Maple syrup: more than just sugar and calories

April 6, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Sticky, sweet and full of calories. That’s how I would describe maple syrup. So how can it be healthy? But this natural Canadian product that goes well with your pancakes or waffles contains, according to a study by University of Rhode Island researchers, certain bioactive compounds that may be beneficial to your health.

So what are these compounds?

Navindra Seeram, assistant professor of  pharmacy at University of Rhode Island identified some 20 antioxidants in the sweet liquid, including 13 which haven’t reported before in maple syrup and reported his findings at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco last March. One of the class of compounds identified was phenolics, antioxidants produced by plants as defense mechanisms. Maple syrup is extracted from the maple tree Acer sp. and the extraction process of the syrup  which requires wounding the plant induces phenolic production.  Further boiling of the sap concentrates the phenolics in the end product.

This is indeed good news for maple syrup lovers as well as manufacturers. Maple syrup has become a symbol of Canada, the world’s biggest producer.

According to Serge Beaulieu, president of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers:

“We are proud that our producers are generously supporting this research, bringing to light a greater understanding of the gastronomic and health benefits of maple products. It is not just for Canada, but for the welfare of consumers around the world.”

Dr. Seeram reported that the compounds he identified have antibacterial, anti-cancer and anti-diabetic  properties. The next step is to determine the concentrations of these compounds in maple syrup and how they can potentially be harnessed as medicinal agents.

One thing is for sure: there is more to maple syrup than just sugar and calories.

Geneviève Béland, federation marketing director says:

Recent research findings, such as those by Dr. Seeram, reveal a whole array of bioactive compounds that promise to offer many health benefits. Our journey to understanding these benefits has just begun.”

The researchers, however, recommend that people should go for the real maple syrup and those (cheaper) products with maple flavoring and or syrup diluted with other liquids.

Dr. Seeram, who is an expert in medicinal plants, is not only looking at maple syrup but at other plants as well. His aim is to educate the public as well as the scientific community about the many benefits of natural food products.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Popcorn has antioxidants, too

September 9, 2009 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

popcornSnacking is not bad as long as they are the right food and the right amount. And a recent study by researchers at the University of Scranton reveals that even popcorn has some redeeming qualities.

Whole grain cereals seem to be especially recommended because they contain lots of healthy things including fiber and polyphenols. Polyphenols are strong anti-oxidants which are also found in fruit and vegetables. And would you believe it – some whole-grain breakfast cereals have comparable polyphenol content per gram to fruit and vegetables.

According to lead author Dr. Joe Vinson

“Early researchers thought the fiber was the active ingredient for these benefits in whole grains — the reason why they may reduce the risk of cancer and coronary heart disease. But recently, polyphenols emerged as potentially more important. Breakfast cereals, pasta, crackers and salty snacks constitute over 66 percent of whole grain intake in the U.S. diet.”

Polyphenols occur naturally and abundantly in plants. They have been reported to have health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, benefits to cardiovascular health, and anti-cancer properties.

Food products other than fresh fruit and vegetables which are rich in polyphenols are

  • Tea
  • Red wine
  • Nuts

The current study looked at the following snacks and cereals and reported the following polyphenol content:

  • whole-grain corn or oats – about 0.2% by weight per box
  • wheat-based cereals – 0.07 %
  • rice cereals – 0.05%
  • raisin bran – 3%
  • popcorn – 2.6%
  • whole grain crackers – 0.45%
  • processed tortilla chips – negligible

It seems that the food manufacturing process does not destroy but rather retain the polyphenols in the plant products.

Vinson continues

“We always think of fruits and vegetables as the primary sources of polyphenols. But many people, especially students, don’t eat enough of them. Here we have a product that is very familiar in the diet and that people like to eat. We can push kids to eat more whole grains.”

Caveat: although this is good news, nutritionists give the following warning:

  • It is easy to binge on snacks and cereals. Practice moderation and stick to the serving size recommendations.
  • A lot of breakfast cereals contain lots of sugar. Go for the low sugar or sugar-free whole grain sort.
  • Some snacks contain lots of salt (thus high sodium content).
  • It’s not only what is in the food that matter. What’s not in there is also important. Aside from sugar and salt, processed food products usually contain preservatives and additives.
  • Finally, despite the comparable polyphenol content, these processed foods are still no substitute for fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s not only the polyphenols that matters. Think about essential vitamins, minerals, and other types of antioxidants that our body needs.

Eat red for a healthy heart

May 14, 2009 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

cherryWhen can we eat cherries, mom?”, asked my two pre-schoolers. “In the summer,” I replied. My kids are not the only ones looking forward to the cherry season. I am quite partial to this red seasonal fruit myself. Besides being yummy-tasting, cherries are one of the super red fruits that seem to be highly beneficial to our health. The red color is mainly due to antioxidants called anthocyanins in the fruit. According to researchers at the University of Michigan, a cup and half (equivalent to one and a half servings) of tart cherries can significantly increase your antioxidant levels. And they need not be fresh cherries which are not available the whole year round. Frozen cherries will do.

In the study, researchers analyzed the level of five types of anthocyanins in the blood and urine of the study participants after they ate the cherries either one and a half or three cups of cherries. The study results showed that antioxidant levels significantly increased even with just a small portion of the fruit and that this increased activity can last for up to 12 hours after eating cherries. In turn, this boost in antioxidant activity can provide protection against chronic illnesses, especially cardiovascular disease.

According to lead researcher Dr. Sara L. Warber of the University of Michigan Integrative Medicine

“This study documents for the first time that the antioxidants in tart cherries do make it into the human bloodstream and is coupled with increased antioxidant activity that could have a positive impact. And, while more research is needed, what’s really great is that a reasonable amount of cherries could potentially deliver benefits, like reducing risk factors for heart disease and inflammation.”

Aside from their cardioprotective properties, cherries can

  • have anti-inflammatory effects
  • lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce triglycerides

Because of these properties, cherry-enriched diets can be beneficial to people with arthritis, gout, type 2 diabetes, and vascular disorders.

Dr. Warber concludes:

“It’s encouraging when research like ours finds that great-tasting fruit can lead to real-life benefits, continuing to underscore the importance of whole foods in the diet.”

Another U of Michigan study last year also showed that cherries can help in weight reduction and getting rid of abdominal fat

According to lead author and cardiac surgeon Dr. Steven F. Bolling

“We know excess body fat increases the risk for heart disease. This research gives us one more support point suggesting that diet changes, such as including cherries, could potentially lower heart disease risk.”

Cherries, which are a member of the rose family, are available fresh in the summer months. However, you can also buy them frozen or dried or in the form of juice during off season.

For more information about cherries, its nutritional properties, and cherry recipes, check out www.choosecherries.com.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

The dark side of chocolate: healthy and heart-friendly

January 6, 2009 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

Resource post for January

Have you ever looked at the chocolate section in the supermarket lately? I’m sure many of us do not, to avoid temptation. After all, chocolate is the number enemy of weight watchers, diabetics, heart patients, and health-conscious parents. Or is it? Lately, more and more studies indicate that chocolate can have a healthy side – and it is the dark side.

No wonder chocolate manufacturers are reinventing chocolate. We now have dark chocolates with up to 90% cacao content, chocolates which are sugar-free, with low-fat. And yes – even chocolate for diabetics.

Chocolate research

Now, before we go on, let’s take a look at the research studies on the health effects of chocolate.

Effects of low habitual cocoa intake on blood pressure and bioactive nitric oxide
This study by German researchers evaluated the effect of dark chocolate on the blood pressure of adults with prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension. The 44 study participants were randomly assigned into two groups. One group was given 6.3 g of dark chocolate per day (equivalent to 30 kcal, with 30 mg of polyphenols) for 18 weeks. The other group was given polyphenol-free chocolate of the same quantity for the same duration. The study results showed that from baseline to 18 weeks, dark-chocolate intake reduced mean systolic BP by 2.9 mm Hg (p<0.001) and diastolic BP by 1.9 mm Hg (p<0.001) without changes in body weight, lipids, glucose, or 8-isoprostane. Hypertension prevalence decreased from 86% to 68%.”

Dark chocolate improves coronary vasomotion and reduces platelet reactivity
This study by Swiss researchers at the Zurich University Hospital investigated the effect of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate in the health outcomes of 22 heart transplant patients. An intake of 40 g of dark chocolate with 70% cocoa “induces coronary vasodilation, improves coronary vascular function, and decreases platelet adhesion 2 hours after consumption. These immediate beneficial effects were paralleled by a significant reduction of serum oxidative stress and were positively correlated with changes in serum epicatechin concentration.”

Cocoa consumption for 2 wk enhances insulin-mediated vasodilatation without improving blood pressure or insulin resistance in essential hypertension
This study by American researchers investigated the effects of effects of dark chocolate on insulin sensitivity in people with high blood pressure. The study participants were given 150 mL flavanol-rich cocoa drink two times a day equivalent to approximately 900 mg of flavanols per day for two weeks. The results showed that cocoa treatment at the said dose “did not significantly reduce blood pressure or improve insulin resistance and had no significant effects on skeletal muscle capillary recruitment, circulating plasma concentrations of adipocytokines, or endothelial adhesion molecules… [and] … wasnot sufficient to reduce blood pressure or improve insulin resistance in human subjects with essential hypertension.” However, it was shown to enhance insulin-mediated vasodilation.

Dark chocolate fights heart woes
A study by Japanese researchers showed that eating dark chocolate improves blood flow to the heart muscles. The study participants were 39 male adults who were given either dark chocolate (with 550 mg polyphenols) or white chocolate (no polyphenols) every day for 2 weeks. It was observed that coronary blood circulation significantly improved after 2 weeks in the group given dark chocolate but not those who ate white chocolate.

Cocoa could be a healthy treat for diabetic patients
Yet another study by American researchers evaluated the effect of chocolate on the functioning of vessels among diabetic patients. The study reported that after diabetic patients drank specially formulated high-flavanol cocoa for one month, blood vessel function went from severely impaired to normal.” The vascular improvement observed was comparable to those brought about by exercise and common diabetic medications.

What makes dark chocolate healthy?

For chocolate, the darker, the better and the darkest secret of chocolate is in the cacao polyphenol. Cocoa, the raw powder from the cacao plant, is rich in polyphenols, compounds which have cardioprotective and antioxidation properties. Polyphenols are also found in many plant products such as tea, grapes, walnutsolive oil, and many other fruits and vegetables.

Cacao polyphenol is a flavonoid, which is a subgroup of polyphenols. It is estimated that cacao polyphenol contains four times as much flavonoids per serving than either tea or red wine.

Caveat

Does this mean we can gobble as much chocolate as we want?

Not really. Remember: “Life is just like a box of chocolates. You never know what you get.”

The studies described here were performed under strict conditions where the quality of the chocolate, the sugar as well as the fat content, are controlled and standardized. This is not like that in the real-life chocolates as we know them – the ones that come in boxes. In other words, we really don’t know what we are getting in terms of flavonoid content. This is because chocolate flavonoid content depends on many things, including:

  • The type of cacao beans
  • The processing (e.g. roasting, temperature, fermentation)
  • The additives

Thus, the percentage of cacao in a bar of chocolate is not really a sure indication of flavonoid content.

And, we know that too much of a good thing can be bad and that also applies to chocolates. Chocolate may have flavonoids but it also contains fat and calories that can make you gain weight.

So, no, we cannot use chocolate as the next “wonder health food” and go on an “all-chocolate diet.” But we can indulge ourselves every now and then without feeling guilty or concerned for our health.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Antioxidant supplements: do they work?

December 16, 2008 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

Resource post for December

In an era when people are becoming more and more health-conscious, vitamin pills are becoming more and more popular. Millions of people are swallowing vitamin supplement pills everyday, believing that these medications are beneficial to their health, especially their hearts. These supplements range from vitamin cocktails to omega-3’s to antioxidants. These “power pills” or “health supplements” are supposed to keep our body strong and healthy and prevent a wide range of diseases, from heart disease to high blood pressure, from aging to cancer.

In this resource post, I am reviewing the recent updates on vitamin and antioxidant supplementation and answer the question: Do we really need them?

Vitamin supplements

A 2007 meta-analysis by Bjelakovic and colleagues on vitamin supplements came up with surprising results: not only are the benefits of antioxidants suspect, they can actually increase overall mortality. A group of researchers analysed data from clinical trials which used supplementation of the antioxidants vitamin A, vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C and selenium used as stand-alone supplements or in combination in people with a variety of health conditions. The results showed that most of these vitamins actually do not have a discernable health benefits to those who took them. Furthermore, vitamins A and E and beta-carotene (but not Vitamin C) and selenium can actually result in increased mortality.

Based on their results, Bjelakovic and colleagues discourages the use of synthetic vitamin supplements. Instead, we should go for the natural sources of these vitamins – fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Antioxidant supplements

In a more recent review paper, the same researchers evaluated several clinical trials involving over 200,000 people which compared the efficacy of antioxidant supplements versus placebo in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular gastrointestinal, neurological, ocular, dermatological, rheumatoid, renal, and endocrinological disorders

The authors reported that:

We found no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention. Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin E may increase mortality. Future randomised trials could evaluate the potential effects of vitamin C and selenium for primary and secondary prevention. Such trials should be closely monitored for potential harmful effects. Antioxidant supplements need to be considered medicinal products and should undergo sufficient evaluation before marketing.

Folic acid and vitamin B

It has always been a popular belief that folic acid and vitamin B can protect us from the monsters which are heart disease and stroke by reducing the levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is believed to be a biomarker for cardiovascular diseases. Unfortunately, the results of this long-term trial seem to cast doubts on the homocysteine theory.

The trial included more than 5,400 U.S. women who were health professionals. Some had a history of cardiovascular disease, and others had three or more coronary risk factors, such as high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes. Half of the women took a daily combination pill containing 2.5 milligrams of folic acid, 50 milligrams of vitamin B6, and 1 milligram of vitamin B12, while the other half took a placebo.”

These women were “blinded” – that means they didn´t know whether they were taking vitamins or placebo – and followed-up for more than 7 years. The results of the trial were a bit disappointing. 14.9% of those who took the vitamin pills had at least 1 cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke. 14.3% of those who were given placebo also had at least 1 cardiovascular event within the same period of time. The difference between the 2 groups was not significant.

The study results had important implications, namely:

  • The homocysteine – cardiovascular link needs to be re-examined; homocysteine may not be an appropriate biomarker for cardiovascular disease.
  • Taking folic acid does not prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • Flour in the US and some other countries is fortified with folic acid. Additional supplementation is not necessary except for pregnant women.

Pregnant women are routinely advised to take folic acid supplement to prevent birth defects that can affect the baby´s nervous system, leading to the condition of spina bifida. Natural sources of folic acid are green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.

Vitamin D and calcium

This trial evaluated the effects of vitamin D and calcium supplements on blood pressure and hypertension risk of healthy women. The study involved 36,252 postmenopausal women who were followed up for about 7 years. The results show that

“the precision of this study excludes a BP-lowering effect of calcium supplementation of clinical or public health importance…[the analysis] “is strongly suggestive of an absent relationship between vitamin D intake and hypertension”

Selenium and Vitamin E

A more recent development comes from the large-scale study called SELECT (Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial) which assessed whether selenium and vitamin E supplements can prevent prostate cancer as suggested by earlier studies. Recently, about 5 years into the study, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) decided to stop the study due to lack of preventive effects as well as”concerning” findings that showed a slight increase risk of developing prostate cancer among those who took vitamin E and diabetes among those who took selenium. Even though the “slight increased risks” observed in this study of 35,000 healthy men were not statistically significant, they are risks that couldn’t be ignored.

What the experts have to say

The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association (AHA) do not recommend the use of antioxidant supplements as specified in 2002 Guideline Update in for the management of chronic angina. In 2005, the AHA science advisory board issued that statement that “scientific data do not justify the use of antioxidant vitamin supplements” in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

“… in agreement with many in the field, we conclude that the existing scientific database does not justify routine use of antioxidant supplements for the prevention and treatment of CVD.25-28,29 This conclusion is consistent with theAmerican College of Cardiology/American Heart Association 2002 Guideline Update for the management of patients with chronic stable angina, which states that there is no basis for recommending that patients take vitamin C or E supplements or other antioxidants for the express purpose of preventing or treating coronary artery disease…”

Conclusion

Vitamins and minerals are essential for our health. But we have to be careful about our sources of essential nutrients. In spite of all the claims of these supplements, they are no substitute to the natural fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts as well as a healthy lifestyle.

 

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The anti-cancer properties of broccoli

December 15, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Resource post for December

Background

You may believe it but broccoli (Brassica oleracea) is a member of the cabbage family. And what we are eating – those little green things at the end of the branches – are actually the flowers. Its closest relatives, judging from their looks, are the cauliflowers and romanesco. These vegetables are called cruciferous vegetables or brassicas.

Brassicas are rich in compounds known as glucosinolates which are metabolized to isothiocyanates, substances with cancer preventive properties. In this post, we review the latest news about the green wonder that is broccoli.

Broccoli and cancer

Broccoli compound targets key enzyme in late-stage cancer

Researchers at University of California Berkeley reports that an anti-cancer compound found in broccoli and cabbage works by lowering the activity of an enzyme associated with rapidly advancing breast cancer.” The compound has been identified as indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and it has been demonstrated to inhibit breast and prostate cancer cells in lab mice. Here’s how it works: I3C inhibits elastase, an enzyme which when present in high levels in breast cancer cells, indicates faster spread of the disease, reduced response to chemotherapy and other treatments, as well as low survival rates. Elastase shortens the cell cycle controller cyclin E. Short cyclin E results in accelerated cell cycle that makes cancer cells grow uncontrollably. By stopping elastase, I3C stops the proliferation of cancer cells.

I3C is available as a supplement and is a preferred preventative treatment for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a condition involving non-malignant tumors of the larynx. Improved versions of the chemical could thus help treat cancers other than those of the breast and prostate.”

Broccoli may lower lung cancer risk in smokers

This study presented last month at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Seventh Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, evaluated the health effects of eating vegetables in smokers. Eating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli on a regular basis afforded smokers 20 to 55% reduced risk of developing lung cancer. The variation is risk reduction depended on intensity of smoking habit and the type of vegetables consumed. Eating raw cruciferous vegetables proved especially beneficial, especially against with squamous or small-cell carcinoma, two lung cancer subtypes linked to heavy cigarette smoking. “These findings, along with others, indicate cruciferous vegetables may play a more important role in cancer prevention among people exposed to cigarette-smoking.

Inhibition of urinary bladder carcinogenesis by broccoli sprouts

Yet another extract from broccoli and its relatives seems to have healing powers. The phytochemical called isothyiocyanates (ITCs) is present in broccoli, cabbage, kale, collard greens. Broccoli sprouts especially have it in large quantities – almost 30 times more than mature broccoli.

Oncology researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and their multinational collaborators demonstrated that ITCs prevent the development of cancer of the urinary bladder in lab mice. This anti-cancer property seems to be evident even in low dosage, meaning we don’t need to gorge ourselves with broccoli to be protected from bladder cancer.

Broccoli and the immune system

Broccoli may help boost aging immune system

The efficiency of our immune system declines as we age. And with body’s immunity waning, we are more susceptible to many diseases – from cardiovascular diseases to neurodegenerative disorders, from diabetes to cancers – as we get older. But it seems that eating broccoli can actually give our immune system a boost and may just slow down the aging process.

Researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) identified the immunity booster as sulforaphane, a compound that is abundant in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.

Sulforaphane works by inducing the production of antioxidants, which provide protection against free radicals that can damage cells and lead to disease. Free radicals, which are normal by-products of metabolism, cause the wear and tear that our body experiences as we age. However, free radicals also exist as environmental pollutants that we are exposed to every day.

Although the anti-aging properties of sulforaphane have so far been only demonstrated in mice, the potential for human health is tremendous. After all, who needs anti-aging pills if you can have your antioxidants all-natural and fresh – everyday?

Broccoli cooking and preparation

So what is the best way of preparing broccoli? Well, research says boiling broccoli ruins its anti cancer properties!

University of Warwick researchers tested how food preparation and storage can affect the glucosinolate content of cruciferous vegetables. The following methods were evaluated:

  • boiling for 5, 10 and 30 min
  • steaming for 0-20 min
  • microwave cooking for 0-3 min
  • stir-fry cooking for 0-5 min

Boiling seems to result in a significant loss of glucosinate content. 20 to 30% are lost after 5 minutes of boiling, and 40 to 50% after 10 minutes. In broccoli, 70% is lost after 30 minutes. The other 3 food preparation methods did not result in significant losses.

Storing at room temperature and in the fridge does not seem to affect glucosinate content but thawing frozen vegetables does.

Broccoli recipes

The UC Berkeley researchers provide us with recipes for yummy vegetable dishes such as brassica bites, caramelized brussel sprouts.

Other recipes can be found at www.broccolirecipes.net/ and www.basic-recipes.com/veget/bro/.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Goin’ tomatoes for cancer

November 10, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

We all love tomatoes – on pasta, on pizza, or even raw in salads. My kids love the small varieties which we call in Europe “tomato pearls” and would eat them as they would berries. So I am delighted to hear the latest research findings on the anti-cancer effects of tomatoes.

Tomatoes and prostate cancer

This study by researchers at the University of Missouri indicates that certain tomato products have strong anti-cancer properties. And unlike in most cases where natural food loses their nutritional value with food processing, tomatoes seem to retain, even increase their nutrients andd cancer-fighting effects when heated, ground, or dried.

The researchers tested the effect of tomatoes on prostate tumors in rats. Rats fed with tomato paste added with FruHis, which is an organic carbohydrate present in dehydrated tomato products, developed less tumors and lived longer. Only 10% of the rats in the tomato diet group developed prostate cancer compared to 60% in the control group. Tomatoes are rich in ascorbic acid, carotenoids and other phenolic compounds. FruHis, an antioxidant seems to have especially potent anti-cancer properties.

Purple tomatoes

Certain berries, especially the dark types like blueberries, contain anthocyanins which are a type of flavonoids and have therefore strong antioxidation properties. Unfortunately we don’t seem to get enough berries in our diets due to cost, seasonality, and limited shelf life. This is not the case with tomatoes, vegetables which are available the whole year round and eaten by many in sufficient quantities daily.

This is why British researchers developed the purple tomato by incorporating two genes from the snapdragon flower. These genes are responsible for producing pigments as well as anthocyanins, similar to what is found in blueberries. This rendered the purple tomato with almost three times antioxidant power compared to its red relatives.

The researchers compared the effects of purple and red tomatoes on lab mice and observed that mice fed with purple tomatoes have significantly longer lifespans compared to those fed with normal red tomatoes. Although these results look very promising, the anticancer properties of purple tomatoes still need to be confirmed in studies using tumor models.

Pills vs GM tomatoes

These studies highlight the importance of fruits and vegetables in our diet. Unfortunately, over the years, people use the lack of time and money as excuses to divert from a healthy diet. Instead, the use of vitamin cocktails and nutritional supplements has become popular, with questionable benefits to our health. By concentrating nutrients in widely available natural food stuffs such as the tomato, researchers are trying to come up with alternatives to pills.

Of course the purists among us would argue that the supernutritious purple tomatoes are actually genetically modified. In a perfect world, we should not be forced to make tough choices. But ours is not a perfect world and there’s bound to be trade offs to make. It’s your take.

Dark Chocolate and Flavanols

August 14, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

It’s amazing what can spark a topic for a blog post.

Here’s today’s inspiration. Dove Rich Dark Chocolate.

I actually am facing down the large tablet bar myself.

But do you see that little label with the heart? NATURAL SOURCE OF COCOA FLAVANOLS.

“Enjoy the rich dark taste of DOVE® Dark Chocolate, now in a large tablet bar. DOVE® Dark Chocolate Large Bars are perfect for multiple occasions, including everyday indulgence, baking/cooking, dessert and “anywhere” enjoyment.”


Nutritional Information

Serving Size: 1/3 bar
Servings Per Container: 3

Calories 170
Calories from Fat 100

Total Fat: 11g | % Daily Value: 17%
Saturated Fat: 6 g | % Daily Value: 30%
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg | % Daily Value: 2%

Now 170 calories isn’t too bad. Okay it’s not as good as eating blueberries…but turns out that dark chocolate is good for you.

Raise your hand if you remember what flavanols are!

Flavanols are a class of flavonoids…which we discussed in What’s an Antioxidant? on Battling Cancer.

Cocoa is the ingredient in chocolate that hold the flavanol key to antioxidant activity of free radicals.

Basically an antioxidant is capable of counteracting the normal damaging effects of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals in the body. The balance of antioxidants to oxidants is disturbed by poor diet, smoking, disease, normal aging, x-rays and many other things. When an antioxidant neutralizes a free radical, the antioxidant becomes oxidized and the body needs to be resupplied with antioxidants.

Let’s translate that to: eat more dark chocolate. (I have half a bar left)

Sure there are other ways to consume flavanols (like tea ) but what could be more decadent than a finely processed dark chocolate bar? (The amount of flavanols depends on the processing, so avoid cheap chocolate.)

Read more

July is National Blueberry Month

July 2, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

blueberries.jpg

What’s not to love about blueberries?

They are the number one antioxidant fruit and they’re delicious.

Need a refresher on antioxidants and cancer ? See the Battling Cancer archives here .

Basically an antioxidant is capable of counteracting the normal damaging effects of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals in the body. The balance of antioxidants to oxidants is disturbed by poor diet, smoking, disease, normal aging, x-rays and many other things. When an antioxidant neutralizes a free radical, the antioxidant becomes oxidized and the body needs to be resupplied with antioxidants.

Blueberries contain high levels of polyphenals which provide antioxidant activity.

blueberry-nutrition.jpg Blueberry Trivia:

  • 90% of the world’s blueberries are grown in North America, specifically 38 U.S. states and provinces of Canada
  • Blueberries were grown by American Colonists and were a staple during the Civil War.
  • Today’s blueberries are known as "cultivated" or "highbush" blueberries
  • Hammonton, New Jersey is the Blueberry Capital of the World.

Check out this short informational video on Blueberries from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council .

Blueberry Recipes from the Highbush Blueberry Council:

Blueberry Crumble

4 cups fresh or thawed, frozen blueberries
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
3 packages (1.5 ounces each instant oatmeal with maple and brown sugar)
3 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375º F. In a 9-inch pie plate, toss blueberries with sugar. In a small bowl, combine oatmeal and butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs; sprinkle over blueberries. Bake until mixture bubbles around the edge and topping is light brown, 30 to 35 minutes.

Yield: 6 portions
Per portion: 197 calories, 3 grams protein, 7 grams fat, 33 grams carbohydrate

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat lemon yogurt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg white
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well blended. In a small bowl, whisk yogurt, eggs, the egg white and melted butter until blended. Stir yogurt mixture into flour mixture just until combined. Stir in blueberries. Into each muffin cup, spoon about 1/4 cup batter; sprinkle each with about 1 teaspoon of granola, if desired. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove muffins from cups; cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining batter, partially filling empty cups with water.

YIELD: 18 muffins

Per muffin: 131 calories, 3 g protein, 3.5 g fat, 22 g carbohydrate

Battling Books:

Very Blueberry by Jennifer Trainer Thompson

Check out a Blueberry Festival near you.

Blueberries and your cholesterol

June 27, 2008 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

Hey, blueberry lovers. Your favorite fruit may just be the way to lower your cholesterol and save your heart.

The wild blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium is a rich source of concentrated non-nutritive antioxidants. And these antioxidants seem to be able to lower cholesterol levels.

Researchers in Canada studied the effects of blueberry supplements on plasma cholesterol levels. They conducted two feeding trials with pigs

to determine the effects of blueberry supplementation on plasma lipid levels and other indices of cardiovascular benefit.”

In the first feeding trial, the test animals were given a diet of 70% plant-based (soya, barley and oats). In the second feeding trial, the diet was 20% plant-based. The two types of diet were then added 1 %, 2 % and 4 % blueberries. The results of both feeding trials show a decrease in total cholesterol as well as LDL- and HDL-cholesterol levels.

However, the plasma lipid lowering effect of the blueberries was more evident in the feeding trial of mostly plant-based diet. According to lead researcher Wilhelmina Kalt, the soy, oats and barley contained in plant-based diets may have worked synergistically with blueberry antioxidants, resulting in a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels.

Another Canadian study studied the effect of blueberries in humans.

A single-blinded crossover study was performed in a group of eight middle-aged male subjects (38-54 years). Subjects consumed a high-fat meal and a control supplement followed 1 week later by the same high-fat meal supplemented with 100 0 g freeze-dried wild blueberry powder.

In a previous post, I have described how a high-fat meal results in post-prandial dysmetabolism and oxidative stress. Results of the second study show that blueberry concentrate supplement increased the total antioxidant status in serum levels. It seems that the antioxidants in blueberries can counteract the oxidative stress brought about by post-prandial dysmetabolism. Increased antioxidant serum status also reduces the risk of many chronic degenerative diseases.

Blueberry is a low bush that grows in wooded and open areas in the US and Canada. Check out your neighborhood to see whether there are wild blueberries for the picking!

For more information about wild blueberries, their nutritional facts, and recipes, check out this site.

Sources:

Kalt W et al. Effect of blueberry feeding on plasma lipids in pigs. British Journal of Nutrition (2008), 100:70-78

Kay CD & Holub BJ. The effect of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) consumption on postprandial serum antioxidant status in human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition (2002), 88:389-397

Photo credit

Good Eating and Cancer

May 5, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

fruits-and-vegs.jpg

Spring has arrived and summer approaches here in the U.S. and Canada. That means an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s a great time to try a healthier living lifestyle.

Raw Food

The My Crazy Sexy Cancer Community has a great raw foods group that generously shares recipes and thoughts on the raw foods lifestyle.

And if you’re feeling lucky, My Wooden Spoon is running a contest this week giving away a Cuisinart Food Prep. The last day to enter is May 7, 10 PM CST.

Antioxidants

A few great recipes that incorporate antioxidant rich foods are available at Eating Well. Everything from strawberry bruschetta to blueberry ketchup!

The Super Food Connection

Super Foods are foods that are rated high in oxygen radical absorbency. They include:

  • Beans
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Oats
  • Oranges
  • Pumpkin
  • Salmon
  • Soy
  • Spinach
  • Tea (green or black)
  • Tomatoes
  • Turkey
  • Walnuts
  • Yogurt

Check out Sunfood Nutrition for great articles and sources of information and ordering super foods and raw foods.

Eating Green

The Food Network offers great ideas on eating green; meals and shopping that are good for you, including an eating green guide.

GoVeg.com offers a free vegetarian starter kit. You can also get a free Johnny Rockets Streamliner, veggie burger, “During the entire month of May PETA has teamed up with Johnny Rockets to celebrate World Vegetarian Week (May 19 to 25).”

Read more

What’s an Antioxidant?

April 24, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

fork.jpgWhat exactly is an antioxidant and what does it have to do with cancer?

Per the American Dietetic Association: “Antioxidants are dietary substances including some nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamins C and E and selenium, that can prevent damage to your body cells or repair damage that has been done.”

Basically an antioxidant is capable of counteracting the normal damaging effects of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals in the body. The balance of antioxidants to oxidants is disturbed by poor diet, smoking, disease, normal aging, x-rays and many other things. When an antioxidant neutralizes a free radical, the antioxidant becomes oxidized and the body needs to be resupplied with antioxidants.

From the U.S. Department of Agriculture: “Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E, help protect healthy cells from damage by free radicals. Normal body functions such as breathing or physical activity, and other lifestyle habits, such as smoking, produce substances called free radicals that weaken healthy cells. Weakened cells are more susceptible to cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.”

It’s important to remember that the consumption of exceptionally large amounts of antioxidants can be harmful to the body. Current studies in antioxidants are constantly reevaluating levels of antioxidants needed for optimal health and for healing. Antioxidants are found in foods we eat; however if you are interested in oral supplements consult your physician. As a report of the American Cancer Society points out, the effect of supplements on cancer tumors and interactions with medication leaves many still unanswered questions. Talk to your physician. The National Cancer Institute provides information on antioxidants under investigation in clinical trials.

Traditional antioxidants:

Vitamin C: Red pepper, yellow pepper, strawberries, oranges lemons, cantaloupes, cauliflower. Information on the connection to vitamin C and cancer is provided at the Linus Pauling Institute.

Vitamin E: Prevents the oxidation of fat and Vitamin A. It is thought to prevent prostrate and breast cancer. Sources of vitamin E include nuts, avocados, mangoes and sweet potatoes. See the National Cancer Institute site for information on the SELECT trial, (Selenium and Vitamin E trial) which studied the effect of these supplements on prostate cancer.

Beta carotene:Found naturally in foods such as cantaloupe, mangoes, papaya, pumpkin, peppers, spinach, kale, squash, sweet potatoes, and apricots. Note that the results of a clinical trial showed that beta carotene supplements should be avoided by smokers. See the National Cancer Institute for more information.

Selenium: Naturally found in seafood, beef, pork, chicken, Brazil nuts, brown rice, and whole wheat bread. Selenium studies show its importance in fighting prostate cancer, per a study by the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

Antioxidants Being Studied:

Flavonoids: Found in brewed tea. Flavonoids are also found in dark chocolate. An interesting clinical trial on dark chocolate is found on WebMD. Studies are now showing the impact on flavonoids in various types of cancer, such as prostrate and ovarian cancer as noted at ScienceDaily.

Lycopene: Found in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit. For more information on lycopene and cancer see the Mayo Clinic site or Lycopene and Health.

Phytochemicals: Found in blueberries, strawberries and cranberries, phytochemicals are now linked to a positive impact on certain cancers such as colon cancer and liver cancer. The Daily Mail, shares a recent study at Rutgers University on blueberries. NutraUSA shares a similar study with promise for liver cancer.

Recommended daily amounts of vitamins, and minerals are available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture library. They include a series of reports “on the dietary reference values for the intake of nutrients by Americans and Canadians.”

Battling Books:

The Super Antioxidant Diet and Nutrition Guide: a Health Plan for the Body, Mind and Spirit by Robin Jeep, Richard B. Couey, and Sherie Ellington Pitman (February 2008)

Antioxidants Against Cancer by Ralph W. Moss (2000)

Additional information is available in our archives:

The Relationship Between Cancer and Antioxidants

Diabetes and Coffee

March 11, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

It is pretty early, at least here on the East Coast of the U.S., so I would like to share a cup of coffee with you. If you would prefer tea, go right ahead and brew up a cup. I will just sit here and wait while you get it.

La, la, la, oh look, there is a sale. Surf, surf, surf, no . . . I don’t want to visit that site thank you very. . . Oh. You’re back. Hi.

Evil Coffee!

Even after scientists discovered that coffee and tea both have antioxidants and other compounds that are great for the body, people avoid coffee. They say there is too much caffeine in it or quote studies from decades ago concerning the beverage.

Many will avoid the drink their entire lives, citing good health as the reason. For those who avoid it because they do not enjoy the taste, that is a totally different matter. Taste is taste, you either enjoy it or you don’t. But, do not let the small amounts of caffeine deter you from having a cup of joe if you previously loved the stuff!

Power packed Java.

Coffee is a plant based beverage and as with all drinks made from plants, it has benefits from the original source. Four years ago, scientists discovered that people who drank coffee had a lower risk of developing diabetes and that there is a compound in coffee that helps the body metabolize sugar.

If you want to drink coffee to help prevent diabetes or if you would like to enjoy the other benefits of the coffee bean, try decaffeinated.

One More Thing

If you are a tea drinker, you are already aware of the health benefits of tea. But, did you know that drinking tea, real not herbal, can improve your insulin activity by up to fifteen times? According to the research, you should not use milk in the drink, as it can interfere with the compounds in the teas acting properly.

Nutrition and Vitamins for Your Eyes

March 10, 2008 by  
Filed under VISION

You know that proper nutrition is essential to good health. But did you also know there are certain nutrients that help keep the eyes working properly and that help prevent the onset of certain vision problems and disorders? Well it’s true and all you need to do to reap the benefits is make sure you eat nutritionally-balanced meals.

In the case of vitamins, the ones that benefit your eyes include vitamin A, vitamin C and Vitamin E. Most of the benefit to the eyes has to do with the fact that these vitamins are antioxidants. The body needs antioxidants to help ensure that its cells are able to regenerate correctly. Sometimes the regeneration process is jeopardized by the actions of free radicals. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals which diminishes their ability to cause cell damage.

Age has a lot to do with the eye’s diminished capacity, but free radicals do much harm to the eyes as well. They can cause damage to the retina, located at the back of the eye. They can also interfere with the lens. Specifically free radicals can prevent the lens’ ability to deliver light to the retina. When the light cannot focus properly, the retina cannot produce a clear image to send to the brain.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two antioxidants that are currently being studied for their potential to protect the eyes. Let’s take a closer look at the other eye-friendly vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin A

A deficiency of vitamin A is known to be a major cause of blindness. It makes sense then that the easiest way to prevent blindness (and also prevent cataracts) is by getting the recommended daily allowance of this vitamin. Getting enough vitamin A also helps ensure your eyes can focus in nighttime light. When deficiencies are persistent, a condition called xerophthalmia may develop with its characteristic dry membranes and thickening of the mucous membranes that line the eyelids. This condition can cause permanent blindness as can macular degeneration, another disorder that has been linked to a deficiency of vitamin A.

Vitamin C

Very high concentrations of Vitamin C are stored in healthy eyes. It’s believed that vitamin C protects the eye from damaging ultraviolet rays. Vitamin C’s antioxidant qualities protect the eyes from cell damage, including macular degeneration, by neutralizing free radicals. Vitamin C is also believed capable of preventing glaucoma and alleviating its symptoms in cases where it has already developed.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E helps to keeps the mucous membranes of the eyelids lubricated. And it too is considered an antioxidant so getting adequate quantities of this vitamin will help in the prevention of eye disorders and diseases such as macular degeneration and night blindness.

Zinc

The body needs the mineral zinc to assist with the absorption of Vitamin A. As you read above, this vitamin benefits the eye in many ways so anything that helps the body absorb Vitamin A also helps keep eyes healthy and vision clear.

The Relationship Between Cancer And Antioxidants

April 13, 2007 by  
Filed under CANCER

By Michelle Bery

Cancer – a disease that affects so many around the world and continues to be studied earnestly in order to finally identify a cure. But, in the meantime, researchers, in an effort to take control of the spread of this heinous disease, promote programs of prevention. Diet, exercise, and the avoidance of controllable environmental pollutants are all part of the effort to prevent cancer.

It has been shown that cancer derives from good cells gone bad. Affected by poor diet, environmental factors, and chemical substances, molecules inside the body lose electrons in response. The molecules become free radicals and, as such, they begin their attack on healthy cells to take back electrons. Such begins the battle within the body.

Antioxidants – properties found in a variety of foods – bolster the immune system and work alongside healthy cells to combat free radicals. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants strengthens the body with much needed resources to stay healthy and keep disease at bay. The relationship between cancer and antioxidants is a significant one and one that has been studied at great length.

In essence there is a battle between cancer and antioxidants. Cancer works against the cells in the body while antioxidants work on behalf of cells. In stands to reason that if you supply one with more resources than the other then the battle will be won. Subsequently, eating a diet that is rich in antioxidants affords the healthy cells of the body a greater advantage in defending themselves.

To engage in the battle between cancer and antioxidants, you can do your part by integrating a variety of foods into your diet. Include such foods as green leafy vegetables – like spinach and kale – that deliver significant amounts of the antioxidant lutein; tomatoes and tomato products that contain the antioxidant lycopene; fresh fruits such as berries (blueberries gaining particular attention as of late), kiwi, and prunes; and vegetables that contain the antioxidant beta-carotene such as carrots and sweet potatoes.

The connection between cancer and antioxidants is proof that a change in diet can do wonders for protecting our bodies against disease. Do your research to determine what foods can be easily integrated into your lifestyle and take the steps necessary to significantly protect your health.

About the Author: For easy to understand, in depth information about antioxidant visit our ezGuide 2 Antioxidant.

Green Tea’s Influence On Chemotherapy

March 3, 2007 by  
Filed under CANCER

By Marcus Stout

For the last several years, there has been an abundance of research on the effects of green tea and its possible ability to prevent cancer. There has been a lot of focus on Asian culture, where the incidence of cancer is significantly lower that that of the Western world.

For centuries, the Chinese have used green tea for health. It is used not only to protect health and slow down the aging process, but also to treat illness. It appears that there is some very good science behind what Asians have been relying on for years.

Tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. There are many different types of tea, but they all come from the same plant. The differences occur from the differences in how the tea is processed. Green tea is not fermented during processing, but black tea does go through a fermentation process.

Tea leaves naturally contain catechins, which belong to the flavan-3-ol class of flavonoids, which are anti-oxidants. EGCG is one of the catechins contained in tea, and is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants around.

Fermenting the tea leaves, converts the catechins to other compounds. These new compounds are not as healthy as the unaltered catechins in a tea leaf in its original state. For this reason, green tea has more healthy anti-oxidants and therefore more health benefits than black tea.

Each day, as we convert food to energy, we create free radicals in our body. These free radicals can damage our cells and our DNA if we don’t combat them. It is believed that unchecked free radicals contribute to the development of cancer. They also speed up the aging process and contribute to clogged arteries and other maladies that plague us as we get older.

Anti-oxidants are powerful free radical combatants, and are linked with preventing cancer, as well as with decreasing your risk of stroke and heart disease and with lowering your cholesterol. For this reason, drinking green tea is a simple and effective way to slow down the aging process and prevent disease.

But, recently there has been even more powerful news about the possible effects of green tea on cancer. Many studies have been conducted on mice that were already diagnosed with the disease. In some cases, the studies have shown that green tea can help kill cancer cells or slow down the progression of the disease.

One particular study of interest was conducted by the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Shizuoka in Japan. In this study, mice that were infected with carcinoma tumors were fed green tea along with a chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin. The doxorubicin had more than doubled the effectiveness in the mice that were also fed green tea than in the mice who received their doxorubicin treatments alone.

The tumors showed a higher concentration of the drug itself in the tumor tissue when the mice ingested green tea. As an interesting side note; normal tissue did not show a higher concentration of the drug as a result of the green tea – only the cancerous tissue.

This may be good news, too. Since chemotherapy is known to have many side effects and to sometimes damage normal tissue as it’s killing cancer cells, this is important. Because the concentration of the drug is not higher in normal cells, the drug’s side effects might not increase with the use of green tea as an adjunct to therapy.

These same results were found in patients who had ovarian sarcoma, too. This news is important because ovarian sarcoma is usually very resistant to doxorubicin. So, it appears that when used with green tea, doxorubicin may become an effective treatment for ovarian sarcoma.

In another study, adriamycin, another popular cancer drug was also found to be more effective at treating ovarian sarcoma when it was paired with green tea. Rats in this study that were not fed green tea were found to be unresponsive to the drug, but when the drug was administered along with green tea, the rats became very responsive to the treatment.

There’s a second component of these studies that may have a positive effect on cancer patients. During chemotherapy, patients are often advised not to drink coffee or tea, due to its caffeine. This can be difficult for patients who are used to these beverages, as it disrupts their daily routine. Allowing patients to consume green tea during treatment could provide a positive emotional boost to patients.

In addition to helping to keep a patient’s daily routine normal by allowing tea as a morning beverage, patients may feel a sense of control of their own destiny when they understand that drinking green tea can help improve the effectiveness of their cancer treatment. This ability to have a hand in their treatment can be a very powerful tool for cancer patients, since this insidious disease often makes people feel out of control of their own life.

Of course, as with many other early results, more research is needed. However, the news is very promising in the fight against cancer. We are likely only beginning to understand the many ways in which green tea can help preserve our health and prevent and fight disease. There is little doubt that we will find more uses for this healthy beverage and its components.

About the Author: Marcus Stout is President of the Golden Moon Tea Company. For more information about tea, green tea and wu long tea go to www.goldenmoontea.com

Can Caffeinated Beverages Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk?

February 19, 2007 by  
Filed under CANCER

By Marcus Stout

Women today are more concerned than ever about preventing breast cancer. There is much speculation about how our lifestyle and habits affect our chances of contracting this and other cancers. Well, there are many risk factors that can make you more prone to breast cancer, but there are also things you can do to prevent breast cancer.

First, it’s important to have a healthy diet. Avoiding processed foods and eating a diet that is low in saturated fats and high in fruits, vegetables and fish. These foods can keep your weight in check and protect your health by providing vitamins and fiber.

In addition to these foods being healthy and fiber rich, they also provide significant ant-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are extremely important to slowing down the aging process and preventing disease.

Each day as our body converts food to energy, it creates oxygen carrying molecules called free radicals. If free radicals are not eliminated from the body, they damage our cells and our DNA. This cell damage is partially responsible for a multitude of diseases, including cancer.

Anti-oxidants are important because they rid the body of free radicals. Since free radicals are created daily, they should be eliminated daily, too. But, because our diets have become so laden with processed food, many of us don’t consume enough anti-oxidants each day.

So, protecting our health means we have to make changes in our lifestyle. Watching what we eat and drink can put us in the best position to combat aging as it creeps up on us.

While you’re taking stock of what’s in your pantry, don’t forget to include looking at what you drink. You need a good dose of anti-oxidants each day, and many of us just don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables to get our daily requirement.

Well, it turns out that drinking tea and coffee can be a great way to increase your anti-oxidants and improve your health- particularly your resistance to breast cancer. There have been many studies that have reported the benefits of green tea, but one recent study suggested that there may be benefits to drinking black tea and coffee, too.

The study I’m referring to was conducted at the Gifu School of Medicine in Japan. The study was conducted on pre-menopausal women. This study looked at the hormone level of 50 Japanese women during different days of their menstrual cycle.

They found that in women who consumed tea, coffee and even caffeinated cola had a higher level of the sex hormone binding globulin on critical days of their cycle than the women who did not consume these beverages.

Why Is This Important?

The level of binding globulin is important because low levels of this hormone in pre-menopausal women have been associated with a higher risk of developing breast cancer. So, it appears that drinking your daily intake of caffeine may help your body produce a higher level of binding globulin and help protect you from breast cancer.

Which of These Beverages Should I Drink?

In this particular study, researchers found no difference in the binding globulin level between those who drank coffee, tea or even cola. It seemed to be the consumption of caffeinated beverages of any kind that caused the level of binding globulin to rise.

However, many other studies have shown that in addition to having caffeine, green tea has many other health protecting qualities, as well. Remember how important we just said that anti-oxidants are to our diet?

Well, it just so happens that green tea has an extraordinary level of very potent anti-oxidants. Black tea and coffee have anti-oxidants, too; but nothing to compare to the level and potency you’ll find in green tea. (Cola, by the way, does not contain anti-oxidants.)

Though green and black tea both come from the camellia sinensis plant, green tea is healthier because of the way it’s processed. Black tea is fermented, which changes the structure of the anti-oxidants, making them less effective and potent. Green tea is not fermented (nor is white), so it retains anti-oxidants in their most natural and potent state.

And, for those of you who might be sensitive to caffeine; you’ll be happy to know that green tea has less caffeine than coffee or black tea. But, clearly it has enough caffeine to increase your level of binding globulin sufficiently.

Remember, the study cited above showed no difference between green tea drinkers and other caffeinated beverage drinkers in terms of the level of binding globulin.

Making Changes You Can Continue

So, if you’re interested in reducing your breast cancer risk, you need to make some changes to your lifestyle to help protect your health. Watch your diet; be sure you’re getting the recommended amount of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.

You should also be sure to add some sort of caffeinated beverage to your diet, if you’re not already drinking some. And, to boost both your anti-oxidants and get your caffeine at the same time, make that beverage green tea.

Make lifestyle changes that you can commit to- otherwise you’ll be unlikely to keep up with them. It might not be realistic for you to say that you’re going to immediately increase your intake of vegetables from none each day to five servings.

But, if you can consistently eat two servings each day, then you’ve still made an improvement. And, perhaps later you can work up to five servings.

Small changes over time are the best way to ensure that you’ll continue your new healthy habits. Reduce your number of processed foods and increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and green tea slowly over time. This way, you won’t feel overwhelmed and be tempted to quit.

Smoking can also increase your risk for cancer. We all know that smoking makes us likely candidates for lung cancer, but what many people don’t know is that smoking increases your overall risk for cancer. Smoke is toxic to your body, and can increase your risk of any cancer, including breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the US. This year, over 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and over 40,000 will die from it. It pays to understand how to protect your health and reduce your risk of contracting this disease.

About the Author: Marcus Stout is President of the Golden Moon Tea Company. For more information about tea, green tea and wu long tea go to www.goldenmoontea.com

The Hidden Issues Of Ovarian Cancer

November 29, 2006 by  
Filed under CANCER

By Rebecca Prescott

Dr Christiane Northrup has some interesting insights into the emotional and energetic issues associated with ovarian cancer. Whilst it is impossible to generalize emotional and energetic responses, she highlights the issue of rage in ovarian cancers. She describes the ovaries as being ‘female balls’ which means they relate to an active participation in the world in a way that expresses our unique creative potential, as women, on an individual basis.

She says: “…we as women must be open to the uniqueness of our creations and their own energies and impulses, without trying to force them into predetermined forms. Our ability to yield to our creativity, to acknowledge that we cannot control it with our intellects, is the key to understanding ovarian power.” (p187, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom)

She relates the issue of rage as deriving from being in an abusive relationship – not necessarily physically abusive, though of course this could be the case. And it may not necessarily be a personal or intimate relationship. It could be with work, societal, or even spiritual. But it embodies a way of relating and dealing with something or someone, where the woman involved feels controlled by the situation and does not believe in her ability to change it, or herself. It is a denial of her innate power and self-sovereignty. A denial of a woman’s innate dignity, creativity, spirituality, and complexity.

Interestingly, Dr Northrup notes that ovarian cancer is linked to a diet high in fat and dairy food. Dairy products in Oriental medicine, are associated with the liver meridian. Meridians are energy conduits, and though they have a specific anatomy, they are not equated necessarily with the organs of the same name, as understood in conventional western medicine. The emotion associated with a liver meridian that is out of balance, is rage and anger.

Oriental medicine believes that diseases start in our energetic body first, and then progress to the physical body. And certainly not all women who have a high fat and high dairy diet develop ovarian cancer. Dr Northrup suggests that women take care of their ovaries and uterus by reclaiming and expressing whatever this deep creative energy is for them. She suggests taking the time to do this daily.

A recent scientific study has also found that drinking two cups or more of tea a day can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 46%. This study was done in Sweden over a 15 year period. Sweden is a country where there is a higher risk of ovarian cancer, as are other countries with a high dairy consumption (Denmark and Switzerland).

References:
www.nutraingredients-usa.com/news/ng.asp?id=64537
Dr Christiane Northrup, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom (Piatkus, 1995)

If you’d like to read more about supplements, herbs, and a deeper understanding of why we get sick, check out this article. If you enjoy the health benefits of tea, read this to discover why green tea is so beneficial, and how green tea weight loss helps.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Rebecca_Prescott

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.