By Alexandra Rowles
Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.
However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.
Oregano oil is the extract and, although it's not as strong as the essential oil, it appears to be useful both when consumed or applied to the skin. Essential oils, on the other hand, are not meant to be consumed.
Interestingly, oregano oil is an effective natural antibiotic and antifungal agent, and it may help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol levels.
What Is Oregano Oil?
Botanically known as Origanum vulgare, oregano is a flowering plant from the same family as mint. It's often used as an herb to flavor food.
Although it's native to Europe, it now grows all over the world.
Oregano has been popular ever since the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations used it for medicinal purposes. In fact, the name oregano comes from the Greek words "oros," meaning mountain, and "ganos," meaning joy or delight.
The herb has also been used for centuries as a culinary spice.
Oregano essential oil is made by air-drying the leaves and shoots of the plant. Once they're dried, the oil is extracted and concentrated by steam distillation.
Oregano essential oil can be mixed with a carrier oil and applied topically. However, it should not be consumed orally.
Oregano oil extract, on the other hand, can be produced via several extraction methods using compounds like carbon dioxide or alcohol. It's widely available as a supplement and can often be found in pill or capsule form.
Oregano contains compounds called phenols, terpenes, and terpenoids. They have powerful antioxidant properties and are responsible for its fragrance:
- Carvacrol. The most abundant phenol in oregano, it has been shown to stop the growth of several different types of bacteria.
- Thymol. This natural antifungal can also support the immune system and protect against toxins.
- Rosmarinic acid. This powerful antioxidant helps protect against damage caused by free radicals.
These compounds are thought to underlie oregano's many health benefits.
Here are 9 potential benefits and uses of oregano oil.
Oregano and the carvacrol it contains may help fight bacteria.
The Staphylococcus aureus bacterium is one of the most common causes of infection, resulting in ailments like food poisoning and skin infections.
One particular study looked at whether oregano essential oil improved the survival of 14 mice infected with Staphylococcus aureus.
It found that 43% of the mice given oregano essential oil lived past 30 days, a survival rate nearly as high as the 50% survival rate for mice that received regular antibiotics.
Research has also shown that oregano essential oil may be effective against some potentially antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
This includes Pseudomonas aeruginosa and E. coli, both of which are common causes of urinary and respiratory tract infections.
Although more human studies on the effects of oregano oil extract are needed, it contains many of the same compounds as oregano essential oil and may offer similar health benefits when used as a supplement.
One mouse study found oregano essential oil to be almost as effective as antibiotics against common bacteria, though much more research is needed.
2. May Help Lower Cholesterol
Studies have shown that oregano oil may help lower cholesterol.
In one study, 48 people with mildly high cholesterol were given diet and lifestyle advice to help lower their cholesterol. Thirty-two participants were also given 0.85 ounces (25 mL) of oregano oil extract after each meal.
After 3 months, those given the oregano oil had lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher HDL (good) cholesterol, compared with those who were just given diet and lifestyle advice.
Carvacrol, the main compound in oregano oil, has also been shown to help lower cholesterol in mice that were fed a high fat diet over 10 weeks.
The mice given carvacrol alongside the high fat diet had significantly lower cholesterol at the end of the 10 weeks, compared with those that were just given a high fat diet.
The cholesterol-lowering effect of oregano oil is thought to be the result of the phenols carvacrol and thymol.
Studies have shown that oregano may help lower cholesterol in people and mice with high cholesterol. This is thought to be the result of the compounds carvacrol and thymol.
3. Powerful Antioxidant
Antioxidants help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
It's thought that free radical damage plays a role in aging and the development of some diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
Free radicals are everywhere and a natural product of metabolism.
However, they can build up in the body through exposure to environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke and air pollutants.
One older test-tube study compared the antioxidant content of 39 commonly used herbs and found that oregano had the highest concentration of antioxidants.
It found that oregano contained 3–30 times the levels of antioxidants in the other herbs studied, which included thyme, marjoram, and St. John's wort.
Gram per gram, oregano also has 42 times the antioxidant level of apples and 4 times that of blueberries. This is thought to be mostly due to its rosmarinic acid content.
Because oregano oil extract is very concentrated, you need much less oregano oil to reap the same antioxidant benefits as you would from fresh oregano.
Fresh oregano has a very high antioxidant content. In fact, it's much higher than that of most fruits and vegetables, gram per gram. The antioxidant content is concentrated in oregano oil.
4. Could Help Treat Yeast Infections
Yeast is a type of fungus. It can be harmless, but overgrowth can result in gut problems and infections, such as thrush.
The most well-known yeast is Candida, which is the most common cause of yeast infections worldwide.
In test-tube studies, oregano essential oil has been found to be effective against five different types of Candida, such as those that cause infections in the mouth and vagina. In fact, it was more effective than any other essential oil tested.
Test-tube studies have also found that carvacrol, one of the main compounds of oregano oil, is very effective against oral Candida.
High levels of the yeast Candida have also been associated with some gut conditions, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
A test-tube study on the effectiveness of oregano essential oil on 16 different strains of Candida concluded that oregano oil may be a good alternative treatment for Candida yeast infections. However, more research is needed.
Test-tube studies have shown that oregano essential oil is effective against Candida, the most common form of yeast.
5. May Improve Gut Health
Oregano may benefit gut health in a number of ways.
Gut symptoms like diarrhea, pain, and bloating are common and can be caused by gut parasites.
One older study gave 600 mg of oregano oil to 14 people who had gut symptoms as a result of a parasite. After daily treatment for 6 weeks, all participants experienced a reduction in parasites, and 77% were cured.
Participants also experienced a reduction in gut symptoms and tiredness associated with the symptoms.
Oregano may also help protect against another common gut complaint known as "leaky gut." This happens when the gut wall becomes damaged, allowing bacteria and toxins to pass into the bloodstream.
In a study on pigs, oregano essential oil protected the gut wall from damage and prevented it from becoming "leaky." It also reduced the number of E. coli bacteria in the gut.
Oregano oil may benefit gut health by killing gut parasites and protecting against leaky gut syndrome.
6. May Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Inflammation in the body is linked to a number of adverse health effects.
Research has shown that oregano oil may reduce inflammation.
One mouse study found that oregano essential oil, along with thyme essential oil, reduced inflammatory markers in those that had artificially induced colitis.
Carvacrol, one of the key components in oregano oil, has also been shown to reduce inflammation.
One study directly applied different concentrations of carvacrol to the swollen paws or ears of mice. Carvacrol reduced paw and ear swelling by 35–61% and 33–43%, respectively.
Oregano oil and its components may help reduce inflammation in mice, though human studies are needed.
7. Could Help Relieve Pain
Oregano oil has been investigated for its painkilling properties.
One older study in mice tested standard painkillers and essential oils, including oregano essential oil, for their ability to relieve pain.
It found that oregano essential oil significantly reduced pain in mice, exerting effects similar to those of the commonly used painkillers fenoprofen and morphine.
The research proposed these results were likely due to the carvacrol content of oregano.
A similar study found that oregano extract reduced pain in rats, and that the response was dose-dependent, meaning the more oregano extract the rats consumed, the less pain they appeared to feel.
Oregano oil may significantly reduce pain in mice and rats, exerting pain-relieving effects similar to those of some commonly used medications.
8. May Have Cancer-Fighting Properties
A few studies have indicated that carvacrol, one of the compounds of oregano oil, may have cancer-fighting properties.
In test-tube studies on cancer cells, carvacrol has demonstrated promising results against lung, liver, and breast cancer cells.
It has been found to inhibit cell growth and cause cancer cell death.
Although this is promising research, no studies have been carried out on people, so more research is needed.
Preliminary studies have shown that carvacrol — the most abundant compound in oregano oil — inhibits cancer cell growth and causes cell death in lung, liver, and breast cancer cells.
9. May Help You Lose Weight
Thanks to oregano's carvacrol content, oregano oil may aid weight loss.
In one study, mice were fed either a normal diet, high fat diet, or high fat diet with carvacrol. Those given carvacrol alongside their high fat diet gained significantly less weight and body fat than those just given a high fat diet.
Furthermore, carvacrol appeared to reverse the chain of events that can lead to the formation of fat cells.
More research is needed to demonstrate that oregano oil has a role in weight loss, but it may be worth trying as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Oregano oil may be beneficial for weight loss through the action of carvacrol, though human studies are needed.
How to Use Oregano Oil
Oregano oil extract is widely available in capsule and tablet form. It can be bought from most health food shops or online.
Because the strength of oregano supplements can vary, it's important to read the directions on the individual packet for instructions on how to use the product.
Oregano essential oil is also available and can be diluted with a carrier oil and applied topically. Note that no essential oil should be ingested.
There's no standard effective dose of oregano essential oil. However, it's often mixed with around 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of olive oil per drop of oregano essential oil and applied directly to the skin.
Like other essential oils, keep in mind that oregano essential oil should not be consumed orally.
If you're interested in taking oregano oil extract but currently taking prescription medications, make sure to consult your healthcare provider before adding it to your regimen.
In addition, oregano oil extract is not generally recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Oregano oil extract can be purchased in pill or capsule form and taken orally. Oregano essential oil is also available and can be diluted with a carrier oil and applied to the skin.
The Bottom Line
Oregano oil extract and oregano essential oil are both relatively cheap and readily available.
Oregano is higher in antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables, and it's packed full of powerful compounds called phenols.
Oregano also contains compounds that may be effective against bacterial and fungal infections, inflammation, and pain, among other conditions.
Overall, it appears to have several health benefits and may be useful as a natural treatment for some common health complaints.
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By Alexander Freund
In a pilot study at the University of Helsinki, dogs trained as medical diagnostic assistants were taught to recognize the previously unknown odor signature of the COVID-19 disease caused by the novel coronavirus. And they learned with astonishing success: After only a few weeks, the first dogs were able to accurately distinguish urine samples from COVID-19 patients from urine samples of healthy individuals.
"We have solid experience in training disease-related scent detection dogs. It was fantastic to see how fast the dogs took to the new smell," says DogRisk group leader Anna Hielm-Björkman. After only a short time, the animals identified the urine of people infected by the novel coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, almost as reliably as a standard PCR test.
The Finnish scientists are now preparing a randomized, double-blind study in which the dogs will sniff a larger number of patient samples. Only then will the scent tests be used in clinical practice.
Important Findings for Other Teams
The very rapid and promising findings from Finland are also important for other research teams, such as those in Great Britain and France, who are training sniffer dogs to detect COVID-19.
Fellow researchers from the German Assistance Dog Center (TARSQ) have also benefited from the Finnish results.
"No one could tell us with certainty whether training with the aggressive virus is dangerous or not for humans and dogs. We wanted to gather more information first before we started training because the German virologists advised us against it — after all, so little is known about the virus so far," explains Luca Barrett from TARSQ.
Where Does the Characteristic Smell Come From?
It is still unclear which substances in urine produce the apparently characteristic COVID-19 odor. Since SARS-CoV-2 not only attacks the lungs, but also causes damage to blood vessels, kidneys and other organs, it is assumed that the patients' urine odor also changes. This is something which the dogs, with their highly sensitive olfactory organs, notice immediately.
Certain diseases appear to have a specific olfactory signature that trained dogs can sniff out with amazing accuracy, Barrett says.
"According to one study, dogs can detect breast cancer with a 93% probability, for example. And lung cancer with a 97% probability," she says.
But dogs can also identify skin cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer or prostate cancer very reliably, according to Barrett. "The hit rate, which was not so good in the early days of training, has risen enormously in recent years," she says.
Hit Rate Decisive
Besides cancer, the dogs can also detect Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's sufferers smell different even years before they have the disease. "That's how we came up with the idea of training dogs as an early warning system for Parkinson's," Barrett says.
Dogs are also trained to detect malaria, but the hit rate is not yet satisfactory, she says. So far, the dogs recognize seven out of 10 infected persons, which is not enough.
A high hit rate is, of course, also absolutely necessary when training for the aggressive SARS-CoV-2 pathogen, according to Barret. "We hope that the hit rate for the coronavirus is significantly higher in the fully trained dogs; after all, it would be very dangerous if COVID-19 were not detected," she says
Trained Tracking Dogs
Dogs' ability to smell is about a million times better than that of humans. Humans have about 5 million olfactory cells, compared with 125 million for dachshunds and 220 million for sheepdogs.
Dogs also inhale up to 300 times per minute in short breaths, meaning that their olfactory cells are constantly supplied with new odor particles. In addition, dogs' noses differentiate between right and left. This spatial sense of smell allows the animals to follow a trail more easily.
During the training sessions, the dogs — mostly Labrador retrievers or retrievers in general, but also cocker spaniels or sheepdog breeds — are each trained for one scent. That can be the smell of a drug or an explosive, or, as here, the olfactory signature of a specific disease.This means that one dog cannot recognize several types of cancer.
The animals are trained with containers holding samples of breath or sweat, for example. As soon as they have identified the smell they are looking for, the dogs hear a click and get a treat. They are reliably trained for the one smell on this reward principle.
Great Potential, Great Skepticism
Drug and explosive detection dogs have been used for some time. But trained medical scent detection dogs are also now working in hospitals. For example, they sniff the bodies of patients with suspected skin cancer to try and detect the disease — only with the patients' consent, of course. So these skilled snufflers are helping doctors in diagnosing diseases and detecting them early on.
However, so far there are only very few medical detection dogs. The dog owners almost always work voluntarily and the trained sniffer dogs live in normal households. There is great skepticism, especially among traditional doctors and health insurance companies, even though the first indications given by the dog have to be followed by further medical tests anyway and a lot of time and costs could be saved by early cancer detection.
Possible Coronavirus Applications
If the findings from Finland are confirmed, the sniffer dogs with their extremely sensitive sense of smell could prove to be a great help in the fight against the new coronavirus.
Luca Barrett from TARSQ can easily picture coronavirus sniffer dogs being used in situations where there is a high risk of infection. For example, people attending football matches and other major events could be checked before they are admitted.
The dogs could also be employed at airports to scan people entering a country. "When the dogs go down the queue, they can detect if someone is healthy and can enter the country. But if a person smells of COVID-19, the handler could send that person to a coronavirus testing center instead," Barrett says. That is because a second test is still needed to confirm the dog's initial sniff detection.
Barrett says dogs could also be used to search for the virus on surfaces. For example, before passengers board an aircraft, a four-legged friend could first check whether the machine is free from SARS-CoV-2. Similar measures are planned for doctors' surgeries, aged care homes or nursing homes that have had to be evacuated because of COVID-19 cases. Before these are used again, a sniffer dog could check whether the environment is "clean."
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
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Interested in making the switch to solar energy, but not sure how solar panels work? Understanding household renewable energy systems can make it easier to find the best solar panels for your home.
Many homeowners are going solar to help lessen dependence on traditional utility companies and slash monthly electric bills. In addition to these cost savings, switching to a home solar system means minimizing your environmental footprint. Between the financial advantages and the improved ecological stewardship, solar energy can seem like a no-brainer.
Let's dive into the science behind solar and how solar panels work to power homes.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
When you buy solar panels, your installer will position several panels on the roof of your home in what's called a solar array. The specific number of solar panels you require depends on several factors, including the size and position of your roof, the amount of sunlight your home receives, and the type of solar panels you select.
Solar panels use photovoltaic cells, or PV cells, to absorb light from the sun. (More on the photovoltaic effect in just a moment.) When sunlight hits the panels, they generate a direct current, or DC electricity. However, homes require alternating current, or AC electricity.
A device called a solar inverter is a key part of the solar energy system, as it converts the electric current from DC to AC. The AC power then circulates through your household electrical panel and is distributed as needed to your different systems, appliances and outlets.
Here's a quick, step-by-step summary of how solar panels work to power your home:
- Photovoltaic cells absorb sunlight, then turn it into DC energy.
- An inverter turns the DC energy into AC energy, which is what your household electrical system requires.
- Electricity is distributed throughout your home, powering outlets and appliances.
- Any excess or leftover electricity that is produced is fed into a battery bank or back to your local power grid.
The Science of Solar Panels
While there are a few types of solar panels to choose from, most household systems work in roughly the same way. There is usually a layer of silicon cells surrounded by a metal frame and a glass case. There are also wires throughout the panel, allowing the free flow of electricity.
You may (or may not) remember from your high school science classes that silicon is a non-metal with conductive properties. In other words, it is able to absorb light and then turn it into electricity. How it works is simple: when light hits the silicon cells, electrons are set into motion, producing an electrical current. This electricity generation process is known as the photovoltaic effect, and it is one of the core principles of solar technology.
More About the Photovoltaic Effect
Let's dig into the photovoltaic effect a little deeper. This principle was first discovered way back in 1839 and is generally associated with semiconductor materials. The photovoltaic effect simply describes the property by which these materials can generate electricity any time they are exposed to sunlight.
Here's a step-by-step summary that explains how solar panels work by employing the photovoltaic effect:
- Sunlight hits the solar panel, which has two layers of silicon, an n-type layer that sits on top of a p-type layer.
- The sun's energy knocks an electron from its bond in the upper n-type layer, creating both a freely roaming electron and a positively charged "hole" where the electron was previously bonded.
- The hole travels down to the p-type layer, and the free electron travels through conductive wires to an inverter.
- The inverter transforms the solar electricity from DC to AC so that it can be used in your home.
- The electricity flows throughout your home to power systems, appliances and outlets.
- The free electron eventually flows through the house and back to the p-type layer of the panel, where it fills a positively charged hole and closes the loop needed to maintain the flow of electricity.
How Solar Panels Work With Your Power Grid or Battery Bank
We mentioned earlier that any excess electricity generated by a solar panel is fed back into a power grid or can be stored in a solar battery. What are these, exactly, and how do solar panels work with each component?
If your home is connected to the electrical grid (and most homes are), then it comes with a utility meter. This meter allows your utility company to measure how much energy you are consuming. During solar panel installation, your solar system will typically be connected to the utility meter. Thus, the meter assesses and measures your home's solar energy production.
Many solar homes produce more energy than they consume. In this case, you can either send your excess energy back to the electrical grid (through a process called net metering), or you can purchase a battery to store your energy for future use.
- Power grid: When you feed energy back into your power grid, you can receive credits from your utility company to save even more money on your monthly bills and help offset the cost of solar panels.
- Battery bank: The best solar batteries have a high capacity so that you can store enough excess energy to power your home during power outages and on cloudy days.
Additional Components of Your Home Solar System
Now that you understand the most important components of your home solar system, there are a couple more items to consider that affect how solar panels work in terms of efficiency.
We mentioned above that most solar panels come with a glass casing. This helps protect the silicon solar cells and ensures the longevity and durability of your home solar system. Beneath that glass case, there may also be some insulating materials, which protect your equipment from humidity as well as from heat dissipation. This insulation is crucial because it allows the solar panel system to work optimally.
A lot of solar panels are coated in anti-reflective materials as well. This is so that they can absorb as much of the sun's light as possible. Again, this is an important way to keep your home solar system working smoothly and efficiently.
A final note for homeowners who are interested in solar energy: As you select your solar panels, you will generally have a choice between monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are made using a single silicon crystal. They tend to be the most efficient solar panels, though they can also be pricier. Polycrystalline solar panels are made up of multiple crystal fragments and usually cost less.
Getting Started With Solar Energy
Now that you know how solar panels work, you may feel ready to get going with a home solar system. The first step is identifying the top solar companies in your area and calling an installer to find out if solar panels are worth it for your home. Your installer will conduct an assessment based on the size of your home, the surface area of your roof, the amount of sunlight you get and more. It will furnish some guidance as to how many solar panels you need and which type of panel is the best bet.
Getting a home solar system can be a great way to save money on your monthly utility costs while demonstrating a real commitment to environmental stewardship.
Learn More About How Solar Could Help You Save
If you're interested in solar, it only takes 30 seconds to get a free, no-obligation quote. You could save up to $2,500 per year on utility bills and get a tax rebate all while reducing your carbon footprint. Fill out the form below to get started.
By Kris Gunnars
Green tea is touted to be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
It's loaded with antioxidants that have many health benefits, which may include:
There may be even more potential health benefits.
This article looks at the evidence behind 10 possible health benefits of green tea.
1. Green Tea Contains Healthy Bioactive Compounds
Green tea is more than just a hydrating beverage.
The green tea plant contains a range of healthy compounds that make it into the final drink.
Tea is rich in polyphenols, which are natural compounds that have health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer.
Green tea contains a catechin called EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate). Catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits.
These substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals play a role in aging and many types of diseases.
EGCG is one of the most powerful compounds in green tea. Research has tested its ability to help treat various diseases. It appears to be one of the main compounds that gives green tea its medicinal properties.
Green tea also has small amounts of minerals that can benefit your health.
Try to choose a higher quality brand of green tea, because some of the lower quality brands can contain excessive amounts of fluoride.
That being said, even if you choose a lower quality brand, the benefits still outweigh any risk.
Green tea is loaded with polyphenol antioxidants, including a catechin called EGCG. These antioxidants can have various beneficial effects on health.
2. Green Tea Can Improve Brain Function
Green tea does more than just keep you alert, it might also help boost brain function.
The key active ingredient is caffeine, which is a known stimulant.
It doesn't contain as much as coffee, but enough to produce a response without causing the "jittery" effects associated with taking in too much caffeine.
Caffeine affects the brain by blocking an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. This way, it actually increases the firing of neurons and the concentration of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.
Research has consistently shown that caffeine can improve various aspects of brain function, including mood, vigilance, reaction time, and memory.
Studies show that caffeine and L-theanine can have synergistic effects. This means that the combination of the two can have particularly powerful effects in improving brain function.
Because of the L-theanine and the small dose of caffeine, green tea might give you a much milder and different kind of "buzz" than coffee.
Many people report having more stable energy and being much more productive when they drink green tea compared to coffee.
Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee, but enough to produce an effect. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can work synergistically with caffeine to improve brain function.
3. Green Tea Increases Fat Burning
If you look at the ingredients list for any fat burning supplement, chances are, green tea will be on there.
In one study involving 10 healthy men, taking green tea extract increased energy expenditure by 4%. In another involving 12 healthy men, green tea extract increased fat oxidation by 17% compared to those taking a placebo.
However, some studies on green tea don't show any increase in metabolism, so the effects may depend on the individual and how the study was set up.
Caffeine may also improve physical performance by mobilizing fatty acids from fat tissue and making them available for use as energy.
Two separate review studies reported that caffeine may increase physical performance by approximately 11–12%.
Green tea may boost metabolic rate and increase fat burning in the short term, although not all studies agree.
4. Green Tea Antioxidants May Lower the Risk of Some Cancers
Cancer is caused by uncontrolled growth of cells. It's one of the world's leading causes of death.
Research has shown that oxidative damage can lead to chronic inflammation, which can lead to chronic diseases, including cancers. Antioxidants can help protect against oxidative damage.
Green tea is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants.
Research has linked green tea compounds with a reduced risk of cancer, including the following studies:
- Breast cancer: A comprehensive review of observational studies found that women who drank the most green tea had an approximately 20–30% lower risk of developing breast cancer, one of the most common cancers in females.
- Prostate cancer: One study found that men drinking green tea had a lower risk of advanced prostate cancer.
- Colorectal cancer: An analysis of 29 studies showed that those drinking green tea were around 42% less likely to develop colorectal cancer.
Many observational studies have shown that green tea drinkers are less likely to develop several types of cancer, but more high-quality research is needed to confirm these effects.
To get the most health benefits, avoid adding milk to your tea. Some studies suggest it can reduce the antioxidant value in some teas.
Green tea has powerful antioxidants that may protect against cancer. Multiple studies show that green tea drinkers have a lower risk for various types of cancer.
5. Green Tea May Protect the Brain From Aging
Not only can green tea improve brain function in the short term, it may also protect your brain as you age.
Alzheimer's disease is a common neurodegenerative disease and the most common cause of dementia in older adults.
Parkinson's disease is another common neurodegenerative disease and involves the death of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain.
Several studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons in test tubes and animal models, possibly lowering the risk for dementia.
Bioactive compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on the brain. They may reduce the risk of dementia, a common neurodegenerative disorder in older adults.
6. Green Tea Can Reduce Bad Breath
The catechins in green tea also have benefits for oral health.
Test tube studies suggest that catechins can suppress the growth of bacteria, potentially lowering the risk for infections.
Streptococcus mutans is a common bacterium in the mouth. It causes plaque formation and is a leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay.
Studies indicate that the catechins in green tea can inhibit the growth of oral bacteria in the lab, but no evidence shows that drinking green tea has similar effects.
However, there's some evidence that green tea can reduce bad breath.
The catechins in green tea may inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth, reducing the risk for bad breath.
7. Green Tea May Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
The rates of type 2 diabetes are increasing in recent decades. The condition now affects about 1 in 10 Americans.
Type 2 diabetes involves having elevated blood sugar levels, which may be caused by insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.
Studies show that green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
One study in Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had an approximately 42% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
According to a review of 7 studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of developing diabetes.
Controlled trials show that green tea can cause mild reductions in blood sugar levels. It may also lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
8. Green Tea May Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the leading causes of death worldwide.
Studies show that green tea can improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases, which includes improving total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Green tea also increases the antioxidant capacity of the blood, which protects the LDL particles from oxidation, which is one part of the pathway toward heart disease.
Given the beneficial effects on risk factors, it may not be surprising that people who drink green tea have up to a 31% lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease.
Green tea may lower total and LDL cholesterol, as well as protect the LDL particles from oxidation. Studies show that people who drink green tea have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
9. Green Tea May Help You Lose Weight
Given that green tea can boost the metabolic rate in the short term, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight.
Several studies show that green tea can help reduce body fat, especially in the abdominal area.
One of these studies was a 12-week randomized controlled trial involving 240 people with obesity.
In this study, those in the green tea group had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference, and belly fat compared with those in the control group.
However, some studies don't show a statistically significant increase in weight loss with green tea, so researchers need to perform further studies to confirm this effect.
Some studies show that green tea leads to increased weight loss. It may be particularly effective at reducing the dangerous abdominal fat.
10. Green Tea May Help You Live Longer
Given that some compounds in green tea may help protect against cancer and heart disease, it makes sense that it could help you live longer.
In one study, researchers studied 40,530 Japanese adults over 11 years. Those who drank the most green tea — 5 or more cups per day — were significantly less likely to die during the study period:
- Death of all causes: 23% lower in women, 12% lower in men.
- Death from heart disease: 31% lower in women, 22% lower in men.
- Death from stroke: 42% lower in women, 35% lower in men.
Another study involving 14,001 older Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6-year study period.
Studies show that people who drink green tea may live longer than those who don't.
11. The Bottom Line
Green tea has a range of possible health benefits.
To help you feel better, lose weight, and lower your risk for chronic diseases, you might want to consider making green tea a regular part of your life.
If you'd like to try it, there's a wide variety of green tea products available online.
Reposted with permission from Healthline.
For detailed source information, see original story at Healthline.
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Notably, you aren't limited to tossing it into salads and sides. Juicing fresh spinach has become a popular way to enjoy this green veggie.
In fact, spinach juice is linked to an array of impressive health benefits.
Here are 5 of the top science-backed benefits of spinach juice.
1. High in Antioxidants
Drinking spinach juice is a great way to boost your antioxidant intake.
Antioxidants neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals, thus protecting you against oxidative stress and chronic disease.
In particular, spinach is a good source of the antioxidants lutein, beta carotene, coumaric acid, violaxanthin, and ferulic acid.
Animal studies reveal similar findings, tying spinach to oxidative stress prevention.
Spinach juice is high in antioxidants, which can help prevent oxidative damage and safeguard against chronic illnesses.
2. May Improve Eye Health
Spinach juice is loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants necessary for maintaining healthy vision.
Some research suggests that these compounds help protect against age-related macular degeneration, a common condition that can cause progressive vision loss.
A review of six studies linked increased intake of zeaxanthin and lutein to a lower risk of cataracts, an eye condition that clouds and blurs the lens of your eye.
What's more, spinach juice is high in vitamin A, which is important for eye health. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause dry eyes and night blindness.
Although the exact amount varies based on how much water you use and whether you add other ingredients, juicing 4 cups (120 grams) of raw spinach generally produces about 1 cup (240 mL) of juice.
In turn, this amount of juice provides nearly 63% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A.
Spinach juice is rich in vitamin A and antioxidants like zeaxanthin and lutein, all of which promote healthy vision.
3. May Decrease Cancer Cell Growth
Although more human research is needed, some studies suggest that certain compounds in spinach may help combat cancer cell growth.
In a 2-week study in mice, spinach juice reduced the volume of colon cancer tumors by 56%.
Another mouse study showed that monogalactosyl diacylglycerol (MGDG), a spinach compound, enhanced the effects of radiation therapy to kill pancreatic cancer cells.
Furthermore, human studies indicate that eating more leafy greens lowers your risk of lung, prostate, breast, and colorectal cancer.
Nonetheless, these studies are focused on overall leafy green intake rather than spinach juice specifically. Thus, additional studies are needed.
Animal studies note that some compounds in spinach may decrease cancer cell growth, while human research associates leafy greens with a lower risk of certain cancers. All the same, further research is necessary.
4. May Reduce Blood Pressure
Spinach juice is high in naturally occurring nitrates, a type of compound that can help dilate your blood vessels. In turn, this may lower blood pressure and boost blood flow.
A 7-day study in 27 people found that eating spinach soup daily decreased blood pressure and arterial stiffness, compared with a control group.
In another small study, 30 people who ate nitrate-rich spinach experienced lower systolic blood pressure (the upper number of a reading) and improved nitric oxide status.
One cup (240 mL) of spinach juice also packs over 14% of the DV for potassium — a mineral involved in regulating blood pressure by controlling the amount of sodium excreted through your urine.
Spinach is high in nitrates and potassium, which may improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure.
5. May Promote Healthy Hair and Skin
Spinach juice is a great source of vitamin A, with nearly 63% of the DV in 1 cup (240 mL).
This vitamin helps regulate skin cell generation and produce mucous to protect against infections.
One cup (240 mL) of spinach juice also contains about 38% of the DV for vitamin C, which is an essential water-soluble vitamin that doubles as an antioxidant.
Studies show that vitamin C protects your skin against oxidative stress, inflammation, and skin damage, all of which can accelerate signs of aging. Furthermore, it helps synthesize collagen, a connective tissue protein that promotes wound healing and skin elasticity.
What's more, vitamin C may increase iron absorption and even help prevent hair loss associated with iron deficiency.
Spinach juice is high in vitamins A and C, two important micronutrients that can promote skin and hair health.
Potential Side Effects
While spinach juice is associated with some benefits, there are a few drawbacks to consider.
For starters, most of the available research is focused on spinach itself — not the juice. Thus, further studies on the juice are needed.
Additionally, juicing removes most of the fiber from spinach, which could curb some of its benefits.
Studies show that fiber may help improve blood sugar control, weight loss, and blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It may also protect against several digestive disorders, including hemorrhoids, constipation, acid reflux, and diverticulitis.
Spinach is likewise high in vitamin K, large amounts of which can interfere with blood thinners like warfarin. If you're taking blood thinners, consult a healthcare professional before adding spinach juice to your daily routine.
It's also important to carefully read labels if you purchase store-bought juices, as some varieties may be high in added sugar.
Finally, keep in mind that spinach juice should not be used as a meal replacement, as it's lacking in many of the nutrients necessary for a balanced diet.
Rather, you should drink it to supplement a healthy diet, enjoying it alongside a variety of other whole fruits and vegetables.
Juicing removes most of the fiber from spinach, which may inhibit some of its health benefits. Furthermore, you shouldn't use spinach juice as a meal replacement.
The Bottom Line
Spinach juice is high in antioxidants and beneficial compounds that may protect your vision, decrease blood pressure, and improve hair and skin health.
However, it's low in fiber and isn't an appropriate meal replacement, as it's lacking in important nutrients like protein and healthy fats.
If you drink spinach juice, be sure to enjoy it alongside other whole, nutritious foods as part of a balanced diet.
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By Alexander Freund
Sepsis is a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by the body's immune system overreacting in response to an infection. This overactive, toxic response can lead to tissue damage, multiple organ failure and death.
A comprehensive study on the frequency of sepsis and sepsis deaths was published in The Lancet in mid-January 2020. Nearly a quarter of all deaths worldwide are attributable to sepsis every year, according to the study.
In 2017 there were 48.9 million sepsis cases and 11 million sepsis deaths worldwide. In 2015, 75,000 sepsis deaths were documented in Germany alone — more deaths than from colon, breast, lung and prostate cancer combined. Around 15% of patients who died in hospital in Germany in 2015 died of sepsis.
Despite the high incidence of sepsis, knowledge about sepsis prevention and early detection in Germany is significantly lower than in comparable industrialized countries. For this reason, the German Sepsis Foundation advises that "all patients at risk should follow the Robert Koch Institute's call to be vaccinated against the influenza virus and against pneumococcus."
That is especially the case for those with weakened immune systems: Newborns and elderly people with a history of illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, chronic diseases or AIDS.
How Does Sepsis Occur and How Do I Recognize It?
Viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites — sepsis can be triggered by a variety of pathogens. The causes of sepsis are usually pneumonia, wound infections, urinary tract infections or infections in the abdominal cavity.
In addition to the known seasonal influenza viruses, other viruses that are highly infectious, such as coronaviruses, Ebola and yellow fever viruses, dengue, swine flu or bird flu viruses can also cause sepsis.
In addition to the typical signs of infection, there are several stand out symptoms that usually indicate possible sepsis — for example, a drop in blood pressure with a simultaneous rise in heart rate, fever, rapid, heavy breathing, an unusually strong feeling of illness and sudden confusion. Septic shock is the most severe stage and is diagnosed when your blood pressure drops to dangerous levels. In the event of such alarm signals, emergency care should be sought immediately.
How Is Sepsis Treated?
Although sepsis is common in hospitals, it's often detected very late. When diagnosed, sepsis is immediately treated as an emergency. The blood is examined, a broad-spectrum antibiotic is administered, and sufficient blood circulation and ventilation are ensured. As a precautionary measure, many sepsis patients are "protectionally incubated," i.e. put into an artificial coma.
Ventilation equipment and/or circulatory therapy, kidney replacement therapy or coagulation therapy are used to support the patient's organs in particular.
Such an intensive care treatment is highly complex and costly. In the U.S. alone, around 24 billion dollars (€21.5 billion) are spent annually in hospitals for sepsis treatment.
More important than the costs, however, are the available capacities: existing intensive care beds should therefore primarily be available to those who are critically ill with the new coronavirus or other pathogens and who urgently need respiratory care, for example due to sepsis.
In half of the patients, sepsis occurs without serious consequences. In the other half, infections, kidney failure or cardiovascular problems, i.e. cardiovascular diseases, can recur about three months after discharge.
In addition, many sepsis patients suffer severe, long-term functional, cognitive or psychological consequences such as paralysis, depression or anxiety disorders.
It is therefore of central importance that sepsis is prevented if possible or diagnosed as early as possible. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the higher the chances of survival and therapy.
Reposted with permission from DW.
Sauerkraut survived the test of time to become a popular side dish and condiment in many cultures. It's especially appreciated in Germany, where its name comes from.
Due to the fermentation it undergoes, sauerkraut offers nutrition and health benefits far beyond those of fresh cabbage.
This article outlines 8 health benefits of sauerkraut and provides a step-by-step guide for how to make your own.
1. Sauerkraut is Very Nutritious
Sauerkraut contains many nutrients important for optimal health. One cup (142 grams) provides (2Trusted Source):
- Calories: 27
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Sodium: 41% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin C: 23% of the DV
- Vitamin K1: 15% of the DV
- Iron: 12% of the DV
- Manganese: 9% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 11% of the DV
- Folate: 9% of the DV
- Copper: 15% of the DV
- Potassium: 5% of the DV
Sauerkraut is particularly nutritious because it undergoes fermentation, a process during which microorganisms on the cabbage digest its natural sugars and convert them into carbon dioxide and organic acids.
Fermentation starts when yeast and bacteria that are naturally present on the cabbage and your hands, as well as in the air, come into contact with the sugars in the cabbage.
However, unlike cabbage, sauerkraut can be high in sodium. Keep this in mind if you're watching your salt intake.
Sauerkraut is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Its probiotics also help your body absorb these nutrients more easily, which is what makes sauerkraut more nutritious than raw cabbage or coleslaw.
2. Improves Your Digestion
Your gut is said to contain over 100 trillion microorganisms or "gut flora," which is more than 10 times the total number of cells in your body.
Unpasteurized sauerkraut contains probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that act as the first line of defense against toxins and harmful bacteria. They can also improve your digestion and overall health.
Probiotics like those in sauerkraut can help improve the bacterial balance in your gut after it has been disturbed by the use of antibiotics. This can help reduce or prevent antibiotic-provoked diarrhea.
Research also shows that probiotics help reduce gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and symptoms linked to Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Probiotic supplements may contain anywhere from 1–50 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per dose. In comparison, 1 gram of sauerkraut may contain 1,000–100 million CFUs.
Different probiotic strains may provide varying advantages. Thus, consuming a wide variety of strains may give you a broader range of health benefits.
In this regard, sauerkraut may have the advantage. Research has reported that one serving may contain up to 28 distinct bacterial strains
Sauerkraut is a source of probiotics, which provide many potential health benefits. It also contains enzymes that help your body absorb nutrients more easily.
3. Boosts Your Immune System
Sauerkraut is a source of immune-boosting probiotics and nutrients.
For starters, the bacteria that populate your gut can have a strong influence on your immune system. The probiotics found in sauerkraut may help improve the balance of bacteria in your gut, which helps keep your gut lining healthy.
A stronger gut lining helps prevent unwanted substances from "leaking" into your body and causing an immune response.
Maintaining a healthy gut flora also helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and may even boost the production of natural antibodies.
Moreover, regularly consuming probiotic foods like sauerkraut may reduce your risk of developing infections, such as the common cold and urinary tract infections.
If you do get sick, regularly consuming probiotic-rich foods may help you recover faster.
In particular, upping your vitamin C intake when you have the common cold may help you get rid of symptoms more quickly.
Sauerkraut is a source of probiotics, vitamin C, and iron, all of which contribute to a stronger immune system.
4. May Help You Lose Weight
Regularly consuming sauerkraut may help you lose weight and keep it off.
That's partly because sauerkraut, like most vegetables, is low in calories and high in fiber. High fiber diets keep you fuller for longer, which may help you naturally reduce the number of calories you eat each day.
Sauerkraut's probiotic content may also contribute to a trimmer waistline.
The exact reasons aren't yet fully understood, but scientists believe that certain probiotics may have the ability to reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs from your diet.
Various studies report that participants given probiotic-rich foods or supplements lost more weight than those given a placebo.
A recent study even reports that purposely overfed participants given probiotics gained about 50% less body fat than overfed participants given a placebo. This suggests that a probiotic-rich diet may even help prevent weight gain.
However, these results are not universal. In addition, different probiotic strains may have varying effects. Thus, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of sauerkraut-specific probiotic strains on weight loss.
Sauerkraut's low calorie, high fiber, and high probiotic content may help prevent weight gain and promote the loss of unwanted body fat.
5. Helps Reduce Stress and Maintain Brain Health
While your mood can affect what you eat, the reverse is also thought to be true. What you eat can affect your mood and brain function.
An increasing number of studies are discovering an intimate connection between your gut and brain.
They've found that the type of bacteria present in your gut may have the ability to send messages to your brain, influencing the way it functions and perceives the world.
For instance, fermented, probiotic foods such as sauerkraut contribute to the creation of a healthy gut flora, which research shows may help reduce stress and maintain brain health.
Probiotics have been found to help improve memory and reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, autism, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Sauerkraut may also maintain brain health by increasing your gut's absorption of mood-regulating minerals, including magnesium and zinc.
That said, some researchers warn that compounds in sauerkraut may interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), a type of medication prescribed to treat depression, anxiety disorders, and Parkinson's disease.
Individuals taking these medications should consult their healthcare provider before adding sauerkraut to their diet.
Sauerkraut promotes healthy gut flora and may increase the absorption of mood-regulating minerals from your diet. Both of these effects help reduce stress and maintain brain health.
6. May Reduce the Risk of Certain Cancers
Cabbage, the main ingredient in sauerkraut, contains antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds that may help reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Researchers believe these compounds may help reduce DNA damage, prevent cell mutations, and block the excessive cell growth that typically leads to tumor development.
The cabbage fermentation process may also create particular plant compounds that suppress the growth of precancerous cells.
Certain genes are associated with an increased risk of cancer. The expression of these genes is sometimes modulated by chemical compounds in the food you eat.
Two recent studies suggest that cabbage and sauerkraut juice may help reduce the risk of cancer by reducing the expression of cancer-associated genes.
In another study, researchers observed that women who ate a lot of cabbage and sauerkraut from their teens into adulthood had a reduced risk of breast cancer.
However, the number of studies is limited, and not all studies found the same results. Thus, more are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Sauerkraut contains beneficial plant compounds that may reduce the risk of cancer cells developing and spreading.
7. May Promote Heart Health
Sauerkraut may contribute to a healthier heart.
That's because it contains a good amount of fiber and probiotics, both of which may help reduce cholesterol levels.
Probiotics such as those found in sauerkraut may also help lower blood pressure slightly in people with hypertension. People seem to achieve the best results when they take at least 10 million CFUs per day for longer than 8 weeks.
Moreover, sauerkraut is one of the rare plant sources of menaquinone, more commonly known as vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 is believed to help reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing calcium deposits from accumulating in the arteries.
In one study, regular intake of vitamin-K2-rich foods was linked to a 57% lower risk of dying from heart disease over the 7–10 year study period.
In another, women reduced their risk of heart disease by 9% for every 10 mcg of vitamin K2 they consumed per day.
For reference, 1 cup of sauerkraut contains about 6.6 mcg of vitamin K2.
The fiber, probiotic, and vitamin K2 contents of sauerkraut may contribute to lower cholesterol levels, slight improvements in blood pressure, and a lower risk of heart disease.
8. Contributes to Stronger Bones
Sauerkraut contains vitamin K2, which plays an important role in bone health.
More specifically, vitamin K2 activates two proteins that bind to calcium, the main mineral found in bones.
This is thought to contribute to stronger, healthier bones. In fact, several studies have shown that vitamin K2 may benefit bone health.
For instance, a 3-year study in postmenopausal women observed that those taking vitamin K2 supplements experienced slower rates of age-related loss in bone mineral density.
Similarly, several other studies have reported that taking vitamin K2 supplements reduced the risk of spine, hip, and non-spine fractures by 60–81%.
However, some of these studies used supplements to provide very high doses of vitamin K2. Thus, it's unknown whether the vitamin K2 you'd get from eating sauerkraut alone would provide the same benefits.
Sauerkraut contains vitamin K2, a nutrient that promotes healthier, stronger bones.
How to Shop for Sauerkraut
You can find sauerkraut easily in most supermarkets, but not all types you'll come across will be the same.
To ensure you get the most out of store-bought sauerkraut, try to keep these simple tips in mind:
- Avoid pasteurized varieties. Off-the-shelf sauerkraut is typically pasteurized, a process that kills the beneficial probiotics. Refrigerated varieties are less likely to be pasteurized, but check the label to be sure.
- Avoid preservatives. Many store-bought sauerkraut brands contain preservatives, which may lower the probiotic count.
- Avoid added sugars. Sauerkraut should only contain two basic ingredients: cabbage and salt. Some varieties may also add extra vegetables, but avoid those that add sugar or anything else to the mix.
Alternatively, to make sure you get all the health benefits of sauerkraut, you can make it yourself.
You will get the most benefits out of store-bought sauerkraut by opting for non-pasteurized varieties that don't contain added sugars or preservatives.
How to Make Sauerkraut
Making sauerkraut is easy, simple and inexpensive. Here's how:
- 1 medium green cabbage
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of non-iodized salt
- 2–3 carrots, shredded (optional)
- 2–3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)
Have a 1-quart (1-liter) jar ready to keep the sauerkraut in, a 4-ounce (120-mL) smaller jar to press it down, and a kitchen scale to weigh your cabbage mixture.
- If you wish to add carrots and garlic, start by placing them in a large bowl.
- Discard the outer leaves of your cabbage, setting one nicer leaf aside. Then, slice the cabbage into quarters, leaving the core in. This makes shredding easier.
- Shred the cabbage quarters into the large bowl with the carrot and garlic mix. Incorporate enough cabbage to bring the total weight up to 28 ounces (800 grams), which will fit a 1-quart (1-liter) jar.
- Add salt and massage it into the cabbage mixture for a few minutes until brine starts accumulating at the bottom of your bowl.
- Pack the cabbage mixture into a clean, 1-quart (1-liter) jar, pressing down to get rid of air pockets. Pour the remaining brine into the jar. Air in the jar enables harmful bacteria to grow, so make sure the mixture is completely submerged.
- Trim the cabbage leaf you set aside earlier to the size of your jar opening. Place it in the jar on top of the mixture to prevent veggies from floating to the surface.
- Place a 4-ounce (120-mL) jelly jar with no lid inside the larger jar, on top of the mixture. This will hold your veggie mixture below the brine during fermentation.
- Screw the lid onto your 1-quart (1-liter) jar. It will press the jelly jar down, keeping your cabbage mixture below the brine. Leave the lid slightly loose, which will allow gases to escape during the fermentation process.
- Keep it at room temperature and out of direct sunlight for 1–4 weeks.
Keep in mind that the larger the head of cabbage you start with, the sweeter and better your sauerkraut will taste.
If you're impatient to taste your creation, you can do so after 7 days. The longer you allow it to ferment, the stronger the taste will be.
Here are some additional sauerkraut recipes:
Follow the steps above to make your own inexpensive, tasty sauerkraut at home.
The Bottom Line
Sauerkraut is incredibly nutritious and healthy.
It provides probiotics and vitamin K2, which are known for their health benefits, and many other nutrients.
Eating sauerkraut may help you strengthen your immune system, improve your digestion, reduce your risk of certain diseases, and even lose weight.
To reap the greatest benefits, try eating a little bit of sauerkraut each day.
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Low-Fat Diets Rich in Fruits and Veggies May Reduce Women’s Risk of Breast Cancer Death, Study Finds
A low-fat diet that prioritizes eating healthier foods like fruits and vegetables each day could lower a woman's risk of dying from breast cancer, according to a multi-decade study published this month.
The federally funded study, which involved almost 49,000 women aged 50-79 years old, found that after around 20 years, those who cut down their dietary fat to 25 percent or less and opted for more fruits and vegetables reduced their risk of dying from breast cancer by 21 percent.
The randomized clinical trial is the first of its kind to demonstrate that a healthy diet may reduce postmenopausal women's risk of death from breast cancer, the Washington Post reported. The results of previous observational studies, which cannot indicate cause and effect, have been inconsistent.
"Patients are eager for things that they can do," Dr. Jennifer Ligibel of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who was not involved in the study, told the Associated Press. "It really suggests that changing your diet, losing weight, exercising, could actually be a treatment."
As part of the large Women's Health Initiative, the study followed 48,835 women who had no prior history of breast cancer for a median of 19.6 years. Beginning in 1993, researchers divided them into groups: one group had diets where 32 percent or more of daily calories came from fat, while the other was instructed to reduce fat in their diet to 20 percent or less and eat daily servings of fruit, vegetables and grains.
Most of the low-fat group, which had to maintain the diet for 8.5 years, managed to limit fat intake to 25 percent or less of their daily calories. They saw an average 3 percent loss in body weight, USA Today reported, noting that the study did not differentiate between types of fat.
From 1993 to 2013, nearly 3,400 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, women in the low-fat group had a 15 percent lower risk of dying from any cause. The Associated Press reported that after 20 years, researchers also began to see a difference between the groups in deaths specifically from breast cancer, though the observed benefit of a low-fat diet was still small, as only 383 women in the study died from the disease. Adopting a low-fat diet did not lower the women's risk of developing breast cancer to begin with, however.
"The balanced diet we designed is one of moderation, and after nearly 20 years of follow-up, the health benefits are still accruing," lead study author Rowan Chlebowski of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center said in a press release.
Health experts, including a study co-author, told NPR that our understanding of health and unhealthy fats has grown since the study was designed, so it's difficult to gauge what truly led to the risk reduction, whether it was reducing fat across the board of increasing consumption, general weight loss, or consuming more healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and grains.
Still, Chlebowski told the Washington Post that the study demonstrated that women could improve their health with only simple dietary changes. "It's not like eating twigs and branches," he said. "It's what people were eating, say, 20 years ago, before you could pick up 900 calories in one candy bar."
The study has not yet been published by a peer-reviewed journal, though the results will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in June.
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A new report from The American Cancer Society has identified the largest single-year decline in the U.S. cancer death rate to date, likely spurred by new treatments and reductions in smoking.
The rate of Americans dying from cancer fell by 2.2 percent from 2016 to 2017, marking 26 consecutive years of a decreasing cancer death rate since it peaked in 1991 at 215 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the report published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Overall, the cancer death rate decreased 29 percent between 1991 and 2017 — amounting to 2.9 million fewer deaths than at the peak rate — The Washington Post reported. But while the death rate usually fell by around 1.5 percent year to year, the 2.2 percent drop in mortality in 2017 was the highest going back to 1930, when the American Cancer Society began keeping records.
"What is really driving that is the acceleration in the decline of mortality for lung cancer, and the reason that is encouraging is because lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, causing more deaths in the U.S. than breast, colorectal cancer and prostate cancers combined," Rebecca Siegel, lead author and scientific director of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society, told CNN. Cancer is second only to heart disease when it comes to all leading causes of death in the U.S. and experts believe lung cancer accounts for more than 25 percent of all cancer deaths.
The report found that the lung cancer death rate for men has fallen 51% since 1990 and 26% for women since 2002. This decline has accelerated in recent years, the authors noted, with annual reductions in the death rate climbing from 2 percent per year to around 4 percent.
In fact, the progress around lung cancer is such that if you removed it from the data, the 2.2 percent drop from 2016 to 2017 would be only 1.4 percent, Siegel told Reuters.
The authors said one explanation for the declining death rate for lung cancer is that smoking rates in the U.S. have also continued to fall, reaching a record low in 2018. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is the top risk factor for lung cancer and is associated with 80-90% of lung cancer deaths in the U.S.
We're also getting better at finding and treating cancers at any stage, the authors of the report pointed out.
This includes improvements to diagnostic tools, surgery procedures and radiotherapy, as well as the impact of new drugs, USA Today reported. For instance, the decline in the death rate for melanoma accelerated from between 1-3 percent per year to 7 percent for people aged 20-64 after two new therapies hit the market in 2011, The New York Times reported.
Not all the news is positive, however, as the authors found that progress for colorectal, prostate and breast cancers has slowed despite overall decreases since their peaks. Many of these cancers can often be detected early via screening tools, Siegel noted.
The authors suggested that the prevalence of obesity-linked cancers — following the U.S.'s rising obesity rates — as well as racial and state-based disparities in risk factor exposure for preventable cancers and healthcare access may be driving the slow-downs.
"It's a reminder that increasing our investment in the equitable application of existing cancer control interventions, as well as basic and clinical research to further advance treatment, would undoubtedly accelerate progress against cancer," Siegel said in a press release.
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By Christine Crudo Blackburn, Andrew Natsios Gerald W Parker and Leslie Ruyle
As the new coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV, spreads rapidly around the globe, the international community is scrambling to keep up. Scientists rush to develop a vaccine, policymakers debate the most effective containment methods, and health care systems strain to accommodate the growing number of sick and dying. Though it may sound like a scene from the 2011 movie "Contagion," it is actually an unfolding reality.
In the midst of all of this, a potential crisis simmers in the shadows: The global dependence on China for the production of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
Chinese Dominance in the Pharmaceutical Market
We represent an interdisciplinary group of scientists and policymakers at the Scowcroft Institute's Pandemic and Biosecurity Policy Program based at the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University who have been holding annual summits addressing pandemic-related issues for the past five years. One of our goals is to promote dialogue on potential risks related to pandemics and U.S. security, in this case the disruption of supply chains and availability of medical supplies and drugs.
Today, about 80% of pharmaceuticals sold in the U.S. are produced in China. This number, while concerning, hides an even greater problem: China is the largest and sometimes only global supplier for the active ingredient of some vital medications. The active ingredients for medicines that treat breast cancer and lung cancer and the antibiotic Vancomycin, which is a last resort antibiotic for some types of antimicrobial resistant infections, are made almost exclusively in China. Additionally, China controls such a large market portion of heparin, a blood thinner used in open-heart surgery, kidney dialysis and blood transfusions that the U.S. government was left with no choice but to continue buying from China even after a contamination scandal in 2007.
China is not only the dominant global supplier of pharmaceuticals, but it is also the largest supplier of medical devices in the U.S. These include things like MRI equipment, surgical gowns, and equipment that measures oxygen levels in the blood. Supplies of these essential products have not yet been severely disrupted by the coronavirus, but if China is no longer will or able to supply them to the U.S., thousands of Americans could die.
More concerning still are the limited options available to the U.S. and the rest of the globe to make up the shortfall. It could take years to develop the necessary infrastructure to reestablish U.S. manufacturing capacities and obtain Food and Drug Administration licensure to overcome the loss of the Chinese supply.
When a disease reaches epidemic levels, the first obligation for leaders in any country is to protect their own people. As this current crisis progresses, there may come a point when political leaders in China will face decisions on whether to prohibit the export of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other vital medical components in order to treat or protect their own people. Such acts would be the logical outcome of an escalating situation. For the 2009 H1N1 pandemic response, for example, the U.S. was pushed to the back of the queue for vaccine deliveries even though we had existing contracts with a major vaccine manufacturer located in another country. Those vaccine deliveries were delayed.
Disruption of Global Pharmaceuticals?
While a total loss of active ingredient imports from China might seem far-fetched, we believe the increasing scale of the outbreak moves it closer to the realm of possibility.
About six weeks into international recognition of the epidemic in China, there are already shortages of vital personal protective equipment in both China and the U.S. UPS has transported more than 2 million masks and 11,000 gowns to Wuhan to help alleviate the shortage. But what happens when everyone runs out of protective equipment?
Wuhan is a significant player in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, with multiple pharmaceutical companies located in the city. How many of these factories have closed as a result of the pandemic, and when will those that have closed open back up? Global supply chains could reach a crisis point if they are compromised because Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, is in quarantine and factories are shut down.
Additionally, Wuhan is the location of China's first Biosafety Level (BSL) 4 laboratory, which was opened in 2017 to research SARS and other emerging diseases. It is the only lab in China that can safely handle the world's most dangerous pathogens that pose a significant risk of transmission. Infection, death and quarantine in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province is restricting the ability of all types of commerce in the region. Meanwhile, the virus is already creating a significant supply chain imbalance within China. That means those medical supply companies will be under pressure to keep any products produced within the country for protection of their own health care workers, laboratory personnel and the general public.
The regulatory apparatus to insure that the Chinese manufactured pharmaceuticals being exported meet the highest standards of safety and quality control are weak or nonexistent, according to a congressional report last year. The pressure placed on supply chains by the outbreak could further exacerbate existing quality control challenges. In doing so, the virus has highlighted our reliance on China as a U.S. national security issue due to outsourcing our manufacturing capabilities and inability to ensure quality control.
As with all pandemics, the complexity of this outbreak demands international collaboration and transparency. At the same time, U.S. public health officials must acknowledge the country's vulnerability due to our dependence on Chinese production of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. The U.S. must develop a response plan for the inevitable shortages in the near-term and take necessary actions to reclaim control of our medical supply chain. Continuing to overlook this long-known vulnerability will only lead to catastrophe.
Christine Crudo Blackburn is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University.
Andrew Natsios is the director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs and Executive Professor, Texas A&M University.
Gerald W Parker is the associate dean for Global One Health, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; and the Director for the Pandemic and Biosecurity Policy Program, Scowcroft Institute for International Affairs, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University.
Leslie Ruyle is the assistant director at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University.
Disclosure statement: Andrew Natsios is affiliated with the Bush School of Government, The Hudson Institute, Scowcroft Institute at the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M Univ, and Fio Corp.
Christine Crudo Blackburn, Gerald W Parker, and Leslie Ruyle do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
It tastes similar to green cabbage. However, the purple variety is richer in beneficial plant compounds that have been linked to health benefits, such as stronger bones and a healthier heart.
Purple cabbage is also thought to lower inflammation and protect against certain types of cancers. Moreover, it's an incredibly versatile vegetable that can be enjoyed raw, cooked, or fermented and added to a variety of dishes.
Here are 8 impressive health benefits of purple cabbage, all backed by science.
1. Rich in Nutrients
Despite being low in calories, purple cabbage contains an impressive amount of nutrients.
One cup (89 grams) of chopped, raw, purple cabbage contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 28
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbs: 7 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 56% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin K: 28% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 11% of the DV
- Vitamin A: 6% of the DV
- Potassium: 5% of the DV
- Thiamine: 5% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 5% of the DV
Purple cabbage also provides small amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc.
Purple cabbage is low in calories yet a good source of fiber and vitamins A, C, K, and B6. It also contains small amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
2. Boasts Powerful Plant Compounds
Purple cabbage is a great source of antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds that help protect against cellular damage.
Its antioxidants include vitamin C, carotenoids, and flavonoid antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and kaempferol. In fact, it often contains higher amounts of these than green cabbage.
For instance, research suggests that the antioxidant levels in purple cabbage are around 4.5 times higher than those found in green cabbage varieties.
What's more, purple cabbage is one of the foods that offers the highest levels of antioxidants per unit cost.
It's also a good source of sulforaphane, a sulfur-rich compound that forms when raw cabbage is cut or crushed. Sulforaphane is linked to powerful heart health benefits and cancer-fighting properties.
Purple cabbage is a great source of beneficial plant compounds and offers one of the highest amounts of health-promoting antioxidants per unit cost.
3. Helps Fight Inflammation
Purple cabbage may help fight inflammation, which is thought to contribute to many diseases.
One test-tube study using an artificial model of the human gut found that certain varieties of purple cabbage reduced markers of gut inflammation by 22–40%.
Animal studies report that sulforaphane, the beneficial sulfur compound found in many cruciferous vegetables, may be to thank for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Interestingly, applying cabbage leaves to the skin also appears to reduce inflammation.
For instance, adults with arthritis who wrapped their knees in cabbage leaves once per day reported feeling significantly less pain by the end of the 4-week study. However, the cabbage wraps reduced pain less effectively than a topical pain gel.
Moreover, cabbage leaves appear to reduce breast pain, swelling, and inflammation due to increased milk supply and blood flow during the early postpartum period.
Purple cabbage may help fight inflammation and reduce accompanying symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and discomfort.
4. May Promote Heart Health
Purple cabbage may also benefit your heart.
This may be due to its content of anthocyanins, which are flavonoid antioxidants that give purple cabbage its characteristic color.
One large study found that women who regularly eat large amounts of anthocyanin-rich foods may benefit from an 11–32% lower risk of heart attacks, compared with those who eat fewer of these foods.
Higher anthocyanin intakes may also be linked to lower blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease.
Purple cabbage contains more than 36 types of anthocyanins, making it an excellent source of this heart-healthy compound.
Purple cabbage is a rich source of anthocyanins, which are beneficial plant compounds that may reduce your risk of heart disease.
5. May Strengthen Your Bones
Purple cabbage contains several bone-benefiting nutrients, including vitamins C and K, as well as smaller amounts of calcium, manganese, and zinc.
For instance, 1 cup (89 grams) of raw purple cabbage contains around 56% of the DV for vitamin C, which plays a role in bone formation and helps protect your bone cells from damage.
Vitamin K1 is mostly found in plant foods, such as leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. This distinguishes it from vitamin K2, which is found in animal products and fermented foods.
Purple cabbage is rich in vitamins C and K1, both of which are essential for building and maintaining strong, healthy bones. Purple cabbage also contains smaller amounts of bone-benefitting nutrients, such as calcium, manganese, and zinc.
6. May Protect Against Certain Cancers
Purple cabbage may help protect against certain types of cancers, though more research in humans is needed.
Experts believe this may be because it contains sulforaphane and anthocyanins — two compounds researched for their cancer-fighting properties.
Research links high intakes of cruciferous vegetables, including cabbage, to an 18% lower risk of colon cancer. Diets rich in cruciferous vegetables have also been linked to a lower risk of breast cancer.
Moreover, there's evidence to suggest that the sulforaphane found in purple cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables may help kill cancer cells or prevent them from growing and spreading.
Cell and animal studies suggest that anthocyanins may have similar anti-cancer effects. Anthocyanins are found in red, blue, and purple fruits and vegetables, including purple cabbage.
However, more human research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Purple cabbage contains beneficial compounds, such as sulforaphane and anthocyanins, which may help protect your body against certain types of cancers. However, more research is needed to investigate these effects.
7. May Enhance Gut Health
Purple cabbage may improve the function of your gut.
There's evidence that cabbage may lower inflammation in the gut and reduce intestinal mucositis — a condition in which lesions develop in the gut, often as a side effect of cancer treatment.
Cabbage is also a good source of fiber, which keeps your gut healthy and helps it digest foods more easily.
Insoluble fiber comprises around 70% of the fiber in cabbage. It adds bulk to stools and helps food move through your gut more easily, reducing the risk of constipation.
The remaining 30% is soluble fiber, which provides food for the beneficial bacteria living in your gut. In turn, these friendly bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as acetate, butyrate, and propionate, which feed the cells of your gut.
Research shows that SCFAs may also reduce inflammation and other symptoms of gut disorders, such as Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and ulcerative colitis.
There's also some evidence that drinking around 1 quart (946 ml) of cabbage juice per day may help heal gut ulcers in 7–10 days. However, the studies showing this are outdated, so more recent studies are needed to investigate this effect.
Purple cabbage may help boost your gut health by reducing inflammation, preventing gut lesions, and treating ulcers. However, more research is needed to investigate these effects.
8. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Purple cabbage is an incredibly versatile vegetable. You can eat it raw or cooked, and it's well suited to accompany a variety of dishes.
For instance, it can be steamed and used to make dumpling fillings, or braised with red wine, vinegar, apples, carrots, and beets for a flavorful side dish.
Purple cabbage can also be roasted or sautéed with meats or beans, or it can be shredded and used as a nutrient-rich garnish for soups, salads, and warm dishes.
It also offers an antioxidant-rich and visually appealing alternative to green cabbage in coleslaw or sauerkraut, or it can be fermented to make kimchi.
Purple cabbage is a simple and tasty addition to many dishes. It can be eaten raw, cooked, or fermented, which adds to its versatility.
The Bottom Line
Purple cabbage is a nutrient-rich vegetable linked to a variety of health benefits.
These include reduced inflammation, a healthier heart, stronger bones, improved gut function, and perhaps even a lower risk of certain cancers.
This vegetable is also incredibly versatile and one of the most cost-efficient ways to add beneficial antioxidants to your diet.
- Is Rye Bread Healthy? - EcoWatch ›
- The 18 Most Addictive Foods (and the 17 Least Addictive) - EcoWatch ›
By Anne Danahy, MS, RDN
Purple potatoes are the eye-catching gems of the potato aisle.
Like other members of the potato family (Solanum tuberosum), they come from a tuber plant native to the Andes mountain region in South America.
They have a blue-purple to almost black outer skin and an inner flesh that's brilliant purple, even after cooking.
Some common varieties include Purple Peruvian, Purple Majesty, All Blue, Congo, Adirondack Blue, Purple Fiesta, and Vitelotte.
They have a denser texture and slightly nuttier, earthier flavor than white potatoes.
Purple potatoes are a tasty way to add a pop of color to your plate while enjoying a serving of health benefits.
Here are 7 surprising benefits of purple potatoes.
1. Highly Nutritious
Potatoes often get a bad rap because of their high starch content, but they contain many other important nutrients and can be a very healthy addition to your diet.
Purple potatoes have a nutrient content similar to that of other varieties of potatoes in the Solanum tuberosum family, though their mineral content can vary depending on the soil in which they were grown.
- Calories: 87
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 20 grams
- Fiber: 3.3 grams
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Manganese: 6% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Copper: 21% of the DV
- Iron: 2% of the DV
- Potassium: 8% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 18% of the DV
- Vitamin C:14% of the DV
Interestingly, potatoes have more potassium than bananas. In addition, a serving of potatoes provides 3 grams of fiber, from both the flesh and skin, and they're naturally low in sodium.
All potatoes, including purple potatoes, are quite nutritious and provide a range of nutrients in both their skin and flesh. They're especially rich in minerals and boast more potassium than a banana.
2. Better for Blood Sugar
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the extent to which a food raises your blood sugar. It ranges from 0 to 100, and a GI greater than 70 is considered high.
A comparison study in humans found that purple potatoes have a GI of 77, yellow potatoes have a GI of 81, and white potatoes have a GI of 93.
While all potato varieties impact blood sugar levels because of their carbohydrate content, purple potatoes may exert less of an effect than other types due to their high concentration of polyphenol plant compounds.
These compounds may decrease the absorption of starches in the intestines, therefore minimizing purple potato's impact on blood sugar levels.
An animal study observed similar results, finding that feeding purple potato extract to rats resulted in better glucose tolerance and improved short and long-term blood sugar levels.
Eating purple potatoes instead of white potatoes is a good move when watching your blood sugar. While the starch in purple potatoes increases blood sugar, it does so to less of an extent than the starch in yellow or white varieties.
3. Packed With Antioxidants
Like other colorful fruits and vegetables, purple potatoes' bright color is a telltale sign that they're high in antioxidants. In fact, they have two to three times more antioxidant activity than white or yellow potatoes.
Antioxidants are plant compounds that can protect your cells from the damaging effects of oxidative stress.
Purple potatoes are especially rich in polyphenol antioxidants called anthocyanins. They're the same type of antioxidant found in blueberries and blackberries.
A higher anthocyanin intake is linked to several benefits, including healthier cholesterol levels, improved vision and eye health, and a reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.
In addition to their high anthocyanin content, purple potatoes pack other antioxidants common to all types of potatoes, including.
- vitamin C
- carotenoid compounds
- polyphenolic compounds like caffeic acid, scopolin, chlorogenic acid, and ferulic acid
A small study in eight people found that loading up on one meal of whole purple potatoes increased their blood and urine antioxidant levels. In contrast, eating a similar amount of refined potato starch in the form of biscuits caused a decrease.
Another study in men who ate 5.3 ounces (150 grams) of different colored potatoes each day for 6 weeks observed that the purple potato group had lower levels of inflammatory markers and markers of DNA damage, compared with the white potato group.
Eating purple potatoes can boost your antioxidant intake and reduce inflammation. They're especially rich in anthocyanins, which are antioxidant compounds linked to improved eye and heart health, as well as a lower risk of chronic disease.
4. May Improve Your Blood Pressure
Eating purple potatoes may promote blood vessel and blood pressure health. This may partly be due to their higher potassium content, as this nutrient helps reduce blood pressure, but their antioxidant content likely plays a role, too.
A small 4-week study in people with high blood pressure found that eating six to eight purple potatoes twice daily reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the top and bottom numbers of a reading) by 3.5% and 4.3%, respectively.
In addition, some studies suggest that compared with eating white potatoes, eating purple potatoes may reduce arterial stiffness. Having stiff arteries increases your risk of heart attack or stroke, as your vessels can't dilate as easily in response to changes in blood pressure.
In general, eating more polyphenol-rich foods, including those that contain anthocyanins like purple potatoes, may help relax and strengthen your blood vessels.
In fact, the polyphenol compounds in purple potatoes and many other foods work to reduce blood pressure in a way similar to that of some types of blood-pressure-lowering medications known as angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
Purple potatoes have been found to improve blood pressure. This effect might be related to their polyphenolic antioxidant compounds, which work in a way similar to that of some blood-pressure-lowering medications.
5. May Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
A few lab studies have indicated that some of the compounds in purple potatoes, including their antioxidants, may help prevent or fight cancer, including colon and breast cancer.
In one study, cancer cells that were treated with purple potato extract grew more slowly. In some cases, the extract even caused cancer cell death.
It's important to note that the research thus far has been limited to cancer cells treated in a lab and cancers in lab rats. Therefore, it's unknown whether eating purple potatoes would have similar effects in humans.
Some of the compounds in purple potatoes may slow the growth of — or even kill — certain cancer cells. The current research is limited to lab studies, so it's unknown whether adding purple potatoes to your diet affects cancer risk.
6. Can Help Fill Your Fiber Gap
Most people don't meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans' recommendation to consume 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories, but adding a few servings of purple potatoes to your diet each week can help fill the gap.
Dietary fiber helps keep you feeling full, prevents constipation, stabilizes blood sugar, and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
The fiber content of potatoes varies slightly depending on the cooking method, but mostly depending on whether you eat the skin.
For example, a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) potato with the skin cooked in the microwave contains 3.3 grams of fiber, while a potato of the same size boiled without the skin has 1.8 grams.
Part of the starch in purple (and all) potatoes is a type of fiber called resistant starch. Resistant starch resists digestion in your gastrointestinal tract, but the bacteria in your large intestine ferment it.
During this fermentation process, compounds known as short-chain fatty acids are produced. These compounds contribute to improved gut health.
The resistant starch content of potatoes also varies depending on the cooking method, though it doesn't seem to vary much between the color of potatoes. Resistant starch is highest when potatoes are cooked and then chilled, but not reheated.
Adding purple potatoes to your diet can help increase your fiber intake and add some gut-healthy resistant starch to your diet. To reap the greatest fiber benefits, eat them with the skin on and cook them ahead of time, eating them chilled, such as in a salad.
7. Brighten Up Your Plate
You can use purple potatoes similarly to how you'd use white, yellow, or red varieties.
Substituting them for a lighter flesh potato is a great way to add more color and interest to your meals — after all, you really do eat with your eyes.
Use them to make mashed or baked potatoes and add your favorite toppings for a side dish that everyone will want to try.
If you like them crispy like fries, slice them into wedges, toss them with olive oil, minced garlic, and rosemary, and roast them at 400°F (204°C) for about 20 minutes or until they're tender.
To reap the benefit of their resistant starch, use purple potatoes to make potato salad.
Leave the skins on, cut them into chunks, and boil them until they're tender. Then drain and toss them with thinly sliced onions, a handful of fresh minced herbs, and some Dijon-vinaigrette dressing. Chill them in the refrigerator and serve them cold.
Boil, mash, or roast purple potatoes just like you would any other light-fleshed variety. They don't take any additional time to cook and add interest and a bright pop of color to your meals.
The Bottom Line
Purple potatoes are a healthy and colorful member of the potato family that's worth getting to know.
You can prepare them similarly to how you would prepare white or yellow flesh potatoes, but if you swap them in, you'll enjoy quite a few health benefits.
Compared with regular potatoes, they have a lower glycemic index and may be better for your blood sugar.
Many of their health benefits, including those related to blood pressure and cancer protection, stem from their content of anthocyanins — important antioxidants that are abundant in these colorful potatoes.
Next time you head to the supermarket, see if you can find this unique potato variety and give it a go.
Reposted with permission from Healthline.
In addition, it has been linked to several potential health benefits, including better blood sugar control and improved heart and digestive health.
This article reviews the nutritional content and health benefits of rye bread.
Rye bread is typically made with a combination of rye flour and rye grains (Secale cereale).
It comes in several forms, depending on the combination used, including:
- Light rye bread. This variety is made from only white rye flour, which comes from ground rye grain endosperm — the starchy core of the rye grain.
- Dark rye bread. This type is made from ground whole rye grains. Sometimes, dark rye flour is created from white rye flour that is colored with cocoa powder, instant coffee, or molasses.
- Marbled rye bread. This version is made from light and dark rye dough rolled together. Sometimes, the dark rye dough is made from light rye dough that is colored with cocoa powder, instant coffee, or molasses.
- Pumpernickel bread. This bread is made from coarsely ground whole rye grains.
In the United States, commercially made light and dark rye breads tend to be made in combination with wheat flour.
Compared with regular white and whole wheat bread, rye bread tends to be denser and darker and has a stronger, sour yet earthy taste.
Rye flour contains less gluten than wheat flour, which is why the bread is denser and doesn't rise as high as regular wheat-based breads.
However, given that it still contains gluten, it's unsuitable for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Rye breads are made with a combination of rye flour and grains, depending on the type of bread. They're denser, darker, and have a stronger taste than regular white and wheat breads.
Rye bread is high in fiber and has an impressive nutrient profile.
That said, the exact composition depends on the amount of rye flour used, with darker rye breads containing more rye flour than lighter varieties.
On average, 1 slice (32 grams) of rye bread provides the following nutrients:
- Calories: 83
- Protein: 2.7 grams
- Carbs: 15.5 grams
- Fat: 1.1 grams
- Fiber: 1.9 grams
- Selenium: 18% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Thiamine: 11.6% of the DV
- Manganese: 11.5% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 8.2% of the DV
- Niacin: 7.6% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 7.5% of the DV
- Copper: 6.6% of the DV
- Iron: 5% of the DV
- Folate: 8.8% of the DV
Rye bread also contains small amounts of zinc, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and other micronutrients.
Compared with regular breads, such as white and whole wheat, rye bread is typically higher in fiber and provides more micronutrients, especially B vitamins.
What's more, studies have shown that pure rye bread tends to be more filling and affects blood sugar levels to a lesser extent than white and wheat breads.
Rye bread is high in many nutrients, especially fiber and B vitamins. It may be more filling and affect blood sugar levels to a lesser extent than white or wheat breads.
Potential Health Benefits
Eating rye bread may benefit your health in several ways.
May Improve Heart Health
Adding rye bread to your diet may improve several aspects of heart health, as research has linked its intake to lower levels of heart disease risk factors.
For example, an 8-week study in 40 people compared the effects of eating 20% of their daily calories from either rye or wheat bread on blood cholesterol levels.
Researchers found that rye bread was more effective at lowering cholesterol levels in men than wheat bread and reduced total and LDL (bad) cholesterol by up to 14% and 12%, respectively.
This effect is likely due to rye bread's high soluble fiber content, a type of indigestible fiber that forms a gel-like substance in your digestive tract and can help remove cholesterol-rich bile from your blood and body.
Research has shown that regular soluble fiber intake is linked to a 5–10% reduction in both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol in as little as 4 weeks.
May Aid Blood Sugar Control
Blood sugar control is important for everyone, especially people with type 2 diabetes and those who cannot produce enough insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
Rye bread has several qualities that can aid blood sugar control.
For starters, it's high in soluble fiber, which helps slow the digestion and absorption of carbs and sugar through the digestive tract, leading to a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels.
Rye bread also contains phenolic compounds, such as ferulic acid and caffeic acid, which may slow the release of sugar and insulin into the bloodstream, further aiding blood sugar control.
For example, a study in 21 healthy adults found that consuming a rye-based evening meal with supplemental resistant starch helped slow the release of sugar and insulin into the bloodstream. Additionally, it raised the levels of satiety hormones, which kept people full for longer.
However, plain rye did not have a significant effect on blood sugar levels, though it did increase feelings of fullness.
Assist Digestive Health
Rye bread may help improve your digestive health in several ways.
First, it's a good source of fiber, which can help keep your bowels regular. Soluble fiber absorbs water, helping stools stay large and soft, making them easier to pass.
In fact, one study in 51 adults with constipation noted that rye bread was more effective than whole wheat bread and laxatives at treating constipation, without adverse effects.
Other studies have shown that rye bread fiber can elevate levels of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate in your bloodstream.
These short-chain fatty acids have been linked to various benefits, including weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and protection against colon cancer.
Help You Stay Fuller for Longer
Numerous studies have shown that rye bread is incredibly filling.
This may be because it's high in soluble fiber, which can help you feel full for longer.
For example, a study in 41 participants found that those who ate whole grain rye bread felt fuller and ate fewer calories later in the day than people who ate refined wheat bread.
Other Potential Benefits
Aside from those listed above, rye bread offers some additional potential health benefits.
While they are supported by fewer studies and weaker evidence, they include the following:
- May reduce inflammation. A human study linked rye bread intake to lower markers of inflammation, such as interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β) and interleukin 6 (IL-6).
- May protect against certain cancers. In human and test-tube studies, rye intake has been linked to a reduced risk of several cancers, including prostate, colorectal, and breast cancers.
Rye bread has been linked to many potential health benefits, including weight loss, reduced inflammation, better blood sugar control, and improved heart and digestive health.
Possible Downsides of Rye Bread
Though rye bread is generally healthy, it may have some downsides, including:
- Contains antinutrients. Rye bread, especially the lighter varieties, contain phytic acid, an antinutrient that may hinder the absorption of minerals like iron and zinc from the same meal. Still, antinutrients are not a concern for people following a well-balanced diet.
- May cause bloating. Rye is high in fiber and gluten, which may cause bloating in people who are sensitive to these compounds.
- Unsuitable for a gluten-free diet. Rye bread contains gluten, making it unsuitable for people on a gluten-free diet, such as those with celiac disease.
- May be high in added sugar. In some parts of the world, rye breads are high in added sugar to enhance their taste. Added sugar is unhealthy and can add unwanted calories to your diet.
Rye bread has several potential downsides. It's unsuitable for a gluten-free diet, may cause bloating, may be high in added sugar, and contains antinutrients like phytic acid, which may affect mineral absorption.
How to Make Rye Bread
Fresh rye bread can be made at home with only a few ingredients.
The following ingredients and ratios are used to make lighter rye bread:
- 1.5 teaspoons of instant dry yeast
- 1.5 cups (375 ml) of warm water
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1.5 cups (200 grams) of rye flour
- 1.5 cups (200 grams) of wholemeal flour
- 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds (optional)
Here is a quick overview of how to make rye bread:
- Combine the yeast, salt, rye flour, wheat flour, and water in a bowl. Rye flour is quite dry, so you can add more water if the dough seems too dry. Knead it until smooth. Note that rye dough is not as springy as wheat dough.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling wrap, and let the dough rise until it doubles in size. This takes 1–2 hours.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a smooth oval loaf. If you would like to add caraway seeds, add them during this step.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased loaf tin, cover with cling wrap, and let it rise until it doubles in size again, which takes another 1–2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Uncover the bread, make a few horizontal incisions with a knife, and then bake it for 30 minutes or until dark. Remove the bread and let it sit on a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Rye bread is easy to make at home. Simply follow the steps above and indulge in a fresh slice of homemade rye bread.
The Bottom Line
Rye bread is a great alternative to regular white and wheat breads.
Though it may cause bloating in sensitive people and some varieties may be loaded with added sugar, it may offer various benefits.
It contains more fiber and nutrients — especially B vitamins — and has been linked to health benefits, such as weight loss, better blood sugar control, and improved heart and digestive health.
What's more, it's easy to incorporate into your diet in place of regular white or wheat breads and can easily be made at home.