Thursday, May 29, 2014

Health Benefits of Wakame

Some of the health benefits of wakame include its ability to aid in weight loss, lower cholesterol, boost heart health, prevent cancer, boost energy levels, maintains hormonal balance, build strong bones, increase circulation, improve skin health, and protects infant health.

Introduction to Wakame

Wakame is a variety of seaweed that is commonly used in Japanese cuisine. Its scientific name is Undaria pinnatifida and although it is considered one of the most invasive species of seaweed on the planet, it is healthy and beneficial when added to any diet. In Japan, wakame is commonly used in soups and salads, as well as in the form of a side dish, like tofu. The taste is briny and salty, with a slightly sweet taste mixed in that flavors other foods in such a delightful way. Japanese sea farmers have grown this seaweed for hundreds of years, and it is beginning to gain popularity in other parts of the world as well, particularly in France.

However, the best thing about wakame, besides its taste and versatility, is the enormous amount of health benefits that it contains. Most of these health benefits come from the rich supply of vitamins and minerals contained in these delicate green leaves, as well as certain organic compounds that have only recently begun to be studied.

Nutritional Facts of Wakame

Wakame is a very important source of vitamins and minerals, including iodine, calcium, iron, and magnesium, as well as folate, vitamin A, C, D, E, K, and B2. Wakame also contains lignans and fucoxanthin, which have their own unique health benefits. Let’s take a closer look at some of these health benefits.

Health Benefits of Wakame

Weight Control: The extremely small amount of calories, carbohydrates, and fats in wakame are one reason why it fills you up without adding too many calories to your diet, but that isn’t the only reason why people turn to wakame to control their obesity. Researchers have discovered a compound called fucoxanthin in wakame that actually inhibits the accumulation of fat in the cells and stimulates fat oxidation. This unique compound, rarely found in vegetables, is the reason that wakame has its unusual brown color, because it also helps in photosynthesis.

Cholesterol and Heart Health: Along with its inhibitory affects on fat accumulation, fucoxanthin also stimulates the liver to increase its production of DHA, which is a particularly kind of fatty acid that actually lowers the levels of “bad” cholesterol in your system. This is the type of cholesterol commonly associated with atherosclerosis and artery blockage, so you are able to protect yourself from various heart diseases, as well as heart attacks and strokes by adding this brittle, salty seaweed to your soups and salads!

Circulation: The high content of iron in wakame means that it increases your production of red blood cells. Iron is an essential part of red blood cells, and higher levels means increased circulation in your cardiovascular system, which provides additional oxygen to essential parts of the body, boosts energy, increases the health of your skin, and speeds up the healing process of all the tissues and organs in your body!

Cancer Prevention: Although it might seem like an insignificant addition to your diet, wakame can actually help to protect your body from developing cancer. Iodine, which is an essential part of any diet, is very high in all seaweeds, particularly wakame. Iodine has been connected to lower levels of breast cancer, evidenced by the notable increase in Japanese men and women who turn to a more Western diet. Furthermore, the lignans found in wakame have also been linked to lower levels of breast cancer!

Energy Booster: Magnesium is an extremely versatile and useful mineral in our body. The high levels in wakame mean that this variety of seaweed can help our body transfer energy efficiently, regulate hormones throughout the body, and help our body produce and utilize protein, which is essential for almost every bodily function related to growth or repair.

Infant Health: Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, is extremely vital for pregnant women, as it has been consistently connected with lowered chances of neural tube defects in infants. Wakame contains significant amounts of folate, so pregnant women should add some Japanese dishes to their pregnancy diet!

Bone Health: Calcium is one of the most important minerals when it comes to protecting the integrity and durability of our bones. The high levels of calcium found in wakame help your body increase bone growth and speeds up repair, thereby preventing early onset osteoporosis and keeping you fit and active well into your old age!

Hormonal Balance: Iodine is the most important component of the hormonal balance in our body. It is an integral aspect of creating the thyroid hormone, which controls a number of processes throughout the body, and it is also necessary for the production of energy in the body. High levels of iodine in wakame have been praised around the world as a healthy, delicious way to keep your energy levels up and your hormones balanced.

A Final Word of Caution: Although the vast majority of the components in wakame are beneficial for your health, it does have a relatively high level of sodium, which isn’t the best choice for people already suffering from obesity or blood pressure problems. Sodium works against potassium to lower blood pressure, so be careful not to overdo it on the wakame in your meals. Other than that, enjoy this delicious Japanese delicacy!

Friday, May 23, 2014

10 Epic Veggie Burgers to Throw on the Grill Now

Veggie burgers are a fun dish to cook and serve in vegan cuisine because there is so much creativity one can put into constructing the perfect burger. Making veggie burger mixes is an easy, try-as-you-go way to add a bunch of good-for-you ingredients, like beans, whole grains and vegetables, in a patty and make it taste like whatever you want. Grilling the patties marries all the flavors and makes an amazing summer lunch. Throw these 10 epic veggie burgers on the grill now.

1. Quinoa Veggie Burger

Quinoa and mushroom lovers must try this patty. Use this recipe as a base and jazz it up with whatever herbs, spices, veggies or toppings you like.

2. The Vegan Eggplant Crunchburger

This vegan, gluten-free burger is decadence on a bun. The recipe author recommends topping them with caramelized onions and a simple spread made with mayo, mustard, and vegan, gluten-free Worcestershire sauce.

3. Quinoa and White Bean Burger

These filling patties are packed with protein and fiber as well as other beneficial nutrients. They’re also packed with flavor; the recipe calls for thyme, garlic, shallots, lemon, red bell pepper, paprika and chipotle chili pepper.

4. Red Lentil Burgers With Kale Pesto

In this recipe, start with red lentils, potatoes, almonds and different seeds. You combine these with a nice blend of spices that includes cumin, paprika, coriander and black pepper. After you grill these patties, add the kale pesto sauce, then it place over some brown rice and you have a fantastic meal.

5. Spicy Cauliflower Potato Burger

Serve these spicy patties with roasted peppers, sliced tomatoes and an either guacamole or a chipotle habanero cashew cream sauce. For the Spicy Chipotle Cream sauce, blend 1/4 cup powdered raw cashews, 1/2+ cup water, 5 to 6 garlic cloves, 1/3 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 2+ teaspoons Chipotle Habanero Hot sauce or to taste.

6. Hearty Lentil and Brown Rice Burger

These hearty, flavorful veggie burgers pair well with BBQ sauce and are made with delicious ingredients like green lentils, brown rice, yellow onion and garlic.

7. White Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers

White bean, sweet potato, onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, chili powder, breadcrumbs and a few other spices blend harmoniously together for these delicious white bean and sweet potato burgers.

8. Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Portobello mushroom burgers are a classic vegan veggie burger choice. These patties have a delicious glaze over top. Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic,  basil, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper, then pour over caps and let marinade for 20 to 30 minutes on the grill.

9. Cajun Burgers

The base of these burgers are made from kasha, or buckwheat, which has a deep, nutty taste. It also has a delicious taste from the spices, like thyme, basil, oregano, paprika, mustard powder and cayenne pepper.

10. Reuben Burger

This delicious veggie burger has a spice rub of several spices like coriander, garlic, onion, caraway, fennel and black pepper.

Friday, May 16, 2014

9 Healthy Predinner Snacks

Dinner's at eight, but you just can't wait...try one of these nine healthy snacks to tide you over.

Cashew-Strawberry Crunch
Think of this as a gourmet cook's PB & J. Spread 1 tablespoon of cashew butter on a slice of Ryvita Fruit Crunch. (Or substitute peanut butter and Triscuits.) Drizzle with ½ tablespoon honey and top with sliced strawberries.

Health bonus: Nut butters are full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

One-Minute Antipasto Plate
Roll a thin slice of prosciutto or ham around a part-skim mozzarella string cheese. Eat with a few olives and grapes, or add roasted bell peppers (from a jar) drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Health bonus: Contains almost a quarter of a woman's 1,000-milligram recommended daily allowance for calcium.

Pineapple and Pistachios
Combine about ¼ cup dried pineapple pieces with about 25 pistachio nuts. (For a treat, use chile-lime pistachio nuts, available at specialty stores.) Other winning dried-fruit-and-nut combos: raisins and peanuts, apricots and almonds, cherries and hazelnuts.

Health bonus: Pineapple and nuts are both good sources of antioxidants.

Cottage Cheese and Apples
Slice an apple, such as Fuji or Granny Smith, and top with ½ cup of low-fat cottage cheese (look for 4-ounce four-packs from Breakstone). Or replace the fresh apple with two drained cinnamon-spiced apple rings, such as Musselman's (which can be found in the canned-fruit aisle).

Health bonus: Provides protein, calcium, and fiber.

Cheese Melt
Spread ½ teaspoon of spicy mustard on a cocktail-size slice of thin whole-grain rye bread. Add a thin square of sharp Cheddar (about the same size as the bread) and broil until the cheese melts, then top with a slice of tomato and a sprinkling of caraway seeds.

Health bonus: Rich in calcium.

Parmesan Pita Crisps
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan evenly over a 4-inch whole-wheat pita. Dust pita with ¼ teaspoon dried oregano and broil until the cheese browns. Cut into quarters.

Health bonus: Good balance of protein, fat, and fiber.

Creamy Feta-Walnut Dip
Place 2 cups plain nonfat yogurt in a sieve lined with a coffee filter. Let stand in the refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight. Discard the liquid and spoon the thickened yogurt into a small bowl. Add ¾ cup (3 ounces) crumbled Feta cheese, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoons finely chopped toasted walnuts, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon hot sauce. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend. Makes 1½ cups.

Pair Feta-Walnut Dip with cherry tomatoes, a whole-wheat pita, or baby carrots.

Health bonus: An easy way to get calcium, protein, and monounsaturated fat.

Grab a handful of frozen shelled soybeans and run them under steaming-hot water for a quick thaw. For a tangy twist, add a spritz of lemon.

Health bonus: Contains 8 grams of fiber and lots of cholesterol-lowering soy protein.

Fresh Vegetables With Dressing
Slice a cucumber into strips and place on a plate with baby carrots or baby corn. Dip in a lower-fat dressing, such as Annie's Naturals Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette or Trader Joe's Carrot-Ginger.

Health bonus: Fiber-rich and very low-calorie.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Pros and Cons of a Juice Cleanse

A million dollar industry in America, it has as many fans as detractors. A juice cleanse or juice fasting involves limiting your diet to fresh vegetable and fruit juices plus water for a few days to a few weeks. Claims range from significant weight loss, clearer skin, bolstered immunity, body detoxification, and cancer prevention. What should you know before undertaking a juice cleanse?

The amount of information and varied opinions on the web is enormous! Elemental Wellness waded through a lot of it to distill this post down to some simple key points.

  1. If you’re cleansing or fasting with juice, you’ll probably lose weight. But you’ll be losing mostly water. A reduction in bloating is well-known benefit of juicing. (see Con #5)
  2. If you undertake a juice cleanse (shorter is preferred, i.e. 4 days or less) and see it through, chances are you’ll feel great at the end of it. You’ll have a real sense of accomplishment, and you’ll look at your regular diet with fresh eyes.
  3. By spending a few days ingesting only fruits and vegetables, you are avoiding highly processed foods that have solid fats and added sugar. If you have a strong habit of making unhealthy food choices, a brief juice cleanse may help you break them.
  4. If you diet rarely includes fruits and vegetable, juicing is an easy way to increase your daily intake. Keep in mind that if you’re really lacking in this department, substituting one glass of juice for a meal each day, will dramatically boost the quality of your diet.
  5. Again, if you’re not a fan of green side of the food pyramid, juicing can help retrain your taste buds to enjoy fruits and vegetables.
  6. Many of us reach for carbs, sweets, chips or alcohol when we’re bored, sad, lonely or anxious. These foods are off-limits on a juice cleanse. So the process of undertaking a whole new diet, briefly, can put you in touch with your body and it’s automatic habits.

  1. You’ll find little to no protein and fat in fresh pressed juice. Some commercial juices contain added nut milk that contributes a small amount of fat and protein and helps with satiety. But your body will suffer from going for more than a few days without sufficient protein — the raw materials to build new tissues. Low-fat diets are notoriously hard on the skin and hair. Don’t forget that fat is also necessary to processes fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).
  2. Common side effects from a juice cleanse include dizziness, blood sugar spikes, headaches, constipation, fatigue, irritability, nausea. The symptoms occur as your body releases glycogen (stores of carbohydrates). Ultimately, many people report feeling “amazing,” which is explained by the body going into ketosis (glycogen stores are used up and the body begins burning fat). Though you may experience a decrease in your appetite (that makes things easier), ketosis can cause nausea and bad breath, and ultimately organ failure.
  3. A juice cleanse is not safe for everybody, especially people undergoing chemotherapy, diabetics, anyone with nutritional deficiencies or kidney disease. Check with your doctor is you have any medical conditions that a cleanse might impact.
  4. Juicing removes some of the fiber and nutrients found in whole fruits and veggies (those in pulp, skin and seeds). Because there is less fiber in juice, more of the fructose is absorbed by the body, so lean toward more vegetables than fruit. Less fiber will also leave you feeling less satisfied. Keep in mind that a juicer removes fiber, but a blender, masticating or triturating juicers help retain more fiber and nutrients.
  5. You’ll lose weight but most will be water weight. People love that they feel less bloated (and they do), but if you’re looking to lose fat and keep it off, a juice cleanse is not the answer. The majority of people put the weight right back on after the cleanse.
  6. Any calorie-restrictive diet will lead to some weight loss. Yet your body will respond to prolonged “starvation” with calorie conservation. This screws with your metabolism, lowering it. If you put your body into starvation mode too often, you risk permanently lowering your metabolism (i.e. metabolic syndrome).
  7. A big claim among juice fasting systems and products is that it will detoxify your body. Many medical experts disagree with the idea that humans need help detoxifying our bodies. The liver, kidneys and intestines are highly evolved bodily systems that rid us of the toxins we ingest or encounter in the environment. We excrete them in our urine, feces, breath, and sweat.
  • A maximum length of three to four days is advised.
  • Health and wellness is a booming industry. Lots of people want to make money from your desire to lose weight and get healthy fast. If you buy a pre-made juice cleanse system make sure it is reputable! Check that the produce is carefully cleaned and the juice is made in small fresh batches to avoid bacterial growth. Pasteurized juices are not advised. Follow a reputable plan if you are making your own at home.
  • If you have any doubts that a juice cleanse is right for your body, please check with your physician.
  • There’s no proof that eating liquefied fruits and veggies offers an advantage offer the same ingredients in their whole state. If you’d like to increase your intake, try swapping fresh juice for your regular breakfast, or as a mid-afternoon snack. Meanwhile, stick to a balanced diet including adequate amounts of fat and protein.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Chia, Hemp, and Flax: Are You Eating These Super Seeds?

The next big thing in nutrition might be these tiny seeds.

Chia, hemp, and flax … it’s been said that these tiny seeds are the next big thing in nutrition. If you’ve ever searched for a healthy smoothie recipe or healthy breakfast recipe, chances are you’ll find at least one of these seeds listed in the ingredients. So, why is there so much hype around these “super seeds” and how do we know which ones to include in our diets?

Seeds have been deemed “nutritional powerhouses” by health experts and for a good reason. It’s no wonder: seeds deliver as much protein as nuts (and in some cases more) and all three of these seeds deliver heart-healthy alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fat, also found in walnuts. All three of these seeds listed below are packed with healthy oils, fiber, disease-fighting minerals and enzymes, antioxidants, and proteins. Each one of these tiny wonders has its own unique nutritional value and can be easily incorporated into just about any recipe without changing its taste or texture.

Here are 3 super food seeds that will add a nutrient-packed punch to your diet:

Chia Seeds

What is it? You may have heard of them first as the seeds that grow toy Chia pets, but chia seeds are actually an ancient super food used by Aztec warriors to increase energy and stamina on the battlefield.

Why is it good for you?
In addition to being an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, and protein, chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Integrative Nutrition visiting teacher Dr. Andrew Weil suggests they may have even more so than flax. Not to mention that this tiny seed may have over three times more calcium than milk! Chia also forms a gel when added to liquid and absorbs ten times its weight in water making it an excellent source of hydration.

Try this Chia Chocolate Tapioca Recipe for a delicious and simple way to enjoy Chia seeds. 

Hemp Seeds

What is it? Hemp seeds come from the same Cannabis species as marijuana, but don’t worry about testing positive for drugs after consuming these seeds—the minuscule amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in hemps seed make them perfectly safe to incorporate in your healthy diet.

Why is it good for you?
Hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids—something uncommon in plant protein sources. This means that hemps seeds are a fantastic protein supplement for people on a plant-based diet. They’re also chock-full of fiber and packed with other nutrients, such as omega-3 and omega-6, vitamin E, B vitamins and folic acid.

Start your morning off right by blending a tablespoon of hemp seeds into your oatmeal or your post-workout smoothie for an extra hit of protein and nutrition.

Flax Seeds

What is it? This seed comes from the flax plant and has been celebrated for centuries for its health benefits by people all over the world.

Why is it good for you? Flax seeds are rich in Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid and powerful anti-inflammatory. Some studies show that due to their anti-inflammatory properties, flax seeds may help to prevent heart disease and reduce certain types of cancers.  They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, lignans, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, among other nutrients. To get the most out of your flax seeds, try grinding them first—this will make them easier for you to digest and absorb all the nutrients.

Just sprinkle ground flax seeds into cereals, baked goods, smoothies, and yogurt for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals.

Which seeds do you add in your diet?

The Complex Nature of Big Organic

A spate of recent acquisitions in the organic sphere brings the resurgence of discussions about the costs and benefits of organic "going big."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Go green for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is less than a week away, which means there are only a few days to buy the “perfect” gift for mom.  According to, $14.6 billion will be spent on Mother’s Day, with the average person spending around $126 on mom for her special day.

While flowers and diamonds are beautiful, and everyone loves a card and a day at the spa, these practices are not sustainable. Cutting flowers, mining diamonds, purchasing cards made of paper resources and wasting water at the spa are all the opposite of living green on Mother’s Day. Mom loves the sentiment of these things, but imagine how much more she would love sustainable gifts which are Mother Nature approved. Pair these gift ideas with a homemade card made with recycled paper and a meal of ethically sourced food for an awesome, green Mother’s Day this year.

Organic Tea, Wine and Chocolate

Moms love tea, wine and chocolate. Why not take the extra step to make these gifts organic and better yet, locally sourced, too? Organic tea is much better for you because it is processed with fewer chemicals, and the tea bags are also free of chemicals. Organic and ethically sourced chocolates and wines are also good for you, and your mom can rest easy knowing that she’s consuming these indulgences that are good for the environment as well as good for her body. If you don’t have a store near you where you can go purchase these items in person, try some great companies that ship from the web. For organic, fair trade tea, click here. For wine, click here. For delicious chocolates, click here.

Provide a Service

What mother doesn’t need something done for her around the house? Does she need her house cleaned from top to bottom, spring cleaning style? Does she need her yard cleaned up to get ready for the summer? Providing a service uses almost no resources, and if you do it yourself, you can make sure to do it in an eco-friendly way. For cleaning, use green cleaning products with no chemicals. You can find them in stores or make your own. For yard work, use chemical-free weed killers and fertilizers and plant an extra tree or bush.

Plan an Eco-Friendly Spa Day

Many spas and salons offer eco-friendly spa services. It might take a little extra work, but call around to salons and spas near you to see if you can find one that provides these services at reasonable prices. If you can’t find one near you, try buying your mom some eco-friendly spa products she can use at home. An added benefit to this is that it isn’t a one-time spay day; she can use the products you buy her whenever she needs a little bit of relaxation.

Plant Flowers Instead of Picking Them

I love the idea of planting a few rose bushes in lieu of a bouquet of flowers. Roses are easy to plant and hearty flowers that don’t take a whole lot of maintenance. Once they start blooming, it’s easy to pick flowers to make your own bouquet as you prune the bushes. If the mom in your life is an avid gardener, she will love the opportunity to plant more. If she’s not, consider planting the flowers for her. Then, she’s sure to enjoy their blooms all summer long.

Create Recycled Jewelry

If your mom is a lover of all things sparkling and shiny, consider recycling jewelry to create something new for her. Try raiding your own jewelry box or another family members for old pieces that are rarely worn. An experienced jeweler can melt these pieces down and create something entirely new and beautiful. This is also a wonderful thing to do because the piece you end up with will be especially unique for your mom while requiring no new resources to create. If you don’t have jewelry you’re willing to melt down, look for pieces that are made from recycled products. A simple search on Etsy will yeild many beautiful pieces out there made from recycled glass and metals that your mom will love.
[h/t Care 2]

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Egg Replacements

There are plenty of egg substitutes available for baking or preparing a dish that calls for eggs. Ener-G Egg Replacer is a reliable egg substitute for use in baking. It is available at health food stores and most grocery stores.

Tofu: Tofu is great for egg substitutions in recipes that call for a lot of eggs, like quiches or custards. To replace one egg in a recipe, purée 1/4 cup soft tofu. It is important to keep in mind that although tofu doesn’t fluff up like eggs, it does create a texture that is perfect for “eggy” dishes.

Tofu is also a great substitute for eggs in eggless egg salad and breakfast scrambles.

In Desserts and Sweet, Baked Goods: Try substituting one banana or 1/4 cup applesauce for each egg called for in a recipe for sweet, baked desserts. These will add some flavor to the recipe, so make sure bananas or apples are compatible with the other flavors in the dessert.

Other Egg Replacement Options

  • 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. potato starch
  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup canned pumpkin or squash
  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup puréed prunes
  • 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg = 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed simmered in 3 Tbsp. water
  • 1 egg white = 1 Tbsp. plain agar powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water, whipped, chilled, and whipped again
Egg Replacement Tips

  • If a recipe calls for three or more eggs, it is important to choose a replacer that will perform the same function (i.e., binding or leavening).
  • Trying to replicate airy baked goods that call for a lot of eggs, such as angel food cake, can be very difficult. Instead, look for a recipe with a similar taste but fewer eggs, which will be easier to replicate.
  • When adding tofu to a recipe as an egg replacer, be sure to purée it first to avoid chunks in the finished product.
  • Be sure to use plain tofu, not seasoned or baked, as a replacer.
  • Powdered egg replacers cannot be used to create egg recipes such as scrambles or omelets. Tofu is the perfect substitute for eggs in these applications.
  • If you want a lighter texture and you’re using fruit purées as an egg substitute, add an extra 1/2 tsp. baking powder. Fruit purées tend to make the final product denser than the original recipe.
  • If you’re looking for an egg replacer that binds, try adding 2 to 3 Tbsp. of any of the following for each egg: tomato paste, potato starch, arrowroot powder, whole wheat flour, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, instant potato flakes, or 1/4 cup tofu puréed with 1 Tbsp. flour.
[via PETA]

Health Benefits of Cinnamon Oil

Cinnamon is one of the most popular herbs for flavoring and medicinal uses. Although cinnamon oil has numerous health benefits, it often causes irritations and allergic reactions. Therefore people prefer to use cinnamon directly instead of using the oil. This article, therefore, provides the health benefits of cinnamon. The general benefits of cinnamon oil are given below.

Cinnamon, which has the scientific name Cinnamomum zeylanicum, originated in tropical Asia, and was particularly widely used in Sri Lanka and India. Now, the shrub is grown in almost every tropical region of the world. The herb, owing to its vast medicinal uses, has found a prominent position in traditional medicines, especially in Ayurveda, which is the traditional Indian medicinal system. Traditionally, cinnamon has been used in many cultures for treating a variety of health disorders including diarrhea, arthritis, menstrual cramps, heavy menstruation, yeast infections, colds, flu, and digestive problems.

Cinnamon is now being used all over the world for the treatment of a variety of health disorders including respiratory problems, skin infections, blood impurity, menstrual problems, and various heart disorders. The most important part of cinnamon is its bark, which can be used in a variety of ways.

Health Benefits of Cinnamon

The health benefits of cinnamon can be attributed to its antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, astringent and anticlotting properties. Cinnamon is rich in essential minerals such as manganese, iron and calcium, while also having a high content of fiber.

The health benefits of cinnamon include the following:

Brain Function: Cinnamon boosts the activity of the brain and makes it a good brain tonic. It helps to remove nervous tension and memory loss. Research at the Wheeling Jesuit University in the United States has proved that the scent of cinnamon has the ability to boost brain activity. The team of researchers, led by Dr. P. Zoladz, found that people who were given cinnamon improved their scores on cognitive activities such as attention span, virtual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor response speed.

Blood purification: Cinnamon can also help to remove blood impurities. This also makes it a great treatment for pimples.

Blood circulation: Cinnamon helps to improve the circulation of blood due to the presence of a blood thinning compound within cinnamon. This blood circulation helps to significantly reduce pain. Good blood circulation also ensures oxygen supply to the body’s cells, which leads to higher metabolic activity. You can significantly reduce the chance of suffering from a heart attack by regularly consuming cinnamon.

Pain Relief: Cinnamon is also an anti-inflammatory substance, so it helps in removing stiffness of the muscles and joints. Cinnamon is also recommended for arthritis, and it is known to help in removing headaches that are caused by colds.

Diabetes: Cinnamon has the ability to control blood sugar, so diabetics find it very useful because cinnamon aids them in using less insulin. Research has shown that it is particularly helpful for patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes patients are not able to regulate their insulin levels properly. Researchers at the US Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland studied the effect of various food substances that include cinnamon on blood sugar levels. They found that a water-soluble polyphenol compound called MHCP, which is abundant in cinnamon, synergistically acted with insulin and helped in the better utilization of that vital component of human health.

Infections: Due to its anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic properties, it is effective on treating external as well as internal infections. It helps in destroying germs in the gall bladder and the bacteria present in staph infections.

Healing: Cinnamon acts as a coagulant and helps to stop excess bleeding. Therefore, it facilitates the healing process.

Heart diseases: It is believed that the calcium and fiber present in cinnamon provide protection against heart diseases. By including a little cinnamon in your food, you can help prevent coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.

Colon cancer: It can also improves the health of the colon and thereby reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Mouth freshener: Cinnamon is often used in chewing gums, as it is a good mouth freshener and removes bad breath.

Perfumes: It has a refreshing aroma and is extensively used in perfume-making.

Indigestion: Cinnamon is added in many ethnic recipes. Apart from adding flavor to the food, it also aids in digestion. Cinnamon is very effective for indigestion, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea and flatulence. Due to its carminative properties, it is very helpful in eliminating excess gas from the stomach and intestines. It also removes acidity, combats diarrhea and reduces the effects of morning sickness. Cinnamon is therefore often referred to as a digestive tonic.

Respiratory problems: Cinnamon helps in relieving the symptoms of colds, influenza, sore throat and congestion.

Menstruation: Cinnamon is effective in providing relief from menstrual discomfort and cramping.

Birth control: Cinnamon also helps in natural birth control. Regular consumption of cinnamon after child birth delays menstruation and thus helps to avoid conception.

Breastfeeding: It is also believed that cinnamon aids in the secretion of healthy breast milk.

Cinnamon is diuretic in nature and helps in the secretion and discharge of urine. It is also commonly used as an aphrodisiac and is believed to arouse sexual desire in men and women.

Benefits of Cinnamon Oil

Cinnamon oil is obtained from the bark and leaves of cinnamon trees. Cinnamon oil does have various applications in aromatherapy; however, it is not as popular as other essential oils such as pine essential oil, basil essential oil, rosemary essential oil and lavender essential oil.

The benefits of cinnamon oil include the following:

Cooking: Some people add cinnamon oil while they are cooking. Cinnamon oil obtained from the leaves contains a compound named cinnamaldehyde, which is an excellent flavoring agent.

Room freshener: The pleasant aroma of cinnamon oil makes it a very effective as a room freshener. It is often added to potpourris.

Eliminating mosquitoes: Cinnamon oil is a great mosquito repellent. Research has now proved that cinnamon oil is very effective in killing mosquito larvae. The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (a renowned scientific journal) has reported on that research, which had been conducted at the National Taiwan University. Apart from the leaves of cinnamon, its bark is also a good source of cinnamaldehyde, which is an active mosquito killing agent. This research has paved the way for finding an environmentally safe solution for solving the global menace and disease-spreading capacity of mosquitoes.

Many companies that produce cinnamon oil claim that it is a good antibacterial and antifungal agent, making it very effective in the treatment of infections. It also helps increase blood circulation and acts as a sexual stimulant. Research has also proven that cinnamon oil obtained from the leaves and twigs of cinnamon can be used for controlling mites that negatively affect honey bees.

Being strong in nature, cinnamon oil should be avoided for internal consumption. Furthermore, it can have adverse effects on the skin if used topically in concentrated form. Therefore, it should be used in diluted form. Before using cinnamon oil, it should be tested to make sure that it suits your skin.  You should apply only a small quantity of cinnamon oil initially and check if you develop any allergic reaction symptoms. Do not apply cinnamon oil on the face and other sensitive areas.

Cinnamon blends well with various essential oils, so it is added to many aromatherapy preparations. It enhances the effectiveness of other herbs and essential oils, thus speeding up the treatment of various herbal remedies. Furthermore, many herbs can have an unpleasant taste. Cinnamon or cinnamon oil is often added to herbal preparations to make them taste better. The oil blends well with other essential oils such as lemon essential oil, rosemary essential oil, geranium essential oil, lavender essential oil and cardamom essential oil.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Eco-Friendly Cinco de Mayo Festivities

Eco-friendly isn’t usually the first word that pops into your mind when you think ‘Cinco De Mayo,’ but it can be this year. With a few simple swaps you could be throwing an incredible eco-friendly Cinco De Mayo celebration. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it will make a big impact.

Potluck, Barbecue or Fiesta?

First, consider throwing a potluck or barbecue. Potlucks are more environmentally friendly as everyone is bringing something they made in a reusable container, therefore creating very little waste. Barbecues are also friendly on the environment for their low use of energy, if the correct fuel is used. Lump charcoal, propane, or an electric or solar grill are all better choices than charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid. Plus, cooking outside rather than in the kitchen helps to prevent your house from heating up and requiring the air conditioner to be run. Or, instead of cooking, bring home entrees for your fiesta from a restaurant. This is easily made eco-friendly if you bring your own containers, or use foil pans that can be recycled after use.

The Food

After deciding what kind of celebration you’ll be having, it’s time to purchase the food. Visit a farmers market first, for locally grown fresh produce and then head to the grocery store. Remember to bring your own bags, and select locally grown and/or organic items whenever possible.

You can also take your celebration one step further, and make it meatless. Whether you have a potluck, barbecue, or traditional fiesta, all can be made environmentally friendly by excluding meat. Meat not only has a much higher carbon footprint than vegetables, but also requires a lot more water to produce. And with so many delicious meat-free alternatives, its absence will hardly be missed. Serve options such as veggie fajitas, grilled veggie burritos, grilled pizza, cold pasta and potato salads, fruit salad, veggie burgers, bean and cheese dip, cheese enchiladas or tamales, nachos, etc.

When it comes to drinking, ask your guests to avoid stuffing anything, like a slice of fruit or used napkin, inside their bottle or can. This makes the bottle or can unable to be recycled, as it requires too much effort to extract whatever has been put inside. Also ask guests to put their recyclables in specially marked trashcans to be recycled later.

Decor and Aupplies

But before that, you’ll need to actually invite your guests. One of the easiest ways to do that, and go green for Cinco De Mayo, is to invite guests via Evite, rather than posting paper invites through the mail.

Purchasing and making eco-friendly party supplies is just as easy. Use real or compostable plates, cups, and utensils instead of plastic ones. Also select cloth table cloths and napkins, or those made of recycled materials.

Rather than purchasing a pinata, why not try making one out of paper bags (which can be recycled when the party is over)? Or make a colorful banner out of felt or cloth to decorate the space with. Also consider decorating with items like maracas and sombreros, or using brightly colored table cloths, cups and plates.

Lastly, encourage your guests to carpool to the celebration and, especially if alcohol is served, to share a cab home. With a few simple swaps, you can have a colorful and delicious eco-friendly Cinco De Mayo celebration this Saturday. Just remember to recycle and pick up any trash left behind. Happy Cinco De Mayo!
[via Examiner]

Thursday, May 1, 2014

5 Powerful Antibiotics That Don't Require a Prescription

Hospital antibiotics have become one of the most over prescribed "medicines" today. As a result people have ruined their digestive systems, and ironically, have lowered their natural immunity to all types of infections in the future. Get rid if infections without the digestive destruction, with these five powerful natural antibiotics.


Garlic has been used medicinally by cultures around the world for thousands of years. In fact, it was used in the 1700s to ward off plague.

Garlic possesses potent antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties and is able to help protect and facilitate removal of unfriendly bacteria. It is also very high in natural antioxidants that destroy free radicals, which also supports a strong immune system.

The active ingredient in garlic, allicin, is the key component to killing and warding off harmful bacteria. Crush it to activate these compounds, and eat it raw, in a warm tea, or in lightly cooked food.

Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver has been known as an effective antibiotic for centuries. In the early 1900s, Alfred Searle, founder of the Searle pharmaceutical company, discovered that it could kill the most deadly pathogens.

Searle stated that applying colloidal silver to human subjects has been done in a large number of cases with astonishing results. The main advantage was that it was rapidly fatal to microbes without toxic action on its host.

Recent research has also stated that colloidal silver can destroy antibiotic resistant microbes like MRSA, the bird flu, and SARS.

Oil of Oregano

Oil of oregano takes care of pathogenic bacteria without disrupting beneficial bacteria. It is also antiviral and antifungal which makes it a powerful three-in-one combination that rivals pharmaceuticals while not encouraging antibiotic resistance.

The key antimicrobial ingredient in oil of oregano is carvacrol. You should ensure that your source is at least 70 percent carvacrol content in order to be effective.


Echinacea has been used to treat a wide variety of infections for hundreds of years. Traditionally, it was used to treat open wounds, diphtheria, blood poisoning, and other bacterial related illnesses.

Today, this potent herb is used mostly for colds and flu, due to its ability to destroy the most dangerous forms of bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus, which causes deadly MRSA.

Manuka Honey

Perhaps the most palatable antibiotic comes in the form of manuka honey. Applied topically it can kill a wide range of pathogens including MRSA and flesh eating bacteria. It was also found that the treated bacteria did not build up any resistance, which would eventually render manuka honey ineffective.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of natural antibiotics, but a great start for an all natural pharmacy. Also consider reishi, pau d'arco, una de gato, olive leaf extract, cloves, turmeric, and even lemons to round out your antibiotic arsenal.