Lemons are a delightful and versatile fruit that come from a beautiful evergreen tree. Citrus trees in California bloom throughout the year and produce fruit in the winter and early spring. Lemons have been studied for years and provide a variety of health benefits.
Lemon bioflavonoids might improve hearing and decrease vertigo and nausea and vomiting in some patients with Meniere’s disease.
The citric acid seems to reduce kidney stone formation with recurrent calcium nephrolithiasis (kidney stones). This seems to work by increasing citrate levels and decreasing urinary calcium levels.
Lemons contain many phytochemicals such as bioflavonoids, liminoids, and limonene. Some of these have antioxidant activity such as d-limonene. Limonene, derived from lemon oil, is a solvent of cholesterol and has been used clinically to dissolve cholesterol-containing gallstones.
Lemon bioflavonoids found mostly in the pith and peel seem to inhibit cancer cell development in vitro (in a test tube) and inhibit metabolism of certain carcinogens.
Acid reflux and GERD
Lemon acidity levels are substantially higher than other citrus fruits such as orange or grapefruit. According to Jamie Koufman, MD, author of Dr. Koufman’s Acid Reflux Diet, citrus juice-especially lemon and lime-can be a trigger food for those with acid reflux and should be taken in small amounts on an acid reflux diet. Dr. Koufman encourages the use of lemon zest in her diet since it is not acidic but offers a lot of flavor.
While the acid from lemons may trigger acid reflux, d-limonene extracted from the lemon oil in the peel can significantly improve GERD symptoms to the point of remission in 89% of patients taking d-limonene.
A non-citrus source of limonene is lemon balm. Lemon balm has been used as a calming agent, helpful as a mosquito repellent, and thought to have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Limonoids, another phytochemical, taken from citrus seeds exhibit a wide range of biochemical properties including antibacterial, antifungal, antimalarial, and antiviral activities.
Scottish Physician James Lind was a pioneer of naval health and hygiene in the 1700s. He advocated for better ventilation aboard ships, clean drinking water, improved cleanliness, and introduced lemons as a remedy for scurvy (vitamin C deficiency).
Lemons were discovered in northeast India and Asia and introduced into Spain and North Africa about 1000 and 1200 AD and thought to be a variety of the citron fruit.
According to medical herbalist, Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH, A dab of lemon juice can be directly applied to acne, athlete’s foot, stings, ringworm, warts and sunburns. For colds, combine 20 ml lemon juice with 50 mL hot water, a crushed clove of garlic and a pinch of cinnamon. Drink up to three times per day.
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Bear WL, Teel RW. Effects of citrus flavonoids on the mutagenicity of heterocyclic amines and on cytochrome P450 1A2 activity. Anticancer Res 2000;20:3609-14.
Koufman J. Dr. Koufman’s Acid Reflux Diet. Katalitix Media; 2015.
Chevallier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. New York, NY: DK Publishing Inc; 2000.
Ranganna S, Govindarajan VS, Ramana KV. Citrus fruits. Part II. Chemistry, technology, and quality evaluation. A. Chemistry. Critical Rev Food Sci Nutr 1983;19:313-86.
Seltzer MA, Low RK, McDonald M, et al. Dietary manipulation with lemonade to treat hypocitraturic calcium nephrolithiasis. J Urol 1996;156:907-9.
Tundis R, Loizzo M, Menichini F. An overview on chemical aspects and potential health benefits of limonoids and their derivatives. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(2):225-50.
Williams HL Jr. Eriodictyol glycoside in meniere’s disease. Trans Am Acad Ophthalmol Otolaryngol 1964;68:45-59.
Merry Christmas everyone! This time of year is joyous and celebratory for many around the world because of the giving and receiving, time spent with loved ones, and lots of tasty treats.
One of the super foods consumed by most people this time of year is the cranberry sauce. However, many take the convenient route and open up a can and plop it onto the porcelain dish.
Cranberries are native to the cooler climates of the northern hemisphere and are farmed in acidic bogs. Wouldn’t it be incredible to wade through a lake of cranberries in rubber overalls? I would love that!
Research shows that cranberries are effective for preventing urinary tract infections although not enough evidence to suggest cranberries treat UTIs. There is some evidence to suggest cranberries help:
Benign Prostate Hypertrophy, H.Pylori, Kidney Stones, Memory, Metabolic syndrome, Type II Diabetes, Urinary odor, Chronic fatigue and Cancer.
Cranberries do improve immune cell function and can also boost white blood cell activity! Anthocyadins and proanthocyanidins are prevalent phytochemicals and part of the protective element of the cranberry fruit.
These phytochemicals and the fructose in the cranberry inhibits bacteria from attaching to urinary tract cells. Anthyocyandins and proanthocyanidins are most prevalent in the fresh fruit.
Anthocyandins and proanthocyanidins are significantly decreased in dried cranberries and canned cranberries.
Since cranberries are native to the Northern Hemisphere, Native Americans have used it in ancient medicine therapy for kidney stone prevention and blood detoxification.
For prevention, best to use the cranberry concentrate since it does not contain added sugars and you can drink one ounce per day. If you do not have sugar sensitivity than taking 1 ounce of the juice cocktail, three times per day is also sufficient.
A note for those taking prescription medications and medical conditions: Caution with warfarin and talk with your cardiologist before taking regular doses of cranberry products. Diabetes- elevated blood glucose levels solution: unsweetened or artificially sweetened products. Can decrease urine pH
D-Mannose. In: Natural Medicines Database. Somerville, MA: Therapeutic Research Faculty; c 1995-2015. https://naturalmedicines-therapeuticresearch-com.buproxy.bastyr.edu/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=1114. Assessed on February 19, 2015.
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Kranjčec B, Papeš D, and Altarac S. D-mannose powder for prophylaxis of recurrent urinary tract infections in women: a randomized clinical trial. World J Urol. 2014;32(1): 79-84. doi: 10.1007/s00345-013-1091-6.
Vandana S, Ichikawa M, and Freeze HH. Mannose metabolism: More than meets the eye. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 453(2): 220-228. doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.06.021.
The pomegranate is a bedazzling fruit with enough health benefits and research to fill a small-scale library! Pomegranates are abundant during the fall and winter days of the northern hemisphere. I am grateful that these jeweled beauties more than make up for the super nutrient-dense summer berries that are out of season this time of year.
Heart and Blood Vessel Health
Some preliminary research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice (50-200ml per day up to a year) reduces high blood pressure by 5% to 21%. Pomegranate juice can lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver by blocking unhealthy fat buildup and formation and also reducing body weight, even in those with obesity. The juice can also improve blood flow and muscle relaxation especially in men with erectile dysfunction, and decrease platelet aggregation (clumping). In regards to potential fertility function, there is also research to suggest that pomegranates can increase sperm count!
Pomegranates also lower inflammation in the heart can decrease blood vessel inflammation, prevents inflammatory bowel disease, protects colon from inflammation, and protects against stomach ulcers! Pomegranate extract can suppress inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and can improve the inflammation associated with periodontal disease
Pomegranates are antiangiogenic (block blood vessel growth in tumors) and have anticancer effects. They interfere with tumor cell growth, cancer cell invasion and metastasis, and inflammatory signaling. This powerful fruit has been shown to initiate programed cancer cell death also known as apoptosis. Anticancer effects have been shown in breast, prostate, skin, and colon cancer research.
There is a ton of research to show pomegranates fight the bad bacteria and germs! They are antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antimalarial. Research has been done to show they can fight against microbes such as staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant strains (MRSA), H. Pylori, salmonella, E.coli, candida, Listeria, and malaria! There was even a study to show
Pomegranates originated in Iran and were cultivated throughout the Mediterranean regions and Northern India. Its name comes from the Latin word for apple (pōmum) and seeded (grānātum).
Spiritually, the pomegranate was known as a symbol of righteousness in ancient Israel and placed along with bells on the hem of the High Priest’s robe. Pomegranates were also life sustaining as travelers in desert caravans carried them for their thirst-quenching juice.
Today we have pomegranate trees growing in the western states thanks to Spanish settlers who brought the plant to California towards the end of the 16th century.
There are there are several ways you can open a pomegranate.
The fastest way, but perhaps the messiest way is to slap the seeds out of their skin.
Place a large mixing bowl on your counter. Slice open the pomegranate along the circumference and place one of the halves, cut side down, on the palm of your hand. Take a large wooden spoon and smack the living daylights out of the pomegranate (mind your hand) and let the arils fall into the bowl.
If time is of the essence, buy pomegranate juice! Studies show that the commercial juice found in the grocery store is also packed full of the health benefits mentioned. Just try not to get any with added sugars. If it is too tart, dilute with water or sparkling water.
There are several ways to enjoy eating and drinking fresh pomegranates!
Sprinkle arils on your kale or spinach salads!
Add the arils or juice to any fruit smoothie or green juice!
For a festive, surprising, and superfood-worthy dessert, melt dark chocolate and drizzle/cover small tablespoon-size clusters of pomegranate arils on parchment paper. Cool until hardened in the refrigerator. Makes a great holiday treat!
Take a handful of pomegranate arils and a few tablespoons of the juice and mix it with fizzy sparkling water. If you love texture, then try this! The arils provide a fruity tart burst of flavor in your mouth.
Peel the rind off and blend the arils and strain to get the desired juice. It is ok if you blend some of the white inner peel with the arils.
Try this delicious low calorie, high-nutrient pomegranate shake that I first heard about from Dr. Joel Fuhrman. (hyper link maybe? to Dr. joel furhman
4 oz pomegranate juice
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup ice
juice from half of a lemon
Blend all ingredients together. Add water to get to desired consistency.
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“Etymology of pomegranate“. Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper. 2015.
Pomegranate. Bible search. New King James Version. Exodus 28:33-34
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Olives have been enjoyed for thousands of years and are much appreciated for the use of their oil. However there are surprising health benefits that whole olives contribute towards. Olives decrease heart disease risk, anti-inflammatory effects, and even manipulating cellular development!
Over 80% of the calories in 1 cup of olives come from dietary fats, however these are overwhelmingly from monounsaturated fats. Olives contain no cholesterol because they are of plant and not animal origin. Dietary fats have been extensively studied and there are still many controversial views and opinions on how much and what type of fat to consume. As a registered dietitian nutritionist and registered nurse, I hold to the opinion and the research that plant-based fats are superior to animal-based fats and that dietary fat is a healthy part of a balanced diet.
In fact, a group of research participants who increased their intake of monounsaturated plant-based fats without increasing their overall dietary fat intake, showed improvements in LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio. Oleic acid, a type of dietary fat found in olives was able to influence signaling patterns in blood vessel cell membranes, which resulted in decreased blood pressure. Oleuropein, a phytochemical in olives has been shown to decrease oxidation of LDL cholesterol, lower oxidative stress, and protect neurons from damage.
Olives contain a vast array of phytochemicals that give them their color, flavor, and healing abilities. Most likely the phytochemicals found in Olives are responsible for enhancing glutathione in the human body which is a powerful antioxidant. Research study shows that phytochemicals in olives block histamine and lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and therefore can be considered as an anti-inflammatory food.
Amazingly enough, phytochemicals in olives have been shown to interrupt the life cycle of breast cancer cells and gastric cancer cells! Even in a person without active cancer, olives can be consumed to lower cancer risk and protect DNA development and replication.
Olive Leaf Extract
As a supplement, olive leaf extract is known for its high antioxidant levels and boosting the immune system. Olive leaf extract has also been studied and shown to have antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant effects. Taking olive leaf extract orally also seems to lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension. If I could name a favorite brand, I would choose Barlean’s Olive Leaf Extract (since I toured factory and met the Barlean family, I would say they are a trustworthy, industrious, and hardworking family business). Barlean’s Organic Oils.
Olives are a meaty, zesty, and savory type of fruit that is categorized as a drupe. A drupe is a fleshy fruit with thin skin and a central stone or pit such as a plum, cherry, or almond. They are a staple of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diet as the plant originates from these two regions. Years ago, an inspirational author, who became the most widely translated female author of all time, Ellen G. White, wrote many articles, letters, and books featuring health and dietary counsel. She wrote back in the early twentieth century “when properly prepared, olives like nuts, supply the pace of butter…the oil, as eaten in the olive, is far preferable to animal oil or fat.” Ministry of Healing, 298, 1905.
How to select olives
I prefer to use olives from a glass jar than from a can. In America, most olives from the can are lye-cured, and I would rather stick with as natural and chemical-free foods as possible. Instead, select olives stored in glass jars, cured in a brine, water, or dry-cured with salt. It may surprise you that curing olives is not indicative to color change and there are a variety of olive species that range from green to a dark purple color.
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