Archive for May, 2011

White Tea Benefits

White Tea Benefits
White tea comes from the plant camellia sinensis, just like the green tea and the black tea. Once royalty and very expensive, white tea is one of the most sought after health drink these days as there are many health benefits of white tea. White tea is arguably the least processed first tea ever consumed. White tea is the specialty of the Fujian region of China. The leaves of the white tea differ as per the tea cultivars such as – large white (Da Bai), small white (Xiao Bai), Chaicha and Narcissus bushes. There are numerous types of white tea that can be mainly classified into two: the Chinese white tea and white tea of the other regions.

Health Benefits of White Tea
Health benefits of white tea were found as early as in the Ming dynasty but it is until recently that the white tea is introduced outside Asia to the North America. White tea is made of immature tea leaves, picked just before the buds get opened fully. The reason why it is called white tea is the silver fuzz that covers the tea buds and later turns white on drying. White tea benefits are seen mainly on the immune system, metabolism and skin. However, benefits of white tea for the bones and its antiviral, anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties cannot be denied either! Let’s take a look at the white tea benefits.

White Tea Benefits for Weight Loss
White tea benefits and weight loss can never be separated. Drinking white tea controls the blood cholesterol levels, which is the main reason behind obesity and several medical conditions. A recent study conducted in 2009, showed positive effects of white tea on the fat cells of the human body. The extracts of white tea inhibit growth of the fat cells as well as break down the existing ones. White tea changes gene expression of the fat causing cells. It is said to be the “ideal natural source of slimming substances”. The studies are still going on, but white tea has already secured a top spot in the diet plans for weight loss of many. One thing to remember here is that the health benefits of drinking white tea on weight loss are not much striking unless combined with a balanced diet and rigorous exercise routine.

White Tea Benefits for Skin
White tea has plenty of antioxidant properties that prevent damage to the skin which is caused by sun exposure for too long. A study conducted by a skin study center agreed that white tea boosts immune system and reduces the cell damage that is caused by overexposure to the sun. It protects the skin from reverse damage caused by the free radicals that are an aftermath of stress, hectic lifestyle and or long sun bath. Some scientists also suggest that white tea is useful in the treatment of various forms of skin cancer and aging of the skin!

White Tea Health Benefits
Along with the above mentioned prime benefits of drinking white tea, there are several other white tea benefits that can not be overlooked. Arguably, drinking 2 to 3 cups of white tea a day is found useful and suggested by many scientists and researchers. White tea contains more amount of polyphenol than its other counterparts. Following are several other benefits of white tea.
Healthy Heart: White tea helps thinning of blood and as a result, it plays a vital role in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This, in turn, protects the heart. Researchers also suggest that drinking 2 to 3 cups of white tea a day can reduce the risk of heart attacks to 50%, hence it is also called as a “heart tonic”.
Strong Bones, Teeth and Gums: White tea contains small amount of fluoride and several other important substances that act as nutrients for the bones and health of the teeth and gums. As a result, white tea reduces the risk of osteoporosis, plaque, tooth decay and bad breath. Drinking white tea benefits those suffering from arthritis too.
Antiviral and Antibacterial: White tea is supposedly a natural killer of bacteria and viruses. Ample amount of antioxidants from the white tea, tone the whole immune system and guards the body against cough, cold and flu and also ease the symptoms of HIV/AIDS.
Cancer Prevention: White tea has profound qualities and an antioxidant called as flavonoid, that acts against the cancer causing cells. Hence, drinking white tea can prove to be helpful in the treatment of different types of cancer, especially colon cancer and skin cancer.
Along with these, benefits of drinking white tea also include reduction of blood sugar levels and reduction of risk as well as symptoms of diabetes. White tea reduces stress levels and increases the energy levels, increase the rate of metabolism and promotes recovery from illnesses as it strengthens the immune system. This was all about white tea benefits.

I will leave you with one suggestion, although there are no evident ill effects of the white tea, one can relish benefits of white tea to the fullest keeping in mind not to consume it in excess. Take care!

By Rutuja Jathar

Onions are Beneficial for Your Health

Onions are Beneficial for Your Health

Onions are beneficial to health
What would life be like without onions? The onion has been used as an ingredient in various dishes for thousands of years by many cultures around the world. World onion production is steadily increasing so that onion is now the second most important horticultural crop after tomatoes.

There are many different varieties of onion, red, yellow, white, and green, each with their own unique flavor, from very strong to mildly sweet. Onions can be eaten raw, cooked, fried, dried or roasted. They are commonly used to flavor dips, salads, soups, spreads, stir-fry and other dishes.

Onions (Allium cepa) belong to the lily family, the same family as garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots.There are over 600 species of Allium, distributed all over Europe, North America, Northern Africa and Asia. The plants can be used as ornamentals, vegetables, spices, or as medicine. There are over 120 different documented uses of the Alliums.

Onion and other Allium vegetables are characterized by their rich content of thiosulfinates, sulfides, sulfoxides, and other odoriferous sulfur compounds. The cysteine sulfoxides are primarily responsible for the onion flavor and produce the eye-irritating compounds that induce lacrimation. The thiosulfinates exhibit antimicrobial properties. Onion is effective against many bacteria including Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella, and E. coli. Onion is not as potent as garlic since the sulfur compounds in onion are only about one-quarter the level found in garlic.
The Value of Onions
Onions have a variety of medicinal effects. Early American settlers used wild onions to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and to repel insects. In Chinese medicine, onions have been used to treat angina, coughs, bacterial infections, and breathing problems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite and to prevent atherosclerosis. In addition, onion extracts are recognized by WHO for providing relief in the treatment of coughs and colds, asthma and bronchitis. Onions are known to decrease bronchial spasms. An onion extract was found to decrease allergy-induced bronchial constriction in asthma patients.

Onions are a very rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides. These oligomers stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. In addition, they can reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon.
Cardiovascular Help
Onions contain a number of sulfides similar to those found in garlic which may lower blood lipids and blood pressure. In India, communities that never consumed onions or garlic had blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels substantially higher, and blood clotting times shorter, than the communities that ate liberal amounts of garlic and onions. Onions are a rich source of flavonoids, substances known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. Onions are also natural anticlotting agents since they possess substances with fibrinolytic activity and can suppress platelet-clumping. The anticlotting effect of onions closely correlates with their sulfur content.
Cancer Prevention
Onion extracts, rich in a variety of sulfides, provide some protection against tumor growth. In central Georgia where Vidalia onions are grown, mortality rates from stomach cancer are about one-half the average level for the United States. Studies in Greece have shown a high consumption of onions, garlic and other allium herbs to be protective against stomach cancer.

Chinese with the highest intake of onions, garlic, and other Allium vegetables have a risk of stomach cancer 40 percent less than those with the lowest intake. Elderly Dutch men and women with the highest onion consumption (at least one-half onion/day) had one-half the level of stomach cancer compared with those consuming no onions at all.

Western Yellow, New York Bold, and Northern Red onions have the richest concentration of flavonoids and phenolics, providing them with the greatest antioxidant and anti-proliferative activity of 10 onions tested. The mild-tasting Western White and Vidalia onions had the lowest antioxidant content and lowest anti-proliferative activity. The consumer trend to increasingly purchase the less pungent, milder onion varieties may not be the best, since the onions with a stronger flavor and higher astringency appear to have superior health-promoting properties.
Use and Safety
Onions have a universal appeal. They are safely consumed by most people. However, consuming large quantities of onions can lead to stomach distress and gastrointestinal irritation that may result in nausea and diarrhea. There are no known interactions with drugs except that they can potentiate the action of anticoagulants.
Onions, and other Allium species, are highly valued herbs possessing culinary and medicinal value. Some of their beneficial properties are seen after long-term usage. Onion may be a useful herb for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, especially since they diminish the risk of blood clots. Onion also protects against stomach and other cancers, as well as protecting against certain infections. Onion can improve lung function, especially in asthmatics. The more pungent varieties of onion appear to possess the greatest concentration of health-promoting phytochemicals.

Author: Winston Craig, MPH, PhD, RD.

My delicious broth

The Benefits of Bone Broth
February 3, 2009
By Jenny

There is nothing like a homemade broth – rich, fragrant and glistening with droplets of golden fat. It’s an essential aspect of good cooking. Homemade bone broth offers the depth of flavor that its storebought counterpart simply can’t parallel. It’s also an extraordinarily inexpensive food, especially for its nutritive value. Beyond its culinary uses and economic benefits, bone broth is remarkably healthful.

Culinary Uses

Broths made from bones have been used across the globe throughout human history. Nearly every traditional society boiled bones of meat-giving animals to make a nutritive broth. It is deeply flavorful, but versatile and can provide the base for soups, sauces, gravies as well as providing a cooking medium for grains and vegetables.

In our home, we inevitably have a crockpot of perpetually brewing poultry stock bubbling away on the counter. And we use it everyday. When I braise vegetables, I use bone broth. Or we use it to baste roasting meats. Or, of course, in the soups, sauces and gravies we eat throughout the week.

While bone broth is technically a stock, and not a broth the terms are often used interchangeably.

Frugal Benefits

Bone broths are remarkably inexpensive to make. Many times you can prepare a decent broth for the cost of energy used to heat your pot alone. By using the bones from leftover roast chickens matched with vegetable scraps you’ve saved, you can make a gallon of stock for pennies. In getting to know your butcher or local rancher, you can often acquire beef or lamb bones for free.

Preparing your own stock at home can possibly save you more money over time than any other kitchen endeavor. Consider that a one-quart package of Pacific Organic Broth will set you back at least $4.75 at most grocers, but making your own bone broth from kitchen scraps will cost you only the pennies needed for energy use. And it tastes better.

Health Benefits

As I mentioned earlier, bone broth has been prepared in kitchens, hearths and firesides throughout history. And, in many ways, it’s a lost art. Home cooks have simply forgotten how easily a broth is made and how worthwhile it is to make this low-cost, highly nutritive food a regular part of the family diet.

As the bones cook in water – especially if that water has been made slightly acidic by the inclusion of cider vinegar – minerals and other nutrients leach from the bones into the water. Homemade broth is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals. The minerals in broth are easily absorbed by the body. Bone broth even contains glucosamine and chondroiton – which are thought to help mitigate the deletorious effects of arthritis and joint pain. Rather than shelling out big bucks for glucosamine-chondroitin and mineral supplements, just make bone broth and other nutritive foods a part of your regular diet.

Further, homemade bone broths are often rich in gelatin. Gelatin is an inexpensive source of supplementary protein. Gelatin also shows promise in the fight against degenerative joint disease. It helps to support the connective tissue in your body and also helps the fingernails and hair to grow well and strong.

Why Not Boxed/Tinned Broth

Boxed and canned broths and stocks are commercially available, and you can even purchase organic and free-range meat broths; however, these watery stocks pale by comparison to both the nutrient density and flavor of homemade bone broths. These commercially prepared broths are often asceptically packaged and highly processed. And expensive!

Psychologists: Comfort Food Is Bad For Your Body But Good For Your Soul

Psychologists: Comfort Food Is Bad For Your Body But Good For Your Soul
By Phil Villarreal on March 28, 2011

High-calorie foods such as meatloaf, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes can be harmful to your diet and overall health, but psychologists suggest they can partially counteract negative effects by making eaters feel better.

UPI relays the results of a study published in Psychological Science, which says the comfort foods remind people of those whom they’re close to, and the connection can make munching on the guilty pleasures improve mental health.

The study didn’t involve eating, but was centered around an experiment meant to make participants feel lonely. Findings showed those who were secure in their relationships felt less lonely when they wrote about comfort food.

Said the lead author of the study, a grad student at the University of Buffalo:


The garlic has many beneficial effects for the body. Here are some of them:

Garlic replaces antibiotics:
It is known the garlic acts as a natural antibiotic. Moreover, it reduces the body’s need for antibiotics because it prevents infections and colds. During the winter add plenty of garlic in soups, sauces or other dishes.

Very good sore throat remedy:
Ma a garlic infusion and use it for daily gargles. Do not worry if you swallow the tea, it has no negative consequences.

Garlic Syrup strengthens immunity:
Do you often catch a cold? Your immunity is low! The reliable aid in such situations is garlic. Syrup made of a few cloves of garlic mixed with honey instantly treats infections. How do you prepare it? 6-8 cloves garlic, finely minced, mixed with 8 teaspoons of honey. Allow a few days for the ingredients to pervade into each other and have a teaspoon daily.

Garlic ointment treats bronchitis:
In winter, respiratory diseases are the most common. What could help us better help than garlic? Prepare an ointment of some garlic cloves, finely chopped, cloves and oil. Boil this mixture on low fire, stir until it becomes a paste and let it to cool. Apply the ointment on the chest, stomach, throat; it will be effective against bronchitis and respiratory infections.

Garlic improves circulation:
Blood circulation can be improved by regular consumption of garlic. Furthermore, it lowers blood pressure by relaxing the walls of arteries and veins. Studies have shown that people who eat garlic have significant decrease in blood pressure.

Soup up your HEALTH

In our hectic modern urban lives we’ve forgotten so many excellent traditional techniques for making highly nutritious and wonderfully delicious foods and so cheaply too. This knowledge was passed down over many generations and must once have seemed like such obvious common sense to those who held it and yet for the modern urbanite that knowledge has vanished in the mists of time to be replaced with TV dinners, microwavable chips and all the delights of fast food living.

The most fundamental of these traditions is the making of soup. Soup is surely the queen of foods. Wonderfully comforting and nourishing, soup is our balm, it fortifies the body, soothes sore throats, clears clogged airways, fights off colds, builds strong bones, and has even been rumoured to improve your love life! Its reputation as a health giving elixir is so well known that chicken soup is often called Jewish penicillin. The Chinese have been treating illnesses with soups for centuries. In the UK beef tea has an ancient reputation for healing and who could deny the Russians their borscht?

The foundation for all good soups is a good stock. Stock or broth is made by slowly simmering the bones, flesh and skins of animals or fish with vegetables like onions and carrots. Stocks are extremely nutritious; the slow simmering extracts the minerals of bone, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate.

Gelatine is an important constituent of stock. Gelatine is highly digestible; it contains amino acids like arginine and glycine and can increase the amino acid composition of other protein sources, like meat or eggs. It is beneficial for muscle growth and metabolism, for building and maintaining cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue, as well as promoting healthy skin and hair. Beyond its nutritional value, gelatine acts as a unique digestive aid. When added to a meal, gelatine rapidly absorbs digestive juices promoting even digestion of the stomach content and preventing a build up of too much acid.

Healing Soups
Of course stock itself has been used as a broth for the very ill for centuries. It’s nutritious and easy to digest and ensures that the invalid has plenty of fluids and minerals without adding any unnecessary strain on the system that digesting heavier foods might cause. There are many recipes for healing soups around the world but two of my favourites are chicken soup and tomato soup.

Chicken soup
Chicken soup is a favourite healing soup all over the world. It has often been called Jewish penicillin and scientists have spent time and money examining the actions of chicken soup on colds and flu. It’s no surprise that they’ve found evidence of the way chicken soup combats the symptoms of a cold. Dr Stephen Rennard, a US pulmonary specialist, tested various chicken soups, from a traditional, home made soup, to a number of commercial varieties, in the laboratory. He found that the soups had anti-inflammatory properties that helped sore throats and helped stop the movement of neutrophils (white blood cells that encourage the flow of mucus that accumulates in the lungs and nose). So grandmother was right all along!

Tomato soup
Our family favourite for colds was tomato soup. Of course it helps to come from a tomato growing region – Guernsey tomatos are the best in the world. Made with a base of chicken stock, mother added tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil or oregano, all home grown. The soup was rich, thick and savoury. It’s still one of my favourite soups today. And what a glorious soup it is too. A wonderful sight as it comes to the table with a sprinkling of fresh oregano over the top, looking like chips of emerald against the ruby colour of the tomatoes. Truly, it’s a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth.

Not just a pretty face
Around the world there are so many recipes for healing soups, they may not have been subjected to scientific scrutiny the way chicken soup has but they have long traditions as healing foods. Lentil soups, pea and ham soups, coconut and fish soups, curried soups, onion soup, miso soup, the list is endless. You only have to look at the ingredients in soups to find out why they work. Let’s take tomato soup as an example. We’ve already discussed the health giving properties of the stock so lets look at the other ingredients.

The tomatoes in my mother’s soup are full of lycopene and vitamin C, both are antioxidants. Onions and garlic are very common ingredients in soup and are well known for their anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects. Onions contain quercetin, a formidable antioxidant with wide-ranging activity. Studies show that quercetin is anti-cancer, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. Garlic is very active against bacteria, so active that the blood of garlic eaters can kill bacteria. It helps lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots, reduce atherosclerotic buildup, is active against yeasts, prevents cancer, removes heavy metals such as lead and mercury from the body, has anti-oxidant properties and is a source of selenium. The primary ingredients in Oregano, thymol and carvacrol (which are also found in thyme), help loosen phlegm in the lungs and relieve spasms in the bronchial passages. Many commercial cough remedies, including cough drops and skin rubs such as Vicks VapoRub, contain thymol.
No wonder it did us good!

Soups are not just delicious. They are comforting and warming in the winter and cooling and refreshing in the summer. They are a thing of beauty to behold and a joy to the taste buds, and they are also good for you. Concentrated nutrition in a bowl, what more could you want?

5 questions can help pinpoint depression

5 questions can help pinpoint depression
Sadness touches all of our lives at different times, but depression can have enormous depth and staying power. It is more than a passing bout of sadness or dejection, or feeling down in the dumps. It can leave you feeling continuously burdened and can sap the joy out of once-pleasurable activities. It has physical, as well as emotional, symptoms. You may find that you can’t sleep or eat, that you are fatigued, or that you have headaches or aches and pains that seem to have sprung up without a cause.
Although depression is by no means a silent disease, it is substantially underdiagnosed. Experts estimate that only one-third of those who have major depression get the help they need.

When people do reach out for help, doctors typically diagnose depression by asking about feelings and experiences. They may also use screening tools and look for possible medical causes by performing a physical exam and sometimes ordering lab tests.

Diagnosing depression
A physical exam and medical history may offer clues that point to depression caused by medication or an underlying illness. In these cases, blood tests or x-rays may confirm the problem. Often, when people are unable or unwilling to recognize their own depression, their initial complaints are medical. Headaches, stomach problems, sexual difficulties, and lack of energy are among the more common medical complaints.
If your symptoms suggest depression and medical causes seem unlikely, your doctor will be interested in hearing whether you’ve had any feelings of sadness or hopelessness and whether you’ve noticed any changes in your appetite, sex drive, or sleep patterns.

He or she may also ask these questions:
Have you or anyone in your family ever suffered from depression or another mental disorder? If so, how was it treated?
Do you get satisfaction and pleasure from your life?
Do you ever have thoughts about suicide or have you attempted suicide?
Do you drink alcohol? If so, how often and how much?
Do you use any drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, crack, or heroin to get high or relax? If so, which drugs and how often?
Your caregiver might ask you to complete a checklist that may pick up some symptoms or subtle mood changes that otherwise might not be identified. Alternatively, the clinician may complete a similar scale based on his or her observations; such scales are slightly better at detecting depression than self-reports.
Because you may minimize symptoms or may not even be aware of them, your doctor or therapist may want to speak to someone close to you. Where a child or teen is concerned, the doctor may interview parents and teachers or a guidance counselor.