An Inside Look at Healthy Living...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

French Mustard and Black Pepper Mayonnaise

French Mustard and Black Pepper Mayonnaise

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp of Dijon mustard or spicy mustard
  • 1/3 tsp of Herbs de Provence
  • salt to taste


Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mix well.

Use on sandwiches or as a dip to go with meat and cheese platters. 

French Vinegarette

French Vinegarette


Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mix well.

Chili and Lime Marinade

 Chili and Lime Marinade

I love the flavors of chili and lime especially in grilled chicken, pork and seafood such as fish and shrimp.  This marinade will definitely give your meat some zip and a kick!

1 tbsp. of chili powder
1 tbsp. of paprika
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of lime juice

In a small mixing bowl, add all the ingredients together and mix well.  Marinade small pieces of chicken, pork, fish and shrimp for 1 hour before cooking.  

To make a dry rub instead of a marinade, eliminate the olive oil and the lime juice from the recipe.

Creamy Dill Shrimp Salad

 Creamy Dill Shrimp Salad



  1. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp, green onions, celery,  dill and  mayonnaise,  and lime juice. Chill at least 1 hour in the refrigerator before serving.

Basil: Health Benefits and Nutritional Information

Basil: Health Benefits and Nutritional Information

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Basil (Ocimum basilicum), also known as Saint Joseph's Wort, is an herb belonging to the mint family - Lamiaceae. It is often used as a seasoning in cooking. Basil is native to India and other tropical areas of Asia.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles about the health benefits of popular foods. It highlights the potential health benefits of consuming basil and provides a nutritional profile for the herb.
The herb is well known for its use in Italian cuisine - it is one of the primary ingredients in pesto sauce. Basil is also commonly included in Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine.
The word "basil" derives from the Greek word "basileus," which means "king." The Oxford English Dictionary says that basil may have been used as "some royal unguent, bath, or medicine."
In fact, there are quite a number of beliefs associated with the herb. The French often refer to it as "l'herbe royale" (the royal herb), and in Jewish folklore, basil is thought to give strength while fasting.
Basil is used in traditional Tamil and Ayurvedic medicine, which is a form of traditional medicine popular on the Indian subcontinent.
There are different types of basil, which differ in taste and smell. Sweet basil (the most commercially available basil used in Italian food) has a strong clove scent because of its high concentration of the chemical agent eugenol. Alternatively, lime and lemon basil have a strong citrus scent due to their high concentration of limonene.
Contents of this article:
  1. Health benefits
  2. Nutritional profile
Fast facts on basil
Here are some key points about basil. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
  • Basil is associated with a number of rituals throughout the world
  • The herb may have anti-inflammatory qualities
  • Basil has a potent antibacterial property
  • Containing just 22 calories per 100 grams, basil is nutrient-heavy and calorie-light
  • Basil may even contain compounds that fight the effects of aging

Possible health benefits of basil

[Basil lead on cutting board]
Basil is a widely used plant in global cuisine.
Research indicates that there may be several health benefits associated with basil.
A study by researchers at Purdue University revealed that basil "contains a wide range of essential oils, rich in phenolic compounds and a wide array of other natural products including polyphenols such as flavonoids and anthocyanins."
Basil contains high quantities of (E)-beta-caryophyllene (BCP), which may be useful in treating arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases, according to research conducted at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
A study published in the Journal of Bone Reports & Recommendations agreed that BCP might be useful in the treatment of certain diseases with an inflammatory component.
The investigation was carried out on arthritic rats; the team of researchers concluded: "The present study is suggestive that beta-caryophyllene has prominent anti-arthritic activity which may be attributed to its anti-inflammatory activity."

Reduce inflammation and swelling

One study, presented at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's annual event, revealed that "extracts of O. tenuiflorum (Holy basil) were shown to reduce swelling by up to 73 percent, 24 hours after treatment".
These effects on swelling were similar in extent to those seen with the drug diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory medication that is widely used in the treatment of arthritis.
In their paper - Therapeutic uses of Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi) with a note on eugenol and its pharmacological actions: a short review - the authors conclude:
"Our results supported the use of these traditional treatments in inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis."

Anti-aging properties

According to research presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) in Manchester, basil also has properties that can help prevent the harmful effects of aging.
Holy basil extract was effective at killing off harmful molecules and preventing damage caused by some free radicals in the liver, brain, and heart.
The researchers, led by Dr. Vaibhav Shinde from Poona College of Pharmacy, Maharashtra, India, studied the herb for antioxidant and anti-aging properties
Dr. Shinde said: "The study validates the traditional use of the herb as a youth-promoting substance in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. It also helps describe how the herb acts at a cellular level." 

Rich in antioxidants

Results of a study published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmacy Education & Research showed that ethanol extract Ocimum basilicum had more antioxidant activity than standard antioxidants.

Antibacterial properties

Lab studies have demonstrated that basil has some antibacterial properties. These antibacterial properties are thought to be because of its volatile oils, which include estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene.
Basil restricts the growth of numerous bacteria, including Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureusEscherichia coli O157:H7, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
This could mean that adding fresh basil to a salad not only adds flavor, it also helps reduce the number of harmful bacteria on the plate.

Nutritional profile for basil

Basil is rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium.
Nutritional value of basil per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy - 94 kilojoules (22 kilocalorie) Carbohydrates - 2.65 grams
Dietary fiber - 1.6 grams Fat - 0.64 grams
Protein - 3.15 grams Water - 92.06 grams
Vitamin A - 264 micrograms Thiamine - 0.034 micrograms
Riboflavin - 0.076 milligrams Niacin - 0.902 milligrams
Vitamin B6 - 0.155 micrograms Folate - 68 micrograms
Choline - 11.4 milligrams Vitamin C - 18.0 milligrams
Vitamin E - 0.80 milligrams Vitamin K - 414.8 micrograms
Calcium - 177 milligrams Iron - 3.17 milligrams
Magnesium - 64 milligrams Manganese - 1.148 milligrams
Phosphorus - 56 milligrams Potassium - 295 milligrams
Sodium - 4 milligrams Zinc - 0.81 milligrams
As with any food stuff, basil should be eaten alongside the full range of components that make up a healthy diet.

Oregano: Health Benefits, Side Effects

Oregano: Health Benefits, Side Effects

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Oregano is an important culinary and medicinal herb that has been used in medicine and cooking for thousands of years - with a number of potential health benefits. It is a species of Origanum, belonging to the mint family (Lamiaceae).
Its name comes from the Greek words oros (mountain) and ganos (joy).
Oregano typically grows 50 cm tall and has purple leaves around 2 to 3 centimeters in length.
The chemicals that give the herb its unique and pleasant smell are thymol, pinene, limonene, carvacrol, ocimene, and caryophyllene
Not only does oregano provide food flavor, there are also a substantial number of health claims associated with its potent antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties.

Possible health benefits of Oregano

Oregano leaves
Oregano has a very pleasant aromatic scent.
The herb is used to treat respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders.
The herb is also applied topically to help treat a number of skin conditions, such as acne and dandruff.
Oregano contains: fiber, iron, manganese, vitamin E, iron, calcium, omega fatty acids, manganese, and typtophan.
Oregano is also a rich source of:
  • Vitamin K - an important vitamin which promotes bone growth, the maintenance of bone density, and the production of blood clotting proteins.
  • Dietary antioxidants - a report published in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that oregano contains very high concentrations of antioxidants1 (i.e., >75 mmol/100 g).
Antioxidants help protect your cells against the effects of free radicals and improve your ability to fight infection.

1) Antibacterial properties

Oregano has shown antimicrobial activity in a number of studies. A group of Portuguese researchers found that Origanum vulgare essential oils were effective against 41 strains of the food pathogen Listeria monocytogenes2.
Oregano oil is a powerful antimicrobial, because it contains an essential compound called carvacol.
A team of British and Indian researchers reported that the essential oil of Himalayan oregano has strong antibacterial properties that can even kill the hospital superbug MRSA.
Professor Vyv Salisbury, who was part of the research, said
"We have done a few preliminary tests and have found that the essential oil from the oregano kills MRSA at a dilution 1 to 1,000. The tests show that the oil kills MRSA both as a liquid and as a vapor and its antimicrobial activity is not diminished by heating in boiling water."

2) Anti-inflammatory properties

Scientists at Bonn University, Germany, and the ETH Zurich, Switzerland, identified an active ingredient in oregano - known as beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP) - which may possibly be of use against disorders such as osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis.

3) Protecting against cancer

Biologists at the United Arab Emirates University reported in the journal PLoS ONE that oregano exhibits anticancer activity by encouraging cell cycle arrest and apoptosis (cancer cells commit suicide) of the MDA-MB-231 breast cancer line.
The scientists concluded "Our findings identify Origanum majorana as a promising chemopreventive and therapeutic candidate that modulate breast cancer growth and metastasis." Put simply, they believe components in oregano may help slow down or prevent the progression of cancer3 in patients with breast cancer.

Other possible health benefits of oregano

According to The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database4, oregano is also used for the following illnesses and conditions:
  • Cold
  • Muscle pain
  • Acne
  • Dandruff
  • Bronchitis
  • Toothache
  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Heart Conditions
  • Allergies
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Earache
  • Fatigue
  • Repelling insects
  • Menstrual cramps
However, it's important to note that further high quality study results are necessary to confirm these claims.
Recent developments on health benefits of oregano from MNT news
Diabetes-fighting potential spotted in culinary herbs - Food scientists have discovered that the popular culinary herbs rosemary, oregano and marjoram contain compounds that may have the potential to manage type 2 diabetes in a similar way to some currently prescribed drugs.

Side effects and precautions

Eating oregano can cause stomach upsets in some people. In addition, those who are allergic to plants belonging to the Lamiaceae family (such as including basil, lavender, mint, and sage) should be cautious, as they may also develop an allergic reaction to oregano.

Onions: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information

Onions: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information

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Onions are part of the allium family of vegetables and herbs, which also includes chives, garlic, scallions and leeks.
Allium vegetables have been cultivated for centuries for not only their characteristic, pungent flavors but also for their medicinal properties.
Onions can vary in size, shape, color and flavor. The most common types are red, yellow and white onion. Flavors can vary from sweet and juicy with a mild flavor to sharp, spicy, and pungent, often depending on the season in which they are grown and consumed. It is estimated that 105 billion pounds of onions are harvested each year worldwide.
The possible health benefits of consuming onions include lowering the risk of several types of cancer, improving mood and maintaining the health of skin and hair.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods.

Nutritional breakdown of onions

Consuming onions could lower the risk of several types of cancer, improve mood and maintain the health of skin and hair.
Onions are a nutrient-dense food, meaning that while they are low in calories they are high in beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One cup of chopped onion contains approximately 64 calories, 15 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 3 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein and 10% or more of the daily value for vitamin C, vitamin B-6 and manganese. Onions also contain small amounts of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium and the antioxidants quercetin and sulfur.

Possible health benefits of consuming onions

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like mangoes decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.
Cancer: Allium vegetables have been studied extensively in relation to cancer, especially stomach and colorectal cancers. Their beneficial and preventative effects are likely due in part to their rich organosulfur compounds. Although the exact mechanism by which these compounds inhibit cancer is unknown, possible hypothesis include the inhibition of tumor growth and mutagenesis and prevention of free radical formation.1
Onions are also a source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C that helps to combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.
Colon cancer: High fiber intakes from all fruits and vegetables are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
Prostate cancer: In a study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers used a population-based, case-controlled study to investigate the relationship between allium vegetable intake and prostate cancer. They found that men with the highest intake of allium vegetables had the lowest risk for prostate cancer.2
Esophageal and stomach cancer: Frequent intake of allium vegetables has been inversely related with the risk of esophageal and stomach cancer.3 Several survey-based human studies have demonstrated the potential protective effects of consuming alliums, as well as reports of tumor inhibition following administration of allium compounds in experimental animals.
Sleep and mood: Folate, found in onions, may help with depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but also sleep and appetite as well.4
Skin and hair: Adequate intake of vitamin C is needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair.

How to incorporate more onions into your diet

Roasted onions
Onions can be sautéed, roasted, grilled or caramelized, be used fresh as a topping for sandwiches or salads and added to salsas and dips.
Look for onions that are dry and firm with little to no scent before they are peeled.
Adding onion is a great way to add flavor to a dish without adding extra calories, fat or sodium. They are often a staple in many kitchens and pair well with most dishes. They can be sautéed, roasted, grilled or caramelized, be used fresh as a topping for sandwiches or salads and added to salsas and dips.
How to properly cut an onion and tips to avoid watery eyes.

Potential health risks of consuming onions

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is best to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

Tomatoes: Health Benefits, Facts, Research

Tomatoes: Health Benefits, Facts, Research

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Whether you refer to a tomato as a fruit or a vegetable, there is no doubt that a tomato is a nutrient-dense, super-food that most people should be eating more of.
The tomato has been referred to as a "functional food," a food that goes beyond providing just basic nutrition. Due to their beneficial phytochemicals such as lycopene, tomatoes also play a role in preventing chronic disease and deliver other health benefits
Despite the popularity of the tomato, only 200 years ago it was thought to be poisonous in the U.S., likely because the plant belongs to the nightshade family, of which some species are truly poisonous.

Possible health benefits of tomatoes

Bunch of tomatoes
Tomatoes are packed full of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants and are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid.
The benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds, including tomatoes, are impressive. As the proportion of plant foods in the diet increases, the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer goes down.
High fruit and vegetable intake is also associated with healthy skin and hair, increased energy and lower weight. Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables significantly decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality.

1) Cancer

As an excellent source of vitamin C and other antioxidants, tomatoes can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.

2) Prostate Cancer

Lycopene has been linked with prostate cancer prevention in several studies.7 According to John Erdman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of the department of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois, "There's very good, strong, epidemiological support for increased consumption of tomato products and lower incidence of prostate cancer."7
Among younger men, diets rich in beta-carotene may play a protective role against prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Nutrition.

3) Colorectal Cancer

Beta-carotene consumption has been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population. High fiber intakes from fruits and vegetables are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, some studies have shown that people who have diets rich in tomatoes may have a lower risk of certain types of cancer, especially cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach. Further human-based research is needed to find out what role lycopene might play in the prevention or treatment of cancer.

4) Blood pressure

Maintaining a low sodium intake helps to keep blood pressure healthy; however, increasing potassium intake may be just as important because of its vasodilation effects. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, fewer than 2 percent of U.S. adults meet the daily 4700 mg recommendation.3
Also of note, a high potassium intake is associated with a 20 percent decreased risk of dying from all causes.3

5) Heart health

The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in tomatoes all support heart health. An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium intake is the most important dietary change that the average person can make to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, according to Mark Houston, M.D., M.S., an associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Medical School and director of the Hypertension Institute at St. Thomas Hospital in Tennessee.3 Tomatoes also contain folic acid, which helps to keep homocysteine levels in check, thereby reducing a risk factor for heart disease.
In one study, those who consumed 4069 mg of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1000 mg per day).3
High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.3

6) Diabetes

Studies have shown that people with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels, while people with type 2 diabetes may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. One cup of cherry tomatoes provides about 2 grams of fiber.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 g of fiber per day for women and 30-38 g/day for men.

7) Constipation

Eating foods that are high in water content and fiber like tomatoes can help with hydration and promote regular bowel movements. Fiber adds bulk to stool and is essential for minimizing constipation.

8) Eye health

Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, lutein and beta-carotene, powerful antioxidants that have been shown to protect the eyes against light-induced damage associated with the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) recently found that people with high dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin (both carotenoids found in tomatoes) had a 35 percent reduction in the risk of neovascular AMD.8

9) Skin

The synthesis of collagen, an essential component of the skin, hair, nails and connective tissue, is reliant on vitamin C. A deficiency of vitamin C leads to scurvy. As vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, a low intake is associated with increased damage from sunlight, pollution and smoke, leading to wrinkles, sagging skin, blemishes and other adverse health effects.5

10) Pregnancy

Adequate folic acid intake is essential before and during pregnancy to protect against neural tube defects in infants.

11) Depression

The folic acid in tomatoes may help with depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate mood, sleep and appetite.4

On the next page, we look at the nutritional breakdown of tomatoes, how to incorporate more tomatoes into your diet and the risks and precautions associated with the consumption of tomatoes.

Nutritional profile of tomatoes

Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid. Tomatoes contain a wide array of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene and lutein.
One medium tomato (approximately 123 grams) provides 22 calories, 0 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrate (including 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of sugar) and 1 gram of protein.
Cooking tomatoes appears to increase the availability of key nutrients such as the caroteinoids lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Stewed tomatoes provide considerably more lutein and zeaxanthin than sun dried tomatoes and raw cherry tomatoes.
Alpha-lipoic acid helps the body to convert glucose into energy. Some evidence suggests that alpha-lipoic acid can aid in blood glucose control, improve vasodilation and protect against retinopathy in people with diabetes; it may even help preserve brain and nerve tissue.1
Lycopene is the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their rich red color. Tomatoes account for 80 percent of lycopene consumption in the average diet.
Choline is an important nutrient found in tomatoes that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.2

How to incorporate more tomatoes into your diet

Make sure to store fresh tomatoes at room temperature. Avoid refrigeration, as this causes tomatoes to lose their flavor.
Bruschetta with tomatoes
Tomatoes can be easily incorporated into your daily diet, from using them in sauces and soups to creating a quick bruschetta appetizer.
  • Dip grape or cherry tomatoes in hummus or plain yogurt dip and have as a side or a snack
  • Add sliced tomato to your sandwiches and wraps
  • Add diced canned tomatoes (low sodium) to homemade or jarred marinara sauces when making pasta
  • Used canned diced or stewed tomatoes in soups
  • Have a piece of toast with avocado and tomato slices
  • Make your own quick salsa with diced tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and freshly squeezed lime
  • Dice fresh tomatoes and add them to rice and beans, quesadillas or tacos. Add them to your omelets or scrambles for breakfast
  • Drizzle freshly sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzarella with balsamic vinegar and top with chopped basil
  • Make a quick bruschetta for an appetizer.

Risks and Cautions

Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) produces a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue, known as the Dirty Dozen. Cherry tomatoes are frequently high on that list, prompting the EWG to suggest that people buy organic tomatoes where possible so as to minimize pesticide exposure.
However, it is still vastly more beneficial to include a wide range of non-organic produce in the diet than to only eat a small amount of organic produce. The nutritional benefits of eating conventionally grown (non-organic) produce far outweighs the risk of not eating produce at all. Tomatoes should be washed before eating.
Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High potassium foods such as tomatoes should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.
Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.
Those with gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) may experience an increase in symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation when consuming highly acidic foods such as tomatoes, however individual reactions vary.
It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is best to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.
Recent developments on the health benefits of tomatoes from MNT news
A tomato-rich diet may reduce breast cancer risk, study shows.
Risk of breast cancer for postmenopausal women may reduce with a tomato-rich diet, after a study showed the diet increased levels of adiponectin - a fat and blood sugar regulator.
Soy And Tomato Combination May Help Prevent Prostate Cancer.
Men who consume plenty of soy and tomato combinations probably have a much lower risk of developing prostate cancer compared to those who don't.
Tomato extract 'improves blood vessel function' in CVD patients
Results of a study published in the journal PLOS One, revealed that cardiovascular disease (CVD) patients who received lycopene supplementation showed improved blood vessel response to acetylcholine, compared with healthy volunteers, which indicated normalized endothelial function.
A recent study, published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, found significant benefits of tomato juice consumption for people with metabolic syndrome.
Compared to control patients not consuming tomato juice, those who drank tomato juice four times a week for 2 months had significant improvements in inflammation status and endothelial dysfunction, as well as improvements in insulin resistance. The juice group also had a significant decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and a slight increase in beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL).9

Garlic: Health Benefits, Therapeutic Benefits

Garlic: Health Benefits, Therapeutic Benefits

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Garlic (Allium sativum), a herb used widely as a flavoring in cooking, has also been used as a medicine throughout ancient and modern history to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases.
Garlic belongs to the onion genus Allium, and is closely related to the onion, rakkyo, chive, leek, and shallot. It has been used by humans for thousands of years and was used in Ancient Egypt for both culinary purposes and its health and therapeutic benefits.

Garlic for food and medicine - a brief history

Garlic has been used all over the world for thousands of years. Records indicate that garlic was in use when the Giza pyramids were built, about five thousand years ago.
Richard S. Rivlin wrote in the Journal of Nutrition1 that the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (circa. 460-370 BC), known today as "the father of Western medicine", prescribed garlic for a wide range of conditions and illnesses. Hippocrates promoted the use of garlic for treating respiratory problems, parasites, poor digestion and fatigue.
Garlic is a popular ingredient in cooking and may also have some health benefits.
The original Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece were given garlic - possibly the earliest example of "performance enhancing" agents used in sports.
From Ancient Egypt garlic spread to the advanced ancient civilizations of the Indus Valley (Pakistan and western India today). From there it made its way to China.
According to experts at Kew Gardens2, England's royal botanical center of excellence, the people of ancient India valued the therapeutic properties of garlic and also thought it to be an aphrodisiac. The upper classes avoided garlic because they despised its strong odor, while monks, "...widows, adolescents and those who had taken up a vow or were fasting could not eat garlic because of its stimulant quality".
Throughout history in the Middle East, East Asia and Nepal, garlic has been used to treat bronchitis, hypertension (high blood pressure), TB (tuberculosis), liver disorders, dysentery, flatulence, colic, intestinal worms, rheumatism, diabetes, and fevers.
The French, Spanish and Portuguese introduced garlic to the New World.
Rivlin found it interesting that several cultures in history that were never in contact with one another had similar conclusions regarding the therapeutic benefits of garlic.

Garlic is used widely today for its therapeutic properties

According to the National Library of Medicine3, part of the NIH (National Institutes of Health), USA, garlic is widely used for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high cholesterol, heart attack, coronary heart disease and hypertension.
Garlic is also used today by some people for the prevention of lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, rectal cancer, and colon cancer.
The NIH adds "Some of these uses are supported by science."
A study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology4 warned that short-term heating reduces the anti-inflammatory effects of fresh raw garlic extracts. This may be a problem for some people who do not like or cannot tolerate the taste and/or odor of fresh garlic. Ask your pharmacist for garlic supplements or oil which have not been exposed to too much heat.

Health benefits of garlic - scientific studies

What is the difference between scientific and anecdotal evidence? Anecdotal evidence refers to a person's personal experience - like the evidence from a witness. This type of evidence is crucial in a court of law when somebody (a witness) saw something happen with their own eyes. In medicine, however, anecdotal evidence, when compared to scientific evidence, is not compelling enough.
If I cross the road with my eyes closed and so does a friend of mine, and we do not get run over, it would be irresponsible to tell everybody around us, including our children that crossing the street with your eyes closed is safe. A scientific study using thousands of participants, comparing crossers with their eyes closed against others with their eyes open, would soon show that crossing the street with your eyes closed is extremely dangerous.
Below are examples of some scientific studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals about the therapeutic benefits (or not) of garlic.

Lung cancer risk

Garlic on a spoon
According to a study, people who eat raw garlic at least twice a week have a 44% lower risk of developing lung cancer.
People who ate raw garlic at least twice a week had a 44% lower risk of developing lung cancer, according to a study carried out at the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China.
The researchers, who published their study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, had carried out face-to-face interviews with 1,424 lung cancer patients as well as 4,543 healthy individuals. They were asked about their diet and lifestyle habits, which included questions on their smoking habits and how often they ate garlic.
The study authors wrote "Protective association between intake of raw garlic and lung cancer has been observed with a dose-response pattern, suggesting that garlic may potentially serve as a chemo-preventive agent for lung cancer."

Brain cancer

Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina reported in the journal Cancer that three pure organo-sulfur compounds from garlic - DAS, DADS and DATS - "demonstrated efficacy in eradicating brain cancer cells, but DATS proved to be the most effective".
Co-author, Ray Swapan, Ph.D., said "This research highlights the great promise of plant-originated compounds as natural medicine for controlling the malignant growth of human brain tumor cells," Ray said. "More studies are needed in animal models of brain tumors before application of this therapeutic strategy to brain tumor patients."

Hip osteoarthritis

Women whose diets were rich in allium vegetables had lower levels of osteoarthritis, a team at King's College London and the University of East Anglia, both in England, reported in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. Examples of allium vegetables include garlic, leeks, shallots, onions and rakkyo.
The study authors said their findings not only highlighted the possible impact of diet on osteoarthritis outcomes, but also demonstrated the potential for using compounds that exist in garlic to develop treatments for the condition.
The long-term study, involving more than 1,000 healthy female twins, found that those whose dietary habits included plenty of fruit and vegetables, "particularly alliums such as garlic", had fewer signs of early osteoarthritis in the hip joint.

Potentially a powerful antibiotic

Diallyl sulfide, a compound in garlic, was 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics in fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, according to a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
The Campylobacter bacterium is one of the most common causes of intestinal infections.
Senior author, Dr. Xiaonan Lu, from Washington State University, said "This work is very exciting to me because it shows that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply."

Heart protection

Diallyl trisulfide, a component of garlic oil, helps protect the heart during cardiac surgery and after a heart attack, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine found. They also believe diallyl trisulfide could be used as a treatment for heart failure.
Hydrogen sulfide gas has been shown to protect the heart from damage. However, it is a volatile compound and difficult to deliver as therapy. Hence, the scientists decided to focus on diallyl trisulfide, a garlic oil component, as a safer way to deliver the benefits of hydrogen sulfide to the heart.
In animal experiments using laboratory mice, the team found that after a heart attack the mice that had received diallyl sulfide had 61% less heart damage in an area of risk, compared to the untreated mice.
The team presented their findings at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions conference in Orlando, Florida in November, 2011.
In another study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists found that garlic oil may help protect diabetes patients from cardiomyopathy.
Cardiomyopathy is the leading cause of death among diabetes patients. It is a chronic disease of the myocardium (heart muscle), which is abnormally thickened, enlarged and/or stiffened.
The team fed diabetic laboratory rats either garlic oil or corn oil. Those fed the garlic oil experienced significantly more changes associated with protection against heart damage, compared to the corn oil fed animals.
The study authors wrote "In conclusion, garlic oil possesses significant potential for protecting hearts from diabetes-induced cardiomyopathy." Human studies will need to be performed to determine whether they confirm the results of this study.

High cholesterol and high blood pressure

Researchers at Ankara university set out to determine what the effects of garlic extract supplementation might be on the blood lipid (fat) profile of patients with high blood cholesterol. Their study was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry5.
The study involved 23 volunteers, all with high cholesterol; 13 of them also had high blood pressure. They were divided into two groups:

  • The high-cholesterol normotensive group (normal blood pressure)
  • The high-cholesterol hypertensive group (high blood pressure)
They took garlic extract supplements for four months and were regularly checked for blood lipid parameters, as well as kidney and liver function.
At the end of the four months the researchers concluded "...garlic extract supplementation improves blood lipid profile, strengthens blood antioxidant potential, and causes significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressures. It also leads to a decrease in the level of oxidation product (MDA) in the blood samples, which demonstrates reduced oxidation reactions in the body."
In other words, the garlic extract supplements reduced high cholesterol levels, and also blood pressure in the patients with hypertension. The scientists added that theirs was a small study - a larger one needs to be carried out.

Prostate cancer

Doctors at the Department of Urology, China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing, China, carried out a study evaluating the relationship between Allium vegetable consumption and prostate cancer risk.
They gathered and analyzed published studies up to May 2013 and reported their findings in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention6.
The study authors wrote "Allium vegetables, especially garlic intake, are related to a decreased risk of prostate cancer".
The team also commented that as there were not that many studies, they recommend further well-designed prospective studies be carried out to confirm their findings.

Alcohol-induced liver injury

Alcohol-induced liver injury (ethanol-induced liver injury) is caused by the long-term over-consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Scientists at the Institute of Toxicology, School of Public Health, Shandong University, China, wanted to determine whether diallyl disulfide (DADS), a garlic-derived organosulfur compound, might have protective effects against ethanol-induced oxidative stress.
Their study was published in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)7.
The researchers concluded that DADS may help protect against ethanol-induced liver injury.

Preterm (premature) delivery

Microbial infections during pregnancy raise a woman's risk of preterm delivery, several studies have demonstrated. Scientists at the Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, wanted to find out what impact foods might have on antimicrobial infections and preterm delivery risk.
The study and its findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition8.
Ronny Myhre and colleagues concentrated on the effects of Alliums and dried fruits, because a literature search had identified these two foods as showing the greatest promise for reducing preterm delivery risk.
The team investigated the intake of dried fruit and Alliums among 18,888 women in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort, of whom 5% (950) underwent spontaneous PTD (preterm delivery).
The study authors concluded "Intake of food with antimicrobial and prebiotic compounds may be of importance to reduce the risk of spontaneous PTD. In particular, garlic was associated with overall lower risk of spontaneous PTD."

Garlic and the common cold

Julia Fashner, MD; Kevin Ericson, MD; and Sarah Werner, DO, at St. Joseph Family Medicine Residency, Mishawaka, Indiana, carried out a study titled "Treatment of the Common Cold in Children and Adults", published in American Family Physician9.
They reported that "Prophylactic use of garlic may decrease the frequency of colds in adults, but has no effect on duration of symptoms." Prophylactic use means using it with the intention of preventing disease.

Medicinal Herbs: Thyme

Medicinal Herbs
Thyme has been used throughout history for culinary as well as medicinal purposes.  Thyme oil, leaves, and flowers have been used to treat diarrhea, bedwetting, stomachache, colic, arthritis, cough, bronchitis and flatulence.  It has also been used as a diuretic to increase urination.   It was used by the Ancient Egyptians for embalming practices and by the Ancient Greeks as incense within their temples and commonly placed in bathwater. Hippocrates also documented the therapeutic use of thyme in the treatment of respiratory diseases and other conditions.  

The essential oil of thyme contains 20-54 % thymol.  Thymol is a naturally occurring compound called a “biocide,” or a substance that destroys harmful germs and organisms.  For this purpose, thyme has been used a herbal medicine to treat acne and have claimed to be more effective than prescription acne creams. It has also been proved to work as effectively as a disinfectant such as benzoyl peroxide.  It is a safe alternative for cleansing the skin and minor cuts and abrasions.


Renew with Rosemary

Renew with


Rosemary is a fragrant herb that is a member of the mint family.  It is a native plant to the Mediterranean.  It is used in many culinary dishes, perfumes, and bath products and aromatherapy.  

Rosemary is a great source of calcium, iron, and vitamin B6.  It is a vital member of the mint family along with other herbs such as lavender, oregano, thyme and basil.  The name rosemary was derived from the Latin words ros (dew) marinus (sea) or "sea dew." Rosemary was used in ancient times as a medicinal herb for improving digestion, enhancing memory, relieving muscle pain, boosting the immune and circulatory systems, and promoting the growth of hair, and the prevention of the aging of the brain.   

Rosemary preserves the health of the brain by through a compound called carnosic acid.  which fights off damage to the cells caused by free radicals.  Free radicals are harmful particles that are by-products of chemical reactions that move freely around the body.  Carsonic acid, a powerful antioxidant, acts to remove and destroy free radicals before cells are affected.  Rosemary also protects against neuro-degeneration(beta-amyloid induced ) in the hippocampus region of the brain.  

Memory can be enhanced by increasing the concentration of rosemary oil in the bloodstream.  This is easily done by eating foods that contain rosemary.  A simple way to use rosemary is to create a rosemary infused oil.  This is easily done by store a few springs of rosemary in olive oil.  The oil can then be used to flavor foods or to cook with.  

This same oil can also be used as an aromatherapy remedy.  The oil can be used to make scrubs or added to a bath to help moisturize and nourish the skin.