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Ginger

 

Health Benefits

Historically, ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects. 

Gastrointestinal Relief

A clue to ginger's success in eliminating gastrointestinal distress is offered by recent double-blind studies, which have demonstrated that ginger is very effective in preventing the symptoms of motion sickness, especially seasickness. In fact, in one study, ginger was shown to be far superior to Dramamine, a commonly used over-the-counter and prescription drug for motion sickness. Ginger reduces all symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating.

Safe and Effective Relief of Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy

Ginger's anti-vomiting action has been shown to be very useful in reducing the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, even the most severe form, hyperemesis gravidum, a condition which usually requires hospitalization. In a double-blind trial, ginger root brought about a significant reduction in both the severity of nausea and number of attacks of vomiting in 19 of 27 women in early pregnancy (less than 20 weeks). Unlike anti vomiting drugs, which can cause severe birth defects, ginger is extremely safe, and only a small dose is required.

A review of six double-blind, randomized controlled trials with a total of 675 participants, published in the April 2005 issue of the journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology, has confirmed that ginger is effective in relieving the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. The review also confirmed the absence of significant side effects or adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. In two clinical studies involving patients who responded to conventional drugs and those who didn't, physicians found that 75% of arthritis patients and 100% of patients with muscular discomfort experienced relief of pain and/or swelling.

Arthritis-related problems with your aging knees? Regularly spicing up your meals with fresh ginger may help, suggests a study published in a recent issue of Osteoarthritis Cartilage. In this twelve month study, 29 patients with painful arthritis in the knee (6 men and 23 women ranging in age from 42-85 years) participated in a placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study. Patients switched from placebo to ginger or vice versa after 3 months. After six months, the double-blind code was broken and twenty of the patients who wished to continue were followed for an additional six months.

By the end of the first six month period, those given ginger were experiencing significantly less pain on movement and handicap than those given placebo. Pain on movement decreased from a score of 76.14 at baseline to 41.00, while handicap decreased from 73.47 to 46.08. In contrast, those who were switched from ginger to placebo experienced an increase in pain of movement (up to 82.10) and handicap (up to 80.80) from baseline. In the final phase of the study when all patients were getting ginger, pain remained low in those already taking ginger in phase 2, and decreased again in the group that had been on placebo.

Not only did participants' subjective experiences of pain lessen, but swelling in their knees, an objective measurement of lessened inflammation, dropped significantly in those treated with ginger. The mean target knee circumference in those taking ginger dropped from 43.25cm when the study began to 39.36cm by the 12th week. When this group was switched to placebo in the second phase of the study, their knee circumferences increased, while those who had been on placebo but were now switched to ginger experienced a decrease in knee circumference. In the final phase, when both groups were given ginger, mean knee circumference continued to drop, reaching lows of 38.78 and 36.38 in the two groups.

Protection against Colorectal Cancer

Gingerols, the main active components in ginger and the ones responsible for its distinctive flavor, may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells, suggests research presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, a major meeting of cancer experts that took place in Phoenix, AZ, October 26-30, 2003.

In this study, researchers from the University of Minnesota's Hormel Institute fed mice specially bred to lack an immune system a half milligram of gingerol three times a week before and after injecting human colorectal cancer cells into their flanks. Control mice received no gingerol.

Tumors first appeared 15 days after the mice were injected, but only 4 tumors were found in the group of -gingerol-treated mice compared to 13 in the control mice, plus the tumors in the gingerol group were smaller on average. Even by day 38, one mouse in the gingerol group still had no measurable tumors. By day 49, all the control mice had been euthanized since their tumors had grown to one cubic centimeter (0.06 cubic inch), while tumors in 12 of the gingerol treated mice still averaged 0.5 cubic centimeter-half the maximum tumor size allowed before euthanization.

Research associate professor Ann Bode noted, "These results strongly suggest that ginger compounds may be effective chemo- preventive and/or chemotherapeutic agents for colorectal carcinomas."

In this first round of experiments, mice were fed ginger before and after tumor cells were injected. In the next round, researchers will feed the mice ginger only after their tumors have grown to a certain size. This will enable them to look at the question of whether a patient could eat ginger to slow the metastasis of a non operable tumor. Are they optimistic? The actions of the University of Minnesota strongly suggest they are. The University has already applied for a patent on the use of gingerol as an anti-cancer agent and has licensed the technology to Pediatric Pharmaceuticals (Iselin, N.J.).

General Information about NUTS

 

What's in nuts that have thought to be heart healthy?

Although it varies by nut, researchers think most nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances:

§  Unsaturated fats. It's not entirely clear why, but it's thought that the "good" fats in nuts — both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — lower bad cholesterol levels.

§  Omega-3 fatty acids. Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in many fish, but nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

§  L-arginine. Nuts also have lots of l-arginine, which is a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.

§  Fiber. All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you'll eat less later. Fiber is also thought to play a role in preventing diabetes.

§  Vitamin E. Researchers still aren't sure, but it's thought that vitamin E may help stop the development of plaques in your arteries which can narrow them, leading to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.

§  Plant sterols. Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower your cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products like margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts

What amount of nuts is considered healthy?

Nuts contain a lot of fat; as much as 80 percent of a nut is fat. Even though most of this fat is healthy fat, it's still a lot of calories. That's why you should eat nuts in moderation. Ideally, you should use nuts as a substitute for saturated fats, such as those found in meats, eggs and dairy products.

Instead of eating unhealthy saturated fats, try substituting a handful of nuts. According to the Food and Drug Administration, eating about a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) a day of most nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts, may reduce your risk of heart disease. But again, do this as part of a heart-healthy diet. Just eating nuts and not cutting back on saturated fats found in many dairy and meat products won't do your heart any good.

Does it matter what kind of nuts you eat?

Possibly. Most nuts appear to be generally healthy, though some more so than others. Walnuts are one of the best-studied nuts, and it's been shown they contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans are other nuts that appear to be quite heart healthy. Even peanuts — which are technically not a nut, but a legume, like beans — seem to be relatively healthy. Coconut, which is technically a fruit, may be considered by some to be a nut, but it doesn't have heart-health benefits. Both coconut meat and oil contain a large amount of saturated fat.

Keep in mind that you could end up canceling out the heart-healthy benefits of nuts if they're covered with chocolate, sugar or salt. Take a fist full of nuts and make it your afternoon snack with unsweetened lemon tea and you most probably will make it a habit and a good one. 

Here's some nutrition information on common types of nuts. All calorie and fat content measurements are for 1 ounce, or 28.4 grams (g), of unsalted nuts.

Type of nut

Calories

Total fat (Saturated/Unsaturated fat)*

Almonds, raw

163

14 g (1.1 g/12.2 g)

Almonds, dry roasted

169

15 g (1.1 g/13.1 g)

Brazil nuts, raw

186

19 g (4.3 g/12.8 g)

Cashews, dry roasted

163

13.1 g (2.6 g/10 g)

Chestnuts, roasted

69

0.6 g (1 g/5 g)

Hazelnuts (filberts), raw

178

17 g (1.3 g/15.2 g)

Hazelnuts (filberts), dry roasted

183

17.7 g (1.3 g/15.6 g)

Macadamia nuts, raw

204

21.5 g (3.4 g/17.1 g)

Macadamia nuts, dry roasted

204

21.6 g (3.4 g/17.2 g)

Peanuts, dry roasted

166

14 g (2g/11.4 g)

Pecans, dry roasted

201

21 g (1.8 g/18.3 g)

Pistachios, dry roasted

162

13 g (1.6 g/10.8 g)

Walnuts, halved

185

18.5 g (1.7 g/15.9 g)

*The saturated and unsaturated fat contents in each nut may not add up to the total fat content because the fat value may also include some nonfatty acid material, such as sugars or phosphates.

How about nut oils? Are they healthy, too?

Nut oils are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, but they lack the fiber in whole nuts. Walnut oil is highest in omega-3s. Nut oils contain saturated as well as unsaturated fats. Consider using nut oils in homemade salad dressing or in cooking. When cooking with nut oils, remember that they respond differently to heat than do vegetable oils. Nut oil, if overheated, can become bitter. Just like with nuts, use nut oil in moderation, as the oils are high in fat and calories.

 
 

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