Tag Archives: Cayenne pepper

Saussurea costus

Botanical Name : Saussurea costus
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cynareae
Genus: Saussurea
Species: S. costus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms: Saussurea lappa. (Decne.)Schultz-Bip

Common Name: Costus or Kuth. It has a large number of names in other languages, including kustha in Sanskrit; kust or qust in Arabic and Persian; kut, kur, and pachak in Hindi and Bengali, kostum, gostham, and potchuk in Tamil; upaleta and kur in Gujarati; kot or kust in Punjabi; changala in Telugu; sepuddy in Malayalam; kostha in Kannada; kuth or postkhai in Kashmiri; and koshet in Hebrew

Habitat : Saussurea costus is native to South & Eeastern Asia – Himalayas. It grows casually in irrigated areas, 2000 – 3300 metres from Pakistan to Himachel Pradesh. Usually found in moist shady situations in Kashmir, sometimes forming the undergrowth in birch forests.

Description:
Saussurea costus is a tall perennial herb, well known as a medicinal plant. Stems up to 2 m tall, or more. Lower leaves are long-stalked, pinnate, 30-40 cm long, with a trianglular terminal leaflet, up to 30 cm long. Upper leaves are smaller, up to 30 cm long, stem-clasping. All leaves are irregularly toothed. There is a rounded cluster of a few purple flower-heads at the top of the stem. The flower-heads look like balls covered with purple bracts. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects….…CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES 

Cultivation :
Succeeds in most soils in a sunny well-drained position. Cultivated as a medicinal plant and for its use in perfumery in the Himalayas. The dried root has something of the mossy smell of violets when fresh, becoming fur-like or even unpleasantly goat-like with age. Most of the roots are exported to China and Japan and the plant forms quite a large article of commerce in Kashmir, the trade being controlled by the State. Wild plants have been greatly over-collected and the plant has been placed on the CITES I list of endangered species – it is now illegal to dig them up for export.

Propagation:
Seed – we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame in the spring. Surface sow, or only just cover the seed, and make sure that the compost does not dry out. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Division in spring might be possible.

Edible Uses:... Condiment……The aromatic root is sometimes used as a spice. It has a characteristic penetrating odour reminiscent of violet, orris and vetiver.
Medicinal Uses:

Anodyne; Antibacterial; Antispasmodic; Aphrodisiac; Carminative; Emmenagogue; Skin; Stimulant; Tonic; Vermifuge.

Costus is used in the Ayurvedic and Unani Tibb traditions in India for its tonic, stimulant, and antiseptic properties. The root is commonly taken, with other herbs, for respiratory system problems such as bronchitis, asthma, and coughs.

It is commonly used medicinal herb in China and is considered to be one of their 50 fundamental herbs. It is also used in Ayurvedic medicine where it is valued mainly for its tonic, stimulant and antiseptic properties. It is said to be aphrodisiac and to be able to prevent the hair turning grey. The root is anodyne, antibacterial, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, carminative, skin, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vermifuge. It is used internally in the treatment of abdominal distension and pain, chest pains due to liver problems and jaundice, gall bladder pain, constipation associated with energy stagnation, and asthma. The root is harvested in the autumn or spring and either dried for later use or decocted for the essential oil. It is normally used with other herbs. The root is also used in Tibetan medicine where it is considered to have an acrid, sweet and bitter taste with a neutral potency. It is used in the treatment of swelling and fullness of the stomach, blockage and irregular menses, pulmonary disorders, difficulty in swallowing and rotting/wasting of muscle tissues. An oil from the root is very beneficial in the treatment of rheumatism. It is also used to treat cholera.

Other Uses:
Essential; Hair; Incense.

An essential oil obtained from the roots is used medicinally, in perfumery, incenses and as a hair rinse when it is said to darken grey hair. It has a strong lingering scent. The smell is at first like violets, but as it ages it can become more fur-like or eventually become unpleasantly goat-like. The roots are cut into lengths about 8cm long and then dried before being exported. Smaller pieces of the root are ground into a powder and then used to make incense sticks. The longer clean pieces are cut into very thin slices and then burnt at shrines or used as a tonic in hot baths.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saussurea_costus
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Saussurea+costus
http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Costus.html
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

Cyanella orchidiformis

 

Botanical Name : Cyanella orchidiformis
Family: Tecophilaeaceae
Genus: Cyanella
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Common Name : Lady’s Hand

Habitat: Cyanella orchidiformis is native to South Africa – southern Namibia to Clanwilliam. It grows in rocky flats to lower and middle slopes, often in wet sites.

Description:
Cyanella orchidiformis is a BULB growing to 0.3 m (1ft). The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) .It usually has a flattish rosette of rather broad leaves and few-branched inflorescenses………..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES 
Cyanella plants have deep-seated corms and they usually bear a branched inflorescence. The leaves, arranged in a basal rosette, are deciduous. The flowers are orchid-like in appearance and range from blue, mauve, brown, orange, yellow, pink and white. Cyanella species are mostly characteristic of the more arid parts of the winter rainfall region and are pollinated by bees.

Cultivation: Prefers a light sandy soil. Requires a very warm sunny position in a well-drained soil, it is best grown at the foot of a south-facing wall or in a south-facing bed. Plants are not very frost hardy, but they can be grown outdoors in the milder areas of the country if given a good mulch. Plant the bulbs 15cm deep in autumn to flower in spring or in the spring to flower in the summer. Lift the bulbs when they die down, dry them and store in a cool place until it is time to replant. Flowers are produced in 3 – 4 years from seed.
Propagation : Seed  sow the seed thinly in the autumn in a greenhouse so that it will not be necessary to thin the seedlings. Once the seed has germinated, grow on the seedlings in the same pot for their first year, giving an occasional liquid feed to ensure that they do not become mineral deficient. Pot up 2 – 3 small bulbs to a pot when the plants are dormant and grow them on in a greenhouse until the bulbs reach flowering size. Plant them out in the spring, after the last expected frosts. Division of offsets when the plants are dormant. Larger bulbs can be planted straight out into their permanent positions, but it is best to pot up the smaller bulbs and grow them on for a year in a cold frame before planting them out.
Edible Uses: The root bulb is cooked & eaten.
Medicinal Uses: Not known
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyanella
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cyanella+orchidiformis
http://www.bidorbuy.co.za/item/195076589/Cyanella_orchidiformis_Seeds_Indigenous_South_African_Perennial_Edible_Bulb.html

Capsicum minimum

Botanical Name: Capsicum minimum, Capsicum spp
Family: Solanaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Genus: Capsicum
Species: C. annuum

Synonyms: C.fastigiatum (Bl.), African chillies, chillies, red pepper, bird pepper, capsicum, hot pepper, Tabasco pepper

Common Names: African Pepper, Bird’s Eye Chilli, Bird Pepper, Cocksbur Pepper, Guinea Pepper, Spanish Pepper, Zanzibar Pepper

Habitat :This small erect shrub is indigenous to tropical America and cultivated in South America and Africa.

Description:
It is a perennial plant in its native America but is annual when cultivated outside tropical zones. Growing to a height of 1m or more, its glabrous stem is woody at the bottom and branched near the top. The leaves are ovate to lanceolate, entire and petioled. The drooping, white to yellow flowers grow alone or in pairs or threes between April and September. The ripe fruit, or pepper, is a many-seeded pod with a leathery outside in various shades of red or yellow.

click to see the pictures.....(01).....(1).……..(2).….….(3).……...(4).….…….
The single flowers are an off-white (sometimes purplish) color while the stem is densely branched and up to 60 centimetres (24 in) tall. The fruit is a berry and may be green, yellow or red when ripe. While the species can tolerate most climates, Capsicum minimum is especially productive in warm and dry climates.

Constituents: an alkaloid (capsaicin), carotenoids (capsanthine, capsorubin), flavonoids, volatile oil, vitamins A, B and C, steroidal saponins (capsicidons), sugars, fatty acids.

Edible Uses:
The species is a source of popular sweet peppers and hot chilis with numerous varieties cultivated all around the world.
click to see the pictures….....(1)….….(2)…………..
In British English, the sweet varieties are called red or green peppers and the hot varieties chillies, whereas in Australian and Indian English the name capsicum is commonly used for bell peppers exclusively and chilli is often used to encompass the hotter varieties. Americans call the sweet types “peppers” and the hot ones “chili peppers” or “chilies” (sometimes spelled “chiles”).

Sweet peppers are very often used as a bulking agent in ready-made meals and take-away food, because they are cheap, have a strong flavour, and are colorful. The colorful aspect of peppers increases the visual appeal of the food, making it more appetizing. Foods containing peppers, especially chili peppers, often have a strong aftertaste due to the presence of capsinoids in peppers. Capsaicin, a chemical found in chili peppers, creates a burning sensation once ingested, which can last for several hours after ingestion.

Medicinal Uses:
carminative, spasmolytic, stimulant, diaphoretic; externally as a rubefacient, counter-irritant and antiseptic.
It is used in  flatulent dyspepsia in the absence of inflammation, colic, insufficiency of the peripheral circulation; as a gargle for chronic laryngitis; externally for neuralgia, rheumatic pain and unbroken chilblains.

Capsicum is a good general tonic, specific for the circulatory and digestive system. It regulates blood flow and strengthens the heart, arteries, capillaries and nerves. It improves arterial blood supply to the tissues and toxin removal. It is a strong circulatory stimulant,  appearing to reinforce the action of certain prostaglandins, thereby increasing the flow of blood through all the tissues of the body and producing a diaphoretic effect. Capsaicin is known to mimic the effect of some of the prostaglandins. It desensitizes the sensory nerve endings to pain stimulation by depleting Substance P from the nervous system, which is the basis for its use as a local analgesic, and recent research suggests that cayenne can ease the severe pain of shingles and migraine. It is also used in digestive debility and flatulent dyspepsia in the absence of inflammation. The addition of Capsicum to a prescription will ensure that the other ingredients quickly reach all tissues even where there is poor circulation.

Applied externally it stimulates increased circulation within the subdermal tissues, reducing the need for the body to invoke the inflammatory response. It is therefore of benefit as a rubefacient for neuralgia and rheumatic pains. The ointment also helps to heal unbroken chilblains.

Hot, stimulating Cayenne peppers are like a jump start to a cold car engine on a frosty morning. It brings welcome life into sore muscles and get your heart beating faster, increasing the flow of blood all through the body. The heat of cayenne warms stiff arthritic joints and relaxes away low back pain.  The longer you use it, the better it works. Cayenne works very well for me, I use it every day, sometimes twice a day, for arthritis stiffness, sore muscles, and low back pain. Cayenne infused oil does not burn my skin as much as capsaicin creams. Cayenne salves and oils are my first recommendation to anyone who has problems with pain, however cayenne has many other varied uses that make it one of the most powerful remedies in your kitchen medicine cabinet.

Cayenne for Pain relief  Cayenne pepper extracts are an important part of herbal treatment for muscle pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and the nerve pain caused by shingles and sciatica.101 It appears to act by decreasing the concentration of substance P, the primary chemical used by nerve cells to transmit pain signals. It takes repeated use over a period of at least a few weeks to feel this benefit. Cayenne is also rich in salicylates, natural aspirin like compounds, which add to its analgesic nature. 102 Cayenne pepper balms, oils and creams are rubefacients,which means it warms the body by quickly dilating small capillaries, and  increasing circulation,  which reddens, (but does not burn) the skin. This increased circulation is the hallmark of cayenne’s effect on the body, it stimulates the heart, and the lungs as well as increasing blood circulation and warmth throughout the whole system.

Cayenne Pepper Diet: Adding cayenne to your diet plan is a no-brainer. Cayenne, along with other peppers strengthen digestion and lessen the change of bacterial infections from unsanitary food and water. Cayenne peppers also lessen the gas and bloating that comes from eating heavy, greasy foods. Cayenne helps boost your metabolism and induces the body to burn off more fat. Eating more hot spicy foods will help decrease appetite and increase satiety, so you are inclined to eat less. Seasoning with pepper lessens the need for salt and fat in cooking without sacrificing flavor.

Psoriasis Treatment: Capsaicin, the most potent constituent of cayenne, has been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of psoriasis. Treatment does produce burning sensations, which are normal and decrease with repeated use. If you buy OTC products look for one that contains menthol, it will help relieve the itching as well. A 1999 study found that treatment with capsaicin caused a marked decrease in psoriasis activity and decreased formation of new skin plaques. 103

Heart Health: Cayenne is considered to be a valuable heart tonic. These hot peppers contain capsicum which has been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Cayenne also helps to increase circulation and keeps the blood flowing smoothly through veins and arteries. Cayenne also is high in antioxidants, rounding out its cardiovascular benefits.

 

Caution: Should not be used in cases of hypertension, gastric hyperacidity, peptic ulceration, or on mucous membranes. The hands should be washed after handling. Prolonged application to the skin can cause dermatitis and blistering, while excessive consumption can lead to gastroenteritis and liver and kidney damage. Only small doses should be used to avoid irritating the stomach or burning the skin. The seeds can be toxic. Therapeutic doses should be avoided during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Other Uses:
Some cultivars grown specifically for their aesthetic value include the U.S. National Arboretum’s Black Pearl and the Bolivian Rainbow. Ornamental varieties tend to have unusually coloured fruit and foliage with colors such as black and purple being notable. All are edible, and most (like Royal Black) are hot.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

 

Resources:
http://www.purplesage.org.uk/profiles/cayenne.htm
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail122.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsicum_annuum

Cayenne (Capsicum minimum)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Dhundhul (Luffa cylindrical)

Botanical Name : Luffa cylindrical
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Luffa
Species: L. aegyptiaca
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales
Indian Name :Dhundhul
Common Name :Lufa,
Egyptian cucumber,  Vietnamese luffa, Dishrag gourd, Rag gourd, Sponge gourd, and Vegetable-sponge. It is also called smooth luffa to distinguish it from the ridged luffa (Luffa acutangula)….In Bengali it is called Jhingha … CLICK & SEE
Habitat:Luffa plants are tropical in origin, believed to have originated in southern Asia.  They need a long hot growing season. Places like the US Gulf Coast are plenty hot.  Starting the plants indoors may be needed for cooler climates.

Description:
Ridged luffa is a tropical running annual vine with rounded leaves and yellow flowers. The plant is diecious, having both male and female flowers. The rather large male flowers are bright yellow and occur in clusters. The female flowers are solitary and have the tiny slender ovary attached. The leaves are covered with short hairs and the fruits are ribbed and cylindrical shaped. It has ten longitudinal angular ridges and a tapered neck. Ridged luffa is very similar to L. Cylindrica which lacks the ridge. The young fruit is used as a cooked vegetable; although some gardeners grow Chinese okra for the fibrows interior. The fibrows netting is an excellent sponge but there are also industrial applications such as waterfilters. In Suriname‘s traditional medicine, a tea of the leaves is used as a diuretic, while juice of the fruit is used against internal hemorrhage. The seeds have laxative properties. Propagation: By seeds.

..click to see the pictures.>..(01)..………...(1)..…..(2)…….(3).…..….(4)…......(5)...(6)...……….

Loofah or Luffa, common name for a climbing plant of the cucumber family and for the vegetable sponge derived from the plant. There are six species of loofah plant, all of which are native to the Tropics and subtropics of Asia and Africa. The common name loofah and the scientific name Luffa are derived from the Arabic common name for this plant, lûfa. The most commonly used species, Luffa aegyptiaca, is an annual, monoecious vine (where male and female flowers appear on different parts of the plant), with deep yellow flowers. The female flowers are borne singly and the male flowers are in clusters.

The leaves are hairless, lobed, and triangular in outline. Tendrils arise from the stems near the leaves and the numerous branches are long and slender. The cylindrical or club-shaped fruit can be up to 30-40 cm (12-16 in) long and hangs down from the stems owing to its weight. The skin of the fruit is ridged and green, becoming straw-coloured at maturity. The small, brown or black seeds are wrinkled on the surface and look like watermelon seeds. They are released when the lid-like apex of the fruit breaks off. It is the dried and bleached vascular system of the mature fruit that is used as a sponge or dishcloth in many parts of the world. The young fruits of Luffa aegyptiaca and Luffa acutangula are also eaten as vegetables in some countries.

General Uses:
When mature,the fruits become a tough mass of cellulose fiber that makes a great scrubbing sponge.  These natural cellulose fiber sponge wonders of the vegetable world have many uses. They’ll make your skin squeaky clean or shine up your dirty dishes. Luffa are most excellent in the bath or shower.  The exfoliating action leaves your skin feeling the cleanest and tightest it could possibly be.  Scrubbing your back with a luffa sponge in the bath or shower is an incredibly pleasurable experience.  Home artisan craft soap makers include slices of luffa in their creations to add an extra cleaning boost to their soaps. Shredded or powdered luffa can be also be mixed into soap.

Luffa sponges are great for washing items like large pots and other containers like Tupperware®.  We use them for cleaning almost everything, including cars, boats, plastic buckets, and anything that needs scrubbed but can’t withstand steel wool.  Non stick cookware is one example.

A large loofa or a smaller piece on a handle or rope makes a great back scratcher.  They can be cut into many shapes for scrubbing pads, padding, and other craft uses.  Cut the sponges lengthwise and remove the core to make sheets of sponge material. These sheets of luffa material can be sewn into items like table hot pads, sandals, bath mats, hats, or anything else you can imagine.

Edible Uses:   The luffa flowers and fruits are soft and edible when young and are sometimes cooked and eaten like squash or okra. Loofah has been an important food source in many Asian cultures. The leaves and vines should not be eaten.  When crushed, they produce a bitter compound and smell that seems to repel insects and animals. It is similar to the bitterness sometimes found in cucumbers, a close plant relative also in the Cucurbitaceae family.  According to some sources a fellow named Wehmer identified a substance known as luffeine for the bitterness of Luffa acutangula, a related species grown commonly for food.

Small luffa fruits often are eaten but disclaim any legal responsibility for any bad reactions anyone might have from consuming luffa. Unknown allergy potential. Eat at your own risk. Some luffa varieties may produce fruits that are too bitter to eat. Peeling the skin off removes some of the bitterness. If it tastes bad, don’t eat it . Th  Edible luffa can be found sometimes in markets with Asian style vegetables. People  like them sliced in a stir fry or just sauteed in a little olive oil. Seasoning with a dash of soy sauce and cayenne pepper makes a tasty appetizer. The flowers have a crunchy green flavor similar to celery or cucumber. They make a colorful salad. The edible size fruits taste something like a cross between a zucchini and a cucumber.

Medicinal Uses:
Powdered luffa fibers have also been used as an ingredient in Chinese herbal medicine. Some compounds in the plant and seeds have been studied and used for medicinal properties.

Parts used :   Leaves, fruit.

In Chinese medicine, the inner skeleton of the dried fruit is used to treat pain in the muscles and joints, chest, and abdomen. It is prescribed for chest infections accompanied by fever and pain, and is used to clear congested mucus. Loofah is also given to treat painful or swollen breasts. Research indicates the fresh vine has a stronger expectorant effect than the dried fruit. Dried fruit fibers are used as abrasive sponges in skin care to remove dead skin and stimulate the peripheral circulation.

Folkloric:
· Decoction of leaves for amenorrhea.
· Poultice of leaves for hemorrhoids.
· Juice of fresh leaves for conjunctivitis.
· Juice of leaves also used externally for sores and various animal bites.
· Seed oil used for dermatitis.
· Infusion of seeds as purgative and emetic.
• In Russia, roots is used as a purge.
• In India, roots is used for dropsy and as laxative; leaf and fruit juice used to treat jaundice.
• In Java, leaf decoction used for uremia and amenorrhea.
• In Bangladesh, pounded leaves used for hemorrhoids, splenitis, leprosy. Juice of leaces used for conjunctivitis in children.
• In West Africa, leaf extract of ridged gourd applied to sores caused by guinea worms; leaf sap used as eyewash in conjunctivitis; fruits and seeds used in herbal preparations for treatment of venereal diseases.
In Mauritius, seeds eaten to expel intestinal worms; leaf juice applied to eczema.
• Seed used as insecticidal.
Others
· Fibrous nature of the mature fruit, devoid of pulp, is used as a bath brush or sponge.
• In China, has been used as a pesticide.
• Fibers sometimes used for making hats.

Studies
• Trypsin Inhibitors: Study isolated two trypsin inhibitors, LA-1 and LA-2, both consisting of 28-29 amino acid residues, respectively. Both strongly inhibit trypsin by forming enzyme-inhibitor complexes.
• Constituents: Study isolated seven oleanane-type triterpene saponins, acutosides A-G.
• Antioxidants : An antioxidant-guided assay yielded eight compounds. Results showed consumption of sponge gourds can supply some antioxidant constituents to the human body.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://toptropicals.com/catalog/uid/luffa_acutangula.htm

Patola – Scientific name: Luffa acutangula Linn.


http://www.luffa.info/

http://www.stuartxchange.com/Patola.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luffa_aegyptiaca

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

Enhanced by Zemanta

12 Power Foods: Never Go Hungry

The Power of Food:

These 12 foods make up a large part of your diet. The more of these foods you eat, the better your body will be able to increase lean muscle mass and avoid storing fat.

They have been proven to do one or more of the following:

  • Builds muscle
  • Helps promote weight loss
  • Strengthens bone
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Fights cancer
  • Improves immune function
  • Fights heart disease

Though you can base entire meals and snacks around these foods, you don’t have to. But do follow these guidelines:

  • Incorporate two or three of these foods into each of your three major meals and at least one of them into each of your three snacks.
  • Diversify your food at every meal to get a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
  • Make sure you sneak a little bit of protein into each snack.

1. Almonds and Other Nuts……...click & see
Eat them with skins intact.

Superpowers: Building muscle, fighting food cravings
Protein, monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, folate (in peanuts), fiber, magnesium, phosphorus

Fight against: Obesity, heart disease, muscle loss, cancer

Sidekicks: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, avocados

Impostors: Salted or smoked nuts. High sodium spikes blood pressure

These days, you hear about good fats and bad fats the way you hear about good cops and bad cops. One’s on your side, and one’s going to beat you silly. Oreos fall into the latter category, but nuts are clearly out to help you. They contain the monounsaturated fats that clear your arteries and help you feel full. All nuts are high in protein and monounsaturated fat.

But almonds are like Jack Nicholson in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest: They’re the king of the nuts. Eat as much as two handfuls a day. If you eat 2 ounces of almonds (about 24 of them), it can suppress your appetite—especially if you wash them down with 8 ounces of water.

For a quick popcorn alternative, spray a handful of almonds with nonstick cooking spray and bake them at 400 degrees F for 5 to 10 minutes. Take them out of the oven and sprinkle them with either a brown sugar and cinnamon mix or cayenne pepper and thyme.

2. Beans and Other Legumes

Including soybeans, chickpeas, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, lima beans.

Superpowers: Building muscle, helping burn fat, regulating digestion

Secret weapons: Fiber, protein, iron, folate

Fight against: Obesity, colon cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure

Sidekicks: Lentils, peas, bean dips, hummus, edamame

Impostors: Refried beans, which are high in saturated fats; baked beans, which are high in sugar.

Most of us can trace our resistance to beans to some unfortunately timed intestinal upheaval (third-grade math class, a first date gone awry). But beans are, as the famous rhyme says, good for your heart; the more you eat them, the more you’ll be able to control your hunger.

Black, lima, pinto, navy — you pick it. They’re all low in fat, and they’re packed with protein, fiber, and iron—nutrients crucial for building muscle and losing weight. Gastrointestinal disadvantages notwithstanding, they serve as one of the key members of the Abs Diet cabinet because of all their nutritional power. In fact, if you can replace a meat-heavy dish with a bean-heavy dish a couple of times a week, you’ll be lopping a lot of saturated fat out of your diet and replacing it with higher amounts of fiber.

.
3. Spinach and Other Green Vegetables

Superpowers: Neutralizing free radicals (molecules that accelerate the aging process)

Secret weapons: Vitamins including A, C, and K; folate; beta-carotene; minerals including calcium and magnesium; fiber

Fight against: Cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity, osteoporosis

Sidekicks: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts; green, yellow, red, and orange vegetables such as asparagus, peppers, and yellow beans

Impostors:
None, as long as you don’t fry them or smother them in fatty cheese sauces.
You know vegetables are packed with important nutrients, but they’re also a critical part of your body-changing diet. I like spinach in particular because one serving supplies nearly a full day’s vitamin A and half of your vitamin C. It’s also loaded with folate — a vitamin that protects against heart disease, stroke, and colon cancer. Dress a sandwich with the stuff, or stir-fry it with fresh garlic and olive oil.

Broccoli is high in fiber and more densely packed with vitamins and minerals than almost any other food. If you hate vegetables, hide them. Puree them and add them to marinara sauce or chili. The more you chop, the less you taste, and the easier it is for your body to absorb nutrients. With broccoli, sauté it in garlic and olive oil, and douse it with hot sauce.

4. Dairy Products


Fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese.

Superpowers: Building strong bones, firing up weight loss

Secret weapons: Calcium, vitamins A and B12, riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium

Fight against: Osteoporosis, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer

Sidekicks: None

Impostors: Whole milk, frozen yogurt

Dairy is nutrition’s version of a typecast actor. It gets so much good press for strengthening bones that it garners little attention for all the other stuff it does well. Just take a look at the mounting evidence that calcium is a prime belly-buster. A University of Tennessee study found that dieters who consumed between 1,200 and 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day lost nearly twice as much weight as those taking in less calcium. Researchers think the mineral probably prevents weight gain by increasing the breakdown of body fat and hampering its formation. Low-fat yogurt, cheeses, and other dairy products can play a key role in your diet. But I recommend milk as your major source of calcium. Liquids take up lots of room in your stomach, so your brain gets the signal that you’re full. Sprinkling in chocolate whey powder can help curb sweet cravings.

5. Instant Oatmeal, Unsweetened, unflavored.

Superpowers: Boosting energy and sex drive, reducing cholesterol, maintaining blood-sugar levels

Secret weapons: Complex carbohydrates and fiber

Fights against: Heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, obesity

Sidekicks: High-fiber cereals like All-Bran and Fiber One

Impostors: Sugary cereals

Oatmeal is the Bo Derek of your pantry: It’s a perfect 10. You can eat it at breakfast to propel you through sluggish mornings, a couple of hours before a workout to feel fully energized by the time you hit the weights, or at night to avoid a late-night binge. I recommend instant oatmeal for its convenience. But I want you to buy the unsweetened, unflavored variety and use other Powerfoods such as milk and berries to enhance the taste. Preflavored oatmeal often comes loaded with sugar calories.

Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, meaning that it attracts fluid and stays in your stomach longer than insoluble fiber (like vegetables). Soluble fiber is thought to reduce blood cholesterol by binding with digestive acids made from cholesterol and sending them out of your body. When this happens, your liver has to pull cholesterol from your blood to make more digestive acids, and your bad cholesterol levels drop.

You need more fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Doctors recommend we get between 25 and 35 grams of fiber per day, but most of us get half that. Fiber is like a bouncer for your body, kicking out troublemakers and showing them the door. It protects you from heart disease. It protects you from colon cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of the intestines quickly.

A Penn State study also showed that oatmeal sustains your blood sugar levels longer than many other foods, which keeps your insulin levels stable and ensures you won’t be ravenous for the few hours that follow. That’s good, because spikes in the production of insulin slow your metabolism and send a signal to the body that it’s time to start storing fat. Since oatmeal breaks down slowly in the stomach, it causes less of a spike in insulin levels than foods like bagels. Include it in a smoothie or as your breakfast. (A U.S. Navy study showed that simply eating breakfast raised metabolism by 10 percent.)

Another cool fact about oatmeal:Preliminary studies indicate that oatmeal raises the levels of free testosterone in your body, enhancing your body’s ability to build muscle and burn fat and boosting your sex drive.

6. Eggs

Superpowers: building muscle, burning fat

Secret weapons: Protein, vitamins A and B12

Fight against: Obesity

Sidekicks: Egg Beaters, which have fewer calories than eggs and no fat, but just as much of the core nutrients

Impostors: None

For a long time, eggs were considered pure evil, and doctors were more likely to recommend tossing eggs at passing cars than throwing them into omelette pans. That’s because just two eggs contain enough cholesterol to put you over your daily recommended value. Though you can cut out some of that by removing part of the yolk and using the white, more and more research shows that eating an egg or two a day will not raise your cholesterol levels.

In fact, we’ve learned that most blood cholesterol is made by the body from dietary fat, not dietary cholesterol. That’s why you should take advantage of eggs and their powerful makeup of protein. The protein found in eggs has the highest “biological value” of protein — a measure of how well it supports your body’s protein need — of any food. In other words, the protein in eggs is more effective at building muscle than protein from other sources, even milk and beef. Eggs also contain vitamin B12, which is necessary for fat breakdown.
7. Turkey and Other Lean Meats ,Lean steak, chicken, fish.

Superpowers: Building muscle, improving the immune system

Secret weapons: Protein, iron, zinc, creatine (beef), omega-3 fatty acids (fish), vitamins B6 (chicken and fish) and B12, phosphorus, potassium

Fight against: Obesity, mood disorders, memory loss, heart disease

Sidekicks: Shellfish, Canadian bacon, omega-3 rich flaxseed

Impostors: Sausage, bacon, cured meats, ham, fatty cuts of steak like T-bone and rib eye
A classic muscle-building nutrient, protein is the base of any solid diet plan. Turkey breast is one of the leanest meats you’ll find, and it packs nearly one-third of your daily requirements of niacin and vitamin B6. Dark meat, if you prefer, has lots of zinc and iron. One caution, though: If you’re roasting a whole turkey for a family feast, avoid self-basting birds, which have been injected with fat.

Beef is another classic muscle-building protein. It’s the top food source for creatine — the substance your body uses when you lift weights. Beef does have a downside; it contains saturated fats, but some cuts have more than others. Look for rounds or loins (that’s code for extra-lean); sirloins and New York strips are less fatty than prime ribs and T-bones.
To cut down on saturated fats even more, concentrate on fish like tuna and salmon, because they contain a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein. Those fatty acids lower levels of a hormone called leptin in your body. Several recent studies suggest that leptin directly influences your metabolism: The higher your leptin levels, the more readily your body stores calories as fat. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that mice with low leptin levels have faster metabolisms and are able to burn fat faster than animals with higher leptin levels. Mayo Clinic researchers studying the diets of two African tribes found that the tribe that ate fish frequently had leptin levels nearly five times lower than the tribe that primarily ate vegetables.

A bonus benefit: Researchers in Stockholm found that men who ate no fish had three times the risk of prostate cancer of those who ate it regularly. It’s the omega-3s that inhibit prostate-cancer growth.

8. Peanut Butter,


All-natural, sugar-free.

Superpowers: Boosting testosterone, building muscle, burning fat

Secret weapons:
Protein, monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, niacin, magnesium

Fights against: Obesity, muscle loss, wrinkles, cardiovascular disease

Sidekicks: Cashew and almond butters

Impostors: Mass-produced sugary and trans fatty peanut butters
Yes, PB has its disadvantages: It’s high in calories, and it doesn’t go over well when you order it in four-star restaurants. But it’s packed with those heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that can increase your body’s production of testosterone, which can help your muscles grow and your fat melt. In one 18-month experiment, people who integrated peanut butter into their diet maintained weight loss better than those on low-fat plans. A recent study from the University of Illinois showed that diners who had monounsaturated fats before a meal (in this case, it was olive oil) ate 25 percent fewer calories during that meal than those who didn’t.

Practically speaking, PB also works because it’s a quick and versatile snack — and it tastes good. Since a diet that includes an indulgence like peanut butter doesn’t leave you feeling deprived, it’s easier to follow and won’t make you fall prey to other cravings. Use it on an apple, on the go, or to add flavor to potentially bland smoothies. Two caveats: You can’t gorge on it because of its fat content; limit yourself to about 3 tablespoons per day. And you should look for all-natural peanut butter, not the mass-produced brands that have added sugar.
9. Olive Oil

Superpowers: Lowering cholesterol, boosting the immune system

Secret weapons: Monounsaturated fat, vitamin E

Fights against: Obesity, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure

Sidekicks: Canola oil, peanut oil, sesame oil

Impostors: Other vegetable and hydrogenated vegetable oils, trans fatty acids, margarine

No need for a long explanation here: Olive oil and its brethren will help control your food cravings; they’ll also help you burn fat and keep your cholesterol in check. Do you need any more reason to pass the bottle?

.
10. Whole-Grain Breads and Cereals

Superpowers: Preventing your body from storing fat

Secret weapons: Fiber, protein, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc

Fight against:
Obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease

Sidekicks: Brown rice, whole-wheat pretzels, whole-wheat pastas

Impostors: Processed bakery products like white bread, bagels, and doughnuts; breads labeled wheat instead of whole wheat.
Sidekicks: Brown rice, whole-wheat pretzels, whole-wheat pastas

Impostors: Processed bakery products like white bread, bagels, and doughnuts; breads labeled wheat instead of whole wheat

There’s only so long a person can survive on an all-protein diet or an all-salad diet or an all-anything diet. You crave carbohydrates because your body needs them. The key is to eat the ones that have been the least processed — carbs that still have all their heart-healthy, belly-busting fiber intact.

Grains like wheat, corn, oats, barley, and rye are seeds that come from grasses, and they’re broken into three parts — the germ, the bran, and the endosperm. Think of a kernel of corn.
The biggest part of the kernel — the part that blows up when you make popcorn — is the endosperm. Nutritionally it’s pretty much a big dud. It contains starch, a little protein, and some B vitamins. The germ is the smallest part of the grain; in the corn kernel, it’s that little white seedlike thing. But while it’s small, it packs the most nutritional power. It contains protein, oils, and the B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and pyridoxine. It also has vitamin E and the minerals magnesium, zinc, potassium, and iron. The bran is the third part of the grain and the part where all the fiber is stored. It’s a coating around the endosperm that contains B vitamins, zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and other minerals.

So what’s the point of this little biology lesson? Well, get this: When food manufacturers process and refine grains, guess which two parts get tossed out? Yup, the bran, where all the fiber and minerals are, and the germ, where all the protein and vitamins are. And what they keep—the nutritionally bankrupt endosperm (that is, starch)—gets made into pasta, bagels, white bread, white rice, and just about every other wheat product and baked good you’ll find. Crazy, right? But if you eat products made with all the parts of the grain—whole-grain bread, pasta, long-grain rice—you get all the nutrition that food manufacturers are otherwise trying to cheat you out of.

Whole-grain carbohydrates can play an important role in a healthy lifestyle. In an 11-year study of 16,000 middle-age people, researchers at the University of Minnesota found that consuming three daily servings of whole grains can reduce a person’s mortality risk over the course of a decade by 23 percent. (Tell that to your buddy who’s eating low-carb.) Whole-grain bread keeps insulin levels low, which keeps you from storing fat. In this diet, it’s especially versatile because it’ll supplement any kind of meal with little prep time. Toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, with a dab of peanut butter for a snack. Don’t believe the hype. Carbs—the right kind of carbs—are good for you.
Warning: Food manufacturers are very sneaky. Sometimes, after refining away all the vitamins, fiber, and minerals from wheat, they’ll add molasses to the bread, turning it brown, and put it on the grocery shelf with a label that says wheat bread. It’s a trick! Truly nutritious breads and other products will say whole-wheat or whole-grain. Don’t be fooled.

11. Extra-Protein (Whey) Powder

Superpowers: Building muscle, burning fat

Secret weapons: Protein, cysteine, glutathione

Fights against: Obesity

Sidekick: Ricotta cheese

Impostor: Soy protein

Protein powder? What the heck is that? It’s the only Abs Diet Powerfood that you may not be able to find at the supermarket, but it’s the one that’s worth the trip to a health food store. I’m talking about powdered whey protein, a type of animal protein that packs a muscle-building wallop. If you add whey powder to your meal—in a smoothie, for instance—you may very well have created the most powerful fat-burning meal possible. Whey protein is a high-quality protein that contains essential amino acids that build muscle and burn fat. But it’s especially effective because it has the highest amount of protein for the fewest number of calories, making it fat’s kryptonite.
Smoothies with some whey powder can be most effective before a workout. A 2001 study at the University of Texas found that lifters who drank a shake containing amino acids and carbohydrates before working out increased their protein synthesis (their ability to build muscle) more than lifters who drank the same shake after exercising. Since exercise increases bloodflow to tissues, the theory goes that having whey protein in your system when you work out may lead to a greater uptake of amino acids — the building blocks of muscle — in your muscle.

But that’s not all. Whey protein can help protect your body from prostate cancer. Whey is a good source of cysteine, which your body uses to build a prostate cancer fighting antioxidant called glutathione. Adding just a small amount may increase glutathione levels in your body by up to 60 percent.

By the way, the one great source of whey protein in your supermarket is ricotta cheese. Unlike other cheeses, which are made from milk curd, ricotta is made from whey — a good reason to visit your local Italian eatery.

.

12. Raspberries and Other Berries

Superpowers: Protecting your heart, enhancing eyesight, improving memory, preventing cravings

Secret weapons: Antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, tannins (cranberries)

Fight against: Heart disease, cancer, obesity

Sidekicks: Most other fruits, especially apples and grapefruit
Depending on your taste, any berry will do (except Crunch Berries). I like raspberries as much for their power as for their taste. They carry powerful levels of antioxidants, all-purpose compounds that help your body fight heart disease and cancer; the berries’ flavonoids may also help your eyesight, balance, coordination, and short-term memory. One cup of raspberries packs 6 grams of fiber and more than half of your daily requirement of vitamin C.

str.jpg

Blueberries are also loaded with the soluble fiber that, like oatmeal, keeps you fuller longer. In fact, they’re one of the most healthful foods you can eat. Blueberries beat out 39 other fruits and vegetables in the antioxidant power ratings. (One study also found that rats that ate blueberries were more coordinated and smarter than rats that didn’t.)

Strawberries contain another valuable form of fiber called pectin (as do grapefruits, peaches, apples, and oranges). In a study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, subjects drank plain orange juice or juice spiked with pectin. The people who got the loaded juice felt fuller after drinking it than those who got the juice without the pectin. The difference lasted for an impressive 4 hours.

Here’s an easy way to remember what’s good for you. The first letter of each food group spells: A.B.S.D.I.E.T.P.O.W.E.R 12

Or click here for an entire listing of all the Abs Diet recipes on Menshealth.com.

Source:msn. health & fitness

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]