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fruit_saladWe all love fruits, those healthy natural deposits of vitamins, water, nutrients and other useful elements. I personally love oranges and cherries the most, and I can gladly eat 3-4 pounds of apples a day. In many cultures, it is traditional to eat fresh fruits for a dessert after meals. However, not many people are aware about the fact that eating fruits at the end of lunches or dinners can be quite harmful. Specialists suggest being careful on this point and following some easy rules, which can help us to rip maximum benefits from eating fruit.

1. Do not eat fruits after meals. It usually takes about 20 minutes for fruits to digest and move to the small intestine where further absorption of the nutrients occurs. However, when we eat fruits after other meals, especially the ones with a high content of proteins or starch which usually take much longer to digest, the fruits get blocked in our stomach and start fermenting or even getting rotten. In such case, no positive nutritional effects will be received. Instead, the meals will not be digested completely, the fruits will get broken right in our stomach and our digestive system will be affected and upset.

2. Do not eat fruits together with other meals. The same effect will take place in the stomach, when the fruits are mixed with other meals. Toxic effects of rotten fruits in your stomach can cause great discomfort and even serious diseases. For example, eating kiwis, cherries or berries together with meat, potatoes or other foods containing lots of proteins, starch and fats, can cause various problems with digestion, colitis, diarrhea, and even pains in liver.

3. Make a habit of eating fruits on an empty stomach. This habit will bring more good to your health. Your stomach and digestive system will not have to use additional mechanisms to balance the process of digestion. It is also very good to eat fruits after doing physical exercises or any sort of outdoor activities.

The best time for eating fruits:

  • in the morning, 20-30 minutes before having breakfast;
  • in the afternoon, 3-4 hours after lunch
  • before the bedtime, 3-4 hours after having dinner.

Author Info: Hi! My name is Carla and I am a 5th year medical student at HYMS. I am interested in alternative medicine and I have done months researching the topic of herbal medicine. Besides, I like interviewing people and learning more about their experiences with one or another type of herbal treatments. I am willing to contribute to this site with my knowledge, and I would be happy to help you out to the best of my ability with any specific questions or problems related to alternative medicine.

http://guide2herbalremedies.com/fruits-rules/

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Cacao is the seed of a fruit of an Amazonian tree that was brought to Central America during or before the time of the Olmecs. Cacao beans were so revered by the Mayans and Aztecs that they used them as money. Montezuma, the famous Aztec emperor, had his vaults filled not with gold but with about 960,000,000 raw cacao beans.

In 1753 Carl von Linnaeus, the 18th-century Swedish scientist, thought that cacao was so important that he named the genus and species of this tree Theobroma cacao, which literally means “cacao, the food of the gods.”

Cacao beans contain no sugar and between 12% and 50% fat depending on variety and growth conditions. There is no evidence to implicate cacao bean consumption with obesity.

Sulfur and Magnesium

Cacao is remarkably rich in sulfur and magnesium.

It seems to be the #1 source of magnesium of any food. This is likely the primary reason women crave chocolate during the menstrual period.

Magnesium balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, and is associated with more happiness. Magnesium is the most deficient major mineral on the Standard American Diet (SAD); over 80% of Americans are chronically deficient in Magnesium.

Cacao is high in the beauty mineral sulfur. Sulfur builds strong nails, hair, beautiful, shiny skin, detoxifies the liver, and supports healthy pancreas functioning. Anecdotal reports indicate that cacao detoxifies mercury because it is so high sulfur.

Stimulant or Superfood?

Cacao contains subtle amounts of caffeine and theobromine. However, experiments have shown that these stimulants are far different when consumed raw than cooked.

Consider the following: Experimental provings of chocolate by Homeopaths indicate its stimulating effect when cooked. One experiment conducted with a decoction of roasted ground cacao beans in boiling water produced an excitement of the nervous system similar to that caused by black coffee, an excited state of circulation, and an accelerated pulse. Interestingly, when the same decoction was made with raw, unroasted beans neither effect was noticeable, leading the provers to conclude that the physiological changes were caused by aromatic substances released during roasting.

MAO Inhibitors

Cacao seems to diminish appetite, probably due to its monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors) – these are different from digestiveenzyme inhibitors found in most nuts and seeds. These rare MAO inhibitors actually produce favorable results when consumed by allowing more serotonin and other neurotransmitters to circulate in the brain. MAO inhibitors facilitate youthening and rejuvenation.

Phenylethylamine (PEA)

Phenylethylamine (PEA) is found in chocolate. PEA is an adrenal-relatedchemical that is also created within the brain and released when we are in love. This is one of the reasons why love and chocolate have a deep correlation. PEA also plays a role in increasing focus and alertness.

Anandamide (The Bliss Chemical)

A neurotransmitter called anandamide, has been isolated in cacao. Anandamide is also produced naturally in the brain. Anandamide is known as “The Bliss Chemical” because it is released while we are feeling great. Cacao contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our bodies’ ability to breakdown anandamide. This means that natural anandamide and/or cacaoanandamide may stick around longer, making us feel good longer, when we eat cacao.

Antioxidants

According to research cited in The New York Times, fresh cacao beans are super-rich in antioxidant flavonols. Cacao beans contain 10,000 milligrams (10 grams) per 100 grams of flavonol antioxidants. This is a whopping 10% antioxidant concentration level! This makes cacao one of the richest sources of antioxidants of any food. Compare the cacao bean to processed cocoa powder (defatted, roasted cacao treated with potassium carbonate) and chocolates which range in flavonol content from the more common concentration of 500 milligrams per 100 grams in normal chocolate bars to 5,000 milligrams in Mars Corporation’s special Cocoapro cocoa powder. Research has demonstrated that the antioxidants in cacao are highly stable and easily available to human metabolism. Cornell University food scientists found that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times what is found in green tea. Their findings were published in an article entitled “Cocoa has more Phenolic Phytochemicals and a higher Antioxidant Capacity than Teas and Red Wine,” found in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication. Scientists have known that cocoa contains significant antioxidants, but no one knew just how rich they were compared with those in red wine and green tea. The Cornell researchers, led by Chang Y. Lee, chairman of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., say the reason that cocoa leads the other drinks is its high content of antioxidant compounds called phenolic phytochemicals, or flavonoids. They discovered 611 milligrams of the phenolic compound gallic acid equivalents (GAE) and 564 milligrams of the flavonoid epicatechin equivalents (ECE) in a single serving of cocoa. Examining a glass of red wine, the researchers found 340 milligrams of GAE and 163 milligrams of ECE. In a cup of green tea, they found 165 milligrams of GAE and 47 milligrams of ECE. Antioxidant ORAC levels per 100 grams:

broccoli – 890
alfalfa sprouts – 930
plums – 949
brussel sprouts – 980
raspberries – 1220
spinach – 1260
strawberries – 1540
kale – 1,770
blackberries – 2036
blueberries – 2,400
raisins – 2,830
prunes – 5,770
dark chocolate – 13,120

The ORAC test examines the antioxidant levels of various foods. The higher the ORAC score, the higher the level of antioxidants present in the food. Source: US Department of Agriculture / Journal of the American Chemical Society

Cacao and dark chocolate boost antioxidants; however, the addition of dairy products/milk cancels out the effects of antioxidants. Studies indicate that dairy products specifically block the absorption of all the great antioxidants in chocolate.

Other facts on Raw Cacao beans

  • Raw Cacao is the latest Raw Super Food available on the market today.
  • It is a true super food unlike anything that has come before.
  • As already previously discussed, it is the highest known source of anti-oxidants by a factor of almost 5.
  • It has nearly 20 times the antioxidant levels of red wine and up to 30 times what is found in green tea.
  • In nature, the primary source of Magnesium is cacao (raw chocolate beans).

Raw chocolate is known to have the following properties:

  • Diminishes appetite and aids in weight loss.
  • · Increases sensuality and beauty.
  • · Helps to heal and open the heart.
  • · Nourishes the intellect and attracts prosperity.

The flavor of Raw Cacao is similar to dark, bitter chocolate one would normally buy at a store. It is great just eaten plain, with honey, or in your favorite smoothi. (or blend Cacao Beans with Coconut Oil, Almond Butter and Honey – totally divine).

One of the main differences between raw cacao and the chocolate typically available on the open market (cocoa—a processed substance) is that raw cacao has all the original healthy cacao butter, containing all the original essential fatty acids and amazing taste originally found in the bean. Raw cacao or chocolate should not be confused with other substances such as coco (coconut), kola (a nut whose flavor is used in soft drinks), or coca (the leaf of the plant from which cocaine is derived). Cocoa and cocoa butter are cooked, processed substances derived from raw cacao nibs (orbeans/nuts). All chocolate starts out as raw cacao beans (or nuts —they are actually the seed of the cacao fruit which grows on a tropical tree). Processing, cooking and roasting corrupt the delicate, complex flavor of the cacao nib (bean without the skin). Raw cacao is one of the most, if not the most, nutrient rich and complex foods known to man.

http://www.uncleharrys.com/infobase/product/cacao_beans.php

Picture: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e0/Cocoa_Pods.JPG/240px-Cocoa_Pods.JPG

grapefruit

According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, grapefruit is a powerhouse of nutrition and an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin A, potassium, folate, vitamin B5, and phytochemicals such as liminoids and lycopene:

  • Vitamin C helps to support the immune system and fight free radical damage.
  • Lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient, appears to have anti-tumor activity.
  • Limonoids inhibit tumor formation by promoting the formation of a detoxifying enzyme.
  • Pectin is a form of soluble fiber that has been shown in animal studies to slow the progression of atherosclerosis.

In addition, studies have revealed that eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice, reduces the risk of kidney stones, protects against lung and colon cancer, significantly increases the production and activity of liver enzymes responsible for eliminating toxins from the body, and helps repair damaged DNA in human prostate cancer cells.

N.B. If you know the source, just inform the owner of the site for purpose of reference.

Avocado

You can boost your fat burning metabolism by eating foods that contain L-carnitine. Avocado is a rich source of L-carnitine. As an added bonus, it is also an aphrodisiac.

L-carnitine is an amino acid found in your body in the liver. It helps to facilitate fat metabolism, and promotes fat loss. Additionally, it is known to increase energy production in muscle cells and increases blood circulation in the brain.

L-carnitine also helps to reduce triglycerides and increases good cholesterol, which helps to protect the heart. By preventing fat oxidation in the brain, it shows some promise in preventing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Isn’t L-carnitine sold as a supplement?

Yes, in fact L-carnitine is sold as a weight loss supplement. However, locally grown organic foods are always recommended before supplements. The advantages of eating whole foods is because whole foods offer a variety of health benefits.

What about the high fat content in avocados?

Although avocados are one of the few fruits high in fat, most of the fat is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat; it lowers cholesterol, a hormone that stores abdominal fat, which means it may even shrink belly fat. They are also the fruit richest in beta carotene, vitamin E, and protein.

How does the potassium in avocados reduce belly fat?

In addition to boosting metabolism, avocados are known for reducing anxiety because it is loaded with relaxing magnesium and potassium. Potassium is known for helping to reduce belly fat and it prevents fluid retention. (See link below for foods that help to reduce belly fat).

It also has pantothenic acid, which is a B vitamin, can rev up stress-reducing hormones and can lower your risk of depression. Stress is one of the causes of belly fat.

Other than slicing and eating, how else can it be easily included in the diet?

Avocado is now being suggested as an alternative to mayonnaise – on a sandwich for example. It has 4 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat which lowers cholesterol, 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein per ounce making it a more filling substitue for the mayo.

Locally grown foods are recommended. Where are avocados grown?

These fruits have been cultivated for over 7,000 years; three of the original types were West Indian, Mexican, and Guatemalan. They are now grown in in the USA in California and Florida, (and also in Africa and Australia). Many people grow them in their backyards.

We have been eating avocado as an aprhrodisiac and didn’t know it? Explain!

It is said that the Aztecs made a sexually potent spread from mashed avocados, chiles, onions, and tomatoes and it was called ‘ahuaca-mulli.’ We know this same spread as guacamole. (Say ‘ahuaca-mulli’ fast and it sounds like guacamole – less emphasis on the ‘a’)

How do you select and store avocados?

Avocados will not ripen until after they are picked; avocado tree leaves produce a hormone that inhibits the fruit-ripening chemical ethylene. To tell if it is ripe, squeeze it gently to see if it gives. If you buy it ripe it can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. If it is not ripe you can speed up the ripening process by placing it in a paper bag. I always have success with this ripening method. It may take a few days.

Source: http://hubpages.com/hub/Rev-Up-Your-Metabolism-with-Avocado

cacao treeYou may be surprised to learn that cocoa is actually a FRUIT – and even more surprised to learn that it is actually one of the most healthy fruits commonly eaten by man!

Recent research studies have shown a link between cocoa and cardiovascular health, with reduced risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks.

Cornell University food scientists discovered that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea.

Raw cocoa has the highest antioxidant value of all the natural foods in the world!

The ORAC score per 100 grams of unprocessed raw cacao is 28,000, compared to 18,500 for Acai Berries, 1,540 for Strawberries, and only 1,260 for raw Spinach. The ORAC score for a typical manufactured Dark Chocolate is an impressive 13,120 – although one unique, organic, and non-roasted brand of Dark Chocolate has a much higher ORAC score. But for Milk Chocolate the ORAC score is much lower at 6,740.

Cocoa also appears to have anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. And cocoa is a good source of the minerals magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, and manganese; plus some of the B Vitamins.

When heart problems occur, magnesium is the most likely mineral to be missing in the person’s diet.

Cocoa has a high content of the “beauty” mineral, sulfur. Sulfur helps build strong nails and hair, promotes healthy and beautiful skin, helps detoxify the liver, and supports healthy functioning of the pancreas.

Fresh cocoa beans are super-rich in the type of bioflavonoid called flavanols which are strong antioxidants that help maintain healthy blood flow and blood pressure. The heart-healthy flavanols in cocoa, especially the epicatechins, prevent fatty substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and then clogging the arteries.

Flavanols help make blood platelets less likely to stick together and cause blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes – without the negative side effects associated with the use of aspirin (ASA) and other pharmaceutical blood-thinners.

Cocoa beans contain 10,000 milligrams (10 grams) of flavanol antioxidants per 100 grams – or an amazing 10% antioxidant concentration level! When it comes to supplying your body with effective antioxidants, no other natural food can even come close. No exotic super-fruit like Acai berries, no high-antioxidant fruits like prunes or blueberries, and no vegetables. The antioxidants in cocoa are easily absorbed by the human body, and are more stable and long-lasting than those in any other foods.

Cocoa also contains the amino acid Tryptophan which makes the neurotransmitter known as serotonin, which promotes positive feelings and helps keep us from feeling depressed. Cocoa contains the neurotransmitters dopamine, and phenylethylamine (PEA), and contains anandamide and MAO Inhibitors – which make this heart-healthy food a healthy food for the brain too.

Phenylethylamine (PEA) helps promote mental alertness and the ability to concentrate. The PEA in healthy chocolate can be of help to students taking tests, and to senior citizens who want to retain the mental capacity of a younger person and postpone the onset of dementia.

Studies have indicated that consuming dark chocolate produced an increased sensitivity to insulin (which indicates a protective effect against diabetes).

While you may have believed that cocoa and chocolate were “bad for you”, the truth is that THE RIGHT KIND OF CHOCOLATE provides many health benefits that make it not only “good for you” but better for your body than most of the fruits and vegetables your mother made you eat when you were a child.

Eating a healthy dark chocolate provides a sweet, sensual, sin-free pleasure, as well as some significant health benefits. A heart-felt gift of healthy dark chocolate to a loved one offers a heart-warming, delightfully delicious treat, as well as a super heart-healthy food that promotes a longer and healthier life.

If the pharmaceutical industry managed to produce a patented product that offered all the health benefits of cocoa, they would likely proclaim it a “miracle drug”! But since cocoa is widely available, is relatively inexpensive, and does not require you to pay for a doctor’s prescription nor pay fees to a dispensing pharmacy, you are not likely to hear many members of the medical establishment recommending chocolate for its many health benefits.

You may also be surprised to learn that dark chocolate can help you lose weight! Because it has appetite-suppressant properties, cocoa is often added to weight loss products to help control hunger.

While you may have been told that chocolate is “fattening”, the truth is that the fats found in cocoa butter are actually healthy fats! Cacao contains oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat which is also found in olive oil and is believed to raise the level of the “good cholesterol” known as HDL cholesterol (the acronym HDL stands for “High Density Lipid”).

Healthy chocolate can be of great benefit to tobacco smokers – but not just because they need lots of the antioxidants which neutralize the free radicals generated by the toxic compounds in tobacco smoke. A recent study in Switzerland indicated that dark chocolate may help prevent hardening of the arteries.

A 2006 clinical study by Swiss researchers found that within minutes of consuming dark chocolate, their test group of 20 smokers experienced a significant improvement in the function of the endothelial cells which line the artery walls. Smoking tobacco has long been linked to hardening of the arteries and an increase in the production of clot-forming platelets in the blood.

Raw cocoa beans contain over 300 chemically identifiable compounds. This makes cocoa one of the most complex food substances on Earth!

List of Healthy Substances Found in Raw Chocolate (Theobroma Cacao)

Many of the natural chemical compounds in raw cocoa or cacao beans and in organic dark chocolate have been discussed in scientific literature as being pharmacologically significant to health. Here is a partial list of these active substances in natural organic chocolate (and more are discussed below).

  • Anandamide (a neurotransmitter known as “the bliss chemical”)
  • Arginine (nature’s aphrodisiac)
  • Dopamine (a neurotransmitter)
  • Epicatechins (antioxidants)
  • Magnesium (for healthy heart function)
  • Serotonin (anti-stress neurotransmitter)
  • Tryptophan (anti-depressant amino acid)
  • Phenylethylamine (PEA) (controls the ability to focus attention and stay alert)
  • Polyphenols (antioxidants)
  • Histamine
  • Tyramine
  • Salsolinol

Magnesium – the Mineral Your Heart Needs

Is dark chocolate good for your heart? Research by Dr. Bernard Jensen indicates that the heart muscle requires these two minerals more than any other minerals: Magnesium and Potassium. In the heart muscle Magnesium is concentrated eighteen times greater than in the bloodstream. Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure and the heartbeat.

The overall strength and vigor of the heart muscle and its ability to pump effectively is enhanced by the presence of Magnesium, and this important mineral also decreases blood coagulation and thus can lower blood pressure.

Magnesium also balances brain chemistry, and helps build strong bones.

When heart problems occur, Magnesium is the most likely mineral to be missing in the person’s diet.

Eighty percent of Americans are deficient in Magnesium. This deficiency is linked to hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, and PMT.

Cocoa beans and organic dark chocolate are the #1 best food sources of this heart-supporting mineral, Magnesium. Can you see how a guilt-free daily dose of Magnesium-rich healthy chocolate could actually help lower your risk of heart disease?

Anti-Depressant Properties of Cocoa and Healthy Dark Chocolate

Cocoa is a potent source of serotonin, dopamine, and phenylethylamine. These are three well-studied neurotransmitters which help alleviate depression and are associated with feelings of well-being.

Cocoa contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO Inhibitors) which help improve our mood because they allow serotonin and dopamine to remain in the bloodstream longer without being broken down.

Cocoa also contains anandamide which stimulates blissful feelings. Cocoa also contains B vitamins, which are associated with brain health.

Vascular Health Promoting Properties of Cocoa and Healthy Dark Chocolate

Nitric Oxide (NO)

One research study discovered that a substance in cocoa helps the body process nitric oxide (a chemical compound designated as NO, where N = 1 Nitrogen atom, and O = 1 Oxygen atom). Nitric oxide or NO is a critical component in healthy blood flow and blood pressure control.

Vascular diseases, including Erectile Dysfunction (ED) which is common in men over age 40, are connected to the inability of an artery to make the simple but fundamental chemical called nitric oxide (NO). It appears that flavanols help reverse that problem. Thus eating healthy chocolate might help men over 40 to enjoy a more active sex life without having to rely on expensive drugs like Viagra™ or Celebrex™ or those many herbal concoctions which are touted in millions of unwanted emails.

Another research study showed that a type of bioflavonoid called flavanols in cocoa prevent fatty substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and then clogging the arteries. Flavanols also make blood platelets less likely to stick together and cause blood clots.

Researchers are excited by the potential of flavanols to ward off vascular disease, which can cause hypertension (high blood pressure), heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and even dementia.

Antioxidant Properties of Cocoa and Healthy Dark Chocolate

Scientists have known for years that cocoa/cacao contains significant antioxidants, but no one knew just how rich they were in comparison to those found in two other healthy foods – red wine and green tea.

According to research cited in The New York Times, fresh cocoa beans are super-rich in the type of flavonoid called flavanols (not flavOnols) which are very strong antioxidants. Cocoa/cacao beans contain 10,000 milligrams (10 grams) of flavanol antioxidants per 100 grams – or an amazing 10% antioxidant concentration level!

Recent research has demonstrated that the antioxidants found in cacao beans are highly stable and easily available to the human metabolism. Of all known foods, cacao is also the ONLY food which does NOT lose its Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) over significant periods of time. This makes cocoa both the most POTENT source of antioxidants and a source of the most USABLE antioxidants found in any natural food.

Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals and keep them from damaging the DNA and mitochondria of the body’s cells, which is a major cause of many degenerative diseases, cancer tumors, heart disease, and premature aging. Cells with damaged DNA cannot reproduce healthy new cells, but will reproduce damaged or malignant cells.

Cornell University food scientists discovered that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea.

Their findings were published in an article entitled “Cocoa Has More Phenolic Phytochemicals and a Higher Antioxidant Capacity than Teas and Red Wine“, published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication.

The Cornell researchers, led by Chang Y. Lee, chairman of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, state the reason that cocoa leads the other drinks is its high content of antioxidant compounds called phenolic phytochemicals, or flavonoids.

A class of flavonoids known as flavanols or flavan-3-ols includes: catechin, epicatechin, and epigallocatechin. All three are found naturally in the cocoa bean. (Note that flavanols are NOT the same as another very similar-sounding class of flavonoids known as flavonols, which includes: myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol.)

The Cornell researchers discovered 611 milligrams of the phenolic compound gallic acid equivalents (GAE) and 564 milligrams of the flavonoid epicatechin equivalents (ECE) in a single serving of cocoa. Examining a glass of red wine, the researchers found 340 milligrams of GAE and 163 milligrams of ECE. In a cup of green tea, they found 165 milligrams of GAE and 47 milligrams of ECE.

By comparison, 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate delivers as many antioxidants as five ounces of red wine.

That makes cocoa one of the richest sources of antioxidants in any food!

Compare the raw cocoa bean’s 10,000 milligrams of flavanols per 100 grams to other forms of commercial chocolate…
Processed cocoa powder (defatted and roasted cocoa beans treated with potassium carbonate) and chocolate candy range in flavanol content from the more common concentration of 500 milligrams of flavanols per 100 grams of normal chocolate bars, to a concentration of 5,000 milligrams (5 grams) of flavanols per 100 grams of Cocoapro cocoa powder from the Mars Corporation.

Neither comes close to the high concentration of flavanol antioxidants in raw cocoa/cacao beans – 10 grams of flavanols per 100 grams.

ORAC Score – A Measure of Antioxidant Quality

The current standard for testing and measuring the antioxidant properties of various foods is called the ORAC Score. ORAC is an abbreviation for “Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity” – which is a measure of the amount of free radicals that can be neutralized by a certain mass of a food substance (usually cited as “per gram” or “per 100 grams” of the food substance).

The higher the ORAC score, the higher the concentration of antioxidants present in the food. (Source: US Department of Agriculture / Journal of the American Chemical Society.)

Free radicals are molecules that are missing one or more electrons and are therefore chemically imbalanced with a positive electrical charge. They are created in several kinds of chemical reactions which take place in our bodies, such as when we burn energy by working our muscles. To balance their charge, these radical molecules will seek to attract or “steal” electrons from other molecules – including the molecules which make up the DNA in your body’s cells which is the blueprint for producing new cells, and the mitochondria in your cells which create the energy to sustain the cells.

Cells with damaged mitochondria are weak and have lower energy and less resistance to disease. When the DNA of a cell is damaged by the action of free radicals, the result is the creation of imperfect new cells – or even malignant new cells which form tumors and cancers.

Free radicals are the cause of most degenerative diseases, premature aging, and the creation of cancer cells.

Antioxidants are molecules which have one or more extra electrons and are chemically imbalanced with a negative electrical charge, so they can attract and “donate” an electron to a positively-charged free radical molecule, which balances its electrical charge and thus neutralizes it. So that “thieving” radical molecule which is now electrically balanced no longer needs to “steal” electrons from the molecules which form our body’s cells.

Thus the more antioxidant molecules we have in our body, the more free radicals are neutralized, and the less damage is done to our cells. By preventing the damage to our DNA and mitochondria, antioxidants can stop and even reverse the aging process, and help prevent all kinds of degenerative diseases and cancers.

The ORAC value rates the capacity of the substance to prevent oxidation, i.e. its effectiveness as an antioxidant. It might help to compare the oxidation of molecules in our body to the oxidation of iron in an automobile – which we call “rusting”. Oxidized or “rusted” iron becomes brittle and weak, and eventually breaks down into a reddish-brown dust known as iron oxide. You could say that our bodies are “rusting out” from oxidation by free radicals! Ashes to ashes, and rust to dust!

But our bodies can be protected from this rusting by the antioxidants we get from eating natural foods which have a high ORAC value. Many natural foods have been supplying human bodies with those protective antioxidants since we first evolved, but the problem today is that we are not eating many natural foods! We consume far too many processed foods and junk foods which have had the protective antioxidants proocessed out of them! So we suffer more and more from many diseases such as cancer and heart disease, which were relatively rare problems for our ancestors who were eating nothing but whole foods fresh from the farm.

It’s very difficult today to avoid eating processed foods with inferior nutritional value, but we can at least try to eat enough whole foods (like cocoa or high-antioxidant fruits) or health supplements that supply us with enough antioxidants to protect us from degenerative diseases and the ravages of aging. We don’t have to grow old before our time, or suffer painful ailments, or die from horrible diseases that could have been prevented.

While the general public may be aware that they need to eat more raw fruits to get a good supply of antioxidants, the fruits most commonly eaten by North Americans are fairly low on the ORAC scale. Cantaloupe, banana, apple, apricot, peach, pear, and watermelon all have an ORAC score of less than 251 per 100 grams. No wonder the average North American is not getting enough antioxidants in his or her daily diet.

Even milk chocolate with its ORAC score of 6,740 provides significantly more antioxidants per gram than most of the commonly consumed fruits and vegetables – and more than even the top scoring fruits like prunes (5,770), pomegranate (3,307), blueberries (2,400) and blackberries (2,036).

The daily diet of the average North American only scores 1,000 to 1,500 on the ORAC scale. Nutrition experts tell us that it should be at least 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC. Some say it should be even more than 5,000.

Eating healthy chocolate, with its super-high ORAC value, can be an efficient and enjoyable way to boost your daily dose of antioxidants and reduce the ravages of free radicals.

Be careful not to assume that ALL organic chocolate or dark chocolate products (or any processed food product) are “healthy” just because they claim to contain ingredients which are known to have a high ORAC score. It does NOT necessarily mean that the finished product you are consuming will have a high ORAC score too.

There are several factors that can affect the actual ORAC score of a finished food product such as dark chocolate:

(1) how it is processed (excessive heat can destroy flavanols and reduce the amount of available antioxidants, which lowers the ORAC value),
(2) how much of the high ORAC ingredients are actually in the product,
(3) how some ingredients affect the ORAC score of other ingredients (e.g. adding milk to cocoa lowers its effective ORAC score to a little more than half because dairy products tend to block the absorption of the antioxidant flavanols in the cocoa).

Only ONE company (which markets a variety of truly healthy chocolate products) actually dares to show you an independent laboratory’s ORAC score per serving of its finished products right on their packaging (see “The Healthiest Chocolate” below) – so “what you see is what you get”.

For the reasons given above, all other chocolate makers seem unwilling to let you know the actual ORAC score of the products they are selling you. One might wonder if their effective ORAC score is too low to really be considered a “healthy” chocolate product?

Table of ORAC Values for Common Foods

Here is a comparison of the ORAC score per 100 grams for some common foods known to have a high antioxidant level, listed in descending order.

  • Unprocessed Raw Cacao – ORAC 28,000
  • Acai Berries* – ORAC 18,500
  • Dark Chocolate – ORAC 13,120
  • Milk Chocolate – ORAC 6,740
  • Prunes – 5,770
  • Wolfberry Juice – 3,472
  • Pomegranates – 3,307
  • Raisins – 2,830
  • Blueberries – 2,400
  • Blackberries – 2,036
  • Garlic – 1,939
  • Kale – 1,770
  • Cranberries – 1,750
  • Strawberries – 1,540
  • Tahitian Noni Juice – 1,506
  • Raw Spinach – 1,260
  • Raspberries – 1,220
  • Brussels Sprouts – 980
  • Plums – 949
  • Alfalfa Sprouts – 930
  • Steamed Spinach – 909
  • Broccoli – 890
  • Beets – 840
  • Avocado – 782
  • Oranges – 750
  • Red Grapes – 739
  • Red Bell Pepper – 710
  • Cherries – 670
  • Pink Grapefruit – 495
  • Kidney Beans – 460
  • Onion – 450
  • Corn – 400
  • Cauliflower – 385
  • Frozen Peas – 375
  • Potato – 300
  • Cabbage – 295
  • Banana – 210
  • Carrot – 200
  • Apple – 207
  • Tomato – 195
  • Peach – 170
  • Lima Beans – 136
  • Pear – 110

(*ORAC for Acai as determined by Brunswick Laboratories, USA.)

This will be important new information for millions of children and teenagers who hate the taste of brussel sprouts or broccoli. Now they can advise Mom that dark chocolate is a much healthier alternate source of antioxidants!

When comparing the antixodidant value (ORAC value) of foods you may actually be eating on a regular basis, another consideration is antioxidant value per calorie. What foods provide a healthy source of antioxidants without also providing too many calories from carbs and fats? Dark chocolate, in spite of the sweetener added to overcome the bitterness of raw cocoa, is actually one of the better providers of antioxidants per calorie!

One hundred grams of healthy dark chocolate (more than you would normally eat) provides 13,120 ORAC units of antioxidants and 552 calories of energy – which works out to 24 ORAC units per calorie.

That gives dark chocolate a better ORAC/calorie ratio than brussels sprouts (23), beets (20), plums (17), oranges (16), cauliflower (15), cherries (13), onions (12), cabbage (12), red grapes (10), tomato (9), head lettuce (9), string beans (6), potato (5), frozen peas (5), corn (5), carrot (5), apple (4), tofu (3), baked beans (3), pear (2), banana (2), or lima beans (1). In other words, if you are looking to increase your antioxidant intake from natural fruits and vegetables while consuming the least calories, eating a healthy dark chocolate is actually a lower-calorie source than all the common foods in this list!

And the ORAC per calorie ratio for dark chocolate (24) is about the SAME as two of the top antioxidant fruits – prunes (24) and raspberries (25). So it’s not necessary to worry about getting too many calories when consuming healthy dark chocolate as`a supplemental source of antioxidants, because you don’t need to eat very much dark chocolate`to absorb more antioxidants than you would get from many common fruits`and vegetables!

Can Chocolate Help You Be Happy?

We have all heard how chocolate can be a “comfort food” to help us cope with stress and depression and general unhappiness. There might actually be some connection between chocolate and happiness, when we look at certain chemicals which are found naturally in the cocoa/cacao bean and which can affect parts of the brain.

Phenylethylamine (PEA) in Cocoa

PEA is a chemical found in cocoa/cacao beans which increases the activity of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) in certain areas of the brain which control the ability to focus attention and stay alert. Elevated PEA levels occur naturally when we are captivated by a movie or good book, or are wholly focused on a project or task – when we lose track of time and are not consciously unaware of what is happening around us.

PEA is found in higher levels in the brains of happy people. Cocoa or dark chocolate has been found to contain up to 2.2 percent PEA (phenylethylamine).

Anandamide (The Bliss Chemical) in Cocoa

Anandamide (or n-arachidonoylethanolamine) is a neurotransmitter which has been isolated in cocoa in quantities which are significant enough to affect the brain. Anandamide is a cannabinoid naturally found in the human brain. Anandamide is a lipid (a fat) known as “the bliss chemical” because it is released when we are feeling good. (Anandamide is the English spelling; anandamine is the French spelling.)

It is true that anandamide has a similar effect to the compound THC in cannabis (marijuana), but it acts in a different way; acts only on certain groups of brain cells and not the whole brain; and thus creates blissful feelings with much less intensity.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAO Inhibitors) in Cocoa/Cacao

These rare MAO inhibitors actually produce favorable results when consumed, by allowing more serotonin and other neurotransmitters such as anandamide, dopamine and others to circulate in the brain. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, MAO inhibitors facilitate anti-aging and rejuvenation.

MAO inhibitors make one feel younger when they allow more neurotransmitters to remain in the bloodstream. A primary phenomenon that differentiates children from adults is the level of neurotransmitters in the blood and bodies of children. In general, as one lives longer and longer the level of neurotransmitters decreases. This leads to less creativity, less joy, more physical rigidity – and more rapid aging!

Cocoa, with its supply of MAO inhibitors, helps keep plenty of neurotransmitters in circulation, and thus helps prevent this unhappy phenomenon from occurring. “Think young – you’ll have more fun!”

Now that you have learned how cocoa contains PEA, Anandamide, and MAO Inhibitors, and learned about the happy effects these chemicals can produce, can you see how real chocolate might deserve to be called “the happiest food”?

Chocolate as an Aphrodisiac

The peoples of Central American in the pre-Columbian era often spoke in metaphors composed of words or phrases which had a hidden meaning when uttered in sequence. This is common in many languages, including English. One of these ancient metaphors was yollotl, eztli, meaning “heart, blood,” – a phrase which referred to cocoa. Chocolate is the heart’s “blood” due to its magnesium, antioxidants, love chemicals and esoteric properties. Chocolate truly is “food for the heart”.

Chocolate is a symbol of sensuality, pleasure, and sexuality. Some writers have claimed that 50 per cent of women actually prefer chocolate to sex! That percentage might even rise if the women were offerred real chocolate in the form of organic cocoa!

Chocolate is a favorite gift from a lover to the beloved one. Chocolates are always given as love offerings. A box of chocolates is one of the most popular gifts for Valentine’s Day.

Cocoa, because it is natural and unadulterated, has an even stronger love energy than manufactured chocolate candy. In ancient Aztec wedding ceremonies, the bride and groom would exchange five cacao beans with each other.

By Henrylito D. Tacio

guyabano


“A MIRACULOUS natural cancer cell killer, 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy.” That was how the forwarded e-mail described the fruits of sour sop or graviola (more popularly known here as guyabano or labana).

“What’s more, unlike chemotherapy, the compound extracted from the graviola tree selectively hunts down and kills only cancer cells,” the e-mail said. “It does not harm healthy cells!” In addition, it “effectively targets and kills malignant cells in 12 types of cancer, including colon, breast, prostate, lung and pancreatic cancer.”

According to the email, a research has been conducted and showed that the extracts from guyabano can “attack cancer safely and effectively with an all-natural therapy that does not cause extreme nausea, weight loss and hair loss.”

It also “protects your immune system and avoids deadly infections; feels stronger and healthier throughout the course of the treatment; and boosts your energy and improves your outlook on life.”

One wonders: Why are people not aware of this fact? The e-mail explained: “It’s because some big corporation want to make back their money spent on years of research by trying to make a synthetic version of it for sale.”

The US National Cancer Institute reportedly performed the first scientific research on graviola in 1976. The results showed that the plant’s “leaves and stems were found effective in attacking and destroying malignant cells.” Although the results were supposedly published in an internal report, it was never released to the public.

Whether the circulated e-mail is true or not, the guyabano (scientific name: Anona muricata) has been identified by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) as one of the fruits that deserved attention.

The book Underexploited Tropical Plants with Promising Economic Value described it as “a tropical fruit with potential for development as a processed industrial commodity.”

Plants of the Philippines, published by the University of the Philippines in the 1970s, mentioned guyabano just in passing. “A relative of atis” is all you can read about the fruit in the 550-page book.

The heart shaped guyabano fruit has a dark green, leathery and spike like skin that measures from 8 to 12 inches long and can weigh up to 2.5 kilos. Ripe fruits are light yellow and soft. The creamy and delectable flesh contains from 60 to 100 black-brown seeds that are indigestible and non-edible.

Comparisons of the flavor of guyabano range from strawberry and pineapple mixed together to sour citrus flavor notes contrasting with an underlying creamy roundness of flavor reminiscent of coconut or banana.

A native of tropical America, guyabano was introduced into the Philippines at an early date and is no cultivated in all parts of the Archipelago. The plant grows in any kind of soil, but a fairly deep, friable soil of volcanic origin is conducive to growth and fruiting. It thrives very well from sea level up to 500 meters above sea level.

Guyabano is one of the healthiest fruits known to man. The flesh of the fruit consist of a white edible pulp that is high in carbohydrates (particularly fructose) and considerable amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, potassium and dietary fiber.

Guyabano is low in cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium. Not only is guyabano a good health food, it also taste delicious.

Aside from being eaten raw, the guyabano fruit is processed into candies, tarts, shakes, ice cream, and sherbets and other beverages. An assortment of punch and cocktail drinks can be made by mixing the nectar with wine rum or cola drinks or buko (fresh coconut) juice and ice.

In Indonesia, immature guyabano are cooked as vegetables or used in soup in Indonesia. In the northeastern part of Brazil, they are either roasted or fried.

The fruit, seeds, and leaves have a number of herbal medicinal uses in countries where the plant is common. The sap of the young leaves may be applied directly on pimples to induce suppuration. The sap is also considered parasitical.

An alcoholic extract of the leaves, when distilled with steam, yields a small amount of essential oil. The portion of alcoholic extract which is soluble in water contains a large amount of potassium chloride together with dextrose tannins, amorphous products, and a small amount of an alkaloid substance which could not be crystallized. The leaves and roots also cure colic and convulsions.

To reduce fever, a decoction of leaves can be taken internally. It has the same effect as when leaves are added to bathing water. In the Caribbean, it is believed that laying the leaves of the guyabano on a bed below a sleeping person with a fever will break the fever by the next morning.

The crushed fresh leaves are also applied on skin eruptions for faster healing. A poultice of young guyabano leaves is applied on the skin to alleviate rheumatism and other skin infections like eczema. Applied during the healing of wounds, this can result in less or no skin scars.

The decoction can also be used as a wet compress on swollen feet and other inflammations. Poultice of mashed leaves and sap of young leaves are used for eczema and skin eruptions.

The guyabano leaves are believed to have tranquilizing and sedative properties. In the Netherlands Antilles, the leaves are placed inside pillows or placed on top of the mattress to induce a good night’s sleep. Boiling the leaves and drinking may help induce sleep.

Guyabano are also good in checking insect pests. Pulverizing the guyabano seeds and mixing it with soap and water can be used as an effective spray against caterpillars, armyworms and leafhoppers on plants. The petroleum ether and chloroform extracts of guyabano are toxic to black carpet beetle larvae. The seed oil kills head lice.

The bark of the guyabano tree has been used in tanning. The bark fiber is strong but, since fruiting trees are not expendable, is resorted to only in necessity. Bark, as well as seeds and roots, has been used as fish poison.

The wood is pale, aromatic, soft, light in weight and not durable. It has been used for ox yokes because it does not cause hair loss on the neck. Analyses of the wood in Brazil show cellulose content of 65 to 76 percent, high enough to be a potential source of paper pulp.

Here are some words of warning: Research carried out in the Caribbean has suggested a connection between consumption of guyabano and atypical forms of Parkinson’s disease due to the very high concentration of annonacin. On the other hand, the seeds contain 45 percent of yellow non-drying oil which is an irritant poison, causing severe eye inflammation.

“Guyabano seeds are toxic, and care must be taken to assure that all are removed before the pulp is processed,” the NAS reminds.

Source: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/guyabano-fruit-heals

Related site:  http://stuartxchange.org

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