Coffee and Cacao Beans: Rich Sources of Phytonutrients

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Sub Titled- Singing the Praises of the World’s Healthiest Beans

While we have talked about the health benefits of dark chocolate and brewed cacao products in a previous article, we did not get in to much detail. This article may be considered as too scientific by some, but it is very important to know what is healthy and unhealthy for our bodies. Typically, when our medical doctor prescribes a pill, we take it without reservation. Is that wise? When we buy prepared food and drinks at the grocery store, we assume that our government only allows healthy products to be sold in our stores. Is that true? The answer to both questions is sadly no.

Note: This article serves to inform you of the healthful benefits found in both caffeine and cacao beans so that you can make informed decisions regarding your diet and habits. We are not suggesting you change your diet drastically or stop taking prescribed medication without discussing it with your doctor.

What are phytochemicals?

Most people are familiar with the basic nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Less often discussed are phytochemicals, which are classified as “nonessential nutrients” There are thousands of phytochemicals that we are aware of and thousands more to be discovered, each with their own healing properties

Both the coffee and cacao beans are rich sources of phytochemicals. Caffeine and theobromine, provided by these beans, are photochemical alkaloids with numerous health benefits. Caffeine is widely known and is found in coffee, some teas, and over the counter medications. Theobromine, which is not as commonly known as caffeine, is found in dark chocolate and cacao brews. The photochemical alkaloids caffeine and theobromine are beneficial to the human body.

Health Benefits of Caffeine

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, which increases respiration and blood circulation by dilating your blood vessels. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic. Caffeine increases the body’s circulation while stimulating the oxidation of fatty acids, contributing to weight reduction and better athletic performance. Caffeine is often combined with aspirin to treat headaches. Remember, moderation is the key to healthy caffeine consumption.

Caffeine Facts

Plants containing caffeine have been used by different cultures over centuries. Caffeinated teas were used to treat headaches, coughs, and even the plague. Interestingly enough, only in recent history is caffeine used to avoid slumber and relieve fatigue. Caffeine is now one of the most widely used phytochemicals. Contrary to popular beliefs, caffeine is not addictive, but it can be habit-forming. Normal levels of caffeine consumption are not toxic to humans but are very toxic to dogs, cats and horses.

Health Benefits of Theobromine

Theobromine has similar effects as caffeine but to a lesser degree, making it a healthy alternative to those with caffeine sensitivities.. Like caffeine, theobromine is a diuretic and a stimulant. Theobromine dilates your blood vessels, helping lower blood pressure. Unlike caffeine, theobromine does not affect the central nervous system yet remains a stimulant. Theobromine can also relax bronchia muscles in the lungs, making it beneficial for people with asthma and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Theobromine is also used as cough medicine. Studies show that theobromine acts positively on the vagus nerve, which runs from the lungs to the brain. Physicians in the Middle East recommend the consumption of 4 cups of coffee daily. They believe this limits heart disease and colorectal cancer, while reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. There are also claims that coffee consumption reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, depression, and prostate cancer. Studies have also shown that high coffee consumption is associated with decreased risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Researchers cannot determine what it is in coffee that produces these healthful benefits. We can only assume that coffee’s positive effects are due to the high amount of phytochemicals found in every cup.

Facts about Theobromine

Theobromine is found in the cacao beans of the Theobroma cocoa tree. The tree produces the pods that cacao beans used to make roasted and brewed cacao beans, cocoa, and chocolate. Although theobromine is not harmful to humans, it is highly toxic to some domestic animals including dogs and horses. Theobromine has a bitter flavor, and is what gives dark chocolate its bitter taste. While theobromine levels are highest in dark chocolates, it is also present in teas and cola nuts. Caffeine and theobromine are both stimulants, but theobromine does not affect the central nervous system as caffeine does. Therefore, brewed cacao makes a wonderful drink for those that are sensitive to caffeine.

Health Benefits of Brewed Cacao

Consumption of theobromine via brewed cacao or dark chocolate has been shown to help decrease blood pressure, improve cholesterol ratio, and increase insulin sensitivity. Consuming cacao has also been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and blood clots, while dilating the arteries to improve blood flow. Cacao exerts strong anti-inflammatory effects on the body, helping to prevent osteoporosis. It also boosts blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours after consumption, suggesting that consuming cacao helps increase performance in tasks that requires an alert mind. It also triggers the production of endorphins in the body, which create a feeling of happiness. Just one cup of cacao brew per day has been shown to lower C-reactive protein levels, a strong marker of cardiovascular disease risk.

Conclusion

In this article we targeted the numerous health benefits of caffeine and theobromine, which are only two phytochemicals out of thousands. There is clearly many more health benefits to the coffee and cacao beans than previously thought. As discussed above, consumption of both caffeine and cacao can have numerous benefits. However, please keep in mind that moderation is key, and abuse of either of these plant alkaloids can be devastating.

Side-bar:Some are curious as to why preserving the rain forest and prairies is important to human-kind. One reason is the abundance of phytochemicals found in these climates. Plants produce these chemicals to protect themselves, and recent research demonstrates that these phytochemicals can also protect humans against diseases. Thousands of phytochemicals lay undiscovered in plants that don’t even have a common name yet, proving there is much to be learned from the rain forest and prairies!

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Source by Roy Halpin

7 Health Benefits of Eating Phytonutrient Rich Apples – Protect Heart, Cells, Lungs, Brain and Bones

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Apples are one of the staple fruits. That is they are nearly always available, and we don’t usually consider them exotic in the same way we might say a mango or a lychee. Apples are a unique fruit. The combination of the particular nutrients found in apples work together producing something that cannot be replicated.

 

Apples have a very high level of phytonutrients which act as antioxidants. Because these are mostly found in the skin, or close to the skin it is important to find ways of eating the skin of the apple. The fibre in apples is both soluble, pectin, and insoluble, cellulose. As well as vitamins and minerals apples contain flavonoids, which are a type of phytonutrient.   

 

One of the flavonoids in apples is quercetin. Quercetin has had a fair amount of research done on it, the results of which show that it has very important health benefits. Researchers in Finland did long term studies on this and found that quercetin, particularly as found in apples, is the flavonoid with the best potential health promoting capabilities. 

 

Here are seven areas of health where apples have been found to be useful.

 

Heart Health

  • Protection of the cardiovascular system due to the antioxidant factors in apples.
  • Dietary fibre helps to keep LDL cholesterol levels in check. Eating two apples a day may lower cholesterol by as much as 16%.
  • Flavonoids help to deal with inflammation and clumping of blood platelets. They also regulate blood pressure and production of fat in the liver. They help to lower the risk of heart disease and even after heart disease has occurred, can help to improve the health of the heart.

Cancer

 

Studies to date have shown that apples could reduce the risk of lung cancer. Other types of cancer that apples have the potential to help to protect against include prostate, breast and colon. There is still ongoing research that is being done on these topics, but the possibility of apples being protective against cancer is very interesting.

 

Asthma and Lung Health

 

Apples could have an ability to support lung health. Asthmatic children who drank apple juice each day had less wheezing than those who only drank it once a month.

 

Alzheimer’s Disease

 

That apples may protect brain cells from the damage that leads to Alzheimer’s disease has been shown in a study on mice.

 

Management of Diabetes

The pectin in apples supplies galacturonic acid to the body which reduces the need for insulin. Eating an apple in between meals can help to regulate blood sugar.

 

Weight Loss

 

A study in Brazil found that more weight loss was obtained from dieters when they ate three apples or pears each day than those dieters that did not eat the fruit.

 

Protection of Bones

 

Another flavonoid in apples called phloridzin may help increase bone density thus protecting post menopausal women from osteoporosis. Boron, a mineral found in apples is known for its bone strengthening ability.

 

There are many different types of apples and they all have differing amounts of various nutrients. Try using many different varieties of apples. As well as increasing apple consumption, it might give a wider cross section of the different amazing nutrients that are found in apples.

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Source by Jocelyn Hodgson

5 Rich Benefits of Lassi & a Tasty Lassi Recipe

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Lassi is a popular traditional yogurt-based drink from the Indian Subcontinent. Lassi is a blend of yogurt, water, spices and occasionally fruit. Traditional lassi is a savoury drink, sometimes flavoured with ground and roasted cumin. Sweet lassi, however, carries sugar or fruits, instead of spices.

In Dharmic religions, yogurt sweetened with honey is used while performing religious rituals. Less common is lassi served with milk and topped with a thin layer of clotted cream. Lassis are enjoyed chilled as a hot-weather refreshment, mostly taken with lunch. With a little turmeric powder mixed in, it is also used as a folk remedy for gastroenteritis. It is also sold at most dairy shops selling yogurt and milk, and both the salty and sweet variety is available.

Benefits of Lassi

Improved digestion and appetite

Ginger has its own benefits and perks to health. But being added to such a healthy drink as lassi, it gets even greater. Add a few grated gingers to a well-prepared lassi and see it’s cooling properties gets enhanced. It not only makes the body cool and calm but also improves digestion, body appetite, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

A Doctor to the stomach

Lassi itself is a natural remedy for many of the problems regarding stomach. This list includes problems like bloating of the stomach, stomach disorders, constipation and many more. Drinking a glass of this after you get up in the morning every day, can keep your stomach healthy for the entire day.

Helps to build muscles

One can simply drink lassi which is rich in protein and essential for building muscles. So, lassi is popular with bodybuilders.

Enhances bone health

Advance your bone health and dental health with lassi as well. Since lassi is rich in calcium, it is an excellent way to strengthen the bones.

Beneficial during pregnancy

Milk is a natural source of vitamin B12, calcium, and protein, making it a must-have drink during pregnancy. Milk-based drinks boost your energy. You may drink fresh sweetened yogurt (lassi) or chilled skimmed milk, which are coolants.

Delicious flavoured Lassi in this upcoming hot summer

Banana Walnut Lassi

Ingredients

-1 cup low-fat yogurt

-1/2 banana

-3-4 walnuts (or include hazelnuts, almonds and pine nuts)

-1 tsp seeds (mix of flax seeds and sesame seeds)

-1-2 tsp honey

Method

-In a food processor, pour yogurt, whey powder, flax seed, sesame seeds, -walnuts, honey and bananas.

-Blend it well until smooth and creamy.

-Transfer into a glass and garnish with chopped walnuts before serving.

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Source by Sunny Sharma