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Pomegranate Reverses Hardening of the Arteries Naturally

Lots of foods claim to help reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. But pomegranate has been shown to go one step further.

That’s right. Pomegranate juice not only appears to prevent hardening of the arteries by reducing blood vessel damage, but the antioxidant-rich juice may actually reverse the disease.

Pomegranate juice reverses atherosclerosis

Hardening of the arteries is the common term for atherosclerosis. Plaque builds up in artery walls and can slow down blood flow, leading to heart attacks and stroke.

In a remarkable 2004 study published in Clinical Nutrition, Israeli scientists followed 19 patients whose carotid arteries were partially blocked by atherosclerosis.[i]  The carotid arteries in the neck carry more than 80% of the blood flow to your brain, and any blockage in these vessels is a major risk factor for stroke.

Patients in the study who took a daily pomegranate juice supplement for one year, reduced the plaque blocking their arteries by up to 30%. Those who were not taking pomegranate juice supplements actually saw the lesions blocking their arteries grow by 9%.

That’s right. The researchers found that pomegranate reversed existing atherosclerosis, which continued to worsen in patients who did not take pomegranate juice.

Another study in 2005 from the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California examined the effects of pomegranate juice in patients who already had coronary heart disease or cardiac ischemia (insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle).[ii]  In the study, which was published in the prestigious American Journal of Cardiology, 45 patients were randomly assigned to drink either eight ounces of pomegranate juice or a placebo beverage every day for three months.

At the beginning of the study, both groups showed the same amount of stress-induced ischemia. At the end of three months, however, the group that drank pomegranate juice saw a significant improvement in blood flow to their heart muscle. By contrast, stress-related ischemia worsened in the placebo group.

And here’s what’s really interesting. The researchers said that the improved blood flow could not be attributed to changes in weight, blood sugar, or cardiac medications. They found that the pomegranate juice alone made the difference.

Pomegranate Juice Reduces High Blood Pressure

In the 2004 Israeli study, researchers also found that pomegranate juice had the additional benefit of reducing systolic blood pressure by an impressive 12% after just one year.

The same Israeli scientists then tested pomegranate juice on patients who already had high blood pressure. They showed that drinking just 2 ounces of pomegranate juice daily for only 2 weeks reduced systolic blood pressure by 5%.[iii]

Pomegranate Tops Other Juices for Antioxidant Power

Researchers believe pomegranate benefits heart health largely due to high levels of polyphenols (tannins, anthocyanins and punicalagins) that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

When pomegranate juice was compared to other antioxidant drinks like red wine, blueberry and grape juice, it far outperformed its competition.[iv]

And in the 2004 Israeli study showing a reversal of atherosclerosis, the patients taking pomegranate had more antioxidants circulating in their blood. In fact, pomegranate juice increased antioxidant activity in the blood by a whopping 130%.

Pomegranate Should be Part of Your Heart-Healthy Diet

These studies are exciting because they demonstrate that, even for people already suffering from heart disease, pomegranate offers important health benefits, including:

  • preventing and reversing atherosclerosis,
  • ensuring optimal blood flow to the heart, and
  • supporting healthy blood pressure.

So persuasive is the case for pomegranates, that a team of scientists who reviewed all of the available research on the benefits of pomegranate juice advised that it would be prudent to include pomegranate as part of a heart-healthy diet.[v]

Pomegranate is the best safe and natural way to boost your heart’s health.

References:

[i] Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, et al. Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clin Nutr. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33.

[ii] Sumner MD, Elliott-Eller M, Weidner G, et al. Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on myocardial perfusion in patients with coronary heart disease. Am J Cardiol. 2005 Sep 15;96(6):810-4.

[iii] Aviram M, Dornfeld L. Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis. 2001 Sep;158(1):195-8.

[iv] Ignarro LJ, Byrns RE, Sumi D, de NF, Napoli C. Pomegranate juice protects nitric oxide against oxidative destruction and enhances the biological actions of nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide. 2006 Sep;15(2):93-102.

[v] Basu A, Penugonda K., Pomegranate juice: a heart-healthy fruit juice. Nutr Rev. 2009 Jan;67(1):49-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2008.00133.x.



While pomegranates have shown remarkable powers in supporting the health of both men and women, there is one reason that men in particular should love pomegranates. That reason is the power of pomegranate to support prostate health.

By the time they reach age 50, more than half of American men will suffer with some form of prostate problem including:

  • Enlarged Prostate. More than 15 million men suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and its embarrassing symptoms, including low or weak urinary flow, urgency to urinate, frequent need to urinate, leakage and loss of sleep from nighttime bathroom visits.
  • Prostate Cancer. Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among U.S. men, affecting one in six men during their lifetime.
  • Erectile Dysfunction. Over 30 million men in the U.S. have erectile dysfunction or sexual impairment due to prostate disease.

Scientific studies have proven the effectiveness of pomegranate to help relieve symptoms of all these conditions. Here are just three ways that pomegranates support prostate health.

1. Pomegranate Reduces Inflammation Leading to Enlarged Prostate

Chronic inflammation is a key factor in BPH. Pomegranate juice, peel and seed oil all contain natural anti-inflammatory compounds that can combat chronic inflammation. Pomegranate seed oil also contains conjugated fatty acids, including punicic acid, that work just like prescription drugs to control inflammation but without the side effects.

In a study from UCLA, researchers found that the polyphenols in pomegranate juice, specifically total pomegranate ellagitannins, and punicalagin stop the signals that turn on inflammation in some cells and help induce the death of abnormal cells.

2. Pomegranate Reduces Prostate Cancer Risk

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, researchers evaluated the ability of pomegranate fruit extract to slow cell growth and encourage the death of abnormal cells in highly aggressive human prostate cancer.

They suggested that pomegranate juice might help prevent, as well as treat, prostate cancer in humans.

In another study conducted at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, researchers asked 46 men with recurrent prostate cancer to drink one 8-ounce glass of pomegranate juice every day. The men who drank the pomegranate juice saw their Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) doubling time slow down from 15 months to an astounding 54 months. PSA growth rates are an indication of abnormal cell growth and recurrence of prostate cancer.

Pomegranate fights cancer through the potent antioxidant capacity of its polyphenols. Pomegranate juice has been found to be a much more potent antioxidant than blueberry juice, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

In fact, as an antioxidant, pomegranate juice was found to be 100 times more powerful than blueberry juice and 300 times more powerful than grape juice, and its antioxidant activity was up to three times greater than that of green tea and red wine.

3. Pomegranate May Improve Erectile Dysfunction

A 2005 study on rabbits published in the Journal of Urology looked at the effect of long-term use of antioxidant drinks including pomegranate juice, blueberry, cranberry, and orange juice, green tea and red wine. The researchers found that pomegranate juice had the greatest power to decrease LDL oxidation and inhibit oxidative stress in cells.

For the rabbits that translated to increased penile blood flow, improved erectile response and smooth muscle response and prevented erectile tissue fibrosis that can lead to permanent damage.

Researchers are very excited about the promising effects of pomegranate for prostate health. These are just a few of the studies attesting to pomegranate’s prostate healing power.

References:

Adams LS, Seeram NP, Aggarwal BB, Takada Y, Sand D, Heber D., Pomegranate juice, total pomegranate ellagitannins, and punicalagin suppress inflammatory cell signaling in colon cancer cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Feb 8;54(3):980-5.

Malik, et al., Pomegranate Fruit Juice For Chemoprevention And Chemotherapy Of Prostate Cancer, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.2005; 102(41).14813-18.

Pantuck AJ, Leppert JT, Zomorodian N, Aronson W, Hong J, Barnard RJ, Seeram N, Liker H, Wang H, Elashoff R, Heber D, Aviram M, Ignarro L, Belldegrun A. Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Jul 1;12(13):4018-26.

Ignarro, LJ et. al., Pomegranate juice protects nitric oxide against oxidative destruction and enhances biological actions of nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide.2006; 15:93-102.

Kazem M. Azadzoi, Risa N. Schulman, Michael Aviram, Mike B. Siroky, Oxidative stress in arteriogenic erectile dysfunction: prophylactic role of antioxidants, The Journal of Urology, volume 174, issue 1, July 2005, pages 386–393



What comes to mind when you think of testosterone? Raging men with rippling muscles? OK, but there’s more to testosterone than that. Women need a little, too, just as men need some estrogen. Now a new study finds that pomegranate, the same fruit that supports your estrogen and progesterone balance, can also safely boost your testosterone levels and that could be good for your love life.

Researchers at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Scotland, asked 60 healthy men and women between the ages of 21 and 64 to drink a glass of pomegranate juice every day for two weeks. By the end of the short study, testosterone levels of both sexes increased significantly by 16 to 30 percent, and their blood pressure declined.

The benefits of healthy testosterone levels

Testosterone is just one of a group of male hormones known as androgens. When properly balanced with all of the other human hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, androgens can make a big difference in the health and well-being of both men and women.
In men testosterone is associated with facial hair, a deep voice, aggression and greater sexual appetite. For women, androgens provide vitality and sex drive, and increase both the sensitivity of the erogenous zones and the frequency of orgasm.

Another “side effect” of healthy testosterone levels is better mood. In the Edinburgh study, in addition to testosterone and blood pressure levels, researchers measured mood by looking at 11 emotions including fear, sadness, guilt, shyness and self-assurance. Positive emotions went up after drinking the juice and negative feelings declined.

Other benefits of androgens include increased energy, stronger bones and muscles, improved memory and cognitive function, and even stress relief.

Testosterone levels decrease at midlife

Ovaries produce almost half of a woman’s testosterone with the balance coming from the adrenals, liver and body fat. Like estrogen and progesterone, testosterone levels drop as we age and 40 year-old women produce about half the testosterone of their 20 year-old counterparts. Levels may drop even further when menopause hits or if a woman suffers from adrenal fatigue.

Many doctors believe that the low energy, decreased libido and flat mood that many menopausal women report could be related to diminished testosterone levels.

When estrogen replacement therapy fails to restore a woman’s sexual desire in an otherwise healthy relationship, it’s worth examining testosterone levels.

Psychologist Dr. Barbara Sherwin, a professor at McGill University, conducted a study on women who had their ovaries removed and she found that administering a combination of testosterone and estrogen made these women more interested in sex, and more likely to experience pleasure and have orgasms.

Some physicians, however, are reluctant to prescribe androgen therapy, citing the relative lack of safety and efficacy studies on women and testosterone, and the uncertainty of long-term effects.

Symptoms of testosterone overdose

Some unfavorable side effects of too much testosterone in women include:

  • Decreased HDL “good” cholesterol which may negatively impact cardiovascular health
  • Mood disturbances
  • Acne on the face and scalp
  • Facial hair
  • Deepened voice

Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of “The Wisdom of Menopause,” notes that decreased ovarian production of testosterone may correct itself in time as other androgen producing organs take up the slack. If not, natural testosterone may be prescribed by a physician through a formulary pharmacy in capsule form or as a vaginal cream.

This new Edinburgh study of pomegranates and testosterone gives women another possibility for restoring libido at midlife.

 

Author Bio:

Margie King is a holistic health coach and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. A Wharton M.B.A. and practicing corporate attorney for 20 years, Margie left the world of business to pursue her passion for all things nutritious. She now works with midlife women and busy professionals to improve their health, energy and happiness through individual and group coaching, as well as webinars, workshops and cooking classes. To contact Margie, visit www.NourishingMenopause.com.



Soy has been touted as a lifesaver for menopausal women, with some claiming that its benefits include heart health, protection against bone loss and fewer episodes of hot flashes. But that may not be the case and in fact soy might make things worse.

Soy can be taken as a whole fresh food in the form of edamame, in a processed form as tofu, in a fermented form such as miso, tempeh and soy sauce, or in the form of supplements.

When it comes to supplements, however, research finds that soy isoflavone tablets do not appear to be associated with a reduction in bone loss or other menopausal symptoms in women within the first five years of menopause.

According to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the beginning stages of menopause are often accompanied by rapid bone loss, hot flashes, vaginal dryness and sleep disturbances among other symptoms. Estrogen therapy with or without progesterone prevents most of these changes.

However, as a result of the Women’s Health Initiative findings suggesting that the overall risks of estrogen therapy outweigh the benefits, most menopausal women are increasingly seeking other alternatives, such as soy.

The Women’s Health Initiative study was halted early because of higher risks of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease in women using hormone replacement therapy.

In the University of Miami randomized controlled trial, study participants received either a placebo or a daily soy isoflavone dose of 200 mg, equivalent to approximately two times the amount that even the biggest soy fan would get through food sources in a typical Asian diet. Soy is often credited with the low rates of breast cancer and menopausal symptoms in Asian women.

During two years of follow-up, no significant differences were found between women in the soy isoflavone group and placebo group regarding changes in bone mineral density.

Menopausal symptoms were comparable between the two groups at the beginning and the end of the study, except for one surprising result: a significantly larger proportion of participants in the soy group experienced hot flashes and constipation compared with the control group.

The authors acknowledged that because of concerns regarding the risk of estrogens, a need exists for alternative interventions that could provide the beneficial effects of estrogens in bone and menopausal symptoms without the adverse effects on breast and cardiovascular health.

While there may be a need for some estrogen substitute to help midlife women deal with their symptoms and health risks, the authors concluded that in this study women in the first five years of menopause, on average, had low rates of bone loss, and that 200 mg of soy isoflavone tablets taken once daily does not prevent bone loss or reduce bone turnover or menopausal symptoms.

References:

Silvina Levis, MD; Nancy Strickman-Stein, PhD; Parvin Ganjei-Azar, MD; Ping Xu, MPH; Daniel R. Doerge, PhD; Jeffrey Krischer, PhD Soy Isoflavones in the Prevention of Menopausal Bone Loss and Menopausal Symptoms A Randomized, Double-blind Trial Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(15):1363-1369.



Midlife women have been led to believe that hormone replacement therapy is an either or proposition: either you take it or you suffer the symptoms of menopause.

In reality, however, women do not have to be plagued by hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog, depression and weight gain as they go through menopause. A healthy whole foods diet can go a long way in alleviating those discomforts without the need for hormone replacement therapy, whether natural or otherwise.

The menopause is defined as 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, and in the U.S., the average age of menopause is 51 years.

However, peri-menopause, the years gradually leading up to complete menstrual cessation, can begin as early as 35 and stretch for 10 or 15 years.

During this time the ovaries slow down production of two hormones in particular, estrogen and progesterone. The imbalance in these hormones leads to the commonly experienced discomforts of mid-life for women.

Here are 5 basic and very simple diet tweaks that are easy to adopt. In no time at all, these small but nutritious habits could help you gently transition into the sisterhood of wise women.

1. Cut back on added sugar and refined carbohydrates. These can raise insulin levels, promote weight gain and lead to more fat stores, especially around the belly. Those fat stores in turn can promote higher levels of circulating estrogen, driving your estrogen/progesterone balance further out of kilter.

2. Add more fruits and vegetables. Phytoestrogens are weak plant estrogens found in over 300 plants including blueberries, cherries, cranberries, carrots, bananas, beets, oranges, onions, peppers, oats, plums, olives and potatoes. Phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors and balance estrogen levels by having an estrogenic effect if your estrogen levels are too low, and by blocking stronger estrogens if your levels are too high.

3. Increase fiber, especially flax seeds. Our bodies dispose of excess estrogen by way of the bowel, and if not excreted, the estrogen will be reabsorbed and continue to circulate. A high fiber diet will support that process. Flax seeds are a great source of fiber but they are also rich in lignans (particularly strong phytoestrogens). Flax seeds and their lignans and have been shown in studies to help in both reducing the risk of breast cancer and slowing the growth of breast cancer tumors. Lignans not only have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties but they also help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol.

4. Avoid caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol. These are all heat producing substances and will contribute to hot flashes. Instead, try cooling foods like melon, bean sprouts, celery, apples, asparagus and grapes.

5. Only eat organic animal protein and dairy products. Most animal protein and dairy has been treated with growth hormones which may compound the estrogen imbalance in your body. Stick with organic meat and dairy that has been labeled “no added hormones” or “no hormones administered.”



Is your world completely unbearable until you’ve had that first cup of coffee in the morning? Do you need a java jolt just to deal with your day?

You may actually need that caffeine to ward off the blues. Researchers from Harvard University are now acknowledging that the risk of depression appears to decrease for women who drink more caffeinated coffee.

According to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, caffeine is the most frequently used central nervous system stimulant in the world, and approximately 80 percent of consumption is in the form of coffee.

Depression is a chronic and recurrent condition that affects twice as many women as men, including approximately one of every five U.S. women during their lifetime.

Previous research, including one prospective study among men, has suggested an association between coffee consumption and depression risk.

Michel Lucas, Ph.D., R.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health, and his colleagues were curious about whether consumption of caffeine in coffee or other caffeinated beverages is associated with the risk of depression in women. They studied 50,739 U.S. women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study. Participants, who had an average age of 63 and no depression at the start of the study, were followed for 10 years.

Researchers examined how frequently the women consumed caffeinated and non-caffeinated coffee, non-herbal tea, caffeinated soft drinks (sugared or low-calorie colas), caffeine-free soft drinks (sugared or low-calorie caffeine-free colas or other carbonated beverages) and chocolate.

How much coffee should you drink?

When compared with women who consumed one cup of caffeinated coffee or less per week, those who consumed two to three cups per day had a 15 percent decrease in relative risk for depression, and those consuming four cups or more per day had a 20 percent decrease in relative risk. Compared with women in the lowest categories of caffeine consumption (less than 100 milligrams per day), those in the highest category (550 mg per day or more) had a 20 percent decrease in relative risk of depression.

No association was found between intake of decaffeinated coffee and depression risk.

The authors concluded that the risk of depression decreased in a dose-dependent manner with increasing consumption of caffeinated coffee. They noted that this study “cannot prove that caffeine or caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of depression but only suggests the possibility of such a protective effect.”

Coffee and caffeine have also been shown to have possible benefits in decreasing the risks or symptoms of other medical conditions, including:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Asthma
  • Skin cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Stroke

What’s your take on caffeine? Many health conscious people avoid it altogether. Others believe in using it in moderation. Some people are very sensitive to it, others not all.

Are you caffeine-free or a complete addict? Please leave a comment and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

 



According to an Irish proverb, a good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book. As far as sleep goes, that may just be true according to three studies concluding that good sleeping habits may promote weight loss, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and increase longevity.

In the first study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that although dieters lost the same amount of weight whether they had adequate sleep or not, those who got a full night’s sleep lost 55% more body fat than those who cut back on sleep.

The small study followed 10 overweight volunteers on a carefully controlled diet of 1,450 calories for one month. Each participant slept for an average of 7 hours and 25 minutes for two weeks and then 5 hours and 14 minutes for two weeks.

When the dieters got two to three hours less sleep, they felt hungrier and produced higher levels of the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin triggers hunger, increases fat retention and reduces energy expenditures. The result was that they lost more lean body mass than fat.

The researchers believe that had they not been on a strict calorie regimen, the participants would likely have lost less weight, as well as less body fat, during the time they slept less.

Your sleep predicts diabetes, stroke and heart attacks

In another study published in the Annals of Epidemiology, researchers looked at six years of data from 1,455 people and concluded that those who sleep less than six hours a night may be three times more likely to develop symptoms of pre-diabetes, compared to those who sleep six to eight hours.

The authors believe their study confirms that sleep quantity and quality are strong predictors of type 2 diabetes, strokes and heart attacks.

How much sleep is linked to a long life?

Finally, a third study published in Sleep Medicine suggests that the secret to a long life may come with more than five hours of sleep per night but less than eight hours. Looking at data from 459 women from the Women’s Health Initiative, researchers found that the best survival rates were enjoyed by women who slept 5 to 6.5 hours.

The message from these studies is clear. The quantity and quality of your sleep can powerfully affect your weight and your risk of diabetes and heart disease, as well as your lifespan.

7 Natural Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

To insure that you’re getting enough good quality sleep, here are seven natural tips for a restful night without prescription sleep aids:

1. Be in bed by 9:30 pm and lights out by 10:30 pm at the latest.

2. Don’t drink or eat anything after 7:30 pm so that your sleep is not disturbed by bathroom visits.

3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

4. Make your bedroom a sanctuary with no television, computer or briefcase allowed.

5. Keep your bedroom dark to get a better, deeper sleep.

6. Don’t overheat your room and open a window if possible.

7. Relax for an hour or two before bed without work or watching TV.

Now it’s your turn. How much sleep do you get? What’s your biggest obstacle to a good night’s sleep? Leave a comment and let us know.

 



Strawberries are a delightful breakfast, snack or dessert but did you know that they are also a powerful force against the oxidative stress associated with many chronic diseases?

A study carried out by Italian and Spanish researchers had a group of volunteers eat half a kilo (about a pound) of strawberries every day for two weeks. They found that strawberries improve the antioxidant capacity of blood and that means better heart health.

The way the strawberries work is by boosting red blood cell response to oxidative stress – the kind that comes from environmental toxins or aging and other factors.

The research was carried out at Marche Polytechnic University in Italy and the University of Granada in Spain and published in the journal Food Chemistry.

Each day, the scientists fed 12 healthy volunteers 500 grams of strawberries over the course of the day. They took blood samples from them after four, eight, 12 and 16 days, and also a month later. The results show that regular consumption of strawberries can improve the antioxidant capacity of blood plasma and also the resistance of red blood cells to oxidative damage.

The same team is now analyzing the effects of eating smaller quantities since the average serving size tends to be a 150g or 200g per day. The researchers pointed out that the important thing is that strawberries should form a part of a healthy and balanced diet, as one of your five daily servings of fruit and vegetables.

Strawberries are ranked third among common foods high in antioxidant capacity after just blackberries and walnuts. They have also been shown to improve blood sugar regulation thanks to their high levels of polyphenols, making them a good choice of fruit for diabetics.

Another great benefit of strawberries that is receiving more attention is its ability to reduce inflammation in the body. Eating one cup of strawberries (about 8 large berries) several times per week has been shown to reduce levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) a marker for heart disease.

Research has also associated strawberries with the prevention of certain cancer types including breast, cervical, colon, and esophageal cancer.

Rich in vitamin C, vitamin K and folate, a one cup serving also gives you 12% of your daily fiber needs.

Here is an easy way to get some extra strawberries into your diet. Enjoy them in this lovely, refreshing salad.

Spinach, Strawberry and Sesame Salad

2 bags of pre-washed baby spinach
4 cups of fresh strawberries, sliced
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup sesame seeds
Coarse unrefined sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper

Whisk together the mustard, olive oil and vinegar. Add sesame seeds and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour dressing over spinach and strawberries and toss until well coated.

Reference:  Sara Tulipani, Josè M. Alvarez-Suarez, Franco Busco, Stefano Bompadre, Josè L. Quiles, Bruno Mezzetti, Maurizio Battino. Strawberry consumption improves plasma antioxidant status and erythrocyte resistance to oxidative haemolysis in humans. Food Chemistry, 2011; 128 (1): 180



More and more people, especially mid-life women, are being prescribed cholesterol-lowering statins. Some doctors are even recommending the drugs be added to the water supply or dispensed at the McDonald’s drive-thru windows. I’m not kidding.

That was the absurd suggestion by a researcher at the Imperial College of London in a study published by the prestigious The American Journal of Cardiology.

However, postmenopausal women using statins may be increasing their risk of diabetes according to a study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Annie L. Culver, B. Pharm, Rochester Methodist Hospital, Mayo Clinic, and her colleagues analyzed data from the national, multiyear Women’s Health Initiative, the same study that brought down synthetic hormone replacement therapy.

In this study, researchers used WHI data through 2005 and included 153,840 women without diabetes and with an average age of 63.2 years. At the beginning of the study 7.04 percent of the women reported taking a statin. After three years there were 10,242 new cases of diabetes.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, an expert in functional, integrative and nutritional medicine, women taking statins had a 71% increased risk of diabetes compared to women not taking the drugs. Even after adjusting for other potential variables, including age, race/ethnicity and body mass index, women were found to have a 48% increased risk.

Statins Ineffective for Heart Disease

Statins are prescribed to reduce cholesterol and coronary heart disease. The science behind statins, however, is suspect. According to Dr. Hyman, studies have only found statins effective to prevent second heart attacks but not first heart attacks.

Although they have been prescribed to lower cholesterol, there are also serious questions as to whether cholesterol is even related to coronary heart disease and heart attacks. In fact, in older patients, lower cholesterol levels are associated with higher rates of death from all causes.

In 99 out of 100 men, says Dr. Hyman, the drugs have no therapeutic effect. They do, however, have significant side effects. In 15% of patients, reported side effects include muscle damage, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, sexual dysfunction, and liver and nerve damage.

Natural Alternatives to Statins

Safe and natural alternatives to statins are abundant including dietary choices. Here are 5 foods to include in your diet to help reduce cholesterol and risk of coronary heart disease:

  1. Apples. One study from Florida State University showed that postmenopausal women who eat an apple every day lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol, raise their HDL (good) cholesterol and lose weight.
  2. Beans. One cup of beans per day can lower LDL by 24% and ½ cup can lower it by 8%.
  3. Oatmeal. Whole grains are a good source of soluble fiber (as are apples and beans) and can significantly reduce cholesterol.
  4. Salmon. Fatty fish containing Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce blood pressure and the risk of developing blood clots. Other good sources are mackerel, halibut, lake trout, herring, Albacore tuna and sardines.
  5. Walnuts. Walnuts are highest among nuts in antioxidants and the Omega-3 fatty acids also help lower cholesterol, protect against heart disease and stroke.

References:

Annie L. Culver, BPharm, et al, Statin Use and Risk of Diabetes Mellitus in Postmenopausal Women in the Women’s Health Initiative, Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(2):144-152.

Why Women Should Stop Their Cholesterol Lowering Medication. drhyman.com/blog/2012/01/19/why-women-should-stop-their-cholesterol-lowering-medication/

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (2011, May 3). ‘Apple a day’ advice rooted in science. ScienceDaily.



It’s hard to believe but, not that many years ago, nutrition experts were telling people to save their calories and skip the blueberries because they had no nutritional value.

Fast forward a few decades and blueberries are now widely revered as a superfood. In fact, investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, studying the link between disease and nutrition, believe that eating just one cup of blueberries every day prevents cell damage linked to cancer.

Uniquely American, blueberries are native to North America and are rarely found in Europe. They grow naturally in the woods and mountainous regions of the United States and Canada.

Blueberries are full of antioxidants and flavonoids that help prevent cell damage. Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals – atoms that contain an odd number of electrons and are highly unstable. Free radicals can cause the type of cellular damage that is a big factor in cancer development.

Blueberries are rich in one particular type of flavonoid called anthocyanins. These compounds are water soluble pigments that are red, violet or blue depending on their pH level. Apples and blueberries both get their beautiful colors from anthocyanins.

In plants, anthocyanins act as antioxidants and protect the plant from oxidative damage. In cells, they perform a similar function. Many studies suggest that antioxidants like anthocyanins may help prevent the free-radical damage associated with cancer.

But blueberries do even more. They are also rich in vitamin C, which supports the immune system and can help the body to absorb iron. That’s an important consideration for cancer patients because vitamin C also helps to keep blood vessels firm.

As with any fruit, blueberry juice and other processed products may contain some nutritional value but are often missing the soluble and insoluble fiber that blueberries provide. They may also have added sugars or high fructose corn syrup, which actually feeds cancer and defeats the health benefits of the fruit.

Fresh, raw blueberries provide the most health benefits. An average serving size of raw blueberries is one cup and contains about 80 calories. They are also great frozen. Try them in this easy 5-minute sorbet recipe.

Blueberry Mango Sorbet
From The Institute for Integrative Nutrition

1 bag frozen mango
1 bag frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup apple juice

Directions:
1.    Put all ingredients into a blender or Vita-Mix.
2.    Blend until creamy, about one minute. You may have to scrape down the sides of the machine a few times if using a regular blender.
3.    Serve immediately.
4.    Store any leftovers in the freezer to enjoy later.

Resources:
www.uab.edu/news/news-you-can-use/summer/blueberries



Hello.

It’s Neal Holtzman from Pomegranate Health. I’m sitting here, drinking in the cool of the morning after so many days of unbearable heat.

And these high temps got me thinking some deep thoughts . . .

See, as you may know, Kim and I also spend a lot of time in Israel. Our pomegranate products were developed in Israel by a leading research scientist. And there I’ve seen how even in the hottest, driest, craggiest spot, green plants take root. They scrounge every drop of water. They just about thumb their noses at the desert sun and thrive under seemingly impossible circumstances.

One of these tough, resilient desert denizens is the beautiful pomegranate.

Now, there are literally hundreds of studies on this plant (last time I checked there were 569 peer-reviewed articles published.) I spend a lot of time digging into this undeniable wealth of evidence about how pomegranate can help with heart health, aging, memory, skin care, hormonal health, and more . . .

But sometimes you need to step back from the laboratory reports and simply let that ancient and wise part of you observe and appreciate the wonders of nature.

Here’s this incredible tree, unlike any other plant on the planet. And it survives in places few plants can.

Not only that, it produces this brilliant, juicy red fruit!

No wonder, so many traditional healers have held it in such esteem. No wonder we’re finding its unique chemistry can help us contend with the tough stuff life throws at us.

Remember, our products contain 100% pomegranate extracts. These extracts are carefully sourced to give you the best support the pomegranate offers.

We tap into all the different resources this fruit offers – the seeds and the rind, as well as the pulp and juice. And we use research to assess which parts of the pomegranate work best for which health concerns.

And where pomegranate is mixed with other ingredients, we continue to use only the best nature offers.

So enjoy some of the good stuff such heat can produce. Go get yourself some of the desert’s secret for survival.

Yours in good health,

Neal Holtzman
Co-Founder, Pomegranate Health



Is sugar your drug of choice? For many Americans, especially children, the sad answer is yes.

Excess sugar doesn’t just lead to diabetes. Even though we’ve been told that saturated fat leads to obesity and heart disease, it’s really our addiction to sugar that’s fueling both of those chronic conditions.

You don’t have to be a slave to a sugar addiction if you practice a few commonsense habits. Here’s how to escape sugar’s grip.

1. Have a good breakfast. Start your day off right with a breakfast low in sugar and high in complex carbohydrates and protein.

If you grab a donut or a bagel or a soft pretzel in the morning, you’re setting yourself up for a spike in sugar followed by a sugar crash mid-morning. Once that cycle starts, it just keeps going the rest of the day.

Instead, try a bowl of whole grain oatmeal and fruit and you should have a good even energy level all morning that takes you comfortably to lunchtime. Another good choice is toasted sprouted grain bread with some organic peanut butter or almond butter.

2. Drink plenty of water. Sometimes when you think you’re craving something sweet, you are actually dehydrated. Before you grab for a sugary snack, try drinking a glass of water and then waiting a few minutes. The urge for something sweet may well subside.

And make sure it’s plain old water. Diet sodas definitely won’t work. Nor will anything with caffeine since the highs and lows will just contribute to blood sugar fluctuations and make things worse.

3. Eat whole fruit and sweet vegetables. Before there were cookies and processed foods made with white flour, the human taste for sweet things had to be satisfied through the subtle sweetness of whole grains, sweet vegetables like yams, onions and carrots, and whole fruits and berries.

These all have the added benefit of being full of fiber, vitamins and minerals and will satisfy sugar cravings for hours.

4. Use natural sweeteners. Rather than using artificial sweeteners and white refined sugar, try using natural sweeteners that also have some nutrients still intact.

Good choices are raw honey, maple syrup, dried fruit and brown rice syrup. Remember that even these should be used sparingly but just a little will go a long way in taming cravings.

5. Get enough sleep. Sugar cravings are often a signal from your body that it needs energy and when you are overly tired or stressed your body will give you the sugar signal more often.

These few habits can go a long way in freeing you of a sugar addiction.

Now it’s your turn. Is sugar your drug of choice? How do you deal with sugar cravings? Leave a comment and let us know what works for you.