Sunday, February 13, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Just a quick meal I put together. Nothing fancy, but def something filling and healthy :) I wanted to also list the benefits of each ingredient. I know it's long, but perhaps someone can benefit from this information. Here is my most recent vlog. If you haven't visited that channel, please stop by :)
Key Health Benefits of Cayenne Peppers
• This herb is a great food for the circulatory system in that it feeds the necessary elements into the cell structure of the arteries, veins and capillaries so that these regain the elasticity of youth again, and the blood pressure adjusts itself to normal. It rebuilds the tissue in the stomach and heals the stomach and intestinal ulcers; in equalizing the blood circulation, Cayenne produces natural warmth in your body; and in stimulating the peristaltic motion of the intestines, it aids in assimilation and elimination.
• Cayenne regulates the flow of blood from the head to the feet so that the pressure is equalized; it influences the heart immediately, then gradually extends its effects to the arteries, capillaries, and nerves (the frequency of the pulse is not increased, but is given more vigor).
• Human circulation; it is warming; dilating; specific for varicose veins; equalizes the blood pressure in the arterial and venous system; equalizes blood pressure instantly actually.
• Cayenne is useful in alleviating allergies, muscle cramp, improving digestion, gives more pep and energy, and helps wound healing with minimal scar tissue.
• Cayenne is a counter-irritant; it brings blood to the surface and allows the toxins to be taken away.
In an article reported on March 16, 2006 by Reuters, the main ingredient in Cayenne, capsaicin, was found to destroy prostate cancer cells. Here is what the article said,
"Capsaicin led 80 percent of human prostate cancer cells growing in mice to commit suicide in a process known as apoptosis, the researchers said. Prostate cancer tumors in mice fed capsaicin were about one-fifth the size of tumors in untreated mice, they reported in the journal Cancer Research. 'Capsaicin had a profound anti-proliferative effect on human prostate cancer cells in culture,' said Dr. Soren Lehmann of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine."
• Capsicum supports the natural beat (rhythm) of the viscera and interior actions of the glandular, circulatory, lymphatic, and digestive systems. It has been used with great success as a cure for spotted fever (?); the most active stimulant to support and re-animate feeble or exhausted powers.
• This is a medicine of great value in the practice, and may be safely used in all cases of disease, to raise and retain the internal vital heat of the system, cause a free perspiration, and keep the determining powers to the surface. The only preparation is to have it reduced to a fine powder. For a dose, take from half to a teaspoonful in hot water or tea sweetened with honey.
• Dr. Coffin includes cayenne pepper in his composition powder to restore the normal function of the body in the various stages of pregnancy and childbirth. For morning sickness he recommends a combination of ‘White poplar bark, agrimony, centaury, raspberry leaves, yarrow and rhubarb, each a quarter of an ounce, steep in two quarts of water, strain, and add while hot two teaspoons of powdered cinnamon, half a teaspoonful of Cayenne pepper, and let the patient take one tablespoonful every three hours until the symptoms are removed if this should not relieve, give an emetic and repeat if necessary.
• Great for heartburn.
• Capsicum is a powerful rubefacient.
• Capsicum is a general nervous stimulant; a specific for delirium tremens.
• For atonic gout, in paralysis, in dropsy, in tympanitis, and in the debilitated stages of fever.
• For scrofulous; dyspepsia; flatulence; it's an excellent carminative.
• For sore throats—gargle (prepare the gargle with honey); for spasmodic and irritating coughs; heartburn and diarrhea;
• Enables feeble stomachs to digest food; for atonic dyspepsia; specific for hemorrhoids; cures intermittent fever; Capsicum has the power to control menorrhagia; relieves sea-sickness;
• In delirium tremens it is beneficial by enabling the patient to retain and digest food.
• Capsicum is particularly efficient in tonsillitis, and the sore throat of scarlet fever and in diphtheria no application is so efficient as a strong gargle or wash make with Capsicum.
• Promote digestion; relieves pains of the womb; removes obstructed menstruation; for quinsy; for all diseases of the throat; use as a plaster with honey for rheumatic pains, pains of the joints, gout, swellings, etc.; Use outwardly as a liniment, apply it warm or hot for arthritis and rheumatism; gargle for scarlet fever; use an infusion for ulcers in the mouth, strep throat or tonsillitis. (p.103)
• Cayenne is an excellent remedy for a cold; mix infusion with slippery elm and molasses or honey, and take in doses throughout the day; also excellent for sore throat and coughs.
• Cayenne mixed with pennyroyal (an herb) taken for three days will expel the dead birth material from a miscarriage.
• Eases toothache; preserves the teeth from rotting, and when rubbed on the gums, stimulates them enough to prevent pyorrhea.
• Excellent for any type of internal hemorrhage, (create an infusion with bethroot or star root);
• Capsicum is an important remedy in cholera; Capsicum stops vomiting; combine with equal parts of Capsicum and common table salt, one half ounce of each, one pint of good vinegar, give in tablespoon doses for cholera, vomiting "cholera morbus" -- the gross material associated with cholera from the system
• In chronic lumbago a plaster of Capsicum with garlic, pepper and liquid amber (silarasa) or storax is an efficient stimulant and rubefacient application. (p105)
• When made into a lozenge with sugar and tragacanth it is a remedy for hoarseness.
• For a carminative make pills of equal parts of Capsicum, rhubarb and ginger or aloes.
• Combine Capsicum with cinchona for intermittent and lethargic affections and for atonic gout and in advanced stages of rheumatism.
• Combine with asafoetida and sweet flag root or camphor in the form of pills in cases of cholera.
• Capsicum has a powerful action on the mucous membrane, and in hoarseness and sore throat, and in putrid throat a gargle made of Capsicum is particularly beneficial.
• By pouring hot vinegar upon the fruits of Capsicum all the essential qualities are preserved. This vinegar is an excellent stomachic.
• The whole plant steeped in milk is successfully applied to reduce swellings and hardened tumors.
• An infusion with cinnamon and sugar is a valuable drink for patients suffering from delirium tremens as it satisfies the craving in dipsomaniacs. A dose of ten grains of finely powdered capsicum seed, given with an ounce of hot water, two or three times a day, sometimes shows wonderful effects in cases of delirium tremens.
• Capsicum can be used in the treatment of a snake bite.
• As well as the fruit being used as a spice, the leaves were applied to ulcers and headaches. (p.111)
• Capsicum is given internally in atonic dyspepsia and flatulence. It is used externally as a counter-irritant in the form of ointment, plaster, medicated wool, etc. for the relief of rheumatism and lumbago.
• Oral administration of Capsicum may stimulate the gall bladder reflex.
• Capsicum either contains a cholagogue, or acts as a powerful stimulus upon the mucous membrane of the duodenum.
• Cayenne pepper is forgotten therapeutic agent against anorexia, liver congestion, and vascular troubles. Capsicum is highly effective in causing hemorrhoids to regress; and these fruits have the same action on varicose veins. The results are attributed to alkaloids or glucosides in the peppers.
• Excessive amounts of Capsicum (above 20 grams, thus, nearly an ounce) may induce frequent bowel movements.
• Cayenne stimulates the appetite, more especially as a hot climate tends to produce anorexia. We have always held the saliva is the key that unlocks the door to digestion. Capsicum, a sialogogue, will stimulate the flow of saliva and will be very helpful to people who have become accustomed to ‘inhaling’ their food and thus robbing themselves of the benefits of saliva in the digestive process. Capsicum would stimulate their flow of saliva as they return to a healthier attitude toward eating.
• Capsicum may be valuable in the prevention and treatment of blood clots.
• Cayenne pepper is very soothing; it is effective as a poultice for rheumatism, inflammation, pleurisy, and helpful also if taken internally for these. For sores and wounds it makes a good poultice. It is a stimulant when taken internally as well as being antispasmodic. Good for kidneys, spleen and pancreas; wonderful for lockjaw; will heal a sore ulcerated stomach; Capsicum is a specific and very effective remedy for yellow fever, as well as other fevers and may be taken in capsules followed by a glass of water. (p. 119).
Red Kidney Beans Health Benefits
Kidney beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, kidney beans' high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as rice, kidney beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein. But this is far from all kidney beans have to offer. Kidney beans are an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites. Just one cup of cooked kidney beans supplies 177.0% of the daily value for molybdenum. Sulfites are a type of preservative commonly added to prepared foods like delicatessen salads and salad bars. Persons who are sensitive to sulfites in these foods may experience rapid heartbeat, headache or disorientation if sulfites are unwittingly consumed. If you have ever reacted to sulfites, it may be because your molybdenum stores are insufficient to detoxify them.
A Fiber All Star
Check a chart of the fiber content in foods and you'll see legumes leading the pack. Kidney beans, like other beans, are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber. A cup of cooked kidney beans provides 45.3% of the recommended daily intake for fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that binds with bile (which contains cholesterol)and ferries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.
Lower Your Heart Attack Risk
In a study that examined food intake patterns and risk of death from coronary heart disease, researchers followed more than 16,000 middle-aged men in the U.S., Finland, The Netherlands, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Greece and Japan for 25 years. Typical food patterns were: higher consumption of dairy products in Northern Europe; higher consumption of meat in the U.S.; higher consumption of vegetables, legumes, fish, and wine in Southern Europe; and higher consumption of cereals, soy products, and fish in Japan. When researchers analyzed this data in relation to the risk of death from heart disease, they found that higher legume consumption was associated with a whopping 82% reduction in risk! !
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as kidney beans, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily. Those eating the most water-soluble dietary fiber fared even better with a 15% reduction in risk of CHD and a 10% risk reduction in CVD.
Kidney beans' contribution to heart health lies not just in their fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate and magnesium these beans supply. Folate helps lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle. Elevated blood levels of homocysteine are an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease, and are found in between 20-40% of patients with heart disease. It has been estimated that consumption of 100% of the daily value (DV) of folate would, by itself, reduce the number of heart attacks suffered by Americans each year by 10%. Just one cup of cooked kidney beans provides more than half (57.3%) of the recommended daily intake for folate.
Kidney beans' good supply of magnesium puts yet another plus in the column of its beneficial cardiovascular effects. Magnesium is Nature's own calcium channel blocker. When there is enough magnesium around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is not only associated with heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart. Want to literally keep your heart happy? Eat kidney beans--a one cup serving provides 19.9% of your daily needs for magnesium.
Kidney Beans Give You Energy to Burn While Stabilizing Blood Sugar
In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, kidney beans can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Studies of high fiber diets and blood sugar levels have shown the dramatic benefits provided by these high fiber foods. Researchers compared two groups of people with type 2 diabetes who were fed different amounts of high fiber foods. One group ate the standard American Diabetic diet, which contained 24 grams of fiber/day, while the other group ate a diet containing 50 grams of fiber/day. Those who ate the diet higher in fiber had lower levels of both plasma glucose (blood sugar) and insulin (the hormone that helps blood sugar get into cells). The high fiber group also reduced their total cholesterol by nearly 7%, their triglyceride levels by 10.2% and their VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein--the most dangerous form of cholesterol) levels by 12.5%.
Iron for Energy
In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, kidney beans can increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with kidney beans is a good idea--especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, kidney beans are low in calories and virtually fat-free. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. And remember: If you're pregnant or lactating, your needs for iron increase. Growing children and adolescents also have increased needs for iron. A one cup serving of kidney beans provides 28.9% of the daily recommended intake for iron.
Maintain Your Memory with Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
Thiamin participates in enzymatic reactions central to energy production and is also critical for brain cell/cognitive function. This is because thiamin is needed for the synthesis of acetylcholine, the important neurotransmitter essential for memory and whose lack has been found to be a significant contributing factor in age-related impairment in mental function (senility) and Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is clinically characterized by a decrease in acetylcholine levels. Don't forget to make kidney beans a staple in your healthy diet: a one cup serving of cooked kidney beans provides 18.7% of the daily value for thiamin.
Manganese for Energy Production and Antioxidant Defense
Kidney beans are a good source of the trace mineral manganese which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), requires manganese. Just one cup of kidney beans supplies 42.0% of the DV for this very important trace mineral.
Protein Power Plus
If you're wondering how to replace red meat in your menus, become a fan of kidney beans. These hearty beans are a good source of protein, and when combined with a whole grain such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice provide protein comparable to that of meat or dairy foods without the high calories or saturated fat found in these foods. And, when you get your protein from kidney beans, you also get the blood sugar stabilizing and heart health benefits of the soluble fiber provided by these versatile legumes. A cup of kidney beans provides 15.3 grams of protein--that's 30.7% of the daily value for protein.
Antioxidant Benefits of Lycopene
In the area of food and phytonutrient research, nothing has been hotter in the last several years than studies on thelycopene in tomatoes. This carotenoid found in tomatoes (and everything made from them) has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. The antioxidant function of lycopene-its ability to help protect cells and other structures in the body from oxygen damage-has been linked in human research to the protection of DNA (our genetic material) inside of white blood cells. Prevention of heart disease has been shown to be another antioxidant role played bylycopene.
In contrast to many other food phytonutrients, whose effects have only been studied in animals, lycopene from tomatoes has been repeatedly studied in humans and found to be protective against a growing list of cancers. These cancers now include colorectal, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers. While lycopene may play an important role in tomatoes' health benefits, it seems that it is not the only nutritional star integral for giving this food a red-hot reputation for health promotion; recent research discussed below in the section "Protection Due to Synergy of Tomato's Nutrients, Not Just Lycopene" describes how scientists are finding out that it is the array of nutrients included in tomatoes, including, but not limited to lycopene, that confers it with so much health value. All the while, it's still important to understand the many benefits that lycopene provides.
For the most lycopene, choose organic
Organic ketchup delivers three times as much of the cancer-fighting carotenoid, lycopene, as non-organic brands.
Lycopene has been shown to help protect not only against prostate, but breast, pancreatic and intestinal cancers, especially when consumed with fat-rich foods, such as avocado, olive oil or nuts. (This is because carotenoids are fat-soluble, meaning they are absorbed into the body along with fats.)
When Betty Ishida and Mary Chapman at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Albany, CA, decided to investigate whether the lycopene content of purple and green varieties of ketchup was comparable to that of the traditional red, they tested lycopene levels and antioxidant activity in 13 ketchup brands: 6 popular ones, 3 organic and 2 store brands from fast-food chains.
Purple, green and red varieties of ketchup all delivered similar amounts of lycopene (although dark red ketchup contained slightly more), but a major difference was discovered between organic and non-organic brands. Organic ketchups far surpassed their non-organic counterparts' in lycopene content.
One organic brand delivered 183 micrograms of lycopene per gram of ketchup, about five times as much per weight as a tomato.
Non-organic brands averaged 100 micrograms per gram, with one fast-food sample providing just 60 micrograms per gram.
Bottomline: It seems highly likely the same rationale will apply to all tomato products, so, for the most lycopene, choose the deepest red organic ketchup, tomato sauce, juice and other tomato products.
A study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that in patients with colorectal adenomas, a type of polyp that is the precursor for most colorectal cancers, blood levels of lycopene were 35% lower compared to study subjects with no polyps. Blood levels of beta-carotene also tended to be 25.5% lower, although according to researchers, this difference was not significant. In their final (multiple logistic regression) analysis, only low levels of plasma lycopene (less than 70 microgram per liter) and smoking increased the likelihood of colorectal adenomas, but the increase in risk was quite substantial: low levels of lycopene increased risk by 230% and smoking by 302%.
Tomatoes have been shown to be helpful in reducing the risk of prostate cancer.
A 14-month study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute underscores the importance of a healthy whole foods diet rich in tomatoes in the prevention of prostate cancer. In this study, laboratory animals fed a lycopene-rich diet and treated with N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (a carcinogen) and testosterone to induce prostate cancer had a similar risk of death from prostate cancer as rats fed a control diet. In contrast, animals fed whole tomato powder were 26% less likely to die of prostate cancer. By the end of the study, 80% of the control group and 72% of the animals fed lycopene had succumbed to prostate cancer, while only 62% of the animals fed whole tomato powder had died.
In addition to the controls and those animals receiving lycopene or tomato powder, each group was also divided into two sub-groups, one of which was given 20% less food than the other sub-group. Animals on the energy-restricted, tomato-based diet fared best of all, showing a 32% drop in their risk of dying from prostate cancer.
Researchers concluded this was due to the fact that tomatoes contain not merely lycopene, but a variety of protective phytonutrients and suggest that the lycopene found in human prostate tissue and the blood of animals and humans who remain free of prostate cancer may indicate exposure to higher amounts of not just lycopene but other compounds working in synergy with it. Study leader, Dr. Steven Clinton, Ohio State University, commented, "Our findings strongly suggest that risks of poor dietary habits cannot be reversed simply by taking a pill…if we want the health benefits of tomatoes, we should eat tomatoes or tomato products and not rely on lycopene supplements alone."
In an accompanying editorial, Peter H. Gann, of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University in Chicago, and Frederick Khachik, of the University of Maryland, College Park, remarked that this study supports those who advocate whole foods in the debate about whether cancer prevention is best achieved with whole foods or concentrated single compounds. They point out that carotenoids and other phytonutrients evolved as sets of interacting compounds, and that this complexity limits the usefulness of reductionist approaches that seek to identify single protective compounds.
More Studies Show Tomatoes Promote Prostate Health
A meta-analysis of 21 studies published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention confirms that eating tomatoes, especially cooked tomatoes, provides protection against prostate cancer. (Meta-analyses are considered the gold standard in medical research since, by combining the results of numerous studies, they integrate the results that occurred in different settings and include a much larger group of people, so they are thought to provide a more accurate assessment.)
When the data from all 21 studies was combined, men who ate the highest amounts of raw tomatoes were found to have an 11% reduction in risk for prostate cancer. Those eating the most cooked tomato products fared even better with a 19% reduction in prostate cancer risk. Even eating just one 6-ounce serving a day of raw tomato provided some benefit-a reduction in prostate cancer risk of 3%.
Tomatoes and Broccoli Team Up to Fight Prostate Cancer
Tomatoes and broccoli-two vegetables separately recognized for their cancer-fighting capabilities-are even more successful against prostate cancer when working as a team in the daily diet, shows a study published in Cancer Research.
"When tomatoes and broccoli are eaten together, we see an additive effect. We think it's because different bioactive compounds in each food work on different anti-cancer pathways," said John Erdman, Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois.
Starting one month before male rats were implanted with prostate tumors, Erdman and doctoral candidate Kirstie Canene-Adams fed the animals one of 5 different diets. Then they compared the cancer-preventive effects of the diets to treatment with finasteride, a drug commonly prescribed for men with enlarged prostates, or surgical castration.
The diets contained one of the following: 10% tomato, 10% broccoli, 5% tomato plus 5% broccoli, 10% tomato plus 10% broccoli, or lycopene (23 or 224 nmol/g diet).
The tomato and broccoli given as powders made from the whole vegetable to compare the effects of eating the whole food to simply consuming one active compound as a nutritional supplement- in this case, lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes.
After 22 weeks, when the rats' were sacrificed and their prostate tumors weighed, the 10% tomato/broccoli combination was shown to greatly outperform all other diets, shrinking prostate tumors by 52%.
Broccoli alone decreased tumor weight by 42%, and tomato alone by 34%.
Lycopene alone (23 or 224 nmol/g diet) came in last, reducing tumor weight by 7% and 18% respectively.
Only castration-a last resort option for most men, although it resulted in a 62% reduction in prostate tumor weight-approached the level of protection delivered by the tomato/broccoli diet. Said Erdman, "As nutritionists, it was very exciting to compare this drastic surgery to diet and see that tumor reduction was similar."
"Older men with slow-growing prostate cancer who have chosen watchful waiting over chemotherapy and radiation should seriously consider altering their diets to include more tomatoes and broccoli," said Canene-Adams.
To get the prostate health benefits seen in this study, a 55-year-old man would need to consume 1.4 cups of raw broccoli and 2.5 cups of fresh tomato, 1 cup of tomato sauce or ½ cup of tomato paste daily, said Canene-Adams.
Erdman noted that this study shows eating whole foods is better than taking isolated nutrients. "It's better to eat tomatoes than to take a lycopene supplement-and cooked tomatoes may be better than raw tomatoes. Chopping and heating make the cancer-fighting constituents of tomatoes and broccoli more bioavailable," he said.
Practical Tips: While the phytonutrients in tomatoes become more concentrated when they are cooked into a sauce or paste, and more bioavailable when eaten with a little oil, those in broccoli will be greatly reduced if this vegetable is overcooked. Steam or healthy sauté broccoli no more than 5 minutes.
Also, broccoli's cancer-preventive compounds form after it has been cut, but heat denatures the enzyme necessary for this process. For optimal nutrient formation, cut broccoli florets in half or into quarters, depending on their initial size, and let sit for 5 minutes before cooking.
Broccoli and tomatoes can make a delicious team at virtually any meal or snack:
- Healthy sauté broccoli and onion, then add to your favorite breakfast omelet and serve with grilled tomatoes.
- Enjoy a bowl of tomato soup along with a salad including broccoli florets for lunch.
- Add lightly steamed broccoli florets to the tomato-paste toppings on your favorite pizza.
- Healthy sauté broccoli florets along with other favorite vegetables, such as onions and mushrooms, add to pasta sauce and use to top whole wheat pasta or brown rice.
- For a quick snack, serve raw broccoli florets along with the carrot and celery sticks, dip and crackers, and toast your prostate's health with a glass of tomato juice.
Tomatoes and Green Tea Team Up to Prevent Prostate Cancer
Choosing to eat lycopene-rich tomatoes and regularly drink green tea may greatly reduce a man's risk of developing prostate cancer, suggests research published the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Jian L, Lee AH, et al.)
In this case-control study involving 130 prostate cancer patients and 274 hospital controls, men drinking the most green tea were found to have an 86% reduced risk of prostate cancer compared, to those drinking the least.
A similar inverse association was found between the men's consumption of lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, apricots, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, and guava. Men who most frequently enjoyed these foods were 82% less likely to have prostate cancer compared to those consuming the least lycopene-rich foods.
Regular consumption of both green tea and foods rich in lycopene resulted in a synergistic protective effect, stronger than the protection afforded by either, the researchers also noted.
Practical Tips: Get in the habit of drinking green tea and eating lycopene-rich foods.
- Take a quart of iced green tea to work and sip throughout the day or take it to the gym to provide prostate protection while replenishing fluids after your workout.
- Pack a ziploc bag of apricots and almonds in your briefcase or gym bag for a handy snack.
- Start your breakfast with a half grapefruit or a glass of papaya or guava juice.
- Begin lunch or dinner with some spicy tomato juice on the rocks with a twist of lime. Snack on tomato crostini: in the oven, toast whole wheat bread till crusty, then top with tomato sauce, herbs, a little grated cheese, and reheat until the cheese melts.
- Top whole wheat pasta with olive oil, pine nuts, feta cheese and a rich tomato sauce for lunch or dinner.
One of the deadliest cancers, pancreatic cancer progresses so rapidly that individuals with the disease who are participating in studies often die before their interviews can be completed-so the benefits noted in the following study of a diet rich in tomatoes and tomato-based products are especially significant.
In this 3-year Canadian study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, individuals with pancreatic cancer were age and gender matched with individuals free of the disease. After adjustment for age, province, body mass index, smoking, educational attainment, dietary folate and total caloric intake, the data showed men consuming the most lycopene had a 31% reduction in their risk of pancreatic cancer.
Among persons who had never smoked, those whose diets were richest in beta carotene or total carotenoids reduced their risk of pancreatic cancer by 43% and 42%, respectively.
How Tomatoes Promote Optimal Health
Research by Dr. Joseph Levy and colleagues from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel, may have identified the unique mechanism through which lycopene protects against cancer: activating cancer-preventive phase II enzymes.
When the researchers incubated breast and liver cancer cells with lycopene, the carotenoid triggered the production and activity of certain phase II detoxification enzymes that other carotenoids, including beta-carotene, astaxanthin, and phytoene, did not. Since much epidemiological evidence indicates that lycopene acts synergistically with other phytonutrients to give tomatoes their protective effects, and recent studies have shown that eating tomato products prevents cancer more effectively than taking lycopene alone, the researchers concluded that other carotenoids stimulate phase II enzymes via different pathways from that used by lycopene.
Significant Anti-Oxidant Protection
In addition to their center-stage phytonutrient, lycopene, tomatoes are packed with traditional nutrients that have been shown in many studies to be helpful for all of the above conditions. For example, tomatoes are an excellent source ofvitamin C and vitamin A, the latter notably through its concentration of carotenoids including beta-carotene. These antioxidants travel through the body neutralizing dangerous free radicals that could otherwise damage cells and cell membranes, escalating inflammation and the progression or severity of atherosclerosis, diabetic complications, asthma, and colon cancer. In fact, high intakes of these antioxidants have been shown to help reduce the risk or severity of all of these illnesses.
In addition, tomatoes are a very good source of fiber, which has been shown to lower high cholesterol levels, keep blood sugar levels from getting too high, and help prevent colon cancer. A cup of fresh tomato will provide you with 57.3% of the daily value for vitamin C, plus 22.4% of the DV for vitamin A, and 7.9% of the DV for fiber.
Reduction in Heart Disease Risk
More good news for those at risk of atherosclerosis, or just trying to avoid it, is that tomatoes are a very good source ofpotassium and a good source of niacin, vitamin B6, and folate. Niacin has been used for years as a safe way to lower high cholesterol levels. Diets rich in potassium have been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Vitamin B6 and folate are both needed by the body to convert a potentially dangerous chemical called homocysteine into other, benign molecules. High levels of homocysteine, which can directly damage blood vessel walls, are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. All of these nutrients work together to make tomatoes a truly heart-healthy food. In a cup of tomato, you'll get 11.4% of the daily value for potassium, 5.6% of the DV for niacin, 7.0% of the DV for B6, and 6.8% of the DV for folate.
The lycopene in tomatoes may also provide cardiovascular benefits. Research conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, suggests that in addition to its inverse association with various cancers, a high dietary consumption of lycopene may play a role in cardiovascular disease prevention. The researchers tracked close to 40,000 middle-aged and older women who were free of both cardiovascular disease and cancer when the study began. During more than 7 years of follow-up, those who consumed 7 to 10 servings each week of lycopene-rich foods (tomato-based products, including tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato sauce and pizza) were found to have a 29% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to women eating less than 1.5 servings of tomato products weekly. Women who ate more than 2 servings each week of oil-based tomato products, particularly tomato sauce and pizza, had an even better result-a 34% lower risk of CVD.
Another study, this one conducted in Europe, also suggests that enjoying tomatoes raw or in the form of tomato sauce or paste several times each week is a delicious way to protect your cardiovascular system. This study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, reported that when a group of 12 healthy women ate enough tomato products to provide them with 8 mg of lycopene daily for a period of three weeks, their LDL cholesterol was much less susceptible to free radical oxidation-the first step in the formation of atherosclerotic plaque formation and a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Research showing tomatoes' cardiovascular benefits continues to accumulate. A study led by Dr. Howard Sesso and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition further supports Dr. Sesso's earlier studies, reported in the Journal of Nutrition, which found that women with the highest intake of lycopene-rich tomato-based foods had a significantly reduced risk of heart disease. This 4.8 year study, a prospective case-control trial involving almost 40,000 middle-aged and elderly women in the Women's Health Study, found that as the women's blood levels of lycopene went up, their risk for cardiovascular disease dropped.
Study subjects were divided into four groups in order of increasing blood levels of lycopene. A 34% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk was seen in women in the top two groups, but even women in the second highest group were still 22% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease compared to women in the lowest group. After excluding women with angina, those whose plasma lycopene levels were in the three highest groups were found to have a 50% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those with the lowest blood levels of lycopene.
Diets Rich in Tomato Products Significantly Improve Cholesterol Profiles
A high dietary intake of tomato products significantly reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels, while also increasing LDL's resistance to oxidation (damage by free radicals) in a study involving 21 healthy subjects published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Study volunteers followed a diet free of tomato products for 3 weeks, followed by a high tomato diet (13.5 ounces tomato juice and 1 ounce tomato ketchup daily). At the end of the high tomato diet period, study participants' total cholesterol levels had dropped an average of 5.9%, with LDL cholesterol levels reduced by 12.9%. Blood samples also showed increases in lycopene, beta-carotene and gamma-carotene-antioxidant carotenoids found in tomatoes-plus a 13% increase in the ability of circulating LDL cholesterol to resist oxidation. (Silaste ML, Alfthan G, et al., Br J Nutr.).
While drinking 13.5 ounces of plain tomato juice every day may seem a bit challenging, enjoying a cup of tomato juice with lunch, a cup of hot tomato juice into which an ounce of tomato ketchup has been stirred along with some freshly ground pepper as an afternoon "soup" break, and/or a Virgin Mary (the alcohol-free counterpart to the Blood Mary) before dinner would provide some taste diversity along with the amount of tomato products effective in the research.
Tomato Juices May Reduce Blood-Clotting Tendencies
Tomato juice can reduce the tendency toward blood clotting, suggests Australian research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In this study, 20 people with type 2 diabetes were given 250 ml (about 8 ounces) of tomato juice or a tomato-flavored placebo daily. Subjects had no history of clotting problems and were taking no medications that would affect blood clotting ability.
After just 3 weeks, platelet aggregation (the clumping together of blood cells) was significantly reduced among those drinking real tomato juice, while no such effect was noted in those receiving placebo.
In an interview, lead researcher Sherri Lazarus explained, "Diabetes is a multi-faceted disease with problems such as glucose intolerance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high triglycerides, and the less talked about hyperactive platelets.
Platelets are the parts of blood responsible for the preservation of healthy blood vessels. When the health of blood vessels is impaired, as in the case of diabetes, platelets stick to the lining of the vessel wall, which, over time, can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease. Aggregation is the clumping together and clotting of platelets. We looked at how susceptible the platelets were to clotting before and after the people with type 2 diabetes had taken tomato juice."
Although dietary strategies have been developed to address other known cardiovascular risk factors, currently there is no dietary strategy aimed at reducing high platelet activity. For persons with type 2 diabetes, tomato juice may be just what the doctor should order.
While of special benefit for those with type 2 diabetes who are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the blood thinning effects of tomato juice are noteworthy for anyone at higher risk of blood clot formation. Persons with high cholesterol, those whose work involves traveling long distances, who have recently undergone a surgical procedure or who smoke would benefit. But be sure to choose a low-sodium tomato juice; many "regular" tomato juice products are loaded with artery-unfriendly sodium.
Protection Due to Synergy of Tomato's Nutrients, Not Just Lycopene
Recent research clearly shows that tomatoes' protective effects against prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease are due not simply to their lycopene content, but result from the synergy of lycopene with other phytonutrients naturally present in whole tomatoes.
In addition to an animal study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that found whole tomato powder was significantly more effective than lycopene alone in preventing the onset of prostate cancer (summarized under prostate cancer) other research is now demonstrating that lycopene may play only a minor role in tomatoes' heart health benefits.
Animal research from Japan, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, suggests that a tomato-rich diet-which they call an anti-thrombotic diet-is a convenient and effective way to prevent thrombotic diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
Research conducted by Howard Sesso and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that women who consume the most tomato-containing products, particularly concentrated foods such as tomato sauce and pizza, have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Sesso and his team analyzed the results of a prospective cohort study of almost 40,000 middle-aged and older women who completed food frequency questionnaires over a 7.2 year period. At the beginning of the study, all participants were free of cardiovascular disease. During the study, 719 of the women developed cardiovascular disease. After Sesso et al. controlled for factors such as age, smoking, family history and other health indicators, the data revealed that women who consumed seven to ten servings of tomato-based foods each week (tomato juice, tomato sauce, pizza) had a 32% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than women who ate less than 1.5 servings of these tomato products each week.
Sesso et al. had decided to do this study to see if lycopene, a carotenoid abundant in tomatoes that other research has linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer, was also associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk. In this study, however, while consumption of tomato products, particularly tomato sauce and pizza, provided cardiovascular protection, dietary lycopene intake alone was not strongly associated with a reduction heart disease risk. The researchers theorize that other phytonutrients found in oil-based tomato products in addition to lycopene are responsible for the cardiovascular benefits seen.
Tomato Juice-a Natural Anti-Inflammatory
Italian researchers, publishing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry have reported that a daily glass of tomato juice (Lyc-o-Mato) can lower one of the primary markers of inflammation-TNF-alpha-by almost 35% in less than one month.
Oxidative stress (the production of excessive amounts of free radicals within cells) and the resulting recruitment of inflammatory compounds such as TNF-alpha have been linked to virtually all chronic degenerative diseases, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the walls of the arteries), cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease. Lyc-o-Mato tomato juice contains a mix of potent antioxidants including 5.7 mg of lycopene, 1 mg beta-carotene, 3.7 mg of phytoene, 2.7 mg of phytofluene, and 1.8 mg of the alpha-tocopherol fraction of vitamin E.
The placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover trial divided 26 young healthy volunteers into two groups. In three 26-day segments, Group One first was given a placebo juice (same taste and flavor but no active compounds), then nothing, then a daily glass of Lyc-o-Mato. Group 2 got Lyc-o-Mato first, then nothing, then placebo. Study subjects continued to eat their normal, unrestricted diet.
TNF-alpha levels decreased by 34% after 26 days' consumption of the tomato drink while no changes in TNF-alpha levels were seen after placebo.
Helping You Bone Up
Tomatoes are a very good source of vitamin K. The 17.8% of the daily value for vitamin K that is found in one cup of raw tomato is important for maintaining bone health. Vitamin K1 activates osteocalcin, the major non-collagen protein in bone. Osteocalcin anchors calcium molecules inside of the bone. Therefore, without enough vitamin K1, osteocalcin levels are inadequate, and bone mineralization is impaired.
Feeling Stressed? How about a Nice Cup of Gazpacho?
A Tufts University study published in the Journal of Nutritionshows that daily consumption of gazpacho (two bowls of 250 mL/day, corresponding to 72 mg of vitamin C, for two weeks) significantly increased blood levels of vitamin C and decreased biomarkers of oxidative (free radical) stress and inflammation.
Gazpacho, a Mediterranean vegetable soup that typically combines tomato, cucumber, and sweet pepper along with olive oil, onion, garlic, wine vinegar and sea salt, is replete, not only with vitamin C, but a variety of other nutrients associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease, including other antioxidants, folic acid, and fiber.
This study focused on gazpacho's effect on vitamin C levels and biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation in 12 healthy subjects (both men and women). Within just 7 days, blood levels of vitamin C had increased 26% in the men and 25% in the women and remained elevated throughout the study. Also, when they were measured on day 14, a number of markers of oxidative stress and inflammation had decreased: F2-isoprostanes, PGE2, and MCP-1 dropped in men and women, and uric acid decreased significantly in men and slightly in women.
While the focus of this study was gazpacho's vitamin C, researchers noted that other nutrients present in the soup may have synergistically contributed to its positive effects. For example, the plasma concentration of carotenoids also increased. The researchers' final conclusion: increasing vegetable consumption could improve human health.
More Help against Colon Cancer, Diabetes, and Migraines
So how else can tomatoes help? The folate in tomatoes can also help to reduce the risk of colon cancer. In addition, tomatoes are a good source of riboflavin, which has been shown to be helpful for reducing the frequency of migraine attacks in those who suffer from them. A good intake of chromium, a mineral of which tomatoes are a good source, has been shown to help diabetic patients keep their blood sugar levels under control. In addition to the 6.8% of the daily value for folate already mentioned above in relation to its protective actions against cardiovascular disease, a cup of tomatoes contains 5.3% of the DV for riboflavin, and 7.5% of the DV for chromium.
Tomatoes are a great vegetable loaded with a variety of vital nutrients. They also make a wonderful addition to a heart-healthy and cancer-preventing diet. So whether it is by tomato soup, tomato sauce, tomato chunks in salad or tomato slices on a sandwich, increasing your intake of tomatoes is an excellent step towards excellent health.
Colorful Protection Against Free Radicals
Want to color your life healthy? Brightly colored bell peppers, whether green, red, orange or yellow, are rich sources of some of the best nutrients available. To start, peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), two very powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants work together to effectively neutralize free radicals, which can travel through the body causing huge amounts of damage to cells. Free radicals are major players in the build up of cholesterol in the arteries that leads to atherosclerosis and heart disease, the nerve and blood vessel damage seen in diabetes, the cloudy lenses of cataracts, the joint pain and damage seen in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and the wheezing and airway tightening of asthma. By providing these two potent free radical destroyers, bell peppers may help prevent or reduce some of the symptoms of these conditions by shutting down the source of the problem.
Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
For atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, peppers also contain vitamin B6 and folic acid. These two B vitamins are very important for reducing high levels of homocysteine, a substance produced during the methylation cycle (an essential biochemical process in virtually every cell in the body). High homocysteine levels have been shown to cause damage to blood vessels and are associated with a greatly increased risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition to providing the vitamins that convert homocysteine into other beneficial molecules, bell peppers also provide fiber that can help lower high cholesterol levels, another risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Promote Optimal Health
Red peppers are one of the few foods that contain lycopene, a carotenoid whose consumption has been inversely correlated with prostate cancer and cancers of the cervix, bladder and pancreas. Recent studies suggest that individuals whose diets are low in lycopene-rich foods are at greater risk for developing these types of cancers.
For people worried about colon cancer, the fiber found in peppers can help to reduce the amount of contact that colon cells have with cancer-causing toxins found in certain foods or produced by certain gut bacteria. In addition, consumption of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid, all found in bell peppers, is associated with a significantly reduced risk of colon cancer.
Promote Lung Health
If you or someone you love is a smoker, or if you are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, then making vitamin A-rich foods, such as bell peppers, part of your healthy way of eating may save your life, suggests research conducted at Kansas State University.
While studying the relationship between vitamin A, lung inflammation, and emphysema, Richard Baybutt, associate professor of nutrition at Kansas State, made a surprising discovery: a common carcinogen in cigarette smoke, benzo(a)pyrene, induces vitamin A deficiency.
Baybutt's earlier research had shown that laboratory animals fed a vitamin A-deficient diet developed emphysema. His latest animal studies indicate that not only does the benzo(a)pyrene in cigarette smoke cause vitamin A deficiency, but that a diet rich in vitamin A can help counter this effect, thus greatly reducing emphysema.
Baybutt believes vitamin A's protective effects may help explain why some smokers do not develop emphysema. "There are a lot of people who live to be 90 years old and are smokers," he said. "Why? Probably because of their diet…The implications are that those who start smoking at an early age are more likely to become vitamin A deficient and develop complications associated with cancer and emphysema. And if they have a poor diet, forget it." If you or someone you love smokes, or if your work necessitates exposure to second hand smoke, protect yourself by making sure that at least one of the World's Healthiest Foods that are rich in vitamin A, such as bell peppers, is a daily part of your healthy way of eating.
Seeing Red May Mean Better Eyesight
Bell peppers appear to have a protective effect against cataracts, possibly due to their vitamin C and beta-carotene content. Italian researchers compared the diets of hospital patients who had cataracts removed with patients who had not undergone the operation. Certain vegetables, including sweet peppers, reduced the cataract operation risk. The red variety of bell peppers also supply the phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been found to protect against macular degeneration, the main cause of blindness in the elderly.
Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis
While one study suggests that high doses of supplemental vitamin C makes osteoarthritis, a type of degenerative arthritis that occurs with aging, worse in laboratory animals, another indicates that vitamin C-rich foods, such as bell and chili peppers, provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints.
The findings, presented in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseaseswere drawn from a study of more than 20,000 subjects who kept diet diaries and were arthritis-free when the study began, and focused on subjects who developed inflammatory polyarthritis and subjects who remained arthritis-free during the follow-up period. Subjects who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods were more than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consumed the highest amounts.