Thursday, May 7, 2015

12 Proven Benefits of Pomegranate. A MUST read !

12 Proven Benefits of Pomegranate (All Impressive!) NEW

Pomegranates are among the healthiest fruits on earth.
Many studies have shown that they have incredible benefits for your body, and may lower the risk of all sorts of diseases (1).
Here are 12 health benefits of pomegranates, that are supported by modern scientific research.

1. Pomegranates Are Loaded With Important Nutrients

The pomegranate, or Punica granatum, is a shrub that produces a red fruit (1).
Categorized as a berry, the pomegranate fruit is about 5-12 cm (2-5 inches) in diameter.
It is red, round and looks kind of like a red apple with a flower-shaped stem.
The skin of the pomegranate is thick and inedible, but there are hundreds of edible seeds called arils within.
The arils are what people eat, either raw or processed into pomegranate juice.
This is what pomegranates look like:
Whole and Sliced Pomegranates
Pomegranates have an impressive nutrient profile:
One cup of arils (174 grams) contains (2):
  • Fiber: 7 grams.
  • Protein: 3 grams.
  • Vitamin C: 30% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin K: 36% of the RDA.
  • Folate: 16% of the RDA.
  • Potassium: 12% of the RDA.
The pomegranate arils (seeds) are also very sweet, with one cup containing 24 grams of sugar, and 144 calories.
However, where pomegranates really shine is in their content of powerful plant compounds, some of which have potent medicinal properties.
Bottom Line: The pomegranate is a fruit that contains hundreds of edible seeds called arils.
They are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and bioactive plant compounds, but they also contain some sugar.

2. Pomegranates Contain Two Plant Compounds With Powerful Medicinal Properties

A Single Pomegranate
There are two unique substances in pomegranates that are responsible for most of their health benefits.

Punicalagins

Punicalagins are extremely powerful antioxidants found in the juice and peel of a pomegranate.
They are so powerful that pomegranate juice has been found to have three times the antioxidant activity of red wine and green tea (3).
Pomegranate extract and powder is typically made from the peel, due to its high antioxidant and punicalagin content.

Punicic Acid

Punicic acid, also known as pomegranate seed oil, is the main fatty acid in the arils.
It is a type of conjugated linoleic acid with potent biological effects.
Bottom Line: Pomegranates contain punicalagins and punicic acid, unique substances that are responsible for most of their health benefits.

3. Pomegranate Has Impressive Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Wet Pomegranate and Arils
Chronic inflammation is among the leading drivers of many killer diseases.
This includes heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even obesity.
Pomegranate has potent anti-inflammatory properties, which are largely mediated by the antioxidant properties of the punicalagins.
Test tube studies have shown that it can reduce inflammatory activity in the digestive tract, as well as in breast cancer and colon cancer cells (456).
One study in diabetics found that 250 ml of pomegranate juice per day for 12 weeks lowered the inflammatory markers CRP and interleukin-6 by 32% and 30%, respectively (7).
Bottom Line: The punicalagins in pomegranate juice have been shown to reduce inflammation, one of the leading drivers of many killer diseases.

4. Pomegranate May Help Fight Prostate Cancer

Older Chef Holding Pomegranates on a Plate
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men.
Laboratory studies have shown that pomegranate extract can slow down cancer cell reproduction, and even induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells (89).
The PSA (prostate specific antigen) is a blood marker for prostate cancer.
Men whose PSA levels double in a short period of time are at increased risk of death from prostate cancer.
Interestingly, a human study found that 237 ml (8 oz) of pomegranate juice per day increased the PSA doubling time from 15 months to 54 months, which is huge (10).
A follow-up study found similar improvements using a type of pomegranate extract called POMx (11).
Bottom Line: There is preliminary evidence that pomegranate juice can be useful in men with prostate cancer, potentially inhibiting cancer growth and lowering the risk of death.

5. Pomegranate May Also be Useful Against Breast Cancer

Dark Haired Woman Holding Pomegranate by Ear
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women.
Pomegranate extract has been shown to inhibit reproduction of breast cancer cells, and may even kill some of them (121314).
However, this is currently limited to laboratory studies. More research is needed.
Bottom Line: Laboratory studies have shown that pomegranate extract can help fight breast cancer cells, but human studies are needed to confirm this.

6. Pomegranate May Lower Blood Pressure

Pomegranate With Cut Heart Shape
High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the leading drivers of heart attacks and strokes.
In one study, people with high blood pressure had a significant reduction after consuming 150 ml (5 oz) of pomegranate juice daily for 2 weeks (15).
Other studies have found similar effects, especially for systolic blood pressure (the higher number in a blood pressure reading) (1617).
Bottom Line: Regular intake of pomegranate juice has been shown to lower blood pressure levels in as little as 2 weeks.

7. Pomegranate May Help Fight Arthritis and Joint Pain

Chef Holding Pomegranates
Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries.
There are many different types, but most of them involve some form of inflammation in the joints.
Given that the plant compounds in pomegranate have anti-inflammatory effects, it makes sense that they could help treat arthritis.
Interestingly, laboratory studies have shown that pomegranate extract can block enzymes that are known to damage joints in people with osteoarthritis (1819).
It has also been shown to be beneficial against arthritis in mice, but there is very little evidence in humans so far (2021).
Bottom Line: Studies in animals and isolated cells have shown that pomegranate extract may be beneficial against several forms of arthritis, but human research is needed.

8. Pomegranate Juice May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

Pomegranate Arils Shaped Like a Heart
Heart disease is currently the world’s most common cause of premature death (22).
It is a complicated disease, driven by many different factors.
Punicic acid, the main fatty acid in pomegranate, may help protect against several steps in the heart disease process.
In a study in 51 people with high cholesterol and triglycerides, 800 milligrams of pomegranate seed oil per day for 4 weeks was shown to significantly lower triglycerides and improve the triglyceride:HDL ratio (23).
Another study looked at the effects of pomegranate juice in people with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. They noted significant reductions in LDL cholesterol, as well as other improvements (24).
Pomegranate juice has also been shown, in both animal and human studies, to protect the LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, one of the key steps in the pathway towards heart disease (25262728).
Bottom Line: Several human studies have shown that pomegranate can have benefits against heart disease. It improves the cholesterol profile and protects LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage.

9. Pomegranate Juice May Help Treat Erectile Dysfunction

Pomegranate Arils in a Glass
Oxidative damage can impair blood flow in all areas of the body, including erectile tissue.
Pomegranate juice has been shown to be beneficial in increasing blood flow and erectile response in rabbits (29).
In a study of 53 men with erectile dysfunction, pomegranate appeared to have some benefit, but it was not statistically significant (30).
Bottom Line: Pomegranate juice has been linked to reduced symptoms of erectile dysfunction, but more research is needed.

10. Pomegranate Can Help Fight Bacterial and Fungal Infections

The plant compounds in pomegranate can help fight harmful microorganisms (31).
Blonde Holding Pomegranates
For example, they have been shown to be beneficial against some types of bacteria, as well as the yeast Candida albicans (3233).
The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects may also be protective against infections and inflammation in the mouth.
This includes conditions like gingivitis, periodontitis and denture stomatitis (3435).
Bottom Line: Pomegranate has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, which may be useful against common diseases of the gums.

11. Pomegranate May Help Improve Memory

Pomegranate Juice and Arils
There is some evidence that pomegranate can improve memory.
In one study in surgical patients, 2 grams of pomegranate extract prevented deficits in memory after the surgery (36).
Another study in 28 elderly individuals with memory complaints found that 237 ml (8 oz) of pomegranate juice per day significantly improved markers of verbal and visual memory (37).
There is also some evidence from studies in mice that pomegranate can help fight Alzheimer’s disease (38).
Bottom Line: Some evidence shows that pomegranate can improve memory in the elderly and post-surgery, and studies in mice suggest that it can protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

12. Pomegranate May Improve Exercise Performance

Arils From Pomegranate
Pomegranate is rich in dietary nitrates, which have been shown to improve exercise performance.
In a study of 19 athletes running on a treadmill, 1 gram of pomegranate extract 30 minutes before exercise significantly enhanced blood flow (39).
This led to a delay in the onset of fatigue, and an increase in exercise efficiency.
More studies are needed, but it seems like pomegranate may be beneficial for physical performance, similar to beetroot juice.

13. Anything Else?

If you want to enjoy the health benefits outlined in the article, then you can either eat the pomegranate arils directly, or drink pomegranate juice.
There is also a good selection of pomegranate extract supplements on Amazon.
At the end of the day, pomegranates are among the healthiest fruits on the planet.
They have wide-ranging benefits, and may help reduce the risk of all sorts of serious diseases.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Exposé Book Reveals Shocking Secrets of the Processed Food Industry

Exposé Book Reveals Shocking Secrets of the Processed Food Industry

May 03, 2015 


By Dr. Mercola
You've probably heard that avoiding processed foods is one of the keys to staying healthy, but do you understand why, exactly?  
Scottish author Joanna Blythman has written a behind-the-scenes exposé book,Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry's Darkest Secretsthat delves into the details of what makes processed food the antithesis of a healthy diet.
If you have any concerns about the food you're eating, this is a must-read book. It will radically increase your appreciation of just how processed your food really is and enlighten you to many of the deceptive tricks the industry uses to fool you.
It's quite challenging to avoid processed foods as nearly all of us eat at restaurants occasionally. The only question is how much? After you read this book, I guarantee your motivation to avoid processed food will skyrocket.
Joanna is an award-winning investigative journalist, and that background served her well as she literally went undercover to get the inside scoop on what's really going on in the processed food industry. She actually carefully worked her way in and became an insider able to attend many of the member-only conferences.
"I have been writing about food for over two decades," Joanna says. "I've written six other books. They've dealt with the production side of food: how and what goes on in fields, what goes on in farms, how to tell a good chicken from a bad chicken, that kind of thing.
But I just knew that we weren't getting the full story. It wasn't about the production end. It was at the processing end.
We know quite a lot about how chickens are reared for our tables, but we don't know very much, or anything really, about how chickens nuggets are produced in a factory. I knew that we had to get to this information about processed food."

Going Undercover...

Getting such information is easier said than done, considering how the food industry has created a near-impenetrable wall of security around its manufacturing activities.
Companies hide behind the rationale that processing methods are trade secrets, and that they're merely protecting proprietary information from competitors.
"They've gotten away with that for years. What that means is that unless you're a food industry insider, you're just not going to know what's happening behind the scenes," Joanna says.
So, to get the inside scoop, Joanna assumed a fake identity and managed to convince a smaller food manufacturer to provide her with a professional cover. Using that cover, she got an inside look into the "core" of the food manufacturing industry. And what she learned was surprising to say the least.
For starters, what non-insiders do not know is that there are a multitude of chemicals used in food that do not have to be in any way disclosed, as they're considered "processing aids." So besides preservatives, emulsifiers, colors, and flavors, which are generally listed, there are any number of others that you'll never find out the details about.
"I realized that there's so much going on behind the scenes of food manufacturing. Most consumers, we haven't got a clue, and we are not allowed to know. You can't even trust things that would seem to be the healthy choice," she says.
This is disconcerting, as many health conscious consumers now take the time to carefully read food labels. But what Joanna's research reveals that there's anarray of additives that will never make it onto the label.

Surprising Truths the Processed Food Industry Hides from You

Do you eat processed meats like hamburgers, thinking you're eating mostly real beef? Chances are you're way off in your assumption. One type of meat process involves soaking butchered carcasses in hot water with added enzymes. This has the effect of releasing about another five percent of meat-like substance from the carcass.
This is then added into cheap burgers, sausages, and other processed meat products. Enzyme-treated blood products are also routinely added to lower-end processed meat products.
"What really got me were the things that seemed to be really natural... For example, I was amazed to find that there is a kind of coloring known as the cloudifier. It makes your juice look as though it's got more real fruit juice in it because it creates that hand-pressed, natural look," she says.
Enzymes are used in a number of different ways in food processing. For example, when eggs are pasteurized, they lose their color. An enzyme is therefore added that brings back the color of the egg.
There are at least 150 enzymes being used in food manufacturing, and they're rarely ever listed on the label. According to Joanna, there's typically at least one enzyme-modified ingredient in every processed food. Breads usually have five enzyme-modified ingredients.
Enzymes by themselves aren't intrinsically toxic. They're merely functional proteins composed of natural amino acids. But what they do is they mask and deceive you about the underlying process, fooling you into believing that you're buying something that you really aren't. 
"The classic one is a mature cheese flavor. If you matured cheese the proper way, then you have cheese. You keep it for three months or six months, even longer, to develop that nice, mature flavor. But you can do that in a few days with an enzyme. You can create a fake flavor."

Most Processed Food Is an Imitation of the Real Thing

The goal of food technologists is to reduce the amount of real ingredients by finding cheap substitutes that mimic the authentic food. In doing so, chemicals and processes are used that turns the end product into something that looks, smells, and tastes like "good food," but really is anything but. Rarely is real butter used for example, because it's expensive. So they use additives that make the food taste like butter, but at a fraction of the cost.
"But they will still put in enough butter that they can put on the 'made with butter' label," Joanna notes. "Another thing I discovered is that most processed food wouldn't look at all attractive if it didn't have colorings added. It would be gray and beige...
Flavorings do two jobs in processed food. They cover up the unpleasant taste that comes as a result of processing. Flavor masking is one of the main reasons why food industries use flavorings. But they also use flavorings to try and give food flavor when it's been through a manufacturing process that has totally stripped it of flavor.
They have to try and add back something that sort of resembles the flavors that have gotten lost. Because food processing is high temperature and high pressure. Something has to be done to them to make them taste better again. That's the logic of flavoring and coloring."

What You Need to Know About the Clean Label Concept

She also exposed the industry concept of "Clean Label." The food industry realizes that consumers don't like long chemical-sounding names on the ingredients list. These names are known as "label polluters."
To avoid having to list the chemical names of additives, they invented a Clean Label concept, which is aimed at removing all the old additives and long chemical names, and replacing them with ingredients that sound better. "Carrot concentrate" instead of "coloring" is one example of a Clean Label swap. 
A related issue is the extraction methods used for these healthy-sounding extracts. While antioxidants are healthy, plant-derived antioxidants are typically extracted from the whole food using toxic organic solvents like hexane, which you cannot remove. Those solvents remain in the ingredient, and they're not required to disclose any of this.

Perception Is Everything

The processed food industry is primarily driven by the perception of wholesomeness. The moment the food industry finds out that a labeled ingredient is perceived poorly, they will either rename it, or find an alternative that may be just as bad, or worse, that doesn't have that negative association.
"Perception is a really good word for understanding what the food manufacturing industry is up to," Joanna says. "They have this thing called perceived naturalness. Their whole job is to try give you ingredients that sound natural, but actually aren't the same as natural. Another one is fresh-like quality. The industry doesn't talk about fresh any longer. They talk about a fresh-like quality. 
There are number of technologies that they can use behind the scenes and mainly on labels that will give products this fresh-like quality. Everything [related] to naturalness and freshness is being manipulated constantly.On my desk, at the moment, I have some chocolate chip muffins that I bought six weeks ago. I've got them on my desk and they have not changed in any way. They look identical. I'm keeping them as a sort of science project to see how they eventually, if they ever, change."
There's actually a whole section in the book dedicated to processed baked goods. Many grocery stores now have bakeries, where fresh bread is baked every day. But what many do not realize is that nothing is baked from scratch.
As Joanna says, these bakeries are little more than "tanning salons" for processed frozen products pre-cooked in factories thousands of miles away. Another factoid: When baked goods are sold loose this way, they do not require an ingredient label. So that's another way they can get away with not disclosing what the ingredients are.
"One of the reasons I started writing the book is because I knew that if I made a muffin at home, it didn't taste anything like a bought one. I wanted to find out why. It's really interesting to find out why because the ingredients are completely different and the processes are completely different. And these are great lies perpetuated by food manufacturers—that what goes on in the factory is just a scaled up fraction of home cooking. But that really is a lie. It's quite a different activity."

The Foxes Are Watching the Hen House

If you're like most people, you probably think there's someone somewhere looking out for the consumer's best interest. If something is sold as food, it surely cannot be hazardous. Can it? In truth, it just might be... More often than not, government oversight committees are usually manned by members of the industry, who have a vested interest in commercializing these chemical ingredients; or they're academics who appear on first glance to be independent but actually, in their day job, are getting a lot of funding from food companies. 
Most of the research used to establish safety is also done by the industry itself, which structures the research to show that its products are safe. What's worse, no one is really looking at the health effects of exposure to toxins from processed foods.
"What happens to people who eat large quantities of processed food, maybe people who really based their diets on that? No one is doing any research on that," Joanna says. "There are all these assumptions that chemicals are fine in small quantities, but that's not really looking at the cocktail effect for people, particularly children, who are obviously more prone to being affected by chemical overload. No one is looking at that at the moment."

More Information

Avoiding processed foods is one of the most important changes you can make if you want to improve your health or prevent or address disease. If there's any question in your mind at all as to the reasons for reverting back to whole, minimally processed foods, I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of Joanna's book, Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry's Darkest Secrets as it will radically increase your understanding, and secondarily your motivation and desire to avoid these toxic foods.
As an undercover insider, Joanna reveals details about the food processing industry that you simply cannot get anywhere else. Read it, and pass it around. Create awareness that will eventually, hopefully, inspire more people to make the switch to a more wholesome, health-preserving diet. If we don't buy these foods, food manufacturers will have to stop producing it, and healthier whole foods will again become the norm.
As Joanna says, "we've got to catch up with the industry because they really bypass our comprehension of what they're doing to our food. The take home message for me is that, in Europe, we have this idea that processed food is getting better. Everything is going a little bit not more natural, and actually, that's wrong.
And we really can't trust our regulators to get it right. We have to adopt our own, what I call PPP: Personal Precautionary Principle. You are the only person who's going to really bother to think about these issues to deal with your food. You can't rely on anyone else doing it for you."
In the future, Joanna is considering writing another book on food processing, delving into newer processing technologies and synthetic biology, called SynBio. The use of completely artificial biology is also disconcerting, and an area that is as unregulated as the old Wild West.
Synthetic biology is basically like an extreme form of genetic engineering, which obviously carries a number of unknown risks. And, like genetically engineered foods, most people have no idea synthetic biology is even used, or that they may be eating it on a regular basis. To learn more about Joanna's work, see her website, JoannaBlythmanWriting.com. It contains all of her journalism, covering all of her seven books.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

7 Nutrients To Protect Your Brain From Aging: Flavanols, Fish, Nuts, And Blueberries May Prevent Alzheimer’s

7 Nutrients To Protect Your Brain From Aging: Flavanols, Fish, Nuts, And Blueberries May Prevent Alzheimer’s
Apr 21, 2015 02:04 PM By Lecia Bushak

Eating certain nutrients, like cocoa flavonals and magnesium, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, help boost your cognitive function and brainpower. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
While genetics and exercise play a large role in your brain health and risk of developing dementia, diet is quite influential, too. There is no magical elixir that can cure or completely prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but scientists have been able to pinpoint certain nutrients that are associated with improved cognitive function or memory. Keeping your diet full of the foods that contain them, then, can help you protect your brain.
Cocoa Flavanols
Cocoa flavanols are found naturally in cocoa and can be beneficial to your brain health; they make dark chocolate healthier than regular chocolate, which has been washed out with milk and sugar. A 2014 study examined the impact of eating a high cocoa flavanol diet over the course of three months. The researchers focused primarily on the dentate gyrus (DG), a part of the hippocampal formation in the brain that, when it declines, is often associated with aging. Scientists believe this part of the brain is linked to memory loss. After eating a lot of cocoa flavanols, the researchers report that the participants experienced “enhanced DG function.”
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, are going to not only help your heart health, but they’ll also give you a boost in brainpower. According to a 2014 study, mice that were given supplements of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid showed improved cognitive function while they aged — showing better object recognition memory, spatial and localized memory, and aversive response retention.
Nuts
Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids like fish, so adding nuts to your diet in addition to fish will provide you with solid amounts. Walnuts, in particular, have been shown to fight memory loss. In one recent large-scale analysis, researchers found that a diet supplemented with walnuts — which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, folate, antioxidants, and melatonin — improved adults’ performances on a series of six cognitive tests.
Magnesium
Scientists believe that a magnesium deficiency may play a role in cognitive decline, brain aging, and ultimately, dementia. So taking magnesium supplements — or eating foods that contain magnesium, like chard, spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, almonds, black beans, avocados, figs, dark chocolate, or bananas — can help you fight off the effects of the aging brain.
Blueberries
Blueberries are delicious, but they also help in boosting your memory. According to a 2010study, blueberries were shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They also contain anthocyanins, compounds that are associated with increased neuronal signaling in the brain’s memory areas. In the study, researchers found that participants who drank wild blueberry juice on a daily basis had improvements in paired associate learning and word list recall; they also found lower depressive symptoms and glucose levels.
Cruciferous Vegetables
According to the National Institute on Aging, eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help stave off cognitive decline as well as other chronic diseases, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Green, leafy, cruciferous vegetables in particular (like broccoli and spinach) have been shown to reduce the rate of cognitive decline. The Mediterranean diet, in particular (vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish, olive oil, mild amounts of alcohol — as well as low consumption of saturated fats, dairy, meat, and poultry) has shown in studies to be beneficial for cognitive health compared to more “Western” diets that are high in fats, carbs, and meat.
Green Tea

Green tea is good for a lot of things — but it’s also going to help you protect your brain. In a recent study completed at the University of Basel, researchers found that green tea extract enhances your thinking process and working memory. Participants scored higher for working memory tasks after they received the green tea extract, and an MRI showed a boost in connectivity between the parietal and frontal cortex of the brain, meaning that green tea “might increase the short-term synaptic plasticity of the brain,”  said Professor Stefan Borgwardt, an author of the study.