Sunday, May 27, 2012

You have a Date with a Date

You’ve heard of dates, the delicious little middle eastern fruits.  You may have even eaten a few chopped up in a candy or perhaps a date shake.  But did you know that dates pack a nutritional punch, and that many varieties are low-glycemic, suitable for those with diabetes and other diseases?  Because of this, dates can be dried and ground, producing “date sugar” or “date syrup,” and used in place of regular cane sugar or agave in any food recipe.
Nutritional Information
Ten minerals have been found in dates, the major being selenium, copper, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The consumption of 100 g of dates can provide over 15% of the recommended daily allowance from these minerals. Vitamins B-complex, A, and C are the major vitamins in dates. High in dietary fiber (8.0 g/100 g), insoluble dietary fiber was the major fraction of dietary fiber in dates. Dates are a good source of antioxidants, mainly carotenoids and phenolics.  Dates are an excellent source of iron, consisting of 0.90 mg/100 g of fruits (about 11% of RDI). 
Dates can also help to reduce blood pressure.   High in potassium and containing no sodium, the dates naturally balance and reduce high blood pressure.
A single date averages 21 calories.
A Low-Glycemic Food
Although dates contain sugar, many varieties are low-glycemic .  A recent study focused on several varieties of dates: Fara'd, Lulu, Bo ma'an, Dabbas, Khsab, and Khalas.  According to reseachers, “The results show low glycemic indices for the five types of dates included in the study and that their consumption by diabetic individuals does not result in significant postprandial glucose excursions. These findings point to the potential benefits of dates for diabetic subjects when used in a healthy balanced diet.”    Another study showed that the date pits of 18 different varieties of dates, “depending on the variety, contain significant but quite variable amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients, but all varieties are excellent sources of dietary fiber and may therefore serve as important constituents of functional foods.” 
Additionally, because dates contain fiber, nutrients, and antioxidents, using date sugar will not cause the insulin spike that cane sugar or agave will.
Using Dates as a Sugar Replacement
Using dates to replace the sugar in your food is very simple.  Just blend a few dates in a food processor, and add to you dish until you reach your desired sweetness.  You can also purchase date sugar, which is simply dried and ground dates, and replace the white or brown sugar in your recipe, 1 cup per 1 cup.  Date syrup  is also available, which is a molasses-consistancy, perfect for more delicate recipes such as puddings, ice creams, frostings, and other “wet” items.  Date syrup can also be used as icing on muffins or cakes- perfect for a sweet, but healthy, treat for your kids.

Purchase Whole Organic Dates HERE

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tea Tree Oil

You may have heard of Tea Tree oil before, but you may not know how versatile it is in its healing properties.

Tea tree oil is made from a plant native to Australia called Melaleuca alternifolia. Tea tree oil is a potent antiseptic and antifungal, and can kill bacteria and fungus, and reduce allergic skin reactions. In fact, it has clinically been found to be just as effective, or more effective, as prescriptive antifungals. It is also very effective in treating acne, but without the bothersome side effects (itching, stinging, burning, and dryness) of most acne medications.
Tea Tree oil is helpful in treating the following conditions:
· Acne
· As an antiseptic
· Athlete's foot
· Bad breath
· Boils
· Cavities/toothache
· Cuts and burns
· Dandruff
· Ear infections
· Eczema
· Immune system problems
· Lice
· Scabies
· Sore throat
· Thrush
· Periodontal disease
· Psoriasis
· Vaginitis
· Warts
· Yeast infection
In general, you can use pure, undiluted Tea Tree oil topically. Apply with a cotton swab for precise application. People have found great relief by using Tea Tree oil orally for bad breath, cavities, toothache, and sore throat. However, in doing so, you must be very careful not to swallow the oil, and to always dilute the oil with water. Ingestion can be toxic, and can cause confusion, inability to walk, unsteadiness, rash, and coma. See this page for instructions on oral use.
Tea Tree oil has been found to be very effective in treating vaginal yeast and fungal infections, suppositories are even ready-made for that very purpose.

The oil is also a very good household cleaner, insect repellant, topical germ fighter, and controls mold.
There are no known interactions between Tea Tree oil herbs, food, or supplements.
    1. Pearce AL, Finlay-Jones JJ, Hart PH. Reduction of nickel-induced contact hypersensitivity reactions by topical tea tree oil in humans. Inflamm Res 2005;54:22-30
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    3. Allen P. Tea tree oil: the science behind the antimicrobial hype. Lancet 2001;358:1245
    4. Martin KW, Ernst E. Herbal medicines for treatment of fungal infections: a systematic review of controlled clinical trials. Mycoses 2004;47:87-92
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    6. Satchell AC, Saurajen A, Bell C, Barnetson RS. Treatment of interdigital tinea pedis with 25% and 50% tea tree oil solution: a randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded study. Australas J Dermatol 2002;43:175-8.
    7. Khanna M, Qasem K, Sasseville D. Allergic contact dermatitis to tea tree oil with erythema multiforme-like id reaction. Am J Contact Dermat 2000;11:238-42.
    8. Varma S, Blackford S, Statham BN, Blackwell A. Combined contact allergy to tea tree oil and lavender oil complicating chronic vulvovaginitis. Contact Dermatitis 2000;42:309-10
    9. Greig JE, Thoo SL, Carson CF, Riley TV. Allergic contact dermatitis following use of a tea tree oil hand-wash not due to tea tree oil. Contact Dermatitis 1999;41:354-5.
    10. Bruynzeel DP. Contact dermatitis due to tea tree oil. Trop Med Int Health 1999;4:630.
11. Cox SD, Mann CM, Markham JL, et al. The mode of antimicrobial action of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil). J Appl Microbiol 2000;88:170-5.
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13. Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV. Susceptibility of transient and commensal skin flora to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil). Am J Infect Control 1996;24:186-9.
14. Blackwell AL. Tea tree oil and anaerobic (bacterial) vaginosis. Lancet 1991;337:300.
15. Moss A. Tea tree oil poisoning. Med J Aust 1994;160:236.
16. Knight TE, Hausen BM. Melaleuca oil (tea tree oil) dermatitis. J Am Acad Dermatol 1994;30:423-7.
17. Carson CF, Cookson BD, Farrelly HD, Riley TV. Susceptibility of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia. Antimicrob Chemother 1995;35:421-4.
18. Carson CF, Riley TV. Toxicity of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia or tea tree oil. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 1995;33:193-4.
19. Carson CF, Riley TV. The antimicrobial activity of tea tree oil. Med J Aust 1994;160:236.
20. Elliott C. Tea tree oil poisoning. Med J Aust 1993;159:830-1.
21. Jacobs MR, Hornfeldt CS. Melaleuca oil poisoning. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 1994;32:461-4.
22. Koh KJ, Pearce AL, Marshman G, et al. Tea tree oil reduces histamine-induced skin inflammation. Br J Dermatol 2002;147:1212-7.
23. Bassett IB, Pannowitz DL, Barnetson RS. A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne. Med J Aust 1990;153:455-8.
24. May J, Chan CH, King A, et al. Time-kill studies of tea tree oils on clinical isolates. J Antimicrob Chemother 2000;45:639-43.
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26. Buck DS, Nidorf DM, Addino JG. Comparison of two topical preparations for the treatment of onychomycosis: Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil and clotrimazole. J Fam Pract 1994;38:601-5.
27. Zhang SY, Robertson D. A study of tea tree oil ototoxicity. Audiol Neurootol 2000;5:64-8.
28. Nelson RR. Selection of resistance to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia in Staphylococcus aureus. J Antimicrob Chemother 2000;45:549-50.
29. Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV. In vitro activities of ketoconazole, econazole, miconazole, and Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against Malassezia species. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2000;44:467-9.
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33. Tong MM, Altman PM, Barnetson RS. Tea tree oil in the treatment of tinea pedis. Australas J Dermatol 1992;33:145-9.
34. Del Beccaro MA. Melaleuca oil poisoning in a 17-month old. Vet Hum Toxicol 1995;37:557-8.
35. Bhushan M, Beck MH. Allergic contact dermatitis from tea tree oil in a wart paint. Contact Dermatitis 1997;36:117-8.
36. Carson CF, Riley TV, Cookson BD. Efficacy and safety of tea tree oil as topical antimicrobial agent. J Hosp Infect 1998;40:175-8.
37. Rubel DM, Freeman S, Southwell IA. Tea tree oil allergy: what is the offending agent? Report of three cases of tea tree oil allergy and review of the literature. Australas J Dermatol 1998;39:244-7.
38. Carson CR, Ashton L, Dry L, et al. Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil gel (6%) for the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis. J Antimicrob Chemother 2001;48:450-1.
39. De Groot AC. Airborn allergic contact dermatitis from tea tree oil. Contact Dermatitis 1996;35:304-5.
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Nutritional Yeast:  A Must-Have For
Your Healthy Kitchen!
Nutritional Yeast is a must-have for any vegetarian or health-conscious kitchen.  An almost cheesy flavor (yet dairy-free), these gluten-free flakes make it very easy to obtain crucial vitamins, minerals, and protein in a very small serving size. It is also an ideal condiment for your children's food.

Nutritional Content
For just 1.5 tablespoons*, you get a nutritional punch in the form of:
Protein:  8g
Potassium:  320 mg
Dietary Fiber:  4g
Iron:  4%
Thiamin:  670%
Niacin:  290%
Folate:  250%
Zinc:  20%
Riboflavin:  590%
Vitamin B6:  480%
Vitamin B12:  130%
*Red Star brand

How is it Made?
Red Star Nutritional Yeast is made from pure strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae grown on mixtures of cane and beet molasses. After the fermentation process is completed,"Cream yeast" is heated by means of a heat exchanger and held at pasteurization temperatures for a period long enough to inactivate the yeast, vitamins are added, and the yeast is then drum dried. The drying process assures that all the cells are inactivated in order for the full nutritional benefits to be available.

How Do I Use It?

Using Nutritional Yeast is easy.  Simply sprinkle on foods such as popcorn, soups, veggies, pizza, rice, quinoa, pasta, and lentils.  Nutritional Yeast can even substitute for Parmesan in pesto recipes!

Where Can I Find It?

You can find Red Star Nutritional Yeast at your local health food store, or online.  Buying bulk is often more cost-effective, and you can find it here.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Loving Lucuma!

Lucuma, a tropical fruit native to Peru, is rich in iron, calcium, fiber, beta-carotene, and niacin.  Once hailed as the “Gold of the Incas,” it can be used in its dried powder form as a natural, low-sugar sweetener, and can be blended in smoothies, puddings, ice cream, and other desserts.  It can also be used as a flour in pastries and pies. 

Lucuma nut oil has been found to have wound-healing properties, and some Peruvian fruit such as lucuma have been shown to have potential anti-diabetic and anti-hypertensive (high blood pressure) properties .
Lucumin, a substance obtained from the fruit seed, can help with diarrhea and in intermittent fevers, and has been found to have important antimicrobial, antimitotic (inhibits cell-division, which means it can be cancer-fighting), antibacterial, immunomodulatory (diminishes immune system responses, like asthma, allergies, AIDS, and various AI disorders) effects, as well as healing Seborrheic Dermatitis
Fresh lucuma is more difficult to find (you can always grow your own), but you can easily find dried or powdered lucuma at your local health store.

Additional Sources

(1)  Canistel / Pouteria campechiana Baehni / Morton, J. 1987. Canistel. p. 402–405. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.
Isolation and Evaluation of Antimitotic Activity of Phenolic Compounds from Pouteria campechiana Baehni. / Christina Hernandez et al / Philippine Journal of Science ISSN 0031-7683
Analysis of Polyphenolic Antioxidants from the Fruits of Three Pouteria Species by Selected Ion Monitoring Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / Juan Ma et al / J. Agric. Food Chem., 2004, 52 (19), pp 5873–5878 DOI: 10.1021/jf049950k
Canistel / Pouteria campechiana Baehni / Morton, J. 1987. Canistel. p. 402–405. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.
Isolation, Structure Elucidation and Antimicrobial Assay of Secondary Metabolites from Six Philippine Medicinal Plants / Consolacion Ragasa / De La Salle University, Manila

(6)  In vitro immunomodulatory effect of Pouteria cambodiana (Pierre ex Dubard) Baehni extract / A Manosroi, A Saraphanchotiwitthaya, J Manosroi / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 101 (2005) 90–94