The health benefits of green tea By Jo Lewin

A cup of green tea with two different types of tea leaves on spoons

All types of tea, even your regular cup of builder’s, come from the Camellia sinensis plant. Green tea gets its name from the emerald green colour created when brewing unprocessed, unfermented tea leaves. With origins going back as far as 5,000 years, green tea is commonly drunk and widely grown in the Far East where the health properties are well regarded.

Different varieties of green tea

The difference between green and black tea results from the manufacturing process. Black tea undergoes fermentation which transforms its colour and flavour, whereas green tea remains unprocessed and retains its colour. Green tea is grown in higher altitudes, more specifically the mountainous regions of East Asia. Some green tea is still picked by hand, and it is thought that handpicked teas are less bitter and yield a sweeter, more robust taste. Other factors such as the climate and soil can also affect the flavour.

Sencha is the most popular of Japan’s green teas. There are numerous grades which can affect the price and quality. Sencha leaves are first steamed and then shaped. Sencha tea produces a clear yellow/green tea with a sweet, grassy but slightly astringent flavour.

Matcha is made from green tea leaves grown in the shade. The leaves have a higher chlorophyll content which makes them a vibrant green colour. To make matcha, the entire leaf is ground down into a powder. The powder is mixed with boiling water and gently whisked before being served. The flavour is light and sweet and so is now added to desserts and sweet drinks.

Green tea can be found as fresh leaves or in tea bags, frequently blended with other flavours such as lemon, lime or ginger.

When buying tea leaves, avoid older leaves. This is the same principle as with coffee beans. Allegedly, whole leaves are the highest grade and leaves that are older than four months are past their level of peak freshness. Once purchased and opened, keep leaves in an airtight container that can be resealed and store in a cool place to help slow down the reactions that can reduce the tea’s phytonutrient content and impact on flavour.

Nutritional highlights

There are many health claims surrounding green tea from a reduced risk of cancer to weight loss. The evidence to support these claims is largely inconclusive. Some of the health claims are based on ancient Eastern traditions, where green tea has been used to treat symptoms of disease for years. Because of the proposed benefits, many ‘health’ products now include traces of green tea. However, there is limited evidence to suggest these products are effective. If you are hoping to use green tea for medicinal purposes, make sure to consult your doctor first.

Green tea does have more health benefits than black tea which can be attributed to its lack of processing. Green tea is higher in protective polyphenols. The major polyphenols in green tea are flavonoids, the most active of which are catechins and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which function as powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to protect the body against disease and are an important part of a healthy diet. Antioxidants can be found in a range of fruits, vegetables and other unprocessed foods. As part of a balanced diet, green tea can be a good source of antioxidants.

Green tea

How much caffeine does green tea contain?

Green tea does contain caffeine, although varieties and brands may differ. An equal quantity of green tea contains less caffeine than coffee (one cup of green tea contains approximately 35-80 mg compared to approximately 100-400 mg in the same size cup of coffee), but it can still act as a

READ MORE:  https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-green-tea

 

 

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Willow Bark: Nature’s Aspirin

What is willow bark?

Willow bark, the bark of several varieties of willow tree, has been used for centuries as a pain reliever. The active ingredient in the medicine made from willow bark is called salicin.

Some people use willow bark as an alternative to aspirin, particularly those that experience chronic headaches or back pain. Willow bark is also used in some products to aid weight loss.

It comes from the branches of 2- to 3-year-old willow trees. Willow trees and shrubs grow all over the world, except for Australia and Antarctica. The white willow and black willow are two of the most common willows that are used medicinally.

Side effects

When taken in moderation, willow bark does not appear to have negative side effects. The salicin in willow bark converts to salicylic acid. Some believe that this makes it gentler on your stomach than lab-created aspirin. Too much willow bark, however, can cause stomach cramping and bleeding.

Forms and dose of willow bark

Capsules

Willow bark can be purchased from many drugstores and almost any health food store in a powdered, encapsulated form. The recommended dose for pain relief is 240 milligrams a day.

Bark

The active ingredient in willow bark is salicin, but the accompanying flavonoids and plant particles might be part of what make willow bark effective. For this reason, some people prefer to actually chew on the unprocessed bark of the willow tree. It is difficult to determine how much salicin you are getting from each piece of bark, so this method of consumption should be approached with caution.

Liquid

Willow bark can also be found in a distilled tincture form. Taking a drop or two per day for pain relief (up to 2 milliliters) can work as an anti-inflammatory and pain relief substitute for aspirin.

Tea

Some health food stores sell willow bark tea, advertising it as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. Steep willow bark tea for

 

READ MORE:  https://www.healthline.com/health/willow-bark-natures-aspirin#forms-and-dose

 

 

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The Super Superfood You’re Probably Not Eating Five good reasons to add sauerkraut to your diet by Shelley Emling

The Super Superfood You’re Probably Not Eating

Researchers also found that sauerkraut can reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Is there anything better at a summer barbecue than a hot dog with sauerkraut tucked inside the bun? Not much. And beyond the taste, there also are plenty of healthy reasons to add this fermented cabbage to your diet — not only during the summer, but all year long. Here are just five of them.


 


1. Sauerkraut packs a punch when it comes to vitamins.

Popular throughout Central Europe for centuries, sauerkraut is a great source of vitamin C. And vitamin C — a superstar antioxidant — helps protect the body from stress and free radical damage. Other healthy nutrients in sauerkraut include vitamin K, known for its role in blood clotting, as well as calcium, potassium and phosphorus. An added bonus is that fermentation makes these nutrients easier for your body to absorb.

2. Sauerkraut boosts your digestive system.

Sauerkraut is ripe with probiotic power, or beneficial bacteria that wards off toxins and not-so-beneficial bacteria. In short, probiotics actually feed the good bacteria in your gut, which leads to better digestive health. Probiotics also have been shown to lessen gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

3. Sauerkraut could help you lose weight.

Like most vegetables, sauerkraut is a low-calorie food with a lot of fiber. As such, it can make you feel fuller for longer, which could help with weight loss. With only 15 calories in two-thirds of a cup, sauerkraut is the perfect snack when you get hungry between meals.

4. Sauerkraut may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.

Study after study shows a connection between the health of the gut and the health of the brain. Indeed, recent research out of Lund University in Sweden found that unhealthy intestinal flora could speed up the development of

 

READ MORE:  https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2017/superfood-sauerkraut-health-benefits-fd.html

 

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Deep-Fried Stuffed Cactus Paddles By: Cindy Kennedy

The edible prickly pear nopal “stems,” known more widely as cactus paddles, pads, or nopales, are a centuries-old Mexican staple. This thorny plant was central to the Aztec tale of Tenochtitlan, which translates to “place of the cactus.” Today, that special place is Mexico City. Mexico’s coat of arms depicts this historical perspective with an eagle perched on a cactus and devouring a snake. In Texas, cactus is also the official state plant.

While the paddles look more like leaves, they’re actually stems (pencas) growing from the main stalk. Fruit (tuna), which is also an edible treat, sprouts from the pads. Because it is so easily grown in desert climates, you’ll find cactus a popular choice on New Mexican menus, too.

Of course, the Mayans and Aztecs were quite ingenious in finding medicinal and household uses for this plant. In the past, it has found its way into anti-inflammatory remedies and waterproof roofing protectant. Its edible parts contain high amounts of fiber along with an impressive list of minerals and vitamins. This combination of properties is proving to be effective in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Testing continues to prove its beneficial properties help reduce blood sugar levels for diabetes treatment.

Among the many nopal recipes, you’ll find egg dishes, relishes, and soups along with our classic stuffed paddles that are deep-fried to a golden brown. When nopales are sliced or chopped, they’re called nopalitos. Taste-wise, think of an extra-mild green bean. If you’re lucky, you’ll find paddles that are cleaned, but more likely you’ll have to remove the thorns, along with smaller hair-like spikes.

As you work, the cactus will begin to seep a slimy sap, similar to okra. Most of it will blanch and rinse off before cooking. The filling for deep-fried cactus paddles includes jack cheese, onions and jalapenos. Use a classic fry batter of your choice. Plan on a single paddle for each person, if you’re serving it with – or as – a side dish.

Deep-Fried Stuffed Cactus Paddles
Makes 6 servings

6 cactus paddles
1/2 onion, sliced

READ MORE:  https://hispanickitchen.com/2010/10/04/deep-fried-stuffed-cactus-paddles/

 

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