Importance of Coconut Oil

2620Coconut oil is a health food with exotic flavor and disease-prevention properties. Coconut oil contains high concentrations of lauric acid, a medium-chain saturated fatty acid that differs from saturated fats in meat and dairy. Lauric acid increases levels of both HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol, but does not adversely affect the ratio of the two types of cholesterol. Consult your doctor on eating coconut oil.

Weight Loss

Obesity is a global health problem that affects people of all ages and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population live in countries where death from overweight and obesity exceeds death from underweight. Eating coconut oil can help you lose weight. Research by scientists at the Federal University of Alagoas in Maceio, Brazil, and published in the journal “Lipids” in July 2009 indicated that obese women taking dietary supplements containing coconut oil reduced their waistlines. The scientists also found that coconut oil does not cause abnormal blood levels of cholesterol and fats.


Inflammation is associated with many chronic diseases and conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis and pain. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties that might help relieve pain and suffering. Research by scientists at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand — published in “Pharmaceutical Biology” in February 2010 — found that virgin coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties. The scientists also demonstrated that in rats, virgin coconut oil reduces pain and fever, symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions.

Healing Wounds

Wound healing is a process that involves repair of skin and tissues affected by injury or surgery. Coconut oil can enhance your healing ability. Research by scientists at the University of Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram, India — published in “Skin Pharmacology and Physiology” in 2010 — indicated that wounds in rats treated with virgin coconut oil heal much faster, including development of new blood vessels and increased proliferation of fibroblasts, a type of connective tissue cells in collagen.

Prostate Health

The prostate gland is an important part of the male body’s reproductive system. Yet as men age, the prostate gland can become enlarged, making it difficult to urinate. Coconut oil might be an effective, natural treatment for men with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Research by scientists at the National Center for Scientific Research in Havana City, Cuba — published in the “Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology” in July 2007 — indicated that coconut oil in rats helped reduce both prostate weight and the ratio of prostate weight to body weight, which are markers of testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia.

Read more:

What Are the Benefits of Kelp Extract?

2619Pumping the right fuel into the body goes a long way towards gaining mileage for health and longevity. Nutrient-rich foods provide the best fuel and are found in whole foods, or those which haven’t been processed. Kelp is considered a whole food and is filled with necessary vitamins and minerals, such as the B vitamin, folic acid, vitamin K, and the element iodine. Professionally extracted kelp residues offer a concentrated source of nutrients in the form of a supplement. Equally important is the source of the kelp, as the developing plant will absorb toxins right along with the minerals and nutrients. Check with your health practitioner for safe sources and dosages of kelp extract.

Folic Acid

Cell regeneration is going on 24/7 in the human body. Folic acid is a primary nutrient which facilitates the creation of new and healthy cells. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that everyone needs folic acid. Furthermore, supplementation of folic acid is recommended. Recently, the Center for Disease Control reported that pregnant women who take folic acid daily, before and during pregnancy can protect their babies from spina bifida and anencephaly, which are birth defects of the brain. For individuals with difficulty swallowing pills, a liquid source of folic acid, such as kelp extract provides an alternative. Speak with your medical practitioner for proper dosage information.

Skin Longevity

Among the touted benefits of kelp extract are its skin-renewing properties. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reports that extracts of the bladder wrack kelp expressed antioxidant and anti-collagenase, or skin-firming, attributes. Women and men who desire to prevent early elasticity of their skin may benefit from supplementing their diet with kelp extract. One study by the School of Life Sciences at Kingston University in London found that extracts of bladder wrack kelp had strong inhibitory activities against both elastase and collagenase. The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine recommends telling your health care provider about any supplements you plan to take.

Thyroid Fuel

Iodine is a primary benefit of kelp extract due to its thyroid supporting role. Without iodine, the thyroid gland cannot function, thus its importance can’t be overstated. Iodine deficiency is the number one cause of preventable mental retardation throughout the world, according to Unicef. Ask your physician for guidance on supplementing your diet with kelp extract.

Read more:

Is Okra Good for You?

Gumbo is the Swahili word for okra — a podded green vegetable that came to America from Africa during the slave trade. As a plant derived from the hollyhock family, it grows annually in warm weather. Immature okra pods are used traditionally in stews, soups and canning, and in boiled and fried vegetable dishes, particularly in Southern cuisine. Okra has a gummy texture, tastes somewhat similar to eggplant, and it can add nutritional benefits to your diet if you use it properly.


Okra is a “power house of valuable nutrients,” according to the University of Illinois Extension program. It contains no fat or cholesterol, rich amounts of soluble fiber, which promotes healthy cholesterol levels, and insoluble fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive tract, lowering your risk for colorectal cancer. Okra is also high in folic acid and vitamin B-6, which plays an important role in your metabolism and physical development, vitamin A, which promotes healthy tissues and eyes, and vitamin C, which supports strong immune system function. Okra also contains essential minerals, including potassium, magnesium and iron. One half-cup of okra contains 25 calories, 2 g of fiber and 1.52 g of protein.


Like most vegetables, okra in its natural state is nutritious and unlikely to cause adverse effects. If you’re prone to oxalate kidney stones, however, eating okra in excess may worsen you symptoms, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Although not as rich in oxalates as other foods, such as lamb, chocolate and spinach, okra does contain moderate amounts. The way you prepare okra also influences its nutritional value. A 3-oz serving of fried okra, for example, contains 210 calories, 10 percent of the daily recommended allowance of saturated fat and nearly 60 percent of the RDA of cholesterol. Preparing okra with butter, margarine, lard or oil has similar effects. Maintaining modest saturated fat and cholesterol intake is important for preventing and reducing the effects of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. Over-cooking okra may rid the vegetable of some of its nutrients.

Healthy Preparation

For a nutritious alternative to fried okra, the American Heart Association recommends tossing 20 oz frozen, sliced okra in a mixture of 2 cups corn meal, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp salt, allowing it to sit for 10 minutes, then baking it in a foil-lined pan with canola oil cooking spray for 40 minutes at 475 degrees F. Flip and spray okra with additional cooking spray at least once while it’s baking. Okra can also be used to add flavor, thickness and nutrients to gumbo and dishes containing tomatoes, corn, onions and shellfish. Simple preparation techniques include steaming, baking and broiling fresh or frozen okra in whole or sliced form. Healthy seasoning options include lemon juice, natural herbs, chopped garlic and low-sodium soy sauce.


Freezing okra is the best way to preserve it, according to the University of Illinois Extension program. Freezing also helps to retain its nutrients, so freeze okra in its prime state — in other words, fresh, colorful okra that hasn’t softened or begun to turn brown. For enhanced success, place okra in boiling water for four minutes, then in cold water for five minutes. Then, drain your okra and and store it in your freezer in air-tight plastic bags. This process, known as blanching, stops enzyme actions in the plant, which can rid okra of flavor, color and texture.

Read more:

Health Benefits of Radishes

Perhaps you overlook the radish in the grocer’s produce bin or have never considered it a snack option. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, however, that radishes were once so valued in Greece, that gold statues were fashioned in their image. There are different types of radishes, but all have the same basic nutritional makeup. Filled with health benefits, the radish deserves a second look as a menu choice.


Vitamin C Content

Snacking on radishes can help you reach your daily vitamin C intake goal. For their size, radishes have a high vitamin C content. A 1/2-cup serving offers 8.6 mg, or 14 percent of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin C works in the body to rebuild tissues, blood vessels and maintain bones and teeth. It is an antioxidant vitamin which is reported to fight cellular damage that can lead to cancer and other diseases, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitamin C is water soluble, which means it is not stored in the body and you must replace it daily.

Fiber Content

One-half cup of radishes contains 1 g of fiber, and while that may not seem like a lot it is actually 4 percent of the recommended daily intake, according to the CDC. If you slice radishes and eat them with a green salad, you are taking in additional fiber. A report from the Harvard School of Public Health states that adding fiber to your diet lowers your risk of diabetes, heart disease, diverticulitis and colon cancer.

Cancer Protection

Radishes contain a group of compounds called isothiocyanates, which are shown to be effective against certain cancers. Researchers at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in India tested various parts of the radish plant against human cancer cells. The results of their study, published in the September 2010 issue of “Plant Foods For Human Nutrition,” show that the compounds in the radish bulb, or root, affect genetic pathways in the cancer cells, inducing cancer cell death.

Diet Friendly

Despite having positive benefits on health, many will not add a food to their diet if they feel it may jeopardize weight loss. In the case of the radish, it is a dieter’s friend. A 1/2-cup serving of radish slices contains only 9 calories and 2 grams of carbs. Other considerations for the radish include the additional vitamin and mineral content. Along with vitamin C the radish offers folate, B vitamins and vitamin K as well as essential minerals that include potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, sodium, copper and zinc. Radishes can be eaten raw or cooked in casseroles or soups. Your imagination is the limit.

Read more:

What Are the Benefits of Magnesium Glycinate?

Magnesium glycinate is made up of magnesium, an essential mineral, and glycine, a non-essential amino acid. It is easily absorbed by your body, likely because it gets carried to your cells bound to the amino acid. This form of magnesium also is desirable because it’s less likely to cause a laxative effect. Supplementing with magnesium glycinate can have several benefits. However, you need to consult a health care provider before using it, especially if you are attempting to treat a deficiency or health issue.

Chronic Fatigue and Firbromyalgia

Taking magnesium glycinate may help alleviate some symptoms if you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, says Jonathan Prousky, author of “The Vitamin Cure for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” People suffering these conditions often have a degree of oxygen deprivation to their tissues, which sometimes is related to an inability to properly utilize magnesium in the body. Oxygen deprivation can lead to muscle pain and tenderness as well as fatigue, Prousky notes. Taking a readily absorbable form magnesium—magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate–as well as malic acid can help alleviate this problem, Prousky says. He recommends 300 mg magnesium and 1,200 mg malic acid a day. Consult a healthcare provider before supplementing with magnesium or choosing a dose, however.



Magnesium glycinate may help you balance your mood swings because it’s needed to regulate neurotransmitter receptor sites, says Lewis Harrison, author of “Healing Depression Naturally.” People suffering serious depression often have low blood levels of this mineral, Harrison notes. Early mental symptoms may include apathy, anorexia, confusion, reduced ability to learn, poor memory, anxiety, grieving, irritability, insomnia or delirium. Physical symptoms can include numbness, body tingling, crying, sustained muscle contractions and irregular or rapid heartbeat. Magnesium glycinate may be an especially helpful form for addressing such symptoms because magnesium helps stabilize your nervous system and the amino acid glycine produces a calming effect on your body, Harrison says. The glycine component of magnesium glycinate also helps to remove mercury from your body. This is called chelation. Mercury can lead to emotional instability, Harrison said. Use of magnesium glycinate to treat depression is this is based on anecdotal evidence, however, not clinical studies.

What Are the Benefits of N-Acetyl-Cysteine?

The amino acid N-acetyl-cysteine, or NAC, has powerful antioxidant properties. It is a slightly modified version of N-acetyl-L-cysteine and appears to offer the most optimal form of this antioxidant. Antioxidants help prevent inflammation and cell damage, making it potentially useful for a number of conditions. Research indicates it has demonstrated benefits for a wide range of conditions, but not all studies showed positive results. Talk to your doctor before using NAC or any other type of supplement, particularly if you take any medications.



Effective dosages of NAC will depend on your reason for using it. Start with 500 mg daily for general antioxidant protection while other conditions call for higher doses. Talk to your doctor about using this supplement to ensure you take a dosage high enough to produce therapeutic effects but not too high as to cause any problems. Taking more than 7 g daily has been linked to toxicity in the cells–when it comes to natural therapies, more is not necessarily better.

Degenerative Diseases

A study led by Muhammed Zarfullah published in a January 2003 edition of Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences found that NAC might help treat degenerative diseases–conditions that get progressively worse–by protecting healthy cells from damage. It also appears to block apoptosis, the process whereby cells self-destruct. Examples of degenerative diseases include Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Breathing Disorders

NAC can prevent the mucus buildup characteristic of so many respiratory disorders. NAC can also help reduce the oxidative damage that contributes to respiratory problems. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes research that showed using NAC reduced flare-ups of both chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD; however, one study failed to show benefit for reducing incidences of chronic bronchitis. Other breathing disorders that might benefit include emphysema, cystic fibrosis and asthma, though not a large amount of research exists as of 2010.

General Antioxidant Protection

Various outside stressors can wreak havoc on the body such as cigarette smoke, pollution and alcohol. They increase the production of free radicals, unstable compounds that damage healthy cells. Even the healthiest person cannot avoid them all. An antioxidant supplement like NAC might offer general protection but should only serve as a complement to healthy lifestyle choices.

Immunity and Toxicity

NAC can reduce negative effects brought on by toxic chemicals and medication reactions, especially acetaminophen. This amino acid might also reduce side effects associated with the common chemotherapy drugs doxorubicin and cisplatin. It might also improve immunity. A small study conducted at the University of Genoa and published in a July 1997 edition of the European Respiratory Journal, found those using NAC experienced less severe flu symptoms. Researches S. Deflora, S. Grassi and L. Carati found that taking 1.2 g of NAC daily for six months resulted in fewer flu symptoms; both the group taking the supplement and the group using a placebo had the same incidence of infection with the flu virus, however.


NAC supplementation might raise levels of homocysteine—an amino acid that might increase the risk of heart disease. Supplements can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. NAC might interact with ACE inhibitors and immunosuppressive drugs.

Read more:

The Vitamins in Jowar

Jowar is a common name for sorghum (Sorghum bicolor Moench). This tall-stem grass is composed of three main parts, including the seed coating, germ and endosperm. Jowar shares similarities to wheat, as both yield low to moderate food value. Jowar is comprised of 70 percent carbohydrates, 12 percent protein, 3 percent fat and low vitamin content, according to the Board on Science and Technology for International Development. However, jowar is easily grown, requires little water and is cost-efficient. This crop is one of Africa’s most relied upon staples.


B Vitamins

B vitamins help your body use the energy obtained from food and build new tissue and cells. The germ in jowar contains small amounts of B vitamins, including 1 mg of pantothenic acid or vitamin B5, 0.5 mg of pyroxidine or vitamin B6, 0.35 mg of thiamin, 0.14 mg of riboflavin, 7 mcg of biotin and traces of folate. One serving of jowar contains 2.8 mg of niacin, also known as vitamin B3. The daily recommended intake of niacin is 14 to 16 mg per day for adults, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Pellagra, a condition caused by a niacin deficiency, is common among individuals who eat jowar as a main part of their diet.

Vitamin A

Jowar contains low amounts of vitamin A or carotene at 21 RE, which is equivalent to 70 IU per serving. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin A ranges from 2,333 to 3,000 IU per day for an adult, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Vitamin A is critical for immune functioning, visual acuity, red blood cell production and eye, skin and hair moisture.


Jowar contains significantly more nutritive mineral value than vitamin value. Minerals found in jowar include 220 mg of potassium, 368 mg of phosphorous, 21 mg of calcium, 5.7 mg of iron and 140 mg of magnesium. Additionally, jowar contains traces of zinc and over 20 micronutrients. One of the more significant trace mineral contained in jowar is copper. Copper content in jowar equals 1.8 mg, or 200 percent of the recommended daily value reported by the Linus Pauling Institute. Copper aids in cellular energy production, tissue formation, iron metabolism and antioxidant functioning.


Protein is one of the most valuable nutrients found in jowar. However, this protein is primarily in the form of prolamine, an indigestible protein with little nutritive value to the human body. Jowar also contain tannins, an agent found in the coating of the seeds in dark jowar grains, which prevent the body from absorbing the protein, vitamins and minerals in jowar. Remove the seed coating of the jowar prior to eating or consume only yellow or white jowar containing relatively low quantities of tannins. Additionally, during germination of jowar, enzymes react to the process and produce cyanide.

Read more:

Side Effects and Benefits of Curry Powder

2613Curry powder is a mixture of spices, including turmeric, used to prepare curry dishes and other traditional recipes in Indian cuisine. Turmeric contains curcumin, the substance that gives the spice a bright golden color, which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. You can get the health benefits of turmeric by using curry powder in foods or taking turmeric capsules, which are available in pharmacies and health food stores. Tell your doctor if you are planning to take turmeric in pill form. While there are numerous health benefits of curry powder, there are also some known side effects, including increased bleeding risk, MedlinePlus warns.

Increases Bleeding

As a natural anticoagulant, turmeric can increase bleeding and slow blood clotting. If you are having surgery, stop using curry powder and turmeric at least two weeks before the scheduled operation. They also may interact with certain medications and should not be used in combination with blood thinners such as aspirin; clopidogrel, prescribed under the brand name Plavix; warfarin, prescribed as Coumadin; and others. Turmeric can increase bleeding when taken with anticoagulant drugs. Talk to your doctor about the possible adverse effect of curry on these medications.

Irritates Gallbladder

The turmeric in curry powder may cause gallbladder problems or make them worse. If you have gallstones or an obstruction of the bile duct, avoid using curry powder or turmeric. Some doctors recommend that patients with these conditions should avoid curry powder and turmeric capsules. According to Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute, as few as 20 miligrams of the curcumin contained in turmeric could increase gallbladder contractions in healthy people. While gallbladder contractions actually decrease the risk of gallstones, as the gallbladder empties, people who already have gallstones may experience painful symptoms.

Reduces Inflammation

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that researchers have studied the active chemical compounds in turmeric and their anti-inflammatory effects in human cells. The anti-inflammatory action may be due to curcumin’s interaction with chemical messengers known as eicosanoids, which control the inflammatory response in the body. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit the activities of certain eicosanoid-producing enzymes in cultured cells. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, curry powder and turmeric may be helpful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and other conditions, although there is insufficient evidence to rate its effectiveness.

Fights Cancer

The curcumin in turmeric may hold powerful and promising anti-cancer benefits. A 2008 study published in the international medical journal “Cancer Letters” suggests that curcumin interferes with multiple cell signaling pathways that affect the life cycle of cancer cells. As a result, curcumin can fight off the onset and spread of cancer in the body. It is reported to be effective against many different types of cancer, such as leukemia, lymphoma, skin cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer.

Read more:

What Are the Benefits of Lemon Juice on the Skin?

The lemon is a citrus fruit that contains vitamin C, citric acid, B vitamins, carbohydrates and a small amount of protein. Commonly used around the world as food and medicine, the juice of the lemon may also be applied topically to benefit your skin. Lemon juice is mildly acidic, so it may sting or temporarily irritate your skin when it is applied. Therefore, if your skin is sensitive, dilute the juice with water and use a cotton ball or your fingertips to apply it to your skin.


Diminishes Scars

Lemon juice may aid in diminishing the appearance of scars and age spots. It may also reduce the appearance of scars left behind from acne lesions. Melasma, a skin condition that results in the hyperpigmentation of the face during pregnancy, may also benefit from regular applications of lemon juice. For the treatment of scars, apply a small amount of lemon juice to the area of concern and splash with cool water. You can also leave the lemon juice on your skin overnight and rinse any residue off in the morning.

Heals Acne

The antibacterial properties of lemon juice make it a good natural treatment for acne, and when applied to your skin regularly, lemon juice may speed up the healing of acne lesions and prevent future breakouts. Lemon juice may be used to successfully remove blackheads. HealthGuidance recommends rubbing the juice of a fresh lemon over the blackheads at bedtime, and over time they will begin to disappear. This treatment should be followed by rinsing your skin with cool water every morning and using a moisturizer.


If your skin is oily, lemon juice may be applied to your face to reduce the oiliness. The citric acid contained in lemon juice works as a mild skin peel by removing the outermost layer of your skin and reducing shine. The daily use of lemon juice on your face as a skin toner will gently remove dead skin cells, revealing a brighter, smoother complexion.

Read more:

What Are the Health Benefits of Sorghum?

Sorghum grain make up one of the major grain crops in the United States, reports Purdue University, and works well as a food for humans and livestock. Because it’s gluten-free, sorghum grains offer a safe alternative to wheat if you follow a gluten-free diet. Consuming sorghum also boosts your nutrient intake, and the grains offer health benefits because of their impressive nutritional profile.


It’s Rich in Calories and Macronutrients

Each serving of sorghum — a quarter-cup of dry grains — contains 163 calories. If you follow a 2,000-calorie diet, this provides approximately 8 percent of your calorie intake of for the day. Sorghum is rich in carbohydrates — each serving contains 36 grams of total carbohydrates, including 3 grams of fiber. Because of its fiber content, sorghum promotes digestive health, and — combined with other fiber-rich foods as part of a high-fiber diet — fights cardiovascular disease and aids in blood sugar control. Sorghum also contains 1.6 grams of fat and 5.4 grams of protein per serving.

Benefits Your Metabolism

Consuming sorghum benefits your health, thanks to its magnesium and copper content. Magnesium contributes to healthy bone tissue and regulates your body’s calcium levels, while copper boosts your immune system and promotes red blood development. Both minerals also play a role in your metabolism and help your cells produce useable energy. A serving of sorghum offers 91 milligrams of magnesium and 518 micrograms of copper. This provides 58 percent of your daily copper requirement, determined by the Institute of Medicine, as well as 22 and 28 percent of the recommended daily magnesium intake for men and women, respectively.

Helps Support Your Metabolism

Adding sorghum to your diet also helps you consume more iron and niacin, or vitamin B-3. Like copper and magnesium, iron and niacin support your metabolism — iron aids in fuel production, and niacin helps you break down and metabolize nutrients into energy. Niacin and iron also support healthy circulation, and iron plays a role in immune function. Each serving of sorghum provides 2.1 milligrams of iron and 1.4 milligrams of niacin. This makes up 12 percent of the daily recommended iron intake and 10 percent of the daily niacin intake, recommended by the Institute of Medicine, along with 26 and 9 percent of the daily recommended intakes of iron and niacin, respectively, for men.

It’s Tasty in Baked Goods, Salads and More

Use sorghum flour in place of wheat flour for gluten-free baking — its mild flavor works well in breads, wraps, muffins and other baked goods. Alternatively, cook whole sorghum grains in water to use in place of other grains in recipes. Combine sorghum with your favorite chopped veggies, fresh herbs in a lemon-juice vinaigrette for a hearty salad, toss a handful of cooked sorghum into a bowl of soup before serving, or ladle stir-fries or stews over a bed of sorghum grains, instead of rice.

Read more: