Health Tips

Seaweed Loves the Heart

Some relish seaweed, while others eye it with culinary suspicion.  Now an article in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that many scientists have identified seaweed as a rich, potential source of heart-healthy food ingredients.  A review of nearly 100 studies shows that seaweed and other microalgae could rival milk products as sources of important bioactive peptides.

Maria Hayes, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the Teagasc Food Research Centre, in Dublin, Ireland, concluded that certain seaweed proteins work just like the bioactive peptides in milk products to reduce blood pressure, almost like angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor drugs.  Thus, they could be used as ingredients in functional foods like soups and health beverages to provide nutrition, while offering medicinal effects in treating or preventing heart disease.

Seaweeds are a neglected alternative source of these bioactive peptides, in this country, the researchers state, noting its popularity in other cultures.  Varieties of seaweed are known as nori in Japan, dulse in coastal parts of Europe and limu palahalaha in native Hawaiian cuisine.

In addition, notes Hayes, “Seaweeds are a known source of essential fatty acids, which are thought to reduce thrombosis and atherosclerosis-factors important in the reduction of the risk of heart disease.”

Who knew that seaweed could be so beneficial?  I never knew it was that healthy!

Hope this is as helpful to you as it was when I read it.

Have a great day,

Tammy

A Tribute to the American Eldberberry

The International Society for Horticultural Science named the elderberry its 2013 Herb of the Year for good reason.  In June, scientists gathered in Columbia, Missouri, to share research on the potential of elderberries and elder flowers for preventing and treating illnesses at the first International Elderbery Symposium.

For example, Dennis Lubahn, director of the University of Missouri’s Center for Botanical Interaction Studies, and his team are researching the molecular mechanisms behind elderberry’s folk medicine legacy; specifically, how the berries might help prevent strokes, prostate cancer and inflammation while boosting an individual’s resistance to infectious diseases.  Preliminary results show that just two tablespoons of elderberry juice per day appear to offer protection against prostate cancer.

Madeleine Mumcuoglu, Ph.D., from the Hebrew University Hadassah  Medical Center, in Jerusalem, explained how the yet unnamed active principle in elderberry blocks viruses from entering human cells.  She believes that elderberry extract holds significant potential for preventing and reducing symptoms of the flu, including avian flu and swine flu, plus HIV and the herpes simplex virus.  The effective dose may be just one tablespoon a day.

While Mumcuoglu believes elderberry extract is safe, she does not recommend it for pregnant women or those with autoimmune diseases, because it is a known immune system stimulant.  “It may be completely risk-free,” she says.  “We simply don’t yet have adequate data for proof.”

For more information, visit MUConf.Missouri.edu/elderberrysymposium.

 

Rosemary Revs Up Memory

Rosemary’s folkloric reputation for improving memory has been validated by science.  UK researchers at London’s NOrthumbria University found that when the essential oil of rosemary ws diffused into a room- a method practiced in aromatherapy–it enhanced participants’ ability to remember past events and remind themselves to do tasks planned for the future, like sending an anniversary card.

Mark Moss, Ph.D., head of psychology at Northumbria, says, “We wanted to build on our previous research that indicated rosemary aroma improved long-term memory and mental arithmetic.  In this study, we focused on prospective memory, which is critical for everyday functioning.”

In the study, 66 people randomly assigned to either a rosemary-scented or unscented room were asked to complete a variety of tests to assess their memory functions.  Those in the rosemary-scented room outperformed the control group.

Blood anaylsis of those exposed to the rosemary aroma confirmed higher concentrations of 1,8-cineole, the oil’s compound specifically linked to memory improvement.  The researchers concluded that the aroma of rosemary essential oil can enhance cognitive functioning in healthy individuals and may have implications for treting people with memory impairment.  The findings were presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, in Harrogate.

 

Peace, love, bliss kind reader

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