Seaweed for good health and nutrition

With world population figures now passing 6.5 billion, future sources of human nutrition will most likely come from what covers at least 70% of the world’s surface – the sea. Many countries, especially those with large shorelines, have been receiving a good part of their food from the sea for years. The Japanese in particular have eaten aquatic plant life, known otherwise as seaweed, for centuries; and have also used the beneficial qualities of algae and other plants for traditional health remedies and medicine.

Besides being high in fiber content, seaweed also contains many essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and B12. High amounts of iodine and calcium are also present in many varieties.

SeaweedAlthough not all seaweed is edible, there are some types that are used extensively by the Japanese and other sea peoples; and not just for delicacies like Sushi. Some of these types include:

Sargassum – a brownish-green leafy algae, known as haizao to the Japanese and used a lot in oriental medicine.

Porphyra – a purplish-brown algae, known as nori in Japan and is the most commonly used material for wrapping Sushi.

Kelp – a common green seaweed known as kombu in Japan and konbu in China. It is used as food in a number of ways including soups, flavoring, and even picked. Like Nori, it is easily found in oriental food stores or in oriental food sections of most supermarkets.

Laminaria – a green leafy algae called Kunbu in Japan and used in various medicinal remedies including those for the liver, kidneys, lungs, and other organs.

Undaria pinnatifida – a broad leafy form of algae, most popular in soups and salads. Known as Wakame in Japan, it is considered to be a luxury food and is so popular that demand of it far exceeds supply. For this reason, Wakame is often grown extensively in seaweed farms in Japan, Korea, and China.

To give you an idea of the economic importance of seaweed, Japan alone imports around $150 million worth of various seaweed annually from countries like Korea, and exports at least $15 million worth of Nori seaweed wrappings to satisfy the worlds’ growing fondness of Sushi and Nori products. In Japan alone around 21 species of seaweed are eaten as food and the annual per capita consumption of seaweed products is around 4 kilograms. Agar-agar, a gelatin made from Gracilaria and Gelidium types of seaweed, is used both for food and in scientific laboratories as the culture base for growing bacteria specimens. Japan alone exports more than 1,000 tons of Agar annually.

The future of seaweed as a food source will largely depend on the future of the world’s seas and oceans, which are already becoming threatened by widespread pollution. Global warming is also a factor as some seaweed specials are affected by changes in ocean temperatures. In addition, we must also realize that seaweed accounts for more than 20% of our planet’s total oxygen supply, making this perhaps one of the most important attributes for maintaining life on earth.

Source and Picture by Institute for Traditional Medicine

Microwave ovens are a major health hazard

Microwave ovens are an important cooking and food heating tool in many modern homes. Many people may not be aware, however, just how dangerous these gadgets are to human health. For those who are not aware, microwave produce similar electronic frequencies as those who are found in cellular phone relay towers which are now being found to be very dangerous to human health and the cause of a number of types of cancer. It’s not only the type of utensil that holds the food (such as those made from polymer plastics) but the actual appliance itself that is so dangerous that some countries, including Russia, have banned its sale for health reasons.

An example of how dangerous microwaves really are can be seen in a very simple test of placing water in a glass bowl inside a microwave and heating it to boiling (like many people do when heating soup or warming their favorite hot beverage in the morning. When the water cools, place some seeds in two pots and water one pot with the micro-waved water along with similar amount of water straight from the kitchen sink in the second pot. What is really startling is that the seeds in the pot with the “micro-waved” water will not sprout!

Radiation Warning SignThere is apparently some chemical reaction occurring in the micro-waved water that will not allow the seeds to grow. This kind of example is also evident when warming up food in a microwave oven as well as heating milk (including human milk) to feed to infants and babies The heating of the milk in a microwave actually destroys much of the milk’ s nutritional value; and in human milk in particular, the milk’s natural immunity and disease fighting attributes. Heating food items, especially on high heat, also severely alters the bio-chemistry composition of the food, which can have a negative affect on humans, including changes in the body’s blood chemistry.

Other negative effects from microwave ovens include brain damage by causing electrical impulses in the brain to simply “short out”, reducing or altering the nutritional content of ingested food. Eating micro-waved foods also have been found to cause heart attacks and cancers, and can result in memory loss, lack of concentration, and even lower intelligence.

The connection to microwaving foods in plastic containers has been known for some time, and even though many plastic containers are noted to cause cancers, using a microwave has now been found to cause cancer cells to increase in the human blood.

So, taking all of the above into account, there are many reasons for “retiring” your microwave oven before it is too late!

Source: Natural News

Indian herbs may replace chemical food preservatives

Indian herbs, including Amaranthus paniculatus (cultiv.), Coccinia indica, and Coriandrum sativum (coriander) may soon be replacing chemical preservatives in many foods. The herbs have high quantities of antioxidants which are known to retard spoilage and “aging” in both foods and human beings as well. Most plants produce some antioxidants, but these herbs appear to have much higher levels and chemicals such as ascorbic acid, flavonoids, phenolics and tannin.

Tests have shown that the high levels of antioxidants in these herbs have a positive effect in people’s bodies and though not completely proven, can be utilized by people who are interested in a “natural” manner to preserve foods as well as to prevent aging.

CorianderOne of these herbs, known to Westerners as Coriander and to Asians and Middle Easterners as “Cusbara” is very commonly used in households as a food enhancer and a cooking herb. Although the plant’s pungent, almost bitter, taste is not agreeable with many westerners, people living in the Mediterranean regions love it and use the plant in their foods almost every day.

Synthetic antioxidants used in many foods include butylhydroxytoluene (BHY) and Butylhydroxyanisole (BHA), both of which are very common. By using the Indian ideas of utilizing less synthetic and more natural vitamins, the end result may enable foods to be preserved in a healthier manner by using these herbs. Oxidation is a big factor in what causes food products to spoil so quickly. The Amaranthus plant contains high levels of beta carotene, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and folates, all of which are excellent anti-oxidants.

The demand for natural antioxidants has resulted in a global market for natural antioxidants that now reaches nearly $ 70 million. Indian herbs have been known to have many curative properties, and high antioxidant levels are just some of the many attributes of Indian herbs. These herbs are found in both fresh and dried versions, and those wishing to preserve food items simply have to add certain amounts of these herbs to the foods. In addition to preserving food, many of these herbs, including Coriander and Amaranthus are used extensively in salads to add a unique, zesty flavor.

Source: Natural News; Picture by Gernot Katzer

Rosemary is a great brain food and memory enhancer

The herb Rosemary, or Rosmarinus officinalis in Latin, is often used to complement a number of food dishes. It is a native of Mediterranean regions, and was often mentioned and used in ancient Greek and Roman times as a memory enhancer and as a treatment for certain forms of limb paralysis, it is also mentioned by William Shakespeare in one of his most famous plays, Hamlet. Because of the shrubs’ water holding qualities, it can be easily grown in semi arid climates, and is commonly found in countries like Cyprus, Greece, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel.

Rosemary is a perennial shrub that resembles pine or fir branches in both appearance and taste. It contains an ingredient known as Carnosic Acid which helps to protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals, and as a result helps to protect against strokes and neurodegeneration which can bring on conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Studies made in neuroscience journals show that the carnosic acid found in rosemary helps to protect brain cells from damage caused by free radicals.

RosemaryRosemary is also considered to be helpful in preventing breast cancer by blocking an overabundance of estrogen hormone, found to cause breast cancer. Women who have breast cancer are often given carnosic acid to help lower estrogen levels. Due to its strong, evergreen-like odor, rosemary can also be used to rid persons of head lice.

From a nutrient standpoint, rosemary is high in iron, calcium, and vitamin B6.

Consuming too much rosemary, however, can be detrimental, and large quantities should not be eaten by women who are breast feeding, or by those who may be allergic to it. As some people are also allergic to rosemary, it should never be consumed by those who may be allergic to it, as it can result in severe symptoms such as vomiting, spasms, coma, and even death.

Despite any potential health hazards, the benefits of rosemary make it a plant of many uses, especially in the kitchen, where its pine-like taste goes great with both meat and fish dishes, as well as vegetables such as sweet potatoes. It also adds a zest to breakfast omelets.

Picture by Wikimedia

Guacamole salad and salsa are great health foods

Guacamole SaladMexican salads and sauces are not only very popular but also beneficial to your health. Take guacamole salad for example, which is made from avocados, lemon juice, garlic, red and green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and a number of spices, including cumin. Avocados have long been considered as very healthy and contain lutein (a carotenoid antioxidant), vitamin E, magnesium, and monounsaturated fats. Avocados are also beneficial in preventing conditions such as prostate and breast cancer.

Lemon juice and virgin olive oil are also ingredients that provide vitamin C, alkalizes (good for keeping both kidneys free of kidney stones and the gall bladder free of gall stones), and helps against some forms of cancer. Olive oil is considered as one of the best salad and cooking oils due to having Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid.

Ingredients in salsa sauce, such as tomatoes, peppers, and garlic are all very beneficial to you health. Tomatoes are high in anti-oxidants as well as vitamins A, C, and K. Tomatoes help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and also help prevent cancer of the colon and prostate gland.

Garlic has many beneficial properties of a powerful antioxidant called Allicin, and helps clean the liver as well as lowering blood cholesterol.

Red and green peppers contain an antioxidant called Capsaicin, which helps to reduce cholesterol, prevents formation of blood clots and strokes, while increasing a person’s metabolic rate. Peppers are also high in vitamin C and help prevent and fight cancers of the stomach, thyroid and prostate.

Cumin is an oriental spice that is often found in both salsa and guacamole salads. Cumin in itself is an antioxidant that is helpful in digestion and against some forms of cancer, especially liver cancer.

Onion is also used in both preparations and it contains antioxidants and the flavonoid Quercetin, as well as vitamins C and E, along with the mineral potassium and dietary fibres. Onions have many health uses including relieving congestion and preventing heart attacks by clearing the bloodstream of arterial plaque.

Last but not least, use sea salt instead of regular table salt as it is tastier as well as purer.

So next time you prepare a dinner or some party snacks involving guacamole and salsa sauce, you’ll get more from them than just good taste. Go easy on the taco chips, though.

Picture by: Big Oven

Storms and global warming

The severe Cyclone Nargis that ravaged the southern Asian country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) has brought the country literally to its knees with a death toll of over 22,000 and hundreds of thousands of people homeless and without food, clear water and other basic necessities. The storm was so severe, that the country’s autocratic military government has had no choice other than to beg the outside world for assistance due to a total breakdown in the country’s infrastructure.

Southern and eastern Asia are accustomed to receiving severe storms, and one which recently hit the country of Bangladesh also caused widespread flooding and damage, although not on such a scale as occurred in Myanmar. The frequency of these storms, and their increasing severity, are being blamed by many environmentalists as a consequence of the word-wide phenomena now being referred to as global warming. Global warming is also being blamed for very high temperatures in countries like India, a neighboring country whose eastern regions border on Myanmar. Already in early May, daytime temperatures in Indian cities such as Delhi are reaching 41 degrees Celsius (106F) resulting in more deaths from the intense heat that doesn’t seem to let up until the late summer monsoon season finally arrives.

The monsoon season brings problems of it’s own as it often results in widespread flooding in low lying regions such as India’s own river delta regions, especially in eastern India. The monsoons that arrive have been fiercer than in former years, and the result is widespread damage and loss of property for many people whose lives are on a mere subsistence level in normal times.

Katrina Storm HavocSevere weather has also played havoc in other parts of the world, including Europe, Central and South America, and in North America as well. Hurricane Katrina, the category 5 storm that slammed into the U.S. Gulf Coast in late August 2005, caused devastating damage not only to the city of New Orleans, but to the entire southern part of the state of Mississippi. The damage inflicted to southern Mississippi coastal towns and cities was so severe that some communities were virtually obliterated by powerful winds and storm surges, with walls of water forced up from the Gulf of Mexico.

What happened in Mississippi is now being compared to the Irrawaddy Delta region of Myanmar, where similar storm surges sent mountainous walls of water as high as seven meters (30 feet) up narrow river inlets, destroying virtually everything in its path. Witnesses there claim that the damage is as bad as the tsunami tidal wave which struck parts of southern Asia on December 26, 2004 and killed more than 150,000 souls.

While many meteorologists and other scientists studying climate change do not consider these severe weather occurrences as consequences of global warming, many others do link these storms with what is now being referred to as “the greenhouse effect”. As a result, many experts say that the problems with the world’s weather are bound to get worse before getting better.

For the unfortunate citizens of what was once one of the most beautiful and prosperous countries of southern Asia, in pre-junta days, it may be a long time before they and their country recover from the effects of Cyclone Nargis. And the death toll from hunger and disease may push the total death toll from this storm to well over 30,000.

Diabetes sufferers seek a “natural” relief

Insulin InjectorDiabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a condition in which the body produces too much blood sugar and not enough of the hormone insulin which prevents blood sugars from going too high. Many diabetes sufferers must inject themselves daily with synthetic insulin to enable them to live a near-normal life. Recent research, however, is finding that diabetes can be controlled by a number of natural remedies, in addition to the standard remedies of insulin and special diets.

There are presently more than 20 million Americans suffering from either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, and an estimated 6 million more who are not even aware that they may have the condition. The most common symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst and urine extraction, blurred vision and lethargy, and sudden and unexplained weight loss. If not treated properly, diabetes can lead to blindness and kidney failure, loss of limbs due to gangrene, and eventually death.

Although moderate exercise and sugarless diets are recommended to diabetes sufferers, especially those afflicted with what is known as Type 2 diabetes, or the one involving increased blood glucose levels accompanied with lack of natural insulin, the use of a number of natural remedies is now being found to cause improvement to diabetes sufferers. Some of these remedies include fenugreek seed; kelp reduces blood sugar levels; pycnogenol: a powerful antioxidant that is derived from a species of pine tree in France and other European countries. Pycnogenol has been shown to help repair the damage to the eye’s retina caused by too much blood sugar. Other herbal remedies include mulluca root: used to treat diabetes as well as other physical ailments such as high blood pressure and skin diseases; bitter melon: reduces blood sugar levels in a manner similar to insulin; alpha lipoic acid: reduces blood glucose levels by increasing insulin function, and a soup-like preparation from the leaves of the oleander plant which is also said to be good against some forms of cancer.

In addition to herbs such as the ones mentioned here, foods such as apples and almonds, and those containing Omega 3 fatty acids are also said to be beneficial.

It must be advised though to never rely on natural remedies alone without advice from a physician who is familiar with natural herbal remedies. Along with using these remedies, it is important to adhere to a strict diet that avoids fatty foods and foods high in sugar content. By augmenting these natural herbal remedies to a regime of exercise and strict diet, diabetes sufferers may be able to rely less on insulin injections in order to maintain a normal life.

Sources: Natural News, Wikipedia ; Picture by Islets of Hope

A secret called Tahini

Tahini SpreadToday I want to tell you about my favorite dip — A greyish natural spread called Tahini, or otherwise, Sesame Paste. It is a dish well known in the Middle East and in Africa, much appreciated there for its nutritional value and its unique, slightly bitter, taste.

Tahini is made from sesame seeds. First you have to separate the seed’s oil from the rest of its content, and then you roast and grind each substance separately, only to be merged again afterwards. The result is a thick and smooth paste, which you can buy and store in your cupboard for long periods of time.

Whether you buy whole-seed tahini (thicker, bitter, healthier) or hulled-seed tahini (thinner, slightly sweet), the paste is full of protein, calcium, and healthy fatty acids such as Omega 6. Even better, it is relatively low in carbohydrates.

To make a fresh paste you simply pour some pure tahini into a bowl, mix it with an even amount of water, and add some fresh lemon juice. That’s the basic recipe, and it’s fast and easy to make! But if you feel like investing a bit more time in making an authentic sesame spread, the kind of which you could buy on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, I suggest taking a single clove and and scraping it with a small grater directly onto the bowl. Then, add some chopped parsley (organic parsley is my preferred) into the mix, and top the bonanza with a touch of salt and black pepper.

Congratulations! You now have a home-made tahini, which you may spill over your salad or spread over a piece of bread. Heck, sometimes I eat it straight with a spoon.

Picture by:

Broccoli – a natural immunity plant

Broccoli PowerBroccoli is a plant that is more than just a good source of vitamins, minerals and as a defense against various forms of cancer. This green, fibrous vegetable is now being regarded as a way to acquire immunity against a number of debilitating factors that effect people in old age.

Already an excellent provider of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E, and K, research studies are discovering that frequent eating of broccoli, especially raw, protects people from the effects of oxidants known as free radicals. Broccoli contains a chemical known as sulforaphane which assists the body to activate certain genes and enzymes in the body’s system to create antioxidants which can fight free radicals and reduce the dame they cause to the body which helps to hasten the effects of old age. For those who are not familiar with the term “free radicals” they are found in a large number of environmental surroundings including pollution, sunlight, unhealthy diets (especially ‘fast foods’) and many other elements that surround people every day of their lives. Too many free radicals in the body can result in injury to body cells and cause cells to die prematurely, hastening the ageing process; as well as bringing on a number of diseases, including cancers.

Studies made by researchers at UCLA involved treatment of old mice with sulforaphane that came from broccoli resulted in the mice regaining their immune system to the level it had been when they were much younger. The conclusion was that the same result could also be had in humans, with older people regaining the immune system they once had against disease when young adults. The researchers have gone one step further by concluding that if older people can regain at least some of their former immunity against disease, children can make their immune system even stronger by eating broccoli and other green vegetable on a regular basis. The only problem now is how to get them to do it, since children usually prefer sweets and ice cream to vegetables.

Like all vegetables, broccoli should be eaten when it is fresh; either raw or cooked in a manner that keeps from it losing it’s vitamins and other beneficial components. We can all suppose that a broccoli based ice cream-like desert bar is now being worked on somewhere.

Sources: Natural News; Healing Daily
Picture by: Pennsylvania Department of Health

Astaxanthin – a new miracle nutrient, or “miracle hype”?

Recent communicated articles and press releases concerning a newly discovered phytonutrient, derived from a species of micro-algae has been showing up on various media and internet networks that deal in health and nutrition products. The nutrient, known as astaxanthin is being touted as being high in antioxidants (as much as10 times higher than other carotenoids) and is said to be excellent for a number of physical health problems, including prostate glands in men and pre-cancerous conditions in female breasts.

Astaxanthin is said to be derived from a micro-algae called Haematocuccus, and is red in color. The red color in this algae and phytonutrient is said to be what causes certain species of Salmon to have that appealing pink color. Astaxanthin is a concentrated anti-oxidant that is claimed to prevent damage to body cells caused by free radicals – the byproduct of energy created by oxygen reaching cells each time we breathe.

Astaxanthin Chemical MakeUpWhile astaxanthin is found naturally in smaller quantities, when synthesized into a concentrate, it is said to do wonders for improve egg production in animal species like chickens and fish – especially salmon. It is claimed that salmon which are fed food containing this phytonutrient were able leap far higher and further than those who were given the supplement. And chickens given astaxanthin are said to live longer and produce better quality eggs.

So why might there be problem with this kind of nutrient; especially after all the claims to it’s health qualities? Like many other health supplements, this product is currently being promoted on on-line marking websites and is not yet available in health food and health supplement stores. This usually adds a lot of money onto the price of the product due the way it is marketed, i.e. by direct or multi-level marketing campaigns where the price of the product is made more expensive due to many people being involved in the “pyramid” sales structure.

From a health standpoint, it must be determined that the product has been tested and certified to be acceptable by organizations such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (it has been approved by the FDA as a food coloring), especially in light of a number of health supplements and vitamins coming from countries such as China being found to be unsafe for human consumption.

There are a lot of tested and certified health supplement products currently on the market, and many of them are available at large chain stores such as GNC, and even ones like Costco and Wall Mart. If astaxanthin turns out to live up to all that is being said about it, then it should eventually be available at well known retail and discount establishments; and not just via online marketing.

Source: Natural News ; Picture by: Wikipedia