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Feb 18, 2014

A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research (PDF) reveals that subjects salivated over the smell of chocolate cake as much as those that only saw a picture of chocolate cake and encouraged to imagine the smell.
We already know that Realtors bake cookies at open houses to offer a homey feel, and Spas burn lavender-scented candles to induce calm, but this new research proves that imagining a smell may be as enticing as actually experiencing the smell. In other words, imagining a chocolate cake makes you drool just as much as sitting next to one.

The researchers liken the effect to that of a visualization exercise, and call it “smellization.”
As the scientists found, the smellization effect cannot exist in a vacuum; it needs visual triggers. Like, say, a photo of delicious chocolate cake, and a tagline about delicious chocolate cake.

The study
In one study, participants viewed the advertising tagline, “Feel like a chocolate cake?” Some participants were shown just the tagline and others were shown the tagline accompanied by a photo of a chocolate cake. The participants were then asked to either smell a sachet with the fragrance of chocolate cake, imagine the scent of chocolate cake, or neither.
As the researchers expected, smelling the cake increased salivation for all participants. They did, however, note an increase in salivation in participants who viewed the advertisement containing both the photo and the tagline when the cake smell was completely removed (compared to people who just viewed the tagline).

Bottom line
The upshot of all that olfactory-based literal drooling? Those who do it also drool over products in a somewhat more metaphorical sense. An item for which consumers literally salivate is one they both buy and consume in larger quantities. So if you’re trying to cut back on the cookies, do yourself a favor and don’t think about how they smell next time you see an ad.


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Posted: Feb 18, 2014 1:02pm
Feb 17, 2014

Does a sound mind really relate to you having a sound body? Does a flexible body equal a flexible mind? According to a recent study there may be some real truth in this, with findings suggesting that exercise may enhance your creative thought processes.

The study
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that regular exercisers do better on tests of creativity than their more sedentary peers.
Specifically, researchers noted that regular exercise seems to be associated with improved divergent and convergent thinking, which are considered the two components of creative thinking; the former involves thinking of multiple solutions for one problem, while the latter involves thinking of one solution for a problem.

The test
Testing was on two different groups, athletic participants who exercised four or more times a week and non-athletic types. The first assignment was a so-called alternate uses test, in which the participants had to note down all the possible uses for a pen. This was followed by a remote associates task: the test persons were presented with three non-related words, like 'time', 'hair' and 'stretch', and had to come up with the common link, which in this case was 'long'.

The findings
The athletic group performed better than those who did not exercise as regularly when it came to both tests. Lead author, and cognitive psychologist, Lorenza S. Colzato states, “We think that physical movement is good for the ability to think flexibly, but only if the body is used to being active. Otherwise a large part of the energy intended for creative thinking goes to the movement itself. Exercising on a regular basis may thus act as a cognitive enhancer promoting creativity in inexpensive and healthy ways.”

Famous, creative, and fit!
Leonardo da Vinci may have been spurred on in his artistic endeavors to paint the Mona Lisa, as well as coming up with imaginative plans for flying machines, by the fact that he was an athletic man who kept himself in good shape. Even a good couple of thousand years ago Greek philosopher Socrates who focused on cultivating the imagination recognized the importance of keeping in shape when he said, “It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” Philosopher and author Henry Thoreau claimed that his thoughts began to flow ‘the moment my legs began to move’ and celebrated media visionary Walt Disney was known to send his creative teams to find inspiration along the trails of Sedona’s pink mountains in Arizona. Really many authors and artists have recommended fresh air or a long walk for firing up the neurons, to inspire creativity or getting rid of writer’s block!

Not only exercise can boost creativity but it can also...
... sharpen thinking - Recently, Dartmouth researchers added support to mounting evidence about the way that exercise affects learning and mental acuity: it boosts the production of “brain derived neurotrophic factor" -- or BDNF – a protein that is thought to help with mental acuity, learning and memory.

It helps you learn new tricks - Even one exercise session can help you retain physical skills by enhancing what's commonly known as "muscle memory" or "motor memory," according to new research published in PlosOne.  As the New York Times reported, men who were taught to follow a complicated pattern on a computer and subsequently exercised were better able to remember the pattern in subsequent days than the men who didn't exercise after the initial squiggle test.

It supports problem-solving - In one study, mice that exercised by running not only generated new neurons, but those neurons lit up when the mice performed unfamiliar tasks like navigating a new environment.

It helps alleviate symtoms of depression - When you exercise, your pituitary gland releases endorphins to help mitigate the physical stress and pain you are experiencing. But those endorphins may play a more important and longer-lasting role: they could help alleviate symptoms of depression, according to a Mayo Clinic report.

It reduces stress - Although exercising raises our levels of cortisol -- the hormone that causes physical stress and is even associated with long-term memory impairment -- its overall effect is one of a stress reducer. That's because exercise increases the body's threshold for cortisol, making you more inured to stressors.

It helps delay age-associated memory loss - As we get older, an area of the brain called the hippocampus shrinks. That's why age is associated with memory loss across the board. However, profound memory loss -- such as in dementia and Alzheimer's disease patients -- is also contributed to by accelerated hippocampus shrinking. Luckily, the hippocampus is also an area of the brain that generate new neurons throughout a lifespan. And, the research shows, exercise promotes new neural growth in this area.


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Posted: Feb 17, 2014 8:57am
Feb 14, 2014

Cumin seeds are pungent, potent little things with the ability to significantly change the trajectory of a dish. They are featured prominently in Mexican, Mediterranean, Indian, Middle Eastern, and certain Chinese cuisines. Back in the Middle Ages, cumin was one of the most popular – and most accessible – condiments for the spice-crazy Europeans, and stories tell of soldiers going off to war with loaves of cumin bread in their satchels for good luck. Cumin originated in the Mediterranean, and it was used extensively by the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, the Persians, and just about everyone in that region.

Black cumin seeds have a particularly long and strong history use in Egypt. When archaeologists found and examined the tomb of Egyptian boy-king Tutankhamen (King Tut), they found a bottle of black cumin oil, which suggested that it was believed to be needed in the afterlife.
Physicians to the Egyptian pharaohs frequently used the seeds after extravagant feasts to calm upset stomachs. They also used the seeds to treat headaches, toothaches, colds, and infections. Queen Nefertiti, renowned for her stunning beauty, used black seed oil, likely due to its abilities to strengthen and bring luster to hair and nails.

Hundreds of studies have been conducted on black cumin which have shown that compounds from the seeds help fight diseases by boosting the production of bone marrow, natural interferon, and immune cells. Let’s explore just how it benefits your health in the section below.


Cumin isvery rich in iron (more than 66 mg. in every 100 grams) which is more than 5 times the daily requirement of iron for an adult. This iron is the main constituent of hemoglobin in the red blood corpuscles of blood. It is hemoglobin which transfers oxygen (as the oxide of iron) to the body’s cells and whose deficiency causes anemia. So, cumin can be a nutritious additive to daily diet for anemic people and avoid the symptoms of anemia like fatigue, anxiety, cognitive malfunction, and digestive issues.

An abundance of iron, the presence of essential oils, vitamin-C, and vitamin-A in cumin boosts our immune system in a number of ways. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants that we have in our body, and it also stimulates the function and activity of white blood cells. As an antioxidant, vitamin C fights the detrimental effects of free radicals, which are the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism. They are constantly being created in the body, and therefore, must be constantly eliminated. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals that lead to many diseases, including, but not limited to, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Cumin is extremely good for digestion and related problems. The very aroma of cumin, which comes from an aromatic organic compound called Cuminaldehyde, the main component of its essential oil, activates our salivary glands in our mouth, which facilitates the primary digestion of food. Next is thymol, a compound present in cumin, which stimulates the glands that secrete acids, bile and enzymes responsible for complete digestion of the food in the stomach and the intestines. Cumin is also Carminative, which means that it relieves from you from gas troubles and thereby improves digestion and appetite. Due to its essential oils, magnesium and sodium content, cumin promotes digestion and also gives relief for stomach-aches when taken with hot water.

Aid in weight management, antidiabetic
Changing your eating habits and maintaining a healthy weight can help to prevent the development of diabetes. Consuming more cumin may help with weight management and diabetes as well. A study published in the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" found that cumin seeds help to regulate blood sugar. The researchers believe that including cumin in your regular diet may also help to prevent the development of diabetes and help to treat those who have diabetes already. A similar study published in the journal "Nutrition Research" found that in addition to reducing hyperglycemia, body weight was reduced as well.

Cumin, because of its dietary fiber content and carminative, stimulating, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, acts as a natural laxative in powdered form. These characteristics are due to the presence of essential oils comprised mainly of Cuminaldehyde and certain pyrazines. Adding cumin to your diet also helps in healing up of infections or wounds in the digestive and excretory system and speeds up digestion as well. That pretty much means that cumin clears up all of the symptoms and causes of hemorrhoids.
Cancer prevention
Cumin itself has detoxifying and chemopreventive properties, and accelerates the secretion of detoxifying and anticarcinogenic enzymes from the glands, as it also does to other secretions. Furthermore, it has beneficial antioxidants like vitamin-C and vitamin-A within its chemical makeup, in addition to those essential oils. Besides having countless other benefits, the antioxidants have anticarcinogenic properties too, and those found in cumin are particularly good for colon cancer prevention.

Concentration and cognitive malfunctions
The amount of iron in cumin leads to increased hemoglobin production and subsequent prevention of anemia, but that increased blood flow has other benefits as well. When your blood circulation is in top form, adequate amounts of oxygen are able to reach the organs and the brain, leading to optimal performance of those bodily systems. Proper amounts of oxygen and iron in the brain lead to increased cognitive performance and a decrease in cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. For other organs, increased oxygenation increases efficiency and speeds up the metabolism, which can boost your overall health, increase strength, and prevent signs of aging.

Respiratory disorders, asthma, bronchitis
The presence of caffeine (the stimulating agent), and the richly aromatic essential oils (the disinfectants) make cumin an ideal anticongestive combination for those suffering from respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis. It acts as an expectorant, meaning that it loosens up the accumulated phlegm and mucus in the respiratory tracts and makes it easier to eliminate them from the system via sneezing or coughing up and spitting. By eliminating as much of the mucus and phlegm as possible, it can inhibit the formation of additional material and help to heal the initial condition that led to its formation in the first place.

Common cold
The common cold is a viral infection which affects our body frequently when our immune system becomes weakened or vulnerable. Again, the essential oils present in cumin act as disinfectants and help fight viral infections which can cause the common cold. Cumin also suppresses the development of coughing in the respiratory system since it dries up the excess mucus. Cumin is rich in iron and has considerable amount of vitamin-C, which are essential for a healthy immune system and keeps infections from forming or becoming worse. Vitamin-C is also a natural antioxidant, so it defends against other infections and toxins as well, further boosting the immune system.

Skin disorders
Almost everyone knows that vitamin-E is good for the maintenance of skin and the prevention of premature aging symptoms. It keeps the skin young and glowing. This vitamin is also present in abundance in cumin. The essential oils present in cumin have disinfectant and antifungal properties. This prevents any microbial and fungal infection from affecting the skin. Not all skin issues are disorders or infections, some of them are simply signs of aging. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in this regard and combats the free radicals that attack the skin and result in signs of premature aging like wrinkles, age spots, and sagging skin. This, combined with the antibacterial capacity of cumin, makes for healthy, beautiful skin that lasts far into your old age.

Boils are outlets for the removal of toxic substances and foreign matters such as microbes from the body. This means that they are symptoms which show that a high amount of toxic substances have accumulated in the body. In this way, cumin can help you a great deal. Those who regularly use cumin in food have a significant reduction in the occurrence of boils, rashes, pimples, and other signs of excess toxin content. Components such as cuminaldehyde, thymol, and phosphorus are good detoxifying agents which help in the regular removal of toxins from the body. The healthy way of removing toxins is through the excretory system, not through boils.

Other benefits
Even more? Cumin is also beneficial in treating renal coli, weak memory, insect bites and painful stings. It is also very good for lactating mothers. With all of these benefits, how could you say no? Add some cumin to your diet as soon as you can!


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Posted: Feb 14, 2014 1:01pm
Feb 13, 2014

Nutrition science is full of contradictions. Now there may be one more paradoxical dietary rule to keep you perpetually confused: full-fat diary products may help you keep the pounds off.
That's according to two new studies that found those who enjoyed a relatively high intake of whole-fat milk, butter and cream were less likely to be obese than those who stuck to a more moderate dairy fat diet or rarely ate high-fat dairy.

The studies
In one paper, published by Swedish researchers in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, middle-aged men who consumed high-fat milk, butter and cream were significantly less likely to become obese over a period of 12 years compared to men who never or rarely ate high-fat dairy.
Yep, that's right. The butter and whole-milk eaters did better at keeping the pounds off.

The second study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, is a meta-analysis of 16 observational studies. There has been a hypothesis that high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity and heart disease risk, but the reviewers concluded that the evidence does not support this hypothesis. In fact, the reviewers found that in most of the studies, high-fat dairy was associated with a lower risk of obesity. 

What's the reason?
It's not clear what might explain this phenomenon. Lots of folks point to the satiety factor. The higher levels of fat in whole milk products may make us feel fuller, faster. And as a result, the thinking goes, we may end up eating less.
Or the explanation could be more complex. "There may be bio-active substances in the milk fat that may be altering our metabolism in a way that helps us utilize the fat and burn it for energy, rather than storing it in our bodies," says Greg Miller, executive vice president of the National Dairy Council.

Conflicting results
Previous studies have found that this puzzling pattern holds true for children.
And while other studies have suggested a link between high-fat dairy and heart disease, these latest studies found no consistent association between the two. They did find, however -- as previous research has -- that eating low-fat yogurt lowers rates of diabetes risk, whereas high-fat dairy had no correlation.

Bottom line
So, where does this leave us, the rule-followers, who have complied with the skim-milk-is-best edict?
Well, opinions differ. The recommendations that led to the fat-free dairy boom were, in part, born out of concerns about cholesterol. Whole-milk dairy products are relatively high in saturated fat. And eating too much saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease. So many experts would agree that adults with high cholesterol should continue to limit dairy fat.
But it's also becoming clear that there are benefits to full-fat dairy too, at least for some consumers.
In addition to the body weight association, organic whole milk contains beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. However, the bioactive properties of dairy fat varies from product to product, scientists say. As such, more studies are needed to understand exactly what's going in the bodies of high-fat dairy users that helps them keep the weight off.


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Posted: Feb 13, 2014 1:46pm
Feb 10, 2014

Parmigiano-Reggiano (also known as Parmesan cheese) is a hard granular cheese with a long and natural maturation. It’s a highly concentrated cheese and contains only 30% water and 70% nutrients. This means that Parmigiano-Reggiano is very rich in protein, vitamin and mineral. Extraordinary, highly digestible, totally natural: Parmigiano-Reggiano is the King of Cheese. Look the infographic and discover the values of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

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Posted: Feb 10, 2014 11:58am
Feb 6, 2014

Searching for the recipe for a good night’s sleep? It could be as simple as a glass of milk and a few handfuls of nuts. Scientists studied diets and sleep patterns of more than 4,500 adults and found that certain minerals and acids are linked to better sleep.
Their report suggests that a late-night snack of Brazil nuts – which are packed with selenium and potassium – washed down with a calcium-rich glass of milk contains all the ingredients you need for a satisfying sleep.
Lead author Dr Michael Grandner of Pennsylvania University, said: 'These findings suggest potentially natural and common-sense solutions to sleep problems. Although there is still important work that needs to be done on cause-and-effect, there is a lot of research showing that non-medication approaches can be very helpful. Even sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia can be very effectively treated.'

Researchers quizzed 4,548 adults on their health, diet, lifestyle and sleep. Women on the lowest incomes were most prone to having difficulty in getting a good night’s rest. But even taking into account age, sex, education, salary, weight an mental health, several elements of food were seen to be significantly linked to satisfying sleep patterns.
Odds of having trouble dropping off were reduced by 20% where dietary intake of the mineral selenium was doubled and by 17% for calcium. Greater consumption of carbohydrate, butanoic and dodecanoic acids – both abundant in milk – and vitamin D were linked with experiencing unbroken slumber. Meanwhile, the chances of suffering lingering lethargy or tiredness the following day were cut by 30% where there was twice as much potassium in the diet and 19% for additional calcium.

Poor sleep was associated with two fats commonly found in butter and cheese – hexanoic and hexadecanoic acid – and also salt and drinking lots of fluids.

'The importance of diet is often overlooked when dealing with these sorts of problems'. Dr. Grandner said. 'Diet, sleep, physical activity, and other parts of a healthy lifestyle have an impact on many systems in the body and, ultimately, play a role in how we think, feel, and act'.


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Posted: Feb 6, 2014 1:14pm
Feb 4, 2014

It’s time to change our fruit eating habits. All of us have been enjoying the pulp of most of the fruits, and have been throwing away the peels.
But, if you need the entire nutrition of the fruit, you need to give some exercise to the jaws by eating the peels along with the fruit. Just ensure that you wash the fruit thoroughly before eating. Studies have proved that most of the antioxidants are present in the peels and pith of the fruit than in the pulp. Fruit peels are rich source of dietary fiber that plays a vital role in keeping constipation at bay and reducing the colon cancer risk. The cancer-fighting phytochemicals are abundant on the peels than in the pulp of a fruit. Peels work great in lowering LDL cholesterol levels as they have low calories, sugar and fats. Peels also make you feel full, hence are good for those on a diet.
Check out some health benefits of eating different fruit peels and vegetable skin, stems and leaves.

Apple skin, a rich source of nutrients
Research from Cornell University has found that the chewy apple peel has up to 87% more cancer-fighting phytochemicals than the sweet white flesh inside.
Other powerful properties in apple peels:

  • quercetin, a flavonoid found in high concentrations in apple skins, is known for its ability to ease hay fever, eczema, sinusitis and even asthma. The quercetin in apple skins is also revered for its ability to reduce your risk for heart disease;

  • one study even suggests that consumption of whole Braeburn apples (skin and all) may be a good way to protect yourself from UV-B sun exposure.

Citrus fruit peels are high in antioxidants

Orange and tangerine peel is high in powerful antioxidants called super-flavonoids, which can significantly reduce levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, without lowering the ‘good’ HDL levels.

The antioxidants obtained from the peel were 20 times more ­owerful than those from the juice, according to a U.S. study.
The same goes for all citrus fruits. The white pith ­contains high levels of pectin, a component of dietary fibre known to lower ­cholesterol and colonise the gut with beneficial bacteria. Furthermore, the outer peel contains d-limonene, the mortal enemy of UV rays everywhere. A University of Arizona study found that eating one teaspoon of citrus peel per week reduced skin cancer risk by 30%.
Tip: add grated citrus peel to cauliflower cheese or cakes and muffins for a zesty health kick — or throw the whole, unpeeled fruit into a juicer so you get all the benefits.

Kiwi fruit skin hidden benefits
The hairy skin of the kiwi fruit may taste tart, but it’s too good to waste. It contains three times the antioxidants of the pulp, giving it anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti allergenic properties. It also fights off bugs, such as Staphylococcus and E-coli, which are responsible for food poisoning.
Tip: if you can’t bear to eat it raw, use the skin with other fruits, such as banana in a smoothie.

Banana peels increase your serotonin levels
Banana peels contain vitamins B6 and B12, magnesium, and potassium. The peel also contains more fiber than the banana flesh, which can help aid digestion. Another benefit of banana peels is that they contain tryptophan, which can increase your serotonin levels, which researchers have found impacts your mood. Having good blood serotonin levels can help reduce the risk of depression due to this mood-stabilizing effect. The skin was also found to be good for eyes, as it contains the antioxidant lutein, which protects eye cells from exposure to ultraviolet light — a leading cause of cataracts.
Tip: boil the peel for ten minutes, then drink the cooled water or put it through a juicer and drink the juice.

Peaches peel lowers the risk of hearth disease
Peaches are an often overlooked super fruit. High in potassium and vitamin A, which help to revitalise and hydrate the skin, eating the peel can boost the immune system, remove toxins from the body, maintain healthy skin, protect the eyes from developing cataracts and lower the risk of developing cancer, heart disease and arthritis.

Pears skin contains a potent antioxidant
Throw away the skin and you are throwing away the best bits. Pear skin isn’t just packed full of fibre, it also contains a higher concentration of vitamins and nutrients than the flesh itself.
These include chlorogenic acid, a potent anti-oxidant and the flavonoid phloretin, which has been shown in laboratory tests to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Watermelon rind improves body's circulation
Luckily, the health benefits of watermelon peel are not the hard, green peel itself—the health benefits of this fruit peel lies in the white rind that you probably leave behind when you’re done munching on a watermelon slice. Don’t forget to eat the white rind, because it contains the amino acid citruline, which helps dilate blood vessels to improve your body’s circulation, according to the findings of a USDA study.

Pumpkin, butternut and other squashes skin and seeds are  rich in valuable compounds
All squashes are high in zinc, which helps promote healthy skin and nails, and the antioxidant beta carotene which protects against heart disease and cancer. The skin itself is obviously too tough to eat, but the closer you scrape it against the skin for the pulp — where it’s more of a rich, orange colour — the more nutrients you’ll get.
And don’t ditch the seeds, either — these are an excellent source of Omega 6 and essential fatty acids that keep your brain healthy.
Tip: wash the seeds in warm water and bake with a drizzle of olive oil for about 20 minutes. Use to sprinkle on salads and soups.

Potato skin, a nutritional powerhouse
Most people know potato skins are healthy, but few are aware of the reason why. It’s because the skin is a real nutritional powerhouse. Just one fist-sized potato skin provides half your daily ­recommended intake of soluble fibre, potassium, iron, phos­horous zinc and vitamin C. Potatoes ­contain more vitamin C than oranges, so are perfect for anyone looking to ward off colds.
Tip: bake whole as ­jackets, boil and mash with the skin on, or slice into wedges, toss in a ­little olive oil and bake for potato wedges.

Cucumber peel keeps your skin healthy and young
Next time you want a snack, choose a cucumber—and don’t peel it. Cucumber peels contain silica, a chemical that helps build collagen, which is vital for making your skin last longer than ever. Even one cucumber peel—which is about five milligrams of silica—will make a difference. Make sure to wash cucumber peels carefully, and if you can afford it, buy organic, because non-organic cucumbers in particular are coated with wax to make them last longer.

Broccoli stalks are rich in vitamin C and broccoli leaves are rich in vitamin AThose neat little florets look more appealing, but there’s ­every reason to eat the stalks, too.Broccoli stalks can be less flavourful than the florets, but they are notably higher in calcium and vitamin C. The stalks are also high in soluble fibre, so you’ll feel fuller for longer.
Tip: simply shred the stalks into thin strips and add to stir-fry or serve steamed.
A one-ounce serving of broccoli leaves provides 90% of your daily vitamin A requirement (the florets deliver only 3%). 
Tip: cook the leaves as you would spinach. Blanch in boiling water, then sauté with olive oil, garlic, and salt.

Celery tops are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds
The leaves are brimming with five times more magnesium and calcium than the stalks. They're also a rich source of vitamin C and phenolics, potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Tip: Finely chop the leaves with parsley and stir into salsa, or use as a garnish on fish or chicken.

Onion and garlic skins are rich in anti-oxidants
The papery skin of onions contains more antioxidants than the onion itself. It's especially rich in quercetin, which may reduce blood pressure and prevent arterial plaque. How to eat them: Simmer in stocks, soups, and stews for additional flavor; discard the skins before serving.
Garlic skin contains six separate antioxidant compounds, according to research from Japan. Peeling garlic cloves removes the ­henylpropanoid antioxidants which help fight the ageing ­rocess and protect the heart.
Tip: drizzle olive oil over half or even a whole garlic head, then add to your baking tray when cooking a roast dinner or oven-baked Mediterranean vegetables.

Swiss chard stems boost immune system
A study by the Institute of Food Technology in Germany revealed that Swiss chard stems are loaded with glutamine, an amino acid that boosts the immune system and bolsters the body's ability to recover from injuries and surgery.
Tip: Bruce Sherman, a chef celebrated for his farm-fresh cuisine at Chicago's North Pond restaurant, ties the stems in bundles of six to eight with kitchen twine and braises them in vegetable stock, red wine vinegar, honey and garlic for 20 to 30 minutes.


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Posted: Feb 4, 2014 1:05pm
Feb 3, 2014

As amazing as it may seem, it is possible to boost your metabolism with metabolism foods. Since metabolism is basically how fast and efficiently your body burns the calories you eat every day, the idea is to eat only what your body needs for optimal cell function on a daily basis. That means choosing foods low in caloric value, but high in nutritional value. In addition, some of the foods found in nature can speed up your metabolism and help with fat burning.

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Posted: Feb 3, 2014 11:58am
Jan 30, 2014

Yogurt was a long-established staple in Eastern Europe and the Middle East before it reached our shores. Today, yogurt is commonly consumed by men, women, and children of all ages; walk into any supermarket, and you'll see the varieties and flavors of this nutritious food take up considerable space in the dairy section. Yogurt is one of the foods which are very simple but have a lot of benefits and do well to our bodies. Here you can read how including yogurt in your daily diet can make your body healthier.

Yogurt is easier to digest than milk
Many people who cannot tolerate milk, either because of a protein allergy or lactose intolerance, can enjoy yogurt. The culturing process makes yogurt more digestible than milk. The live active cultures create lactase, the enzyme lactose-intolerant people lack, and another enzyme contained in some yogurts (beta-galactosidase) also helps improve lactose absorption in lactase-deficient persons. Bacterial enzymes created by the culturing process, partially digest the milk protein casein, making it easier to absorb and less allergenic. While the amount varies among brands of yogurt, in general, yogurt has less lactose than milk. The culturing process has already broken down the milk sugar lactose into glucose and galactose, two sugars that are easily absorbed by lactose-intolerant persons.

Yogurt is packed with vitamins
One serving is a significant source of potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, iodine, zinc, and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). Yogurt also contains B12, which maintains red blood cells and helps keep your nervous system functioning properly. Vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal products, such as chicken and fish, so strict vegetarians can easily fall short. Eating more yogurt can help close the nutrient gap: an eight-ounce serving contains 1.4 micrograms of the vitamin, about 60% of what adult women need daily. 

Yogurt is a rich source of protein
Yogurt can be an excellent source of protein, but one variety may contain more than double the protein of another. Greek yogurt, which is strained to make it thicker, has up to 20 grams of protein per container; traditional yogurt may have as few as five grams. If you're eating it for the protein, look for brands that provide at least eight to 10 grams per serving.

Yogurt curbs your hunger

The protein in yogurt isn't only good for muscle repair and growth, it also also fills you up. Studies also suggest that a higher protein breakfast can curb hunger later in the day. In addition, a study from the University of Washington in Seattle tested hunger, fullness, and calories eaten at the next meal on 16 men and 16 women who had a 200-calorie snack. The snack was either:

  • Semisolid yogurt containing pieces of peach and eaten with a spoon
  • The same yogurt in drinkable form
  • A peach-flavored dairy beverage
  • Peach juice

Although those who had the yogurt snacks did not eat fewer calories at the next meal, both types of yogurt resulted in lower hunger ratings and higher fullness ratings than either of the other snacks.

Yogurt may help you lose weight
In addition to keeping you feeling full longer, Harvard researchers found that bacterial cultures in yogurt help to shed pounds. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that people who ate a serving of yogurt every day lost an average of one pound every four years. Previously, a University of Tennessee, Knoxville study showed that yogurt increases fat loss. People who ate 18 ounces of yogurt a day -- in conjunction with cutting their total calories -- lost 22% more weight and 81% more belly fat than dieters who skipped the snack. They also retained one-third more calorie-torching lean muscle mass, which can help you maintain weight loss.

Yogurt boosts the immune system

While much also remains to be learned about probiotics and the immune system, recent studies suggest that certain probiotic strains offer some benefits:

  • One review article suggests probiotics may help with inflammatory bowel disease by changing the intestinal microflora and lessening the immune system response that can worsen the disease.
  • Another study indicated probiotics may enhance resistance to and recovery from infection. In research on elderly people, researchers found that the duration of all illnesses was significantly lower in a group that consumed a certain probiotic found in fermented milk. They reported a possible 20% reduction in the length of winter infections (including gastrointestinal and respiratory infections).
  • Yogurt containing two probiotics, lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, was found to improve the success of drug therapy (using four specific medications) on 138 people with persistent H. pylori infections, according to a recent Taiwanese study. H. pylori is a bacterium that can cause infection in the stomach and upper part of the small intestine. It can lead to ulcers and can increase the risk of developing stomach cancer as well.

Yogurt is good for digestive system
There's some evidence that yogurt with active cultures may help certain gastrointestinal conditions, including:

  • Lactose intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Colon cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • H. pylori infection

That's what researchers from the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University concluded in a review article. The benefits are thought to be due to:

  • changes in the microflora of the gut
  • the time food takes to go through the bowel
  • enhancement of the body's immune system.

Yogurt is good for the bones
Yogurt is a good source of calcium and vitamin D, which are both necessary for maintaining healthy bones. Since it naturally contains calcium, you'd think the amount would be the same no matter which yogurt you pick. Wrong. The levels can vary widely from brand to brand, so you really need to check the label. How much is in a container depends on processing. For instance, fruit yogurt tends to have less calcium than plain because the sugar and fruit take up precious space in the container. Vitamin D isn't naturally in yogurt, but because it helps boost calcium absorption, most companies add it: it's really important to check the nutrition labels.

Yogurt may help lower blood pressure

Yogurt is rich in potassium, which can help to lower blood pressure. It's also high in calcium, a lack of which contributes to high blood pressure. One study, which followed more than 5,000 university graduates in Spain for about two years, found a link between dairy intake and risk of high blood pressure. "We observed a 50% reduction in the risk of developing high blood pressure among people eating 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy a day (or more), compared with those without any intake," Alvaro Alonso, MD, PhD, a researcher in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, says in an interview. Although most of the low-fat dairy consumed by the study subjects was as milk, Alvaro believes low-fat yogurt would likely have the same effect. Dutch researchers recently reported that higher dairy consumption (mainly from milk and yogurt) was modestly linked to lower blood pressure in 2064 Dutch men and women ages 50 to 75.

Yogurt can help your smile

Despite its sugar content, yogurt doesn't cause cavities. When scientists at Marmara University in Turkey tested low-fat, light, and fruit flavors, they found that none of them eroded tooth enamel, the main cause of decay. The lactic acid in yogurt appears to give your gums protection as well. People who eat at least two ounces a day have a 60% lower risk of acquiring severe periodontal disease than those who skip it.


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Posted: Jan 30, 2014 1:02pm
Jan 28, 2014

Legend and lore suggest chai tea was invented by a royal king in India who kept his recipe undisclosed and sacred. In fact chai tea is a product of Ayurveda, a science of India that dates as far back as five thousand years. Chai (which simply means 'tea' in India) does not refer to a particular type of tea but the manner in which it is prepared and served, with milk/cream and honey/sugar. Traditionally each family would have their own recipe of herbs and spices to mix and boil with tea leaves. This recipe was based on available ingredients and the constitutions of family members. Typically this is a highly potent blend that has myriad medicinal and health promoting properties.

As stated, chai is made using different formulas, depending on the region where it is being consumed, but there are a number of standard ingredients: black tea, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, clove and black pepper. When analyzing chai’s health benefits, it’s important to examine each ingredient in turn. Though they act synergistically to increase each other’s benefits, the separate botanical components have powerful health benefits on their own.

Black tea, source of antioxidants and low in caffeine
Tea has different antioxidants, including polyphenols and catechins. Although all types of tea contain these essential antioxidants, green tea has higher concentrations of catechins than black tea. Antioxidants, such as catechins, work to protect the cells from free radical damage. The polyphenols in tea also help to inhibit tumor growth in some animal and laboratory studies, according to the National Cancer Institute. The antioxidants may work to protect against the damage from ultraviolet rays and improve immune function.

Chai tea is low in caffeine: a typical cup of chai tea prepared as directed contains approximately 40mg of caffeine (4 oz of black tea) compared to roughly 120mg in an average cup of coffee. However, the caffeine in tea seems to work differently due to the interaction with a component of tea known as tannin, which has a calming effect on the nervous system. This causes the caffeine to be absorbed much more slowly, avoiding the caffeine "shock" and inducing a calm, relaxed yet focused state. Because chai doesn't have the caffeine "shock" of coffee, you can enjoy a few extra cups. Many people find they can even have it in the evening without disturbing sleep. (If you are highly sensitive to caffeine, however, try rooibos chai as it is naturally caffeine free.)

Black pepper aids in digestion and boosts your metabolism
Black pepper is one of the first ingredients to stimulate the body as it works with the taste buds and their relationship to the stomach.  The taste buds signal the stomach to excrete hydrochloric acid which is necessary for digestion of proteins and other food components.  If food goes undigested by the stomach it can sit sedentary for hours. This leads to symptoms of indigestion and/or heartburn.
In addition research shows that black pepper may affect our metabolism. The study demonstrated black pepper’s direct influence on fat storage, suggesting that it may be useful to prevent fat accumulation.

Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant effects
Cinnamon is considered to be one of the world’s oldest known spices.  There was a time when it was considered such a commodity it was used as a type of currency.  It is found in nearly every chai. It aids in digestion by calming the stomach, fighting bacteria and fungus.  Furthermore, research has shown that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant effects and studies found that it increases production of insulin. Cinnamon also enhances the effects of other herbs and bridges the gap between flavors.

Fennel supports liver, gallbladder, and spleen function
Fennel has also been well known for centuries by the Greeks, Egyptians, and Eastern cultures for its culinary and medicinal uses.  It is one of those super foods as it contains vitamin C and B, supports liver, gallbladder, and spleen function, as well as aiding in digestion by dispersing flatulence causing bacteria. Fennel is also a good source of fiber so it helps to keep the large intestine and colon healthy.

Ginger improves circulation, boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation
An important root used in Eastern medicine, ginger aids digestion, improves circulation, boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation, which can be especially helpful for people suffering from arthritis. It offers antioxidant support, and some research has also shown that ginger can help fight cancer cells. (Read all details and scientific evidence here: 

Cloves have analgesic and antimicrobial properties
Cloves are often found in various chai teas. They are revered for their ability to kindle the digestive fire, but they also have analgesic (pain relieving) properties and may help alleviate ulcer pains. In addition, cloves have antimicrobial action.

Nex time you're thinking what to drink... choose chai tea and enjoy its flavours and health benefits!


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Posted: Jan 28, 2014 1:08pm


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Cristiana Crestani
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