Monday, November 30, 2015

How Oil Pulling Can Transform Your Dental Health

I love it when I learn new things from the comments people leave on my site.
About two weeks ago, I wrote an article about coconut oil – an awesome tropical oil with many health benefits.
A few people commented that they use coconut oil for something called Oil Pulling – which is kind of like using an oil as mouthwash.
Apparently, there are quite a few studies that support this process and a lot of people swear by it.
It is claimed to whiten your teeth, make your breath fresher and lead to massive improvements in oral health.
I have now been doing this every morning for about 10 days… and I am impressed.

What is Oil Pulling and How Does it Work?

Oil pulling involves swishing oil around the mouth and has been used for thousands of years as an Indian folk remedy.
In order to oil pull, you put a tablespoon of oil in your mouth, then swish it around for 15-20 minutes.
The main benefit of doing this, is that it reduces the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
There are actually thousands of different types of bacteria in the mouth. Some of them are friendly, others are not.
The bacteria in the mouth create a “biofilm” on the teeth – a thin layer that they use to adhere to the surface. This is what we know as “plaque.”
Having some plaque on your teeth is normal, but if it gets out of hand it can cause all sorts of problems, including bad breath, yellow teeth, gum inflammation, gingivitis and cavities.
The way oil pulling works is simple. When you swish the oil around your mouth, the bacteria “get stuck” in it and dissolve in the liquid oil.
Basically, you remove a large amount of the bacteria and plaque in your mouth each time you do this.

I Personally Prefer Coconut Oil

Traditionally, the Indians used other oils such as sesame oil or sunflower oil.
Oil pulling should work with pretty much any oil you choose, but I prefer coconut oil because it has many health benefits.
The Lauric Acid (one of the fatty acids in coconut oil) is also proven to be antimicrobial… it can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi .
The taste of coconut oil is also fairly pleasant compared to other oils. I found it rather disgusting at first having my mouth full of oil, but I got used to it after a few days.
Now let’s look at a few studies on oil pulling…

Oil Pulling Can Reduce Harmful Bacteria in The Mouth

Streptococcus Mutans is one of the main bacteria in the mouth and a key player in plaque buildup and tooth decay.
In a study from 2008 with 20 boys, oil pulling (using sesame oil) caused a reduction in the number of Streptococcus Mutans in the plaque in as little as 2 weeks .
It was not as effective as a Chlorhexidine mouthwash, but much cheaper and MUCH less nasty.

Oil Pulling Can Reduce Plaque and Gingivitis

Gingivitis is caused by inflammation of the gums and happens when the immune system starts attacking the bacteria in the plaque.
Another study compared oil pulling and chlorhexidine in adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis. Both oil pulling and chlorhexidine mouthwash were effective against gingivitis (4).

Oil Pulling Can Reduce Bad Breath

Bad breath, otherwise known as halitosis, is in many cases (not all) caused by the smell of chemicals and gases produced by bacteria in the mouth.
It makes sense that if you get rid of some of these bacteria, you reduce bad breath.
In a third study of 20 adolescents, oil pulling therapy significantly reduced all markers for bad breath and was just as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash .

How to Oil Pull

Coconut Oil
Oil pulling is incredibly simple and effective.
Here’s how to do it:
  1. Put about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth.
  2. Swish the oil around your mouth for about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Spit out the oil, then brush your teeth.
If you use coconut oil like me, then you may have to chew on the oil for a minute or so to let it melt, because it is solid at room temperature.
It is best to do this on an empty stomach, before you brush your teeth. I prefer to do it while I take a shower in the morning.
I put the oil in my mouth, swish it around while in the shower and try to “push” and “pull” the oil between my teeth.
When I get out of the shower I spit out the oil into the trash or toilet (not the sink… it can clog), rinse my mouth with water and then brush my teeth.
There is no need to use a lot of force here, if oil pulling causes pain in your facial muscles then just relax a bit. Try using less oil next time and don’t swish it around too forcefully.

What to Expect

I’ve been doing this for about 10 days now.
I’ve definitely noticed that my breath is fresher and my teeth look a lot cleaner… both whiter and more shiny.
I’ve never had any dental problems, but I can see how this could have benefits for people that have them.
There are a lot of wild claims about oil pulling online and I don’t believe all of them.
However, oil pulling IS effective at reducing the harmful bacteria in your mouth and improving oral and dental health.
Given that inflammation can cause all sorts of health problems, it does make sense that reducing inflammation in the gums and mouth could lead to benefits for overall health as well.
Perhaps this is the reason why many people report improvements in health issues that really have nothing to do with the mouth.
Anyway… I have to say that I am really surprised at how effective this is. I plan to continue doing this for a long time.

13 Reasons Tea Is Good for You

Tea or coffee? Consider these health benefits of tea and the next time you have to choose, you may skip the joe
Put down those saucer cups and get chugging — tea is officially awesome for your health. But before loading up on Red Zinger, make sure that your “tea” is actually tea. Real tea is derived from a particular plant (Camellia sinensis) and includes only four varieties: green, black, white, and oolong. Anything else (like herbal “tea”) is an infusion of a different plant and isn’t technically tea.
But what real tea lacks in variety, it makes up for with some serious health benefits. Researchers attribute tea’s health properties to polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) and phyto chemicals. Though most studies have focused on the better-known green and black teas, white and oolong also bring benefits to the table. Read on to find out why coffee’s little cousin rocks your health.
  1. Tea can boost exercise endurance. Scientists have found that the catechins (antioxidants) in green tea extract increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel, which accounts for improved muscle endurance.
  2. Drinking tea could help reduce the risk of heart attack. Tea might also help protect against cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.
  3. The antioxidants in tea might help protect against a boatload of cancers, including breast, colon, colorectal, skin, lung, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liverovarianprostate and oral cancers. But don’t rely solely on tea to keep a healthy body — tea is not a miracle cure, after all. While more studies than not suggest that tea has cancer-fighting benefits, the current research is mixed.
  4. Tea helps fight free radicals. Tea is high in oxygen radical absorbance capacity (“ORAC” to its friends), which is a fancy way of saying that it helps destroy free radicals (which can damage DNA) in the body. While our bodies are designed to fight free radicals on their own, they’re not 100 percent effective — and since damage from these radical oxygen ninjas has been linked to cancer, heart disease and neurological degeneration, we’ll take all the help we can get.
  5. Tea is hydrating to the body (even despite the caffeine!).
  6. Drinking tea is linked with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. When considered with other factors like smoking, physical activity, age and body mass index, regular tea drinking was associated with a lowered risk ofParkinson’s disease in both men and women.
  7. Tea might provide protection from ultraviolet rays. We know it’s important to limit exposure to UV rays, and we all know what it’s like to feel the burn. The good news is that green tea may act as a back-up sunscreen.
  8. Tea could keep waist circumference in check. In one study, participants who regularly consumed hot tea had lower waist circumference and lower BMI than non-consuming participants. Scientists speculate that regular tea drinking lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome (which increases the risk of diabetes, artery disease and stroke), although it’s important to remember that correlation does not equal causation.
  9. Regular tea drinking might also counteract some of the negative effects of smoking and might even lessen the risk of lung cancer (good news, obviously, but not a justification for cigs).
  10. Tea could be beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes. Studies suggest that compounds in green tea could helpdiabetics better process sugars.
  11. Tea can help the body recover from radiation. One study found that tea helped protect against cellular degeneration upon exposure to radiation, while another found that tea can help skin bounce back post exposure.
  12. Green tea has been found to improve bone mineral density and strength.
  13. Tea might be an effective agent in the prevention and treatment of neurological diseases, especially degenerative diseases (think Alzheimer’s). While many factors influence brain health, polyphenols in green tea may help maintain the parts of the brain that regulate learning and memory.
Though most research on tea is highly positive, it’s not all definitive — so keep these caveats in mind before stocking up on gallons of the stuff:
  1. Keep it cool. Repeatedly drinking hot beverages may boost the risk of esophageal cancer. Give tea several minutes to cool off before sipping.
  2. The studies seem convincing, but a rat does not a human make. Chemicals in tea may react differently in the lab than they do in the human body. Tannins (and the other good stuff in green tea) may not be bio available for humans, meaning tea might not always benefit human health to the same degree as in lab studies suggest.
  3. All tea drinks are not created equal. The body’s access to the good stuff in tea might be determined by the teavariety, canning and processing, and the way it was brewed.

Benefits of Eating Almonds

A handful of
almonds a day is a quick way to stay healthy.
Natural, unsalted almonds are a tasty and nutritious snack with plenty of health benefits. Loaded with minerals, they are also among the healthiest of tree nuts. Just a handful of nutrient-rich almonds a day helps promote heart health and prevent weight gain, and it may even help fight diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer's.

Nutrition

Eating about 23 almonds a day is an easy way to incorporate many crucial nutrients into your diet. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Additionally, almonds are a significant source of protein and fiber, while being naturally low in sugar. One 23-almond serving packs 13 grams of healthy unsaturated fats, 1 gram of saturated fat and no cholesterol or salt. Of all tree nuts, almonds rank highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin content by weight. There are 160 calories in 23 almonds. While many of these calories come from fat, it is primarily the healthy unsaturated fats and not the unhealthy saturated kind.

Heart Health

According to the FDA, eating 1.5 ounces a day of most nuts, like almonds, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Many of the nutrients in almonds help contribute to increased heart health. For one, almonds are rich in magnesium, which is critical in preventing heart attacks and hypertension. Several clinical studies have also shown almonds can be effective in reducing bad cholesterol and preserving healthy cholesterol, which plays a major role in heart health.

Weight Maintenance

Nuts, like almonds, are also beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight. The fiber, protein and fat content of almonds means it only takes a handful to keep you feeling full and satisfied so you won't have the urge to overeat. According to "Fitness" magazine, the magnesium in almonds helps regulate blood sugar, which is key in reducing food cravings. Almonds may even be able to block the body’s absorption of calories, making them the ultimate weight-loss-friendly snack. Because almonds are naturally high in calories, it’s important to limit your serving size to the recommended 1 ounce, or 23 nuts.

Other Health Benefits

Almonds may also promote gastrointestinal health and even combat diabetes. The high fiber content of almonds gives them prebiotic properties, which contributes to health in the gastrointestinal tract. Prebiotics are non-digestible food substances, which serve as food for the good bacteria in the intestinal tract and help maintain a healthy balance. According to a study by the American Diabetes Association, a Mediterranean diet incorporating nuts, such as almonds, helps fight diabetes even without significant changes to weight, physical activity or caloric intake.

Raw vs. Roasted

Almonds are available in a variety of preparations and it can be tough to know which is healthiest. Raw, unsalted almonds are a safe bet, but some people prefer the roasted taste. Both raw and roasted almonds pack a high dose of nutrients and minerals. Raw almonds have more naturally occurring beneficial fats, as some are lost in the roasting process. Dry roasted almonds have the same amount of calories as raw almonds, while almonds roasted in oil contain slightly more calories.

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Yogurt

Yogurt's got power-boosting protein and bone-building calcium. It can also help you lose weight and fend off a cold. Here's the scoop on the benefits of yogurt — and how much you should eat. Whether you opt for greek yogurt, organic or soy you'll starting seeing results instantly.

1. Yogurt can give you flat abs.

Eat 18 ounces a day and you can drop a jeans size. People who ate that much — in conjunction with cutting their total calories — lost 22 percent more weight and 81 percent more belly fat than dieters who skipped the snack, according to research from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. They also retained one-third more calorie-torching lean muscle mass, which can help you maintain weight loss. "Fat around your waist produces the hormone cortisol, which tells your body to accumulate even more belly flab," says nutrition professor and lead study author Michael Zemel, PhD. When you eat yogurt, the calcium signals your fat cells to pump out less cortisol, making it easier for you to drop pounds, while the amino acids help burn fat.

2. Most brands of yogurt contain good-for-you bacteria.

The words "live and active cultures" on the container mean that your yogurt has probiotics, beneficial bugs that live in your digestive tract and help crowd out harmful microorganisms that can cause intestinal infections. (Only a very small number of companies put yogurt through a post-pasteurization process that kills off all bacteria.)
But many varieties now also contain special strains of probiotics meant to help regulate your digestion or strengthen your immune system. The research on them isn't conclusive, however. "If you suffer from a particular health problem, like bloating or diarrhea, it's worth trying one of these products for a couple of weeks to see if it helps," says FITNESS advisory board member Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD. Otherwise, save a few dollars and stick to conventional brands.

3. Yogurt is loaded with vitamins.

One serving is a significant source of potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, iodine, zinc, and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). Yogurt also contains B12, which maintains red blood cells and helps keep your nervous system functioning properly. "Vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal products, such as chicken and fish, so strict vegetarians can easily fall short," says Jackie Newgent, RD, a FITNESS advisory board member and author of Big Green Cookbook. Eating more yogurt can help close the nutrient gap: An eight-ounce serving contains 1.4 micrograms of the vitamin, about 60 percent of what adult women need daily.

4. A cup of yogurt a day can help you recover faster after a workout.

With the right ratio of protein to carbohydrates, yogurt, particularly high-protein Greek yogurt, makes an excellent post-sweat-session snack. "The perfect time to grab a container is within 60 minutes of exercise," says Keri Gans, RD, a nutritionist in New York City. The protein provides the amino acids your muscles need to repair themselves, Gans explains, and the carbohydrates replace your muscles' energy stores, which are depleted after a hard workout. It's a bonus if you drink a bottle of water along with it: The protein in yogurt may also help increase the amount of water absorbed by the intestines, improving hydration.

5. Not all yogurt is equal when it comes to calcium and vitamin D.

Since it naturally contains calcium, you'd think the amount would be the same no matter which yogurt you pick. Wrong. "The levels can vary widely from brand to brand, so you really need to check the label," Newgent says. How much is in a container depends on processing. For instance, fruit yogurt tends to have less calcium than plain because the sugar and fruit take up precious space in the container. "Vitamin D isn't naturally in yogurt, but because it helps boost calcium absorption, most companies add it," Newgent explains. Reach for brands like Stonyfield Farms Fat Free Smooth and Creamy and Yoplait Light Thick & Creamy, which contain at least 20 percent of your daily value for both nutrients.

6. Yogurt may prevent high blood pressure.

Every day 70 percent of us consume more than twice the recommended amount of salt; over time that can lead to hypertension and kidney and heart disease. The potassium in yogurt, almost 600 milligrams per eight ounces, may help flush some of the excess sodium out of your body. In fact, adults in a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition who ate the most low-fat dairy — two or more servings daily — were 54 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who ate the least.

7. A daily serving of yogurt keeps colds away.

Dig into four ounces each day and you may find yourself sniffle-free in the months ahead, according to a study at the University of Vienna. Women eating this amount had much stronger and more active T cells, which battle illness and infection, than they did before they started consuming it. "The healthy bacteria in yogurt help send signals to the immune-boosting cells in your body to power up and fight off harmful bugs," says lead study author Alexa Meyer, PhD, a nutrition researcher at the university. Allergy sufferers, who typically have low levels of certain T cells, may also find relief by adding yogurt to their diets. In a study in the Journal of Nutrition, people who ate seven ounces a day had fewer symptoms than those who opted for none at all.

8. Yogurt can help your smile.

Despite its sugar content, yogurt doesn't cause cavities. When scientists at Marmara University in Turkey tested low-fat, light, and fruit flavors, they found that none of them eroded tooth enamel, the main cause of decay. The lactic acid in yogurt appears to give your gums protection as well. People who eat at least two ounces a day have a 60 percent lower risk of acquiring severe periodontal disease than those who skip it.

9. Raw doesn't mean better.

Virtually all the yogurt in your grocery store has been pasteurized — that is, exposed to high temperatures to kill any harmful pathogens. Raw-dairy fans claim that unpasteurized milk, yogurt, and cheese are better for you because they contain more health-boosting bacteria, but pasteurization doesn't destroy beneficial probiotics, Newgent explains. Plus, studies show that those who eat raw yogurt don't have stronger immune or digestive systems than people who stick to the pasteurized stuff. And raw-dairy products carry a risk of food poisoning. "E. coli and salmonella are two of the pathogens that can lurk in these foods and end up in your body," Newgent says.

10. Yogurt is a high-protein food.

Yogurt can be an excellent source of protein, but "one variety may contain more than double the protein of another," Blatner says. Greek yogurt, which is strained to make it thicker, has up to 20 grams of protein per container; traditional yogurt may have as few as five grams. If you're eating it for the protein, look for brands that provide at least eight to 10 grams per serving.

10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea

10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea (No. 3 is Very Impressive)

Young Woman Making a Cup of Green TeaGreen tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet.
It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body.
This includes improved brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other incredible benefits.
Here are 10 health benefits of green tea that have been confirmed in human research studies.

1. Green Tea Contains Various Bioactive Compounds That Can Improve Health

Green tea is more than just green liquid.
Many of the bioactive compounds in the tea leaves do make it into the final drink, which contains large amounts of important nutrients.
It is loaded with polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins, which function as powerful antioxidants .
These substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals are known to play a role in aging and all sorts of diseases.
One of the more powerful compounds in green tea is the antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which has been studied to treat various diseases and may be one of the main reasons green tea has such powerful medicinal properties.
Green tea also has small amounts of minerals that are important for health.
Try to choose a higher quality brand of green tea, because some of the lower quality brands can contain excessive levels of fluoride .
That being said, even if you choose a lower quality brand, the benefits still far outweigh any risk.
Bottom Line: Green tea is loaded with bioactive compounds that can have various beneficial effects on health.

2. Compounds in Green Tea Can Improve Brain Function and Make You Smarter

A Cup of Green Tea
Green tea does more than just keep you awake, it can also make you smarter.
The key active ingredient is caffeine, which is a known stimulant.
It doesn’t contain as much as coffee, but enough to produce a response without causing the “jittery” effects associated with too much caffeine.
What caffeine does in the brain is to block an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. This way, it actually increases the firing of neurons and the concentration of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.
Caffeine has been intensively studied before and consistently leads to improvements in various aspects of brain function, including improved mood, vigilance, reaction time and memory .
However… green tea contains more than just caffeine. It also has the amino acid L-theanine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier .
L-theanine increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain .
Studies show that caffeine and L-theanine can have synergistic effects. The combination of the two is particularly potent at improving brain function .
Because of the L-theanine and the smaller dose of caffeine, green tea can give you a much milder and different kind of “buzz” than coffee.
Many people report having more stable energy and being much more productive when they drink green tea, compared to coffee.
Bottom Line: Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee, but enough to produce an effect. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can work synergistically with caffeine to improve brain function.

3. Green Tea Increases Fat Burning and Improves Physical Performance

Tea Plant
If you look at the ingredients list for any fat burning supplement, chances are that green tea will be on there.
This is because green tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate, in human controlled trials .
In one study in 10 healthy men, green tea increased energy expenditure by 4% .
Another study showed that fat oxidation was increased by 17%, indicating that green tea may selectively increase the burning of fat .
However, I’d like to point out that some studies on green tea don’t show any increase in metabolism, so the effects may depend on the individual.
Caffeine itself has also been shown to improve physical performance by mobilizing fatty acids from the fat tissues and making them available for use as energy .
In two separate review studies, caffeine has been shown to increase physical performance by 11-12%, on average.
Bottom Line: Green tea has been shown to boost the metabolic rate and increase fat burning in the short term, although not all studies agree.

4. Antioxidants in Green Tea May Lower Your Risk of Various Types of Cancer

Green Tea With Pot And Cups
Cancer is caused by uncontrolled growth of cells. It is one of the world’s leading causes of death.
It is well known that oxidative damage contributes to the development of cancer and that antioxidants can have a protective effect .
Green tea is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants, so it makes perfect sense that it could reduce your risk of cancer, which it appears to do:
  • Breast cancer: A meta-analysis of observational studies found that whomen who drank the most green tea had a 22% lower risk of developing breast cancer, the most common cancer in women .
  • Prostate cancer: One study found that men drinking green tea had a 48% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer in men .
  • Colorectal cancer: A study of 69,710 Chinese women found that green tea drinkers had a 57% lower risk of colorectal cancer .
Multiple other observational studies show that green tea drinkers are significantly less likely to get various types of cancer .
It is important to keep in mind that it may be a bad idea to put milk in your tea, because it can reduce the antioxidant value .
Bottom Line: Green tea has powerful antioxidants that may protect against cancer. Multiple studies show that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of various types of cancer.

5. Green Tea May Protect Your Brain in Old Age, Lowering Your Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Elderly Man And Woman Holding Cups of Tea
Not only can green tea improve brain function in the short term, it may also protect your brain in old age.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in humans and a leading cause of dementia.
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease and involves the death of dopamine producing neurons in the brain.
Multiple studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons in test tubes and animal models, potentally lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s .
Bottom Line: The bioactive compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons and may reduce the risk of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the two most common neurodegenerative disorders.

6. Green Tea Can Kill Bacteria, Which Improves Dental Health and Lowers Your Risk of Infection

Green Tea in a Wooden Spoon
The catechins in green tea have other biological effects as well.
Some studies show that they can kill bacteria and inhibit viruses like the influenza virus, potentially lowering your risk of infections .
Streptococcus mutans is the primary harmful bacteria in the mouth. It causes plaque formation and is a leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay.
Studies show that the catechins in green tea can inhibit the growth of streptococcus mutans. Green tea consumption is associated with improved dental health and a lower risk of caries .
Another awesome benefit of green tea… multiple studies show that it can reduce bad breath .
Bottom Line: The catechins in green tea may inhibit the growth of bacteria and some viruses. This can lower the risk of infections and lead to improvements in dental health, a lower risk of caries and reduced bad breath.

7. Green Tea May Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes

Iced Tea in a Glass
Type II diabetes is a disease that has reached epidemic proportions in the past few decades and now afflicts about 300 million people worldwide.
This disease involves having elevated blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.
Studies show that green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
One study in Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had a 42% lower risk of developing type II diabetes .
According to a review of 7 studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic (46).
Bottom Line: Some controlled trials show that green tea can cause mild reductions in blood sugar levels. It may also lower the risk of developing type II diabetes in the long term.

8. Green Tea May Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Powdered Green Tea
Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the biggest causes of death in the world .
Studies show that green tea can improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases.
This includes total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides .
Green tea also dramatically increases the antioxidant capability of the blood, which protects the LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is one part of the pathway towards heart disease.
Given the beneficial effects on risk factors, it is not surprising to see that green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease .
Bottom Line: Green tea has been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol, as well as protect the LDL particles from oxidation. Observational studies show that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

9. Green Tea Can Help You Lose Weight and Lower Your Risk of Becoming Obese

Cup of Green Tea With Leaves
Given that green tea can boost the metabolic rate in the short term, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight.
Several studies show that green tea leads to decreases in body fat, especially in the abdominal area .
One of these studies was a randomized controlled trial in 240 men and women that went on for 12 weeks. In this study, the green tea group had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference and abdominal fat.
However, some studies don’t show a statistically significant increases in weight loss with green tea, so this needs to be taken with a grain of salt .
Bottom Line: Some studies show that green tea leads to increased weight loss. It is particularly effective at reducing the dangerous abdominal fat.

10. Green Tea May Decrease Your Risk of Dying and Help You Live Longer

Glass And Bag of Tea
Of course, we all have to die eventually. That is inevitable.
However, given that green tea drinkers are at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, it makes sense that it could help you live longer.
In a study of 40,530 Japanese adults, those who drank the most green tea (5 or more cups per day) were significantly less likely to die during an 11 year period :
  • Death of all causes: 23% lower in women, 12% lower in men.
  • Death from heart disease: 31% lower in women, 22% lower in men.
  • Death from stroke: 42% lower in women, 35% lower in men.
Another study in 14,001 elderly Japanese individuals aged 65-84 years found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6 year study period .

Take Home Message

If you want to buy quality organic green tea (or green tea extract), then there is an excellent selection with thousands of customer reviews on online.
In order to feel better, lose weight and lower your risk of chronic diseases, then you might want to consider making green tea a regular part of your life.

The health benefits of... soya

High in protein and used as a vegetarian and lactose alternative for many foods, soya has transcended its Asian origins to become the most widely cultivated legume across the globe. Nutritionist Jo Lewin shares the nutritional highlights, recent research findings and a host of recipes to help you understand and utilise the many forms of soya...


An introduction to soya

Like other beans, the soya bean (Glycine max) grows in pods enclosing edible seeds. They are usually green but can be yellow, brown or black. The texture is so adaptable that soya beans are frequently processed into a variety of foods. Soya beans – also known as edamame beans when eaten fresh from the pod - are consumed as an alternative to meat. They are the basis of soya milk, tofu, miso, tempeh and soya protein.

OriginsCherry soya yogurt

The soya bean plant is native to China, where it has been cultivated for well over 13,000 years. It was an essential crop for the ancient Chinese who regarded it a necessity for life. Soya beans were introduced into other regions of Asia centuries later and it wasn’t until the early 20th century that it began to be used for more than animal feed in the West. The soya bean is now the most widely grown and utilised legume worldwide.
Since the 1970s there has been a marked increase in the consumption of traditional soya foods and the development of other soya foods which simulate traditional meat and dairy products such as soya milk, soya sausages, soya cheese and soya yogurts.

Nutritional highlights

Ingredient focus... tofuThe key benefits of soya are its high protein content, vitaminsmineralsand insoluble fibre. The soya bean has been transformed into a number of popular soya based foods including:
  • Miso – a fermented soya bean paste that is used as a flavouring, popular in Asian cuisine. It is a good source of many minerals.
  • Tempeh – is an Indonesian specialty typically made by cooking and dehulling soya beans and forming a textured, solid ‘cake’. It is a very good source of protein, B vitamins and minerals.
  • Tofu – also known as bean curd is made from soya milk by coagulating the soya proteins with calcium or magnesium salts. The whey is discarded and the curds are processed. It is an excellent source of iron and calcium and a very good source of protein.
  • 100g serving of soya beans contains:
    173kcal   17g protein   1g sat fat   10g crabohydrate6g fibre    

    The high fibre content makes soya beans and other soya containing foods valuable in cases of constipation, high cholesterol and type -2 diabetes
  • Research

    PhytoestrogensLemony three bean & feta salad
    Soya contains phytoestrogens, chemicals found in plant foods. There are different types of phytoestrogens but the ones found in soya bean products are called isoflavones. Soyaisoflavones (daidzein and genistein) have attracted a great deal of research and some studies suggest that women with a soya-rich diet may have a lower risk of breast cancer. However, it is not clear whether genetic makeup (which influences the way in which the body metabolises food) and environmental factors interact with the soya and therefore produce different effects in people. 
    Phytoestrogens have been found to help block the effects of excess oestrogen in the body, evening out any imbalance in the ratio between oestrogen and progesterone. They appear to work by locking into the oestrogen-receptor sites on cells and in doing so they block out the stronger natural oestrogens. They can therefore be helpful in improving symptoms of oestrogen dominance such as PMS and endometriosis.
    Due to the phytoestrogen content of soya, many women decide to include it in their diet as they enter themenopause. During the menopause, the body’s natural production of oestrogen stops and symptoms may ensue. As phytoestrogens act as a weak oestrogen, they may help relieve symptoms by boosting levels slightly. 
    Protein
    Soya is regarded as equal to animal foods in protein quality yet it is thought that plant proteins are processed differently to animal proteins. For example, experimental studies have shown that soya protein isolates tend to lower cholesterol levels while protein from animal sources can raise cholesterol levels. 
    Spotlight on... vegan dietsPhytosterols
    Soya beans also contain compounds called phytosterols. These plant compounds are structurally similar to cholesterol and steroid hormones. They function to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol by blocking absorption sites. The cholesterol lowering effects of phytosterols are well documented. 
    Genetics and environmental factors play a huge part in how our bodies react to certain foods, so as yet we can’t say whether a diet rich in phytoestrogenic foods is beneficial or not. If you are a vegetarian orvegan, soya-based foods can be an invaluable part of your diet. 

    How to select & store

    Packets of dried soya beans are generally available in supermarkets and health food stores. Keep airtight and in a cool, dry place. Dried soya beans are best soaked before cooking in order to make them easier to digest. If purchasing canned beans, look for those that do not contain extra salt or additives. Once cooked, soya beans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.
    Edamame are fresh soya beans. They should be a deep green colour with firm, unbruised pods. Edamame can be found in health food shops and Asian supermarkets. They may be in the frozen section, although some shops now offer pre-cooked edamame. Many sushi restaurants serve edamame beans.

    Safety

    Edamame & chilli dip with crudités
    Soybeans are a common allergen. Raw or sprouted soya beans contain substances called goitrogens, which can interfere with thyroid gland activity. Soya also contains oxalate. Individualswith a history of oxalate containing kidney stones should avoid overconsumption. Women who have or have had oestrogen-sensitive breast tumours should restrict their soya intake to no more than four servings per week. 
    Although studies don’t give us any clear guidance on eating soya-rich foods, women with oestrogen receptor positive breast tumours should restrict their soya intake to no more than four servings per week and should avoid soya isoflavone supplements. Before changing your diet, it is advisable that you speak to your GP or alternative health professional.