Health Benefits of Olive Leaf

Most people are at least partially familiar with the health benefits of olive oil, which is famous for its promotion of wellbeing. But the lesser-known leaves of the olive plant can also be very good for you too. Olive leaves can be manufactured into essential oils and liquid extracts. However, one of the most popular ways of consuming olive leaves are to make olive leaf tea. This can be bought in the form of teabags, or made by steeping fresh olive leaves in boiling water and then straining and drinking the liquid.

Olive leaf tea is said to help against various cold and fly symptoms, including sore heads, blocked noses, and earache, as well as combating cystitis. Poultices made from the cold tea are meant to be effective against a range of common and discomforting conditions, including conjunctivitis, warts, boils and spots and rashes. In these cases, the poultice should be applied to the afflicted area for around fifteen minutes at regular intervals – the exact timings depend on the problem that you are attempting to treat.

Like olive oil, olive leaves are believed to have a number of anti- ageing effects, including decreasing the effects of aging free radicals on the skin. Olive leaf extracts can have extremely high levels of vitamin C, which works to promote general health as well as having some anti-aging effects.

Olive leaf is particularly noted for its use in preventing the growth of fungus and yeast infections – in various forms, it can be used to treat fungal nail infections, vaginal thrush, athlete’s foot and many other unsightly and unpleasant complaints.

Supplements containing olive leaf products may also be useful in treating forms of herpes, including genital herpes and the more common manifestation of cold sores. In either case, consuming olive leaf products can cause blisters to lessen or disappear – however, you should check with your doctor before assuming that your herpes are cured.

Olive leaf products are also said to promote a feeling of wellbeing and energy. For this reason, they are sometimes recommended as being suitable for people who suffer from chronic fatigue. While olive leaf tea or extract is unlikely to be suitable to replace any medication that has been prescribed by a doctor, it may boost your energy levels and help you to overcome constant feelings of tiredness.

Olive leaves are stuffed with antioxidants. This makes them valuable in reducing the risk of cancer. Some preliminary scientific research has suggested that olive leaves may have a particular role to play in fighting breast cancer and prostate cancer. Although studies are promising, they are still at early stages – if you are a cancer patient, ask your consultant’s advice before introducing regular or large amounts of olive leaf products into your diet.

You can buy olive leaf tea at most health food stores – they sometimes also stock a liquid extract made from olive leaves, as well as capsules, pills and powders.

Health Benefits of Oregano Oil

When one thinks of Italian food, perhaps the most immediate spice that comes to mind is oregano. The plant, which itself is native to the temperate climates that surround the Mediterranean Sea, is a staple in the diets of many other nearby cultures as well. It is often used as a meat seasoning, for instance, in Turkish cuisine. Greeks also employ oregano as a flavor additive to Greek salad, preferring to mix it with a zesty olive oil and lemon dressing.

Regardless of which culture oregano’s original use can be attributed to, more recent health related research has uncovered some interesting characteristics of the ancient herb. As it turns out, the same plant that adds some zip to everything from pasta and pizza to salads has essential oils which might provide significant health benefits when consumed by humans. Unfortunately, the dried leaves used as seasoning don’t typically have much of this essential oil. Instead, it is extracted through a process that involves steaming oregano’s leaves. These extracts are often made available at health and organic food stores. And though it might take some extra effort to obtain, oregano’s essential oil has health benefits which might make that effort worthwhile.

Oregano Oil Fights Pathogens

In the wild, plants often develop certain chemical and biological properties in order to stave off pathogens in disease. Because they’re in an environment of near constant bombardment from pests such as bacteria and viruses, plants like oregano are powerful examples of this evolutionary feat. While some plants develop waxy cuticles on their leaves or toxins within their cell walls, oregano’s internal oil has very effective anti-bacterial and viral properties.

There are two substances in oregano’s essential oils which make these properties work. They are called thymol and carvacrol. In lab tests, both of these substances were seen to slow down the development and spread of bacteria significantly. What’s more, the bacteria used in these tests were no weaklings. The first was Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause inflammation and sepsis when it infects tissues. If it makes its way to the vital organs such as the lungs or kidneys, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is potentially fatal. The second bacterium proven to be inhibited by oregano’s essential oils is Staphylococcus Aureus. Named for its unique cluster formations, it is one of the most frequent causes of staph infections in humans. While consumption of oregano essential oils won’t necessarily rid one’s system of these bacteria, topical application of the oil could potentially be a way to slow infection.

Oregano Oil and Antioxidants

In the body, countless chemical reactions occur that keep us in a state of homeostasis, or stability. Not all of these reactions, however, are particularly beneficial. Oxidation, when it occurs in cells, is one of these less beneficial reactions. When a cell undergoes oxidation, so-called “free radical” molecules are produced. The ultimate result of the presence of free radicals is often cell damage or death, which can grow into out-of-control proportions. Naturally, it is in our best interest to prevent these oxidation reactions from occurring in large numbers. Antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin E work to do just that.

Less well known is the fact that antioxidants aside from these vitamins exist. A few of them are even found in oregano oil. The two specific ones that oregano oil is known to contain are thymol and rosmarinic acid. Lab tests have not only proven their existence in oregano oil, but have also revealed that they’re present in downright astonishing concentrations. To put it in perspective, this lab test measured the amount of antioxidants per gram of fresh weight of oregano against the amount per gram per fresh weight of an apple. Apples were used as a measuring stick because they are renowned for high amounts of antioxidants. The tests found that oregano contained roughly 40 times the amount of antioxidant activity that apples did. This, of course, is nearly unprecedented in the realm of natural antioxidant sources. It seems that fresh oregano, even when consumed in relatively small amounts, is an effective way to ensure high antioxidant levels of your own.

Oregano’s Other Chemical Constituents

Rounding out oregano oil’s wealth of nutrients are vitamin K and omega 3 fatty acids. The most concentrated of these three is by far vitamin K. A single two teaspoon serving of fresh ground oregano has nearly a quarter of one’s daily need for the vitamin. In the body, it is required for the coagulation of blood and in bone building. Omega 3 fatty acids, meanwhile, are present at about five percent daily value per two teaspoon serving. These fatty acids have gained much attention in recent years for the cardiovascular benefits, which include lowering of blood pressure and better blood circulation. In a 1999 medical test that focused on Omega 3’s cardiovascular effects among 11,324 subjects who had recently had heart trouble, it was found that consumption of 1 gram of Omega 3 per day reduced the chance of sudden cardiac death by forty five percent.

Additional preliminary testing has revealed that Omega 3 fatty acids present in oregano oil may also have cancer fighting effects, specifically for breast and prostate cancer. In patients who were already diagnosed, the consumption of these fatty acids correlated with slower development of tumors, and eventually a better survival rate. These beneficial health effects of oregano oil aren’t necessarily limited to those who already have cancer, either. Its aforementioned high antioxidant levels prevent the formation of free radicals, which in turn lowers the risk of several types of cancers.

As the evidence above implies, a dash of fresh oregano on your next dish may be more than just an effective flavor addition. In addition to its unique taste, oregano oil is a surprisingly potent source of both vital and antioxidant nutrients. In fact, its consumption can benefit an array of biological processes – especially those that keep the cardiovascular system in check and cancer at bay. So, it seems, fresh oregano and its essential oils have much more to offer than a flavorful kick to Mediterranean cuisine.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds have become increasingly popular in recent years. They are extremely tasty and have innumerable benefits.  They are popular in salads, in granola, eaten by themselves as a snack, and used as garnishes for a very wide range of dishes. Most people love eating them, and you will boost your health by doing so too!

Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of vitamin E. This promotes healthy, glowing skin, and protects your face and other areas from the ageing effects of free radicals found in coffee, as well as many other substances eaten or found in the environment.

Trytophan is found in pumpkin seeds. This substance is a natural antidepressant. While you’d have to consume vast amounts of pumpkin seeds to gain the level of trytophan found in antidepressant medication, it might be worth grabbing a packet the next time you feel down – if nothing else, the taste will cheer you up!

If you have trouble finding enough natural iron in your diet, then you may be interested to know that pumpkin seeds are packed with this essential mineral. This is particularly good news for vegeterians and vegans, and also women who suffer from anaemia.Pumpkin seeds are packed with phytosterols, which are useful for guarding against many diseases as they reduce ‘bad’ forms of cholesterols and boost your body’s supply of healthy oils. Phytosterols reduce your risk of developing heart disease and several forms of cancer – pumpkin seeds, consumed in moderation, can increase your body’s natural resistance to these serious conditions.

However, pumpkin seeds have some specific properties that can help men, too. Many men over fifty have an enlarged prostate gland, which can cause various medical problems. Chemicals that naturally occur in pumpkin seeds appear to reduce the risk of developing this problem, also known as benign prostratic hypertrophy. At the moment, science has not worked out exactly how pumpkin seeds are beneficial to the condition, but it has been established that a high level of consumption of the minerals found in pumpkin seeds has an inverse effect on the risk of developing an enlarged prostate.

Pumpkin seeds are good for men in other ways,. They contain a high level of zinc. This is often recommended as a supplement for men who are trying to concieve, as it contributes towards the development and maintenance of healthy sperm. It is also linked to reducing the risk of fractures in older men.

Pumpkin seeds are very high in energy, and contain around five hundred calories per hundred grams. This is not good news if you are on a diet – although this does not mean that you should not eat any pumpkin seeds, but that you should carefully monitor the amount you consume so you gain the benefits without adding to your waistline. However, the high calorie content is helpful to walkers, cyclists and other athletes or outdoorsy types who need food that packs a high amount of calories into a small amount of weight and space. The next time you go hillwalking, fishing or mountain biking, pack some pumpkin seeds instead of your usual chocolate bar – it’s a far healthier snack.

Ready-to-eat pumpkin seeds can be found in supermarkets, health food shops and, increasingly, corner shops and newsagents. Pre-packaged seeds can contain a lot of additives, however, so check the packet before you buy. Alternatively, you can roast pumpkin seeds that are left over from making a Halloween lantern, pumpkin pie, or numerous other dishes that require pumpkin flesh.

Health Benefits of Pomegranates

Pomegranates are delicious in salads and syllabubs, with goat’s cheese, and in numerous recipes, both savoury and sweet. They have also long been a symbol of fertility, presumably because of the mass of shiny red seeds that every pomegranate contains, and feature in the parables and myths of various cultures and creeds. As well as their role in cooking and storytelling, pomegranates are said to have the following health benefits:

In general, pomegranates are thought of as helping the body to detox – in fact, they are said to have more natural antioxidants than any other type of fruit, and are stuffed with polyphenols, tannins and other naturally occurring chemicals that help to boost health. Pomegranates help reduce harmful biological functions while boosting vitamin intake and promoting good health. Try a pomegranate for breakfast, or have a glass of pomegranate juice alongside your morning toast or bagel.

Pomegranates are said to reduce the risk of heart disease, and early research has shown that they reduce the occurrence of various underlying biological functions that cause heart trouble – they help to balance the types of cholesterol found in the body, and also increase the speed at which potentially troublesome blockages are naturally resolved.

Pomegranates are also said to have a role in fighting various forms of cancer, including prostate cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer, because of their natural antioxidant properties. However, the scientific studies into the benefits of pomegranates for cancer patients are in their infancy, and you should ask your doctor for more information and the latest research.

The high fibre and vitamin content of pomegranates may help you lose weight and keep fit. Obviously a committed dieter will need to make other changes to their eating pattern other than including pomegranates, but the fruits can be a low-calorie mood booster that make you feel much healthier.

Some research suggests that pomegranates can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, and slow the disease’s progression.

Pomegranates may help your body resist infections such as the common cold, as they’re full of vitamins. Try taking some pomegranate tea during the cold season to ward off and reduce sniffles, sore throats and blocked noses.

Depression may be improved with pomegranates and pomegranate products – research in this area is limited, but the fruits are so beautiful and good to eat that they’re bound to boost anyone’s mood. Pomegranates are said to be particularly helpful in helping women who are going through the menopause to overcome depression.

There is also some evidence that pomegranates may improve bone density, and that their consumption guards against osteoporosis and other skeletal disorders.

Pomegranates may also be able to prevent tooth decay, as it naturally discourages plaque. You shouldn’t abandon your usual teeth-cleaning routine, but instead add some pomegranates into your regular diet.

If you’re interested in incorporating pomegranates into your diet, then pomegranates are found in Turkish, Georgian, Greek and Jewish cuisines, as well as other food cultures around the Middle East – reading recipes from these areas will give you some great ideas to boost your pomegranate consumption. Pomegranates are also delicious in smoothies.

Health Benefits of Spirulina

Spirulina is a food supplement made from tiny bacteria that are found in abundance in East Africa. It has been used as a food supplement since ancient times, when Aztecs skimmed spirulina-rich algae from water sources and dried it into cake form. Spirulina is available in various formats, including as pills, powder and flakes, as well as in its whole-food form. Its attributes and health benefits are as follows:

Around sixty per cent of spirulina’s bulk is protein, which is extremely high. It includes all essential elements of protein, including amino acids and various other nutrients. Spirulina is therefore particularly valuable to vegetarians and vegans as a health supplement, as it contains all the nutrients that a meat- or animal product-free diet may lack. The iron content in spirulina means that it can guard against anaemia.

The same properties that make spirulina useful to vegatarians and vegans also make it important for athletes. Spirulina can boost energy and help to maintain stamina. The high protein content means that its particularly useful to weightlifters and boxers, and other athletes who need to be conscious of their weight while eating a diet that retains and boosts muscle tissue.

Spirulina is also often recommended as being particularly suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as it replenishes their bodies at a time when nutrients are in particularly high demand. However, you should have a chat with your doctor or midwife before introducing any supplements into your diet during pregnancy.There is also some evidence to suggest that spirulina can be useful in reducing reactions to allergies and intolerances. Although anyone with a serious allergy should in no way rely on spirolina to ward of anaphylaxis or any other life-threatening reaction, some studies have shown that spirolina reduces the effects of common allergies, like hayfever.

Spirulina is also thought to have a role in reducing cholesterol and so reducing the risk of heart disease and some cancers. It forms an important part of the diet in Japan, which has a much lower incidence of heart disease than in most Western countries – Japanese studies show that spirulina acts to lower harmful types of cholesterol in men.

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not spirulina supplements can help with weight loss, with some arguing that it doesn’t, and other sources maintaining that spirulina can boost the metabolism and suppress the appetite. While its extremely unlikely than spirulina on its own will have an effect on your waistline, it can form a part of a weight-loss regime as it helps to regulate blood-sugar levels and suppress cravings.

Possibly the most important health benefit of spirulina is that it works to stop HIV cells from replicating, and it has also been found to help children in the Third World, who are underweight and HIV positive, to gain weight and reduce the likelihood of anaemia. The health benefits of spirulina in the fight against HIV is yet to be fully explored, but it could potentially have an exciting role in the battle against this feared disease. If you are interested in finding out more, ask your doctor.

People with certain metabolic disorders that affects their ability to digest amino acids should avoid spirulina.

Spirulina is commercially farmed in many countries. It can be found in most health food shops.