Top 10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Oranges

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Orange Blossom Photo – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 3.0
Orange juice pic – public domain

Oranges – who doesn’t love them? Whether in whole or juice form, the orange is among the most commonly consumed fruit in the world, and that’s a good thing because this brightly colored package of goodness is just brimming with health benefits.

Here are ten of them:

1. Anti-Cancer – The vitamin C content of oranges is often touted for its anti-cancer potential, but vitamin C is not the only thing oranges have in their cancer-fighting arsenal; there are also the limonoids.

Limonoids are the bitter compounds that underlie the sour and sweet flavors of oranges. They are highly bioavailable, and research has shown that they are effective at triggering the death of human colon cancer cells. [1] They also show substantial action against human breast cancer cells in lab studies. [2]

2. Pain Killer – Hesperidin, a flavonoid found in orange juice and orange peel,[3] has been found to have significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. [4]

3. Anti-Hypertensive – Hesperidin has also been linked to a reduction in diastolic blood pressure after four weeks of orange juice consumption. [5]

4. Cholesterol Reducer – Daily consumption of at least 750 ml of orange juice has been shown to be effective in decreasing levels of low-density lipoproteins, or bad cholesterol, while increasing levels of high-density lipoproteins, or good cholesterol, resulting in an improved blood cholesterol profile. [6]

5. Kidney Protector – The high citrate content of orange juice is linked with its ability to reduce the risk of kidney stone formation. In addition, a comparative study has found that orange juice is more effective than lemon juice in stimulating the excretion of urinary oxalates, making it a superior dietary addition for preventing kidney stones. [7]

6. Heart Health – A study has shown that men and women whose blood ascorbic acid concentration levels are in the top quintile have a significantly lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease and cardiovascular disease compared to those whose ascorbic acid levels are in the lowest quintile. [8] Oranges are well known to be excellent dietary sources of ascorbic acid.

7. Stroke Prevention – The abundance of vitamin C in oranges is also useful for lowering the risk of stroke, especially among men with high blood pressure and excessive weight. [9]

8. Arthritis Prevention – Low intake of vitamin C is associated with a threefold increase in the risk of developing inflammatory polyarthritis. [10] This risk can be reduced by eating oranges every day.

9. Optimal Fetal Development – Orange juice is an excellent source of folate,[11] which, when added to a pregnant woman’s diet, is known to decrease her child’s risk of developing neural tube defects. [12]

10. Diabetes Management – According to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, high fiber intake is beneficial for diabetics because it lowers blood lipid levels, reduces hyperinsulinemia, and improves control of blood sugar. [13] Oranges are rich sources of dietary fiber.

Notes: Despite their name, oranges are not always orange. Some varieties are green. That does not detract from their health benefits.

The pulp and juice of the orange are not its only edible parts. The white membranes are likewise edible and beneficial, and so is orange zest.

Take caution, however, as pesticide residues may remain on the skin. For recipes that call for orange zest, make sure you use oranges that were organically grown.

References:
[1] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf104498p
[2] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsfa.2396/abstract
[3] http://fshs.org/proceedings-o/1959-vol-72/258-263%28Hendrickson%29.pdf
[4] http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/7832973
[5] http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=21068346
[6] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/72/5/1095.short
[7] http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/content/1/6/1269.short
[8] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673600041283
[9] http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/33/6/1568.full
[10] http://ard.bmj.com/content/63/7/843.short
[11] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-008-0701-3#page-1
[12] http://jn.nutrition.org/content/129/6/1135.short
[13] http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200005113421903


Top 10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Dates

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Date Photo – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 3.0
Recipe – Tarladalal.com (with permission)

Dates may not be the most nutrient-dense fruits in the world as far as single nutrients are concerned. But as far as variety of nutrients goes, dates would definitely be among the top contenders in the Most Nutritious Fruit contest if such a contest were to exist.

These sweet Middle Eastern delicacies are full of protein, dietary fiber, unsaturated fatty acids, pectin, vitamins A, C, B1, B2, and niacin, and the minerals aluminum, boron, calcium, copper, fluorine, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, sulfur, and zinc.

All of these confer huge health benefits upon this fruit. Here are ten of them.

1. Diabetes Control: Despite the fruit’s sweetness, many date varieties actually have a low glycemic index, so they can be safely consumed in moderation by diabetics without resulting a dangerous spike in blood sugar levels. [1]

2. Liver Protection: One animal study suggests that date consumption, in conjunction with ascorbic acid intake, has a protective effect on the liver, as shown by a lower rate of plasma bilirubin elevation upon the liver’s exposure to the thioacetamide toxin. [2]

3. Kidney Protection: Dates have also been found effective in reducing the rate of creatinine and urea increase caused by toxin injection on animal subjects. Researchers observed that dates lessened the damage inflicted on the subjects’ nephrons by the injected toxin. The researchers surmise that the protective effect is due to the antioxidant properties of the dates. [3]

4. Constipation Treatment: Aside from having a good amount of stool-bulking and stool-softening fiber, dates have also been found to stimulate intestinal movement, thus increasing their usefulness and effectiveness in treating constipation. [4]

5. Anti-obesity: Consumption of date extracts have been found to normalize the levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), free fatty acids, and triglycerides in the blood of subjects with high-fat-diet induced obesity. This finding suggests that the fruit has potential for preventing obesity and its deleterious effects on the body. [5]

6. Cardiovascular Health: Aside from reducing the amount of harmful triglycerides and LDL in the bloodstream, dates added to the diet have also been shown to prevent the formation of plaque build-up in the arteries, thus paving the way to a healthier cardiovascular system. [6]

7. Antibiotic Properties: Some date varieties have been proven to be up to 60% as effective as ampicillin in fighting common bacteria such as E. coli, Pseudomonas aeuroginosa, Shigella sp., and Staphylococcus aureus. [7]



8. Gastric Protection: Dates have long been used as a folk treatment for gastric ulceration. A study corroborated the scientific soundness of this practice by showing that feeding date fruit extracts to mice before giving them ethanol resulted in a lower rate of gastric ulcer formation than among their counterparts that were not given dates beforehand. [8]

9. Anti-cancer: Purified glucans from Libyan dates have been found to display a powerful anti-tumor activity. [9] Dates also contain a good amount of selenium, which is also believed to have an anti-cancer effect. [10]

10. Vegetarian Protein Source: Date-sourced protein is considered a superior form of non-animal protein, as it contains 23 types of amino acids that are not always found in more popular fruits. [10]

One thing to remember about dates is that these fruits are consumed with their skin on. It is therefore important to choose dates that are produced without the use of chemical pesticides, to ensure that such toxins do not contaminate the fruit we eat.

For this reason, it is best to choose dates that were organically cultivated. Also look for good packaging, because it is easy for impurities to adhere to the sticky surface of dates if the fruits are left exposed.

Thanks so much to Tarladalal.com (great website, check it out!) for their kind permission to include their healthy date roll recipe in our infographic!

References:
[1] http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398.2010.499824
[2] http://ijpr.sbmu.ac.ir/index.php/daru/article/view/?_action=articleInfo&article=765
[3] http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13880200701739322
[4] http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2013.0112
[5] http://jocpr.com/vol4-iss1-2012/JCPR-2012-4-1-348-352.pdf
[6] http://www.medwelljournals.com/fulltext/?doi=rjbsci.2010.632.637
[7] http://www.lifesciencesite.com/lsj/life0902/075_8719life0902_504_508.pdf
[8] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037887410500067X
[9] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0144861704004217
[10] http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09637480120091982


Top 10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Lemons

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Lemon Photo – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 3.0
Recipe Photo – TheHealthyHappyWife.blogspot.ca (with permission)

Lemons are among the most popular fruits traditionally used for medicinal purposes. They have been used at home for healing sore throat, skin scars, fever, rheumatism, gallstones, cholera, dull hair, and of course, the common cold.

Undoubtedly, not all of these home remedies have been scientifically proven, but that does not mean the lemon is impotent.

Here are ten things that science has confirmed the lemon can do:

1. Makes Green Tea Healthier – Green tea, by itself, is already considered among the world’s healthiest drinks. But add lemon juice to it and you make it even better. It’s not just the added vitamin C per se but the fact that when we add vitamin C to green tea, the body is more able to absorb the drink’s polyphenols and gain their health benefits. [1]

2. Inhibits Cancer – Apigenin, a flavonoid found in lemons, has been many times shown to have an inhibitory effect on cancer cell growth for ovarian, endometrial, breast, cervical, colon, lung, prostate, thyroid, skin, gastric, adrenocortical, and hepatocellular cancer, as well as leukemia and neuroblastoma. Interestingly, researchers have also found that apigenin is better absorbed by the body when delivered through natural foods, like the lemon, than when isolated in its purified form. [2]

3. Promotes Oral Health – Topically applied lemon peel essential oils are effective against the bacteria that cause periodontitis and dental cavities. [3]

4. Fights Ringworm Fungi – At a concentration of 900 ppm, essential oil from lemon peel has been shown capable of killing the Trichophyton mentagrophytes fungus, [4] which is a cause of tinea skin infections (e.g., ringworm). [5]

5. Reduces the Risk of Inflammatory Polyarthritis – Researchers found that people with high vitamin C intakes had about one-third the risk of inflammatory polyarthritis as that of those with the lowest vitamin C intakes. [6] Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C. [7]

6. Controls Cholera Outbreaks – The results of a study conducted during a cholera epidemic in Africa in 1994 suggests that adding acidifiers such as lemon or lime in main meals can help curb the food-borne spread of infection. [8]

7. Reduces Kidney Stone Formation – Lemonade therapy (4 oz lemon juice plus tap water, drunk several times a day) increases urine volume and the amount of calcium contained in the urine of people suffering from recurrent kidney stone formation. This helps in the treatment of the disease and in the prevention of its recurrence. [9]

8. Alleviates Depression – Orally consumed lemon essential oils have been found to increase the levels of feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin in the brain, resulting in an antidepressant effect. [10]

9. Dramatically Increases Iron Absorption – In a study involving 63 male subjects, researchers found that the intake of lemon juice (or other rich sources of vitamin C) with meals increased the subjects’ iron absorption up to nearly twice the amount that they would normally absorb without vitamin C intake! It is important that the vitamin is consumed with the meal. The consumption of vitamin C at breakfast did not affect iron absorption during lunch and dinner. [11]

10. Prevents or Alleviates Upper Respiratory Tract Infections – A review of previous studies done on the effect of vitamin C on upper respiratory tract infections shows that among people who are not getting the amount of vitamin C they need, such as those under acute physical stress, a correction of their vitamin deficiency helps prevent the occurrence of respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and the common cold. In non-deficient populations, although vitamin C shows no preventive effects, it does help to alleviate symptoms enough to allow the patients to attend school or go to work within a shorter period of time than if they had not increased their vitamin C intake. As a fruit rich in vitamin C, lemons can be useful in increasing a person’s natural intake of this vitamin. [12]

Although we focus much on the juice of the lemon, we must not forget that lemon peel also contains a lot of health benefits in the form of antioxidants and pectin. Lemon peel can be incorporated in food through lemon zest.

However, like many fruits and vegetables, conventionally grown lemons can be tainted with toxic chemicals, especially on their skin. Should you wish to prepare food with lemon zest, always make sure you use organically grown lemons.

Thanks to the awesome http://thehealthyhappywife.blogspot.ca/2014/06/greek-salad-with-homemade-lemon-dressing.html for kind permission to include their recipe photo in our infographic.

References:
[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2802066/
[2] http://www.spandidos-publications.com/ijo/30/1/233
[3] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13197-011-0330-3#page-1
[4] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1439-0507.1988.tb04436.x/abstract
[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17302756
[6] http://ard.bmj.com/content/63/7/843.short
[7] http://www.nutritionvalue.org/Lemons%2C_without_peel%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html
[8] http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/9392602
[9] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022534701656593
[10] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464612001740
[11] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/30/2/235.short
[12] http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iuatld/ijtld/1999/00000003/00000009/art00004

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