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    Archive for the ‘atherosclerosis’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Ginger

    ginger-root1I love, love, love ginger.

    I make my own juices at home three or four times a week and always add one or two hefty chunks of ginger.

    I feel fine, but should I be concerned about so much ginger doing something to my intestinal tract?  One of my friends says I should be careful because since ginger is spicy, so much of it could cause ulcers.

    — Jordan Yeats
    (City withheld), FL

    Ah, the “spicy foods cause ulcers” myth.

    The vast majority of ulcers are actually caused by h. pylori bacteria.  Stress and spicy foods don’t play any role in ulcer formation.  They can, however, make existing ulcers more painful.

    FYI: The h. pylori connection was first made by Australian doctors Barry Marshall and Robin Warren in the early 1980s — and garnered them the 2005 Nobel Prize in Medicine!

    Ulcers aside, there is no need for you to be concerned about the amount of ginger you are eating (provided you don’t have certain health conditions such as gallbladder disease or taking cardiac or diabetes medication).

    Healthy individuals can reap plenty of health benefits from fresh ginger!

    Ginger is not only a powerful anti-inflammatory food (remember, cellular inflammation is the principal factor behind the development of most degenerative diseases), it has also been shown to significantly slow down the reproduction of tumor cells and be a powerful weapon against free radicals.

    Ginger is so good at reducing inflammation that it is a wonderful natural remedy to help alleviate arthritis symptoms (as long as it is consumed consistently, of course).

    Ginger is also an excellent source of curcumin, the antioxidant in turmeric that helps significantly reduce the risk for a variety of cancers.

    Another bonus?  Ginger has been shown to help reduce blood platelet aggregation (thereby helping lower atherosclerosis risk).

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    You Ask, I Answer: Health Benefits of Garlic

    garlic_bulbWhat health benefits do we get from eating garlic?

    Is it better to eat it raw (like in the pesto recipe you shared) or cook it?

    Do you need a certain amount of cloves to get the health benefits?

    — Whitney Bennett
    New York, NY

    The most solid evidence on daily and consistent garlic consumption is that it can:

    • Help reduce levels of LDL (“bad”) and total cholesterol
    • Slow down atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
    • Discourage platelet aggregation (the grouping of platelets in the blood which ultimately forms clots)

    There doesn’t appear to be a difference whether garlic is consumed in a raw or cooked state.  For optimal results in terms of active compounds, though, fresh garlic should always be used (as opposed to pre-minced, jarred varieties).

    One garlic clove a day, once a day, provides the above-mentioned health benefits. An additional clove or two won’t pose any harm.

    I am not a fan of garlic supplements.  Firstly, since supplements are unregulated, you never know what you are truly getting.

    Number two — in the event that these supplements pack in high amounts of concentrated garlic, they may overly thin the blood.

    PS: If you take garlic supplements, you must stop taking them at least three weeks prior to any kind of surgery to prevent excessive bleeding.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Garlic Tahini Dressing

    tahiniI’ll be the first to admit I have culinary commitment issues.

    One week, a certain salad dressing might be the apple of my eye, only to suddenly seem ‘blah’ overnight.

    As a result, purchases of bottled salad dressings aren’t very fruitful for me.  After a bottle is approximately halfway used up, it sits in my refrigerator for months, unused and ignored until it expires.

    “I’m just not that into you,” I say apologetically as I empty it out in my kitchen sink.

    Alas, I don’t want to get a bad reputation in the salad dressing aisle.  That’s why I now make my own salad dressings in very small batches.

    This dressing below — a tasty break respite from vinaigrettes — is one of my all-time favorites.  It goes particularly well over crunchy raw salads or steamed vegetables.  I was inspired by the tahini dressing served by one of my favorite New York City vegetarian restaurants.  Thank you, Quantum Leap!

    YIELDS: 4 servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    1/4 cup tahini
    1/4 cup water
    2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    2 or 3 garlic cloves
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined.

    Let stand for a few minutes and serve.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    90 calories
    1 gram saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium

    Good source of: Copper, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin C

    Added bonus 1: Tahini — also known as ‘sesame seed butter’ — is high in beta-sisterol, a phytosterol that helps lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

    Added bonus 2: Sesame seeds also contain sesamol, an antioxidant that helps lower atherosclerosis (that’s the technical term for “hardening of the arteries”) risk.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Slivered Almonds

    Are slivered almonds as nutritious as whole almonds with the brown skin on them?

    — Gary Wington
    (Location withheld)

    Slivered almonds offer as much protein, manganese, selenium, fiber, and heart-healthy fat as their skinned counterparts.

    However, keep in mind that nutrition goes beyond the basic macro (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

    Almond skins contain a high amount of flavonoids. Apart from having health benefits of their own, they help maximize the health benefits of the vitamin E present in actual almonds.

    This study from the June 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, for instance, found that the flavonoids in almond skins work synergistically with vitamin E in almond “meat” to reduce LDL oxidation (one of the main factors behind the development of atherosclerosis).

    Another example of how a whole food is nutritionally superior to a slightly more processed counterpart.

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