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Coffee vs. Tea: Is One Better for Your Health?

A hot cup of coffee can perk you up in the morning. A soothing cup of tea can help you relax after a stressful day. And the latest research about the health benefits of each might help you feel a little better about them, whichever beverage you drink.

After years of studies that seemed to swing between dire warnings and cheery promises about what our favorite caffeinated beverages do and don’t do, much of the recent science regarding coffee and tea is generally positive.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer recently took coffee off its list of suspected carcinogens, and some research suggests it could help keep colon cancer from coming back after treatment. Other studies suggest drinking coffee might stave off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Various studies have pointed to tea drinkers having lower odds of skin, breast, and prostate cancers. Researchers are still trying to pinpoint the exact ways that happens. But tea, particularly green tea, is rich in compounds like antioxidants, which can limit cell damage and boost the immune system; and polyphenols, which have been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It also may help stave off Alzheimer’s disease through a polyphenol known as EGCG, which prevents the formation of plaques that are linked to that brain-damaging illness.

Is one better for you than the other?

Experts say that’s hard to say. That’s because it’s difficult to separate out their different ingredients, their role in your diet, and their effects on different body systems.

“I think people are looking at both coffee and tea and how they affect everything, including cancer and GI disease and cardiovascular diseases,” says Elliott Miller, MD, a critical care medicine specialist at the National Institutes of Health.

Miller and his colleagues recently looked at signs of heart disease in more than 6,800 people from different backgrounds across the country. About 75% drank coffee, while about 40% reported drinking tea. Drinking more than one cup of tea regularly was linked to less buildup of calcium in arteries that supply blood to the heart, a development that can lead to heart disease.

Coffee didn’t have an effect either way on heart disease, but that was significant in itself, Miller says.

“Very often patients will ask their doctors, ‘Hey, doc, I’ve got coronary artery disease, or I’ve got risk factors like high blood pressure or cholesterol. Is it safe for me to drink coffee?’ Because everyone thinks drinking coffee makes your heart excited and is potentially bad,” Miller says. “So finding that it’s neutral, I think, is pretty important.”

Researchers say it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how both drinks affect health. Both coffee and tea are “complex beverages” that contain a variety of ingredients. They include caffeine, polyphenols, and antioxidants – compounds researchers are studying for their potential cancer-fighting properties, says Lisa Cimperman, a clinical dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

“It’s more of a dynamic interaction than one single compound,” Cimperman says. Some people have tried to isolate one element in tea or coffee that they think is the secret to one effect or another, “and then they realize that it doesn’t have the same effect.”

 © Johnfoto | Dreamstime.com © Johnfoto | Dreamstime.com Title: Coffee mug Description: Coffee mug on white background. Photo taken on: December 21st, 2010 * ID: * 17527982 * Level: * 3 * Views : * 252 * Downloads: * 17 * Model released: * NO * Content filtered: * NO Keywords (Report | Suggest) bean beverage breakfast cafe ceramic coffee cup drink handle hot mug relax

Cimperman said drinking tea has been linked to lower risks of cancer and heart disease, improved weight loss, and a stronger immune system. Meanwhile, studies point to coffee as a potential way to head off not just Parkinson’s but type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and heart problems, Cimperman says.

Another recent study, led by Charles Fuchs, MD, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, found regular coffee drinking may help prevent colon cancer from coming back after treatment.

In his study of nearly 1,000 patients, Fuchs says, there was a “significant and linear” association between drinking coffee and lower risk of colon cancer returning in those who drank four or more cups a day. “The more coffee they drank, the lower risk of recurrence.” But the researchers aren’t clear on which element of the drink contributed to that result, and there didn’t seem to be any effect from drinking tea, he says.

“I think you can have two or more cups a day without any concern, and certainly that may benefit you,” Fuchs says. But what about for those who don’t drink coffee? “If it was somebody who hates the stuff and asks, ‘Should I drink it?’ I’d say no. I’d counsel them about diet and exercise and avoiding obesity as measures I think would have a similar benefit.”

Other researchers are asking questions about what role genetics and lifestyle play into the effects of drinking coffee or tea. For instance, coffee and cigarettes once went together like … well, like coffee and cigarettes, which cause cancer and heart disease.

Some people’s bodies process coffee differently than others, says Martha Gulati, MD, head of cardiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. Meanwhile, a preference for tea over coffee might reflect other healthier behaviors, she says.

“Does someone who drinks tea do yoga or meditation more?” Gulati says. “I’m not necessarily saying they’re associated, but do they exercise more? Are they drinking things like green tea to maintain their weight better than other types of drinks?”

And Robert Eckel, MD, an endocrinologist at the University of Denver, says an overall heart-healthy diet is “probably the most important aspect” of preventing heart disease.

“We’re talking about fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and avoiding saturated fat. That nutritional message is unchanging,” Eckel says.

There are other variables. The WHO’s ruling on coffee nonetheless cautioned that any kind of extremely hot drinks could raise the risk of esophageal cancer, while Cimperman says dumping a lot of cream and sugar into your drink can blunt any benefits.

“No one beverage or food will make or break your diet,” she says. “The quality of your diet is always the sum of all the parts.”

By Matt Smith      Dec. 23, 2016         WebMD Health News Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

Sources:
International Agency for Research on Cancer: “Evaluation of drinking coffee, maté, and very hot beverages.”
American Journal of Medicine: “Associations of Coffee, Tea, and Caffeine Intake with Coronary Artery Calcification and Cardiovascular Events.”
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease: “Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
News release, American Academy of Neurology.
Journal of Clinical Oncology: “Coffee Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality in Stage III Colon Cancer: Results From CALGB 89803 (Alliance).”
National Cancer Institute: “Tea and cancer prevention.”
Current Pharmaceutical Design: “Reported Effects of Tea on Skin, Prostate, Lung and Breast Cancer in Humans.”
Critical Reviews in Food and Science Nutrition: “Tea and its consumption: benefits and risks.”
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Catechin- and caffeine-rich teas for control of body weight in humans.”
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Tea and flavonoid intake predict osteoporotic fracture risk in elderly Australian women: a prospective study.”
The Journal of Nutrition: “Coffee and tea consumption are inversely associated with mortality in a multiethnic urban population.”
The Journal of Nutrition: “Effect of increased tea consumption on oxidative DNA damage among smokers: a randomized controlled study.”
The Journal of Nutrition: “Black Tea Consumption Reduces Total and LDL Cholesterol in Mildly Hypercholesterolemic Adults.”
Diabetes Journals: “Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.”
European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: “Coffee consumption and risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”
Circulation: “Long-Term Coffee Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.”
Journal of Clinical Oncology: Coffee Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality in Stage III Colon Cancer: Results From CALGB 89803 (Alliance).”
Neurotoxicology:  “Onset and progression factors in Parkinson’s disease: A systematic review.”
Nature: “Effect of green tea consumption on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials.”
Elliott Miller, MD, critical care medicine specialist, National Institutes of Health.
Lisa Cimperman, dietitian, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Robert Eckel, MD, former president, American Heart Association; University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Martha Gulati, MD, head of cardiology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix.Charles Fuchs, director, Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.

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8 Health Benefits of Carob

Zoe Blarowski     October 28, 2015

It’s time to stop thinking of carob as a lowly chocolate substitute. Carob is a tasty, nutritious food in its own right and there are many reasons to try including it in your diet.

Carob is made from the sweet seed pods of Ceratonia siliqua, native to the Mediterranean region. The ripe, dry pods are typically ground into carob powder, also called carob flour.

Commercially, carob pods are processed into locust bean gum and used as a thickening agent in various prepared foods.

1. Caffeine-free

Carob is naturally caffeine-free, which is good news for those of us who are sensitive to the caffeine in chocolate.

Also, products with carob, such as carob chips, tend to be vegan and dairy-free as well.

2. High in Vitamins and Minerals

Carob is particularly high in calcium and iron. It’s also a good source of riboflavin, folate, niacin, vitamin E, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium, as well as being very high in dietary fiber.

Carob syrup may be available in your local natural or imported foods store, typically imported from Greece. It’s reported to have even higher amounts of calcium and minerals due to its concentrated form.

3. Reduces Cholesterol

The high fiber content of carob has been linked to lower cholesterol levels. A 2010 study found that participants who ate specifically carob fiber twice a day reduced their blood cholesterol after a period of 4 weeks.

Various types of polyphenols are also found in carob. These plant-based compounds control cholesterol in similar ways to dietary fiber. Researchers felt this may also have played a role in the positive results of the study.

carob

 

4. Cancer Prevention

The polyphenols in carob have been shown to have considerable antioxidant activity.

Studies have found that extracted carob polyphenols inhibited various human cancer cells, in particular cervical cancer cells.

5. Blood Glucose Regulation

Carob helps keep blood sugar at normal levels due to its high amount of fiber. The insoluble fiber helps to bind water and promote healthy functioning of the intestinal tract. This aids digestion and the natural maintenance of proper insulin levels.

6. Digestive Aid

Carob has been used traditionally as a treatment for diarrhea. A recent study proved that carob bean juice can effectively treat diarrhea in young children, and presumably adults.

It has also been shown that the tannins in carob help to prevent harmful bacterial growth in the intestines.

7. Safe for Pets

Cocoa and chocolate contain theobromine, which can be toxic to some mammals. Carob has significantly less of this harmful substance and it can be safely used to make chocolate-flavored dog treats.

8. Has Many Different Uses

Carob is more versatile than it might seem at first glance. Try some of these suggestions to get started.

  • Mix carob powder into milk or non-dairy alternative to make a drink similar to hot chocolate
  • Replace cocoa powder with carob powder in any of your recipes
  • Add 1 teaspoon to regular or non-dairy yogurt
  • Substitute carob chips for chocolate chips in cookies, cakes and muffins
  • Add 1 tablespoon of carob powder to bread to create a richer flavor and color
  • In Spain and Germany, the seeds are roasted and used instead of coffee


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16 Reasons To GO NUTS For Nuts

BY DR. RONALD HOFFMAN  NOVEMBER 29, 2013 

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine underscores the health benefits of nuts. Researchers followed over a hundred thousand men and women over several decades and concluded that eating nuts helped them stave off the Grim Reaper. Seven or more servings of nuts per week cut the risk of dying by a third! (“A serving” was defined as one ounce, which is about one handful of almonds.)

Specifically, those who at nuts five or more times per week were found to enjoy a 29% reduction in death from heart disease; an 11% reduction in death from stroke; a 23% reduction in death from infection; a 24% reduction in death from respiratory diseases; a 29% reduction in death from kidney disease; and an 11% reduction in death from cancer.

It’s long been known that nuts are heart-healthy. A now-famous study of Seventh-Day Adventists who consume a low-fat, plant-based diet compared non-nut eaters to nut-eaters, anticipating that the nuts (which are high in calories and fat) might raise their heart disease risk. Au contraire!

Even though they were already on a heart-healthy, predominantly vegetarian diet, those Adventists who consumed nuts at least five times a week had a 48% lower risk of death from coronary heart disease and a 51% lower risk of a nonfatal heart attack compared to those who consumed nuts less than once weekly.

Ironically, the Federal Government doesn’t want nut manufacturers to broadcast these benefits to consumers. In a recent case, the Food and Drug Administration sent a sharply-worded warning letter to Diamond Food, Inc., a manufacturer of walnuts, ordering them to “cease and desist” from making medical claims about their products. They even threatened to confiscate the “misbranded” nuts as illegal contraband!

It seems that, the way the officials see it, if nuts are to be advertised as reducing the risk of a specific disease, they must undergo the same rigorous application process as drugs, an insurmountable regulatory hurdle that would require years of wrangling and hundreds of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, and fortunately, we don’t need FDA approval to enjoy the many health benefits of nuts.

Here are 16 reasons why you might want to include them frequently in your diet.

1. Nuts are a perfect VEGAN food.

With the current emphasis on plant-based diets, nuts provide a great complement to grains, fruits and vegetables, and legumes. They add protein and healthy oils to balance vegetarian diets that might otherwise tend to be carb-rich and skimpy in beneficial fats and certain vitamins and minerals.

2. Nuts are PALEO.

That is, with the exception of peanuts, which are actually legumes, sometimes spurned by hard-core Paleo adherents because of their lectin content. Tree nuts and seeds are ancient staples of the human diet to which millions of years of evolution have made us well-adapted.

3. Nuts are LOW-CARB, low GI.

The Glycemic Index, or GI, is a determinant of how quickly the sugars in foods are digested, absorbed, and released into the blood stream. High-GI foods are thought to overwhelm the body’s sugar-handling capabilities, resulting in progression towards metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Nuts are relatively low-carb to begin with, and the carbs they contain are released slowly after a meal. They make a great snack to stave off sugar-craving or hypoglycemia.

4. Nuts promote SATIETY.

While nuts are caloric, eating nuts promotes a sensation of fullness that fends off the munchies for less healthy fat-laden or sugar-laden junk food. Some studies suggest that adding nuts to your diet can actually help you lose weight.

5. Nuts are high in FIBER.

While not traditionally thought of as a high-fiber food, nuts are rich in soluble fiber, the best kind for reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.

nuts

6. Nuts are a rich source of PHYTOSTEROLS.

These plant sterols are thought to bind to cholesterol and help to sweep it harmlessly out of the body; phytosterols are even recognized by the American Heart Association as a natural way to reduce heart disease risk.

7. Nuts contain healthy fats and oils.

Nuts are rich in the essential fatty acids linoleic acid and alpha linolenic acid. Note the word essential: the body cannot make these oils on its own, and we must obtain them from outside sources. Lack of these essential fatty acids can cause dry skin, inflammation, infertility, mood and memory problems and promote heart disease.

8. Nuts are a great source of Vitamin E.

Getting your vitamin E from a pill may not be as good as getting natural vitamin E from nuts and seeds. There are actually eight different forms of natural vitamin E tocopherols and tocotrienols: nuts deliver the full spectrum of this critical antioxidant.

9. Nuts are rich in B vitamins.

Nuts provide many vital B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates.

10. Nuts are a source of critical POLYPHENOLS.

Polyphenols are plant-derived antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals. Nuts contain a wide variety of polyphenols, including resveratrol, lutein, cryptoxanthin and many others. Some seeds, like flaxseed and sesame, are rich in lignans, a specific subtype of polyphenols that may protect against reproductive cancers.

11. Nuts are the richest plant source of ZINC.

A mineral critical for immunity and reproductive function, strict vegetarians sometimes don’t get enough.

12. Nuts are high in MAGNESIUM.

Consider magnesium the energy mineral; its lack may be felt as fatigue or irritability and it can even increase the risk of heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. Magnesium’s role in bone metabolism is often underestimated.

13. Nuts deliver COPPER.

Unless you fancy liver or oysters, nuts and seeds are your best bet as dietary sources for the essential trace mineral copper.

14. Nuts provide SELENIUM.

Just two or three Brazil nuts per day can give you all the immune-boosting selenium your body needs, especially if you’re not fond of fish or meat.

15. Nuts are PORTABLE.

Unlike baked chicken breast or poached salmon, a small packet of nuts can easily be stashed in your briefcase, purse or backpack, ready to provide an instant, non-perishable hunger-banishing snack in the office, on the commute, or on the trail.

16. Nuts are VERSATILE.

They can be used as stand-alone snack foods; spread on sandwiches (with all the nut butter varieties available, you don’t need to get hung up on just traditional PB); sprinkled on salads or vegetable side dishes; mixed with grains to provide a flavor accent; as a gluten-free crust for baked fish or chicken; or even power-blended into your favorite smoothie.

 


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Could Dark Chocolate Ease Poor Leg Circulation?

Perhaps, but experts say there are better ways to obtain beneficial polyphenols

WebMD News from HealthDay     By Dennis Thompson     HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) – The antioxidants contained in dark chocolate might help people suffering from reduced blood flow to their legs, researchers from Italy report.

In a small study, people with artery problems in their legs walked a little longer and farther right after eating a bar of dark chocolate, the researchers said.

Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols. The researchers believe polyphenols improve blood flow to the legs by affecting biochemicals that prompt arteries to widen.

“Our body secretes chemicals that naturally dilate blood vessels in response to certain stimuli, improving the blood flow to certain areas,” said Dr. Richard Chazal, vice president of the American College of Cardiology. “Some of the chemicals inside dark chocolate could affect the way these enzymes are metabolized in the body,” suggested Chazal, who was not involved with the study.

The pilot study involved 20 people aged 60 to 78 who suffered from peripheral artery disease, a narrowing of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the legs, stomach, arms and head. Reduced blood flow can cause pain, cramping or fatigue in the legs or hips while walking.

The patients walked on a treadmill in the morning and again two hours after eating 40 grams of dark or milk chocolate – the size of an average American chocolate bar – on separate days. The dark chocolate in the study had a cocoa content of more than 85 percent, making it rich in polyphenols. The milk chocolate, with a cocoa content below 30 percent, had far fewer polyphenols, the study authors noted.

After eating dark chocolate, patients walked an average 11 percent farther and 15 percent longer than they did earlier in the day. That’s about 39 feet farther and about 17 seconds longer, according to the study, published July 2 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Milk chocolate did not improve time or distance, according to study co-author Dr. Lorenzo Loffredo, assistant professor at the Sapienza University of Rome, and colleagues.

The researchers found that levels of nitric oxide, a gas linked to improved blood flow, were higher after eating dark chocolate. They suggested that the higher nitric oxide levels may be responsible for widening peripheral arteries and improving the patients’ ability to walk.

Both the results and the theory are “intriguing,” said Dr. Mark Creager, director of the Vascular Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

“The results are certainly interesting but modest, in terms of the walking distance improved,” said Creager, who also serves as a spokesman for the American Heart Association. “With information such as this, one would anticipate these investigators will conduct a much larger trial with long-term treatment to confirm their observations.”

Creager and Chazal noted that chocolate is also high in fat and sugar, and eating too much can contribute to health problems such as obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.

“People need to be very aware of the fact that there are many substances in chocolate bars that could have an adverse effect on health,” Creager said. “I would not recommend that people eat chocolate bars to improve their walking distance.”

Chazal agreed, saying the study’s true value lies in identifying the way that polyphenols might affect blood flow to the legs.

Polyphenols also can be found in foods with less added sugar and saturated fats, such as cloves, dried peppermint, celery seed, capers and hazelnuts.

“All of us can get very excited about studies like this, but we have to be very cautious in interpreting it in terms of treatment,” Chazal said. “At this point in time, I wouldn’t consider dark chocolate to be something people should be taking large amounts of as a therapeutic agent. It’s possible that moderate amounts might be helpful, but we need confirmation.”

 


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Polyphenols Can Aid Gut Health, Boost Longevity

Written by Kristen Fischer | Published on December 12, 2013

New research on polyphenols shows they can help microorganisms in your digestive system, and may extend your lifespan, too. How can you get more of these antioxidants into your diet?

Antioxidants are the wonderful compounds that make some of our favorite foods good for us—dark chocolate and coffee, anyone? Polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, have recently been in the spotlight as researchers uncover the health benefits of eating polyphenol-rich foods.

New findings from the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd. show that polyphenols—which give color to fruits and vegetables and are also found in coffee, tea, nuts, and legumes—can break down into molecules that help beneficial microorganisms found in the digestive system. In short, they can support gut health, which is increasingly being recognized as vital to our overall well-being.

Another recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that large amounts of polyphenols can also boost your longevity. Researchers found that people who took in 650 mg per day experienced a 30% lower mortality rate than those who took in less than 500 mg per day.

Dr. Luigi Ferrucci of the U.S. National Institute on Aging, who worked on the latter study, said scientists have long suspected that polyphenols have an effect on longevity. It was difficult to prove because many different foods contain small quantities of polyphenols and they are metabolized quickly.

19 Vegetables that Burn Calories

Adding Polyphenols to Your Diet

“Increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables is the best way to bolster your daily intake of these health-promoting compounds,” said Dr. Charlie Seltzer, a Philadelphia-based physician who specializes in anti-aging treatments.

He says the outer layers of many fruits and vegetables contain the highest concentrations of polyphenols, so don’t peel off the skin before you eat them.

Another way to get more polyphenols from fruit is to consume them before they ripen, because polyphenol activity lessens as fruit ages. Another recent study has shown that freeze-drying fruit, as opposed to chilling it, preserves 80 percent of its antioxidants, including polyphenols.

Drinking unsweetened green or black tea is also a great way to consume these compounds, as well as increase your daily fluid intake, Seltzer added.

While some dietary supplements contain polyphenols, the best way to get them is through whole foods. If that’s not possible, “superfood” powders are the next-best option.

Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman, the director of Nutrition and Health Promoting Foods at the Illinois Institute for Technology, said that data supports getting polyphenols from actual food sources rather than pills.

“Certain conditions may warrant polyphenol supplementation, but the science is still developing to support these uses,” she said.

The Best Sources of Polyphenols

The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that cloves, dried peppermint, and star anise are the seasonings with the highest concentrations of polyphenols.

Fruits with high levels of polyphenols include black chokeberries, black elderberries, strawberries, red raspberries, blueberries, plums, and black currants. Cocoa powder, dark chocolate, coffee, tea, and flaxseed meal are also high in polyphenols.

“As long as it doesn’t cause weight gain or interfere with planned weight loss, you should strive to consume as much fruit and vegetables as possible while ensuring you’re consuming adequate protein and healthy fat,” Seltzer said.