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Functional food helps prevent disease |

Health And Family

Functional food helps prevent disease

CONSUMERLINE - Ching M. Alano - The Philippine Star

After all that holiday binging (there’s still New Year and Chinese New Year, of course), it’s time for our yearly New Year’s Resolution, on top of which is probably the big fat promise to lose weight (as in New Years past). People seriously looking to lose weight are turning to today’s hottest superfood secret: turmeric! An ancient spice known as yellow ginger, it is its active ingredient curcumin that studies suggest helps with weight loss. How? As obesity, today’s biggest problem in the US, is associated with low-grade inflammation in fat tissues, curcumin works by reducing the body’s production of several significant pro-inflammatory chemicals, such as in fat tissues, thus reducing obesity and all other obesity-related health problems. (Note: There are as yet no definitive studies done in humans.)

You’re probably familiar with turmeric as that ingredient that gives Indian curry its color and flavor. Well, the slightly bitter and slightly peppery curcumin does not only add spice to Indian (or Asian) cooking but also adds life as this natural detoxifier and powerful antioxidant has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for ages to prevent over 500 diseases, including cancer.

Obviously taking center stage is the so-called functional food. Didn’t the Father of Medicine Hippocrates write, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”?

Biolife News Service writes, “The focus is on the so-called ‘functional’ ingredients in food and beverage to aid in the prevention or palliative treatment of chronic prevalent diseases, among them obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and arthritis.”

And then there’s cinnamon bark, which our friend Angelo Songco of Healthy Eats Organic Store & Cafe happily unearthed while visiting Plataran Borobudur’s beautiful hillside property. Its local name is kayumanis, meaning sweet wood.  Exuding a nice aroma and flavor, cinnamon is normally used in dishes to balance flavor.  But more than that, Angelo learned that this yummy, crumbly sweet topping you find on muffins is actually a wonderfully healthy spice.

“One of the concoctions has even found its way in our minimart shelves — the cholesterol-lowering cinnameric tea which combines this spice with another healthy herb turmeric,” Angelo shares.

Some of cinnamon’s health benefits are as follows:

Body warmer.  Cinnamon warms up the body, especially in wintertime.  In China, it also helps persons with influenza or fever.

• Fiber and mineral source.  Cinnamon has trace amounts of fiber and mineral  for the body’s complete nutritional needs.

• Antibacterial medicine.  With so many bacteria around us, cinnamon helps boost our immune system. To prevent disease, simply put a little bit of the bark into tea, and take either by itself or combined with ginger.

• Reduces rheumatism.  Daily consumption of cinnamon can reduce or even cure rheumatism.

• Helps control diabetes mellitus.  Cinnamon has antioxidants to help control diabetes by balancing insulin levels and body digestion.

• Prevents blood clotting.  Cinnamon prevents blood from clotting by producing the anti-inflammatory acid arachidonic.  

• Balances hormone. For women especially, cinnamon can reduce the testosterone hormone and increase the progesterone hormone.

• Helps prevent a heart attack.  Because of its anti-inflamatory properties, cinnamon is also quite effective in preventing a heart attack.  It can also protect the heart from bacteria or even infections that could disturb the function of the heart.

“We have cinnamon in limited supply at Healthy Eats,” Angelo informs  us.“Try to get the actual bark or cassia sticks rather than the ground or powdered to reap more of its health benefits.”

Ever heard of coco syrup? You’ll go loco over this eco model farm — the five-hectare Lao Integrated Farms in Davao planted to lots and lots of coconut trees. “Our partner merchant Donnabelle supplies us with their wonderful products cocosyrup, al din seasoning, instant herbal teas and more,” says Angelo. “Now a model  in organic farming, their coconut syrup, produced from coconut flower sap, is harvested at an interval of four to five hours.”

Angelo names some of the healthy benefits of coconut as follows:

• It’s been established that coconut food products boost the human immune system and heal a lot of illnesses.

• As a food sweetener, it’s low in glycemic index of 35.

• It’s recommended for proper control and management of diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and for the maintenance of weight.

• It can reduce postprandial blood glucose and insulin, and improve overall blood glucose and lipid concentrations in normal, as well as in patients with diabetes mellitus.

• It’s guaranteed 100-percent chemical free.

Hmmm ... Excuse me while I pour some coco syrup on my pancake!

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