Functional foods in Kitchen Cabinet (say, ‘Medicine Cabinet’)?

Several studies and researches that have been so far conducted, suggests that some of the day-to-day food that we consume, may be more than just ‘life-sustaining’. They could even prove to be ˜life preserving, with loads of healing power.

t is high time we realize the value of foods stored in our ˜kitchen cabinet, or rather ˜medicine cabinet?

Here is a list of what the experts call as functional foods or nutraceuticals, which although stored commonly in kitchen cupboard, could prove to be ˜life preserving medicines in the long run.

Curry spice: Curry Spice is actually a mix of spices, and recent studies indicate that a particular substance, curcumin (found in turmeric) may actually help stop the growth of cancerous cells. This finding could prove to be the reason behind higher rates of colon, stomach and digestive-tract cancers found in United States, than in India, where people include the spice in their regular diet.

Garlic: Early studies suggest that garlic protects against the build up of cholesterol levels, and even bacterial and viral infections. However, care should be taken not to have an excess of the same, as it could interfere with blood-thinning medications, or trigger gastric upset.

Green Tea: Much of praise has already been given to the magical powers of green tea. Experts are still debating over its ability to reduce cancer risk, as the antioxidant found in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate, is valued as a ˜cancer fighter in a few studies. It is also believed to exhibit weight-loss properties. But, apply caution, as, an overdose of green tea, could interfere with iron absorption and increase risks of anemia.

Cranberry Juice: For years, this juice has been treasured as a cheap, delicious way of preventing Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). The flavonoids present in cranberry prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder walls. Studies reveal that the juice could also have a similar impact in preventing gum diseases and stomach ulcers.

Herbs: Simple herbs lying on the silent corner of your kitchen cabinet offers many health benefits. ˜Rosemary is a common herb well-known for its antibacterial properties, ˜Thyme has antiseptic properties and keeps bowel disturbances and anemia at bay, ˜Sage commonly used in sausage helps expel excess mucus away from body, ˜Chamomile tea helps with its calming properties, ˜blackberry is a wonderful warding off stomachic problems, and ˜peppermint promotes easy digestion.

Fish: Plenty of researches support inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids in our diet. Fish is the best known source of Omega3s. It helps development of babies brains, works as a natural blood thinner preventing dangerous clots and keeps cholesterol at bay. Fish supplements too are fine, if it is of good quality. For vegetarian eaters, other sources of omega 3 fatty acids include green leafy vegetables (such as Spinach), nuts (Walnuts, Brazilnuts, Hazelnuts) and seeds (for instance, sesame seeds).

Red Wine: Contains plenty of flavonoids, particularly resveratrol and tannins, that increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. Merlot, cabernet, etc are considered heart-healthy, as they are closely linked to grapes from which they are sourced, as even plain grape juice gives similar effects.

Dark Chocolate: A U.S. study brought out the sweet news that those who eat just under four ounces of dark chocolate per day can see their high blood pressure levels, drop down by 10 points within two weeks, apart from better insulin sensitivity. The magic behind the result is the presence of flavonoids, which is also a type of antioxidant. However, the emphasis here lies on ˜dark chocolates alone and not the milk variety found in candy bars, as these dont provide the antioxidant punch. However, this should not be taken as a license to go wild.

However, experts recommend the truly health-conscious to stick on to the original sources of nutrients, rather than going in for their supplements, as the manner in which foods are put together in nature has much more benefit than just popping a pill that contains only a tiny component of it, as the it may not have the same impact. The ultimate aim is to remain healthy with what you have on hand.