Full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, cabbage needs to be a regular in your kitchen


Full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, cabbage needs to be a regular in your kitchen

 

With its high concentrations of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, cabbage is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. As a cruciferous veggie, in the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, it also contains glucosinolates, phytochemicals that break down into indoles, sulforaphane and other cancer-preventive substances.

Different types of cabbage (red, green and Savoy) contain different patterns of glucosinolates, which suggests you should try to eat a variety of cabbage for the best health effects. Its variety is another one of cabbage’s pluses — it comes in hundreds of different types and is incredibly versatile. Eaten raw, cabbage is a mainstay of cole slaw and other summer salads. It’s also one of the most popular base vegetables for creating your own homemade sauerkraut.

 

Cooked lightly and quickly, cabbage also makes an excellent side dish to virtually any protein source and can be seasoned in a number of different ways depending on the type of cuisine. You may be tempted to rely on your local grocery store for cabbage, but growing your own is so much more rewarding, both in terms of freshness and flavor. What’s more, growing cabbage is incredibly easy, and if you time your planting right you can expect to harvest it during the summer as well as the late cold-weather season.

Choose the Right Varieties for the Growing Season

Cabbage is one of those vegetables that taste better after a frost. This is because as temperatures drop, the cold causes the plants to break down energy stores into sugar, leading to a sweeter, tastier flavor. Some types of cabbage can even be grown in temperatures as low as 26 degrees F.

Most winter veggies are planted in mid- to late summer so they are strong and ready for when the temperatures drop, and then ripe for harvest in winter or early spring. Timing this depends on how long each plant takes to reach maturity, however, and this is where choosing the proper varieties is key.

While some cabbage plants reach maturity in 90 days, early varieties take just 60 days to reach maturity. Further, you’ll probably want to plant a crop to harvest during the summer months, as well.

 

As Rodale’s Organic Life noted, “Cabbage thrives in cool weather. In most areas, you can plant an early crop for fresh eating and a late crop — usually the more problem free and tastier of the two — primarily for winter storage. Choose early varieties such as ‘Primax’ for summer harvest; midseason and late-season cultivars for storage.” Additional recommended varieties, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, include the following:

  • “If you are planting for a fall harvest, try red or Chinese cabbage. Good varieties include ‘Ruby Perfection’ and ‘Lei-Choy.’
  • For quick harvest time, try ‘Golden Acre,’ ‘Primo’ or ‘Stonehead.’
  • ‘Early Jersey Wakefield’ resists splitting.
  • Disease-resistant varieties include ‘Blue Vantage’ and ‘Cheers.’”

Other considerations in cabbage variety include size, color and texture. With its variety of cool hues and ruffled and crinkled leaves, many people plant cabbage as much for its ornamental appeal as they do for its culinary uses. Some of the more popular varieties to consider include:

Savoy cabbage, which has dark green, crinkled outer leaves Red cabbage, which contains antioxidant anthocyanins that give it its purple color
Napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage, matures quickly and has a mild flavor Green cabbage, which comes in a variety of sizes with differing times to maturity
Pointed cabbage, which forms conical heads, helping to protect it from insects Mini cabbages, such as the “Gonzales” variety, which can be harvested when they’re 6 inches in diameter, making them ideal for small gardens

It’s Easy to Start Cabbage From Seed

While you can purchase cabbage plants at most garden centers, it’s easy to grow them yourself from seed. Start seeds indoors eight to 10 weeks before your last frost of the spring for summer harvests, and 12 to 14 weeks before your first fall frost for late varieties. “Place in a sunny spot or under lights with temperatures between 60 degrees and 70 degrees F, and keep the soil uniformly moist. When daytime temperatures reach 50 degrees F and seedlings have three leaves, plant them outdoors,” Rodale’s Organic Life recommends. In addition, they note:

“Plant seedlings in the garden slightly deeper than they grew in flats. Space 6 to 12 inches apart in rows 1 to 2 feet apart. Wide spacings produce bigger heads, but young, small cabbages are tastier. To get both, plant 6 inches apart and harvest every other one before maturity. Stagger plantings at 2-week intervals for a longer harvest. tart your late crop in midsummer, sowing seeds in flats or directly in the garden. Space these seedlings farther apart than the spring crop.”

As for seeds, look for non-GMO, organic seeds or consider saving seeds from your own crop. The latter may be a challenge, as cabbage produces seed in its second year (it’s a biennial crop). This means only areas with mild winters will allow the seedlings to survive through the winter and produce seeds come summer. An alternative is to transfer cabbage plants in a cool place for the purpose of harvesting seeds the next growing season, according to Mother Earth News:

“In colder climates, growers dig cabbage plants and move them to a cool root cellar for winter, burying the plants’ roots in buckets of moist sawdust. The stored heads are trimmed and replanted in early spring.”

Cabbage Planting Tips

A sunny, well-drained spot works best, and healthy soil will help your cabbage plants to thrive. Adding organic compost to your soil is recommended, as is a layer of mulch or wood chips to help lock in moisture. If your cabbage leaves start to yellow, adding compost tea, which is basically the liquid from compost steeped in water, to the soil as an extra feeding may boost plant growth and encourage faster maturation.

Cabbage plants are heavy feeders, meaning they deplete the soil of nutrients relatively quickly. Because of this, it’s best to plant them apart from other heavy feeders like broccoli and cauliflower. In addition, rotate crops each year to discourage diseases. Excess water (including heavy rain) can cause cabbages to split. If you notice a split starting, or expect a heavy rain to hit, use a spade to sever the plant’s roots in one or two spots, or twist the plant, pulling up slightly, to dislodge the roots.

Both methods will slow the plant’s growth, preventing splitting and bolting. If the cabbage does split, don’t worry — it can still be used to make sauerkraut. As for pests, many, including harlequin bugs, slugs, snails and cabbage worms can be removed by hand (be sure to check the undersides of leaves). Damage from cutworms can be prevented by placing a “collar” made from a plastic cup around young seedlings (push it down about 1 inch into the soil). Common diseases to watch out for include the following:

“Black leg, a fungal disease, forms dark spots on leaves and stems. Black rot symptoms include black and foul-smelling veins. Club root prevents water and nutrient absorption. Fusarium wilt, also known as yellows, produces yellow leaves and stunted heads. Remove and destroy plants affected by these diseases. If club root has been a problem in your garden, test soil pH before planting and add ground limestone if needed to raise the pH to at least 6.8.”

Simple Harvest Tips

When the cabbage head is firm to the touch, use a sharp knife to cut it from the stalk. Heads that don’t feel firm are not yet ready for harvest. Smaller cabbage heads will often grow from the stem, provided you leave the outer leaves and roots, so don’t pull it out of the ground yet. If you’re not interested in encouraging a second crop to grow, the loose outer leaves can be tossed into your compost pile or eaten — it’s up to you.

Once the harvest is complete, pull the stem and root from the ground and compost the remainders (as long as the plant is healthy; avoid throwing diseases plants into your compost bin). Store cabbage in your refrigerator for two weeks or in cold storage (32 degrees to 40 degrees F) for five or six months (the latter being perfect for your winter harvest).

If you’re wondering how much cabbage to grow, Mother Earth News recommends about three cabbage plants per person for enjoying fresh and four plants per person (in addition) for storing cabbage to make sauerkraut. Cabbage is best prepared as close to raw as possible, sometimes called tender-crisp, to preserve its many nutrients.

Cabbage can also be juiced and fermented, which will provide your body with healthy amounts of beneficial bacteria and, if certain starter cultures are used, vitamin K2.

Ready to Enjoy? Healthy Cabbage Crunch Salad

There are many reasons to give cabbage a regular appearance at your mealtimes. It contains powerful antioxidants like vitamins A and C and phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, lutein, zeaxanthin, isothiocyanates and sulforaphane, which stimulate detoxifying enzymes and may protect against breast, colon and prostate cancers. Cabbage also contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check.

Among them are anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol that, as mentioned, is particularly plentiful in red cabbage, although all types of cabbage contain anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Cabbage also contains healthy amounts of B vitamins, including folate (which is better than the synthetic form known as folic acid found in many supplements), vitamin B6, vitamin B1 and vitamin B5.

B vitamins are not only important for energy, they may also slow brain shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

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If you’re looking for a recipe to enjoy your cabbage raw that’s a bit different than typical cole slaw recipes, try this healthy Cabbage Crunch Recipe. With fresh ginger, miso paste and ground sesame, along with both red and green cabbage, it’s packed with both intense flavor and valuable nutrition.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 1/2 head red cabbage, chopped finely
  • 1/2 head white cabbage, chopped finely
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)

For the Dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon gomasio (ground sesame with salt)
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste* (optional)

Procedure

  1. Mix the cabbage with the chopped onions. Add cilantro and jalapeno.
  2. Place all the dressing ingredients into a food processor and blend briefly. Mix into salad mix and serve.
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Berries are some of the best anti-cancer foods you’ll ever find


Image: Berries are some of the best anti-cancer foods you’ll ever find

If you’re constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce your cancer risk, welcome to the club. With so many different types of cancer to worry about and so few safe and effective treatments, prevention really is better than cure. Most natural foods possess anti-cancer benefits to some degree, but if you want to get the most benefits, you should head straight for the berry aisle at your grocery store or farmer’s market.

Your first clue that berries possess remarkable properties is their color. Many fruits that are deep purple, red and blue get their shade from anthocyanins. These powerful antioxidants help fight free radicals and curb the oxidative stress and inflammation at the heart of many types of cancers as well as degenerative diseases.

While they boast a lot of useful benefits, like preventing the buildup of plaque in arterial walls that can lead to heart disease, anthocyanins’ crowning achievement is their ability to prompt various types of cancer cells to kill themselves. They also have the power to interfere with tumors’ abilities to resist chemotherapy, helping make this often-ineffective treatment that much more useful.

It’s no surprise, then, that acai berries, with their incredible antioxidant content, have been shown in studies to inhibit cancer. They can be especially useful when fighting colon cancer; a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that acai could suppress the growth and reproduction of colon cancer cells in humans by a remarkable 90 percent.

That doesn’t mean you should seek acai at the expense of other berries, however. Bilberries might not be as glamorous as other superfoods, but they are still worthwhile, especially in those who have breast or intestinal cancer cells as studies have shown they can cause cell death in these cancers. Also known as the European blueberry, they are like smaller versions of the typical blueberry and can be used in any way you would use the more familiar fruit.

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Another more obscure berry, the chokeberry, puts many other fruits to shame. According to a 2012 study in Oncology Reports, the berries were able to cause malignant brain tumor cells to die. That study looked at the combination of these berries and curcumin. While curcumin fared well when it came to inducing cell death, chokeberries were completely lethal to the cancer cells while also inhibiting the expression of genes that help cancer to spread.

Raspberries, meanwhile, offer a double-pronged approach to fighting cancer. In addition to their high anthocyanin content, they also have a high amount of ellagitannins, enabling them to limit colon cancer cells’ invasiveness and spur cell death in prostate, breast, oral and cervical cancer. Ellagic acid attacks cancer from several angles, acting not only as an antioxidant but also helping to slow cancer cell reproduction and deactivate carcinogens.

Berries’ benefits extend beyond their antioxidant abilities

The American Institute for Cancer Research points out that berries are also excellent sources of vitamin C, which has been shown to help protect against esophageal cancer. They also contain a lot of fiber, which can lower your risk of colorectal cancer.

When you consider all these benefits, combined with the fact that berries happen to be delicious, it might be tempting to get as much of them into your system as possible. Eating berries is unlikely to hurt you, unless you happen to be allergic to them. However, it’s important to keep in mind that berries contain astringent tannins, so taking high doses of very concentrated berry extracts could be damaging over time. Use common sense and talk to a naturopath if you’re concerned about striking a healthy balance.

Sources for this article include:

NaturalHealth365.com

AICR.org

Naturalpedia.com

An ancient pear endemic to Italy is a little-known superfood with high concentrations of antioxidant compounds


Image: An ancient pear endemic to Italy is a little-known superfood with high concentrations of antioxidant compounds

The Apennine mountains of central Italy are home to an ancient and rare variant of the European pear (Pyrus communis) called the Cocomerina pear. A study conducted by local researchers revealed that this pink-fleshed pear is a superfood bursting with natural antioxidants.

“Cocomerina” is derived from “cocomero,” the term for watermelon. This variant of pear is called that because of its sweet-smelling and pink flesh, which grows more vivid in color as the fruit ripens.

It is one of the so-called “ancient fruits,” which are very old and only found in a few small areas. The Cocomerina variant of the European pear is restricted to the Apennine area of Romagna and Tuscany. The early-ripening cultivar is harvested in August, while the late-ripening one is collected in October.

Many pears contain large amounts of anthocyanins, flavonoids, and polyphenols.  These plant-based compounds have powerful antioxidant properties that protect cell tissue and membranes from free radicals. (Related: The strange-looking tropical fruit graviola is a POWERFUL superfood against cancer.)

Methodology

Researchers from the Universita di Urbino – Carlo Bo (UdU Carlo Bo) studied the nutritional value of the Cocomerina pear. They harvested ripe specimens of the early-ripening cultivar, as well as both ripe and unripe examples of the late-ripening cultivar.

The cores were removed from the sample fruits before they were chopped up and prepared into fruit extracts. Each extract was analyzed to determine the amount and types of anthocyanins, flavones, flavonoids, flavonols, and polyphenols that it contained.

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Armed with the knowledge of the bioactive plant compounds present in the fruits, the researchers tested the extracts for their antioxidant activity. They measured the effectiveness of each extract when it came to scavenging DPPH free radicals, as well as its capacity to absorb oxygen radicals.

Furthermore, they evaluated the ability of the extracts to prevent inflammation. In the 5’-lipoxygenase assay, they measured the amount of extract required to inhibit 50 percent of the inflammatory activity of lipoxygenase.

Phytochemical content of Cocomerina pear extract

To begin with, the UdU Carlo Bo researchers noted the different amounts of phytochemicals found in the cultivars of the Cocomerina pear. The late-ripening cultivar has higher levels of polyphenolic compounds. Likewise, its ripe fruits contain more polyphenols than unripe samples.

The unripe fruits of the late-ripening cultivar have the best number of flavonoids. Interestingly, the ripe fruits of both ER and LR strains contain similar levels of flavonoids.

When it came to flavones and flavonols, the ripe fruit of the early-ripening cultivar demonstrated the highest level. Dihydroflavonol levels were much higher in the late cultivar, however.

Comparison of the unripe and ripe fruits of the late-ripening cultivar showed that the levels increased alongside the maturity of the fruit. So ripe fruits of the Cocomerina pear contains more phytochemicals than unripe fruits.

The amount of anthocyanin in late-ripening cultivar is 126 times greater than in the early-ripening one. Ripe LR cultivars contain more anthocyanins than unripe ones.

Free radical scavenging and antioxidant activity

All three extracts were able to scavenge DPPH free radicals. The ethanolic extracts made from the unripe and ripe pears of the late-ripening cultivar were much more effective.

Next, the extracts were also effective at inhibiting the activity of the inflammatory enzyme 5’-lipoxygenase. Again, the late-ripening cultivar’s extracts displayed greater effectiveness.

The antioxidant activity was greatest in the ripe fruits of the late-ripening cultivar. When compared with commercial pear cultivars, the Cocomerina pear extracts showed comparable or superior activity.

The researchers concluded that the Cocomerina pear possesses significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. These health benefits could encourage the conservation and recovery of this ancient fruit.

For more stories about cocomerina pear and other fruits that serve as superfoods, check out Fruits.news.

Sources include:

Science.news

Academic.OUP.com

TAndFOnline.com

Pubs.ACS.org

Coffee and Tea Benefits to Your Health


Drinking Coffee and Tea

Story at-a-glance

  • Coffee and tea are rich in beneficial antioxidants and other plant compounds that may boost your health
  • Benefits to heart health, brain health, weight loss, and chronic disease prevention have been established
  • For the best results, choose organic tea and coffee and drink it unsweetened without any milk or creamer

If you’re thirsty, pure water is always a good bet for a healthy beverage. But if you’re looking for a beverage to sip and savor while you start your day, take a work break, or relax in the evening, water doesn’t always hit the spot.

Fortunately, while there is no substitute for water (your body needs a healthy amount each and every day) there are other healthy beverages to choose from. Chief among those are coffee and tea, which should be good news to most of you, since these are among the most consumed beverages in the world.

Coffee has gotten a bad rap for health largely because 97 percent of it is sprayed with pesticides, and an artifact of optimizing for cost contaminates many of the beans with mycotoxins. Improper roasting is another area where toxins like acrylamide can creep in.

I am not saying this to justify my coffee addiction, because I do not enjoy the taste and have probably had less than five cups in my entire life, primarily to combat jet lag. To me the evidence is very clear: properly grown, harvested and roasted coffee can be very healthy.

Up to Five Cups of Coffee a Day Is OK – and Likely Good for You

In its recommendations for the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a government advisory committee, for the first time, said Americans could safely consume up to five cups of coffee a day, or approximately 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, with no detrimental effects.1

The recommendation was based on an evaluation of multiple meta-analyses and other studies evaluating the link between coffee and chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.

While coffee has long gotten a bad rap because of its caffeine content, it also contains beneficial antioxidants, including significant amounts of hydrocinnamic acid and polyphenols.

In fact, because Americans drink so much of it, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet – with researchers noting “nothing else even comes close.”2 The antioxidants may even help neutralize the harsher effects of the caffeine that coffee naturally contains.3

Coffee May Be Good for Your Heart

It used to be said that coffee could increase your blood pressure, at least temporarily. But longer-term studies haven’t found a connection, and it’s now thought people may develop a tolerance to coffee’s hypertensive effects.4

On the other hand, increasing research suggests coffee may be quite good for your heart health. One meta-analysis that included data from 11 studies and nearly 480,000 people found drinking two to six cups of coffee a day was associated with a lower risk of stroke.5 That study noted:

The phenolic compounds in coffee possess antioxidant capacity and can inhibit the oxidative modification of low density lipoprotein cholesterol, thereby reducing the atherosclerotic process.

… [M]oderate coffee consumption (1 to 3 cups/day in the United States or 3 to 4 cups/day in Europe) was associated with a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease in women… Ample evidence also indicates that coffee consumption is inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”

Further, in a study of more than 25,000 people, those who drank a moderate amount of coffee – defined as three to five cups daily – were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries than those who drank no coffee or more coffee daily.6

A large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term “hardening of the arteries.” Coronary artery calcium can be a significant predictor of future heart disease risk.

In addition, one study showed moderate coffee drinking reduces your chances of being hospitalized for heart rhythm problems.7 Another study found it may trigger a 30 percent increase in blood flow in your small blood vessels, which might take some strain off your heart.8

Coffee for Your Brain Health?

Coffee is renowned for its ability to make you feel more alert and focused, and boost cognitive performance, at least temporarily, but it also has some impressive benefits for brain health.

The chlorogenic acid (CGA) in coffee, for instance, protects neurons from glutamate neurotoxicity, which suggests it may have benefits for neurodegenerative diseases such as ischemic stroke.9

Drinking three to five cups of coffee a day in middle age has even been associated with a decreased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (by about 65 percent!) later in life.10

Caffeine also promotes production of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, and triggers the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, thereby improving your brain health.

Among people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), those with higher blood levels of caffeine (due to coffee consumption) were also less likely to progress to full-blown dementia.11 Caffeine/coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or delayed onset, particularly for those who already have MCI,” the researchers said.

Coffee Might Fight Against Cancer, Too

Polyphenols in coffee, such as lignan phytoestrogens, flavonoids, and polyphenols are also known to have anti-cancer properties, as does caffeic acid, which inactivates several pathways involved in the development of tumors – including cell cycle regulation, inflammatory and stress response, and apoptosis.

In one recent study of people with advanced (stage III) colon cancer, drinking four or more cups of caffeinated coffee daily lowered the risk of cancer recurrence or death during the study by 52 percent compared to those who drank no coffee.

Drinking two or three cups per day was also beneficial, lowering the risk of recurrence or death by 31 percent.12

The researchers stressed that other caffeinated beverages, such as soda, did not have the same effect. No link was found between decaffeinated coffee and risk of colon cancer recurrence either.

Other research, a meta-analysis involving 59 studies, revealed an increase in consumption of one cup of coffee per day was associated with a 3 percent reduced risk of cancers.13 According to the researchers:

“Coffee drinking was associated with a reduced risk of bladder, breast, buccal and pharyngeal, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, hepatocellular, leukemic, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.”14

There’s even research showing coffee consumption could lower your risk of skin cancer. Drinking four cups of caffeinated coffee daily might reduce your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.15

And one 2007 meta-analysis found an increase in consumption of two cups of coffee per day was associated with a 43 percent reduced risk of liver cancer16 – a finding that has been confirmed by more recent research.

More Reasons to Drink Coffee…

If you don’t drink coffee, there’s no reason to start up the habit for the sake of your health. There are many other ways to flood your diet with antioxidants – such as eating fresh vegetables and even cocoa.

However, if you’re already a coffee drinker you’ll be happy to know that coffee has also been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and a lower risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome.17 According to Harvard Medical School:18

Heavy coffee drinkers may be half as likely to get diabetes as light drinkers or nondrinkers. Coffee may contain ingredients that lower blood sugar. A coffee habit may also increase your resting metabolism rate, which could help keep diabetes at bay.”

Decaffeinated coffee seems to have less of a protective effect against diabetes than caffeinated coffee, likely because it lacks caffeine. As reported by the New York Times:19

One hypothesis is that caffeine increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin, so it requires less of the hormone. That, in turn, may reduce inflammation, which is a risk factor for diabetes and cancer.”

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has even shown that coffee consumption is inversely associated with premature death. The more coffee drank, the lower the risk of death became, including deaths from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections.20

5 Reasons to Have a Cup of Tea

It’s not only coffee that’s rich in antioxidants and provides a healthy addition to water for your beverage options. Tea ranks right up alongside coffee in terms of health benefits, so choose whichever you prefer (or drink both!). Although coffee is the most popular beverage in the US, tea takes the number one spot globally. As noted by the Epoch Times:21

Around the world, tea is the most common drink after water. Popularity increased in the 1800s because the practice of boiling water to make the tea meant water-borne pathogens like cholera and typhoid would be killed, making it safer to drink.”

Regardless of variety, black and green tea (as well as oolong, dark, and white teas) come from the same plant, an evergreen called Camellia sinensis. It is the processing method and degree of oxidization (exposure to oxygen) that creates the different tea types. While black tea is oxidized, green tea is not oxidized at all after the leaves are harvested. This minimal oxidation may help to keep the beneficial antioxidants in green tea intact, although both green and black teas have beneficial effects.

1.Rich in Antioxidants

Tea is rich in naturally occurring plant compounds called polyphenols, which can account for up to 30 percent of the dry leaf weight of tea, for instance. Within the group of polyphenols are flavonoids, which contain catechins. One of the most powerful catechins is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to positively impact a number of illnesses and conditions. While green tea is a rich source of catechins, black tea is a rich source of tannins, which also have potent antioxidant properties.

2.Brain Health

Tea shows promise for protecting brain health. In a study presented at the 2015 International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases, those who drank green tea one to six days a week had less mental decline than those who didn’t drink it.22

Green tea also contains theanine, an amino acid that crosses the blood-brain barrier and has psychoactive properties. Theanine increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin, dopamine, and alpha wave activity, and may reduce mental and physical stress and produce feelings of relaxation.23 Theanine may also help to prevent age-related memory decline24 and has been shown to affect areas of your brain involved in attention and complex problem-solving.25

3.Weight Loss

There is some evidence that long-term consumption of green tea catechins is beneficial for burning fat and may work with other chemicals to increase levels of fat oxidation and thermogenesis. In one meta-analysis, a mixture of catechin (tea and caffeine resulted in more fat break down than a placebo or caffeine only.26 People consuming catechins from green tea also lost nearly three pounds more, and were more likely to maintain the loss, than those not consuming them.27

Drinking coffee or tea before your meals may also help with weight loss simply because they help you to consume more water. Research shows drinking 16 ounces of water before a meal lost about nine pounds over a 12-week period, which was three more pounds than the group that didn’t drink water before meals.28 A cup of coffee or tea would certainly count toward this water requirement and may offer additional weight loss benefits as well.

4.Diabetes

Like coffee, drinking tea may help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. One study found people who consume six or more cups of green tea daily had a 33 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who consumed less than one cup per week.29 A meta-analysis also revealed that drinking three cups (or more) of tea daily is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.30

5.Heart Health

Green tea improves both blood flow and the ability of arteries to relax, with research suggesting a few cups of green tea each day may help prevent heart disease.31 Study results also show EGCG can be helpful for the prevention of arterio­sclerosis, cerebral thrombus, heart attack, and stroke — in part due to its ability to relax your arteries and improve blood flow.32 In addition, as reported by the Epoch Times:33

“A Cochrane review evaluated 11 randomized controlled trials that ran for at least three months and were aimed at preventing heart disease in healthy adults or those at high risk of heart disease. Pooled results showed that both green tea and black tea significantly reduced blood pressure, with black tea lowering LDL-cholesterol and green tea lowering total cholesterol.”34

How to Make Your Tea Even Healthier…

To boost the benefits of green tea, add a squirt of lemon juice to your cup. Previous research has demonstrated that vitamin Csignificantly increases the amount of catechins available for your body to absorb. In fact, citrus juice increased available catechin levels by more than five times, causing 80 percent of tea’s catechins to remain bioavailable.35 On the other hand, while adding lemon juice is beneficial, adding milk is not. The proteins in milk may bind to and neutralize the antioxidants in tea, such that its health benefits are significantly reduced.36

And be aware that green tea plants are known to be especially effective at absorbing lead from the soil, which is then taken up into the plants’ leaves. Areas with excessive industrial pollution, such as China (where nearly 90 percent  of the world’s green tea is produced),37 may therefore contain substantial amounts of lead.38 Both black and green teas are also naturally high in fluoride, even if organically grown without pesticides.

This is because the plant readily absorbs fluoride thorough its root system, including naturally occurring fluoride in the soil. When selecting tea of any kind, it should preferably be organic (to avoid pesticides) and grown in a pristine environment because, as mentioned, tea is known to accumulate fluoride, heavy metals, and other toxins from soil and water. A clean growing environment is essential to producing a pure, high-quality tea.

The Healthiest Coffee Is Black and Organic

Just as you should avoid adding milk and sugar to your tea – and look for organic, high-quality sources – the healthiest form of coffee is organic and black. Remember, coffee beans are one of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crops.and less than 3% is organic.  So, you should select only coffee beans that are certified organic. Ideally it’s also best to purchase fair traded coffee.

Some research suggests that adding dairy to your coffee may interfere with your body’s absorption of beneficial chlorogenic acids.39 Meanwhile, if you add sugar to your coffee you’ll spike your insulin levels, which contributes to insulin resistance.

Whenever possible, purchase sustainable “shade-grown” coffee as well to help prevent the continued destruction of our tropical rain forests and the birds that inhabit them. There are many who say shade-grown coffee tastes better as well. In addition, you’ll want to purchase whole-bean coffee that smells and tastes fresh, not stale; if your coffee does not have a pleasant aroma, it is likely rancid.

Grind it yourself to prevent rancidity, as pre-ground coffee may be rancid by the time you get it home. If you use a “drip” coffee maker, be sure to use non-bleached filters. The bright white ones are chlorine-bleached, and some of this chlorine will leach from the filter during the brewing process.

Bleached filters are also notoriously full of dangerous disinfection byproducts, such as dioxin. As mentioned, you needn’t start drinking coffee, or tea for that matter, if you don’t already. But if you enjoy it, feel free to indulge without guilt (and knowing your habit may be quite healthy, as long as you don’t take it to excess).

There is one caveat though pertaining to pregnant women, as caffeine can significantly impact the growing fetus. It is able to freely pass through the placenta, and since caffeine does not provide any benefits to your baby, only potential hazards, I strongly recommend pregnant women avoid ALL forms of caffeine.

Source:mercola.com

Tomatoes get boost in growth, antioxidants from nano-sized nutrients


Tomatoes get boost in growth, antioxidants from nano-sized nutrients
This image from a transmission electron microcope represents the lifecycle of the nanonutrients used in tomato plants, from seed to plant to fruit.

With the world population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, engineers and scientists are looking for ways to meet the increasing demand for food without also increasing the strain on natural resources, such as water and energy—an initiative known as the food-water-energy nexus.

Ramesh Raliya, PhD, a , and Pratim Biswas, PhD, the Lucy & Stanley Lopata Professor and chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, both at the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, are addressing this issue by using nanoparticles to boost the nutrient content and growth of tomato plants. Taking a clue from their work with solar cells, the team found that by using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles, the tomato plants better absorbed light and minerals, and the fruit had higher antioxidant content.

“When a plant grows, it signals the soil that it needs nutrients,” Biswas says. “The nutrient it needs is not in a form that the plant can take right away, so it secretes enzymes, which react with the soil and trigger bacterial microbes to turn the nutrients into a form that the plant can use. We’re trying to aid this pathway by adding nanoparticles.”

Zinc is an essential nutrient for plants, helps other enzymes function properly and is an ingredient in conventional fertilizer. Titanium is not an essential nutrient for plants, Raliya says, but boosts light absorption by increasing chlorophyll content in the leaves and promotes photosynthesis, properties Biswas’ lab discovered while creating solar cells.

The team used a very fine spray using novel aerosolization techniques to directly deposit the nanoparticles on the leaves of the plants for maximum uptake.

“We found that our aerosol technique resulted in much greater uptake of nutrients by the plant in comparison to application of the nanoparticles to soil,” Raliya says. “A plant can only uptake about 20 percent of the nutrients applied through soil, with the remainder either forming stable complexes with soil constituents or being washed away with water, causing runoff. In both of the latter cases, the nutrients are unavailable to plants.”

Overall, plants treated with the nanoparticles via aerosol routes produced nearly 82 percent (by weight) more fruit than untreated plants. In addition, the tomatoes from treated plant showed an increase in lycopene, an antioxidant linked to reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and age-related eye disorders, of between 80 percent and 113 percent.

Tomatoes get boost in growth, antioxidants from nano-sized nutrients
This illustration shows the different effects of the application of nano nutrients on a tomato plant. Credit: Ramesh Raliya, Pratim Biswas

Previous studies by other researchers have shown that increasing the use of nanotechnology in agriculture in densely populated countries such as India and China has made an impact on reducing malnutrition and child mortality. These tomatoes will help address malnutrition, Raliya says, because they allow people to get more nutrients from tomatoes than those conventionally grown.

In the study, published online last month in the journal Metallomics, the team found that the nanoparticles in the plants and the tomatoes were well below the USDA limit and considerably lower than what is used in conventional fertilizer. However, they still have to be cautious and select the best concentration of nanoparticles to use for maximum benefit, Biswas says.

Raliya and the rest of the team are now working to develop a new formulation of nanonutrients that includes all 17 elements required by plants.

“In 100 years, there will be more cities and less farmland, but we will need more food,” Raliya says. “At the same time, water will be limited because of climate change. We need an efficient methodology and a controlled environment in which can grow.”

This image from a transmission electron microcope represents the lifecycle of the nanonutrients used in tomato plants, from seed to plant to fruit.

With the world population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, engineers and scientists are looking for ways to meet the increasing demand for food without also increasing the strain on natural resources, such as water and energy—an initiative known as the food-water-energy nexus.

Ramesh Raliya, PhD, a , and Pratim Biswas, PhD, the Lucy & Stanley Lopata Professor and chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, both at the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, are addressing this issue by using nanoparticles to boost the nutrient content and growth of tomato plants. Taking a clue from their work with solar cells, the team found that by using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles, the tomato plants better absorbed light and minerals, and the fruit had higher antioxidant content.

“When a plant grows, it signals the soil that it needs nutrients,” Biswas says. “The nutrient it needs is not in a form that the plant can take right away, so it secretes enzymes, which react with the soil and trigger bacterial microbes to turn the nutrients into a form that the plant can use. We’re trying to aid this pathway by adding nanoparticles.”

Zinc is an essential nutrient for plants, helps other enzymes function properly and is an ingredient in conventional fertilizer. Titanium is not an essential nutrient for plants, Raliya says, but boosts light absorption by increasing chlorophyll content in the leaves and promotes photosynthesis, properties Biswas’ lab discovered while creating solar cells.

The team used a very fine spray using novel aerosolization techniques to directly deposit the nanoparticles on the leaves of the plants for maximum uptake.

“We found that our aerosol technique resulted in much greater uptake of nutrients by the plant in comparison to application of the nanoparticles to soil,” Raliya says. “A plant can only uptake about 20 percent of the nutrients applied through soil, with the remainder either forming stable complexes with soil constituents or being washed away with water, causing runoff. In both of the latter cases, the nutrients are unavailable to plants.”

Overall, plants treated with the nanoparticles via aerosol routes produced nearly 82 percent (by weight) more fruit than untreated plants. In addition, the tomatoes from treated plant showed an increase in lycopene, an antioxidant linked to reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and age-related eye disorders, of between 80 percent and 113 percent.

Tomatoes get boost in growth, antioxidants from nano-sized nutrients
This illustration shows the different effects of the application of nano nutrients on a tomato plant. Credit: Ramesh Raliya, Pratim Biswas

Previous studies by other researchers have shown that increasing the use of nanotechnology in agriculture in densely populated countries such as India and China has made an impact on reducing malnutrition and child mortality. These tomatoes will help address malnutrition, Raliya says, because they allow people to get more nutrients from tomatoes than those conventionally grown.

In the study, published online last month in the journal Metallomics, the team found that the nanoparticles in the plants and the tomatoes were well below the USDA limit and considerably lower than what is used in conventional fertilizer. However, they still have to be cautious and select the best concentration of nanoparticles to use for maximum benefit, Biswas says.

Raliya and the rest of the team are now working to develop a new formulation of nanonutrients that includes all 17 elements required by plants.

“In 100 years, there will be more cities and less farmland, but we will need more food,” Raliya says. “At the same time, water will be limited because of climate change. We need an efficient methodology and a controlled environment in which can grow.”

The latest study about antioxidants is terrifying. Scientists think they may boost cancer cells to spread faster.


Since the term “antioxidants” made the leap from the realm of biochemistry labs and into the public consciousness in the  1990s, Americans have come to believe that more is better when it comes to consuming the substance that comes in things like acai berries, green tea and leafy veggies.

A provocative new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature raises important questions about that assumption.

Antioxidants — which include vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, and are contained in thousands of foods — are thought to protect cells from damage by acting as defenders against something called “free radicals” which the body produces as a part of metabolism or that can enter through the environment.

That’s all great for normal cells. But what researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found is that antioxidants can work their magic on cancerous cells, too — turbo-charging the process by which they grow and spread.

Researcher Sean Morrison and his colleagues conducted experiments on mice that had been transplanted with skin cancer cells (melanoma) from human patients. They gave nothing to one group. To the other they gave doses of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) which is a common antioxidant that’s used in nutritional and bodybuilding supplements and has been used as a treatment for patients with HIV/AIDS and in some children with certain genetic disorders.

The results were alarming: Those in the second group had markedly higher levels of cancer cells in their blood, grew more tumors and the tumors were larger and more widespread than in the first.

“What we’re starting to learn is that there can be bad cells from cancer that appear to benefit more from antioxidants than normal cells,” he said in an interview.

Morrison, director of the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, explained that it has to do with something called oxidative stress.

Scientists have known for a while now that cancer metastasis — especially when it involves spreading a great distance to another part of the body — is a very inefficient process and that many cells die along the way. This is likely due to oxidative stress, which is an inability by the body to counteract the harmful effect of free radicals. When antioxidants supplements are given, the paper hypothesizes, they may give new life to those cancerous cells that are on the edge of dying.

Morrison said that previous studies have shown that the progression of metastasis of human melanoma cells in mice is predictive of their metastasis in humans, which raises concerns about the use of dietary antioxidants by patients with cancer.

Moreover, melanoma may not be the only type of cancer to be affected this way.

A similar study conducted at Vanderbilt University and published in PLoS One in 2012 involving mice with prostate cancer also showed that antioxidants appeared to increase the proliferation of cells in the pre-cancerous lesions. And another one in rodents with lung cancer published in Science Translational Medicine in 2014 found that normal doses of vitamin E and smaller doses of acetylcysteine, an antioxidant supplement, appeared to lead to a three-fold increase in the number of tumors and caused them to be more aggressive. As a result, the mice given antioxidants died twice as fast the ones in the control group. The reaction appeared be dose dependent with larger doses leading to a more severe reaction.

Morrison said that further study needs to be done to confirm the findings and that cancer patients should still consume antioxidants as part of a healthy diet.

But, he added, “personally, from the results we’ve seen, I would avoid supplementing my diet with large amounts of antioxidants if I had cancer.”

Over the past 20 years, numerous studies were launched to ascertain the effect of antioxidants on other conditions ranging from heart disease to memory loss. Early results have mostly been mixed, but that hasn’t stopped food companies from hyping their disease-fighting abilities.

This post has been updated.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Billionaire Paul Allen’s quest to build an artificial brain

For more health news, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

Ariana Eunjung Cha is a national reporter. She has previously served as the Post’s bureau chief in Shanghai and San Francisco, and as a correspondent in Baghdad.
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Comments
99 Comments
Mentioned in this story and want to comment? Learn more
TKorkin
1:51 PM GMT+0530
Just eat the kind of foods people have been eating for the past few hundred thousand years. The best thing you can do for your health is ignore any advice from the media or government, that is truly risking your health.
LowBudget
12:28 AM GMT+0530
I’m with Julia Child, who attributed her longevity to red meat and gin.
Thomas Johnson
10/23/2015 10:11 PM GMT+0530
The funny thing is ascorbate acts like a PRO-oxidant in high enough concentrations. This is how it used to fight cancer. The crucial part is getting concentration really high, best with IV or possibly liposomal C.
nativedc
10/23/2015 5:52 PM GMT+0530
I’m going back to Twinkies.
Dr.Who3
10/21/2015 11:13 PM GMT+0530
This study focused on people that already had cancer.

Studies which look at people that are healthy, usually find that anti-oxidants health lower the incidence of cancer in the first place.

cbahoskie
10/21/2015 3:21 PM GMT+0530
The “antioxidants” being discussed vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, NAC are representative of themselves not all “antioxidants” as simpletons might obviously do and pontificate about.

There are millions of anti-oxidants with many different modes of action. Some of these modes might in some people modulate factors in cancer spread that are harmful. Some modes of action might modulate factors in cancer spread that are beneficial.

The picture of the blueberries is representative of a very simpleton interpretation of a Nature article that looked at NAC, a not at all commonly use antioxidant.

It is a heck of a stupid extrapolation to look down on blueberries based on a mouse-based article about the deleterious effects of NAC. Only the most simple of simpletons would do that.

midwest88
10/23/2015 10:13 PM GMT+0530
Is someone paying you five bucks each time you use the word, “simpleton”?
Harold L Evans
10/18/2015 8:59 PM GMT+0530
Actual findings of the studies discussed – some anti-oxidant supplements given to mice with mouse models of human cancer seemed to have harmful effects.

It is worth noting that what treats and what prevents are often different things. Also, these studies in mice studied only a few forms of cancer and only a few anti-oxidant compounds. Also, results in this field are “discordant”; some studies show benefits of some anti-oxidants in some cancer models.

The evidence that green tea, and consumption of fruits and vegetables, have beneficial health effects for most people, is strong, and comes from epidemiological studies in humans. In other words, on average, humans who eat fruits and vegetables more are healthier.

None of these mouse models tested consumption of fruits and vegetables, nor of green tea, to the best of my understanding.

This article is somewhat disgraceful. It is deliberately written to falsely imply a “whatever you thought was good for you is bad for you!!!” message. It is generating the usual slew of “scientists and doctors are dumb because they don’t always say the same thing all the time, and I’m smarter than they are” comments that any such article always generates.

The actual information is interesting and of value, but very limited, and in no way contradicts the known benefits of such things as green tea or fruit and vegetables.

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Carolyn Y. Johnson and Ariana Eunjung Cha · October 16

 

What Are Antioxidants and Why Do We Need Them?


Antioxidants. We hear about them all the time. “Eat your berries and your greens because they are full of antioxidants.” But what are these compounds that are claimed to have a wealth of benefits to the body? And how do they work?

What are Antioxidants and Why Do We Need Them

Before we explore these fascinating molecules, let’s discuss their rival — the free radical. Free radicals are highly reactive unstable oxygen molecules that contain an unpaired electron. They seek electrons from other cells to become stable. They are formed as a waste product of oxygen, and become a problem when there are more free radicals in the body than the antioxidants — which provide that spare electron — can deal with. The job of the antioxidant is to “clean up” or more specifically neutralize the free radicals, slowing or preventing oxidative damage. If free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress follows.

But free radicals are not all bad. In fact they can help the body to fight viruses, bacteria and toxins! For example, Leucocytes (white blood cells) produce free radicals to kill such pathogens. It is when free radical production outside of normal metabolic processes takes place that we suffer oxidative stress, for example, toxins, injury, infection, extreme sun exposure, stress, radiation, and excessive exercise.

Oxidative stress can harm the cells causing damage and cell death. When this happens we are exposed to premature ageing, inflammation and degenerative diseases such as cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and arteriosclerosis.

So, back to antioxidants…

The term antioxidant is really more of a chemical property, referring to its ability to act as an electron donor to free radicals. Each one has a unique chemical behavior and properties of their own. This means we need to make a range of them available to the body. Some of them are produced naturally in the body through the metabolism such as glutathione, ubiquinol, melatonin and uric acid, as part of normal metabolism, and others are found in the diet, the most well-known ones being Vitamins E, C and B-carotene.

However as we age even those normally produced by the body become diminished, and we become more vulnerable to disease.

Nonetheless taking antioxidants in large quantities from artificial means has not shown great success in clinical trials. Antioxidants should be taken in their natural form or produced by the body, for their best defense against disease.

An organic diet rich in fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds and green tea will provide a rich natural source of powerful antioxidants that cannot be made by in the cells.

Antioxidants cause malignant melanoma to metastasize faster.


Antioxidants can double the rate of melanoma metastasis in mice, new research shows. The results reinforce previous findings that antioxidants hasten the progression of lung cancer. People with cancer or an elevated risk of developing the disease should avoid nutritional supplements that contain antioxidants, the researchers say.

Taking nutritional supplements containing antioxidants may unintentionally hasten the progression of a small tumor or premalignant lesion, neither of which is possible to detect.
Credit: © monticellllo / Fotolia

Fresh research at Sahlgrenska Academy has found that antioxidants can double the rate of melanoma metastasis in mice. The results reinforce previous findings that antioxidants hasten the progression of lung cancer. According to Professor Martin Bergö, people with cancer or an elevated risk of developing the disease should avoid nutritional supplements that contain antioxidants.

Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, demonstrated in January 2014 that antioxidants hastened and aggravated the progression of lung cancer. Mice that were given antioxidants developed additional and more aggressive tumors. Experiments on human lung cancer cells confirmed the results. Given well-established evidence that free radicals can cause cancer, the research community had simply assumed that antioxidants, which destroy them, provide protection against the disease. Found in many nutritional supplements, antioxidants are widely marketed as a means of preventing cancer. Because the lung cancer studies called the collective wisdom into question, they attracted a great deal of attention.

Double the rate

The follow-up studies at Sahlgrenska Academy have now found that antioxidants double the rate of metastasis in malignant melanoma, the most perilous type of skin cancer. Science Translational Medicine published the findings on October 7. “As opposed to the lung cancer studies, the primary melanoma tumor was not affected,” Professor Bergö says. “But the antioxidant boosted the ability of the tumor cells to metastasize, an even more serious problem because metastasis is the cause of death in the case of melanoma. The primary tumor is not dangerous per se and is usually removed.”

Confirmed the results

Experiments on cell cultures from patients with malignant melanoma confirmed the new results. “We have demonstrated that antioxidants promote the progression of cancer in at least two different ways,” Professor Bergö says. The overall conclusion from the various studies is that antioxidants protect healthy cells from free radicals that can turn them into malignancies but may also protect a tumor once it has developed.

Avoid supplements

Taking nutritional supplements containing antioxidants may unintentionally hasten the progression of a small tumor or premalignant lesion, neither of which is possible to detect. “Previous research at Sahlgrenska Academy has indicated that cancer patients are particularly prone to take supplements containing antioxidants,” Dr. Bergö says. Our current research combined with information from large clinical trials with antioxidants suggests that people who have been recently diagnosed with cancer should avoid such supplements.”

High mortality rate

One of the fastest expanding types of cancer in the developed world, malignant melanoma has a high mortality rate — which is one reason that researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy were so anxious to follow up on the lung cancer studies. “Identifying factors that affect the progression of malignant melanoma is a crucial task,” Professor Bergö says.

Lotions next

The role of antioxidants is particularly relevant in the case of melanoma, not only because melanoma cells are known to be sensitive to free radicals but because the cells can be exposed to antioxidants by non-dietary means as well. “Skin and suntan lotions sometimes contain beta carotene or vitamin E, both of which could potentially affect malignant melanoma cells in the same way as antioxidants in nutritional supplements,” Professor Bergö says.

Other forms of cancer

How antioxidants in lotions affect the course of malignant melanoma is currently being explored. “We are testing whether antioxidants applied directly to malignant melanoma cells in mice hasten the progression of cancer in the same way as their dietary counterparts,” Professor Bergö says. He stresses that additional research is badly needed. “Granted that lung cancer is the most common form of the disease and melanoma is expanding fastest, other forms of cancer and types of antioxidants need to be considered if we want to make a fully informed assessment of the role that free radicals and antioxidants play in the process of cancer progression.”

Antioxidants May Preserve Memory in Early Alzheimer’s


Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants could potentially benefit patients in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers recently studied the effects of this supplementation for 4 to 17 months in 12 patients with minor cognitive impairment (MCI), 2 patients with pre-MCI, and 7 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

These participants received omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants in the form of a nutritional drink from Smartfish, which supported the study in part.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times, study author Milan Fiala, MD, a research professor at the University of California’s Department of Surgery, said omega-3 supplementation may benefit patients with MCI, but not those who have already developed Alzheimer’s dementia. Therefore, such supplementation would need an early start.

Patients with MCI and pre-MCI who received the supplementation saw an increase in phagocytosis of amyloid-beta, from 530 to 1306 mean fluorescence intensity units. Because such phagocytosis is ineffective in Alzheimer’s patients, targeting the clearance of amyloid-beta could benefit them, the researchers noted.

The Smartfish drink also contained resveratrol, and the combination of omega-3 and resveratrol showed evidence of improving the immune system against amyloid-beta in the brain, “probably by increasing its clearance from the brain by the immune system,” Dr. Fiala said.

While the omega-3 supplementation had “objective beneficial effects” on the immune system, which can prevent MCI, Dr. Fiala said some personal issues could interfere with the immune system response. She cited infections, surgeries, gastrointestinal intolerance, and medication noncompliance as potential interferences.

Omega-3 and antioxidant supplementation also increased resolvin D1 in macrophages in 80% of patients with MCI and pre-MCI. Resolvin D1 has also been shown to increase phagocytosis of amyloid-beta.

“Overall, the patients taking the drink seemed to preserve their memory better for up to 2 years than expected, based on previous studies,” Dr. Fiala concluded.

However, she pointed out that the study, which was published in The FASEB Journal, was small and not controlled by placebo.

Still, this study was the first to show significant immune and biochemical effects of supplementation in MCI patients, the researchers claimed.

“We’ve known for a long time that omega-3 fatty acids and some antioxidants can be beneficial to people with a wide range of health problems, as well as protective for healthy people. Now, we know that the effects of these supplements may extend to Alzheimer’s disease, as well,” said Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal in a press release. “Although these supplements are considered to be generally safe and are very easy to obtain, full-scale clinical trials are necessary to verify the findings of this research and to identify who might benefit the most.”

Antioxidants for male subfertility.


BACKGROUND: Between 30% to 80% of male subfertility cases are considered to be due to the damaging effects of oxidative stress on sperm and 1 man in 20 will be affected by subfertility. Antioxidants are widely available and inexpensive when compared to other fertility treatments and many men are already using these to improve their fertility. It is thought that oral supplementation with antioxidants may improve sperm quality by reducing oxidative stress. Pentoxifylline, a drug that acts like an antioxidant, was also included in this review.
OBJECTIVES: This Cochrane review aimed to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of oral supplementation with antioxidants for subfertile male partners in couples seeking fertility assistance. SEARCH
METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group Specialised Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO and AMED databases (from inception until January 2014); trial registers; sources of unpublished literature and reference lists. An updated search was run in August 2014 when potentially eligible studies were placed in `Studies awaiting assessment`.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing any type or dose of antioxidant supplement (single or combined) taken by the subfertile male partner of a couple seeking fertility assistance with a placebo, no treatment or another antioxidant.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently selected eligible studies, extracted the data and assessed the risk of bias of the included studies. The primary review outcome was live birth; secondary outcomes included clinical pregnancy rates, adverse events, sperm DNA fragmentation, sperm motility and concentration. Data were combined, where appropriate, to calculate pooled odds ratios (ORs) or mean differences (MD) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Statistical heterogeneity was assessed using the I2 statistic. We assessed the overall quality of the evidence for the main outcomes using GRADE methods.
MAIN RESULTS: This updated review included 48 RCTs that compared single and combined antioxidants with placebo, no treatment or another antioxidant in a population of 4179 subfertile men. The duration of the trials ranged from 3 to 26 weeks with follow up ranging from 3 weeks to 2 years. The men were aged from 20 to 52 years. Most of the men enrolled in these trials had low total sperm motility and sperm concentration. One study enrolled men after varicocelectomy, one enrolled men with a varicocoele, and one recruited men with chronic prostatitis. Three trials enrolled men who, as a couple, were undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and one trial enrolled men who were part of a couple undergoing intrauterine insemination (IUI). Funding sources were stated by 15 trials. Four of these trials stated that funding was from a commercial source and the remaining 11 obtained funding through non-commercial avenues or university grants. Thirty-three trials did not report any funding sources.A limitation of this review was that in a sense we had included two different groups of trials, those that reported on the use of antioxidants and the effect on live birth and clinical pregnancy, and a second group that reported on sperm parameters as their primary outcome and had no intention of reporting the primary outcomes of this review. We included 25 trials reporting on sperm parameters and only three of these reported on live birth or clinical pregnancy. Other limitations included poor reporting of study methods, imprecision, the small number of trials providing usable data, the small sample size of many of the included studies and the lack of adverse events reporting. The evidence was graded as `very low` to `low`. The data were current to 31 January 2014.Live birth: antioxidants may have increased live birth rates (OR 4.21, 95% CI 2.08 to 8.51, P< 0.0001, 4 RCTs, 277 men, I2 = 0%, low quality evidence). This suggests that if the chance of a live birth following placebo or no treatment is assumed to be 5%, the chance following the use of antioxidants is estimated to be between 10% and 31%. However, this result was based on only 44 live births from a total of 277 couples in four small studies.Clinical pregnancy rate: antioxidants may have increased clinical pregnancy rates (OR 3.43, 95% CI 1.92 to 6.11, P < 0.0001, 7 RCTs, 522 men, I2 = 0%, low quality evidence). This suggests that if the chance of clinical pregnancy following placebo or no treatment is assumed to be 6%, the chance following the use of antioxidants is estimated at between 11% and 28%. However, there were only seven small studies in this analysis and the quality of the evidence was rated as low.Miscarriage: only three trials reported on this outcome and the event rate was very low. There was insufficient evidence to show whether there was a difference in miscarriage rates between the antioxidant

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