterol level in their bloodstream.

According to Anthony Ojieh, MBBS (MD), MSc, from the Abraka, Nigeria-based Delta State University, who was the lead investigator of the study, onion extract possesses the potential to be an effective remedy for diabetes.

The findings of this study support earlier findings - for instance, findings of a study on diabetic rats published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2009. Apart from administering onion extract to diabetic mice, researches provided them with garlic extract and it was found that both were useful in lowering their plasma glucose content and body weight.

It is easy for anyone to obtain the health benefits of onion and its extract. According to Ojieh, the onion extract they used was obtained from onion bulb, which is easily available both at your neighbourhood farmers' market as well as supermarkets.

Consuming more onions helps to combat infections, cancers and more

Consuming onions regularly can offer incredible health benefits. Onions are believed to be an excellent source of flavonoids and polyphenols, in addition to folate, dietary fiber and essential minerals like potassium and manganese.

Moreover, eating onions have been associated with almost everything - from combating bacterial infections (especially those of the mouth, including gums and cavities) to preventing development of specific cancer forms. Eating onions have also been associated with checking inflammation, primarily owing to its quercetin (a flavonoid antioxidant) content. You can also treat rheumatoid arthritis as well as allergic airway inflammation by consuming more onions.

Consumption of modest amounts of onion can also prevent the chances of developing a number of cancer forms, such as laryngeal cancer, colorectal cancer and ovarian cancer. Eating one half of an onion daily will help to avoid these risks.

How to incorporate more onions in your diet

It is very easy to incorporate onions in your daily diet and there are several ways to enjoy this bulbous food. Perhaps the simplest way to consume onions is to use them for topping salads. In addition, you can also add onions to soups, as doing so will not rob them of their nutrients.

In addition, you can add onions to vegetable to boost the latter's flavour. You can also mix onions with mashed avocado with a view to make a healthy guacamole. Alternatively, use them to prepare a dip with additional zing.

While onions are very useful for our health, you should ensure that you store them properly. Keep them at room temperature and in a place that is away from bright light. When provided with proper ventilation, onions will remain good for a long time. However, you should always store green onions in a refrigerator, as they are different.

Ways of using turmeric as a potent food to combat cancer

Turmeric (scientific name Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herb that is widely used in the form of a spice. In addition, this herb is also used for several medicinal purposes. In case you are looking for fresh turmeric, you should visit a farmer's market in your neighbourhood or get it from any online store.

Turmeric rhizome, which is usually called a root, has a resemblance to the ginger root. While the peel of both these roots is brownish, inside the color of turmeric root varies from vivid orange to yellow. The turmeric root can been cut, peel removed, grated and juiced using garlic press and added to nearly all things, including beans, smoothies, quinoa, lentils, meat and many others.

Turmeric is also dried and pulverized into its powdered form, whose color may vary from orange to yellow. In fact, anyone can make their own turmeric powder by peeling the fresh roots, boiling and subsequently drying them. However, consuming fresh, raw turmeric offers the maximum health benefits. If you have to use turmeric in recipes while cooking, it is advisable that you add some of it prior to the cooking process and then shred some amount of freshly obtained turmeric over the meal before serving the food.

While using turmeric in recipes, remember that one tablespoon of fresh turmeric is same as one teaspoon of dried turmeric used for flavour.

For the uninitiated, turmeric is not only a widely used spice in curry (a combination of several spices), but is also among the basic ingredients. It is widely used in Asian, especially Indian cuisines. Turmeric forms a delectable salad dressing or can even be heavily sprinkled on salads. In fact, addition of turmeric in dips, vegetable dishes and sauces is always welcome.

Health benefits of turmeric

The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin, which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.Turmeric is used to treat some very serious health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel diseases, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and even many forms of cancer.

Findings of several scientific studies have revealed that turmeric facilitates the body to obliterate carcinogenic cells, assists in preventing development of tumours, inhibits cancer cells from spreading and encourages apoptosis (a means whereby cancer cells kill themselves).

How to consume turmeric for utmost benefit

Findings of some studies have demonstrated that combining onion and turmeric (which is a blend of quercitin and curcumin) helps to diminish the size as well as the number of pre-cancerous wounds inside the intestinal tract.

In fact, a blend of curcumin and phenethyl isothiocyanates - a type of phytochemicals present in cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, is a potent combination for treating various forms of cancer. In studies involving mice each of these nutrients slowed down the growth of cancer cells, but when they were used in combination, the two nutrients lessened tumorous growth significantly, in addition to displaying their ability to metastasize carcinogenic cells.

It is worth mentioning here that curcumin dissolves in fat. Hence, blending this substance with fat helps the body to absorb it considerably. In addition, it has been found that when used with black pepper, the potency of curcumin is augmented by 1000 times. You can also use curcumin blended with coconut or olive oil. Alternatively, you may sprinkle some turmeric on an avocado or mix it into avocado and coconut smoothies.

In order to obtain the best results, you should opt for the superior quality, organically grown, fresh turmeric and blend it with freshly obtained organically grown pepper and organic useful fats.