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Dragon Fruit

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Also known as pitaya, the Dragon Fruit’s taste is slightly similar to kiwi or melon.  The dragon plant is a vine, believed to be native of Central and Southern America that has been brought to Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Vietnam.

Dragon plant has fleshy stems that grow up to 20 feet when matured. It may grow from the ground or climb onto trees using aerial roots, and it has spines that grow up to 1 kilogram in weight.   It bears flowers that only bloom at night. The flowers are ornate and beautiful with fragrant scent.

Pitaya plants can have up to 4-6 fruiting cycles per year.  The fruit’s skin may be yellowish to dark red in color with edible flesh that maybe white or red depending on the variety. It has a lot of black small seeds that is also edible.

Dragon fruit is also known to have some health benefits such as:

– boosts immune system. Dragon fruit is rich in vitamin C and fibers that help provide an overall healthy body.

– helps in digestion because of its rich fiber content.

– helps to lower blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes.

– prevents formation of cancer causing free radicals.

– as anti-oxidant, the presence of high level of vitamin C, minerals and pythoalbumin is regarded as relevant in fighting free radicals and possess anti-oxidant properties.

– helps to control cholesterol level. Dragon fruit is also rich in flavonoids that are known to have favorable effects against cardio related disease.

– promotes healing of wounds and cuts.

– improves appetite.

– improves eye sight.

– aids in weight reduction.

– improves memory.

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Tibicos

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The tibicos are known by many names such as tibi, water kefir grains, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals, California Bees and Tibetan mushrooms. They are a culture of bacteria and yeast held in a polysaccharide matrix created by the bacteria.  The microbes present in tibicos act in symbiosis to maintain a stable culture. Tibicos can do this in many different sugary liquids, feeding off the sugar to produce lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol), and carbon dioxide gas which carbonates the drink.

Tibicos are found around the world, with no two cultures being exactly the same. Typical tibicos have a mix of Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus and Leuconostoc bacteria with yeasts from Saccharomyces, Candida, Kloeckera and possibly others. Lactobacillus brevis has been identified as the species responsible for the production of the polysaccharide (dextran) that forms the grains.

Tibicos are also sometimes referred to as Mother Theresa’s miraculous free enzyme drink.  Supposedly, Mother Theresa of Calcutta travelled to the Himalayas and obtained some of these tibicos from the Tibetan monks so she could distribute them amongst India’s indigent folks — to improve their health or cure their illnesses. However, there was a condition: it must never be sold to anyone.  It was to be shared for free instead.  When Mother Theresa visited the Philippines, she brought along with her some tibicos as a gift for the Filipinos. Nevertheless, tibicos are not exclusively for the “poor and needy.” Anyone can drink it and benefit from its miraculous healing power.  Most people obtain tibicos from their friends and relatives, while others from their parish church.

Some of the preventive and curative properties of this enzyme drink are:

– It cures migraine and headache.

– It strengthens bronchial tubes and the lungs. It cures asthma, reduces phlegm and removes cough.

– It improves the function of the liver, pancreas, bile ducts. It cures diarrhea, it helps in the process of digestion and helps to avoid gastritis and ulcers.

– It controls cholesterol, softens hardened arteries and veins, lower sugar levels, controls arterial blood pressure, and corrects hemorrhoids.

– It helps in the prevention of gall stone formation, or if they are present, tibicos dissolve it little by little. It also cures different illnesses of the bladder, and helps one to urinate regularly and well.

– It cures insomnia and dizziness. Removes pain produced by the nerves.

– It burns fat. And for those who are thin, tibicos help them remain in good health (it is recommended that one should take 3 glasses of tibicos before breakfast.

– It avoids pain associated with aging. It reduces the effect of hormonal changes.

– It cures herpes, cataracts in the eyes, acne, and other skin problems.

Read more here.

Pandan Iced Tea

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Pandan leaves contain alkaloids.  They are organic substances that contain nitrogen and are often beneficial to the health of people and animals. For instance the alkaloids in quinine, which is derived from tree bark, has made it an effective drug against malaria.

Green tea, which some people claim to be even healthier than water, also contain beneficial alkaloids. The health benefits of pandan (leaves and roots) are the cumulative effect of flavonoids, alkaloids and lastly, glycosides, organic compounds with sugar or carbohydrate molecules. Recently, three new alkaloids were discovered in pandan leaf extracts and added to the five that have been already identified.

As folkloric remedy, drinking tea derived from pandan leaves prevents asthma attacks and stabilizes blood pressure.  It also stimulates perspiration which is an effective way to eliminate toxins and burn excess fat from our system.  Pandan tea also lowers blood sugar and invigorates the functions of our heart and kidneys.

The other health benefits of Pandan are:

• Treats leprosy, smallpox and wounds

• Helps reduce fever

• Solves several skin problems

• Relives headache and arthritis

• Treatment for ear pains

• Functions as a laxative for children

• Eases chest pains

• Helps in speeding up the recuperation of women who have just given birth and are still weak

• Pandan reduces stomach spasms and strengthens the gum

The other uses of Pandan as herbal treatment are:

• Decoction of the bark may be taken as tea, or mixed with water that is to be used in bathing, in order to remedy skin problems, cough, and urine-related concerns

• Apply pulverized roots of pandan to affected wound areas to facilitate healing

• The anthers of the male flowers are used for earaches, headaches and stomach

spasms

• Chew the roots to strengthen the gum

• Extract oils and juices from the roots and flowers are used in preparing the decoction to relieve pains brought about by headache and arthritis

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Yummy Sunday

Red Apples

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If apples are red, experts claim, it’s because of their anthocyanins, which are largely restricted to the skin. When an apple is more uniformly red in color, or when its red color is deeper in hue, it’s because there are more anthocyanins. In terms of catechin polyphenols, epicatechin is the primary nutrient found in apples. The flavonoid phloridzin accounts for 98% of the flavonoids found in the apple seeds.

 The total polyphenol contents of apples range from about 1-7 grams/kilogram of fresh pulp, but this ratio gets much higher in the skin, underscoring the special value of apple skins for deriving optimal polyphenol benefits from this fruit. In fact, in animal studies, there is a very commonly used standardized apple extract called standardized apple peel polyphenol extract, or APPE.

Since most of the polyphenols in apples function as antioxidants, it’s not surprising to see so many health benefit studies focusing on the antioxidant benefits from apple.

Particularly strong is the ability of apples to decrease oxidation of cell membrane fats. This benefit is especially important in our cardiovascular system since oxidation of fat (called lipid peroxidation) in the membranes of cells that line our blood vessels is a primary risk factor for clogging of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and other cardiovascular problems.

Apples’ strong antioxidant benefits are also related to their ability to lower risk of asthma in numerous studies, and their ability to lower risk of lung cancer. In addition to their unusual polyphenol composition, apples also provides us with about 8 milligrams of vitamin C. While that amount is not a lot, it’s still important, especially since the recycling of vitamin C in our body depends on the presence of flavonoids and apples do an amazing job of providing us with those flavonoids.

Although some preliminary results show apple benefits for several different cancer types (especially colon cancer and breast cancer), it’s the area of lung cancer benefits that stand out in the apple research. There are numerous studies involving vegetable/fruit intake and risk of lung cancer. The number of subjects in these studies numbers into the high hundreds of thousands.

Although many research studies show an impressive ability of overall fruit and/or vegetable intake to lower lung cancer risk, very few individual fruits show up as protective against lung cancer. Except apples! It’s really quite remarkable how apples have been one of the few fruits to demonstrate this unique relationship with lung cancer risk reduction. (Interestingly, this same phenomenon has to some extent also been present in research on asthma).

Researchers aren’t certain why apples are so closely associated with reduction of lung cancer risk. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits are definitely involved here, but they don’t fully explain why apples are such a standout in this health benefit area. We look forward to future research that will help shed light on this unique capacity in apples.

This may be good news for heavy smokers unable to kick the habit.  Perhaps, eating a red apple a day may prevent them from developing serious diseases caused by smoking.  I smoked for many years and able to quit for good about 20 years ago.  I’d like to believe that regularly eating red apples helped rehabilitate my lungs.

Read more on other health benefits of apples here.

 

Coconut Water

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As for the health benefits of coconut water, Dr. Bruce Fife, a certified nutritionist and naturopathic physician, and considered the world’s leading authority on the health aspects of coconut and related products, asserts the following:

“Coconut water has a normalizing effect and gives the body a boost of energy so that it can overcome a number of health-related conditions. It is effective in relieving dehydration, fatigue, constipation, and other digestive disturbances, kidney and bladder disorders, and vision problems such as glaucoma and cataract. It is reported to turn back time, so to speak, by reversing or slowing down the aging process. Coconut water also has an alkalizing effect on the body, helping to counteract or balance the effects of acidifying foods which are so common in our diets. Research shows that coconut water can improve blood circulation, lower elevated blood pressure, and reduce risk of heart attacks and strokes. Studies have been so impressive that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States has approved coconut water to carry the claim that it may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.”