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Cauliflower

Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea botrytis
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica
Species: B. oleracea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales

Common Name: Cauliflower (The name comes from Latin caulis (cabbage) and flower)

Habitat: Cauliflower is grown allover the world. It is cultivated form of B. oleracea.

Description:     Cauliflower an annual /biennial plant that reproduces by seed, growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in).    It is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September in Colder countries but in tropical countries it is an winter vegitable. Typically, only the head (the white curd) is eaten. The cauliflower head is composed of a white inflorescence meristem. Cauliflower heads resemble those in broccoli, which differs in having flower buds. Brassica oleracea also includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, and kale, though they are of different cultivar groups.The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.

CLICK &  SEE THE PICTURES….………....Cauliflower Plant..……Cauliflower…...Cauliflower seeds

Classification and identification:…….Major groups:…….There are four major groups of cauliflower.

*Italian: Diverse in appearance, and biennial and annual in type, this group includes white, Romanesco, various brown, green, purple, and yellow cultivars. This type is the ancestral form from which the others were derived.

*Northern European annuals: Used in Europe and North America for summer and fall harvest, it was developed in Germany in the 18th century, and includes the old cultivars Erfurt and Snowball.

*Northwest European biennial: Used in Europe for winter and early spring harvest, this was developed in France in the 19th century, and includes the old cultivars Angers and Roscoff.

*Asian: A tropical cauliflower used in China and India, it was developed in India during the 19th century from the now-abandoned Cornish type,and includes old varieties Early Benaras and Early Patna.

Varieties: There are hundreds of historic and current commercial varieties used around the world. A comprehensive list of about 80 North American varieties is maintained at North Carolina State University.

Colours: ....White……..White cauliflower is the most common color of cauliflower.

Orange:....Orange cauliflower (B. oleracea L. var. botrytis) contains 25% more vitamin A than white varieties. This trait came from a natural mutant found in a cauliflower field in Canada. Cultivars include ‘Cheddar’ and ‘Orange Bouquet’.

Green:.…..Green cauliflower, of the B. oleracea botrytis group, is sometimes called broccoflower. It is available in the normal curd shape and with a fractal spiral curd called Romanesco broccoli. Both have been commercially available in the U.S. and Europe since the early 1990s. Green-curded varieties include ‘Alverda’, ‘Green Goddess’ and ‘Vorda’. Romanesco varieties include ‘Minaret’ and ‘Veronica’.

Purple:…….The purple color in this cauliflower is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanins, which can also be found in red cabbage and red wine. Varieties include ‘Graffiti’ and ‘Purple Cape’.
In Great Britain and southern Italy, a broccoli with tiny flower buds is sold as a vegetable under the name “purple cauliflower”; it is not the same as standard cauliflower with a purple curd.
Cultivation :
Succeeds in full sun in a well-drained moisture-retentive fertile soil with plenty of lime. Cauliflowers, especially the winter and spring maturing types, should not be given a soil that is too rich in nitrogen since this can encourage soft, sappy growth that is more susceptible to winter cold damage. Prefers a heavy soil]. Requires a warm sunny position. Prefers a pH in the range 6 to 7, though it tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 8.3. Succeeds in maritime gardens. Lack of moisture in the growing season can cause the plant to produce small or deformed curds. Summer varieties are not very cold hardy and will be damaged by light frosts, winter cauliflower plants are more hardy and will tolerate temperatures down to about -6°c, though the curds are more sensitive and can suffer damage at about -2°c. This damage can often be prevented by bending over the leaves so that they cover the curd. Cauliflowers are widely grown for their edible immature flower heads (or curd). There are many named varieties and, by careful selection, it is possible to provide a year round supply. The summer and autumn maturing cultivars are annuals, they need to produce a certain number of leaves before curd development will be initiated. The optimum temperature for this is around 17°c, but at temperatures above 20°c the curds will either be of poor quality or not be produced at all. Winter and spring maturing forms are biennial and need exposure to temperatures below 10°c before they will produce curds and once again, this will not happen unless the plant has reached a certain size. Grows well with celery and other aromatic plants since these seem to deter insect predations. Grows badly with beet, tomatoes, onions and strawberries.

Propagation :
Seed – sow in a seedbed outdoors in April to June depending on the cultivar. Plant out into their permanent position when the plants are 5 – 10cm tall. Seed of some cultivars can be sown in late winter in a greenhouse in order to obtain a harvest in early summer. Do not let the seedlings get overcrowded or they will soon become leggy and will not make such good plants. If your seedlings do get leggy, it is possible to plant them rather deeper into the soil – the buried stems will soon form roots and the plant will be better supported.

Edible Uses: 
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves.
Edible Uses:

Immature flowering head – raw or cooked. A mild cabbage-like flavour, they make an excellent cooked vegetable and are also very acceptable in salads. By careful selection of cultivars, it is possible to produce flowering heads all year round. Leaves – cooked. A mild cabbage flavour, they make a good cooked vegetable. Do not over-harvest them, however, since this would adversely affect the production of the flowering head .

Medicinal Uses:
Protection against certain cancers. Naturally occurring chemicals (indoles, isothiocyanates, glucosinolates, dithiolethiones, and phenols) in cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables appear to reduce the risk of some cancers, perhaps by preventing the formation of carcinogens in your body or by blocking cancer-causing substances from reaching or reacting with sensitive body tissues or by inhibiting the transformation of healthy cells to malignant ones.

All cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane, a member of a family of chemicals known as isothiocyanates. In experiments with laboratory rats, sulforaphane appears to increase the body’s production of phase-2 enzymes, naturally occurring substances that inactivate and help eliminate carcinogens. At the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, 69 percent of the rats injected with a chemical known to cause mammary cancer developed tumors vs. only 26 percent of the rats given the carcinogenic chemical plus sulforaphane.

In 1997, Johns Hopkins researchers discovered that broccoli seeds and three-day-old broccoli sprouts contain a compound converted to sulforaphane when the seed and sprout cells are crushed. Five grams of three-day-old broccoli sprouts contain as much sulforaphane as 150 grams of mature broccoli. The sulforaphane levels in other cruciferous vegetables have not yet been calculated………....Click & see : 
Other Uses :…….Fungicide……..An extract of the seeds inactivates the bacteria that causes black rot.

Known Hazards:
Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter). Cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, contain goitrin, thiocyanate, and isothiocyanate. These chemicals, known collectively as goitrogens, inhibit the formation of thyroid hormones and cause the thyroid to enlarge in an attempt to produce more. Goitrogens are not hazardous for healthy people who eat moderate amounts of cruciferous vegetables, but they may pose problems for people who have a thyroid condition or are taking thyroid medication.

Intestinal gas. Bacteria that live naturally in the gut degrade the indigestible carbohydrates (food fiber) in cauliflower, producing intestinal gas that some people find distressing.

Food/Drug Interactions: Anticoagulants. Cauliflower contains vitamin K, the blood-clotting vitamin produced naturally by bacteria in our intestines. Additional intake of vitamin K may reduce the effectiveness of anticoagulants (warfarin, Coumadin, Panwarfin), requiring larger-than-normal doses to produce the same effect.

False-positive test for occult blood in the stool. The active ingredient in the guiac slide test for hidden blood in feces is alphaguaiaconic acid, a chemical that turns blue in the presence of blood. Cauliflower contains peroxidase, a natural chemical that also turns alphaguaiaconic acid blue and may produce a positive test in people who do not actually have blood in the stool.

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/Brassica_oleracea
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cauliflower
http://www.vietnamese-recipes.com/articles/medical-uses-benefits-cauliflower.php
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Brassica+oleracea+botrytis

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Cashew Nut

Botanical Name : Anacardium occidentale
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Anacardium
Species: A. occidentale
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Names:Cashew Nut , Cajueiro, jambu,Caju  (The name Anacardium actually refers to the shape of the fruit, which looks like an inverted heart (ana means “upwards” and -cardium means “heart”). In the Tupian languages acajú means “nut that produces itself)

Habitat :Anacardium occidentale is   Originally native to Northeastern Brazil, it is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew apples and nuts.

Description:
The anacardium occidentale is large and   Spreading evergreen perennial tree , growing to 10-12m (~32 ft) tall, with a short, often irregularly shaped trunk. The leaves are spirally arranged, leathery textured, elliptic to obovate, 4 to 22 cm long and 2 to 15 cm broad, with a smooth margin. The flowers are produced in a panicle or corymb up to 26 cm long, each flower small, pale green at first then turning reddish, with five slender, acute petals 7 to 15 mm long. The largest cashew tree in the world covers an area of about 7,500 square metres (81,000 sq ft)…..> click & see
Click to see the pictures of:

Anacardium occidentale tree

Cashew ready in tree

Young cashew nuts

Anacardium occidentale (Cashew nut)
The fruit of the cashew tree is an accessory fruit (sometimes called a pseudocarp or false fruit). What appears to be the fruit is an oval or pear-shaped structure, a hypocarpium, that develops from the pedicel and the receptacle of the cashew flower.[3] Called the cashew apple, better known in Central America as “marañón”, it ripens into a yellow and/or red structure about 5–11 cm long. It is edible, and has a strong “sweet” smell and a sweet taste. The pulp of the cashew apple is very juicy, but the skin is fragile, making it unsuitable for transport. In Latin America, a fruit drink is made from the cashew apple pulp which has a very refreshing taste and tropical flavor that can be described as having notes of mango, raw green pepper, and just a little hint of grapefruit-like citrus.

The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the cashew apple. The drupe develops first on the tree, and then the pedicel expands to become the cashew apple. Within the true fruit is a single seed, the cashew nut.

Cultivation :
Cashew germinates slowly and poorly; several nuts are usually planted to the hole and thinned later. Propagation is generally by seeds, but may be vegetative from grafting, air-layering or inarching. Planting should be done in situ as cashew seedlings do not transplant easily. Recommended spacing is 10 x 10 m, thinned to 20 x 20 m after about 10 years, with maximum planting of 250 trees/ha. Once established, field needs little care. Intercropping may be done the first few years, with cotton, peanut, or yams. Fruits are produced after three years, during which lower branches and suckers are removed. Full production is attained by 10th year and continues to bear until about 30 years old. In dry areas, like Tanzania, flowering occurs in dry season, and fruits mature in 2–3 months. Flowers and fruits in various degrees of development are often present in same panicle.

Harvesting :
From flowering stage to ripe fruit requires about 3 months. Mature fruit falls to the ground where the ‘apple’ dries away. In wet weather, they are gathered each day and dried for 1–3 days. Mechanical means for shelling have been unsuccessful, so hand labor is required. Cashews are usually roasted in the shell (to make it brittle and oil less blistering), cracked, and nuts removed and vacuum packed. In India part of nuts are harvested from wild trees by people who augment their meager income from other crops grown on poor land. Kernels extracted by people skilled in breaking open the shells with wooden hammers without breaking the kernels. Nuts are separated from the fleshy pedicel and receptacle, seed coat removed by hand, and nuts dried. Fresh green nuts from Africa and the islands off southern India are shipped to precessing plants in Western India.

Click & see  :Twin Cashews ready to harvest

Edible Uses:
The cashew nut is a popular snack, and its rich flavor means that it is often eaten roasted, on its own, lightly salted or sugared, or covered in chocolate.
Click & see roasted  cashew as snacks

Cashew nuts, roasted and salted

Cashew sprouts (above) are eaten raw as well as cooked in Kerala
Cashews, unlike other oily tree nuts, contain starch to about 10% of their weight. This makes them more effective than other nuts in thickening water-based dishes such as soups, meat stews, and some Indian milk-based desserts. Many southeast Asia and south Asian cuisines use cashews for this unusual characteristic, rather than other nuts.

The shell of the cashew nut is toxic, which is why the cashew is shelled before it is sold to consumers

Cashew is commonly used in Indian cuisine. The nut is used whole for garnishing sweets or curries, or ground into a paste that forms a base of sauces for curries (e.g., Korma), or some sweets (e.g., Kaju Barfi). It is also used in powdered form in the preparation of several Indian sweets and desserts. In Goan cuisine, both roasted and raw kernels are used whole for making curries and sweets.

The cashew nut can also be harvested in its tender form, when the shell has not hardened and is green in color. The shell is soft and can be cut with a knife and the kernel extracted, but it is still corrosive at this stage, so gloves are required. The kernel can be soaked in turmeric water to get rid of the corrosive material before use. This is mostly found in Kerala cuisine, typically in avial, a dish that contains several vegetables, grated coconut, turmeric and green chilies.

Cashew nuts are also used in Thai and Chinese cuisine, generally in whole form.

In the Philippines, cashew is a known product of Antipolo, and is eaten with suman. Pampanga also has a sweet dessert called turrones de casuy which is cashew marzipan wrapped in white wafer.

In Indonesia, roasted and salted cashew nut is called kacang mete or kacang mede, while the cashew apple is called jambu monyet (literally means monkey rose apple).

In Mozambique, bolo polana is a cake prepared using powdered cashews and mashed potatoes as the main ingredients. This dessert is popular in South Africa too.

South American countries have developed their own specialties. In Brazil, the cashew fruit juice is popular all across the country. In Panama, the cashew fruit is cooked with water and sugar for a prolonged time to make a sweet, brown, paste-like dessert called “dulce de marañón”. Marañón is one of the Spanish names for cashew.

Nutrition:
The fats and oils in cashew nuts are 54% monounsaturated fat (18:1), 18% polyunsaturated fat (18:2), and 16% saturated fat (9% palmitic acid (16:0) and 7% stearic acid (18:0)).

Cashews, as with other tree nuts, are a good source of antioxidants. Alkyl phenols, in particular, are abundant in cashews. Cashews are also a good source of dietary trace minerals copper, iron and zinc.

Constituents:  alpha-linolenic-acid ,anacardic-acid,arginine ,ascorbic-acid, benzaldehyde,beta-carotene ,beta-sitosterol,calcium ,gallic-acid ,palmitic-acid ,oleic-acid ,riboflavin, salicylic-acid ,selenium,tocopherol ,vanadium ,zinc

Chemistry
Per 100 g, the mature seed is reported to contain 542 calories, 7.6 g H2O, 17.4 g protein, 43.4 g fat, 29.2 g total carbohydrate, 1.4 g fiber, 2.4 g ash, 76 mg Ca, 578 mg P, 18.0 mg Fe, 0.65 mg thiamine, 0.25 mg riboflavin, 1.6 mg niacin, and 7 mg ascorbic acid. Per 100 g, the mature seed is reported to contain 561 calories, 5.2 g H2O, 17.2 g protein, 45.7 g fat, 29.3 g total carbohydrate, 1.4 g fiber, 2.6 g ash, 38 mg Ca, 373 mg P, 3.8 mg Fe, 15 mg Na, 464 mg K, 60 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.43 mg thiamine, 0.25 mg riboflavin, and 1.8 mg niacin. Per 100 g, the mature seed is reported to contain 533 calories, 2.7 g H2O, 15.2 g protein, 37.0 g fat, 42.0 g total carbohydrate, 1.4 g fiber, 3.1 g ash, 24 mg Ca, 580 mg P, 1.8 mg Fe, 0.85 mg thiamine, 0.32 mg riboflavin, and 2.1 mg niacin. The apple contains 87.9% water, 0.2% protein, 0.1% fat, 11.6% carbohydrate, 0.2% ash, 0.01% Ca, 0.01% P, .002% Fe, 0.26% vitamin C, and 0.09% carotene. The testa contains a-catechin, b-sitosterol, and 1-epicatechin; also proanthocyanadine leucocyanadine, and leucopelargodonidine. The dark color of the nut is due to an iron-polyphenol complex. The shell oil contains about 90% anacardic acid (C22H32O3 and 10% cardol (C32H27O4). It yields glycerides, linoleic, palmitic, stearic, and lignoceric acids, and sitosterol. Examining 24 different cashews, Murthy and Yadava (1972) reported that the oil content of the shell ranged from 16.6 to 32.9%, of the kernel from 34.5 to 46.8%. Reducing sugars ranged from 0.9 to 3.2%, non-reducing sugars, 1.3 to 5.8%, total sugars from 2.4 to 8.7%, starch from 4.7 to 11.2%. Gum exudates contain arabinose, galactose, rhamnose, and xylose.

Medicinal Uses:
Properties: * Astringent * Hypoglycemic * Vermifuge
Parts Used: bark, stems, nuts, and resin

The cashew nutshell liquid (CNSL), a byproduct of processing cashew, is mostly composed of anacardic acids (70%), cardol (18%) and cardanol (5%). These acids have been used effectively against tooth abscesses due to their lethality to a wide range of Gram-positive bacteria. Many parts of the plant are used by the Patamona of Guyana medicinally. The bark is scraped and soaked overnight or boiled as an antidiarrheal; it also yields a gum used in varnish. Seeds are ground into powders used for antivenom for snake bites. The nut oil is used topically as an antifungal and for healing cracked heels.

click to see cashew apples
Cashew nuts could possibly hold answers in the search for better ways to treat diabetes and high blood sugar. Animal studies with diabetic rats fed nut milk extract are promising, but more study is needed. 1 Anacardiaceae spp  have long been used in the folk medicine and traditional cuisines of India, South America and the Caribbean. Cajueiro,as the tree is known in Brazil contains naturally occurring analogs of the latest diabetes drugs without their potential for liver damage or weight gain.

The nut is highly nutritious, containing 45% fat and 20% protein.  The leaves are used in Indian and African herbal medicine for toothache and gum problems, and in West Africa for malaria.  The bark is used in Ayurvedic medicine to detoxify snake bite.  The roots are purgative.  The gum is used externally for leprosy, corns, and fungal conditions. The oil between the outer and inner shells of the nut is caustic and causes an inflammatory reaction even in small doses.  The fruit bark juice and the nut oil are both said to be folk remedies for calluses, corns, and warts, cancerous ulcers, and even elephantiasis. Anacardol and anacardic acid have shown some activity against Walker carcinosarcoma 256. Decoction of the astringent bark is given for severe diarrhea and thrush. Old leaves are applied to skin afflictions and burns (tannin applied to burns is liepatocarcinogenic). Oily substance from pericarp is used for cracks on the feet. Cuna Indians used the bark in herb teas for asthma, colds, and congestion. The seed oil is believed to be alexeritic and amebicidal; used to treat gingivitis, malaria, and syphilitic ulcers. Ayurvedic medicine recommends the fruit for anthelmintic, aphrodisiac, ascites, dysentery, fever, inappetence, leucoderma, piles, tumors, and obstinate ulcers. In the Gold Coast, the bark and leaves are used for sore gums and toothache. Juice of the fruit is used for hemoptysis. Sap discutient, fungicidal, repellent. Leaf decoction gargled for sore throat. Cubans use the resin for cold treatments. The plant exhibits hypoglycemic activity. In Malaya, the bark decoction is used for diarrhea. In Indonesia, older leaves are poulticed onto burns and skin diseases. Juice from the apple is used to treat quinsy in Indonesia, dysentery in the Philippines.  In Venezuela, a decoction of the cashew leaf is used to treat diarrhea and is believed to be a treatment for diabetes.  Pulverized cashew tree bark, soaked in water for 24 hours is also reported to be used in Colombia for diabetes.   Peruvians have used a tea of the cashew tree leaf as a treatment for diarrhea, while a tea from the bark has been used as a vaginal douche.  Leaf infusions have been used to treat toothache and sore throat and as a febrifuge.

Other Uses:
Anacardic acid is also used in the chemical industry for the production of cardanol, which is used for resins, coatings, and frictional materials

Alcohol:
In Goa, India, the cashew apple (the accessory fruit) is mashed, the juice is extracted and kept for fermentation for 2–3 days. Fermented juice then undergoes a double distillation process. The resulting beverage is called feni. Fenny/feni is about 40-42% alcohol. The single distilled version is called “Urrac” (the ‘u’ is pronounced ~ ‘oo’) which is about 15% alcohol.

In the southern region of Mtwara, Tanzania, the cashew apple (bibo in Swahili) is dried and saved. Later it is reconstituted with water and fermented, then distilled to make a strong liquor often referred to by the generic name, gongo.

In Mozambique, it is very common among the cashew farmers to make a strong liquor from the cashew apple which is called “agua ardente” (burning water).

According to An Account of the Island of Ceylon written by Robert Percival  an alcohol had been distilled in the early twentieth century from the juice of the fruit, and had been manufactured in the West Indies. Apparently the Dutch considered it superior to brandy as a “liqueur.”

Known Hazatrds:
Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the nut of the cashew is a seed. The seed is surrounded by a double shell containing an allergenic phenolic resin, anacardic acid, a potent skin irritant chemically related to the better-known allergenic oil urushiol which is also a toxin found in the related poison ivy. Properly roasting cashews destroys the toxin, but it must be done outdoors as the smoke (not unlike that from burning poison ivy) contains urushiol droplets which can cause severe, sometimes life-threatening, reactions by irritating the lungs. .

Allergy:
For some people, cashews, like other tree nuts, can lead to complications or allergic reactions. Cashews contain gastric and intestinal soluble oxalates, albeit less than some other tree nuts; people with a tendency to form kidney stone may need moderation and medical guidance.   Allergies to tree nuts such as cashews can be of severe nature to some people. These allergic reactions can be life-threatening or even fatal; prompt medical attention is necessary if tree nut allergy reaction is observed. These allergies are triggered by the proteins found in tree nuts, and cooking often does not remove or change these proteins. Reactions to cashew and other tree nuts can also occur as a consequence of hidden nut ingredients or traces of nuts that may inadvertently be introduced during food processing, handling or manufacturing. Many nations require food label warning if the food may get inadvertent exposure to tree nuts such as cashews.

In some people, cashew nut allergy may be a different form, namely birch pollen allergy. This is usually a minor form. Symptoms are confined largely to the mouth.

An estimated 1.8 million Americans (between 0.4%-0.6% of the population) have an allergy to tree nuts. Young children are most affected; and tree nuts allergies tend to last lifelong. Some regions of the world have higher incidence rates than others

Toxicity
He who cuts the wood or eats cashew nuts or stirs his drink with a cashew swizzle stick is possibly subject to a dermatitis.

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/Cashew
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail418.php
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/anacardium_occidentale.html

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

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Drinking Darker Coffee is Better than Lighter

Recent research has shown that moderate coffee consumption may be associated with a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Since reactive oxygen species (ROS) are believed to be involved in both of these diseases, it was theorized that antioxidants in coffee might contribute to the risk reduction.

CLICK & SEE

Scientists examined whether or not dark roast coffee has a stronger antioxidant effect than light roast.  They found that dark roast was the most effective.

According to the study, as reported by Green Med Info:

“Furthermore, administration of the [dark roast] led to a significant body weight reduction in pre-obese subjects.”

Source: Posted By Dr. Mercola | August 18 2011

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Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)

Botanical Name :Grifola frondosa
Family: Meripilaceae
Genus: Grifola
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Polyporales
Species: G. frondosaDietary supplement
Common Names:    Maitake mushroom , Hen of the Woods

The mushroom is commonly known among English speakers as Hen-of-the-Woods, Ram’s Head and Sheep’s Head. In the United States‘ supplement market, as well as in Asian grocery stores, the mushroom is known by its Japanese name “Maitake”, which means “dancing mushroom”. G. frondosa should not be confused with Laetiporus sulphureus, another edible bracket fungus that is commonly called chicken of the woods or “sulphur shelf“. The fungus becomes inedible like all polypores when they are older, because it is too tough to eat.


Habitat
: The fungus is native to the northeastern part of Japan and North America, and is prized in traditional Chinese and Japanese herbology as a medicinal mushroom, an aid to balance out altered body systems to a normal level. Grifola frondosa is a polypore mushroom that grows in clusters at the base of  old trees, particularly oaks.

Description:
Like the sulphur shelf mushroom, G. frondosa is a perennial fungus that often grows in the same place for a number of years in succession. It occurs most prolifically in the northeastern regions of the United States, but has been found as far west as Idaho.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Plant Class:perennial fungus – (edible mushroom)

Fruit: The fruiting body rises up from a underground tuber-like structure, about the size of a potato. Maitake mushrooms are very large, can grow up to over 50 pounds, occurring as large as 60 cm. The small multiple grayish-brown caps are fused together in a clusterand are often curled or spoon-shaped,overlapping with wavy margins and 2-7 cm broad.
G. frondosa grows from an underground tuber-like structure, about the size of a potato. The fruiting body, occurring as large as 60 cm, is a cluster consisting of multiple grayish-brown caps which are often curled or spoon-shaped, with wavy margins and 2-7 cm broad. The undersurface of each cap bears approximately one to three pores per millimeter, with the tubes rarely deeper than 3 mm. The milky-white stipe (stalk) has a branchy structure and becomes tough as the mushroom matures.

In Japan, the Maitake can grow to more than 50 pounds (20 kilograms), earning this giant mushroom the title “King of Mushrooms.” Maitake is one of the major culinary mushrooms used in Japan, the others being shiitake, shimeji and enoki. They are used in a wide variety of dishes, often being a key ingredient in nabemono or cooked in foil with butter.

Most Japanese people find its taste and texture enormously appealing,  though the mushroom has been alleged to cause allergic reactions in rare cases.

Use in traditional Oriental medicine:

Common Uses: Cancer Prevention * General Health Tonics * Hypertension HBP * Immune System * Liver *
Properties:  Adaptogens* Immunostimulant* Hepatic* Hypotensive*
Parts Used: whole mushroom
Constituents: complex immunostimulant polysaccharides,including beta-glucan starch, amino acids, water, minerals: potassium, calcium, and magnesium, vitamins (b2, d2 and niacin)

The underground tubers from which hen of the woods arises have been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine to enhance the immune system. Researchers have also indicated that whole maitake has the ability to regulate blood pressure, glucose, insulin, and both serum and liver lipids, such as cholesterol, triglycerides, and phospholipids, and may also be useful for weight loss.

Maitake is rich in minerals (such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium), various vitamins (B2, D2 and niacin), fibers and amino acids. One active constituent in Maitake for enhancing the immune activity was identified in the late 1980s as a protein-bound beta-glucan compound.

Maitake’s use as an adaptogen?an herb arose in classic Chinese and Japanese medicine. Maitake and its extracts have been shown to significantly boost the immune system and build immune reserves. It also contains a number of polysaccharides ( beta-glucan) that have been shown to fight the formation and growth of tumors, putting maitake in use in cancer prevention strategies. Maitake helps to protect and support the liver and can lower blood pressure and blood-glucose levels, and may also be useful for weight loss.

Maitake mushroom for :Cancer

Maitake is a proven cancer fighter. In laboratory tests, powdered maitake increased the activity of three types of immune cell–macrophages, natural killer (NK) cells, and T cells–by 140, 186, and 160 percent, respectively. The anticancer compound in maitake, sold commercially as the maitake D-fraction, has shown positive results in American studies on breast and colorectal cancer.

Maitake research:
In 2009, a phase I/II human trial, conducted by Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center, showed Maitake could stimulate the immune systems of breast cancer patients. Small experiments with human cancer patients, have shown Maitake can stimulate immune system cells, like NK cells.In vitro research has also shown Maitake can stimulate immune system cells. An in vivo experiment showed that Maitake could stimulate both the innate immune system and adaptive immune system.

In vitro research has shown Maitake can induce apoptosis in cancer cell lines (human prostatic cancer cells, Hep 3B cells, SGC-7901 cells, murine skin carcinoma cells) as well as inhibit the growth of various types of cancer cells (canine cancer cells, bladder cancer cells).Small studies with human cancer patients, revealed a portion of the Maitake mushroom, known as the “Maitake D-fraction”, possess anti-cancer activity. In vitro research demonstrated the mushroom has potential anti-metastatic properties. In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an Investigational New Drug Application for a portion of the mushroom.

Research has shown Maitake has a hypoglycemic effect, and may be beneficial for the management of diabetes. The reason Maitake lowers blood sugar is due to the fact the mushroom naturally contains a alpha glucosidase inhibitor.

Maitake contains antioxidants and may partially inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase. An experiment showed that an extract of Maitake inhibited angiogenesis via inhibition of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

Lys-N is a unique protease found in Maike. Lys-N is used for proteomics experiments due to its protein cleavage specifity.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grifola_frondosa
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail432.php

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Ways To Reduce Salt Consumption

A few ways you can cut down on the salt on your food.

Measure salt carefully when preparing a dish
Use fresh ingredients over processed whenever you can
You will save umpteen milligrams of sodium by making your own sauces and soups, and simmering dried beans until soft (rather than opening a can).

Yes, it is a time commitment, but if you  are serious about salt reduction it’s time well spent. Make these staples more convenient by cooking them in big batches, and freezing in single-serving portions for later use.

Choose convenience foods wisely
Opt for frozen (unsauced) vegetables when you can’t get them fresh. Rinse the foods in a colander before using to get rid of some of the salt. Cut back or eliminate additional salt in a recipe that calls for canned goods.

Don’t add it if you can not taste it
As a rule, we don’t add salt to boiling water for pasta or potatoes in our kitchens. We prefer to add salt to a dish when its impact will be strongest   usually at the end of cooking. A little salt goes a longer way if it’s sprinkled on a food just before serving; you  wll taste it in every bite.

Measure, measure
We always use measuring spoons when adding salt to be sure we are not overdoing it. Even if a recipe calls for a “pinch” or to “salt to taste,” measure what you are adding, using a small amount (say, 1/8th teaspoon) at a time and tasting as you go.

Distract your palate
Acidic flavourings like lemon or lime juice and vinegar can help bring out a food  is inherent savouriness, helping you reduce or even eliminate salt.

Or, try a sprinkle of fresh grated lemon zest, chopped fresh or dried herbs, garlic or shallots; while not always a perfect replacement for salt, they can help ease the transition to lower-salt cooking by waking up other flavours. Get creative with seasoning, found in any spice aisle; just make sure they  are labelled   salt-free.

Boost vegetable flavours naturally
Because many vegetables have flavours our palates perceive as bitter, they tend to be a target for lots of added salt in recipes. Instead of reaching for the salt shaker to counteract bitterness, roast or grill your vegetables to help bring out their own natural sweetness and give them a nice caramelised exterior.

Source:The Times Of India