vitamins, alternative medicine, antioxidants

Vitamin Stuff Blog

A Health, Nutrition, and Alternative Medicine Blog

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dark Chocolate for Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Alcoholic fatty liver disease is a serious disease most commonly caused by alcoholism. When a person is continually drinking alcohol, it can inhibit two very important proteins – AMPK and SIRT1 – from doing their very important job of breaking down fats in the liver. The result of these proteins being inhibited can turn to alcoholic fatty liver disease. Alcoholic fatty liver disease can cause other diseases such as fibrosis and cirrhosis, and can even result in a liver transplant or death.

Fortunately, a new study has found that an antioxidant called resveratrol can help reverse and prevent the disease by stimulating AMPK and SIRT1 and clearing fat from the liver. In fact, reserveratrol may not only treat already established build-up, but may also be helpful for preventing the build-up of fats in the liver before they are dangerously affecting drinkers.

In the study researchers fed mice a healthy, low-fat diet and also fed some mice alcohol, some resveratrol, and some a combination of alcohol and resveratrol. The study found that when mice were given resveratrol they had less fat produced in the liver and stimulated AMPK and SIRT1 proteins. Resveratrol also stimulated a reduction in other liver proteins involved in fat build up and increased adiponectin, a hormone responsible for metabolizing fat.

This could be a landmark study, suggesting that humans could possibly reduce their chances of alcoholic fatty liver disease by eating foods that are high in the antioxidant. Peanuts, grapes, red wine and now, dark chocolate, baking chocolate, and cocoa are known to contain high amounts of resveratrol.

Perhaps all those bartenders who serve bowls of peanuts have a sixth sense that peanuts are healthy for their clientele, but probably not. Maybe bars should add grapes and dark chocolate to their bar snack-food.

Even though red wine has a high amount of resveratrol, it is still alcohol, so the results of drinking red wine to break down fats in the liver is unknown. Although, since red wine has the highest amount of resveratrol known (with dark chocolate coming in a close second) it is undoubtedly better for you than other alcohols.

While foods with resveratrol are possibly helpful for preventing and reducing alcoholic fatty liver disease, the most important finding in this study is that resveratrol is a potential, capable treatment for treating and preventing the disease. In the meantime, if you’re going to drink, grab some grapes and don’t forget to happily eat your dark chocolate!

A glass of red wine with some dark chocolate isn’t as bad as once thought.

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What are Lentils?

Lentils are from the legume family and are grown in pods that consist of one or two lentil seeds. There are many varieties and colors of lentils, though brown and green are the most popular in the United States. Lentils also come in red, orange, yellow or black. They are oval, heart shaped or lens shaped and small in size. Lentils are nutritionally very much like beans; they are a great source of dietary fiber, folic acid, protein and trace minerals.

Lentils help lower cholesterol and keep blood sugar levels from rising after consumption of a meal. Lentils are cooked much like beans and are most often found dried (like beans). They are commonly used in soups, stews and casseroles. Lentils are 26% protein and are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians.

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What are Legumes?

Legumes are plants that have pods with tiny rows of seeds inside. Beans, peas, lentils and peanuts are all considered legumes. Black beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, fava beans and kidney beans and all other beans are legumes Split peas, yellow peas, green peas and all lentils are also legumes.

Legumes are extremely healthy. They are low in fat and high in protein, fiber and antioxidants. They contain calcium, folate, zinc, iron and selenium. They also provide a low glycemic index (GI) and may reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity.

Legumes are a rich source of vegetarian protein, offering less fat and more fiber than meat protein sources.

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What is Muscle Mass?

Muscle is tissue in the body that has the ability to contract and also the ability to conduct electrical impulses. Muscle mass can be gained through weight lifting and exercise, which causes the cells to enlarge and create a mass of muscle tissue. There are three types of muscle mass (or tissue): smooth, skeletal and cardiac. Building muscle mass can help build a healthier body and immune system. The best way to build muscle mass is through weight training.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

What are Vegetable Oils?

Vegetable oils are oils that are extracted from a wide variety of vegetables, nuts and plant sources. Oils are liquid at room temperature and depending on their melting point, can be used for baking, frying, or even alone as a sauce or dressing.

Cold-pressed oils are those that are not processed using heat and are the most vitamin and mineral rich. Cold-pressed olive oil is extremely healthy. There are too many vegetable oils to list here, but some are: canola oil, olive oil, almond oil, walnut oil, peanut oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, etc.

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What is Brown Sugar?

Brown sugar is sucrose sugar with either residual molasses or added molasses. Basically, it is white sugar with molasses. You can find light brown sugar or dark brown sugar. Light brown sugar has a light, subtle flavor and dark brown sugar has a stronger, more molasses flavor. There is also ‘natural brown sugar’, which is free of chemicals and dyes and is produced from the first crystallization of cane sugar, making it high in mineral content. This ‘natural brown sugar’ is also known as raw sugar.

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What is Sugar?

Sugar is a sweet crystalline carbohydrate that is obtained by crystallizing the evaporated juice of certain plants. Sugar can be made from sorghum, beet root, sugar maple, sugar cane, sugar beet, honey and fruit. Sugar is a food carbohydrate and is added to many foods and drinks for its sweet flavor. Too much sugar can cause tooth decay and is also associated with obesity. Sugar enters the blood stream quickly and can cause an unhealthy spike in blood sugar levels, causing and aggravating type 2 diabetes. They are many different types of sugars, though the most common, white table sugar created from sugar cane, is referred to as sucrose and is the most processed and unhealthy of sugars. Fructose is fruit sugar and can be found in fruits, maple syrup and honey. Lactose is the sugar found in milk. Maltose is sugar derived from malted grains such as sorghum and barley. Glucose is found in most root vegetables, as well as fruits, sweet corn and honey.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Are GMO Purple Tomatoes Actually Healthy?

Tomatoes have been prized for a long time for their high levels of antioxidants such as flavanoids and lycopene. Now, a new genetically modified tomato has proven to be even healthier due to an infusion of an extra antioxidant. The new tomato is purple in color and has been enriched with genes from the snapdragon flower, which caused it to create anthocyanin, an antioxidant known for its cancer-fighting qualities.

The following article shares important information about the genetically modified tomato and the study that used these tomatoes. The study discussed found that a diet rich in anthocyanin-enhanced purple tomatoes made mice live up to 30 percent longer than mice fed no tomatoes or regular tomatoes. While the tomatoes have not been studied on humans yet, the article documents this resesrch as one of the first studies suggesting that metabolic engineering can be useful for reducing disease and increasing health. Is it really possible that genetically modified foods are good for the consumer?


Purple Tomatoes May Be the Answer to a Healthy, Long Life

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What is Genetics?

Genetics is the science and study of heredity and how living organisms receive traits from previous generations. A gene is a heredity unit that consists of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that determines characteristics in organisms. DNA is a nucleic acid that contains genetic instructions. These instructions determine the genetics of a living thing. Genes are passed on from parents to children and so on along the family tree, determining everything from gender, eye color and body stature, to behaviors, disorders and diseases.

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What are Risk Factors?

Risk factors are habits, conditions and characteristics that can increase a person’s chance of developing a disease. For instance, smoking cigarettes increases the chance of lung cancer, so it is a risk factor. Common risk factors for developing osteoporosis are insufficient calcium and vitamin D, early menopause and being 50 years old or older. Risk factors for heart disease are smoking tobacco, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity and being overweight. All diseases have risk factors associated with them.

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What is Fructose?

Fructose is a monosaccharide, simple sugar, that is found in fruits and vegetables and is used by the body for energy. Fructose has a low glycemic index (GI) and is one of the three most important blood sugars. Berries, melons, root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and beets, as well as onions and honey, all contain fructose. It is sometimes called fruit sugar and is known to be sweeter than glucose.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Veggies and fighting aging

The following article just backs up what we've always been told since we were kids. Eat your veggies. And for good reason. According to the USDA's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, increased veggie consumption can help "ease the effects" of aging in a number of ways, ranging from reducing the risk of various diseases, lessening the severity of certain impairments, and even preserving our cognitive abilities as we age (memory, learning, etc).

As the article states, increased veggie intake can help ward off a number of illnesses that seem to currently run rampant through our society, including hypertension and diabetes, as well as some of the impairments that they, themselves, lead to such as stroke and heart attack.

Personally, none of this is surprising in the least. Veggies add fiber to a diet which helps reduce cholesterol. Veggies are also a great low carb alternative to processed carbohydrate food (type II diabetes) and can be packed with fantastic micronutrients.

The Veggie Factor

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What are Artificial Sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners are completely unnatural, synthetic, chemical compounds that are used as sugar substitutes in many food and drink. Artificial sweeteners are sweeter than normal table sugar and have less calories. Many people use artificial sweeteners because they have diabetes and want to keep their blood sugar low, or simply because they feel that artificial sweeteners are less ‘fattening’ than sugar.

Unfortunately, the health risks involved with artificial sweeteners are very controversial. Although the FDA has approved saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, neotame and acesulfame potassium, there are still many questions about the safety of these artificially synthesized compounds.

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What are Whole Grains?

Whole grains are grains that have not been refined. In other words, whole grains have not had their bran and germ removed by milling. Whole grains retain their vitamins and minerals naturally, are a good source of complex carbohydrates, and offer many nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and selenium. Barley, brown rice, bulgar, oatmeal, popcorn, wild rice, buckwheat and sprouted grains are all whole grains. Whole grains are a rich source of dietary fiber and have been proven to reduce coronary heart disease, diabetes, digestive diseases, some forms of cancer and obesity. The carbohydrates of whole grains are digested gradually and enter the bloodstream slowly, making them more nutritious and protective for the body than refined or ‘enriched’ grains.

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What are Organic Foods?

Organic foods are grown using the most natural, safest farming practices to reduce the risk of toxic chemicals and poisons found on and in food. Organic foods are foods grown without pesticides, artificial fertilizers, human waste or sewage sludge. They are also processed without food additives, chemical ripening or ionizing radiation, and have not been genetically modified. Organic farmers use natural fertilizers such as compost, as opposed to chemical fertilizers, to feed soil and plants, and rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds, instead of using chemicals herbicides. They also use beneficial insects, and birds, as well as mating disruption or traps to reduce pests, instead of spraying chemical insecticides.

When it comes to organic meats, they are not given antibiotics, growth hormones or medications to spur growth and manage disease, instead they are given organic food, allowed access to fresh air and exercise, given clean housing and allowed to graze, to minimize disease.

Organic food is legally regulated and must go through certification to be labeled organic. There are different labels for organic foods. The label ‘USDA Organic’ means they are 100% organic. These foods are usually one ingredient foods, such as vegetables and fruit. The label ‘Organic’ identifies foods that are at least 95% organic. If the label says, ‘Made with organic ingredients’, it contains at least 70% organic ingredients.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Low Antioxidants and Blue Light Damage Retina

A recent study involving over 4,500 participants points to low levels of antioxidants and sunlight exposure as a combined cause in age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD. The study was lead by Estrid E. Fletcher, Ph.D., from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and was published in the October 2008 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

AMD happens when the retina is damaged over time. The result is a blurry vision, distorted vision and a complete loss of vision. It has been theorized that high doses of antioxidants such as zinc, carotenoids, and vitamin E and vitamin C, can protect against the harmful effects of blue light from the sun. With this in mind, the researchers studied their subjects.

The study consisted of carefully scrutinizing the blood samples of participants to check their levels of antioxidant nutrients. Photographs were taken of their retinas to test for AMD and they also answered a questionnaire about sun exposure throughout their lifetime. The participants were an average age of 73.2 years.

Surprisingly, nearly 2,200 participants were found to have an early phase of AMD. A little over 100 participants were found to have an advanced form of AMD, Neovascular AMD, and the rest were free from the disease. While the researchers could not pinpoint whether blue light exposure was linked to these cases alone, when coupled with low antioxidant levels it seemed that the two – blue light exposure and low antioxidants in the blood – were associated with the disease.

In particular, it seemed that low levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, and zeaxanthin, when combined with blue light, increased the chances nearly four times for developing neovascular age-related macular degeneration.

The scientists noted that they wished they had cost efficient ways to do screening on the older population to determine whether they are at risk. In lieu of this testing, they are recommending that middle-aged and older people stay out of direct sunlight, and use large hats and sunglasses to protect their retinas. In addition, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can further help to protect them by supplying enough vitamin C, E and zinc to help combat the disease.

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Black Tea Good for Type 2 Diabetes?

It’s not time to start guzzling black tea by the gallons, but a new study does suggest that it may help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Scientists at Dundee University, along with the Scottish Crop Research Institute, believe that theaflavins and thearubigins in black tea can act as an insulin substitute, because they mimic the action of insulin in the body.

They are definitely not suggesting that it will cure diabetes, but their finding are interesting and more studies will be done to determine the role of black tea in diabetes.

The study was published in Aging Cell.

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What are Plant Pigments

Plant pigments are colorful, chemical compounds present in plants that are responsible for the colors of plants. Not only do they reflect certain wavelengths of visible light to give them color, but they also absorb certain wavelengths of light for photosynthesis. There are many different types of plant pigments, but the most common are chlorophylls, which give plants their green color and convert light energy into chemical energy. Carotenoids are usually yellow, red or orange and help fuel photosynthesis. Carotenoids are great antioxidants and promote healthy eyesight. Flavonoids can be red or blue or even white or pale yellow – there are many different pigments from anthocyanins (blue) to betalains (yellow or red). Some are water-soluble and some are not. Pigments play many different roles, from attracting our visual attention and the attention of pollinators, to providing us with vitamins and nutrients.

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What are Hormones?

Hormones are molecules that act as your body’s chemical messengers to affect processes such as metabolism, growth and development, mood, reproduction and sexual function. Hormones are made by endocrine glands and travel in the bloodstream to organs and tissues to deliver their messages via chemical signaling. Most are carried in the blood by plasma proteins. Too much or too little of a hormone can be a serious problem. There are two main classes of hormones: hydrophilic (peptides, proteins and modified amino acids) hormones and hydrophobic (steroid) hormones.

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What is Oxidation?

Oxidation happens when oxygen molecules interact with other substances. For instance, an apple that has been freshly cut will turn brown due to the process of oxidation – oxygen molecules touching the skin of the apple. This same process causes rust on an automobile. Oxidation actually happens on a molecular level when oxygen and the material it touches react to each other chemically. What we see are the effects of oxidation – which causes free radicals to break away and can turn fruit brown.

Oxidation on food can be stopped by a barrier surface, such as lemon juice, that will stop the oxygen from reaching the free radicals.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Restricting Carbs Changes Liver Processes

Most Americans will agree: restricting carbohydrates is a good way to lose weight. Take out the bread, pastries and other high carbohydrate foods and the weight drops off. Regardless Americans have been increasing their consumption of carbohydrates and restricting fat intake. Most people look at fats to determine what they will eat and choose low fat options, even if this means high carbohydrates.

Subsequently, obesity is higher than it has ever been and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming a major health issue. Even small children are being hit with this disease. If not treated right away, it can lead to cirrhosis, fibrosis and inflammation of the liver, which oftentimes leads to a liver transplant. Usually the disease can be reversed by eating healthy, exercising and losing weight.

Jeffery Brown of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center put together a study to find out the difference in metabolism when people eat low-carbohydrate diets, low-calorie diets, and balanced diets. Previous studies had suggested that a high-carb diet could lead to fatty deposits in the liver.

For the study, fourteen people with a body-mass-index (BMI) between 25 and 35 were chosen, along with 7 healthy subjects with a BMI less than 25. They split the fourteen subjects with a 25 to 35 BMI into two groups and had them follow either a low-calorie diet or a low-carbohydrate diet for two weeks. The other seven subjects with a healthy BMI followed their regular, healthy diet. All subjects had to undergo an overnight metabolic study assessing the metabolic pathways of the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle) and the hepatic glucose production cycle.

What they found was that the weight healthy group with a BMI of under 25 who ate carbs as a normal part of their diet had enough energy to create glucose formation through the TCA cycle. Those who restricted their carbs did not.

The researchers found that a low-carbohydrate diet modifies hepatic energy metabolism and creates a dependence on lactate and amino acids for glucose production by the liver, instead of the liver using glycerol. A low carbohydrate diet also caused the liver to create more glucose with lactate or amino acids – increasing the rate of glucose formation. Unfortunately, they did not measure the amount of fatty acid that was delivered to the liver.

They also found that all groups had similar hepatic glucose production. While the healthy group and the low calorie groups maintained glucose production levels normally, the low carb group maintained the same by increasing glucose using amino acids and lactose.

The study was reported in the November 2008 issue of Hepatology.

The researchers suggest that this shift in glucose metabolism could be helpful to those who have NAFLD and need to dispose of hepatic fat. More studies are planned to measure fatty acid deposits and more.

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Give Your Brain a Boost with DMAE

It sounds like a miracle drug: improves memory, reduces age spots, improves concentration, removes wrinkles, improves sleep, reduces hyperactivity, and can potentially help treat depression, dementia and autism. What could it possibly be?

DMAE, also known as dimethylaminoethanol, is an organic compound that is known to do all these things are more.

DMAE is created naturally in the body in minuscule amounts and is also found in oily fish, but not enough for improved brain function; supplementation is the only way to receive an amount that matters. DMAE causes more production of acetylcholine, which is thought to be involved in storing memories. Some people swear by DMAE’s ability to boost their mental clarity, focus and especially their short-term memory.

DMAE

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DHEA – Supplemental Sex Hormones

Available in capsules, topical cream, tablets, and as an addition to many combination supplements, DHEA is thought to be a wonder drug that could possibly be a genuine ‘fountain of youth’. DHEA is actually a steroid hormone that is naturally produced by the body’s adrenal glands. Once produced, the body turns it into testosterone and estrogen, male and female sex hormones. DHEA supplementation is said to help with numerous conditions, from cancer and arthritis to schizophrenia and osteoporosis.

Supplemental DHEA is thought to help boost the body’s immune system, increase muscle mass, help with irregular menstrual cycles, depression and menopause, and even help correct erectile dysfunction. Many people swear by DHEA for longevity and a strong libido.

DHEA

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Pycnogenol: A Pine Bark Antioxidant

Pycnogenol is actually a trademarked name for the Maritime Pine bark and is oftentimes confused with grape seed extract, since they both contain proanthocyanidin. A powerful antioxidant, pycnogenol is used to help combat disorders and conditions that are related to aging, such as glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, and senility.

A stronger antioxidant than both vitamins C and E, it begins working in the bloodstream within 20 minutes and can last up to 72 hours. Evidence shows that pycnogenol may improve circulation, protect cellular DNA from oxidative damage, and protect brain tissue. Pycnogenol works best when used as a combination with other vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, selenium, manganese and vitamin C and vitamin E.

Pycnogenol

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Learning about Linkedin

I decided to play around a bit with Linkedin, just to see what it was like. Here's my profile so far. Obviously, that's not me in the picture, but, rather, my pet Chloe. I suppose I will have to change that at some point. As you can see, I have some wide and varied interests, including New technology, Investing, Fishing, Snowboarding. I am also the sole recipient of the Grand Archon Award, given out only once in 2006.

Tim Moore







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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Is Your Marriage Sexually Compatible?

A recent survey estimates that one in five couple are in a ‘sexless’ marriage, or a marriage consisting in sex less than ten times a year. The problem, researchers feel, is a lack of communication and possible poor choices in marriage partners.

Researchers think that many people overlook a boring sex life when choosing a mate to focus on things like lifestyle compatibility and whether or not they feel their partner will be a good father, mother, wife or husband. The problem with overlooking the sex life is that eventually the lack of passion and desire leads to marital problems and many times, divorce.

The study, which included over 26,000 people from 26 countries, found that the average sexually active American has sex around 85 times a year.

The Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey was conducted by Harris Interactive for Durex.

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The Antioxidant Properties of Grape Seed

Grape seed offers numerous benefits to the body. It contains flavonoids and offers more antioxidant protection that vitamin C – fifty times more! It is also wonderful for preventing and correcting damage to the capillaries and improving circulation. Grape seed is an anti-inflammatory, offers pain relief and gives the body protection against free radicals.

Grape seed can be found as an extract and can also be applied topically; it is found in many cosmetic creams and lotions to help smooth out wrinkles and improve skin texture and tone. It can be found in most pharmacies and health food stores. If you want to get grape seed in its natural form, just choose to eat the dark skinned grapes (with seeds) for natural grape seed antioxidants.

Grape Seed Extract

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The Medicinal Powers of Green Tea

Did you know that both black tea and green tea are one and the same? The difference lies in the processing methods. Green tea leaves are tea leaves that are only lightly steamed and black tea leaves get their dark color from drying and roasting. The process used to create black tea causes it to lose much of the medicinal power that is left in green tea.

Green tea offers powerful antioxidants, lowers cholesterol, prevents blood clots, and even enhances the body’s innate antioxidant enzymes. It helps to protect against many diseases such as cancers, heart disease and atherosclerosis. It is also thought that green tea can help prevent hot flashes, asthma and tooth decay, while suppressing the appetite increasing mental alertness.

Green Tea




Vitamin B3
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B9
Vitamin B12
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin E

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A low-fat Strawberry Cannoli

Here's a link to an article that features a recipe for stuffed strawberries that sounds incredibly good. Yes, I am a cannoli fan, though I haven't had one for a long, long, long, long, long time. At any age, what goes on first comes off last, but in your forties it comes off dead last.

One of the commenters of the article, however, seemed to have a very good point, which was this: dark chocolate might be best as an ingredient. Actually, the health benefits of dark chocolate have been in the news quite a bit in recent years (even recently, it was reported that dark chocolate can be good for helping to keep belly fat off). So, if you're going to eat chocolate, which has a fantastic effect on endorphin levels (apparently, the effect, according to one study, is that it "lights up" your brain better than sex), go for dark chocolate.

On the subject of strawberries, I'll say that I really love them. They're just so hard to find in terms of quality. You know what I mean. You bring home a container of strawberries and after opening the packaging you find that they're already heading south. Either that, or they fall into decline within a couple of days. What's up with that? Do these things come from so far away that, by the time I buy them, they're scheduled to expire?

Sara Moulton's Stuffed Strawberries

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Bilberry: A Less Popular Healing Fruit

Bilberry might not be as popular as its relatives – cranberry and blueberry – but that doesn’t make it less of a healing fruit. Bilberries can be eaten fresh or dried, or found in capsules and tinctures. Full of anthocyanins and flavonoids, Bilberry offers the body antioxidants and can act as a powerful anti-inflammatory. It is also thought to have value as an antiseptic.

Although the fruit is most known for treating issues of the eyes, such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and even night vision, it is also used to ease gastrointestinal discomfort, strengthening artery walls and promoting good circulation. It is used for hardening of the arteries, diarrhea, painful menstruation, mucous membrane inflammation, peptic ulcers, mouth sores, varicose veins and more.

Bilberry

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Burdock: A Weed For Health

Burdock is a common weed found all over Europe, North America and Asia. You may know it as burr, or simply know it for its prickly burrs which get stuck on everything it comes in contact with. While the weed may be common and even annoying at times, the roots of burdock are well known for their many healing properties, such as their phytochemicals that ward off fungi and bacteria.

Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have used burdock for centuries as a diuretic and decongestant, while western herbalists use it frequently to eliminate toxins in various organs of the body. Studies have shown that burdock can help treat cancer, slow tumor growth and reduce blood sugar levels.

Burdock

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The Vitamin Stuff Health Nutrition Dictionary








Disclaimer: The information provided here is for informational purposes and is not medical advice. Individuals wishing to use supplements or alternative medicine therapies should consult with their doctor beforehand.

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