Peachy foods protect against a cluster of ageing diseases

Philadelphia: Fruits with stones, such as peaches, plums and nectarines, help protect against several ageing diseases, according to new research from the US.

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The findings of research scheduled for presentation at the 244th American Chemical Society meeting, to be held August 19-23, 2012 in Philadelphia, reveal a protective effect from consuming these fruits, against against metabolic syndrome–a cluster of factors that predict obesity-related diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease.
Texas AgriLife Research food scientist Dr Luis Cisneros-Zevallos said:  “In recent years obesity has become a major concern in society due to the health problems associated to it.
“In the US, statistics show that around 30 percent of the population is overweight or obese, and these cases are increasing every year in alarming numbers.
“The major concern about obesity is the associated disease known as metabolic syndrome,” he observed.
“Our studies have shown that stone fruits – peaches, plums and nectarines – have bioactive compounds that can potentially fight the syndrome, ” Dr Cisneros-Zevallos reported.” Our work indicates that phenolic compounds present in these fruits have antiobesity, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic properties in different cell lines and may also reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol LDL.
“Our work shows that the four major phenolic groups–anthocyanins, clorogenic acids, quercetin derivatives and catechins–work on different cells –fat cells, macrophages and vascular endothelial cells,” he continued. “They modulate different expressions of genes and proteins depending on the type of compound. However, at the same time, all of them are working simultaneously in different fronts against the components of the disease, including obesity, inflammation, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“Each of these stone fruits contain similar phenolic groups but in differing proportions so all of them are a good source of health promoting compounds and may complement each other,” he concluded.
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The anti-ageing super-smoothie

Scientists have identified a cocktail of “anti-ageing fruits” for the ultimate in healthy smoothies.

The scientists in France created a recipe of seven health-boosting fruit juices which together cut the risk of heart disease,stroke and increase lifespan.

 

Fotolia_25314964_XS.jpgThe super smoothie contains grapejuice, blueberries, strawberries, apple, lingonberry, acerola and aronia. The ones which contain the highest amounts of superfoods are the cowberry (aka lingonberry) – a tart, red fruit related to the cranberry – and acerola, a red cherry-like fruit that has 30 times more vitamin C than orange juice.
The final ingredient of the smoothie is aronia, or chokeberry, an American blackberry once described as the ‘healthiest berry in the world’.

Nutrionists already know that fruits contain compounds known as polyphenols which protect the heart and help prevent clogged arteries.

In animal tests, pig heart artery walls relaxed when they were exposed to the fruit juice cocktail. The researchers, from the University of Strasbourg, say that in a human, this would boost the flow of blood to the heart and ensure it got a healthy balance of nutrients and oxygen.

The team – who report their findings in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Food and Function – also measured the antioxidant ability of different recipes to neutralise harmful molecules in the body that can damage DNA and cells.
The study found that some polyphenols were more potent than others – and that their ability to mop up harmful ‘free radicals’ that can damage DNA and cells was more important than the amount of polyphenols in each fruit.

 

 

 

To make the super smoothie you will need the following:

126ml grape juice (30 grapes)

20ml blueberry puree (15 blueberries)

20ml apple (half an apple)

10ml lingonberry juice (8 ligonberries)

8ml acerola juice (5 acerola berries)

8ml aronia juice (5 chokeberries)

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Tangerines protect from heart disease

New York: Eating tangerines may help protect against heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity, according to new US research.

This is because it contains a substance called Nobiletin, a pigment found in tangerine peel, is ten times more potent than a similar one derived from grapefruit which protects from obesity and metabolic syndrome.

 

tangerine.jpgResearchers from the University of Western Ontario, in Canada, fed two groups of mice a diet high in fats and simple sugars, reports the journal Diabetes.

One group had symptoms of illness such as elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood levels of insulin and glucose and a fatty liver – all of which increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. But a second group on the same diet but who were fed Nobiletin showed no similar rise. The substance also protected them from atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque in arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Eating tangerines could protect against heart attacks, diabetes and stroke as well as staving off obesity

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Your Christmas diet may not be as bad as you think

Mulled wine-tasticWe all know the importance of a balanced diet and try very hard to be good (most days anyway!) so it adds to the occasion to indulge yourself a little at Christmas.

Despite best intentions, the indulgence gradually accumulates; starting with Christmas parties, canapés and quick present handover lunches with your friends, reaching its peak on Christmas day.

However, after a day or so of goose fat enveloped golden roast potatoes, syrup soaked sponge puddings and continued exposure to the Roses tin, we are all feeling the effects of these goodies and are seriously considering a drastic detox diet.

But wait, you may not have been as naughty as you think; many people eat much more fruit and veg at Christmas then any other time of year.

If you have a peek at other people’s shopping while patiently (!) waiting in line at the supermarket, you will notice many items which are missing the rest of the year. Family packs of mixed nuts jostle for space with dried fruit, satsumas, dates and the crimbo veggie favourites – the dreaded sprouts, the not so dreaded parsnips and good old carrots. There may even be some melon for a continentally inspired starter, or Iceberg lettuce for a seventies legend. Last but not least, there is the carton of orange juice for the obligatory bucks fizz on Christmas morning.

So, with a little more effort we can all up our fruit and veg quota and assuage our consciences just enough to put off the obligatory guilt until the New Year at least. Even if you just substitute a couple of bad things, or add one extra fruit to your diet you will be reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Heart Research UK has come up with the following tips to help you in this quest

  • Choose from the wide variety of different colours and textures available in the fruit and veg aisle at Christmas
  • Make your own cranberry and apple sauces so you can control the sugar content; cranberries are packed full of vitamins.
  • Start the day with a smoothie made from exotic fruits.
  • Serve vegetable crudités with dips, made by adding chopped onions, chives, or herbs to crème fraîche: a refreshing change from crisps.
  • Try some dried ‘superberries’ as an alternative snack.  Acai and goji berries are nutrient dense fruits that carry many health benefits.
  • Don’t just stick to cheese and sausages for cocktail sticks, try pineapple pieces, satsuma segments, dates, grapes and cherry tomatoes or you could make some mini dried fruit kebabs.
  • Mix red wine with orange juice or cranberry juice and add cinnamon and spices or a mulled wine sachet then heat gently. This will result in a healthier mulled wine and fill your house with a delicious Christmassy aroma.

We will definitely be trying at least one or two of these – already a big fan of the homemade mulled wine on Christmas Eve! Enjoy…

 

Myths about hydration

Water We don’t actually need to drink eight glasses of water a day…

Elixir attended the British Nutrition Foundation’s conference on hydration last week and came away with a few very interesting facts about water.

1. The amount of water we need and use is different from person to person

2. We can survive more than a few days without water

3. Most of the water we ingest comes naturally from food

4. Most liquids add to our hydration, including fruit juice, milk, teas and coffee

In general, we are not very clued in about water and hydration – most people in the UK have a very loose understanding about the signs of dehydration.

We look for clues such as darker urine to decide whether or not we are dehydrated – the truth is that darker urine can be caused by a number of things – including vitamin supplements.

Thirst is just nature’s way of telling us our blood water concentration is dropping, not an indication that we are about to become dehydrated.

Serious dehydration is almost impossible to achieve – unless you are stuck in a desert or paralysed with no access to liquids. As mentioned above, it is possible to survive without water for some time; a woman who had been in a coma for years (in the US) survived for 13 days without any liquids after it was decided to turn off her live-saving machine.

The most shocking thing we learned was the truth behind the ‘eight glasses of water’ myth.

Research showed that over 70% of people can quote the recommended amount of water of six to eight glasses.

The truth is, the recommended amount of water is 2.5 litres per day and we ingest most of it in food. The less dense the food, the more water it contains – meaning fruit and vegetables contain the most. 

As we get older we are more susceptible to the marketing ploys of drinks companies – we start to buy into the ‘health’ drink to lower our cholesterol and raise the pro and prebiotic levels of our stomachs.

Beware of drinks advertising an increased level of antioxidants as well – a study found that drinking tea gives you a better level of antioxidants over 24 hours than many health/fruit based drinks. 

 

 

 

Fruit Kebabs with Chocolate Sauce

Fruit Kebabs with Chocolate Sauce

 

FB-Fruit-Kebabs-w-Chocolate-Sauce_p [640x480].jpgServes 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5-7 minutes

Selection of seasonal fruit
eg: pineapple, nectarines or peaches, strawberries or kiwi fruit,
2 tbsp Filippo Berio Mild & Light Olive Oil
2 tbsp caster sugar
Chocolate Sauce:
3 tbsp Filippo Berio Mild & Light Olive Oil
75g/3oz dark chocolate
3 tsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp maple syrup

Method:
1. To make the chocolate sauce, put all the ingredients into a small saucepan, heat gently, stirring until the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth.
2. Remove the core from the peeled pineapple and cut the flesh into chunks. Halve the nectarines or peaches, remove the stones and cut into thick slices. Cut the kiwi fruit into quarters.
3. Thread the fruit onto skewers, brush with olive oil and dust with caster sugar. Place on a medium hot barbecue, cook for 5-7 minutes, turning to grill all over.
4. Serve with the chocolate sauce.
Fruity Ideas:
Pineapple slices: Dry fresh slices of pineapple on kitchen paper. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with caster sugar, then caramelise on the barbecue.
Bananas: select firm bananas and barbecue in the skins until charred and soft to the touch. Offer rum to pour over the peeled bananas and a bowl of the chocolate sauce.

Vitamin C protects skin from cancer

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London: A joint study by scientists in the UK & Portugal has discovered a new role played by Vitamin C in protecting the skin from cancer and sun damage.

Researchers at the University of Leicester and Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology in Portugal studied new protective properties of vitamin C in cells from the human skin, which could lead to better skin regeneration.

The work, by Tiago Duarte, Marcus S. Cooke and G. Don Jones, found that a form of Vitamin C helped to promote wound healing and also helped protect the DNA damage of skin cells. Their findings have been published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

This report is the latest in a long line of publications from these researchers, at the University of Leicester, concerning vitamin C. Previously, the group has published evidence that DNA repair is upregulated in people consuming vitamin C supplements. The researchers have now provided some mechanistic evidence for this, in cell culture, using techniques such as Affymetrix microarray, for looking at gene expression, and the ‘Comet’ assay to study DNA damage and repair.

Tiago Duarte, formerly of the University of Leicester, and now at the Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology in Portugal, said: “The exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation increases in summer, often resulting in a higher incidence of skin lesions. Ultraviolet radiation is also a genotoxic agent responsible for skin cancer, through the formation of free radicals and DNA damage.

“Our study analysed the effect of sustained exposure to a vitamin C derivative, ascorbic acid 2-phosphate (AA2P), in human dermal fibroblasts. We investigated which genes are activated by vitamin C in these cells, which are responsible for skin regeneration.

“The results demonstrated that vitamin C may improve wound healing by stimulating quiescent fibroblasts to divide and by promoting their migration into the wounded area. Vitamin C could also protect the skin by increasing the capacity of fibroblasts to repair potentially mutagenic DNA lesions.”

Even though vitamin C was discovered over 70 years ago as the agent that prevents scurvy, its properties are still under much debate in the scientific community. In fact, the annual meeting of the International Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine, which will be held this year in San Francisco (USA), will feature a session dedicated to vitamin C, entitled “New discoveries for an old vitamin”.

Dr Marcus S. Cooke from the Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine and Department of Genetics, at the University of Leicester, added: “The study indicates a mechanism by which vitamin C could contribute to the maintenance of a healthy skin by promoting wound healing and by protecting cellular DNA against damage caused by oxidation”. “These findings are particular importance to our photobiology interests, and we will certainly be looking into this further”.

These results will be of great relevance to the cosmetics industry. Free radicals are associated with premature skin aging, and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, are known to counter these highly damaging compounds. This new evidence suggest that, in addition to ‘mopping up’ free radicals, vitamin C can help remove the DNA damage they form, if they get past the cell’s defences.

The study has the potential to lead to advances in the prevention and treatment of skin lesions specifically, as well as contributing to the fight against cancer.

HERBS & SPICES

Can tomatoes fight Alzheimer’s?

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Seol: Korean scientists have genetically modified tomatoes to produce a prototype vacinne against Alzheimer’s Disease.

The disease, kills brain cells when a sticky plaque known as beta-amyloid protein clogs up nerve connections.

And the disease, which starts with short-term memory loss and leads to death, is on the increase as people live longer.Current drugs do not prevent or cure it but only slow its progress.

The researchers from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology say they have genetically modified the fruit to create an edible vaccine that fires up the immune system to fight the disease.

To create the vaccine, the scientists combined the gene behind the beta-amyloid protein with the tomato’s genetic code.They then used mice to experiment with the designer tomatoes.

Blood samples taken from the mice revealed the tomatoes triggered their immune systems to release disease-fighting antibodies, although the levels of plaques in the brain were not reduced.

They said the tomato was a good way of getting a vaccine into the body because it was enjoyable to eat and could be eaten raw.The vaccine could be destroyed if the tomatoes were cooked, they added.

Tomatoes are already known as a natural antioxidant. They cut cholesterol and may help prevent some cancers (prostate, rectal and colon), protect against sunburn and are packed with vitamin C. The active ingredient is called lycopene which is responsible for the red colour.

Fruit and veg protect against Alzheimer’s

Nashville: Fruit and vegetable juices have the potential to protect against the devastating brain disease Alzheimer’s, according to US scientists.

They examined the effects of drinking fruit and vegetable juices more than three times a week amongst 2,000 people for 10 years and discovered that it reduced the risk of the disease by 76 per cent compared to those whose intake was less.

Doctors believe that the findings confirm that diet can play a huge role in whether you get the disease. It is thought that protective substances in fruit and vegetables known as polyophenols, protect the brain from accumulations of bad proteins.

The study carried out at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and participants consumed juice with high concentrations of pulp and peel which contain the most polyphenols.

People who eat antioxidant fruit and veg have less wrinkles

Berlin: People who eat lots of fruit and vegetables, especially tomatoes and red peppers, are likely to have fewer wrinkles, according to a new study.

And event those who don’t can get younger skin if they change their diet to include more vegetables and fruit containing antioxidants.

The study in the latest issue of the German magazine, The Dermatologist, conducted at the Berline Charite Hospital found that people with higher amounts of antioxidants in the skin had fewer wrinkles and therefore looked younger.

Antioxidants are the substances that scientists believe fight free radicals, unstable molecules that are a factor in ageing, skin damage and cancer.

Antioxidants contained in the body are credited with preventing the majority of free-radical damage. Unfortunately the body is not capable of producing enough antioxidants on its own.

Antioxidants include vitamins and minerals such as A, C, D and E as well as beta carotene. They are contained in various vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, red peppers, kale green tea.

The German study showed that vegetarians had more antioxidants in their bodies than non-vegetarians. The article also warned that it was better to get them naturally rather than overdosing on dietary supplements.

Vegan diet better for slimmers

Washington: Low-fat vegan diets are more successful that those including meat, says a new study conducted by Georgetown University Hospitaland George Washington University in the US.

Half the 59 overweight volunteers followed a strictly vegan diet as part of the experiment conducted by Dr Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The remaining half were given food in line with a national programme designed to reduce illness and death from coronary heart disease in the US, which endorses the consumption of low-fat animal products.

Dr Barnard discovered that those on the vegan diet were able to lose weight without feeling hungry. All the women were of post-menopausal age.

Mr Barnard said: “The study participants following the vegan diet enjoyed unlimited servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthful foods that enabled them to lose weight without feeling hungry.

“As they began to experience the positive effects, weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity, the women in the intervention group became even more motivated to follow the plant-based eating plan.”

The journal article also refers to a study of 55,000 women in Sweden which reinforces Dr Barnard’s findings.

Researchers at Tufts University in Sweden found that of the group, 40% of meat-eaters were overweight or obese compared to 25% to 29% of vegetarians and vegans.

Worldwide, vegetarian populations experience lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening diseases.

Meanwhile, a new study appearing in September’s Journal of Urology in the States shows that a low-fat, primarily vegan diet may slow the progression of prostate cancer.

20 foods can help save you from cancer, says world leading cancer charity.

A list of the top 20 cancer beating foods – fruits and vegetables – has been compiled by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

The WCRF, a charity committed to cancer prevention, is publishing its findings in a report, Food Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer, based on thousands of studies, being published in 2006. Eating more vegetables and fruit is the second most effective way to reduce the risk of cancer and the most effective way is not to smoke.

More than half the people questioned in a survey said they were unaware that diet could influence their risk of cancer

The 20 superfoods the WCRF identifies are vegetables, fruits, nuts, oily fish and whole grains – the familiar foods that it says “stand out in the nutritional crowd” because of their health-giving properties. They contain the highest levels of antioxidants, the vitamins and minerals that help protect the body from the damaging effects of oxygen-free radicals, the unstable molecules created by the body and produced by toxins that can be carcinogenic, such as tobacco.

Separately, the Royal Marsden Hospital in London is entering the fray with a book to be published next year called Cancer: The Power of Food.

This is the first time that the premier cancer-healing institution in Britain has offered advice to the public on cancer prevention, and the first time it has tried to cash in on the cookery book market.

Written by the hospital’s chief dietitian, Clare Shaw, the book contains recipes for dishes such as One-Pot Beef, with tips on the need to cook the beef slowly to “avoid the formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines”.

Cheesy Lentil and Vegetable Pie is a “high-fibre supper dish that is a good source of caretonids, folate and calcium”.

There’s useful advice on weight-loss regimes. Coyly avoiding any mention of the Atkins diet, the book asks whether a “high-protein, low-carbohydrate weight-reducing diet” will affect cancer risk.

“Yes, it might,” it says. “All the evidence for diet being protective indicates that it should contain plenty of starchy foods, fruit and vegetables, with small portions of animal protein.”

There are other valuable nuggets. Although it is assumed that raw fruit and veg are better than cooked, as some vitamins are destroyed in cooking, this isn’t necessarily true. The body absorbs beta carotene (which is converted in the body into Vitamin A) better from cooked carrots than raw.

Both the WCRF and the Royal Marsden try, in different ways, to refine the research evidence into advice that people can act on. Certain facts are established – such as the dramatic decline in stomach cancer in the west in the past century, thought to be linked with the advent of the fridge.

Refrigeration meant a switch in the diet to consumption of more fresh food and less preserved – salted or smoked – meat, which is known to increase the risk.

Stomach cancer remains high in countries where salty foods occupy a prominent place in the diet, such as Japan.

Bowel cancer is commoner in countries of the west, where more refined, processed food is eaten, and rare in the developing world, where the diet is high in whole-grain cereals, pulses and root vegetables. A high-fat diet also appears to increase cancers of the bowel, breast, prostate and lung.

But there is one problem with their thesis that has arisen too late for either organisation to address. The single most consistent piece of advice from the cancer epidemiologists in the past decade has been to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Southern Europe, where more fruit and vegetables are consumed, has lower rates of cancer of the mouth, throat, lung and stomach than northern Europe.

But what should we eat today? Those who have to cook tonight cannot wait for tomorrow’s research.

The only sensible answer is that a diet based on the WCRF’s 20 superfoods and the Royal Marsden’s recipes is unlikely to do harm, and probably offers the current generation the best chance of outliving their parents.