TURMERIC – “Indian saffron”

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Turmeric is a plant, native to South India and Indonesia. It is one of the key ingredients for many Indian, Persian and Thai dishes such as in curry and many more. Turmeric, officially known as Curcuma longa, is a rhizome of the ginger family. Turmeric was traditionally called “Indian saffron” because of its deep yellow-orange color. In India, it is most commonly known as Haldi.

In ancient Indian medicine, Ayurveda has recommended its use in food for its medicinal value. It is one of the most commonly used herb and spice in the Ayurvedic diet and it has many health benefits. Turmeric is a powerful healing food that has been used in the ancient Indian systems of medicine for thousands of years. Turmeric can also be useful in treatment of wounds, bruises and sprains. Turmeric has been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, to treat digestive and liver problems, skin diseases, and wounds.

Turmeric is considered highly auspicious in India and has been used in various Indian ceremonies. It is used in every part of India during wedding ceremonies and religious ceremonies.

New research by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that curcumin, the key ingredient in the spice turmeric, it speeds up metabolism. The western medical community has been doing research into turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, especially curcumin, a compound that gives turmeric its dark yellow color, and its potential in the treatment of cancer and other diseases. But in the East, turmeric has long been used for medicinal purposes.

Just a few grams of turmeric per day either in the form of powder, crushed root or fresh roots can provide enough nutrients to help us keep away from anemia, neuritis, memory disorders and offers protection against cancers, infectious diseases, high blood pressure and strokes.

CEREMONIAL USES

  • Gaye holud (literally “yellow on the body”) is a ceremony observed mostly in the region of Bengal (comprising Bangladesh and Indian West Bengal). The gaye holud takes place one or two days prior to the religious and legal Bengali wedding ceremonies.
  • During the south Indian festival Pongal, a whole turmeric plant with fresh rhizomes is offered as a thanks giving offering to Surya, the Sun god.
  • In southern India, as a part of the marriage ritual, dried turmeric tuber tied with string is used to replace the Mangalsutra temporarily or permanently. The Hindu Marriage act recognizes this custom.
  • In western and coastal India, during weddings of the Marathi and Konkani people turmeric tubers are tied with strings by the couple to their wrists during a ceremony called Kankana bandhana.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES

  • Turmeric (curcuma longa) is being touted as an ingredient that not only helps spice up curry dishes, but also adds potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to the diet.
  • The herb contains many health benefiting essential oils such as termerone, curlone, curumene, cineole, and p-cymene.
  • Curcumin, a poly-phenolic compound, is the principal pigment that imparts deep orange color to the turmeric. The curcumin may have anti-tumor, antioxidant, anti-arthritic, anti-amyloid, anti-ischemic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • This popular herb contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fiber, which helps to control blood LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels.
  • It is very rich source of many essential vitamins such as pyridoxine (vitamin-B6), choline, niacin, and riboflavin etc, which are essential for optimum health. 100 g herb provides 1.80 mg or 138% of daily-recommended levels of pyridoxine.
  • Pyridoxine is used in the treatment of homocystinuria, sideroblastic anemia and radiation sickness. Niacin helps prevent “pellagra” or dermatitis.
  • The root of turmeric has been in use since antiquity for its anti-inflammatory (painkiller), carminative, anti-flatulent and anti-microbial properties.
  • Turmeric contains very good amounts of minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, and magnesium. (Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is an important co-factor for cytochrome oxidase enzymes at cellular level metabolisms and required for red blood cells productions).
  • Fresh root contains very good levels of vitamin-C. It is a water-soluble vitamin and a powerful natural anti-oxidant; helps body develop immunity against infectious agents, helps fight type-1 diabetes and remove harmful free oxygen radicals from the body.
  • Research studies have suggested that Curcumin, a poly-phenolic compound, found in this herb may inhibit the multiplication of tumor cells including multiple myeloma, pancreatic cancer, and colon cancer
  • It is effective in preventing or at least delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Turmeric helps in minimizing liver damages caused by taking excess alcohol regularly or using pain-killer.
  • Turmeric helps relieve wound inflammation and in treating arthritis.
  • It can be made into a paste and applied directly to the skin to improve complexion and help relieve rashes, boils, infections, eczema, acne sores and wounds.
  • Turmeric can also be used to treat dental infections, sinus conditions, menstrual difficulties, hemorrhaging, toothaches, bruises, parasites, poor circulation, staph infections, chest pain, jaundice, ulcers, diarrhea, urinary disorders, and colic.
  • Too much turmeric however, may thin our blood and contribute to bleeding disorders.
  • Turmeric is a Tridosha herb which means it is good and beneficial for all three types of doshas including Vata, Pitta, Kapha and any combination of these three.
  • Turmeric is especially known to cleanse and purify the blood and lymph tissues. It helps dissolve tumors and blood clots.
  • Turmeric may play a role in lowering blood sugar, according to the National Institutes of Health. Before adding turmeric to our diet for blood sugar problems, must consult with specialist, since it may interfere with diabetes medication.
  • Turmeric is used for epilepsy and bleeding disorders, skin diseases, to purify the body-mind, and to help the lungs expel Kapha.
  • Turmeric is used to treat external ulcers that respond to nothing else.
  • Raw Turmeric juice is used to treat hyper acidity

OTHER USES

  • Turmeric makes a poor fabric dye, as it is not very light fast. However, turmeric is commonly used in Indian and Bangladeshi clothing, such as saris and Buddhist monks’ robes.
  • Turmeric paste is traditionally used by Indian women to keep them free of superfluous hair and as an antimicrobial.
  • Turmeric paste, as part of both home remedies and Ayurveda, is also said to improve the skin and is touted as an anti-aging agent.
  • Staining oneself with turmeric is believed to improve the skin tone and tan. Turmeric is currently used in the formulation of some sunscreens.
  • The juice of raw turmeric is applied to the skin as a paste, kept for around thirty minutes and then washed off. It adds glow to the skin.
  • It is an essential ingredient of the traditional bathing ritual of Indian marriages where it is applied along with sandal wood paste before the bath.
  • It is believed that regular bathing in water containing turmeric reduces growth of body hair.
  • Regular turmeric use is said to make the skin fair, soft and smooth.
  • Turmeric is used for spots caused due to pigmentation or blotches and also for diseases like eczema.
  • Its powder complements well with any vegetable or meat preparations and mix well with other spicy powders and herbs, enhancing the flavor and fragrance of the dishes.
  • It has been used in the preparations of soups, salad dressings and has been found application in food industry like biscuits, popcorn color, cake icings, cereals, sauces, etc.
  • Turmeric-tea is a popular drink in Okinawan population and in many Asian countries.
  • It is a natural food preservative. The paste is used to marinate fish, chicken, meat to enhance its shelf life and to offset stingy smell of fish.
  • In India, dried roots mixed with other spices, curry leaves, peppers etc, gently roasted and ground to prepare curry powder.

 EXCESSIVE CONSUMPTION

  • Excessive consumption of turmeric may cause stomach upset.
  • People who have gallstones or obstruction of the bile passages should talk to their doctor before taking turmeric.
  • For diabetic patients, talk to your doctor before taking turmeric supplements. Turmeric may lower blood sugar levels, and when combined with medications for diabetes could cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
  • Turmeric may make the effects of drugs raising the risk of bleeding. Blood-thinners include warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), and aspirin, among others.
  • High intake of turmeric may increase risk of hyperoxaluria, a significant risk factor for urolithiasis.

CORIANDER – A CHINESE PARSLEY

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“Coriander” – We all are acquainted with this term. We have it in our daily meal but very few of us are aware about its several names and its nutritional importance for our health. It is also known as cilantro, Chinese parsley and dhania. Dhania word is commonly used in India. In India, coriander is known by several other regional names like Dhane in Bengali; Kothmiri and Libdhana in Gujarati; Kothambri in Kannada; Daaniwal and Kothambalari in Kashmiri; Kothumpalari bija in Malayalam; Dhana in Marathi; Dhanyaka in Sanskrit; Kothamalli in Tamil; Dhaniyalu in Telugu.

The Botanical name of coriander is Coriandrum sativum Linn, which is further classed within the Family name of Umbelliferae. Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander, also derived from coriandrum. It is a common term in North America, due to its extensive use in Mexican cuisine.

It is a popular ingredient in the cuisines of many nations. Chinese parsley is used both fresh and dried, and is readily available in most markets, due to its enduring popularity. Chinese parsley quickly spread, and it was embraced by Thai, Indian, and Chinese cooks.

Coriander requires a cool climate during growth stage and a warm dry climate at maturity. It can be cultivated in almost all types of soils. Its usage in India is in cooking, in producing oils, as a spice, in medicine, in ayurveda, the usage of coriander is in the culinary and cuisine section, also serving as chutney, as soup, as curry pastes, in making dal, and preparing pickles.

All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most commonly used in cooking.

NUTRITONAL IMPORTANCE

  • Coriander or cilantro contains many compounds which have anti oxidant properties.
  • The flavor of coriander and cilantro is due to the fatty acids and volatile oils in it.
  • Coriander is rich in dietary fiber providing as much as 42 gms fiber in 100 gms of coriander.
  • This fiber helps in lowering the LDL cholesterol as it binds to the bile salts.
  • Coriander contains very good amounts of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium and zinc.
  •  It also has high levels of vitamin C.
  • Coriander is also a storehouse of the B complex vitamins, especially thiamine, niacin and riboflavin.
  • Coriander oil is extracted from the seeds contain anti bacterial properties and is rich in phytonutrients, flavonoids and active phenolic compounds.
  • A, beta carotene, vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. Cilantro leaves provides 30% of daily recommended levels of vitamin-C.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • It is known for building the stomach and promoting digestion. Dry coriander treats diarrhea.
  • The leaves and seeds contain many essential volatile oils such as borneol, linalool, cineole, cymene, terpineol, dipentene, phellandrene, pinene and terpinolene and have rich aroma, they acts as an excellent appetizer and helps to stimulate the secretion of enzymes and digestive juices in the stomach.
  • It also helps in stimulating digestion and peristaltic motion.
  • Coriander leaves are also helpful in treating anorexia.
  • Fresh coriander leaves are good source of oleic acid, linoleic acid, stearic acid, palmitic acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin-C), which are very effective in decreasing the cholesterol level in the blood.
  • Coriander or cilantro herb contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fiber which help in reducing LDL or “bad cholesterol” while increasing HDL or “good cholesterol” levels.
  • It is helpful in decreasing the deposition of cholesterol along the inside layer of the arteries and veins and thereby reduce the risk of heart attack.
  • Fresh coriander leaves are helpful to treat some skin disorders due to its anti-fungal, anti-septic, detoxifying, and disinfectant properties. “To get relief from hives, drink it as a juice or make a paste to apply to the skin. For rashes/hives, mix fresh coriander juice & honey and apply this paste on the skin area which is affected. Leave it on the skin for at least 15 minutes, before rinsing off with cool water.”
  • Fresh coriander leaves are great source of vitamin-C, vitamin-A, anti oxidants, and minerals such as phosphorus which are helpful to ease muscular degeneration, conjunctivitis, aging of eyes, and sooth eyes against stress.  
  • Coriander is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K. Vitamin-K has potential role in bone mass building by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones.
  • It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.
  • It is also beneficial for women especially those suffering from a heavy menstrual flow.
  • Coriander is known to lower blood sugar by stimulating the secretion of insulin. It has also been called as an ‘anti-diabetic’ plant.
  • The aroma of fresh coriander leaves is also helpful for Epistaxis (Nose bleed).
  • Coriander leaves are rich source of anti oxidant, anti microbial, and anti infectious components and acids. Also, the presence of iron and vitamin-C strengthen the immune system. They have a soothing effect on pox and also decrease the pain of small pox.
  • Essential oils of coriander contain citronelol, a component which has an excellent antiseptic property. Additionally, other components of the coriander like essential oil have anti microbial and healing effects which prevent the worsening of the wounds and ulcers in the mouth. They freshen up the breath and help in healing of ulcers.
  • It helps in reducing brain fag, tension, migraine and nervous weakness.
  • It also relieves gas and stomach ache.
  • It controls rheumatic and arthritic pains, muscle spasms.
  • It benefits in colds and flu.
  • It removes toxins and wastes.
  • This herb is also great for the skin. Its juice mixed with turmeric powder can help treat pimples and blackheads.
  • Coriander has been used as a folk medicine for the relief of anxiety and insomnia in Iran.
  • Coriander is known as best cleaning treatment for kidneys and it is natural. Drink one glass coriander juice daily will help in removing accumulated poison from kidney by urination.

The coriander leaves, seeds, stems and their oils all are used in many traditional medicines as analgesic, aphrodisiac, anti-spasmodic, deodorant, digestive, carminative, fungicidal, lipolytic (weight loss), stimulant and stomachic.

Coriander can produce an allergic reaction in some people. But it’s very rare; normally it has no side effect.

TEA- An Aromatic Beverage

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It is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. The first recorded drinking of tea is in China, with the earliest records of tea consumption dating back to the 10th century BC.

In India, tea is one of the most popular hot beverages. It is consumed daily in almost all homes, offered to guests, consumed in high amounts in domestic and official surroundings and is made with the addition of a lot of milk with or without spices. It is also served with biscuits which are dipped in the tea and eaten before consuming the tea. On April 21, 2012 the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission (India), Montek Singh Ahluwalia, said that tea would be declared as national drink by April 2013.

In the Kashmir region of India, Kashmiri chai or noon chai, a pink, milky tea with pistachios and cardamom, is consumed primarily at special occasions, weddings, and during the winter months, commonly called it kahwah.

In the United States and Canada, 80% of tea is consumed cold, as iced tea. Sweet tea is a cultural symbol of the southern US, and is common in that portion of the country.

In the United Kingdom, especially England, it is consumed daily and often by a majority of people across the country, and indeed is perceived as one of Britain’s cultural beverages. In British homes, it is customary good manners for a host to offer tea to guests soon after their arrival. The British prefer black tea, served in mugs with milk and perhaps sugar.

There are mainly two principal botanical varieties of teas are used, the China plant (C. sinensis), used in Chinese, Formosan and Japanese teas and another one is the clonal Assam tea plant (C. sinensis assamica), used in most Indian and other teas (but not Darjeeling).

The chief criterion for the classification of tea plants are the size of leaves. Primary three classifications of tea leaves are Assam type, characterized by the largest leaves; China type, characterized by the smallest leaves; and Cambod type, characterized by leaves of intermediate size. The smaller the leaf, the more expensive the tea.

Teas can generally be divided into categories based on how they are processed. There are at least six different types of tea: white, yellow, green, oolong, black, and post-fermented teas of which the most commonly found on the market are black, green, oolong, and white. Some varieties, such as traditional oolong tea and Pu-erh tea, a post-fermented tea, can be used medicinally.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Green tea
  • There are various chemical compounds found in green tea like: polyphenols and flavonoids alkaloids, such as caffeine and theobromine, carbohydrate, stannins, minerals such as fluoride and aluminum
  • EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is one of the very powerful antioxidants and is believed to be an important player in the therapeutic qualities of green tea
  • Tea also contains catechins, a type of antioxidant.
  • White and green teas are highest in catechins concentration, while black tea has substantially fewer due to its oxidative preparation.
  • Catechins in green tea possess anticancer properties; it fights against “cancer in various organs, including the colorectal and liver.
  • Green tea is known to exert anti-obesity, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Green tea contains “Branched-chain amino acids which may prevent progressive hepatic failure in patients with chronic liver diseases, and might be effective for the suppression of obesity-related liver carcinogenesis.”
  • Green tea drinking has recently proven to be associated with cell-mediated immune function of the human body.
  • Green tea plays an important role in improving beneficial intestinal microflora, as well as providing immunity against intestinal disorders and in protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage.
  • Green tea also prevents dental caries due to the presence of fluorine.
  • The role of green tea is well established in normalizing blood pressure, lipid depressing activity, prevention of coronary heart diseases and diabetes by reducing the blood-glucose activity.
  • Green tea also possesses germicidal and germistatic activities against various gram-positive and gram negative human pathogenic bacteria.
  • Both green and black tea infusions contain a number of antioxidants, mainly catechins that have anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic and anti-tumoric properties.
  • Green tea is famous for its calming effect on both body and mind. This calming effect is caused by the L- Theanine amino acid found in the leaves of green tea.
  • Tea prevents the rise of homocysteine which is known to be an important and significant risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, due to the content of vitamin M in tea. The vitamin M, which is a B complex vitamin, assists in preventing cancer and it also plays an important part in the health of the nervous system, the eyes and other systems.
  • Green tea contains caffeine and it has been used to increase alertness. Green tea has also been used to prevent/delay Parkinson’s disease.
  • Green Tea also prevents baldness by stimulating the hair follicles.
  • Green tea is a natural antiseptic. It cures the inflamed skin, sun burn and blackish spot around the eye. It has an anti-aging property.
Black tea
The tea leaves are oxidized under controlled temperature and humidity. (This process is also called “fermentation”, which is a misnomer since no actual fermentation takes place.) The level of oxidation determines the quality of the tea.  Its health benefits are:
  • Boston University study has concluded that short and long-term black tea consumption reverses endothelial vasomotor dysfunction in patients with coronary artery disease.
  • In 2006, a German study concluded that the addition of milk prevents vascular protective effects of tea.
  • Theaflavin-3-gallate, a theaflavin derivative found in black tea, could reduce the incorporation of cholesterol into mixedmicelles.
White Tea
White tea comes from the buds and leaves of the Chinese Camellia sinensis plant. It improved cardiovascular function. Some health benefits:

  • Catechins, a group of polyphenol antioxidants found in white tea, have been found to reduce cholesterol, decrease blood pressure, and improve the function of blood vessels, thereby decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • The antioxidants found in white tea may also help bolster the immune system, particularly in immune compromised humans and animals.
  • A study showed that white tea has high anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-collagenase, and anti-elastase properties which could potentially reduce the risks of developing rheumatoid arthritis, some cancers, heart disease and slow the enzymatic break-down of elastin and collagen, traits which accompany aging.
Side Effect
  • Tea contains oxalates that can lead to kidney stones; however, the bioavailability of this oxalate is not very high. The risk therefore is not very high.
  • Tea leaves contain fluoride; older mature leaves contain more of the chemical that is known to cause osteofluorosis and even fractures with high intake of tea.
  • Perhaps the biggest cause of tea-related side effects is the methylxanthine – caffeine. It causes a rise in blood pressure which in turn can result in a heart stroke and an increase in eye pressure worsening glaucoma.
  • Caffeine is the reason why tea is considered a diuretic.
  • Caffeine disturbs sleep patterns and causes insomnia.
  •  Two cups of tea provide around 200 mg of caffeine, more than this amount is not advisable for pregnant women as it can lead to miscarriages.
  • Similarly, lactating women should avoid too much tea of their little ones will experience bowel irritability.
  • Conditions linked with prolonged or excessive consumption of black tea include ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, diabetes, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome and anemia.
  • Tea should not be taken within one hour before and after meal, as it does not allow the iron of the meal to absorb in the body. This may results anemia.

It is interesting to know that adding milk to tea negates all the health effects of the beverage. This is because casein in the milk binds with the beneficial EGCG and prevents it from exercising a relaxing effect on arteries.

So tea should be drink in moderate amount otherwise you may face one or more of the above mentioned side effects.

CORN – A Romantic Monsoon Food

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Corn, is commonly known as bhutta in India and maize in America. It is more accurately categorized as a grain. Maize is the most widely grown grain crop of the America. It is the third most important cereal grain (after wheat and rice) in the world, which provides nutrients to humans and animals. 

Corn grows in “ears,” each of which is covered in rows of kernels that are protected by the silk-like threads called “corn silk”.

In Central and Latin America, maize is consumed in the form of maize bread or tortillas. In Africa, ground maize is cooked into a paste or mush and eaten while still warm, accompanied by a thick low-alcoholic beer. In some areas of Africa, maize mush is fried or baked. Maize spread to the rest of the world due to its ability to grow in diverse climates.

There are various varieties of corns that are available in the market and even the same corn crop and same corn is used in various ways. The best example is baby corn or candle corn.

Baby corn or candle corn is a cereal grain taken from corn (maize) harvested early while the ears are very small and immature. It typically is eaten whole cob included in contrast to mature corn, whose cob is considered too tough for human consumption. Baby corn is eaten both raw and cooked. Baby corn i

s most common in Asian cuisine. In Thai cookbooks, it is referred to as candle corn.

Another variety of corn is blue corn (also known as Hopi maize). It is a variety of maize grown in northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States, particularly in the states of Arizona and New Mexico.

One more variety is purple corn. It is turning out to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It is loaded with phenolic and anthocyanin, and has an antioxidant rating higher than blueberries. The health benefits of purple corn are pervasive in the body, and it has a normalizing effect on many bodily systems. It can even shrink cancerous tumors.

Other aspects attributed to Purple Corn are:
  • Favors skin tissue regeneration having an anti-wrinkle effect.
  • Slows down general degenerative processes due to high concentration of antioxidants.
  • Prevents cardiovascular diseases.
  • Increases and stimulates blood, diuretic and digestive circulation.

Sugar rich varieties of corn are known as Sweet corns. These are usually grown for human consumption, while field corn varieties are used for animal feed and as chemical feedstock.

SOME IMPORTANT USES OF CORN

Corn syrup is food syrup, which is made from the starch of maize and contains various amounts of maltose and higher oligosaccharides. Corn syrup is used in foods to soften texture, add volume, prevent crystallization of sugar, and enhance flavor. Corn syrup is distinct from high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is created when corn syrup undergoes enzymatic processing, producing a sweeter compound that contains higher levels of fructose. In the United States glucose syrup is most commonly made from corn starch.

Another important use is corn oil or maize oil is extracted from the germ of corn (maize). Its main use is in cooking, where its high smoke point makes refined corn oil valuable frying oil. It is also a key ingredient in some margarine. Corn oil is generally less expensive than most other types of vegetable oils.

Corn oil is also a feedstock used for biodiesel. Other industrial uses for corn oil include soap, salve, paint, rust proofing for metal surfaces, inks, textiles, nitroglycerin, and insecticides. It is sometimes used as a carrier for drug molecules in pharmaceutical preparations.

Amount: 1 cup, Weight: 154 g
Nutritive value           
Proteins               5 g
Water                  117 g 
Total Calories         132     
Total Carbohydrates    29 g
Dietary Fiber          3.6 g
Sugar                  7.3 g   
Total Fat              1.9 g
Vitamin A              145 IU
Vitamin C              10 mg
Vitamin E              108 mcg
Vitamin K              0.46 mcg
Thiamin                273 mcg
Riboflavin             89 mcg
Niacin                 2.7 mg
Vitamin B6             114 mcg
Folate                 68 mcg
Pantothenic Acid       1.1 mg
Choline                35.4 mg
Calcium                3.1 mg
Iron                   801 mcg
Magnesium              57 mg
Phosphorus             137 mg
Potassium              416 mg
Sodium                 23 mg
Zinc                   701 mcg
Copper                 83 mcg
Manganese              249 mcg
Selenium               0.92 mcg
 
 NUTRITIONAL AND HEALTH IMPORTANCE
  • Corn is rich in complex carbohydrate. These are high in fibers. Its insoluble fiber absorbs water.It helps in digestion and prevent the common problems (like constipation and hemorrhoids) by swells the stool and speeds its movement.
  • It is a great source of energy. The calorie content of corn is 342 calories per 100grams.
  • Corn is rich in vitamin B constituents, especially thiamin and niacin. Thiamin is essential for the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter i.e. essential for the memory and deficiency of it can cause impairment in the brain function and may cause Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Niacin deficiency leads to Pellagra; a disease characterized by diarrhea, dementia and dermatitis and is commonly observed in malnourished individuals.
  • Corn is also a good source of Pantothenic acid which is a vitamin necessary for carbohydrate as well as protein and lipid metabolism in the body.
  • Corns also contain vitamin B12 and folic acid which prevents anemia.
  • The folic acid in corn is now known to be an important factor in preventing neural-tube birth defects.
  • Folate and fiber content of the corn are great for cardiovascular health. Both soluble and insoluble fibers are present in corn; it provides 18.4% of the daily requirement of fiber, which has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. Thus, prevents the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Yellow corn is a rich source of beta-carotene which forms vitamin A in the body, essential for maintenance of good vision and skin. Yellow (but not white) corn is an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin
  • The kernels of corn are rich in vitamin E, a natural antioxidant essential for growth.
  • Corn is a rich source of antioxidants which fight against the cancer causing free radicals.
  • In fact, cooking increases the antioxidants in sweet corn. Corn is a rich source of a phenolic compound and ferulic acid, an anti-cancer agent which has been shown to be effective in fighting tumors in breast cancer and liver cancer.
  • Anthocyanins, also found in purple corn which act as scavengers of cancer-causing free radicals.
  • Consumption of corn husk oil lowers plasma LDL cholesterol by reducing cholesterol absorption by the body.
  • It is effective against hypertension due to the presence of phenolic phytochemicals in whole corn.
  • Consumption of corn kernels also assists the management of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Also, fiber content of it helps to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics.
  • Corn contains abundant amount of minerals like magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and copper. It also contains trace minerals like selenium.
  • Phosphorus is essential for maintenance of normal growth, bone health and normal kidney functioning.
  • Magnesium is necessary for maintaining normal heart rate and for bone strength.
  • Corn oil has shown anti-atherogenic effect on the cholesterol levels, thus preventing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Corn starch is used in the manufacture of many cosmetics and may also be applied for soothe skin rashes and irritations.
  • Corn products can be used to replace carcinogenic petroleum products which form major components of cosmetic preparations.
  • Corn oil is an effective component in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Corn oil offers high levels of polyunsaturated instead of saturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats lower blood cholesterol levels.
  • Numerous human studies show that diets enriched in polyunsaturated fatty acids can significantly lower elevated blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure.
  • Corn oil is a rich source of linoleic acid, which is one of two essential acids necessary for good skin and hair quality. Linoleic acid is labeled “essential” because it cannot be synthesized by the body and must be supplied in the diet.
  • Corn oil is also recognized as an excellent source of tocopherols. Tocopherols function as antioxidants and provide a good source of Vitamin E. The antioxidant activity of tocopherols is important because it helps retard development of rancidity.
  • Blue corn contains 20% more protein and has a lower glycemic index than yellow and white corn.

Corn has been an important nutritional resource for thousands of years because of its high protein and carbohydrate content. The sweetness accounts for its popularity among Americans. Its oil has good sensory qualities for use in salad preparation and cooking. And it is one of the most famous and favorite monsoon foods to have in rainy season. 

ELAICHI- A Queen of Spices

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Cardamom, it is an Indian herb commonly known as “choti elaichi”. It is mostly found in southern India particularly in Kerala, Tamilnadu and Karnataka, on the shady slopes of the Western Ghats.  Indian cardamom is slightly smaller, but more aromatic. Now Cardamom is also cultivated in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Mexico, Thailand and Central America

Cardamoms start bearing capsules two-three years after planting, it may be fourth or fifth year after sowing. Although India is the largest producer of cardamom, but very small amount is exported because of the large domestic demand. The main exporting country is Guatemala, where all cardamom is grown for exportation.

Cardamom is an herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the ginger family. The fruit of Elaichi is ovoid or oblong. Two varieties of the cardamom are available in the market, green and black cardamom. The green cardamom has very strong flavor as well as it is more expensive than the black cardamom. Each capsule contains about 15-20 seeds attached to axial placenta. Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance. It is one of the most exotic and highly prized spices in the world

After the first crop, higher and sustained yields are obtained subsequently up to the tenth or fifteenth year,  after that the plants become exhausted.

Green colour of some capsules is not uniform so these are mostly used in some other purpose like in bleaching powder or perfumes.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:
Cardamom, Nutritional value per 100 g.
Energy                      311 Kcal 
Carbohydrates          68.47 g
Protein                      10.76 g
Total Fat                    6.7 g
Cholesterol               0 mg
Dietary Fiber             28 g
Niacin                        1.102 mg
Pyridoxine                 0.230 mg
Riboflavin                  0.182 mg
Thiamin                     0.198 mg
Vitamin A                   0 IU
Vitamin C                  21 mg
Sodium                     18 mg
Potassium                 1119 mg
Calcium                     383 mg
Copper                      0.383 mg
Iron                          13.97 mg
Magnesium               229 mg
Manganese               28 mg
Phosphorus               78 mg
Zinc                           7.47 mg
 
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
 
HEALTH BENEFITS
 
  • It stimulates the digestive system and in the same way stimulates the appetite.
  • It is also able to counteract excessive stomach acid.
  • Cardamom helps in relieving flatulence and indigestion.
  • Cardamom oils have the ability to stimulate the production of bile and reduction of gastric juices.
  • Cardamom is able to inhibit the development and growth of pathogens including bacteria, fungi and viruses.
  • Cardamom gives instant relief from the headache.
  • The therapeutic properties of cardamom-oil in traditional medicines are for antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and tonic.
  • Cardamom is an ayurvedic medicine, which are used for treating bladder disorders, urinary tract disorders and the kidney. It also treats other complications such as nephritis and cystitis.
  • Cardamom is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
  • Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Copper is required in the production of red blood cells.
  • It is rich in many vital vitamins including riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health.
  • It is also an excellent source of manganese. It is a co-factor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger.
  • Manganese is also an essential mineral for raising bone mineral density. It is especially essential for women during menopause as risk for osteoporosis increases during menopause.
  • Iron is also found in cardamom, which is required for red blood cell formation.
  • Cardamom is widely used as a mouth freshener due to its aromatic flavor. Chew few seeds of cardamom for a brief period to remove foul smell from the mouth.
  • Cardamom is effective in the treatment of colds, bronchitis and coughs.
  • Cardamom is also used in stopping convulsions and hiccups, relieving stomach and intestinal cramping, relieving morning sickness and reducing vomiting and nausea.
  • Cardamom oil is used in ayurveda for the treatment of inflamed nerves, joints and back muscles that are swollen.
  • It is also used to treat mouth and pharynx inflammation.
  • Cardamom improves the blood flow to the heart and organs by improving the blood circulation.
  • Cardamom can be of great benefit as a diuretic. A diuretic is a substance that increases urine production and output from the kidneys in order to rid the body of excess fluids and unwanted toxins
  • Chinese use powdered cardamom sprinkled on cooked cereal to correct celiac disease.

According to ayurdeva, Cardamom is known to be helpful in balancing all three ‘doshas’ in the human body. Hence it is termed as “tridoshic”. A little quantity of cardamom is especially beneficial in balancing “kapha”. It can be used for balancing “vata” and “pitta” also.

SIDE EFFECT 

  • Some individuals are hypersensitive to cardamom due to which they suffer respiratory allergic reactions like shortness of breath, throat or chest tightness, or chest pain.
  • Cardamom allergies also results in irritating rash and hives.
  • One of the side effects of cardamom appears in severe gallstone pain when a person is already suffering from gallstone complications. The pain arises due to the infection and bleeding of gall bladder which is triggered by cardamom.
  • Individuals on following medications should cautiously take cardamom as it is known to interfere with their course of action and thus worsening the existing disorder. 
  1.  Aspirin
  2. Anticoagulants
  3. Anti-platelet drugs
  4. Liver medications
  5. HIV drugs
  6. Antidepressants

BEETROOT – A Nutritious Globe

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Beetroot, it is a firm, clean globe shaped vegetable with no soft wet areas in it. Beetroot is known by its red colour. This red color is because of the betanin pigment found in beet, which is important for cardiovascular health. The characteristic feature of this vegetable is its dark purple skin and a distinctive purple flesh. This betanin pigment is also known as a prominentanthocyanin antioxidant.

Beetroot is commonly known as Chukandar in Hindi language in India. Its botanical name is Beta vulgaris. It is also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet or informally as beet.

Beetroot grows along the coasts from Britain to India. The most commonly encountered varieties are in North America, Central America and Britain.

Beetroot is also available in white and orange concentric circles. All parts of the beetroot can be eaten and the green tops and stems make a delicious simple salad or side dish. Be careful when peel beetroot as most of the nutrients are found just under the skin, so peel it thinly. It is a relative of turnip.

The Roman gourmand used beetroot in broths and in salads with a dressing of mustard oil and vinegar, and this is a tasty way of serving either the tops or the root. Other Roman recipes include cooking the tops with honey and wine.

NUTRITIONAL IMPORTANCE

  • A calorie content of beetroot is for one 2″ (5cm) beetroot contains 35 calories or can say there are only 36 calories per 100g of beetroot, so it a great choice for food containing high fibre and low calories.
  • Beets are rich in vitamins A in the form of beta carotene, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), Pyridoxine (B6) and ascorbic acid (vit C).
  • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture beetroot is also an excellent source of minerals. Minerals present in rich amount are calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium, whereas the minerals presents in small amount are copper, iron, manganese and selenium
  • The greens of beetroot have a higher content of iron compared to spinach.
  • Beets are also a terrific source of choline, folic acid, iodine, manganese, zinc, organic sodium, potassium, fiber and carbohydrates in the form of natural easily digestible sugars.
  • Beetroot is also rich in fibers; just 1 cup of beetroot contains 3.4 g of fiber. Consume fiber with a meal can reduce appetite and the amount of food consume in one sitting. The USDA recommends that with every 1,000 calories intake 14 g of fiber can consume.

HEALTH BENEFITS 

  • It is a good source of iron. Since, it regenerates and reactivates the red blood cells. It is extremely useful in the treatment of anemia.
  • Beets are termed as ‘body fuel’ as serve as a source of instant energy to the body. So from the study it is proved that drinking beet juice may boost exercise stamina up to 16% longer.
  • Beetroot juice improves the quality of the blood, and cleans the stomach and intestines, as well as improving the absorption of calcium as it contains silica.
  • Nitrates are a chemical that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. The research shows that the inorganic nitrate content in beetroot is changed into the gas nitric oxide when eaten. This gas keeps the blood vessels open and relaxed and keeps blood pressure down.
  • The potassium in beetroot also helps control blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.
  • Being a high-fiber food, beetroots help in increasing the production of special immune cells, which destroy cancerous cells in the colon and promotes healthy bowels.
  • According to the USDA, its fiber is also helpful in lowering the risk of developing obesity, heart problems and diabetes.
  • Beetroot is rich in compound called betaine, which is highly effective in decreasing inflammation in joints, bones, throat and blood vessels. As a result, consumption of beetroot alleviates symptoms of osteoporosis and asthma.
  • Beets contain good amount of antioxidants which induce the liver to produce other antioxidants. When produced, they prevent oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
  • Beets are known to increase the level of HDL and reduce the level of LDL cholesterol up to 30%. The betaine compound of beet also helps in reducing cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Apart from this beets have zero trans and saturated fats so it prevents atherosclerosis and other heart diseases.
  • As we see earlier, folate a type vitamin B is also found in beets, it is excellent for the growth of natural tissues especially in children and pregnant women.
  • It reduces toxicity in the system, cleanses the liver, gall bladder and kidneys so it can say beetroot is a cleansing agent.
  • Beetroot is also able in treating cancer. The purple pigment in beetroot increases cell activity levels and aids in cell growth. This works of beets against any degenerative disease like cancer or the Alzheimer’s brings back to normal by controlling the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells
  • Beet juice is beneficial in the treatment of hepatitis, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dysentery. (To increase the medicinal value, you can add teaspoonful of lime juice to this juice. Fresh beet juice mixed with a tablespoonful of honey taken every morning in an empty stomach helps the healing of gastric ulcer. The juice should be taken once daily).
  • As we know beets are good source of fibers, this ease the passage of stool and prevents habitual constipation and haemorrhoids. i.e. piles.
  • The beet root is boiled in water and this water is excellent for boils, skin inflammation and pimples. (In case of measles, eruptive fevers, irritable skin, take the juice of three parts of white beet water to one part of white vinegar and sponge the body occasionally.)
  •  Beetroot juice mixed with small amount of vinegar and applies it externally to cleanse scurf or dandruff from the head. For dandruff, the beet water should also be massaged into the scalp every night.
  • Beetroot is alkaline in nature so it is very helpful in combating acidosis.

OTHER USES

Betanin, obtained from the roots of beet, is used industrially as red food colorants, e.g. to improve the color and flavor of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, and ice cream.The deep crimson color of beet is used as a natural dye for clothes.

PRECAUTIONS 

  • Beetroot juice needs to be consumed by combining it with other vegetables or fruits.
  • If you have kidney stones then shouldn’t eat beetroots as they contain high levels of oxalate.
  • Eating red beetroots can cause a condition called beeturia, red urine or feces.
  • Eating too many beets will also increase intake of fiber. Too much fiber can cause bloating, gas or diarrhea.
  • Beets also contain nearly 14 g of sugar in each cup. If you need to monitor your blood sugar levels, this may be a cause for concern.

JAMUN-The Indian Blackberries

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Jamun, the look-alike of black grapes are also known as Indian Blackberry, Java plum and Jambolan Plum.

Jamun is an evergreen beautiful tropical tree, native to India, Pakistan and Indonesia. The botanical name is Syzgium cumini.

The tree grows fast and reaches heights of up to 30m and can survive for more than 100 years. Leaves of this tree are smooth, glossy, oblong and placed opposite to one another having a turpentine smell. Its wood is strong and water resistant. Because of this, it is used in railway sleepers and to install motors in wells.

The trees start flowering from March to April. The flowers are greenish-white in color, small and fragrant. The fruits are oblong and are ripe in the month of June. It turns from green, to pink to shining crimson black as it ripens. White colored Jamun variety is also produced.

There are two types of jamun- the white fleshed jamun has good amounts of pectin and can be used to make jelly, the purple fleshed jamun more commonly found, also makes good jelly but does not have good amounts of Pectin.

Another common variety is seedless. The fruit is acidic and astringent in nature, with a sweet taste. Due to its acidic nature, it is usually eaten with a sprinkling of salt.

CULTURAL IMPORTANCE

  • Hindus regard jambul as a ‘fruit of the gods, because Shri Ram (lord Rama) subsisted on the fruit in the forest for 14 years during his exile from Ayodhya.
  • In Hindu mythology several protagonists have been described as having the color of jambul because Lord Krishna has been described as having skin the color of Jamun.
  •  In Maharashtra, jamun leaves are used in marriage pandal decorations and the seeds are used in herbal tea for diabetics.
  • In Telugu(native language of Andhra Pradesh,India), this tree is called Neredu. Wood from Neredu tree is used to make bullock cart wheels and other agricultural equipment. Culturally, beautiful eyes are compared to this fruit.
  • In  Malayalam(native language of kerala,India) the jambul tree is called njaval and its fruit are njavalpazham. The fruit is particularly plentiful in Kollam.
  • In Kannada(native language of Karnataka,India) the jambul tree is called Nerale mara and its fruit are Nerale Hannu.

NUTRITONAL IMPORTANCE

  • The Indian blackberry provides lower calories as compared to other fruit; a medium sized jamun gives about 3 to 4 calories.
  • The fruit is rich in carbohydrates and proteins.
  • Glucose and fructose are the principal sugars present in the ripe fruit, with no trace of sucrose.
  • It is a fairly good source of iron as it provides about 1-2 mg per 100 grams.
  • It is an excellent source of vitamin C; this black plum provides 18 milligrams of vitamin C per hundred grams. (The daily adult requirement of this vitamin is 40 mg).
  • Calcium is found in trace amount.
  • Jamun is a rich source of folate.
  • Vitamin B, magnesium, potassium, fiber, carotene and phytochemicals (anti-oxidants) are also available in large amount.
  • The stem & bark contains tannin, gallic acid, resin, phytosterols.
  • Research confirms that polyphenolic compounds have far-reaching health benefits including prevention of several chronic diseases like cancer, heart ailments, diabetes, ageing and arthritis.
  • The seed contains the glycoside, jamboline, gallic acid and essential oils.
  • The leaves contain essential oils.
  • The flower contains terpenoids.
Java Plum, raw - Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz) 
Energy                            251 kJ (60 kcal)
Carbohydrates                     15.56 g
Fat                               0.23 g
Protein                           0.72 g
Water                             83.13 g
Vitamin A                         3 IU
Thiamine (vit. B1)                0.006 mg (1%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2)              0.012 mg (1%)
Niacin (vit. B3)                  0.260 mg (2%)
Pantothenic acid (B5)             0.160 mg (3%)
Vitamin B6                        0.038 mg (3%)
Vitamin C                         14.3 mg (17%)
Calcium                           19 mg (2%)
Iron                              0.19 mg (1%)
Magnesium                         15 mg (4%)
Phosphorus                        17 mg (2%)
Potassium                         79 mg (2%)
Sodium                            14 mg (1%)
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • The fruit is used as an effective medicine for diabetes.
  • Not only fruits but extract of the leaves, the seeds and the bark of the jamun plant have been found to cause a noticeable decrease in blood sugar and glycouria or sugar in the urine.
  • Several studies prove that the jamun are rich in alkaloids which have hypoglycaemic effects it can bring upto 30 percent reduction in blood sugar.
  • Jamun play an important role in prevention of liver damage (necrosis and fibrosis). It plays a protective role in liver disease.
  • Studies show that jamun fruit extract has anti-cancer properties because of the presence of several bioactive phytochemicals including polyphenols which include anthocyanin (the purple pigment).
  • Some studies also show that consumption of jamun may also provide benefits during chemotherapy and radiation.
  • The jamun has blood purifying properties.
  • The leaves of the jamun tree have anti bacterial properties and are used for making medicines that help strengthen teeth and gums and bark are used for gingivitis.
  • The bark and leaves are used to control high blood pressure.
  • The bark of this tree is useful in de-worming; treating urinary disorders, and is used to formulate many herbal medicines.
  • This fruit is important in ayurvedic, unani and chinese medicine for alleviates kapha, pitta and indigestion.
  • Jamun juice acts as a dieretic and gives a soothing effect on human digestive system. (People in the countryside use 10 to 20 ml juice of jamun leaves to control nausea and vomiting caused by indigestion and gastritis.
  • It is used in diarrhea, dysentery and dyspepsia and also in conditions where the patient passes blood-mixed stool.
  • It is used for ringworm treatment, water diluted juice is used as lotion.
  •  A decoction of bark is used in cases of asthma and bronchitis and are gargled or used as mouthwash for the astringent effect on mouth ulcerations.
  • Its bark is used in ulcerative colitis spongy gums, and stomatitis because of astringent properties.
  • Jamun has properties which prevent excessive urination or sweating.
  •  It is also a thirst-retardant and blood-purifier.
  •  Its astringent property is really good for oily skin.
  • The mask has a great help in cleaning pores of skin and for acne too. (squash some jamun in a container and add a little of lemon juice and apply a thick layer on your face).
  • For dry to normal skin, add honey in the mask and apply on the face.
  • Other uses: The fruits of jamun are used to prepare vinegar which is very good carminative.
  • The ripe berry is also used to make wine.

MUST TO KNOW

  • Overeating of ripe jamun can cause hyperacidity and retention of gas in the abdomen. (To counter these conditions half teaspoonful of the roasted jeera powder and a pinch of black salt should be taken with warm water).
  • Eat jamun after meals.
  • Buying jamun from roadsides may be risky as the fruit may be contaminated by lead and heavy metals from exhaust fumes.
  • In case of those having swelling on the body, women who have just delivered and those who suffer constant vomiting do not consume it.
  • Always sprinkle rock salt before consuming jamun.
  • If you feel uneasy after eating jamun, drink buttermilk to which some salt has been added or eat dried ginger or amla.
  • Do not drink milk after eating jamun

Thus we can say that not just the fruit but the entire tree is beneficial to our health. Pick the largest size of the fruit. They are best in quality and sweetest.

Figs-”each man under his own vine and fig tree”

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Figs, commonly known as Anjeer in Hindi are a seasonal fruits that are found in the southwest Asia and the Mediterranean region (from Afghanistan to Portugal). Hence fig growing widely spread to other countries like the Germany, Canary Islands, England, China, Japan, South Africa, India and Australia. The Indian fig tree, Ficus bengalensis, is the National Tree of India.

Figs are part of a large family of tropical, subtropical, deciduous, and evergreen, vines and trees that belong to the mulberry family, specifically the Moraceae family. The most well known fig is the Ficus carica. This is a deciduous tree, having lined with numerous unisexual flowers. They need at least eight hours of sun a day and regular watering during the growing season. Edible fig trees produce about two crops a year. The fig tree can live as long as 100 years and grow to 100 feet tall.

Figs are not just an ugly fruit that fills a soft mass produced cookie but even it has a unique taste and texture. They are lusciously sweet with a texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds.

dried figs saydiet

California figs are available from June through September and some European varieties are available through autumn. Although dried figs are available throughout the year in local markets.

Figs have several spiritual significance:

  • The most important species of fig with spiritual importance is Sacred Fig tree (Pipal, Bodhi) and the Banyan. The oldest living plant known as the Sri Maha Bodhi planted in the temple at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka by King Tissa in 288 BC.
  •  The common fig is one of the two sacred trees of Islam, and there is a sura in Quran named “The Fig” or At-Tin (سوره تین).
  • The Buddha is traditionally held to have found enlightenment while meditating under a Sacred Fig.
  •  The same species was Ashvattha, the “world tree” of Hinduism.
  • The Common Fig tree is cited in the Bible, the fig tree was sacred in ancient Cyprus where it was a symbol of fertility.
  • There are several references in the Bible to figs being used to treat infections.
  • The biblical quote “each man under his own vine and fig tree

NUTRITIONAL IMPORTANCEfig

  • One serving of dried figs is about 4 dried figs contain almost 70 calories.
  • One serving of dried figs contains 13g of sugar.
  • When dried, figs have their own benefits they have a high fiber, vitamin, and mineral content.
  • Figs are one of the richest sources of calcium.
  •  According to USDA data for the Mission variety, dried figs are richest in fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs.
  • Figs contain many antioxidants and are good source of flavonoids and polyphenols including gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, syringic acid, epicatechin and rutin.
  •  In one study, a 40-gram portion of dried figs (two medium size figs) produced a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity.
  • Figs are good source of vitamin A, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2

    Anjeer Burfi

    Figs as sweets

HEALTH BENEFITS
    • Figs are actually highly alkaline and contain a powerful healing agent. The alkalizing properties of the fig make it an anticancer.
    • Fig juice is a cancer preventive can be drunk daily.
    • Fiber content in figs give protection against breast cancer.
    • The fig fruit contains a fairly potent bactericide; it reduces body heat, and helps to ease inflammation.
    • Figs soothe mucous membranes, particularly in the respiratory system. The stem of the fresh fig fruit is antifungal, and can be used to treat warts.
    • Fresh figs can soothe respiratory ailments by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent
    • Figs also contain ficin, which aids in digestion .Digestive troubles can be eased by eating fresh figs after light meals or just prior to heavy meals. “This tip is especially for people who can’t tolerate milk. (Soak 2 figs in water overnight. Drink up the water in the morning and chew the figs well. This will ensure proper digestion and also helps people who have problems digesting milk).”
    •  It helps in healthy bowel function and prevents constipation.
    • Ayurveda prevents and provides relief for piles, hemorrhoids and protrusion by facilitating regular, easy evacuation of the bowels with the help of figs. (Soak overnight in water then drink and consume figs in the morning).
    • Roasted figs are helpful in treating painful boils and ulcers in the mouth.
    • Figs can be used to make an excellent remedy for sore throats
    • Figs contain Pectin, a soluble fiber. When fiber goes through the digestive system, it mops up globes of cholesterol and carries them out of body and reduces cholesterol level.
    • Dried figs contain phenol, Omega-3 and Omega-6. These fatty acids reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
    • Figs are high in potassium but low in sodium. So, it helps to avoid hypertension.
    • Weight loss, the fiber in figs also helps to reduce weight and is recommended for obese people.
    • Figs also result in weight gain, especially when consumed with milk .
    • Calcium helps to strengthen bones and increases bone density
    • Figs contain iron; they are useful in treating anaemia.
    • When fig is taken with milk, it can bring about improvement in anemic condition
    • Eating of figs regularly can provide relief from fatigue and sleep disorders
    • Eating figs can boost brain power and improvement in memory.Roasted_white_figs_with_almond_icecream
    • Vision loss in older people is due to macular degeneration. Figs generally are good for avoiding this condition.
    • Other than fruits its leaves are also beneficial, The American Diabetes Association recommends figs for a high fiber treat. Fig leaves reduce the amount of insulin needed by diabetic patients who have to take insulin injection. Fig is rich in Potassium. Potassium helps to control blood sugar. Fig leaves have anti-diabetic properties
    • Figs are known since ages for reducing sexual weakness. Soak 2-3 figs in milk overnight and eat them in the morning to enhance your sexual power. It also helps in gaining weight.
    • People having high salt diet may be affected by increased urinary calcium loss. Potassium content in figs helps to avoid that.
    • Dry figs help clear mucus from bronchial tubes and are therefore a valuable food remedy for asthma and also in phlegmatic cases.
    • This is useful for treating acne and pimples. (Mash about fresh figs and apply them on face for 10-15 mins)
NOT TO DO
  • People with diabetes should avoid eating dried figs, which is not good for diabetic people but can go with its leaves which are very helpful for sugar control.
  • It should not be taken with milk if the patient has diarrhea.
  • Fig leaves and un-ripened fruit produce white latex which can penetrate the skin causing burning discomfort.
  • Eating fig fruit may also elicit allergic reactions ranging from vomiting, diarrhea, and itching of skin and mucus membranes in some sensitized in some individuals.
  • Taking too much fig can cause diarrhea. D
  • Dried figs are high in sugar and might cause tooth decay.

Figs are used in making jam, cakes, and many other sweets. It is a rich source of energy and all the other micro nutrients are found in sufficient amount as required by human body. It is useful for treating several diseases. But excess of everything is harmful so have it in under limit.

There is also an old phrase in Telugu which says ‘Medi pandu chuda melimayyi undunu, potta vippi chuda purugulundunu’, It means - ‘The fig fruit looks harmless but once you open you find tiny insects in there‘. The phrase is synonymous to an English phrase – ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’.

LITCHI – Nutritive Analysis

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Litchi, a delicious and juicy fruit arrives in summer. Its botanical name is Litchi chinensis and it belongs to the family of Sapindaceae.Image

The native place of litchi is in sub-tropical regions of Southern China, fruit is considered the symbol of love and romance in China and also available in nearby areas like southern Taiwan, northern Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Queensland, Madagascar, Brazil, South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma and Australia.

ImageIn India, the prime producing area of litchi is the Muzaffarpur in Bihar having various varieties of Litchi. Bihar is the leading state in litchi production, followed by West Bengal, and Assam.

Litchis are commonly sold fresh in Asian markets, and in recent years, also widely in supermarkets worldwide. The red rind turns dark brown when the fruit is refrigerated, but the taste is not affected. It is also sold canned year-round. The fruit can be dried with the rind intact, at which point the flesh shrinks and darkens. Dried litchis are often called litchi nuts, though, of course, they are not a real nut. Litchis are also used in making juices and various other dishes.

The demand for the litchi fruit is high, but supply is very limited due to its highly perishable nature. This becomes a bottleneck in litchi trade. Now, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has developed a technology which considerably increases the shelf life of litchi, for upto a month or more.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:
Lychee fruit (Litchi chinensis), Fresh,
Nutritive value per 100 g,
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

Principle

Nutrient Value

Percentage of RDA

Energy 66 kcal 3.3%
Carbohydrates 16.53 g 12.7%
Protein 0.83 g 1.5%
Total Fat 0.44 g 2%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 1.3 g 3.5%
Folates 14 µg 3.5%
Niacin 0.603 mg 3.5%
Choline 7.1 mg 1%
Pyridoxine 0.100 mg 9%
Riboflavin 0.065 mg 5%
Thiamin 0.011 mg 1%
Vitamin C 71.5 mg 119%
Vitamin E 0.07 mg 0.5%
Vitamin K 0.4 µg 0.3%

Electrolytes

Sodium 1 mg 0%
Potassium 171 mg 3.5%
Calcium 5 mg 0.5%
Copper 0.148 mg 16%
Iron 0.31 mg 4%
Magnesium 10 mg 2.5%
Manganese 0.055 mg 2.5%
Phosphorus 31 mg 4.5%
Selenium 0.6 µg 1%
Zinc 0.07 mg 0.5%

HEALTH BENEFITS:

  • The fruit is low in calories and rich in dietary fibers, so it is very good choice for weight conscious individuals.Image
  • Research studies suggest that oligonol , a low molecular weight polyphenol found abundantly in litchi fruit. Oligonol has been found to have several anti-oxidant, anti-influenza virus actions.
  • In addition, it helps improve blood flow in organs, reduce weight, and protect skin from harmful UV rays.
  • Litchis enhance the energy of the body.
  • This fruit boosts the feeling of well-being of a person.
  • Litchi is also rich in beta carotene which is more than the amount of beta carotene present in carrots.
  • Litchi, like citrus fruits, is an excellent source of vitamin C; 100 g fresh fruits provide 71.5 mg or 119% of daily-recommended value. Studies suggest that consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
  • Vitamin C is also essential to the production of collagen, a well-functioning immune system and healthy teeth and bones.
  • It is an antioxidant, helping rid the body of free radicals that contribute to disease and aging.
  • Litchi also contains a very good amount of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, potassium and copper.
  • Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids help control heart rate and blood pressure; thus offers protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases.
  • In 1 cup of fresh litchi, or 1 oz. of dried, you get about 300 mg of potassium, more than in a small orange. Potassium is an essential mineral that helps regulate heart rhythms. It is also an electrolyte which helps muscle contraction and fluid balance.
  • Copper is required in the production of red blood cells.
  • Litchi is also a source of magnesium and phosphorus, to support strong bones.
  • Fresh litchi is also a source of B vitamins, specifically riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 and folate. These vitamins are important to red blood cell health and metabolic processes.
  • Litchi consists of unsaturated fatty acids that aid in the absorbing beta carotene and various other fat soluble vitamins.
  • It aids in preventing blood clots, serious damage to the cells and also minimizes strokes to 50% in heart attack patients.
  • The litchi is said to relieve coughing.
  • It has beneficial effect on gastralgia, tumors and enlargements of the glands.
  • Litchi contains 66% glucose,5% sucrose,total sugar content  is more than 70%, ranks first in a variety of fruit,has effect on supply energy, add nutrition.
  • As the researches show, litchi has effect on brain tissue, obviously improve agrypnia, amnesia,tired.
  • The flesh of lychee helps overcome stomach upsets and stomach ulcers
  • Litchi tonifying spleen, can calm the adverse-rising energy, it is the dietary supplements for intractable hiccups and diarrhea.
  • Litchi has effect on tonifying kidney and strong sperm, improving liver function, accelerating the toxin exclusion, keep your skin soft. Suitable for dry skin.
  • Other than medicinal use, Chinese people enjoy using the dried flesh in their tea as a sweetener in place of sugar
  • The juice also contains bioflavonoids, including red anthocynanin and ellagic acids, substances that may help prevent some cancers
  • It is an ideal juice for weak vision and blood-shot eyes when taken internally.

SIDE EFFECTS

  • According to Chinese doctors, over-consumption may cause hypoglycemia leading to fever, seizure and unconsciousness.Image
  • Western doctors believe that litchis can only be dangerous in excess if the subject is allergic to litchis, which may cause fall in blood pressure, gastrointestinal upset, respiratory distress, skin edema, dizziness and unconsciousness.
  • Both Eastern and Western medical professionals agree that diabetics are at an increased risk when over-eating litchis due to their high sugar levels, and should avoid eating more than six or seven litchis at a time.
  • Litchis are considered a “hot” food in Chinese culture. Eating too many “hot” foods is said to throw off the balance of the human body, belief that too many can cause bloody nose, sore throat and sores in the mouth.

ASAFOETIDA

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Asafoetida, one of the most important spices and commonly used in our Indian kitchen. It is not only a part of spices but it has a big range of medicinal uses.

Asafoetida also called as Hing in Hindi, and its botanical name is Ferula asafoetida. The herb originated in eastern Iran and western Afghanistan. It is chiefly cultivated in Afghanistan, Iran, and high-altitude areas of India and Pakistan. Asafoetida was already in use in Europe by the soldiers of Alexander the Great. It was also used in ancient Greek and Roman cuisines. In central Asia and India, the herb has remained in important culinary spice and also herbal medicine. It is sometimes used in Persian and Afghani cooking and especially popular in India.

In India, its natural habitat lies in the North but it is more frequently used in south

Indian dishes, because it is canonical for the preparation of pickles and legumes(any beans, lentils, peas), commonly known as Dal in India. Dal is a chief element of the Indian diet; it is one of the few protein sources for vegetarians. It is rich in indigestible oligosaccharides. Asafoetida and cumin are commonly used to make dal less cumbersome and more tasty.

Asafoetida is a resinous gum that is extracted from the root and stem of genus ferula. This dried, grayish-white gum is then scraped off which turns reddish and finally reddish-brown as it ages.

Usage of Asafoetida:

  • It is use in powdered form, because of its pungent smell it is used in very small amout.
  • It is absolutely necessary to fry in hot oil.
  • A pinch sized amount is considered sufficient to flavor the food.
  • Lastly, powdered asafetida loses its aroma after some years, but the resin seems to be imperishable.

BENEFITS:

  • Hingwastaka is a well-known traditional formula of Ayurveda, named for asafoetida, it is digestion promoting herbs, a pinch of asafoetida with a glass of buttermilk helps reduce indigestion.
  • For digestive complaints, it is relied upon to improve the “digestive fire” and thereby speed the digestion of food, alleviating problems of heaviness, fullness, bloating, or gas after eating
  • It is rich in healthful sulfur compounds.
  • Asafoetida helps prevent the formation of excess phlegm and ama.
  • Asafoetida or Hing is known to possess anti flatulent, antiepileptic, antimicrobial, anti inflammatory, antispasmodic, anthelminthic, laxative, nerveous stimulant and expectorant properties. It is also known to ease anxiety due to its sedative qualities
  • It works as a local stimulant of mucous membranes
  • In the alimentary tract, asafoetida benefits in the natural treatment of colic.
  • Besides, its anticoagulant quality helps lower blood pressure.
  • It is considered favorable in getting rid of women’s health issues like leucorrhoea, painful and excessive menstruation, etc.
  • This culinary herb helps also fight against candida infection.
  • The antimicrobial properties of asafoetida help in dealing with respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis, asthma, swine flu and whooping cough.
  • In addition, coumarins and sulfur compounds present in this herb aid in blood thinning and prevent blood clotting
  • Asafoetida is also used to alleviate toothache (mix pure asafoetida powder and salt, place this mixed powder on the aching tooth).
  • Asafoetida is also used by Homeopathy doctors to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrom.
  •  Asafoetida has been traditionally used in treatment physical and emotional symptoms related to mood swings and depression. Pungent sulphurous smell of Asafoetida is believed to calm hysteria and Epilepsy.
  • Asafetida tincture is used to treat colic in children,Flatulency Dosage: Up side down the bottle, rub the solution around the abdomen, palms or child's feet 2 - 3 times a day. according to research reported in “Pediatrics”, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In the United States, the use of asafetida tincture as a remedy for colic is widely reported in urban, black communities, according to this report.
  • Paste of asafoetoda is used for forehead to heal tension and migraine headaches.
  • Applying this herb directly on skin serves as one of the easiest possible asafoetida home remedies for corns and calluses.
  • Apart from these medicinal uses, asafetida is used in pickles to aid in digestion.
  • The entire plant can also be used as a vegetable. The leaves are cooked by local natives as greens.
  • Moreover, it is a crucial ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.
  • In Chinese medicine it is considered alterative, anthelmintic, antispasmodic, antiperiodic, carminative, cordial, deobstruent, deodorant, digestive, expectorant, laxative, sedative, stomachic, and vermifuge. It has been used for cough, gas, hysteria, neurasthenia, indigestion, flatulence, colic, constipation, intestinal worms, dysentary, whooping cough, bronchitis, convulsive illnesses and externally for painful joints.

ADVERSE EFFECT

  • In excess asafoetida can develop unusual swelling within the lips as a side effect.
  • Treatment with asafoetida can result in upset stomach include diarrhea or intestinal gas in certain patients. Frequent loose or watery bowel movements can be uncomfortable and may occur in conjunction with abdominal cramping or bloating. Certain patients also develop a burning sensation within the stomach after taking a dose of asafoetida.
  • Skin rash can be uncomfortable and include redness or itching
  • Those who takes high doses of asafoetida can experience headache or dizziness
  • Asafoetida can cause nausea and vomiting in some individuals.
  • In addition, excessive intake of this herb can give rise to throat irritation, burping, swollen lips, stomach gas and diarrhea.
  • It may also have adverse effects on individuals suffering from some central nervous system condition.
  • It is better to avoid intake of asafoetida when taking blood pressure control medications.
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