Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper. It is named after a city in French Guiana, and is also sometimes called the red pepper or cow-horn pepper. It is found in Tex Mex, Mexica, Szechuan and Cajun food. Fresh chillies can be sliced and added to dishes, although cayenne is most-often found in powdered form. This has an attractive red color, and is sometimes sprinkled on top of food as much for aesthetic reasons as for its flavor.

Cayenne’s main marketed health benefit is that it stimulates blood circulation. This can reduce the risk of varicose veins, promote healing in the body, and encourage the blood supply to rid itself of toxins. Cayenne is said to be the most powerful herb or spice available over the counter when it comes to increasing circulation. And the hotter the variety you consume is, the greater the effect on your circulation.

Cayenne pepper can help assist with peristalsis, the muscular mechanism that squeezes food along the gut. This means that its excellent if you are constipated. Equally, if you’ve got a slightly dodgy stomach, cayenne pepper and other hot spices have been known to cause diarrhoea. If you have IBS or are recovering from a bout of diarrhoea and vomiting, cayenne may be best avoided.

Cayenne pepper stimulates the metabolism too. It is sometimes used as part of detox and weight loss program for this reason – however, you are highly unlikely to lose weight purely by consuming more cayenne pepper.

The major side effect of cayenne is that it is an irritant. If you are handling fresh cayenne peppers or the dried powder, be aware that your skin can become burnt and itchy for several hours afterwards, and there is very little you can do apart from wait for the inflammation to subside. Be particularly careful not to rub your eyes or scratch any other sensitive parts of your body after handling cayenne pepper. As with any other chili, it is advisable to wear rubber gloves if you have to chop or otherwise handle large amounts.

The irritant side effect of cayenne is sometimes recommended as a counter to the effects of arthritis. However, it seems unlikely that this would do much good, apart from replacing one form of discomfort with another.

If consumed in large quantities, cayenne pepper can contribute towards stomach ulcers forming. If you have, or suspect you have, a stomach ulcer, then you should stop taking cayenne pepper until you have spoken to your doctor about how your ulcer will be treated and whether or not cayenne is likely to do any harm. In most circumstances, however, cayenne is perfectly fine to eat, and you would have to consume enormous quantities for the spice to do you any harm.

Cayenne pepper can be found at most supermarkets. It can be cheaper to buy it from Asian food stores, however.

Health Benefits of Celery

The humble celery is often used to provide a base flavor in sauces, soups and stews – it’s a workaday vegetable that most people would probably not associate with trendy superfoods. But celery has a surprising number of health benefits.

Celery, like black coffee and a handful of other foods, has a negative number of calories when consumed. This is because the energy that is used to process celery through your body is actually greater than the energy gained from doing so. Celery is therefore a great choice to tuck into if you’re on a diet. Although you’d have to eat vast quantities to actually burn significant amounts of energy through celery consumption alone, it will make you feel full with little or no gain in weight. If celery by itself is a little too austere, then try it with tzitziki or any other other dip that can be based on low-fat yogurt.

Celery is a diurectic – in other words, it encourages your body to produce a lot of urine. This can be used if you have a problem with fluid retention, which are caused by pre-menstrual tension or some drugs which alter your body’s natural hormones. This property of celery can also be utilised when detoxing, as it encourages your body to flush itself of toxins. Celery also reduces the likelihood of developing kidney stones, urinary tract infections and other common problems associated with the urinary system.

Like many vegetables, the consumption of celery is said to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers developing within the body. Celery has high levels of vitamins and minerals, which lower cholesterol and guarg against various cancers, particularly those affecting the bowl and gut. If you are concerned about developing cancer, then ask your doctor for more advice.

If you suffer from constipation, then it will be useful to know that celery is packed with fibre, which encourages food and waste to be processed through your body. This adds to its effect in guarding against cancers of the bowel and other parts of the digestive system

Celery is full of naturally-occurring chemicals called ‘coumarin compounds’. Their main role in the body is to regulate blood pressure – so celery may be useful in reducing high blood pressure. It also may be useful it reducing the likelihood and severity of migraines. Scientific research in this area is limited, however, but it may be worth checking the health benefits of celery with your doctor if you have problems with either of these conditions.

Celery is also rich in natural sodium. Although it will not cause any health risks for those who have to stick to a low-sodium diet, this property of celery give the vegetable its distinctive taste. Celery can therefore be added to dishes to impart flavor, and thus reduce the amount of additional salt that needs to be included.

If you want to up your vitamin C consumption, then celery has plenty of the stuff. Vitamin C is considered essential to boosting the immune system and reducing the likelihood of catching colds and other common infections and illnesses.

Celery can be found in almost any supermarket or greengrocer. Although its usually cooked before consumption, it can also be consumed raw or juiced as part of a smoothie. Eating it without cooking it is said to retain much more of the vitamins contained in the vegetable than including it in soups or stews.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

The tropical coconut tree, native to tropical climates the world over, has been a diet staple in equatorial areas for hundreds of years. In fact, many of these cultures – especially those in South Asia – get most of their dietary saturated fat from coconut oil. This includes nations such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and India. The reason coconut oil is so prevalent, aside from its availability, is its usefulness in cooking. Because coconut oil is very stable under high temperatures, it is perfect for the purposes of frying. Additionally, this high stability helps coconut oil to keep fresh for a longer duration than other oils.

In the West, coconut oil isn’t typically seen as a health food. It has a high concentration of saturated fat, which has been linked to increased LDL (or “bad cholesterol”) levels and an increased risk for heart disease. As a result, the governments of many countries have in fact warned their citizens against consuming too much of it. But, in the realm of nutrition, there are often trade-offs that one wouldn’t necessarily suspect. A respectable amount of medical evidence points to certain health benefits of coconut oil when consumed in moderation.

Coconut Oil Might Be a Better Saturated Fat Choice Than Other Oils

It’s undeniable that just about any oil stable enough to use for frying is high in saturated fat. And while the intake of this substance should definitely be limited, medical studies indicate that not all saturated fat is necessarily created equal. Different oils, it seems, may have different effects on the body when consumed. In testing performed in 2009, women with “abdominal obesity” were observed. One group was given a diet that included a 30mL serving of soybean oil (another popular frying oil), while the other was given the same diet with a 30mL serving of coconut oil. The women whose diets were supplemented with soybean oil saw an increase in LDL (bad cholesterol) and a decrease in HDL (good cholesterol) despite a steady diet and 50 minutes of light exercise daily. The women who ingested coconut oil did not experience these same negative effects on cholesterol. The conclusion, albeit preliminary, seems to suggest that coconut oil may not have the same drawbacks as other dietary forms of saturated fats. In fact, the researchers concluded that coconut oil may actually help in the fight against obesity.

It is important to note that coconut oil, in this study, was compared only to other sources of saturated fat. Healthier oils, such as olive oil, contain mostly unsaturated fat – which is without a doubt safer to consume in moderate amounts. The role of coconut oil in cholesterol and fat reduction is solely seen as a supplemental saturated fat source, which should be restricted in a healthy diet. So, while coconut oil is good as a substitute for things fried, for instance, in soybean oil, it should not be used in place of unsaturated fats.

Non-Dietary Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

The stability of coconut oil and its resistance to turning rancid isn’t just effective for storage purposes. A well-known health benefit of this coconut oil property is that it can be used topically as a treatment for certain skin conditions. Lipids, because they repel water (or are hydrophobic) can effectively seal in moisture in the skin. Therefore, conditions whose symptoms include excessively dry skin might actually be soothed with the occasional application of coconut oil.

A 2004 medical study was conducted on the skin condition Xerosis, which is identified by scaly skin, severe itchiness, and excessive dryness. In the study, coconut oil was used as a treatment with surprisingly effective results. Test subjects with the condition were directed to use coconut oil on affected areas for a two week period. At the end of the two weeks, effects including an increase in skin moisture content and better skin lipid levels were observed. In addition, none of the subjects experienced any adverse side-effects from the application of coconut oil. Though the study was limited (there were only 34 subjects) the sample did seem to indicate that there are legitimate health benefits of coconut oil when applied on dry skin.

In more cosmetic terms, these effects of coconut oil application also may prove useful for hair care. In situations where one is experiencing dry scalp, dry hair, and dandruff, the use of coconut oil to treat hair after washing may increase overall moisture retention, which in turn keeps the hair and scalp healthier. With the uptick in popularity of more natural personal care products, one can simply look at the labels of shampoo and hair care products to see if coconut oil is included in their ingredients list.

Coconut Oil and Lauric Acid

In cultures where coconut oil is harvested and consumed at relatively high rates, it is appreciated for its pathogen fighting properties. The most widely accepted explanation for this is the oil’s high concentration of lauric acid. Chemically, it is a fatty acid that has both antibacterial and antiviral properties, which works in the body when consumed. While its consumption won’t necessarily cure a bacterial or viral infection, it is generally that lauric acid can help the immune system in working against the growth, multiplication, and spread of these pathogens. As previously mentioned, it is essential to remember coconut oil’s high saturated fat content. When sick, coconut oil is useful is small amounts, and should never be consumed liberally in any situation.

Despite its reputation for “bad” fats, coconut oil, when consumed in moderation, does actually have some significant health benefits. Though no saturated fat sources are particularly beneficial to the cardiovascular system, it seems that coconut oil is the lesser of the many evils when considering substances used to fry food. Even outside of the kitchen, this tropical plant’s oil can be quite useful to those suffering from conditions that involve dry skin. So, before writing off coconut oil as wholly unhealthy and terrible for consumption, consider the health benefits it does have to offer. You might be surprised at just how advantageous its use, in moderation, can be.

Health Benefits of Coriander Seeds

Coriander seeds, which are called cilantro seeds in some parts of the world, are very different from the plant’s pungent leaves. Many people who find the leaves unpalatable can happily consume sauces containing the seeds, which are one of the most-used spices in Indian curry powder. They are also used in many other cuisines to add a spicy and fragrant taste to dishes. They have many health benefits as well as culinary uses. Some of these are as follows:
Coriander has a historical role in treating diabetes, and its believed that the plant’s natural properties help to regulate the body’s insulin supply. At the moment, scientific research into the area is in its infancy – however, initial studies on mice support the notion that coriander can reduce blood sugar level. However, diabetics should check with their doctor and not rely on coriander seeds instead of their prescribed medication.

Coriander is also very good for various stomach problems. The high fibre content of the spice means that it helps with constipation – for best effect, try consuming a lentil curry with plenty of coriander in the spice base. It is also a useful ingredient to use against flatulence. Coriander can also settle your stomach, and helps to prevent indigestion. Conversely, coriander may also be able to reduce the likelihood of diarrhoea and food poisoning.
High cholesterol levels are also said to be improved by the consumption of coriander seeds, as they are believed boost the production of ‘good’ cholesterol and reduce the production of ‘bad’ cholesterol. These properties mean that coriander can help to guard against cancer and heart disease. Preliminary research suggests that coriander may be of particular use against colon cancer, although scientific research in this area is limited.

Another way that coriander can be used to reduce the risk of heart disease is through its flavour. Foods flavoured with coriander and other spices are more satisfying than bland food – where you be be tempted to add more oil or fat to make it taste better. Increasing the spice content of a dish means that you have to add relatively little fat to enjoy a full flavoured meal. While this won’t work with your average takeaway curry, it is true that you can make very appetising and tasty meals using spices and very little fat.

Some ancient societies, including ancient Greeks, believed that coriander acts as an aphrodisiac, and added it to wine to help things along later in the evening! There’s little scientific evidence to whether or not this works. It’s worth a try – although coriander seeds may be more palatable as an ingredient in mulled wine, rather than the traditional Greek method of adding it to white wine.

Coriander seeds are traditionally used to combat bad breath. If you have halitosis then a visit to your dentist is a good idea to check for underlying causes, but try chewing on a small number of coriander seeds to cover the worst of the symptom.

Coriander seeds are also said to reduce the impact of heavy menstrual periods. Try boiling a couple of teaspoons of coriander in water, straining the water, adding sugar and then drinking the resulting mixture in the run up to your period to see if it works.

The essential oils and acids contained in coriander seeds are said to be at the heart of many of its health benefits, and also are the source of coriander’s distinctive flavour. To release the essential oils, which are very aromatic, try toasting a small amount of coriander seeds in a dry frying pan. Remove the seeds from the heat after their aroma begins to release, but before they burn – you’ll need to keep a close eye on them.

In addition to their use as a base for curries and marinades, coriander seeds can also be toasted and used in salads. Coriander seeds are found everywhere, and you’ll find both ground and whole spices in your local supermarket . However, storing them as whole seeds means that the essential oils, which are crucial for many health benefits, will be better preserved. If you buy whole seeds, you are likely to need a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar to grind the spices as needed. Coriander seeds are sold as in Asian food shops as ’dhania’, or a similarly spelled variant thereof.

Health Benefits of Fish Oil

Fish oil does not sound too pleasant, and has echoes of ‘cod liver oil’. But actually, if you like fish, then it’s easy to cook delicious dishes with oily fish. Varieties that are particularly rich in oil are mackerel, sardines, tuna, salmon and anchovies. If you are not too keen on fish, then fish oil supplements are readily available. In both cases, the active ingredient is the fish oil is omega 3. This has a broad range of health benefits.

Fish oil can help your brain function better. Studies have linked the consumption of oily fish to a decrease in the risk of an individual developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it’s true that educated people also tend to eat more fish, and education also seems to be able to prevent dementia. If you are worried about the effect of aging on your brain, then consuming oily fish is highly unlikely to do you any harm.

People who suffer from depression of all sorts may also benefit from increasing their fish oil intake. Fish oil does have an effect on mood, and the theory behind this is that fish oil helps the brain to better transmit pleasure receptors, and it also helps to stabilise your mood. As well as helping with generally depression, omega 3 has also been shown to help women who are troubled by post-natal depression. Its use in combating postpartum depression is particularly exciting, as women who are breastfeeding are not usually advised to take antidepressants. Fish oil allows new mothers to nurse, but also treats their depression too.

Also, a relatively small study has produced evidence that fish oil can be helpful to those who are prone to developing schizophrenia. If young adults at risk of schizophrenia maintained a healthy intake of fish oil, then they were less likely to develop this serious mental illness than others who did not.  Science is continually advancing in this area – if you are worried about developing schizophrenia and have a relative who already has the condition, then you should speak to your doctor for further advice.

 

Fish oil can help you to concentrate. This is useful if you’re cramming for an exam or reading for a thesis. The benefits of concentration are also linked to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. Children with a low level of omega 3 in their blood are more likely to suffer from ADHD than children who have normal levels. If your child suffers from ADHD, then making sure that they eat enough oily fish, within the recommended levels, can have a very beneficial effect on their symptoms.

Remarkably, fish oil has been shown to have a role in the treatment of breast cancer. Omega 3 may be able to slow down the growth of cancerous tumours in the breast. Science in this field is still relatively basic. However, if you are worried about developing breast cancer, then a regular intake of fish oil will do you no harm – and has the possibility of doing a great deal of good.

Omega 3 also helps skin and muscles. It can have an anti-aging effect on skin, and keep you looking younger for longer. For athletes, fish oil can reduce aches and pains after a training session.

Fish oil can also help to reduce the inflammation and pains of arthritis. It has been medically proven that fish oil can reduce the discomfort of arthritis patients. However, for the best results, those who suffer from arthritis should eat oily fish in its natural form – for example, from grilled tuna steaks – rather than from supplements.

Fish oil can maintain good eye health. Studies have noted that fish oil stimulates the development of the eye system in babies, while they are still in utero. At the other end of life, omega 3 helps to prevent age related macular degeneration, which is a degenerative and largely incurable eye condition. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with ACM, then it may be worth consulting your doctor over taking a fish oil supplement. Similarly, pregnant women should speak to their doctor before taking any supplement, but should enquire about fish oil.

Fish oil is an anticoagulant – in other words, it thins the blood. This can be good news if you suffer from high blood pressure. However, if you are already on medication for blood pressure, or have been put on a anticoagulant drug as part of fertility treatment, you should seek medical advice before taking or continuing with fish oil supplements.

Fish oil is effective against heart disease, as it promotes a healthy cardiovascular system, promotes ‘good’ cholesterol and reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol. It has been proven that a regular intake of oily fish can be very beneficial for the health of your heart.

However, it’s not all good news. Oily fish contain a higher level of mercury and dioxin than white fish. This means that, if you get your omega 3 from fish rather than supplements, you need to limit your intake. Women of childbearing age – including pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding – should eat up to two 140g portions of oily fish per week. Girls, older women and men can eat up to four portions per week. Sticking to the recommended intake means that you will gain the benefits without increasing any of the risks.

One important thing to remember if you’re taking fish oil supplements is that the capsules can go rancid. You’re unlikely to notice this when you actually consume the fish oil, unless you someone manage to bite into the capsule. If your fish oil has gone off, you’ll notice an unpleasant taste in your mouth later on – sometimes metallic, sometimes fishy – and you may also end up with fishy breath.

There are several ways to reduce the risk of this happening. Firstly, good-quality fish oil supplements are less likely to go off, so buy the best you can. Also important is to keep your fish oil in the fridge, particularly in the summer. Finally, the effect can be reduced if you take fish oil before you go to sleep, rather than in the morning.

Fish fillets are a good source of Omega 3, which is perfect if you like barbecued fish. If finding fresh fish is difficult, then tinned fish are also a good source.  Fish oil supplements are available from all health food stores and some major supermarkets. If you are a vegetarian, then you can buy omega 3 supplements that are derived from plants, rather than consuming those produced from fish.

Health Benefits of Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are usually found in home baking – they can be delicious scattered on scones, cakes or muffins, and can be added to breakfast cereals and granolas. As well as being a useful garnish, they’re also healthy too.

Flax seeds are a very good source of omega 3 oils. These are usually found in oily fish like salmon and tuna. Although no-one should rely entirely on one source of omega 3, their presence in flax seeds may be of particular interest to vegetarians, vegans and others who cannot consume oily fish. Omega 3 is important in maintaining a healthy heart, cognitive functions, and guards against diabetes.

Flax seeds in the form of meal are extremely high in fibre – which means that they help to keep your digestive system in very good working order. Unusually, they are a high fibre food with very low levels of carbohydrate, and so are a suitable source of fibre for people on low-carb diets.

Flax seeds may have a role in preventing breast cancer, as the nutrients called lignans that are found in flax seeds appear to inhibit the development of breast cancer. Although relatively little research has been carried out in the area, there is a proven  link between the two factors. Lignans are also linked to fertility and maintaining regular periods and ovulation and decreasing the likelihood of developing complaints linked to hormone levels, including headaches, hot flushes, sleeplessness and mood swings.

Another area of women’s health where flax seed can be beneficial is in maintaining good bone health and density –  flax seeds contain minerals that decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.

The fibre content of flax seeds and their natural oil content means that they are very good for those who suffer from hard stools and constipation. However, their laxative effect may be more than you have bargained for! You should start with a small dose, and people who have irritable bowel syndrome should be especially cautious with flax seeds.

Flax seeds are believed by many to promote healthy joints, and reduce joint pain, as well as acting as an anti-inflammatory. These properties means that many arthritis patients believe that consuming flax seeds will help their condition, although there is no definitely scientific link at the current time.

If you are consuming flax seeds in the form of flax seed oil capsules, be aware that the oil can become rancid. You fortunately will not be able to taste that they have ‘gone off’ before consuming oil capsules. However, if you notice later on that you have a strange taste in your mouth, then rancid flax seed oil may be the culprit. You can reduce the risk of this happening by keeping capsules in the fridge. Flax meal can also become rancid – it can be kept in the fridge for around three days, but should be frozen if needed to be stored beyond then.

Flax seeds on their own are indigestible – you will need to grind whole flax seeds into meal before they can be consumed. Alternatively, you can buy flax seed meal and oil products at health food shops and supermarkets.

Health Benefits of Ginger Root

Ginger root is found in curries, particularly Indian and Thai curries, and goes well with beef and seafood. Pickled ginger root is also routinely used in Chinese stir frys, and as an accompaniment to sushi.

There are several ways of preparing ginger root, but ginger tea is one of the most popular. Ginger tea can be made by steeping a small piece of root ginger in boiling water for a few minutes, and then straining the tea. Sometimes honey or lemon can be added to improve the paste.

Chopped ginger can be added with garlic and chilli and ground dry spices to form the base of many curries. Ginger can often be used unpeeled – you should only remove the skin if the ginger has is not fresh and the skin has become somewhat leathery. Simply chop or grind the root with other spices to form a wet spice paste, which can then be used in numerous Thai or Indian recipes.

All of these methods of consuming root ginger have numerous benefits.

Ginger is well-known to combat nausea – including morning sickness and the queasiness that afflicts some women before their monthly periods, and also sea sickness and other forms of motion sickness. For sickness caused by hormones, ginger tea taken before the patient gets up in the morning is said to reduce many of the ill effects – although you’ll need to persuade someone to make the tea for you. For motion sickness, ginger should be taken before the commencement of a journey – ginger tea will work, although ginger in powder or pill form may be more effective. Ginger is also said to help with the nausea that is often caused as a side-effect of chemotherapy, and the queasiness that afflicts many people who are recovering from surgery.

Root ginger is sometimes used to reduce various forms of pain – perhaps because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger tea sweetened with brown sugar or honey is often recommended in Chinese medicine to soothe period cramps. Ginger tea is also said to help with headaches.

There is some evidence that ginger can inhibit the growth of, or harm, various types of cancer – this includes pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and leukemia. However, although ginger is generally acknowledged as having many health benefits, the scientific evidence surrounding its use in cancer treatment and prevention is still currently very sketchy. Those who have cancer, or who are worried about developing the disease, should ask their doctor for more details.

If there is a cold doing the rounds of your school or workplace, you might want to try root ginger tea. Ginger is said to boost the immune system, and may reduce the likelihood of you catching the cold, as well as help ease the symptoms if you are unlucky enough to pick up a bug. Ginger is also useful for relieving blocked noises and soothing sore throats, and is generally useful for cold and ‘flu type illnesses.

Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties mean that many arthritis patients claim that it reduces the pain associated with their condition. There is some doubt as to whether or not this is true, or a placebo effect. However, taking ginger tea is unlikely to cause you any ill-effects, so it may be worth a try.

If you suffer from indigestion, then eating ginger may help you relieve some of the symptoms, like heartburn. Ginger root can help to break down proteins in the digestion system, and so ease the passage of food. This is why ginger is often included as a condiment in Far Eastern cuisines.

Ginger root, whether fresh or pickled, can be found in most supermarkets and many Asian food stores.

Health Benefits of Green Tea

With the recent rise in interest for healthy foods in the West, perhaps no other item has been discussed and analyzed more than green tea. Its many health benefits – some scientifically supported and others with little backing evidence – have accounted for a huge worldwide increase in green tea consumption over the last few decades.

But in certain parts of the globe, green tea has been a cultural fixture for surprising lengths of time. In China, for instance, the steeping of green tea leaves in hot water is a process that dates back roughly 4,000 years! Ancient cultures didn’t just drink green tea for the taste – they also had colloquial beliefs that the tea was an inherently healthy beverage. These beliefs, as we are still learning today, had a strong medical backing of fact.

The tea itself is not all that different from more traditional black tea. In fact, it even comes from the same plant species: Camellia Sinensis. The key difference is the way in which green tea is produced. It is processed less than its black counterpart, which translates chemically to an increased level of health improving substances – namely antioxidants, polyphenols, and flavonoids. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most widely accepted and scientifically supported health benefits of green tea.

Green Tea As a Fat Burner

Green tea’s fat-burning capabilities undoubtedly account for its recent rise in popularity in the West. And while other health foods have shown mixed results in regard to weight loss, medical studies seem to uniformly support green tea’s fat burning properties. In fact, several different types of medical studies have been performed in the past decade came up with these conclusions.

In 2004, a study performed in mice was one of the first to analyze green tea’s weight loss effects. A test group of mice were given food that contained an extract of green tea, and their body fat oxidation rate was measured against mice without the green tea in their diet. To clarify, body fat oxidation simply means the rate at which fat is burned. Results showed that the mice saw a 76.8% reduction in abdominal – or so called “visceral” fat. While this data can’t be perfectly extrapolated to humans, it does support the idea that mammals can experience a reduction in abdominal fat by dinking green tea.

Another study, which took place at Birmingham University in the United Kingdom, looked at green tea’s fat burning effects on actual human subjects. In the experiment, healthy patients were divided into two groups – one consumed green tea extract, and the other received a placebo. After ingestion, measurements showed that those who consumed the green tea extract had body fat oxidation rates 17% higher than those who consumed the placebo.

To put it simply, the results of these two studies and others like it are nothing short of impressive. But what is the reason behind this fantastic health benefit of green tea? According to researchers, three compounds present in the plant’s leaves – caffeine, catechins, and theanine – account for its fat-burning properties. These compounds are thought to stimulate enzymes within the body that process substance within body fat, most notably triglycerides and synthetase. In this way, they help to shrink the body’s fat cells and lower overall body fat.

Green Tea and Bone Health

In addition to burning fat, it seems that green tea also helps to build bone density. Those at risk for osteoporosis may stand to benefit quite a bit from green tea consumption. In a simple research study conducted at the University of Tokyo, a questionnaire was given to women over sixty – those most at risk for bone loss. The sample was large, including 655 women altogether. Those who consumed green tea often had a bone density measure of .808, while those who didn’t had a bone density measure of .738. In other words, there was a roughly 9% difference between in bone density between green tea consumers and non-green tea consumers.

The research group at the University of Tokyo concluded that the reason behind this significant difference was a specific flavonoid called catechin. It is hypothesized that these flavonoids stop cells that break down bone, or “osteoclasts” in their tracks.

Green Tea and Heart Health

The same catechins that help prevent bone loss may be effective as protectors against coronary artery disease as well. In a study conducted in Japan, it was found that those who drink green tea more than five times per week were 16% less likely to suffer from this serious ailment. The correlation was so strong, that green tea consumption is considered by some in the medical community to be its own independent factor when judging a person’s risk for heart disease. It is thought that the catechins in green tea help to reduce “free radicals”, or reactive molecules with electrons that are unpaired, in the blood. The presence of these free radicals is a known risk factor for many forms of cardiovascular disease.

Green Tea as a Cancer Fighter

So, we’ve established that green tea can help you lose weight, shore up your bone structure, and make your heart healthier. What other health benefits of green tea could possibly exist? According to many medical studies, the real “kicker” of green tea’s consumption is its cancer fighting capabilities. This includes prostate, lung cancer, and breast cancer. You might be wondering just how it could be so effective – the answer lies in green tea’s polyphenols. These compounds are believed to induce apoptosis (or cell death) in cancerous cells, but not normal cells.

Though this isn’t completely proven, several studies seem to support the idea. The Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found in one of their experiments that men who drank high levels of green tea saw a risk reduction rate of 86% for prostate cancer. Another study, concerned with the risk of lung cancer among smokers, used a benchmark substance called hydroxydeoxyguanosine to measure the amount of cancer-causing “free radicals” in the body. The experiment confirmed that people who smoked but also drank green tea had far lower levels of free radicals than those who just smoked.

With all the evidence to back green tea’s many purported health benefits, it’s no wonder that this warm, soothing drink is gaining such a large following. From theoretical health effects proposed 4,000 years ago to evidence arising from modern medical studies, it seems that there’s almost nothing green tea consumption can’t do for your health. And, as evinced by the rising number of studies that seem to confirm green tea’s benefits for everything from weight loss to cancer prevention, there’s plenty of incentive for just about anyone to make the switch from regular old black tea.

Health Benefits of Honey

In the history of human food, one of the most enduring properties of our palates in nearly every culture a love of sweet stuff. For some reason, we are enamored with sugars and sweeteners of all kind. Most, as medical science has found, aren’t all that good for us. They can lead to high blood sugar, weight gain, and other negative health-related implications. But honey – a form of flower nectar produced by certain species of bees – is a rare exception to this rule of thumb. Read on as we detail the potential health benefits associated with honey, and how they might make your own health better.

Honey’s Bacteria Busting Properties

At some point, you’ve probably heard that honey is exceptional among other foods because it virtually never goes bad. Though it crystallizes into a solid after a certain amount of time, those crystals can be melted back down into liquid form by placing the container in warm water. For a long time, the reason why this was so remained a mystery. In recent decades, however, scientists have begun to unlock the mysterious reasons why honey never seems to spoil.

Honey for Cold ReliefIn short, there are three different reasons why honey so consistently repels bacteria and fungi. First and foremost, the two sugars (fructose and glucose) that form it have a property called “low water activity”. In lemans terms, this means that most of the water molecules in honey are attached firmly to its sugar molecules. This, in effect, leaves little room for bacteria and mold to grow on those water molecules. The second property, as odd as it sounds, is a chemical reaction within honey that produces hydrogen peroxide. The honey must be diluted to allow the reaction to occur – which happens when it’s applied topically to wounds. For this reason, honey has been used in years past as a wound dressing when conventional antibiotics aren’t available. The third and final reason for honey’s resistance to microbial invaders is its pH. On the pH scale, honey typically falls between 3.2 and 4.5. If it’s been awhile since your last science class, this simply means that honey is pretty acidic – which is far from conducive to bacterial growth.

One of the oldest applications of honey as a health-booster is the treatment of sore throats and coughs. Old wives’ tales about honey’s soothing properties for those with upper respiratory infections abound across many cultures. And, as it turns out, those beliefs have been confirmed by medical science. In a study performed at Penn State University, it was found that honey does actually relieve cough, sore throat, and other cold symptoms. In the study, children were given honey, a medication with honey flavoring, and no treatment at all. On the scale that those researchers used, the kids who were treated with natural honey demonstrated the biggest improvement in symptoms, beating even the honey-flavored medication.

There is a caveat, however, to treating young children with a dose of honey for their colds. The medical community recommends that children under two shouldn’t consume honey, as it sometimes contains dormant botulism spores. These pose virtually no threat to adults with healthy immune systems, but can compromise the developing immune systems of infants and young toddlers.

Honey Fights High Cholesterol and Regulates Blood Sugar Better Than Other Sweeteners

In addition to the upper respiratory health benefits that honey provides, there is solid evidence that supports honey’s cholesterol fighting capabilities. One study, which involved 26 patients, compared natural honey to granulated sugar and artificial honey as sweeteners. Those who sweetened their food with artificial honey and granulated sugar over a period of fifteen days were found to have higher levels of LDL, or so-called “bad cholesterol” at the end of the trial. Those who used natural honey, meanwhile, saw their LDL levels drop by as much as 11% over the two-week period. This is quite impressive considering the short time frame of the study. So, if you’re working towards lowering your cholesterol, a spoonful of honey might just be an effective tool in battling LDL levels.

In the same study, people with type 2 diabetes were directed to use natural honey instead of the granulated sugar or artificial honey alternatives. Those who ate it experienced lower rises in blood sugar after consumption than either alternative. Scientists suspect that the reason for this finding has to do with honey’s makeup. It has roughly 50% fructose and 50% sucrose, which may assist our insulin-response system to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood.

Honey is Packed With Antioxidants

If you’ve read any medical news in the past few years, you’ve probably at least heard of the powerful, health improving qualities of antioxidants. These substances, found often in fruits and present in honey, are believed to be highly effective cancer fighters. Their moniker is derived from what they do in the body – which is preventing a reaction called oxidation from occurring in the cells. Without going in to too much detail, this oxidation reaction is a leading cause of cell death and damage, which in turn can lead to the development of certain cancers. Research done at the University of California has proven that honey’s antioxidants are used by our bodies when consumed. The study gave several tablespoons to 25 subjects for about a month, and measured levels of antioxidant levels in the blood both before and after the trial. What they found was that blood-antioxidant levels were higher after the period of regular honey consumption.

All told, it’s pretty amazing to see all the health benefits of honey laid out – especially when you take into account its simplicity. It’s hard to determine just how one early human was able to penetrate a beehive and scrape out some of the golden, sweet liquid – but the fact that he or she accomplished it has turned out to be a saving grace for many. From wound treatments to cholesterol and blood sugar control, honey is something of a cure-all for a host of medical issues. What’s more, new and exciting uses for this tasty, viscous substance are continually being discovered.

Health Benefits of Krill Oil

Krill oil is one of the world’s best sources of omega 3. It is better even than regular fish oil, or cod liver oil. Krill are tiny creatures that are found in all the oceans of the world – particularly in cold water oceans, like the North Atlantic. There are eighteen different species of krill, and they are in plentiful supply – unlike some species of oily fish.

Another advantage they have over oily fish is that they do not contain levels of mercury that are likely to be harmful to humans in any reasonably quantity. If you are worried about the mercury levels in oily fish, then using krill supplements may give you peace of mind. Finally, krill oil contains more additional vitamins as well as omega 3 than regular fish oil – these include vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin D. This last is particularly important, as it is only found in oily fish and sunlight – if you stay in a country with long, dark winters, then a regular intake of vitamin D is essential to good health. Krill oil is also purer than fish oil, and is less likely to leave a bad taste in your mouth, or give you fishy breath.

Krill oil is very good for your brain, for several reasons:

People who suffer from mood swings can benefit from krill oil, as it helps to increase the brain’s communication of moods. This benefit helps for both depression and for bipolar disorder. The krill oil can help to balance out the peaks and troughs in moods caused by bipolar disorder.

Krill oil can also help with schizophrenia. In one study, young people who showed early signs of developing schizophrenia and had relatives who already had the conditions were given regular fish oil supplements. Young people who took the fish oil were significantly less likely to develop schizophrenia than the control group. If you or someone you know suffers from schizophrenia, then you should speak to your doctor about the possible benefits of krill oil.

Krill oil can be effective in tackling postnatal depression. Krill oil is particularly important in this instance, as women who are breastfeeding cannot take regular antidepressants – they either have to go without or give up nursing. Krill oil and other fish oils are beneficial because no harmful chemicals are passed to the baby during feeding. If you suffer from postnatal depression, then you should raise the issue with your health visitor or doctor, and ask for more information on krill oil.

 

More generally, people who suffer from any sort of depression may benefit from krill oil. It helps the brain to better balance impulses that affect the mood. If you suffer from depression, it is well worth trying fish oil to see if this helps you to overcome the condition. This is particularly effective if you can also manage regular exercise, too.

Finally, krill oil can be used to help with concentration levels. If you are studying, then maintaining your intake of krill oil or any other source of omega 3 will enable you to concentrate on your books for longer. You should start taking the krill oil well in advance of any exams, though, as it takes a while for you to get the best out of any supplements.

Krill oil can also help concentration in children who suffer from hyperactivity. Children with ADHD, or attention Hyperactivity Disorder, tend to have low levels of omega 3 in their systems. Increasing their omega 3 intake can improve their concentration spans.

Krill oil can be very beneficial for the skin, bone, eyes and muscles.

The vitamin E found in krill oil is very good at protecting your skin from things in the environment that cause it to age. Omega 3 can also keep your skin firm, supple and glowing.

People who suffer from arthritis should take omega 3 to improve their condition. Krill oil can reduce their aches and pains, and improve their flexibility.

Athletes, particularly those who specialise in sports that have a great impact on the muscles, including weight lifting and running, should find that a regular vitamin D intake reduces the recovery time after workouts, including any stiffness or pains they may experience.

Krill oil, particularly its omega 3 content, may also have a role in reducing the risk of osteoporosis. This is of particular interest to women, who are more likely to suffer from the disease.

Both the vitamins and oils found in krill oil can improve vision. Omega 3 is important almost from conception, as it helps to develop a foetus’ vision while it is still in the womb. Taken throughout life, omega 3 can reduce the risk of damage to the eyes, and the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. This is a long-term condition that can eventually cause blindness.

Krill oil is also useful in preventing a range of other serious illnesses.

Krill oil may be able to slow the development in cancerous tumours. Early studies have shown that omega 3 can halt the development of breast cancer. At the moment, research into this area is in its infancy. However, if you are worried about developing cancer, you should ask your doctor about the possible benefits of krill oil.

Krill oil is also very good news for anyone who is concerned about their heart. It has antioxidant properties, and helps reduce harmful forms of cholesterol. It can prevent blood clots from forming in the arteries, and thus reducing the risk of heart attacks.

In some cases, krill oil should be approached with caution.

Krill oil is an anticoagulant. If you are on medication for high blood pressure, then you should check with your doctor before taking any krill oil supplements, including aspirin. The same applies if you are on anticoagulants as part of fertility treatment, or for any other reason. In many cases, your doctor may recommend that you do not take krill oil while on other anticoagulents.

Krill oil is increasingly popular. It can be found in all health food shops, and in some major supermarkets. If you are allergic to shellfish then you should approach krill oil with caution, as it is unknown as to whether or not it may trigger an allergic reaction.