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Amelanchier bartramiana

Botanical Name : Amelanchier bartramiana
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Amelanchier
Species: A. bartramiana
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms : A. oligocarpa. Pyrus bartramiana.

Common Names: Mountain serviceberry, Mountain shadbush, Bartram‘s serviceberry, Mountain juneberry, Bartram juneberry, and the Oblongfruit serviceberry

Habitat :Amelanchier bartramiana is native to N. America – Labrador to Minnesota and south to Pennsylvania. It grows on the Peaty or boggy thickets, sphagnum bogs, bushy and mountain slopes to the sub-alpine zone.

Description:
Amelanchier bartramiana is a deciduous perennial Shrub or a tree growing to 3 m (9ft 10in). The leaves of Amelanchier bartramiana are either brown or green coloured, are egg-shaped and tapered at both ends with fine teeth almost to the base. It has 6–12 teeth while its lateral veins comes 10–16 pairs. Its petioles are 2–10 millimetres (0.079–0.394 in) long while its blades are ovate and elliptic. The flowers have five white petals, appearing singly or in clusters of up to four blossoms. The pomes are red, ripening to dark purple and are pear-shaped.

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The plant is not frost tender. It is in flower from Apr to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.
Cultivation:
Prefers a rich loamy soil in a sunny position or semi-shade but thrives in any soil, including chalk, so long as it is not too dry or water-logged. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are hardy to about -30°c. All members of this genus have edible fruits and, whilst this is dry and uninteresting in some species, in many others it is sweet and juicy. Many of the species have potential for use in the garden as edible ornamentals. The main draw-back to this genus is that birds adore the fruit and will often completely strip a tree before it is fully ripe. This species hybridises with A. sanguinea, A. humilis, A. stolonifera, A. fernaldii and A. canadensis. Grafting onto seedlings of A. lamarckii or Sorbus aucuparia is sometimes practised in order to avoid the potential problem of hybridizing.

Propagation:
Seed – it is best harvested ‘green’, when the seed is fully formed but before the seed coat has hardened, and then sown immediately in pots outdoors or in a cold frame. If stored seed is obtained early enough in the autumn, it can be given 4 weeks warm stratification before being left out in the winter and it should then germinate in the spring. Otherwise seed can be very slow to germinate, perhaps taking 18 months or more. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a sheltered outdoor position, planting them out once they are 20cm or more tall. If there is sufficient seed it is best to sow it thinly in an outdoor seedbed. Grow the seedlings on for two years in the seedbed before planting them out into their permanent positions during the winter. Layering in spring – takes 18 months. Division of suckers in late winter. The suckers need to have been growing for 2 years before you dig them up, otherwise they will not have formed roots. They can be planted out straight into their permanent positions if required.

Edible Uses:
The fruits are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. The fruit contains a few small seeds at the centre, it is sweet but rather dry according to one report whilst others have found it to be sweet and juicy. The fruit can be added to pancakes or dried for later use. Fruits are oval or pear shaped unlike other members of this genus that have round fruits. They are 15mm long. The fruit is rich in iron and copper.

Medicinal Uses:
Not yet 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:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Amelanchier+bartramiana
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelanchier_bartramiana

Green Tea May Help Reduce Risk of Certain Cancers

Researchers in Japan have said drinking green tea may be an important health resource to reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.

The study appearing in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests drinking five or more cups of the antioxidant-rich beverage can reduce the risk of developing blood cancer by 42 percent. The same amount of green tea was also associated with a 48 percent lower risk of lymph system cancer, according to Reuters.

Researchers followed 19,749 men and 22,012 women with no previous history of cancer over a period of nine years for the study.

WebMD notes that previous research has linked the tea to fighting heart disease, lowering cholesterol and preventing diabetes and dementia.

“Taken altogether, the evidence certainly suggests that incorporating at least a few cups of green tea every day will positively affect your health. It’s not going to cure anything and it shouldn’t be consumed as a drug, but it can complement the rest of the diet,” Tufts University scientist Dr. Diane McKay tells WebMD.

Researchers involved with this study say further work is needed to confirm the health benefits of drinking green tea, and to determine whether daily consumption might prevent certain cancers.

Source:Better Health Research. Oct.20 ’09

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Pistachio

Botanical Name:Pistacia Vera/Pistacia atlantica
Family:    Anacardiaceae
Genus:    Pistacia
Species:    P. vera
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:    Sapindales

Common Names: Pistachio, Pistache.Mount Atlas Pistache, Mount Atlas mastic tree, Atlantic Pistachio
Origin: The pistachio tree is native to western Asia and Asia Minor,from Syria to the Caucasus and Afghanistan. Archaeological evidence in Turkey indicate the nuts were being used for food as early as 7,000 B.C. The pistachio was introduced to Italy from Syria early in the first century A.D. Subsequently its cultivation spread to other Mediterranean countries. The tree was first introduced into the United States in 1854 by Charles Mason, who distributed seed for experimental plantings in California, Texas and some southern states. In 1875 a few small pistachio trees, imported from France were planted in Sonoma, Calif. In the early 1900’s the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture assembled a collection of Pistacia species and pistachio nut varieties at the Plant Introduction Station in Chico, Calif. Commercial production of pistachio nuts began in the late 1970’s and rapidly expanded to a major operation in the San Joaquin Valley. Other major pistachio producing areas are Iran and Turkey and to a lesser extent, Syria, India, Greece, Pakistan and elsewhere.

Description:
Pistachio is a desert plant, and is highly tolerant of saline soil. It has been reported to grow well when irrigated with water having 3,000–4,000 ppm of soluble salts.  Pistachio trees are fairly hardy in the right conditions, and can survive temperatures ranging between ?10 °C (14 °F) in winter and 48 °C (118 °F) in summer. They need a sunny position and well-drained soil. Pistachio trees do poorly in conditions of high humidity, and are susceptible to root rot in winter if they get too much water and the soil is not sufficiently free-draining. Long, hot summers are required for proper ripening of the fruit. They have been known to thrive in warm, moist environments.

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The bush grows up to 10 m (33 ft) tall. It has deciduous pinnate leaves 10–20 centimeters (4–8 inches) long. The plants are dioecious, with separate male and female trees. The flowers are apetalous and unisexual, and borne in panicles.

The fruit is a drupe, containing an elongated seed, which is the edible portion. The seed, commonly thought of as a nut, is a culinary nut, not a botanical nut. The fruit has a hard, creamish exterior shell. The seed has a mauvish skin and light green flesh, with a distinctive flavor. When the fruit ripens, the shell changes from green to an autumnal yellow/red, and abruptly splits part way open . This is known as dehiscence, and happens with an audible pop. The splitting open is a trait that has been selected by humans. Commercial cultivars vary in how consistently they split open.

Each pistachio tree averages around 50 kilograms (110 lb) of seeds, or around 50,000, every two years.

The shell of the pistachio is naturally a beige color, but it is sometimes dyed red or green in commercial pistachios. Originally, dye was applied by importers to hide stains on the shells caused when the seeds were picked by hand. Most pistachios are now picked by machine and the shells remain unstained, making dyeing unnecessary except to meet ingrained consumer expectations.

History
Pistachio is often confused with some of the other nine species in the genus Pistacia, such as P. terebinthus and P. lentiscus. These species have a very different distribution, in the Mediterranean and southwest Asia, and have much smaller nuts, lacking the hard shell of P. vera. Their turpentine-flavoured nuts were a popular food in antiquity. Finds of Pistacia from pre-classical archaeological sites, or references in pre-classical texts, always refer to one of these other species (often P. terebinthus).

Pistachio (in the sense of P. vera) was first cultivated in Western Asia. It reached the Mediterranean world by way of central Iran, where it has long been an important crop. Although known to the Romans, the pistachio nut appears not to have reached the Mediterranean or most of the Near East in any quantity before medieval times. More recently pistachio has been cultivated in California (first commercial harvest in 1976) and Australia. The word pistachio is a Persian loanword, coming into English through Italian, and is a cognate to the Modern Persian word Peste’.

Cultivation:
Global Crop;  Management: Coppice;  Management: Standard;  Other Systems: Strip intercrop;  Staple Crop: Protein-oil.

Does well in light calcareous soils. Grows well on poor soils. Prefers long hot summers and low humidity. Plants are not very hardy in Britain and are unlikely to succeed outdoors in any but the mildest areas of the country. They will be hardier in areas with long hot summers that will thoroughly ripen the wood. Plants are prone to fungal root rots. The pistachio nut is often cultivated for its edible seed in warm temperate areas, there are many named forms. It is very unlikely to produce a crop of seeds in Britain, simply because the summers here are not hot enough or long enough. Any pruning that needs to be done is best carried out in the spring. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. One male plant for every five females is adequate. Special Features: Edible, Not North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Pre-soak the seed for 16 hours in alkalized water, or for 3 – 4 days in warm water, and sow late winter in a cold frame or greenhouse. Two months cold stratification may speed up germination, so it might be better to sow the seed in early winter. The germination is variable and can be slow. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on the plants for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out into their permanent positions in early summer and consider giving some protection from winter cold for their first year or two outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood from juvenile trees, July in a frame. Layering.

 

Harvest: The nuts are harvested when the husk or hull covering the shell becomes fairly loose. A single shaking will bring down the bulk of the matured nuts, which can be caught on a tarp or canvas. A fully mature tree may produce as much as 50 pounds of dry, hulled nuts. The hulls should be removed soon after to prevent staining of the shells. To enhance splitting, the hulled nuts may then be dipped into water to moisten the shell and spread out in the sun to dry. One method of salting the split nuts is to boil them in a salt solution for a few minutes, then redry and store them. Stored in plastic bags pistachios will last for at least 4 to 6 weeks in the refrigerator. Frozen they will last for months.
Neutritional Value:
Pistachios are a nutritionally dense food. In a 100 gram serving, pistachios provide 562 calories and are a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value or DV) of protein, dietary fiber, several dietary minerals and the B vitamins, thiamin and especially vitamin B6 at 131% DV (table).[31] Pistachios are a good source (10–19% DV) of calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B5, folate, vitamin E , and vitamin K (table).

The fat profile of raw pistachios consists of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fatty acids include palmitic acid (10% of total) and stearic acid (2%). Oleic acid is the most common monounsaturated fatty acid (51% of total fat) and linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, is 31% of total fat.[31] Relative to other tree nuts, pistachios have a lower amount of fat and calories but higher amounts of potassium, vitamin K, ?-tocopherol, and certain phytochemicals such as carotenoids and phytosterols

Edible Uses:

The pistachio is unique in the nut trade due to its semi-split shell which enables the processor to roast and salt the kernel without removing the shell, and which at the same time serves as a convenient form of packaging. About 90% of California pistachios are consumed as in-shell snacks. Shelled pistachios are utilized commercially in confectionery, ice cream, candies, sausages, bakery goods and flavoring for puddings. They can also be added to dressings, casseroles and other dishes.

Health Benefits:

The kernels are eaten whole, either fresh or roasted and salted, and are also used in ice cream and confections such as baklava. In July 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first qualified health claim specific to nuts lowering the risk of heart disease: “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease”.. In research at Pennsylvania State University, pistachios in particular significantly reduced levels of LDL, the ‘bad’ cholesterol, in the blood of volunteers.Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Nutrition and Sciences has also conducted related research on other health benefits of pistachios, including an April 2007 study concluding that pistachios may calm acute stress reaction , and a June 2007 study on the cardiovascular health benefits of eating pistachios. Paramount Farms, the largest commercial producer of pistachios in the United States, operates and maintains a public website with information on pistachio health, nutrition, history, and facts, as well as links or downloadable files for all of the above health research studies and more at PistachioHealth.com.

The pistachio has been used as a dyeing agent and a folk remedy for ailments ranging from toothaches to sclerosis of the liver. The pistachio’s high nutritional value and long storage life also made it an indispensable travel item among early explorers and traders. Along with almonds, pistachios were frequently carried by travelers across the ancient Silk Road that connected China with the West.

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The shell of the pistachio is naturally a beige colour, but it is sometimes dyed red or green in commercial pistachios. Originally the dye was applied by importers to hide stains on the shells caused when the nuts were picked by hand. However most pistachios are now picked by machine and the shells remain unstained, making dyeing unnecessary (except that some consumers have been led to expect coloured pistachios). Roasted pistachio nuts turn naturally red if they are marinated prior to roasting in a salt and strawberry marinade, or salt and citrus salts .
Other Uses:

Landscape Uses:Specimen. Requires a sunny position in a deep well-drained light soil. Succeeds in dry soils.

Pistachio nuts are highly flammable when stored in large quantities, and are prone to self heating and spontaneous combustion

Known Hazards:  Pistachios contain urushiol, an irritant that can cause allergic reactions

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://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/pistachio.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pistachio
http://www.pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Pistacia+vera

 

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How to Get More ‘Good’ Cholesterol

Doctors aren’t the only ones telling people to lower their cholesterol. Television commercials also tout cereals   from Quaker to Kellogg’s   and medications that encourage viewers to become heart healthy and promise to lower LDL, the “bad” cholesterol.

But there is another type of cholesterol that physicians agree is important to raise — HDL, or the “good” cholesterol.

HDL works in opposition to LDL. Instead of increasing the risk of heart disease, it can help prevent heart attacks and stroke.

Doctors have known this for more than a decade, but cardiologists have recently started paying more attention to HDL after a study showed that giving doses of it could reverse plaque buildup in arteries, said Dr. Robert Rosenson, a preventive cardiologist at Northwestern University in Chicago and a member of the American College of Cardiologists’ prevention committee.

For the first time, the study showed how raising HDL is likely as important as lowering LDL when it comes to reducing the risk of heart attack, Rosenson said.

And just as too many Americans have high levels of so-called bad cholesterol, too few have low levels of good cholesterol. The latest statistics from the American Heart Association show that as many as one in three adult men and one in 10 adult women have low HDL cholesterol.

Therefore, “the next big hope is raising HDL,” said Dr. Greg Brown, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Drug May Offer Hope

Hope may lie with a new drug, torcetrapib, that raises HDL. It has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but Dr. Steven Nissen said the trials of the drug were “one of the most watched.” He is interim chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and president of the American College of Cardiology.

“If [torcetrapib] works, it’ll be a revolution,” said Nissen, who’s also the principal investigator in an ongoing trial of the medication. Early trials of the drug have resulted in a 50 to 60 percent increase in HDL levels, he said.

Torcetrapib may raise blood pressure slightly in some patients, though, which is an unwanted side effect when trying to reduce risk factors for heart disease, Rosenson said.

Also, it is not yet known how effective torcetrapib will be at reducing the risk of heart attack, Nissen said.

The drug has received a lot of press already in part because of controversy raised when Pfizer, its manufacturer, said initially that it would market torcetrapib ony as a combination pill with Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering drug.

But this week The New York Times reported that Pfizer had reversed its decision and now plans to make it available as a stand-alone drug as well.

What About Niacin?

Even though torcetrapib won’t be approved until 2008 at the earliest, there are already medications on the market that are effective at raising HDL. Niacin, or vitamin B3 in high-dose form, is one that raises HDL by about 30 percent, Brown said.

In spite of its effectiveness, niacin isn’t prescribed very often by general doctors, said Dr. Roger Blumenthal, director of the Johns Hopkins Ciccaroni preventive cardiology center and spokesman for the American Heart Association.

That’s because it often causes flushing, or heat flashes, in patients. Although it’s effective, many doctors don’t prescribe it, because it requires counseling patients on side effects and adjusting the dosage many times, Brown said.

While some patients can’t tolerate niacin, the side effects do go away after two to three months of continued use, he added. Also, drug manufacturers are developing newer preparations of niacin that minimize the side effects and may become available next year, Blumenthal said.

Lifestyle Changes Work, Too

For patients at high risk of heart attack and strokes, some preventive cardiologists have been fairly aggressive about treating low HDL. But Blumenthal said that cholesterol guidelines for general physicians have focused more on lowering LDL than on raising HDL and that the evidence for them to aggressively treat low HDL isn’t yet available.

But, if you are interested in increasing your good cholesterol, there are a number of things you can do, doctors said. Not surprisingly, they are what doctors always advise — get more exercise and eat better.

First, lose weight if you are overweight, Brown said, because overweight or obese people are likely to have lots of bad and not enough good cholesterol.

Regular exercise also pumps up HDL levels. And, for those who smoke, quitting raises HDL levels as well — a result that can be seen in about 60 days, Rosenson said .

Altogether, the lifestyle changes can raise HDL by about 20 percent, he added.

As for dietary recommendations for elevating HDL, Rosenson said fish, walnuts, almonds and avocados all have monounsaturated fats, which can help raise HDL slightly, although he recommends them in moderation.

Lifestyle changes are important, doctors said, not only for improving HDL but for overall improvement in cholesterol and health.

But, said one dietitian: “There is no magic cereal that will suddenly improve cholesterol. However, eating high-fiber cereal is a great way to start your day.”

Source:ABC News