Sunday, 16 March 2014

Tea and its benefits

Have you ever wondered if and what tea is good for you? I myself love drinking tea throughout the day and have some staples I prefer but recently I also try to incorporate new or maybe forgotten varieties of tea into my drinking routine. There is a plenty different kinds of tea out there, herbal, black, fruit and other varieties, and sometimes it seems its hard to choose the right one. I have now focused my attention to these 8 different kinds, their properties and benefits for health.

Green tea

Green tea is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. It originated in China and has become a row material when used in various beverages, health foods, dietary supplements and cosmetic items. There are different variations of green tea - like chinese, japanese, green tea from Ceylon and Kahwah. There is some evidence suggesting that drinking this tea may lower risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer. Its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties inhibit the spread of many diseases. Due to its high fluoride content the tea helps prevent and reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and helps keep the bones strong. It contains polyphenols and caffeine that have showed to stimulate fat oxidation and induce thermogenesis, boosting the metabolic rate 4% without increasing the heart rate. The polyphenols and polysaccharides in the tea regulate glucose levels slowing the rise of blood sugar after eating and prevent insulin spikes. Catechin polyphenols, particularly EGCG - epigallocatechin gallate - is twice as powerful as resveratrol found in grapes. These polyphenols also relieve allergiers. Catechins kills bacteria which causes food poisoning and kills the toxins; and also helps with various dental conditions and destroy bacteria and viruses. Green tea also reduces bad cholesterol in the blood and improves the levels of good cholesterol and also reduces the risk of high blood pressure. Due to its antioxidant and inflammatory properties it helps with wrinkles and the signs of aging, applied topically can reduce sun damage. Green tea is not ideal if you are pregnant or trying to conceive. In general, it is ideal to drink 2-5 cups to benefit from all its useful components. Only one negative effect reported is insomnia due to content of caffeine but overall it contains only 30-60mg of caffeine in six 8oz of tea compare to more than 100mg in one 8oz of coffee.

Pu-erh tea

Pu-erh tea is a variety of fermented dark tea produced in Yunnan province, China. In fermentation, tea leaves undergo microbial fermentation and oxidation after they are dried and rolled. This tea can be sold raw, known as "rough" or pressed into a number or shapes, known as "raw" Sheng Cha. Its preparation is done by flaking off pieces of the cake or steaming the entire cake until it is soft from the moisture. It is steeped for 12-30 seconds in the first few infusions increasing to 2-10 minutes in the last infusions. The older this tea is, the better qualities it has, but only finely made and properly stored pu-erh tea will improve and increase in value. Pu-erh tea is known for its weight loss properties - best time to drink it is 1 hour after a meal to help increase the speed of digestion, remove excess grease and to eliminate unwanted and hard-to-digest fats in the body. It will have the opposite effect, if drunk half and hour before a meal, this will cause the weight gain, cleaning the fat in the stomach increasing the appetite. It is advisable to drink only pu-erh tea (except the water) during the day, for the best weight loss results, at least 3 cups daily.
It contains about 40mg caffeine per serving. Pu-erh tea has been used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis, colds, bleeding and hepatitis. Contains high levels of vitamin C which is soluble in water and can be rapidly assimilated by the body. Also contains antioxidants and other substances that may help protect the heart and blood vessels. It is also used for improving mental alertness and sharp thinking. It lowers cholesterol due to small amounts of a chemical called lovastatin, it lowers bad cholesterol and increases the good one.

Rooibos tea

Rooibos is a broom-like member of the legume family of plants growing in South African´s fynbos, particularly in the Cederberg mountains area. From Afrikaans language, the word rooibos means "red bush", with its scientific name Aspalathus Linearis and it was traditionally brewed by the Khoi people who believed that it had health benefits. It is classified as a herbal tea with no caffeine in it, unlike the other types of tea. Herbal teas are not from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and therefore are not classified as a tea. It means they are not considered a "real" tea. In South Africa it is common to prepare it in the same manner as black tea and add milk and sugar to taste. Other methods include a slice of lemon and using honey instead of sugar. More coffee shops in South Africa have recently begun to sell "red espresso", which is concentrated rooibos served and presented in the style of ordinary espresso. Rooibos tea is becoming more popular in Western Countries due to its health benefits, particularly high levels of antioxidants, such as aspalathin and nothogafin, its lack of caffeine and low tannin levels. Two flavonoids found in rooibos - quercetin and luteolin - have been know to have cancer fighting qualities. Rooibos however does not contain the antioxidant EGCG found in tea. Rooibos may assist in nervous tension, allergies and digestive problems. Can be used to treat infantile colic and stomach cramps, asthma and dermatological problems. This tea can slow the aging process, prevent certain forms of cancer and lower the risk of heart disease. It soothes skin irritations when applied directly to the affected area. Rooibos tea can be drunk freely, since there has not been shown any side effects. It is also safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Mint tea

Mint tea is a herb tea, with its refreshing clean and sweet flavor. Most of the mint tea come from peppermint which is stronger and from milder spearmint. Scent and the taste not only benefits mood but also increase brain function. It is typically used to alleviate digestive troubles. Mint can calm an upset stomach, relieve nausea and the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and heartburn and diminish gas. It may also help remove dangerous bacteria from the digestive system and relax the stomach muscles. So the result is a calm stomach and healthy digestive tract, safe from ailments such as stomach ulcers and Crohn´s disease, a relaxed nervous system and reduced anxiety and tension. It is useful against colds because of its ability to decongest stuffy sinuses and reduce chest pain. Can relieve dry cough and sore throat. Mint also helps break down fat cells in the body and therefore maintain a healthy weight. It also promotes alertness and energy, and can help with a bad breath. It is best to drink it alone or with a slice of lemon or a bit of honey. Very refreshing version is a hot water poured over the fresh mint leaves.

Lemon balm tea

Lemon balm is a herb tea with its medicinal name Melissa officinalis. It is native to center and southern Europe and the Mediterranean region. Its leaves have a gentle lemon scent, related to mint. It has been shown to improve mood and mental performance. The extract of lemon balm was also found to have exceptionally high antioxidant activity. Lemon balm is used alone or as a part of various multi-herbs combination products. It is used for digestive problems, including upset stomach, bloating, intestinal gas, vomiting and colic, also for pain including menstrual cramps, headache and toothache. It is also useful for mental conditions such as hysteria and melancholia. Its calming and sedative effects are good for anxiety, sleep problems and restlessness. Lemon balm can be inhaled as aromatherapy, which is good for Alzheimer´s disease. It contains eugenol, which calms muscle spasms, numbs tissues and kills bacteria.
Can be also used topically to treat cold sores. Lemon balm is not safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Dandelion tea

Dandelion tea is a tea with wide range of benefits on ones health. It can be used as a whole plant, its parts or root to make tea and medicine. It is a potent disease fighter, helps the body heal, helps to boost immunity and combat cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and age-related memory loss. Dandelion aids in digestion and functions well to relieve digestive disorders like constipation and diarrhea. It is one of the most effective herbs for getting the bloat out and helping relieve water retention. It helps kidneys clear out waste, salt and excess water. This hinders microbial growth in the urinary system too. It works great to purify the blood and cleanse the system. It enhances detoxification by stimulating urination and in addition by replacing the potassium lost in that process. It reduces inflammation of the ball bladder and of the bile duct. Dandelion improves the function and maintains optimum liver, kidney, pancreas, spleen and stomach functions. It is a very rich source of beta-carotene, also rich in vitamin C, fiber, iron, potassium, calcium and zinc. It contains more protein than spinach. Dandelion plant, which is rich in antioxidants, prevents free-radical damage to cells and DNA, slowing down the aging process in our cells. Its essential fatty acids and phytonutrients reduce inflammation throughout the body. It helps reduce cholesterol and also helps with weight loss, and its strengths incorporate well into muscle building programs for weight lifters. As a face wash it improves complexion and skin clarity.

Yerba maté

Yerba maté is traditionally grown and consumed in subtropical South America, particularly northeastern Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Its leaves are evergreen, often called Yerba or Erva - both of which mean "herb". It contains caffeine, known also as mateine, and its content is 1 and 1/2 more than in coffee but the effects of caffeine comes gradually and evenly due to the other beneficial substances. Its drinking is therefore healthier and is not addictive. As for the Europeans is drinking coffee, likewise for people in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay is drinking maté. It is a ritual when the host or a person who brought maté to a meeting with friends, prepares drink and refills the gourd with water. The gourd is passed around in the circle in the clockwise order, and each person finishes the gourd before giving it back for refill. It has a lot of benefits, it contains polyphenols, which may benefit the immune system, relieve allergies, reduce the risk of diabetes and the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It increases mental energy and focus and improves moods. It also contains a lot of vitamins such as A, C, E, B1 and B2, very important amino-acids, minerals, fiber and carotene. They all invigorate the immune system. It is higher in antioxidants than green tea. It stimulates the brain activity, fight against allergies and helps the body to get rid of toxins. It is great in weight loss, it helps to melt the fat in the body and to beat off the hunger. Maté is also helpful with sleeping problems even though it contains mateine. The sleepnessness can be even improved by regular drinking of maté. It is ideal to drink it throughout the day but not more than 5 cups daily.

Buchu tea

Buchu is formally called Agathosma betulina or Barosma betulina. Earliest documentation about this tea is from 1652 when Cape´s Khoisan inhabitants - bushmen, first introduced it to Dutch colonists. Khoisan believed buchu was an elixir of youth and today it is widely used to promote health and physical wellbeing. It is unique to South Africa and grows on the mountainous slopes of the western and southern Cape. It was first imported to Britain in 1790. Buchu has distinctive sweet and lemony fragrance and is a member of glorious and diverse Fynbos floral kingdom. The tea has antibacterial, antifungal and antispasmodic properties and provides relief from premenstrual cramping and bloating. Its anti-inflammatory properties help ease the aches and pains associated with gout, arthritis and rheumatism. It is also valuable source of vitamins A, B, C and E and numerous minerals, antioxidants and disease-preventing flavonoids. It is helpful in treatment of kidney stones and its diuretic properties alleviate urinary tract infections. It helps to normalize blood sugar levels especially to prevent rapid falls in blood sugar levels. Topically, it can be used to treat bruises and yeast infection. It should not be drunk by pregnant and breastfeeding women and should be avoided 2 weeks before a surgery because it might slow blood clotting and therefore increase the risk of bleeding.


Monday, 10 March 2014

The truth about the coffee

There has been a long discussion about the healthy or damaging effects on drinking the coffee. Even though there are proofs and studies to show that coffee has plenty beneficial properties for one´s health but on the other hand, there are also known facts that prove coffee is harmful too.
We are going to look now on both sides and discover or more remind ourselves why not to drink or drink this caffeine drink.

Firstly, coffee is a major source of antioxidants and shows the ability to increase the mortality.  It reduces the risks of various diseases such as liver, colon, breast and skin cancer and also reduces chances of developing Parkinson´s disease. It also has the ability to protest against diabetes. Study showed that in women who drank 4 or more cups daily were 20% less likely to develop diabetes. Daily intake of coffee also fights against depression and it may also increase the memory capacity and therefore protects against Alzheimeir´s.
Drinking coffee also speeds the passage of waste through the digestive tract.
As for the weight loss, coffee has both positive and negative effects. Caffeine is a stimulant which can enable people to be more alert and help them to be more active. Drinking coffee in the afternoon or after dinner can also help with the sweet cravings by filling the stomach without the additional calories.
It may also stimulate the metabolism by increasing the rate of thermonegesis, that is how the body burns calories to create heat and energy, however this may have only slight impact on weight loss.
Coffee itself has very few calories and no fat, but people mostly drink it with added sugar, milk, syrup etc, to modify the taste.

Caffeine has the ability to inhibit insulin activity and increase blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. Although, the sugar in coffee may be the reason for insulin resistance and not the coffee itself.
Coffee depletes vitamins and causes mineral loss, including magnesium - the relaxation mineral. It is also addictive and it is not advisable to drink it on empty stomach. Drinking coffee also causes urinary excretion of calcium and contributes to osteoporosis. People with poorer sleep should limit the intake of coffee or completely avoid it, as well as people with heartburn and reflux disease. Coffee gives lift but only for a short time, after a while the effect is actually counteractive. Some studies showed that the consuption of coffee had no effect or even lower the risk of heart-related illneses.
As for the negative effects on weight loss, caffeine may increase the stress levels which may lead to overeating. Caffeine also contains other chemicals which encourages the production of adrenaline and cortisone, which increase the stress levels and cortisone has been linked to increase the abdomen fat which is of more concern than any other areas.

Personally, I love coffee. For me, its not something that I need to have in order to wake up in the morning or something to give me that energy but rather it is a kind of pleasure and a treat to spoil myself. I drink coffee for its smell and especially for the taste and how it feels while I am drinking it. So, in a way, it is a small ritual, that I love to do. Loving the taste of coffee, I prefer to have a small espresso rather than cappuccino or latte. These versions are full of milk or cream and therefore loaded with more fat. That is why I think it makes a difference what one drinks, and is better to have a small or medium black coffee and bit of sweetener or hint of milk, if one prefers. This way you will avoid a lot of calories and the coffee will not be a big fat injection for you.

So, even though drinking coffee is not very harmful, everything in moderation, because heavy drinking of 4 -7 cups daily, can cause problems such as restlessness, anxiety and sleeplessness.
As I noted before, it is more dangerous and unhealthy accompanied with cream, milk and sugar, which adds fat and calories into the diet.
Although coffee is proved to be full of antioxidants, it should not be and cannot be a substitute for berries, legumes, nuts and other fruits and vegetables, that provide antioxidants along with a wide range of vitamins, protective components and dietary fiber.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

10 healthiest foods on the planet

With such a great number of healthy and delicious foods on this earth, I have compiled 10 healthiest of them. Be inspired but most of all incorporate them into your daily diet for the best results. You will feel better, healthier and younger.


This evergreen is native to Asia, with about 5 to 6% citric acid in about 3 tbsp of juice from this citrus fruit. They contain about 53 mg of vitamin C which is about 64% recommended daily intake for an adult, with about 17 cal in one fruit. Lemons are great for weight loss because of their digestive and cleansing powers in the juice. Strong in antibacterial and antiviral effects, they have a big impact to fight infection and to improve the immunity.


This vegetable from the cabbage family, is high in vitamin C and dietary fiber, also containing nutrients with anti-cancer properties and high levels of carotenoids, with 50 cal per serving. If you cook it by steaming it provides you with a special cholesterol-lowering benefits. Strong in both vitamin A and K it helps to increase a deficiency of vitamin D in the body.

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is rich in number of vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, copper, magnesium and iron. Eating small amounts improves blood flow and can also lower your blood pressure. The flavonoids help reduce insulin resistance and low glycemic index won´t make large rises in blood sugar levels. Loaded with antioxidants they help to free your body of free radicals and protect from many types of cancer and slow the signs of ageing.


This starch is rich in vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B6 and one medium piece contains 2g of fiber and 163 cal. Potatoes fight free radicals due to the compounds such as carotenoids, flavonoids and caffeic acid. Their phytochemical and vitamin content has a significant role to war against cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Healthiest ways to eat potatoes are to bake, steam or saute them.


Only 7 cal in 1 cup, spinach is very low in cholesterol, and is a good source of niacin and zinc and a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, iron and calcium. The variety of vitamins and minerals it contains, bring relief to dry, itchy skin and leave you with a radiant complexion. Only spinach, among other cabbage family, showed the evidence of a great protection against the occurrence of prostate cancer. It is extremely rich in antioxidants especially when fresh, steamed and quickly boiled. Spinach eases constipation and also flushes out toxins from the colon.


Kale is a super healthy green that you can add into your eating daily or at least couple of times a week. Kale is packed with vitamins A, C and K, B6 and calcium. Kale can have green or purple leaves, and is considered to be close to wild cabbage family. It is good to eat raw kale as salad or in smoothies but its cholesterol-lowering benefits are much better when steaming. Kale´s more than 45 different flavonoids offer both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and support the body´s detoxification system, as well as risk-lowering benefits for cancer.


This rounded, single-seeded stone fruits, are a high source of nutrients, such as proteins and essential fatty acids. They are high in vitamin E, that has been found to provide significant protection from heart problems. Phytonutrient content of wallnuts protects against metabolic syndrome, heart diseases and diabetes. They are goof for weight management because of their omega-3 fats, protein and fiber content. The compound of B-vitamins and antioxidants in wallnuts prevents the skin from free-radicals, from wrinkles and signs of ageing and makes your skin glow.


Avocado, also called and avocado pear, is a fruit and is a great substitute for butter and other spreads to put on your toast. One cup sliced avocado contains 234 cal and 67% of fat is monounsaturated fat, called oleic acid. Avocados have 35 % more potassium than bananas and have a high fiber content - about 10grams in a medium size avocado. They are very helpful to lower blood cholesterol levels. Avocado is also high in vitamins C and K, folate and vitamin B6. Adding avocado in the salad helps to absorb the nutrients from other foods, because of the good fats found in it.


Native to central Asia, garlic is beneficial to lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It also helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Allegedly, garlic is beneficial in preventing and fighting the common cold, and its anti-inflammatory properties help the body fight against allergies. Allyl sulphides found in garlic have wholesome anti-cancer properties to lower the risk of most types of cancer. Garlic is also good in reducing weight due to its anti-inflammatory component.


Beans are the perfect food with about 340 cal in 100grams. Beans contain the significant amounts of fiber and soluble fiber - with 1 cup of cooked beans providing 9-13grams of fiber. Soluble fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol. Beans are also high in protein, complex carbohydrates, folate and iron. Their water and fiber content makes you feel fuller and faster. They digest slowly, keeping you satisfied longer. Beans are low in sugar and high in antioxidants. Top 4 types of beans with a high protein content are soy beans, navy beans, black beans and pinto beans.