Antioxidents Protection

Are chilli peppers good for you?

Now research indicates that the chilli peppers may make our lives more interesting as well as also make them longer.

Now research indicates that the chilli peppers may make our lives more interesting as well as also make them longer.

We now know that chillies are also a good source of antioxidants. Forty-two grams of the spice would account for your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, although admittedly that would make for a pretty strong curry. They are also rich in vitamin A, as well as minerals such as iron and potassium.

Capsaicin has even been touted as a potential weight-loss tool. Research conducted this year by the University of Wyoming on mice that had been fed a high-fat diet found that the molecule increased metabolic activity in the animals, causing them to burn more energy and preventing weight gain. In another study, published last month in Plos One, researchers at the University of Adelaide found that the receptors in the stomach that interact with capsaicin play a role in sensing when we are full.

But what about heart disease and cancer? The recent study in China found a correlation between the consumption of spicy food and lower rates of death from those diseases – and laboratory research from the last 10 years suggests some possible reasons for that too.

In 2012, a team of nutritionists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, working with hamsters, found that capsaicin helped break down so-called “bad” cholesterol which might have clogged up the animals’ arteries, but it left alone the “good” cholesterol which helps remove it. There was a second benefit for cardiac health too – the capsaicin appeared to block the action of a gene that makes arteries contract, restricting blood flow.

Several studies have also indicated that capsaicin has powerful anti-cancer properties. It has been found to be helpful in fighting human prostate and lung cancer cells in mice, and there are also indications that it could be used as a treatment for colon cancer. It may also improve drug resistance for bile-duct cancer sufferers.

But before people make any radical changes to their diet, they are advised to wait for a clinical trial to be conducted using humans, not rodents.

“There are a lot of reports that say that capsaicin may be good for human health, especially with cancer,” says Zigang Dong at the Hormel Institute of the University of Minnesota. “However, there are other reports that show totally the opposite result.”

Dong is the co-author of a 2011 review, published in the journal Cancer Research, titled The Two Faces of Capsaicin, in which claims about the spice’s benefits for health are laid alongside a long list of counter-claims, pointing to negative effects.

The report details six studies on rats and mice in which the animals developed signs of cancer in the stomach or liver after their diet was changed to include more capsaicin. Meanwhile, studies examining the effects of capsaicin on the human stomach have delivered wildly divergent results. While one showed visible gastric bleeding after consumption of red pepper, another showed no abnormalities, even when ground jalapeno peppers were placed directly in the stomach.

“Probably it is harmful in the stomach or oesophagus because capsaicin itself can cause inflammation,” says Dong. “And if anything can cause inflammation or so-called burning effect, it must cause some cell deaths and therefore the long-term chronic inflammation is maybe harmful.”

Far from seeing the chilli’s piquancy as an evolutionary “trick” that we are clever enough to see through, as Joshua Tewksbury does, he sees it as a hint to eat the food in moderation – a hint that many of us are ignoring.

Capsaicin – and the chilli pepper – remains enigmatic. But whether it is a friend or foe, we’re exposing ourselves to it more and more. Between 1991 and 2011, global consumption of dry chillies increased by 2.5% per year, while our per capita intake increased by 130% in that time.

“There’s a worldwide huge consumption of this spice, or vegetable, or whatever you want to call it,” says Dong. “It’s consumed everywhere in the world. Therefore its impact is huge for human health.”

Capsaicin – a natural painkiller

Capsaicin creams and patches are available in chemists to ease pain. But it’s only in the past 20 years that we have come to understand the contradiction of how something that causes pain can ease it too.

Capsaicin binds to the pain receptor TRPV1, which our brains also use to detect changes in temperature – that’s why we think chillies are hot.

But after being over-stimulated the neurons stop responding, killing the pain. This process involves the release of endorphins, which can give us a “rush” not dissimilar from the feeling of having exercised well. This may explain why some people believe that hot food is addictive.

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Raspberries- why are they so good?

Raspberries- also known as Rubus idaeus, they belong to the same botanical family as the rose and the blackberry.

Raspberries- also known as Rubus idaeus, they belong to the same botanical family as the rose and the blackberry

Raspberries contain more vitamin C than oranges, are super high in fibre, low in calories and supply you with a good dose of folic acid.

Further to that, they are high in potassium, vitamin A and calcium. Who would have thought that you could find so much goodness in one humble berry?

They are thought to help pregnant women- it has been suggested that drinking raspberry leaf tea shortens the second stage of labour.

Scotland is famous for its raspberry growing. In the late 1950s, raspberries were brought down from Scotland to London on a steam train known as the Raspberry Special.

Raspberries are thought to been eaten since prehistoric times, but only began to be cultivated in England and France in about the 1600s.

They come in all sorts of colours- but raspberries can be red, purple, gold or black in colour. The gold ones are the sweetest variety, and very tasty.

To form new species, raspberries have been crossed with other berries. The loganberry is a cross between raspberries and blackberries; the boysenberry is a cross between red raspberries, blackberries and loganberries; the nessberry is a cross between a dewberry, raspberry and a blackberry.

Raspberries are deeply symbolic. In some kinds of Christian art, the raspberry is the symbol for kindness. The red juice was thought of as the blood running through the heart, where kindness originates.

In the Philippines, if you hang a raspberry cane from the outside of your house, evil spirits are supposed to be deterred.

In Germany, too, raspberry canes would be tied to the horse’s body in the belief that it would calm them down. So much power in one gentle cane!

They don’t continue to ripen when picked. Unlike many fruits, unripe raspberries do not ripen after they have been picked. There’s no softening up in the fruit bowl for the raspberry – once it’s picked, that’s your lot.

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Spices- are they good for your health?

Spices have been revered for their health benefits throughout history- but are they really good for your health?Spices- are they good for your health?According to Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient belief system in Hinduism, spices can be warming or cooling and are used to affect the balance of the digestive system.

“They act as a stimulus to the digestive system, relieve digestive disorders and some spices are of antiseptic value,” explains Dr Krishnapura Srinivasan, a scientist at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore, India.

It is not surprising that spices have become associated with dieting. As far back as 2500 years ago, the Chinese teacher and philosopher Confucius recommended eating ginger at every meal to improve digestion. But there is still no scientific consensus on how spices affect our health.

“There’s a perception that spices are good for dieting as this is often covered in the media; women will often latch on to anything that sounds as though it’s an easy way to lose weight,” explains Azmina Govindji, an award-winning dietician from the British Dietetic Association.

Scientists at the Human Performance Lab at Appalachian State University, North Carolina, US, recently studied whether culinary doses of red pepper and turmeric would reduce chronic inflammation in overweight females aged 40-72.

They hypothesised that inflammation in overweight people could be caused by oxidative stress. This is a process when chemically reactive molecules known as free radicals trigger physiological events or damage tissues.

But the results of the month-long clinical trial were negative. No evidence was found to suggest that red pepper or turmeric alters inflammation by influencing oxidative stress.

This could point to the need for higher doses and longer testing periods, scientists say. Or that the spices simply have no effect.

Cayenne pepper is another spice touted as a weight loss solution. You might have added it to poached eggs or corn on the cob, but how about eating it with maple syrup? Deep fried calamari with garlic and lemon mayonnaise Crispy calamari deep fried with cayenne pepper, salt and paprika

The cayenne pepper and maple syrup diet made headlines in 2007, when US singer Beyonce Knowles reported losing 20lb (9kg) after following it for two weeks.

So why is the spice hotly tipped as a solution to weight loss?

“There have been suggestions that red cayenne pepper may be a useful aid to weight management, especially in people who don’t normally eat chilli peppers,” says Ms Govindji.  “But this remains to be confirmed.”

The effect of red pepper on thermogenesis, a process which affects metabolism and appetite, was studied by scientists at Purdue University, Indiana in the US.

The study found that as body temperature increased, metabolic rate increased, and the desire to eat fatty foods was decreased in participants who ate red pepper as part of a meal compared to those who didn’t.

Another study by researchers at Kyoto University, Japan found that males in the country who consumed a normal diet along with a red pepper extract known as “CH19-Sweet” experienced slightly decreased body fat and weight loss after two weeks.

But can we draw any real conclusions from studies such as these?  Whether you’re taking a leaf out of the Hairy Dieters book and roasting some cumin-crusted vegetables, or cooking up a spiced apple and raisin crumble, ultimately it is not the spices alone that help you lose weight but how you cook with them.

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Antioxidant rich diet cuts heart attack risk

Eating lots of antioxidant rich fruit and vegetables does appear to cut the chance of having a heart attack according to research.Antioxidant rich diet cuts heart attack riskSwedish researchers estimate that eating a diet high in antioxidants – mainly derived from fruit and veg – could cut the chance of a heart attack by a quarter.

They believe that different antioxidant compounds could work together to protect the body in a much more powerful way than taking single large doses can achieve.

Specifically, the researchers found that older women ate seven fruit and vegetable portions a day, were between 20 and 29 per cent less likely to have a heart attack over a decade, than those who ate just 2.4.

Antioxidants are naturally occurring substances which mop up molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS), better known as ‘free radicals’.

These prompt inflammation, can damage cells, and have been implicated for triggering cancer and heart disease.

The researchers assessed antioxidant intake by looking at the diets of 30,000 Swedish women aged 49 to 83 at the start of the study.

Those with the highest antioxidant intake were 20 per cent less likely to have suffered a heart attack than those with the lowest intake, after statistically adjusting for a host of factors like differences in age, weight, and whether they smoked or exercised.

Women who ate a lot of fruit and vegetables also tended to eat less saturated fat. When the researchers adjusted for intake of fats, the difference in heart attack rates rose to 29 per cent. The study did not look at overall mortality.

Dr Alicja Wolk from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who was the lead researcher, said their research contrasted with tests of single antioxidant supplements, which have largely failed to find evidence that they cut heart attacks or mortality rates.

Pamela Hannley, managing editor of the American Journal of Medicine, where the report is published, said: “Although weight-loss diets abound, the few which emphasize increasing intake of fruits and vegetables actually may be on the right track.”

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Fish oil may double benefits of exercise for elderly

Eating a portion of oily fish such as salmon or mackerel three times a week could help to protect the muscles from deterioration in old age by doubling the benefits of exercise, experts claim.Fish oil may double benefits of exercise for elderlyAfter our mid thirties our body’s ability to build muscle through exercise alone begins to diminish, meaning it is difficult for older people to resist muscle wastage

A combination of regular doses of fish oil and gym exercises improved the muscular strength of a group of women in their late sixties by 20 per cent in a new study.

A control group who took part in the twice-weekly, 30-minute exercise sessions but did not take fish oil increased their muscle power by only 11 per cent.

Over the course of the 12-week study, those who took the fish oils also made noticeably larger improvements in tests of their balance, walking speed and time taken to get up from a chair.

Speaking at the British Science Festival, researchers from Aberdeen University said the difference could be down to the effects of DHA and EPA, types of Omega 3 fatty acid found in fish oil that have anti-inflammatory properties.

As a normal part of ageing, muscle size reduces by between 0.5 per cent and two per cent a year in older people, a condition known as sarcopenia.

After our mid-thirties our body’s ability to build muscle through exercise alone begins to diminish, meaning it is difficult for older people to resist muscle wastage.

Researchers said the fish oils could work by combating the low-level inflammation that is typical in older people and hampers the ability of the muscles to build power and mass.

Dr Stuart Gray said: “We’re trying to make older muscle adapt like younger muscle, and that’s where we think fish oil can come in.”

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Chocolate may help reduce stroke risk in men

Regularly eating chocolate may help men to decrease their risk of having a stroke according to new research.Chocolate may help reduce stroke risk in menResearchers writing in the journal Neurology found that of more than 37,000 men followed for a decade, those who ate the most chocolate – typically the equivalent of one -third of a cup of chocolate chips – had a 17 per cent lower risk of stroke than men who avoided chocolate.

The study is hardly the first to link chocolate to cardiovascular benefits, with several previous ones suggesting that chocolate fans have lower rates of certain risks for heart disease and stroke, like high blood pressure.

“The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate,” wrote Susanna Larsson, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who led the study.

Another study she conducted last year found similar results for women.

Flavonoids are compounds that act as antioxidants and may have positive effects on blood pressure, cholesterol and blood vessel function, according to studies.

For the study, 37,000 Swedish men aged 49 to 75 reported on their usual intake of chocolate and other foods. Over the next 10 years, 1,995 men suffered a first-time stroke.

Among men in the top 25 per cent for chocolate intake, the stroke rate was 73 per 100,000 men per year. That compared with a rate of 85 per 100,000 among men who ate the least chocolate, report the researchers.

Larsson’s team had information on other factors, such as the men’s weight and other diet habits, whether they smoked and whether they had high blood pressure. Even with those factors considered, men who ate the most chocolate had a 17 per cent lower stroke risk.

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Chocolate-may-help-reduce-stroke-risk-in-men

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Eating nuts in pregnancy reduces chance of childhood allergies

Pregnant mothers should eat nuts as it reduces the chances of their children developing allergies new research has found.Eating nuts in pregnancy reduces chance of childhood allergiesChildren of women who eat peanuts and other nuts during pregnancy are a third less likely to suffer from asthma by the age of seven, compared to those whose mothers avoid them, researchers discovered.

For years pregnant women were advised against eating nuts of any kind due to concerns that they could increase the risk of allergies in their offspring.

But in 2009, the Food Standards Agency revised its advice, stating there was “no clear evidence that eating or not eating peanuts during pregnancy, breastfeeding or early childhood has any effect on the chances of a child developing a peanut allergy”.

Now Danish researchers have gone a step further – finding that eating nuts while expecting has a protective effect on babies.

British experts said they hoped the “robust” study would help discredit the myth that foods containing nuts were somehow intrinsically dangerous for most children.

The new study looked at more than 60,000 mothers and their children, following them from early pregnancy until the children were seven.

Nut eating during pregnancy reduced the chance of a child being classes as asthmatic at 18 months by about a quarter, and a third at seven years.

Writing in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Ekaterina Maslova and colleagues from the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, said: “We found that maternal peanut and tree nut intake one or more times per week during pregnancy decreases the risk of allergic disease in childhood. These results do not support avoidance of nuts during pregnancy.”

Colin Michie, chairman of nutrition at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, hoped women would take note of the findings, which mirrored others showing early exposure to nuts was beneficial for the developing immune system.

He went on: “Recent studies such as this robust research show the truth of granny’s wisdom, that a little bit of everything tends to be good for you.

“If your body has experienced something before, it’s not going to think that it’s an enemy and come out fighting against it, which is what happens with an allergic response.”

“Scientifically speaking, if you have antigens that are present when you are building up your immune repertoire as a foetus and infant, you are less likely to regard something as foreign or dangerous when you encounter large quantities of it.”

This school of thought is exactly the same as that in the hygiene hypothesis, which contends that growing up in a home that is too clean is bad for a child, as it prevents exposure to bugs that stimulate the immune system.

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Eating-nuts-in-pregnancy-reduces-chance-of-childhood-allergy

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Superfoods- scientifically speaking what are they?

Superfoods is yet another ambiguous food phrase to go along with “all-natural,” “no sugar added,” and “no artificial flavours or colours”.Superfoods- scientifically speaking what are they?There really are foods that many nutritionists consider superfoods. But these foods won’t come from your nearest take away or processed, pre-packaged food from the grocery store.

Why? Because they are all going to be a real (unprocessed) food.

What makes them so super? There isn’t a universally or nutritionally tested way of determining what foods are actually “super.”

But many health experts consider any whole food that is low in calories and has a high nutrient density or above average nutritional benefits is a superfood.

These nutritional benefits vary greatly depending upon the particular superfood, but according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), many of these antioxidant-rich foods may help reduce your risk for fatal diseases like cancer. In fact, according to the 2011 ACS Guidelines for Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention, a third of the annual cancer deaths in the United States are caused by poor diet and lack of adequate physical activity.

Here are three nutritious, real, and tasty foods that could easily be considered superfoods because of their numerous health benefits. The etxra good news is that they are all in season?

Blueberries — These sweet and naturally blue berries are crammed with disease-fighting antioxidants, known to help alleviate the damage done by inflammation. Other benefits come in the form of ellagitannin and anthocyanin, both of which are believed to be effective against certain types of cancers, including breast and esophageal cancers. They are great in smoothies or as a sweet pairing with some grilled pork chops fresh off the barbecue.

Red bell peppers — While all peppers are low in calories and are a healthy option for any meal, red peppers — which taste sweeter and aren’t as spicy as other varieties — pack a special nutritional punch. They contain 11 times more beta-carotene than green bell peppers and also give you 240 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin C. Fajitas, anyone?

Watermelon — Yes, it’s hard to believe, but this tasty summer treat provides some awesome nutritional support for your body. Aside from refreshing you on a hot day, this fruit also delivers significant amounts of lycopene, a carotenoid present in many superfoods. A recent study led by food scientists at Florida State University even suggests that watermelon can be an effective weapon against prehypertension, a precursor to cardiovascular disease.

So now you have a little background into what makes a food “super.”

Hopefully this has got you thinking about the foods you’re putting in your body and how they might be affecting your long term health.

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Diet high in fish and nuts could cut pancreatic cancer risk

Eating a diet rich in fish, nuts and vegetables could reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by up to two thirds new research finds.Diet high in fish and nuts could cut pancreatic cancer riskResearchers from the University of East Anglia found that people who ate large amounts of vitamins C and E and the mineral Selenium were 67 per cent less likely to develop the condition than people who consumed lower quantities.

If further studies prove that the antioxidants were causing the added protection, the finding could prevent one in 12 cases of pancreatic cancer, the researchers suggested.

The disease is diagnosed in 7,500 people each year and has the worst prognosis of any cancer, with only three per cent of patients surviving for more than five years after diagnosis.

The study, published in the Gut journal- the International Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, used data on almost 24,000 men and women aged 40 to 74, taking into account all the food they ate during a week and how it was prepared.

Results showed that the 25 per cent of people who took in the most selenium – a mineral found in nuts, fish and cereals, had half the risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with those whose intake was in the bottom 25 per cent.

Those who were in the top quartile for consumption of vitamins C, E and selenium together were at 67 per cent lower risk of the disease compared to the bottom quartile.

However, in the cases of vitamins C and E, the people consuming the highest amounts were taking in as much as 16 times the recommended daily allowance stipulated by the NHS.

Vitamin C is found in fruit and vegetables, while vitamin E is in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, margarines and egg yolk.

The authors wrote: “If a causal association is confirmed by reporting consistent findings from other epidemiological studies, then population based dietary recommendations may help to prevent pancreatic cancer.”

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