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Herbs & Plants

Jerusalem artichoke

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Botanical Name: Helianthus tuberosus
Family:    Asteraceae
Tribe:    Heliantheae
Genus:    Helianthus
Species:    H. tuberosus
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Asterales

Synonym:  Sunflower Artichoke.

Common Names: Jerusalem artichoke, Sunroot, Sunchoke, Earth apple or Topinambour

Habitat: Jerusalem artichoke is  native to eastern North America, and found from eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.It grows  on rich and damp thickets.

Description:
Jerusalem artichoke is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1.5–3 m (4 ft 11 in–9 ft 10 in) tall with opposite leaves on the upper part of the stem but alternate below. The leaves have a rough, hairy texture and the larger leaves on the lower stem are broad ovoid-acute and can be up to 30 cm (12 in) long, and the higher leaves smaller and narrower.

The flowers are yellow and produced in capitate flowerheads, which are 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) in diameter, with 10–20 ray florets.

The tubers are elongated and uneven, typically 7.5–10 cm (3.0–3.9 in) long and 3–5 cm (1.2–2.0 in) thick, and vaguely resembling ginger root in appearance, with a crisp texture when raw. They vary in colour from pale brown to white, red, or purple.

The artichoke contains about 10% protein, no oil, and a surprising lack of starch. However, it is rich in the carbohydrate inulin (76%), which is a polymer of the monosaccharide fructose. Tubers stored for any length of time will convert their inulin into its component fructose. Jerusalem artichokes have an underlying sweet taste because of the fructose, which is about one and a half times sweeter than sucrose.
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Jerusalem artichokes have also been promoted as a healthy choice for type 2 diabetics, because fructose is better tolerated by people who are type 2 diabetic. It has also been reported as a folk remedy for diabetes. Temperature variances have been shown to affect the amount of inulin the Jerusalem artichoke can produce. When not in tropical regions, it has been shown to make less inulin than when it is in a warmer region.

Cultivation:     
A very easily grown plant, it grows best in a loose circumneutral loam but succeeds in most soils and conditions in a sunny position. Plants are more productive when grown in a rich soil. Heavy soils produce the highest yields, but the tubers are easily damaged at harvest-time so lighter well-drained sandy loams are more suitable. Dislikes shade. Likes some lime in the soil. Jerusalem artichoke is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 31 to 282cm, an average annual temperature of 6.3 to 26.6°C and a pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.2. Jerusalem artichokes were cultivated as a food plant by the N. American Indians and they are today often grown in temperate areas for their edible tubers. There are some named varieties. The plant is a suitable crop in any soil and climate where corn (Zea mays) will grow. It survives in poor soil and in areas as cold as Alaska. It also tolerates hot to sub-zero temperatures. The first frost kills the stems and leaves, but the tubers can withstand freezing for months. The plants are particularly suited to dry regions and poor soils where they will out-yield potatoes. Tuber production occurs in response to decreasing day-length in late summer. Yields range from 1 – 2kg per square metre. The tubers are very cold-tolerant and can be safely left in the ground in the winter to be harvested as required. They can be attacked by slugs, however, and in sites prone to slug damage it is probably best to harvest the tubers in late autumn and store them over the winter. It is almost impossible to find all the tubers at harvest time, any left in the soil will grow away vigorously in the spring. Plants do not flower in northern Europe. They are sensitive to day-length hours, requiring longer periods of light from seedling to maturation of plant, and shorter periods for tuber formation. They do not grow where day-lengths vary little. The plant is good weed eradicator, it makes so dense a shade that few other plants can compete. The young growth is extremely attractive to slugs, plants can be totally destroyed by them. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. Plants only produce flowers in Britain after a long hot summer and seed is rarely formed. Grows well with corn. Plants can be invasive.

Propagation:     
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn[200]. Harvest the tubers in late autumn or the winter and either replant the tubers immediately or store them in a cool but frost-free place and plant them out in early spring. Jerusalem artichoke is propagated by tubers, which should be planted as early as possible in the spring when the soil can be satisfactorily worked. Late planting usually reduces tuber yields and size seriously. Whole tubers or pieces about 50 g (2 oz.) should be planted like potatoes and covered to a depth of 10 cm. Pieces larger than 50 g do not increase the yield, though those smaller will decrease it. Deeper planting may delay emergence, weaken the sprouts, and cause the tubers to develop deeper, making harvest more difficult[269]. Basal cuttings in spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 – 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Edible Uses: Coffee;  Sweetener.
Tubers – raw or cooked. The tuber develops a pleasant sweetness during the winter, especially if subjected to frosts, and is then reasonably acceptable raw. Otherwise it is generally best cooked, and can be used in all the ways that potatoes are used. The tubers are rich in inulin, a starch which the body cannot digest, so Jerusalem artichokes provide a bulk of food without many calories. Some people are not very tolerant of inulin, it tends to ferment in their guts and can cause quite severe wind. The tubers are fairly large, up to 10cm long and 6cm in diameter. The tubers bruise easily and lose moisture rapidly so are best left in the ground and harvested as required. The inulin from the roots can be converted into fructose, a sweet substance that is safe for diabetics to use. The roasted tubers are a coffee substitute…....CLICK & SEE 

Medicinal Uses:
Aperient;  Cholagogue;  Diuretic;  Stomachic;  Tonic.

Reported to be aperient, aphrodisiac, cholagogue, diuretic, spermatogenetic, stomachic, and tonic, Jerusalem artichoke is a folk remedy for diabetes and rheumatism.

CLICK & SEE THE MEDICAL PROPERITIES OF  Jerusalem artichoke..>  ...(1).....(2)…
Other Uses:
Biomass.:  The plants are a good source of biomass. The tubers are used in industry to make alcohol etc. The alcohol fermented from the tubers is said to be of better quality than that from sugar beets. A fast-growing plant, Jerusalem artichokes can be grown as a temporary summer screen. Very temporary, it is July before they reach a reasonable height and by October they are dying down.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_artichoke
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Helianthus+tuberosus

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Categories
News on Health & Science

9 Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food

Your grocery store is plentifully stocked with wolves in sheep’s clothing. Here are some tips to help you steer clear of hidden toxins that masquerade as safe products.

……..Grocery shopping

1. Stay away from processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, and sausage. Sodium nitrate can also cause the formation of nitrosamines in your system, which can lead to cancer.

2. Reduce the amount of canned food you consume. Cans are commonly lined with bisphenol-A, an organic compound that may be associated with diabetes and heart disease.

3. Skip the diet soda and artificial sweeteners. Prolonged exposure to aspartame, a neurotoxic chemical additive in these products, can lead to nerve cell damage, dizziness, and headaches.

4. Opt for organic chicken. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy discovered traces of arsenic in non-organic chickens. Exposure to this dangerous chemical can lead to cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Another study also found numerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria in conventional poultry.

5. Avoid manufactured snacks.
Hydrogenated oils are used to lengthen the shelf life of products like crackers and cookies, but they are also associated with diabetes and heart disease. Snack foods are also generally loaded with salt, corn syrup and other unhealthy ingredients.

6. Stay away from artificially-colored foods like candy, maraschino cherries, and gelatin. Mice and rats exposed to blue 1 and 2, red 3 and yellow 6 suffered from brain, adrenal gland, thyroid, and kidney tumors.

7. Always buy organic produce. Lingering pesticides can lead to nervous and reproductive system damage, not to mention cancer.

8. Avoid Teflon cookware. The Teflon used to create nonstick surfaces can release noxious gases when exposed to high temperatures, which puts you at risk for a large variety of diseases, many of which are not even well documented at this time.

9. Never microwave food in plastic bowls, containers, or dishes.
Exposure to heat causes the bisphenol-A found in plastics to break down and potentially contaminate your food.

Sources: AlterNet August 11, 2009

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News on Health & Science

Purple Tomato that Fights Cancer

A purple tomato genetically engineered to contain nutrients more commonly seen in dark berries helped prevent cancer in mice, British researchers said on Sunday.

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The finding, published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, bolsters the idea that plants can be genetically modified to make people healthier.

Cancer-prone mice fed the modified fruit lived significantly longer than animals fed a standard diet with and without regular tomatoes, Cathie Martin and colleagues at the government-funded John Innes Centre in Britain reported.

“The effect was much bigger than we had expected,” said Martin, a plant biologist.

The study focused on anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant found in berries such as blackberries and blackcurrants that have been shown to lower risk of cancer, heart disease and some neurological diseases.

While an easy health boost, many people do not eat enough of these fruits, the researchers said.

Using genes that help colour the snapdragon flower, the researchers discovered they could get the tomatoes to make anthocyanins — turning the tomato purple in the process.

Mice genetically engineered to develop cancer lived an average of 182 days when they were fed the purple tomatoes, compared to 142 days for animals on the standard diet.

“It is enormously encouraging to believe that by changing diet, or specific components in the diet, you can improve health in animals and possibly humans,” Martin said in a telephone interview.

The researchers cautioned that trials in humans are a long way off and the next step is to investigate how the antioxidants actually affect the tumours to promote better health.

But the findings do bolster research suggesting that people can significantly improve their health by making simple changes to the daily diet, other researchers said.

“It’s exciting to see new techniques that could potentially make healthy foods even better for us,” said Dr. Lara Bennett, science information officer at Cancer Research UK.

“But it’s too early to say whether anthocyanins obtained through diet could help to reduce the risk of cancer.”

Click to see :->Pomegranates: the fruity panacea

Berries ‘help prevent dementia’

Darker fruits could fight cancer

Purple tomato ‘may boost health’

Sources: The Times Of India

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Featured

Five Very Healthy but Uncommon Food

Jicama……………..

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Jicama (HE-kuh-muh) is a Central American root vegetable that looks like a potato or turnip but is juicy and slightly sweet. You can slice it and eat it raw, or boil it like a potato, till soft.

Why it’s healthy: One cup contains just 49 calories and is loaded with 6 grams of fiber. It also packs a hefty dose of vitamin C.

Where to find it
: The produce sections of high-end supermarkets, like Whole Foods and Fresh Market.

Aioli………….

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Aioli (eye-OH-lee) is a light, mayonnaise-style sauce made of olive oil, eggs, and garlic. It originated in the south of France and is traditionally served with seafood, hard-boiled eggs, and vegetables.

Why it’s healthy: As a replacement for commercial soybean-oil mayonnaise, aioli provides a tasty source of heart-healthy olive oil, protein- and vitamin E-rich eggs, and cholesterol-lowering, cancer-fighting garlic.

Where to find it: Aioli isn’t stocked by many regular supermarkets, but it’s easy to purchase at online sites, such as savorypantry.com or gourmetfoodstore.com. Or … make your own.

Sunflower Greens………………..

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These crunchy, nutty-tasting sprouts arise when sunflower seeds are grown in soil for about a week.

Why they’re healthy: They contain much of the heart-healthy fat, fiber, and plant protein found in sunflower seeds.

Where to find them: Locate the greens in your local farmer’s market or in the produce section of some higher-end grocery stores.

Rooibos Tea…………

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Rooibos (ROY-bus) is a vibrant red tea made from a South African legume. The tea is caffeine-free and also naturally sweet, so you won’t need to add sugar.

Why it’s healthy: Rooibos is loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants and has been shown to boost the immune system. In fact, a recent Japanese study on mice and rats suggests that rooibos tea may help prevent both allergies and cancer.

Where to find it: Look for Celestial Seasonings rooibos teas (we like Madagascar Vanilla Red) in your local grocery store, or try the Adagio brand, an organic product that features 13 different all-natural flavors (adagio.com).

Kefir……………………

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Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy beverage is made by culturing fresh milk with kefir grains.

Why it’s healthy: Because kefir contains gut-friendly bacteria, it’s been shown to lower cholesterol, improve lactose digestion, and enhance the immune system. In addition, University of Washington scientists recently demonstrated that kefir was more effective than fruit juice or other dairy beverages at helping people control hunger.

Where to find it:
Look for kefir in the health-food section of your local supermarket, or in the dairy aisle of health-food stores, such as Whole Foods.

Provided by Men’s Health

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Positive thinking

Intuitive Guidance From Within

Using Yourself As A Pendulum
Learning to trust our intuition is something that can connect us with our higher selves. Sometimes it might not seem easy to do this. Our thoughts and minds often get in the way. But by accessing our innermost self, we will find that the information we receive is usually what we truly need at that moment. One of the techniques that allows us to really get in touch with our deepest font of wisdom is using our body as a pendulum. The simple act of letting our physical being lead us in a certain direction can offer us extremely deep insights and help us find the answers we seek.

Many of us may have tried using a pendulum or crystal on a chain as a dousing tool to acquire the information we need to make decisions or even find lost objects. Using our bodies puts us much more closely in tune with our being. The process of using your body as a pendulum is to ask your higher self a question and wait for your body to respond in either a forward-tilting or backward-tilting motion. The first step is to really understand how our higher self communicates with us by centering our bodies, asking ourselves the directions for “yes” and “no,” and noting which way our body moves. For a lot of people a forward motion is “yes,” and your body tilting backward is a “no” answer. It is easier to start with simple questions at first to understand how our higher self communicates with us. As we become more used to the messages we receive and how we process them, we can start asking for more specific things such as what dosage of herbs to take or which foods would best nour! ish our bodies. Using this technique in the grocery store or when shopping for vitamins and remedies can be extremely helpful.

Since we are always present in our bodies, understanding how we can use our bodies as pendulums is a tool we can use at any given moment in our lives. Letting our bodies tell us what is happening inside of us will in turn help to guide us through not just daily but also major life decisions. The more we allow our bodies to open up and share with us the connection it has with our deeper self, the better able we will be to truly access the knowledge we hold so deeply within.

Sources : Daily Om

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