Health Benefits of Pomegranate Juice

Howard G. Smith, M.D. wrote . . . . .

Just how wonder is POM Wonderful? Well, it turns out pomegranate can have some very beneficial health effects, including lowering the blood pressure.

The evidence comes from a meta-analysis of eight randomized placebo controlled studies — and those are the gold standard in terms of investigational clinical research. All of this was published in the journal Pharmacological Research.

The researchers took a look at the average systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels in those who were either drinking pomegranate juice or not drinking it. The systolic blood pressure levels are the higher number — the one around 120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg)— and the lower number is the diastolic number (80mmHg on average).

What they found was drinking pomegranate juice reduced systolic blood pressure by nearly 5mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure by 2 mmHg. It’s a lot harder to bring that diastolic blood pressure down.

Now, interestingly enough, systolic blood pressure — the easier one to reduce with dietary changes of all sorts, including salt reduction — occurred in both drinkers who were drinking the pomegranate juice for a shorter period of time (less than 12 weeks) and those drinking for more than 12 weeks, as well as those drinking either fewer or more than three glasses a day.

In order to get the diastolic blood pressure down though, you actually had to drink more than 3 glasses a day, and for a sustained period of time.

Pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidant polyphenols, which can reverse atherosclerosis as well as vascular inflammation, and thereby lower blood pressure. But it has other anti-inflammatory effects, and most of the effects can occur quickly, after drinking as little as 5 ounces a day for only two weeks. That’s pretty fast!

The anti-inflammatory properties can also inhibit the growth of cancer cells, including breast and prostate, and also control the inflammation associated with arthritis. The juice also controls the inflammation around the dental gingival border, which reduces gingivitis and periodontitis, in part because pomegranate juice also has an anti-bacterial capability as well.

Last but not least, pomegranate juice also seems to help verbal and visual memory in the elderly, who are drinking as much as eight ounces of juice daily over a period of time.

My two cents’ worth, talking about lowering blood pressure: You can do it with a group of lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet with fruits and veggies, reducing your sodium intake as well as the intake of alcohol and caffeine, quitting smoking, and reducing stress.

Source: Business Insider

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Are the Various Types of Oatmeal Nutritionally the Same?

Oats gain part of their distinctive flavor from the roasting process that they undergo after being harvested and cleaned. Although oats are then hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and their germ allowing them to retain a concentrated source of their fiber and nutrients. Different types of processing are then used to produce the various types of oat products, which are generally used to make breakfast cereals, baked goods and stuffings:

  • Oat groats: unflattened kernels that are good for using as a breakfast cereal or for stuffing
  • Steel-cut oats: featuring a dense and chewy texture, they are produced by running the grain through steel blades that thinly slices them.
  • Old-fashioned oats: have a flatter shape that is the result of their being steamed and then rolled.
  • Quick-cooking oats: processed like old-fashioned oats, except they are cut finely before rolling
  • Instant oatmeal: produced by partially cooking the grains and then rolling them very thin. Oftentimes, sugar, salt and other ingredients are added to make the finished product.
  • Oat bran: the outer layer of the grain that resides under the hull. While oat bran is found in rolled oats and steel-cut oats, it may also be purchased as a separate product that can be added to recipes or cooked to make a hot cereal.
  • Oat flour: used in baking, it is oftentimes combined with wheat or other gluten-containing flours when making leavened bread.

The different types of oatmeal are not at all the same in terms of nutrition. The very outermost portion of the oat (called the hull) is always removed before the oat is eaten. However, once the hull has been removed, there are several further processing steps that can be taken. Because these additional processing steps almost always serve to lower the nutritional value of the oats, I recommend the least number of additional processing steps to give yourself the best nourishment possible from your oats. The least processed forms for oats are oat groats and steel-cut oats. Oat groats consist of the hulled but unflattened and unchopped oat kernels. Steel-cut oats are the same as oat groats, except for being chopped with steel blades. Because they are the least processed, these two forms of oats are also the most nutritious.

Old-fashioned oats are chopped, steamed, and rolled to give them their flatter shape. Because they are more processed, they are less nourishing than oat groats or steel-cut oats. However, they are still better sources of nourishment than most quick-cooking oats or instant oatmeals. Quick and instant oatmeal usually have their oat bran—the layer of the grain that’s just beneath the hull—removed. Many vitamins and much of the oat’s fiber are contained within the bran, and so its removal is particularly problematic when it comes to nutritional value. Oat groats, steel-cut oats, and, to a slightly lesser extent, old-fashioned or rolled oats would be your best choices here, with quick and instant oatmeal usually being less nourishing due to further processing and the removal of their bran.

Source: The World’s Healthiest Foods


Steel-cut oats Old-fashioned (rolled) oats Quick oats
Description Also called Irish or Scotch oats, these are cut, not rolled. They look like chopped-up rice, take the longest to cook, and have a slightly chewy consistency. Sometimes called rolled oats, these look like flat little ovals. When processing these oats, the kernels are steamed first, and then rolled to flatten them. They take longer to cook than quick oats but are quicker than steel-cut oats. Also called instant oats, these oats are precooked, dried, and then rolled. They cook in a few minutes when added to hot water and have a mushy texture.
Typical Serving Size 1/4 cup dry 1/2 cup dry 1/2 cup dry
Calories 170 190 150
Total Fat 3 g 3.5 g 3 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g 0.5 g 0.5 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 mg 0 mg
Sodium 0 mg 0 mg 0 mg
Carbs 29 g 32 g 27 g
Fiber 5 g 5 g 4 g
Sugars 0 g 1 g 1 g
Protein 7 g 7 g 5 g
Calcium 2% 2% 0%
Iron 10% 15% 10%

Surprised? It looks like they’re pretty similar, but one thing that sets them apart is how they compare on the glycemic index. The less-processed steel-cut oats have a much lower glycemic load than higher-processed quick oats. Low-GI foods slow down the rate that glucose (sugar) gets introduced into your body, and in contrast, high-GI foods cause a spike in your blood sugar as well as insulin, causing you to crave more sugary foods when your glucose levels drop. The best option then are the steel-cut oats, with rolled oats a great second choice. They’ll keep you feeling fuller longer, which will keep your energy levels up and help you lose weight.

Source: Popsugar


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Oats . . . . .

Breakfast Egg Cakes with Mushroom and Wild Rice

Ingredients

1/2 cup wild rice
2 tsp gropeseed, comelino or sunflower oil
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
6 large organic eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper

Method

  1. Place rice and 2 cups water in saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until rice is tender but still slightly chewy, about 40 minutes. Drain and let cool.
  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, mushrooms and salt. Cook until mushrooms are tender and have given off their liquid, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and peas to pan and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
  5. In large bowl, whisk eggs and stir in mushroom mixture, rice, Parmesan, thyme and pepper. Divide mixture among 12 greased or muffin paper-lined standard-sized muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until eggs are set.
  6. Let cool for a few minutes before unmoulding.

Makes 4 servings.

Tip

To speed up the cooking time, soak the wild rice in water for several hours.

Source: Sage magazine

In Pictures: Home-cooked Breakfasts

Chiropractors Not Magicians When It Comes to Chronic Back Pain

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . .

Chiropractors can help ease some cases of low back pain, though their treatments may be no better than taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, a new analysis finds.

The review of 26 clinical trials found that manipulating the spine can bring “modest” relief to people with acute low back pain — pain that has lasted no more than six weeks.

Chiropractors perform spinal manipulation, as do some doctors, physical therapists and other health professionals. Most insurers, Medicare and Medicaid pay for some chiropractic services, according to the American Chiropractic Association.

But spinal manipulation is no magic bullet, the researchers behind the new study said. The benefits appear similar to those of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

It seems that when it comes to low back pain, no one has found a quick fix.

That didn’t stop the American College of Physicians (ACP) from releasing new guidelines earlier this year on managing low back pain.

The guidelines advise non-drug options first — including tactics such as heat wraps, acupuncture, massage, exercise and spinal manipulation.

But while they are recommended, none of those options seems hugely effective. An ACP evidence review found each to have a “small” to “moderate” benefit.

Instead, time may be the best healer, the researchers said.

“Most acute back pain goes away on its own in a few days to weeks,” said review author Dr. Paul Shekelle, chief of general internal medicine at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

“Most treatments — whether they be NSAIDs or muscle relaxants or spinal manipulation therapy — have, on average, small effects,” Shekelle said.

“Some patients have much larger effects,” he pointed out. “But, on average, there is no magic bullet for back pain.”

One thing that does seem important, Shekelle said, is that people remain active when they have acute back pain. That seems to speed the recovery process.

Back pain is one of the most common health complaints among Americans. It affects around 80 percent of the population at some point, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Usually, the lower back is the problem area.

In some cases, people suffer pain caused by compression of a nerve — from a herniated spinal disc, for instance. Sciatica, where pain radiates down the leg, is a common example.

But most often, according to Shekelle, people have what’s called “nonspecific” back pain, where there’s no clear cause.

His team analyzed trials that tested spinal manipulation in patients with acute back pain — not sciatica or chronic pain (longer than 12 weeks).

Out of 26 trials, the researchers found that 15 reported “moderate-quality” evidence that spinal manipulation brought patients modest pain relief over six weeks. In 12 trials, patients saw some improvements in their daily functioning, on average.

The therapy did appear to be relatively safe. Around half of patients said they developed minor side effects such as headaches or a temporary increase in pain or muscle stiffness.

The review was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to Shekelle, many studies in the review compared spinal manipulation against tactics that were not expected to be effective, such as giving patients an educational booklet.

Another issue, he said, was that spinal manipulation was often combined with another therapy, including exercise. That makes it harder to know how effective the spinal manipulation was on its own.

“And then, of course, there are all the things a patient may be doing for their back pain that aren’t part of the trial,” Shekelle said, “like using heat, or getting home massage, or who knows what else.”

The good news is, most people with acute back pain “will almost certainly improve with time,” said Dr. Richard Deyo, a professor at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

“It’s perfectly reasonable for people to self-treat, with things like heat wraps,” said Deyo, who wrote an editorial that was published with the study.

For people with more severe pain, the choice of therapy often comes down to what’s practical and affordable, according to Deyo.

Why does spinal manipulation help some people with low back pain? “We don’t know,” Deyo said, “but there are theories.”

The therapy might, for instance, ease muscle tension, reposition spinal disc material, or stimulate large nerves in a way that disrupts pain signals.

“Or maybe,” Deyo said, “it’s partly the hands-on nature, and ongoing relationship with the provider.”

Source: HealthDay


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