Curcumin Inhibits Fat Formation

A new study reveals that curcumin, a compound in the spice turmeric, has a remarkable potential to limit the growth of fatty tissue.

Research by the Vascular Biology Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston, Mass., examined the fat tissue deposition in mice fed a high-fat diet for 12 weeks. They discovered that adding curcumin limited the deposition of new fat in the tissues by inhibiting blood vessel formation (fatty tissue, like all animal tissue, needs adequate circulation to supply it with blood-borne nutrients). The conclusion; “Our findings suggest that dietary curcumin may have a potential benefit in preventing obesity.” The study was published in the May, 2009 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

My take: As is so often the case, natural, unprocessed foods such as turmeric are valuable in many ways. The fact that turmeric, an essential component of curry, seems to be responsible at least in part for the low rate of Alzheimer’s disease among elderly citizens of India is now well established. Its ability to inhibit fatty tissue formation is yet another bonus, on top of other reasons to eat turmeric that have already been discovered. Turmeric is part of my recommended anti-inflammatory eating plan, and a valuable addition to any diet.

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White Tea May Promote Weight Loss
In another food-limits-fat development, this interesting research is only at the test tube stage, but investigators in Germany have found that an extract of white tea can hinder formation of new fat cells. When the research team treated lab-cultured human pre-adipocytes (fat cells in formation) with white tea extract, they saw a reduction in the incorporation of fat as the new cells were forming, and also found that existing fat cells broke down the fat they contained. The components of white tea the researchers credit with these effects are methylxanthines (similar to caffeine) and EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate). White tea is made from the buds and first leaves of Camellia sinensis. Green tea, oolong tea and black tea also come from this plant – the difference between each type is the extent to which tea leaves are processed and oxidized. The German white tea study was published in the May 1, 2009 issue of Nutrition & Metabolism. We’ll see if this new research on white tea pays off in human studies, but in the meantime, substituting white, green, oolong or even black tea for calorie-laden beverages is a proven and worthwhile weight loss strategy. 

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Acupressure Can Prevent Anesthesia After-Effects
Nausea and vomiting are common reactions to anesthesia administered for surgery – up to 80 percent of all patients are affected. A new review of studies involving more than 4,800 patients suggests that acupressure or acupuncture works as well as anti-nausea and anti-vomiting medication to quell these unpleasant after-effects without the cost and side effects of drugs. The technique most frequently used in the 40 studies reviewed was the same type of acupressure wristbands sold to prevent seasickness, travel sickness, morning sickness and nausea related to chemotherapy. The review also showed that sham acupuncture worked 25 percent of the time. Anti-nausea acupuncture (or acupressure) works by simply stimulating a point on the wrist, which sends a signal to the brain to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine or endorphins to block other chemicals in the central nervous system that cause nausea and vomiting. Proper placement of the pressure is the key to wrist band effectiveness. The review was published in The Cochrane Library, issue 2, 2009.

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Featured Recipe

Wild Rice and Mushrooms
Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa and oats, are a far better source of energy than the hunks of meat most Americans expect in the center of their plates. Grains supply complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber – all wrapped up in tasty packages. Wild rice is a delicious grain that isn’t really rice at all. It’s actually a long-grain marsh grass that grows wild in the Great Lakes area and is cultivated commercially in California and the Midwest. We mix wild rice with mushrooms and chopped nuts for a combination of colors, textures and luxuriant flavors. When you use wild rice, be sure to wash it thoroughly first. Set it in a bowl, cover it with water and let the debris float to the surface so you can pour it off. Don’t cook it too long or you’ll get starchy, wimpy grains that have lost much of their flavor.
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Healthy Aging Tip
Courtesy of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Seasonal Foods: CarrotsAn excellent source of antioxidant compounds, carrots are among the richest vegetable sources of beta-carotene, important for healthy vision. They are also powerhouses of nutrition, with more vitamin A precursors than almost any other vegetable, plus significant amounts of dietary fiber.

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“Is eating wheatgrass worthwhile?” asks habatone.
I am curious to know if the claimed health benefits (of) eating wheatgrass are in any way true. Is there any documented evidence to support the claims made on its behalf?

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