Health Benefits of Acai Berries

Acai berries are slightly smaller than grapes, although look fairly similar. The trees that they grow on are found in the Amazon Basin, particularly in Brazil. Acai berries have been consumed by various indigenous peoples of South America for thousands of years, but recently have become popular and fashionable throughout the world as a health supplement.

However, the health benefits of acai berries have been disputed, after some irresponsible producers began promoting them as being able to develop penis size, cause miracle weight loss, cure diabetes, and generally being an all-round miracle product. Acai berries do have some genuine health benefits, which are listed below. However, some of the claims made by manufacturers should be treated with more than a pinch of salt!

Acai Berries

Acai seeds and powders act as anti-oxidants against various forms of toxins. This means that they decrease the risk of developing some forms of cancer and heart disease. Other minerals found in acai products are also found to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. However, the scientific research into this area is currently in its infancy.

Acai berries are high in B vitamins. B vitamins contribute towards healthy skin and hair, and help maintain red blood cells. B vitamins are also particularly useful in guarding against pancreatic cancer.

Acai berries are very high in fibre too. Fibre is essential for the body’s digestive system, as it helps food to be processed through the colon; a lack of fibre can cause constipation and increase the risk of developing more serious conditions, such as bowel cancer. Acai berry supplements may not have as much fibre as the raw fruit, however – check the fibre content of any product before you buy.

The vitamin B in acai berries also help to maintain a healthy metabolism – this and other vitamins and minerals found in acai lie at the root of claims that it is a powerful weight loss aid. While acai does undoubtedly contain minerals that do help weight loss, you are extremely unlikely to lose a significant amount of weight purely by upping your consumption of acai products.

Another popular claim of acai berry producers is that the fruit can reduce the aging of skin and the appearance of cellulite. Some of the vitamins and minerals found in acai berries do indeed act to decrease the effect of aging free radicals and promote the flow of oxygen around the body, which also helps you stay young. However, acai berries can form part of a diet that maintains healthy skin, and are not a magic bullet.

Acai berry products are readily available from health food stores, and they are one of the most popular and trendy products on the market at this present time.  Acai berries can be found as the sole or major component of pills, powders, patches, teas and juices. Some stores sell frozen berries too – these can either be eaten raw, or consumed as part of a smoothie.

Garlic Health Benefits

Garlic is famous for giving you pungent breath – bad enough, of course, to keep away vampires! It’s a versatile ingredient, added to stews, pasta dishes, soups, and used in spare quantities in salad. You can roast garlic and eat it. In some cities in the Baltic States, you can find restaurants where everything is flavored with garlic – even the ice cream! There’s no shortage of ways to eat garlic, and it’s also very healthy too.

Garlic is believed to be very good for the heart. It’s true that countries that use a lot of garlic in their national cuisines tend to have very low rates of heart disease – these include Italy, Middle-Eastern cuisines, France and many more countries around the Med. However, the connection between garlic and heart disease is currently inconclusive. Garlic is unlikely to do you any harm, but it shouldn’t be relied upon to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Garlic is an antioxidant. It can help to cleanse your blood and liver of nasties found in the environment, and in cigarette smoke and alcohol.

Garlic is a natural antibiotic. It’s much weaker than medically prescribed antibiotics, so should not be used in lieu of them. However, regular consumption is believed to reduce your risk of catching an infection. It can be used against salmonella, listeria, streptococcal infections, and candida.

Consuming garlic can reduce your chance of being bitten by insects, particularly midges. Some campers in Scotland swear by a course of garlic pills ahead of any encounters with these vicious pests. Although garlic can help in fairly mild midge swarms, you’re also advised to take smoke coils,very strong insect repellent, citrus candles and just about anything else you can lay your hands on if you’re going to areas with high midge levels.

Garlic is very effective at preventing blood clots from forming. This means that regular consumption can reduce your risk of having a stroke. This property of garlic means that it can interact with anticoagulant drugs – however, you’d need to be eating vast quantities of garlic or garlic supplements for this to happen, so don’t let it stop you adding garlic to your spaghetti Bolognese or curry.

Garlic can be found just about anywhere. Greengrocers and supermarkets sell fresh garlic, and many also sell jars of ready peeled and chopped cloves and garlic-flavored olive oil. If the smell of garlic bothers you, then you can buy odor free garlic supplements from health food stores. You can also by smoked garlic and other unusual forms of garlic at many delicatessens.

Health Benefits of Almonds

One of the world’s most popular nuts (though it’s botanically a seed), the almond is a well-loved snack in every corner of the globe. The seed itself comes from the deciduous almond tree, which is native to the Middle East and a few sections of Southern Asia. For thousands of years, humans have recognized the value of a diet that includes the almond. Evidence suggests that the first domesticated cultivar of the almond tree appeared sometime between 3000 and 2000 years B.C., well before the majority of other agricultural crops. Cultures from the Ancient Egypt to early European tribes used the almond as a form of sustenance.

Little did these ancient cultures know that in addition to keeping them full, almonds were doing quite a bit to preserve their health. It is common knowledge that nuts in general are a valuable source of good nutrition, but almonds separate themselves as the “cream of the crop”, so to speak. Their unique blend of micronutrients and healthy oils has been the subject of considerable medical study, which has yielded very positive results.

Almonds and Cardiovascular Health

The bulk of testing on almonds has been an inquiry into its cardiovascular benefits. As it turns out, there are a great many – with lots of supporting evidence. It seems counterintuitive at first glance, mostly because almonds are relatively high in fat. A single quarter cup serving contains roughly 18 grams of it. But in this case, it is the type of fat that almonds are heavy in that makes all the difference. The three principal types of fat in the human diet are monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fat. The distinction lies in the carbon-to-carbon atom bonds in the long fatty acid chains that make up dietary fat. Carbon chains with single bonds are classified as saturated fat, and have a generally negative impact when consumed in excess. If there are multiple double bonds in the carbon-to-carbon connections, the fat is defined as polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fat, meanwhile, has a single double bond somewhere in that long chain of molecules. This is the type of fat that almonds are heaviest in, and also happens to be the healthiest form of fat one can consume.

While it’s well known that saturated fat can increase levels of cholesterol, medical evidence supports the notion that monounsaturated fat works in the opposite way. In medical testing that appeared in the British Journal of Nutrition, it was found that those with high levels of LDL (or bad cholesterol) were able to maximize their cholesterol reduction over a two week span with the inclusion of almonds in their diet. The same study suggests that this LDL-lowering effect is magnified when they’re eaten along with a healthy overall diet. An additional test with more specific results found that when almonds are put in place of some saturated animal fats, LDL levels can be lowered by roughly 10% in the average person.

Another constituent of almonds’ molecular makeup that supports heart health is magnesium. When consumed, this mineral acts as a sort of pressure reliever in the cardiovascular system. It allows veins and arteries to lighten up on tightness, in effect allowing the heart to work less hard to pump blood. One serving of almonds has almost 100 milligrams of magnesium, which is nearly a quarter of what one needs daily.

Unlikely as it may be, there is actually a third substance in almonds that is believed to support heart health: vitamin E. Biologically, this vitamin has an antioxidant effect for those who get enough of it daily. By slowing the oxidation process by which harmful “free radical” molecules are formed in the body, almonds’ vitamin E help to prevent cardiovascular disease in general. It is also thought that vitamin E inhibits the collection of blood platelets, which is the chief cause of heart attack.

Almonds and Weight Control

Though they are relatively high in calories, growing evidence seems to show that almonds may actually help those making an effort to lose excess weight. In one particular weight loss study, two test groups were put on one of two diets with the same amount of calories, but different macronutrient levels. The first group received more calories from carbohydrate sources, and the second received more of their calorie allotment from healthy fat sources – including almonds. After six months, significant differences were found in their progress. The second test group – the one that consumed almonds regularly – lost 7% more weight on average than the carbohydrate-rich test group. Additionally, the almond group lost 5% more from their waist lines, lost 10% more body fat, and lowered their blood pressure significantly more than the carbohydrate group.

As it turns out, almonds aren’t just good at helping people lose weight, they can help prevent weight gain from happening in the first place. One study conducted in Spain tracked nearly 9,000 people over the course of over two years, following their weight fluctuations and their almond consumption. After this lengthy testing period, it was discovered that those who consumed tree nuts such as almonds experienced the significant health benefit of lower weight gain risk. In fact, this group’s chances of gaining 5 kilograms or more over the two year period were roughly a third less than non-nut eaters. It is important to remember that, because almonds are high in calories per ounce at roughly 200, it is easy to consume too many in one sitting. Medical and nutritional experts recommend that you eat them one handful at a time as opposed to busting out the whole package. With a little effort to control amounts, almonds can obviously be a very healthy contribution to a good overall diet.

To put it bluntly, one shouldn’t let the high fat and calorie content prevent them from enjoying almonds. Their mono unsaturated fats, vitamin E, and magnesium content make almonds exceptionally good for heart health and body composition, despite what their nutrition facts label might imply at first. When incorporated into a healthy diet regularly, almonds are a truly valuable booster in multiple aspects of human health.

Health Benefits of Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe Vera is very popular for using on the skin, and also because its fresh-smelling scent is great for air fresheners and a range of other uses. However, the consumption of liquid derived from the plant has, so far, been fairly limited – although aloe Vera juice has a wide range of health benefits.

Aloe Vera juice is very beneficial to the digestive system. It is a natural remedy to heartburn and other digestive problems, including constipation. It appears to promote the healthy functioning of the gut and colon, and reduce the appearance of harmful bacteria which naturally occur in the digestive system.

Aloe Vera has many anti-inflammatory qualities. It can help with sore joints and problems with movement – this may be of interest to those who suffer from chronic joint inflammation and pain.

If you suffer from bad breath or tooth decay, then taking regular Aloe Vera juice may help you overcome this. Aloe Vera is anti-bacterial, and should act to prevent a build-up of plaque in your mouth. The vitamins Aloe Vera contain also prevent tooth decay and diseases such as scurvy. Often, bad breath is caused by an underlying problem with the functioning of the digestive system as a whole – Aloe Vera’s effects on this crucial part of the body will also help with problems that manifest themselves in the mouth and upper digestive system.

This cleansing effect of the digestive system is particularly valuable if you feel sluggish or run down. Increasing your Aloe Vera intake will cause regular flushing of the gut – which may cause your energy levels to rise and increase your general feeling of well-being.

Aloe Vera juice is packed with vitamins, including B vitamins, folic acid, and vitamins A, C and E. These are essential to well-being, a well functioning metabolism, good eyesight and a wide range of other benefits. Aloe Vera is one of the few plants of the world that contains vitamin B12, which is crucial to the operation of the brain – this means that aloe Vera juice can be a particularly important supplement for vegetarians and vegans, who might otherwise lack this important nutrient.

Aloe Vera is a particularly important plant in promoting good skincare as it is rich in amino acids. Drinking Aloe Vera juice should lead to healthy, glowing skin, and promote the regeneration of the body’s largest organ. Aloe Vera juice will also aid the swift healing of bites, grazes and stings.

Used externally, Aloe Vera can soothe sunburn, as well as help to remove the sting from bites and grazes. It is also commonly used as a facial cleanser.

Aloe Vera juice can be found in all good health stores – you may also be able to find aloe Vera gel, which has similar health benefits. It is also possible to grow aloe as a pot plant, and break sections of the plant off when you want to use the juice, if you only need  small quantities. You should seek advice before consuming aloe Vera juice when pregnant.