Friday, August 28, 2009


 The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) is believed to have said: “In the black seed is healing for every disease except death.” (Sahih Bukhari)

Black Cumin: Islam’s Miracle Cure Seed


Within Islam there are many herbs, plants and fruits that are believed to have medicinal and healing properties. Olive, pomegranate, dates and figs are amongst those that are directly mentioned in the Qur’an as blessed foods. However, there is only one that can stake a claim as a super food and that is Black cumin or ‘Habbat ul Sawda’ as it is known in Arabic. 

According to hadith, the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) is believed to have said: “In the black seed is healing for every disease except death.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Indigenous to the Mediterranean region, the black seed plant (Nigella Sativa) has been used medicinally by Muslims and non-Muslims alike for hundreds of years. In fact the earliest written reference to the black cumin is in the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament where Isaiah talks of the harvesting of the black seed. It was also mentioned in the Bible as the curative ‘black seed’ and has been used by Asian herbalists and the Romans for culinary purposes. However it never really held any place of importance until the rise of Islam. 
A Cure For All Things
Within Arabo-Islamic culture, the black seed has been prescribed for various ailments including fever, asthma, chronic headaches, diabetes, digestion, back pain, infections and rheumatism. In fact, since its rise in popularity in the Seventh century the black seed has remained a staple of family medicine within the Muslim world. The black seed is believed to have 100 components and is a significant sources of fatty acids, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Whenever I get a cold or flu, the first things that gets added to my hot drinks is black cumin and although it leaves no taste in the drink- the trick is to chew the seeds rather than just swallow them whole. They have a slightly bitter and pepperytaste but nothing too strong so it is a relatively pain-free medicine. My mother constantly tells me about its amazing properties and it seems that there science out there to back it up.


A Revival In Natural Medicine
Black seed has been scientifically proven to demonstrate strong anti-bacterial, antioxident, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties which support its claims to be of medicinal value for various ailments. There was also interesting studies carried out which found that black cumin had inhibitory effects on carcagins and was also helpful for fighting tumours.
A rise interest of Mediterranean cuisine and herbs has highlighted the uses of the black seed which seems to be enjoying a revival in popularity across the Muslim world and in the west. It has been introduced to recipes and is even an ingredient in Evoca cola which is also known as ‘Islam Cola’.
Black seed can also be used as a spice and particularly as a substitute to pepper- although with its additional properties it really does give flavour with added health benefits.

Natural Remedies of Arabia:Black Seed

Arabic: Habba Souda, Habbat al-Barakah;
Other Name:
Fennel Flower, Black Cumin Nigella sativa; Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)
Native to the Mediterranean and grown throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia, Nigella sativa is cultivated for its seeds, which are known as the “seeds of blessing.” For the Arabs, black seed is not only a food but also a valued traditional medicine that has long been used to treat such ailments as asthma, flatulence, polio, kidney stones, abdominal pain and so on. It has served as an important health and beauty aid for thousands of years.
According to tradition, the Prophet Muhammad described black seed as a cure for every disease except death. The great physician Ibn Sina (980–1037), better known as Avicenna, stated that black seed works as an expectorant, stimulates the body’s energy and helps overcome fatigue and dispiritedness.
How to use:
  1. Eat black seeds plain;
  2. Eat a teaspoon of black seed mixed with honey;
  3. Boil black seed with water. Strain and drink;
  4. Heat black seed and warm milk until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat. Cool, then drink;
  5. Grind black seed and swallow it with water or milk;
  6. Sprinkle on bread and pastries;
  7. Burn black seed with bukhoor (incense) for a pleasant scent.
In the kitchen: Black seed is aromatic with a slight peppery flavor. It is one of the distinct flavors of Arab pastries. It is often sprinkled on breads and cheese. It is heated with milk for flavor. It is eaten ground with honey or with cakes and pastries.
Remedies across Arabia: In Arabia, black seed remains a traditional remedy for asthma, coughs, stomach aches, abdominal pain, colic, general fatigue, rheumatism, mouth and larynx diseases, skin diseases and cancer. It is also believed to strengthen a mother after childbirth; stimulate menstruation, urination and liver functions; aid digestion; dissolve kidney stones; and increase intelligence. Black seed is used to beautify skin, nourish hair and stimulate hair growth.
Did you know?
Black seed was found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. This suggests that black seed had an important role in ancient Egypt, since it was customary to place in tombs items needed for the afterlife.

Black Seed
Black Seed truly is an Amazing Herb!
For centuries, the Black Seed herb and oil has been used by millions of people in Asia, Middle East, and Africa to support their health. An aromatic spice, similar looking to sesame seed except black in color, it has been traditionally used for a variety of conditions and treatments related to respiratory health, stomach and intestinal health, kidney and liver function, circulatory and immune system support, and for general overall well-being.
Black Seed is also known as Black Cumin, Black Caraway Seed, Habbatul Baraka (the Blessed Seed), and by its botanical name "Nigella Sativa".
Since 1959, over 200 studies at international universities and articles published in various journals have shown remarkable results supporting its traditional uses recorded almost 1400 years ago.
While the Black Seed is highly effective by itself, ongoing studies with the combination of other herbs have produced remarkable results.
Amazingly Black Seed's chemical composition is very rich and diverse. Aside from its primary ingredient, crystalline nigellone, Black Seed contains 15 amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates, both fixed oils (84% fatty acids, including linolenic, and oleic), and volatile oils, alkaloids, saponin, and crude fiber, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, sodium and potassium. There are still many components in Black Seed that haven't been identified. But research is going on around the world. *

Black Seed:

Current Research

Dr Stephen Mak

We all think eating fruits means just buying fruits, cutting it and just popping it into our mouths. It's not as easy as you think. It's important to know how and when to eat.

What is the correct way of eating fruits?


If you eat fruit like that, it will play a major role to detoxify your system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss and other life activities.

FRUIT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FOOD. Let's say you eat two slices of bread and then a slice of fruit. The slice of fruit is ready to go straight through the stomach into the intestines, but it is prevented from doing so.

In the meantime the whole meal rots and ferments and turns to acid. The minute the fruit comes into contact with the food in the stomach and digestive juices, the entire mass of food begins to spoil….

So please eat your fruits on an empty stomach or before your meals! You have heard people complaining — every time I eat watermelon I burp, when I eat durian my stomach bloats up, when I eat a banana I feel like running to the toilet, etc — actually all this will not arise if you eat the fruit on an empty stomach. The fruit mixes with the putrefying other food and produces gas and hence you will bloat!

Graying hair, balding , nervous outburst, and dark circles under the eyes all these will NOT happen if you take fruits on an empty stomach.

There is no such thing as some fruits, like orange and lemon are acidic, because all fruits become alkaline in our body, according to Dr. Herbert Shelton who did research on this matter. If you have mastered the correct way of eating fruits, you have the Secret of beauty, longevity, health, energy, happiness and normal weight.

When you need to drink fruit juice – drink only fresh fruit juice, NOT from the cans. Don't even drink juice that has been heated up. Don't eat cooked fruits because you don't get the nutrients at all. You only get to taste. Cooking destroys all the vitamins.

But eating a whole fruit is better than drinking the juice. If you should drink the juice, drink it mouthful by mouthful slowly, because you must let it mix with your saliva before swallowing it. You can go on a 3-day fruit fast to cleanse your body. Just eat fruits and drink fruit juice throughout the 3 days and you will be surprised when your friends tell you how radiant you look!

KIWI: Tiny but mighty. This is a good source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin E & fiber. Its vitamin C content is twice that of an orange.

APPLE: An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Although an apple has a low vitamin C content, it has antioxidants & flavonoids which enhances the activity of vitamin C thereby helping to lower the risks of colon cancer, heart attack & stroke.

STRAWBERRY: Protective Fruit. Strawberries have the highest total antioxidant power among major fruits & protect the body from cancer-causing, blood vessel-clogging free radicals.

ORANGE : Sweetest medicine. Taking 2-4 oranges a day may help keep colds away, lower cholesterol, prevent & dissolve kidney stones as well as lessens the risk of colon cancer.

WATERMELON: Coolest thirst quencher. Composed of 92% water, it is also packed with a giant dose of glutathione, which helps boost our immune system. They are also a key source of lycopene — the cancer fighting oxidant. Other nutrients found in watermelon are vitamin C & Potassium.

GUAVA & PAPAYA: Top awards for vitamin C. They are the clear winners for their high vitamin C content.. Guava is also rich in fiber, which helps prevent constipation. Papaya is rich in carotene; this is good for your eyes.

Drinking Cold water after a meal = Cancer! Can u believe this?? For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable to you. It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion. Once this 'sludge' reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.

A serious note about heart attacks HEART ATTACK PROCEDURE': (THIS IS NOT A JOKE!) Women should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to be the left arm hurting. Be aware of intense pain in the jaw line. You may never have the first chest pain during the course of a heart attack. Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms. Sixty percent of people who have a heart attack while they are asleep do not wake up. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let's be careful and be aware. The more we know the better chance we could survive.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we'll save at least one life.

Fish Oils and Other Essential Fatty Acids When it comes to your eyes, what you put in your mouth may impact your vision. While it sounds "fishy" your daily consumption of fish oils can impact your vision in a beneficial way!
Most people living in the West consume far too many Omega 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids. Omega 9 fatty acids commonly come from olive oil, peanuts, avocado and similar food products. While important, omega 9 fatty acids are not considered "essential" fatty acids because your body has the ability to manufacture them naturally.
Omega 6 fatty acids are sometimes referred to as gamma linolenic acid or GLA. This type of fatty acid is important for helping the body produce prostaglandins. Omega-6 fatty acids also help promote our immune function and maintain our energy levels. It is important however that omega-6 consumption is balanced out by adequate levels of essential fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids because our body cannot produce them naturally. They help promote our cardiovascular health, reduce our inflammatory response in the body, help maintain our energy levels, promote healthy cholesterol levels and help maintain our eyesight.
Unlike omega-6 fatty acids, many people don't eat enough of the foods containing omega 3 fatty acids to benefit from them. Omega-6 fatty acids are plentiful in products like cereals, whole grains, poultry and egg products and in most vegetable oils, which are found in most diets.
How Can I Get More Omega 3 Fatty Acids In My Diet? Omega 3 essential fatty acids however, usually come in the form of flax seed oil or fatty oils derived from certain fishes including salmon.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids are otherwise known as alpha linolenic acid or LNA. It is in short supply. Studies suggest that while levels of omega 6 fatty acids have almost doubled in recent decades, the levels of omega 3 consumed have declined significantly.
Too much omega 6 consumption can increase the amount of fluid our bodies retain and actually increase our risk of high blood pressure and blood clotting. For this reason it is vital we improve our intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
  • Flax or linseed oil
  • Flax seeds
  • Hemp oils
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Fish oils including salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Soybean oil
  • Walnuts
If you don't consume enough of these foods daily, you should consider taking a supplementmacular degeneration and other vision loss problems associated with inadequate nutrition. containing fish or flax seed oils. With time this can help prevent unwanted illnesses and even help protect you from age related
Most doctors recommend a ratio of 3:1 when it comes to omega 6 to 3 balance. That means for every 3 parts omega 6 fatty acids you consume you should be getting 1 part omega 3. Most people tend to get consume omega 6 fatty acids in a ratio of 20:1 compared with omega 3's, which is definitely not healthy.
Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Here is just a short list of benefits you'll receive by consuming more fish oils in your diet:
  • Less hunger resulting from better regulated blood sugar levels.
  • Improved cardiovascular function.
  • Better heart regulation; studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oils for example may improve your metabolic rate.
  • Reduced risk of age related vision problems including macular degeneration.
  • Decreased inflammatory response in the body.

Almond protects against diabetes and heart disease

Scientific American study showed that eating almonds helps to prevent diabetes and heart disease.

ونقلت صحيفة ذي إندبندنت عن الدراسة أن دمج المكسرات في الوجبات قد يساعد على علاج النوع الثاني من مرض السكري الذي يشكل 90% إلى 95% من الحالات. And The Independent newspaper quoted the study that the integration of nuts in the diet may help to treat type II diabetes, which accounts for 90% to 95% of cases.

وذكرت الدراسة التي نشرت في دورية الكلية الأميركية للتغذية أن اللوز قد يعالج الأوعية الدموية. The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition that almonds may be treated blood vessels.

وتبين أيضا أن استهلاك وجبة غنية باللوز قد يعمل على تحسين حساسية الأنسولين ويقلص مستويات الكولسترول الرديء (أل دي أل) لدى الأشخاص المهيئين للإصابة بمرض السكري، وهم الذين يرتفع لديهم سكري الدم عن المستويات الطبيعية ولكن لم يرق إلى المستوى الذي يصنفهم بمرضى السكري. It was also found that the consumption of a diet rich in almonds may improve insulin sensitivity and reduces cholesterol levels bad (LDL) in people susceptible to diabetes, they who have high blood sugar levels normal, but did not live up to the level at which it classified patients with diabetes.

ولدى خضوع 65 شخصا مهيئين للإصابة بالسكري (48 امرأة و17 رجلا) في الخمسين من أعمارهم للدراسة، تبين أن الفريق الذي تناول اللوز شهد تحسنا كبيرا في الأنسولين وانخفاضا واضحا في الكولسترول الرديء، مقارنة بالفريق الذي لم يتناول هذا النوع من المكسرات. And the subordination of 65 people prepared to diabetes (48 women and 17 men) in the fifty years of age to the study, showing that the team that eating almonds has seen significant improvement in insulin and a clear decline in cholesterol poor, compared to a team that did not address this kind of nuts.

وتقول الصحيفة البريطانية إن اللوز خال من الكولسترول ويعد الأغنى -مقارنة بأنواع أخرى من المكسرات- بالمواد الغذائية الضرورية الست، وهي الألياف والمغنيسيوم والبروتين والبوتاسيوم والنحاس وفيتامين "أي". According to British newspaper The almonds free of cholesterol and is a richer - than other types of nuts - the six essential nutrients, the fiber and magnesium, protein and potassium, copper, vitamin "A".

والسكري أسرع الأمراض انتشارا في العالم حيث يعاني المصابون به من نقص الأنسولين أو القدرة على استخدام الهرمون الذي يسمح للجلوكوز (السكر) بالدخول إلى الخلايا والتحول إلى طاقة. And diabetes, diseases spread faster in the world where living with suffering from a lack of insulin or the ability to use the hormone that allows glucose (sugar) to enter cells and transformation into energy.

وعندما يخرج مرض السكري عن السيطرة، تبقى الدهون والجلوكوز في الدم، ومع مرور الوقت تدمر الأعضاء الحية. When out of control diabetes, the remaining fat and glucose in the blood, with the passage of time destroy living organisms.

وتشير الإحصاءات إلى أنه تم تشخيص مرض السكري لدى نحو 55 مليون شخص في أوروبا، ومن المرجح أن يرتفع هذا العدد إلى 66 مليونا بحلول 2030. Statistics indicate that he was diagnosed with diabetes about 55 million people in Europe, is likely to increase this number to 66 million by 2030.

----------------------- Eating fish helps to prevent vision loss

Confirmed the recent Australian scientific research that eating copious amounts of fish helps to prevent the incidence of blindness among the elderly.

وأشارت الأبحاث إلى أن كبار السن من المدخنين معرضون بنحو الضعفين لمخاطر الإصابة بتدهور وظائف شبكة العين والإصابة بفقدان البصر بالمقارنة بكبار السن من غير المدخنين. The researchers noted that older smokers are about twice the risk of deterioration in the functions of the retina and the incidence of blindness compared to elderly non-smokers.

ويرى الباحثون إمكانية التغلب وخفض مخاطر الإصابة بفقدان البصر بمعدل الثلث في حالة تناول كميات وفيرة من الأسماك إلى جانب تقليل الآثار السلبية الناجمة عن عادة التدخين السيئة، وذلك حسب ما ذكر في صحيفة "الدايلي ميل" البريطانية. The researchers believe can be overcome and reduce the risk of blindness by one third in the case of eat copious amounts of fish as well as reduce the negative effects of the bad habit of smoking, according to what stated in the newspaper "Daily Mail" the British.

وأجريت إحدى الدراسات على 681 أمريكيا متقدما في السن لتثبت أن فرص الإصابة بالمرض بين أولئك الذين كانوا يتناولون السمك مرتين أسبوعيا كانت أقل بنسبة 36 في المائة. Conducted a study of 681 U.S. an advanced age to prove that the chances of infection among those who ate fish twice a week were less by 36 per cent.

فيما أظهرت دراسة أخرى شملت 2335 رجلا وامرأة أسترالية على فترة خمس سنوات، أن فرص الإصابة عند من تناولوا السمك مرة واحدة فقط في الأسبوع، كانت أقل بنسبة 40 في المائة. Another study showed in 2335 included an Australian man and a woman over a period of five years, the chances of injury when you ate fish just once a week, were lower by 40 per cent.

وقدمت الدراستان سببا آخر للإكثار من تناول السمك، وهو الوقاية من مرض "التنكس البقعي" المرتبط بالتقدم في العمر، والذي يعتبر السبب الرئيسي المؤدي لفقدان البصر عند كبار السن. Studies and provided another reason to eat more fish, is the prevention of disease, "macular degeneration", linked to progress in life, which is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.

ويُعرف بأن الأحماض الدهنية المسماة "أوميغا 3" الموجودة في الأسماك كالسلمون تساعد على المحافظة على القلب والدماغ بصحة جيدة. Is known that fatty acids called "Omega 3" found in fish like salmon help to maintain heart and brain healthy.

ويُعتبر تدهور كفاءة شبكة العين من الأمراض التي تؤثر بصورة كبيرة على وظيفة إبصار العين، حيث تعد من أهم الأسباب للإصابة بالعمى للأشخاص الذين تخطوا الستين عاما. The deterioration of the efficiency of the network of eye diseases that affect largely on the function of vision and eye, where one of the most important causes of blindness for people aged over sixty years.

يُذكر أن مرض التنكس البقعي يتسبب بحدوث إعتام في مركز رؤية العين، ومن ثم يتطور إلى العمى بصورة تدريجية أو بسرعة في بعض الأحيان حسب طبيعة المرض. The disease Macular degeneration causes the occurrence of cataracts in the center of the eye to see, and then progresses to blindness gradually or rapidly in some cases, depending on the nature of the disease.



Natural Remedies of Arabia
by Robert W. Lebling and Donna Pepperdine
Photographed by Donna Pepperdine
Excerpted with permission from Natural Remedies of Arabia. Robert W. Lebling and Donna Pepperdine. 2006, Al-Turath/Stacey International, 1-905299-02-8 (North America: Interlink Books,
Whether you are in Doha, Dubai, Manama, Salalah, Jiddah or an obscure country village, when you step into an herbal medicine shop or wander through the traditional suqs (markets), you will find vendors of herbs, spices, bark, twigs, rocks and salt intended for culinary, cosmetic or medicinal purposes.
As you gaze at the piles of twisted bark or the varied combinations of dried flowers, you may wonder: What are these products? Where do they come from? How are they used locally?
These fascinating items whisper tales of the ancient trade routes, for many still come to Arabia from India, China, Indonesia, Egypt, Syria and other exotic locations, and are distributed across the Peninsula through existing commercial networks. Others are harvested locally, some under harsh desert conditions, and have their own fascinating stories to tell.
The people of the Arabian Peninsula have, for centuries, combined goods obtained by trade and barter with a prudent use of local plants and have developed a rich heritage of folk medicine.
Many of the natural remedies presented here are the result of a questionnaire distributed throughout the Arabian Peninsula in early 2002. The questionnaire, printed in both Arabic and English, asked families to explain how they, as well as their mothers and grandmothers, use various herbs, spices and other substances in natural healing. It also requested specific remedies for conditions such as headache, colds and coughs, sore throats, hair loss, general fatigue, childbirth and so on. We present their generous responses, which have helped to unlock many of the mysteries of local medicinal herb shops and reveal unique insights into the natural remedies of Arabia.

Arabic: Shabba, Shabb;
Other English: Potassium Alum, Potash Alum

First-time visitors to Middle Eastern markets may be puzzled to see piles of stones displayed prominently among the herbs and spices. One of them is alum, a crystal-white mineral often imported from China. Alum is a compound of several metals, including aluminum. It is an astringent, widely used in the Middle East to control bleeding and to clean and heal wounds. Shabba powder is mixed with henna for skin decoration, and when applied to the underarms, it acts as a deodorant. Alum is not ingested, nor is it used in cooking.
Did you know?

  • In ancient Babylon, physicians used alum in a mouthwash, as a styptic, as a pessary for menorrhagia, as a nasal douche, and as a treatment for itchy scabs, gonorrhea and purulent ophthalmia. Greek and then Arab medical authorities continued these practices, and went on to use alum for the treatment of leprosy, bad gums, pustules and ear trouble.
  • The alums are valuable in paper manufacturing, textile dyeing, fireproofing, water purification, and in medicine as astringents, styptics and emetics.
  • The Alum Mountain, in Bulahdelah, Australia, is the only known above-ground outcrop of alum stone (alunite) in the world.
  • Using shabba deodorant stones is considered safe and will not cause high levels of aluminum in your system. This is because potassium alum molecules have a negative ionic charge, and the aluminum is unable to pass through cell walls.
  • Bauxite, the ore from which alum is drawn, can be purified and converted directly into alum.


Arabic: Anisun, Yansun, Yansoon Pimpinella anisum Umbelliferae/Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

From cookies to colds, this tiny, aromatic, gray-brown seed—often called aniseed—serves families across the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi merchants import much of their aniseed from Syria and India. Anise also grows in Egypt, Cyprus, Crete and on the Eastern Mediterranean coast.

How to use: 1) For tea, simmer one teaspoon of aniseed in a cup of water for about 10 minutes. Strain and drink; 2) Grind seeds to powder for use in baking; 3) Chew the seeds to freshen the mouth and aid digestion.
In the kitchen: Licorice-flavored aniseed provides subtle flavor to cookies and other sweets.

Remedies across Arabia: Anise is a popular folk medicine, with a long tradition in Islamic pharmacology. It is used to treat general abdominal pain, colic, indigestion, menstrual cramping, coughs and headaches. It is also believed to clean the urinary system and prevent inflammations. Anise has aromatic, diaphoretic, relaxant, stimulant, tonic, carminative and stomachic properties.

Did you know?

  • Anise is sometimes confused with fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), particularly the Iranian varieties, which are quite similar in appearance and flavor.
  • An oil distilled from anise is what gives licorice candy its flavor.
  • Anise is a key ingredient of supari, the digestive spice mix served after a curry meal.


Arabic: Arak, Rak;
Other English: Toothbrush Tree, Mustard Tree, Saltbush Salvadora persica L.; Salvadoraceae

ArakHave you ever wondered how people cleaned their teeth before the invention of the toothbrush? One answer is the miswak! A miswak (plural: masawik) is a fibrous stick prepared from the root of the arak tree. It has antiseptic and astringent properties which help clean and protect the teeth and gums. A high-quality miswak has a strong, pungent smell. It is pale yellow or cream in color. It is moist and flexible.

The Prophet Mohammad, founder of Islam, recommended the miswak to his followers. He used it to sweeten his breath during fasting and advised its use prior to prayer. This practice is still popular in Arabia today.

The arak is a short evergreen tree that grows in sandy and arid areas of the Middle East and Africa. Sheep and goats like to nibble its leaves.

How to use: Soak the root in water for a few hours to soften the natural fibers. Then scrape off five to 10 millimeters (¼–½) of bark from the tip and gently chew until fibers have separated and the root becomes brush-like. Clean the teeth by rubbing the miswak up and down and sideways as you would a conventional plastic toothbrush. When the fibers become overused, simply cut off the tip of the miswak, scrape off more bark and continue to use as before. To retain freshness, keep miswak in the refrigerator or soak in water.

Did you know?

  • Arak roots contain triclosan, an effective antibacterial used in modern toothpastes. Other ingredients include fluoride, vitamin C, alkaloids and small amounts of tannins and flavenoids.
  • A herbal toothpaste with pure miswak extract (made by a hygiene-products company in India) is currently marketed in Saudi Arabia and other countries of the region.
  • Other natural toothbrush sources, when arak is not available, include the peelo tree, the olive tree, the bitam tree, the walnut tree, the neem tree or any bitter tree that is not harmful or poisonous in any way!


AsafetidaArabic: Haltita, Hiltit;
Other English: Asafoetida, Giant Fennel, Devil’s Dung, Stinking Gum, Food of the Gods Ferula assa-foetida or F. asafoetida; Umbelliferae/Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

When the doorbell rang, Khalid knew that his grandmother had arrived with her infamous family remedy: the foul-smelling gum resin of the asafetida plant. His mind raced to find an excuse, any excuse, to avoid taking it. He felt uncertain that the effort required to swallow the bitter substance was worth the cure. Yet he knew his grandmother would be firm. Her words still echoed to him from times of past sickness: “You know, Khalid, asafetida has been used for ages as an effective medicine in the Arab world. It works mainly to improve the digestive system, but it’s also used as a pain-reliever, a cough medicine and a blood thinner. We’ll use it to treat your upset stomach.” Khalid had no choice but to agree—and he soon felt better. In Saudi Arabia today, families still turn to asafetida as a “last-resort” treatment for coughs, colds, fevers and stomach discomfort. It is not the most popular home remedy; parents must coach their children to hold their nose and swallow quickly in order to tolerate the strong smell and bitter taste.

How to use: 1) Melt in hot water and drink; 2) Grind or crush the lump resin into powder or melt it in liquid and use sparingly as a cooking spice.

In the kitchen: Despite its sulfurous smell, asafetida, when cooked, imparts a surprisingly pleasant flavor to many foods. In Indian cuisine, it is a substi- tute for onion or garlic. Use in small amounts. The powdered form is milder than the resin, because it is normally blended with rice flour. The resin should be fried in hot oil before using. A pea-sized quantity is enough to flavor a large pot of lentils or vegetables. Store asafetida in an air-tight container.

Remedies across Arabia: Asafetida is available in Middle Eastern herb shops and can be purchased in lump resin or powdered form.

Did you know?

  • Alexander the Great is credited with carrying asafetida west in the fourth century BC, following his expeditions into the Persian Empire (modern Afghanistan).
  • The famous ancient Roman gourmet Apicius (first century) used asafetida in over half of his recipes.
  • The British explorer Charles Doughty, who traveled throughout Arabia in the mid-19th century, called asafetida “a drug which the Arabs have in sovereign estimation.”
  • Asafetida is native to Iran and western Afghanistan.
  • Modern herbalists regard asafetida as a sedative, antispasmodic and circulatory agent. It is also known to relieve intestinal and stomach upsets.
  • Asafetida is much used in the Ayurvedic tradition and is also popular in Indian vegetarian cooking.
  • Al-Kindi, an Islamic scholar of the ninth century, used asafetida to counter phlegm and treat sore throat, tooth pain, rheumatism and nervous conditions, and also as an aphrodisiac.
  • Asafetida gets its name from the Persian aza, for mastic or resin, and the Latin foetidus, for stinking.


Arabic: Mauz Musa sapientum; Musaceae (Banana Family)

The banana plant is the world’s largest herb. It is often mistaken for a tree, but does not have a woody trunk or boughs. It springs from an underground rhizome to form a false trunk three to six meters (10–20') high and is crowned with a rosette of 10–20 beautiful, oblong banana leaves.

BananaHistory credits Arab traders with giving the banana its popular name. Although there are several hundred varieties which differ in taste, color, form and size, Arab traders noted that bananas growing in Africa and Asia were small, about the size of a man’s finger, and so called them banan, which means “fingertips” in Arabic. “Banana” is the singular form.

Bananas are rich in potassium, riboflavin, niacin and dietary fiber. They also contain vitamins A and C and some calcium and iron. Bananas are a quick source of energy.

How to use: In banana-producing countries, vegetables and spices are sometimes wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed. Banana leaves are used as serving plates, as tablecloths and as barriers between a wood fire and a pot. They are even used for thatching roofs and making rope.

In the kitchen: Bananas can be eaten fresh or dried. The dried fruit can be ground into a nutritious banana flour.A very old and traditional breakfast in Makkah is omelet with banana. Masoub, also featuring the banana, is currently a popular Hijazi breakfast dish. Kanafa with banana is a delicious dessert.

Remedies across Arabia: For diarrhea, use cornstarch and water; yogurt; tea leaves; mashed potatoes; bananas.

Did you know?

  • Hundreds of banana varieties thrive in the tropics. Bananas grow in Egypt, Yemen, Oman and other Arab countries. In the Nile River, near Luxor, Egypt, local boats sail to Gazirat al- Mauz (“Banana Island”), where visitors can sample fruits from a large banana orchard.
  • The banana has been cultivated in India for at least 4000 years. Bananas are widely used in Indian folk medicine for the treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Black Seed

Arabic: Habba Souda, Habbat al-Barakah;
Other English: Fennel Flower, Black Cumin Nigella sativa; Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Black Seed Native to the Mediterranean and grown throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia, Nigella sativa is cultivated for its seeds, which are known as the “seeds of blessing.” For the Arabs, black seed is not only a food but also a valued traditional medicine that has long been used to treat such ailments as asthma, flatulence, polio, kidney stones, abdominal pain and so on. It has served as an important health and beauty aid for thousands of years.

According to tradition, the Prophet Muhammad described black seed as a cure for every disease except death. The great physician Ibn Sina (980–1037), better known as Avicenna, stated that black seed works as an expectorant, stimulates the body’s energy and helps overcome fatigue and dispiritedness.

How to use: 1) Eat black seeds plain; 2) Eat a teaspoon of black seed mixed with honey; 3) Boil black seed with water. Strain and drink; 4) Heat black seed and warm milk until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat. Cool, then drink; 5) Grind black seed and swallow it with water or milk; 6) Sprinkle on bread and pastries; 7) Burn black seed with bukhoor (incense) for a pleasant scent.

In the kitchen: Black seed is aromatic with a slight peppery flavor. It is one of the distinct flavors of Arab pastries. It is often sprinkled on breads and cheese. It is heated with milk for flavor. It is eaten ground with honey or with cakes and pastries.

Remedies across Arabia: In Arabia, black seed remains a traditional remedy for asthma, coughs, stomach aches, abdominal pain, colic, general fatigue, rheumatism, mouth and larynx diseases, skin diseases and cancer. It is also believed to strengthen a mother after childbirth; stimulate menstruation, urination and liver functions; aid digestion; dissolve kidney stones; and increase intelligence. Black seed is used to beautify skin, nourish hair and stimulate hair growth.

Did you know?

  • Black seed was found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. This suggests that black seed had an important role in ancient Egypt, since it was customary to place in tombs items needed for the afterlife.
  • In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah contrasts Nigella (black cumin) with wheat. (See Isaiah 28: 25, 27.)


Arabic: Karawya, Karawiya Carum carvi; Umbelliferae/Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Some botanists say that caraway is the world’s oldest known herb. It is mentioned in the Bible and other ancient texts, and has been found in European archeological excavations dating back 8000 years. In the spice markets of Arabia, caraway can be found alongside her sister spices of anise (yansoon), fennel (shamr) and cumin (kamun). You need only ask for karawiya (from which we get the English word caraway) to take some home. Caraway is grown throughout Europe, the Mediterranean area, North Africa, Asia and North America.


Did you know?

  • Caraway seed is the spice which gives rye bread its characteristic flavor.
  • Caraway is important in Tunisian cuisine and is sometimes an ingredient of harissa, a fiery North African condiment made from dried hot peppers.
  • Caraway leaves may be used as a herb in salads and as a garnish, while its seeds may be used as a spice in breads, cheese spreads, pastas and vegetable and fruit dishes.
  • Dioscorides, a Greek physician in the first century, recommended oil of caraway be rubbed into skin to improve a pale girl’s complexion.
  • Caraway is a biennial. It grows as a small green plant the first year and then up to 60 centimeters (2') tall the second year, producing small white and apple-green flowers and fruit. The fruit, commonly called seeds, can be separated from the plant when ripe and then dried in the sun.
  • Most experts believe the word caraway comes originally from the Greek word karon, which means cumin! Caraway and cumin seeds are very similar in appearance. Arabic borrowed the word as karawiya, which medieval Latin transformed into carui or carvi (as in Carum carvi).


CardamomArabic: Hal, Hail;
Other English: Cardamom, Lesser Cardamom, Small Cardamom, Malabar Cardamom Elettaria cardamomum; Zingiberaceae (Ginger Family)

Imagine an ancient trade caravan moving slowly up the Frankincense Trail in western Arabia toward the Mediterranean. The spices and aromatics burdening the camels could be from Yemen, East Africa, India or distant China. Although anticipating lucrative exchanges with merchants of the Mediterranean, caravaners also stop in villages along the way where both villagers and Bedouins are eager to barter. Exchanging goat meat, fresh produce or woven baskets, the local tradesmen obtain the cardamom necessary to flavor traditional Arabic coffee.

Native to India and Sri Lanka, cardamom is a well-loved spice in the Arabian Peninsula. Arab coffee is heavily flavored with it. In fact, cardamom is a valuable ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine: in beverages, sweets, pastries and main dishes.

How to use: 1) Bruise cardamom pods until partially open; remove cardamom seeds from their pods; gently bruise seeds or dry-fry over gentle heat to release their flavor; or 2) Grind seeds into powder.

In the kitchen: Cardamom is a vital ingredient in Arabian coffee making. Its flavor can be added to the beverage by grinding cardamom pods and adding the powdered cardamom to already brewed coffee. Cloves, saffron, sugar, nakhwa (See page 19.) or rose water are also sometimes added for flavor. “Sweet coffee,” which doesn’t contain any coffee at all, is a traditional drink from the Hijaz. It is a wonderful, warm beverage with a pleasant cardamom flavor. It is served on special occasions such as graduation day, which is the day students receive their grade cards.

Remedies across Arabia: A member of the ginger family, cardamom is a carminative and a stimulant. It warms the body and helps relieve indigestion and gas.

Did you know?

  • Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices in the world. This is because each individual fruit pod containing the desired seed spice must be harvested from its flower stalk by hand. Flower stalks must be carefully examined and re-examined as the fruit pods develop at different rates. Harvested while still green and firm, the pods are then dried and sold.
  • About 1000 years ago, the Vikings discovered cardamom in their explorations and conquests around the Mediterranean. They introduced this spice to Scandinavia, where it is still used extensively in baking spiced cakes and breads.
  • Cardamom was one of the most popular Oriental spices in ancient Roman cuisine.
  • Ground cardamom can soften a plastic spoon left in it for several days.


Arabic: Babunaj, Babunij;
Other English: Chamomile
German Chamomile: Matricaria recutita, Matricaria chamomilla
Saudi Chamomile: Matricaria aurea; Asteraceae (Aster Family)

One thing every Bedouin, villager and city dweller can tell you is that camomile tea is relaxing and aids digestion. Along with this fact comes the widespread belief that the best babunaj comes from the north. As a result, packaged herbal teas from Syria and Jordan are popular supermarket items. These medicinal teas feature camomile but may also contain coriander, black seed, anise, rose, lemon balm, hibiscus, thyme or sage.

How to use: Use the flower heads to brew a medicinal tea.

In the kitchen: Many families keep camomile readily available. To make camomile tea, boil water and then pour one cup of the water over four teaspoons of dried flowers. Infuse for five to 10 minutes and then strain. Add honey for a sweeter taste and drink the tea warm.

Remedies across Arabia: Camomile is a valued nervine, carminative and general tonic. Camomile tea is well-known for settling the stomach and aiding digestion after a meal. It is also relaxing and can help promote sleep

Did you know?

  • In 1656, John Parkinson wrote, “Camomill is put to divers and sundry uses, both for pleasure and profit, both for the sick and the sound, in bathing to comfort and strengthen the sound and to ease pains in the diseased.”
  • Al-Kindi used camomile in a strong dressing for the spleen and in an application to relax the liver and stomach.
  • Camomile tea is used in the Levant to strengthen a mother after childbirth.
  • Camomile is used in perfumes, soaps, bath oils, skin-care products and in shampoos to add luster to blonde hair.
  • With a reputation as a mild bleach, camomile has been used to lighten blonde hair by pouring two cups of boiling water over a handful of camomile flowers and infusing for 30 minutes. After shampooing the hair, rinse several times with this camomile infusion while it is still warm. It is a very pleasant hair rinse.


Arabic: Khiyar Cucumis sativus; Cucurbitaceae (Gourd Family)


Cucumbers are produced on small farms throughout the Arabian Peninsula and sold in local fruit and vegetable markets. Cucumbers have long been known in eastern and western traditional medicine as one of the best natural diuretics. The effect is in the seeds, which are rich in sulfur, silicon and potassium.

Cucumbers originated in Asia, probably in India, and spread into Europe about 3000 years ago. Today Indian medicine prescribes cucumber juice for an array of ailments, including constipation, stomach disorders, urinary problems, rheumatism and even cholera.

How to use: 1) Slice or finely chop the cucumber to add to salads; 2) Slice, grate or mash the cucumber for use in skin-care applications.

In the kitchen: Middle Eastern cuisine would not be the same without the cucumber. Traditional salads, such as fattoush and tabbouleh, call for this fruit posing as a vegetable, as does the popular yogurt and cucumber salad, which complements and cools rice and meat dishes. Sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, drizzled with lemon juice and garnished with fresh mint and parsley, form the renowned cucumber and tomato salad. Arranged decoratively on a serving plate, it is a simple yet healthy choice.

Remedies across Arabia: Suparna Trikha, one of India’s leading natural beauty experts, advised that the juice made from cucumber skin can be a soothing lotion and skin cleanser. She also suggested grating cucumber and massaging the pulp into the skin and leaving it to dry. Splashing fresh water and gently wiping the face after 10 minutes or so is a good way to slow the advance of wrinkles. Additionally, cucumber slices are put on swollen eyes, to reduce the swelling.

Did you know?

  • Cucumbers were a popular food in ancient Rome, and historian Pliny the Elder reports that the Emperor Tiberius ate large quantities.
  • The cucumber is a fruit because it contains the seeds to reproduce. Botanically speaking, a fruit is the mature ovary of a plant, such as a cucumber, apple, melon or tomato.
  • Cucumbers, along with squash, melons and pumpkins, belong to the group of vegetables known as cucurbits, or vine crops.


FrankincenseArabic: Luban;
Other English: Olibanum, Oil of Lebanon Boswellia sacra or B. carteri or B. thurifera; Burseraceae (Frankincense and Myrrh Family)

Frankincense is crystallized tree sap—a hardened gum or resin exuded by a small tree that grows in the coastal regions of the southern Arabian Peninsula and nearby coastal East Africa. In ancient times, frankincense was a precious commodity, sometimes more valuable than gold. Merchants brought this treasure to the great civilization centers of Europe and Western Asia by sea and by a land trail through Yemen and up the Arabian Red Sea coast to the Levant. In Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, frankincense is used as incense today, though not in religious ceremonies.

How to use: 1) Chew as a gum. This is a popular use as frankincense has a mild, pleasant taste and helps to eliminate bad breath. 2) Suck on a granule to relieve nausea; 3) Soak frankincense granules in water and drink the strained liquid; 4) Burn as incense for a pleasant scent or waft on clothing.

Did you know?

  • Frankincense comes in five main colors: white, pale lemon, pale amber, pale green and dark amber. The color of the gum resin is influenced by its harvest time. A whiter gum is collected closer to autumn, whereas a darker color is harvested closer to spring.
  • Although the frankincense gathering season lasts from May through mid-September, the product is available year-round in traditional local markets of the Middle East.
  • Due to unique climatic conditions, the best frankincense is produced by trees growing in the mountainous Dhofar region of Oman. In addition to Oman, frankincense today is grown in Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia and India.
  • In the days of the pharaohs, frankincense trees were imported into Egypt, where they were grown for the gum, which was burned in religious rituals.
  • Tenth-century Persian physician Ibn Sina (known to the West as Avicenna) recommended using frankincense in treatments for tumors, ulcers, vomiting, dysentery and fever.
  • Frankincense today remains an ingredient in various incense mixtures burned in rituals of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
  • Western herbalists regard frankincense essential oil as an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent, and say it is useful as a uterine tonic during pregnancy and labor.
  • Charred frankincense has been used to make kohl, the black powder traditionally used by women in the Middle East to paint their eyelids.


Arabic: Thum, Thoom Allium sativum; Alliaceae (Onion Family)

Botanist David Hooper, in his survey of useful plants in Iran and Iraq in the 1930’s, observed that garlic was the potherb par excellence of the East—not only was it used in a dizzying array of culinary dishes, but it also aided digestion and was a gastric stimulant. If anything, Hooper’s comment was an understatement. We now know garlic has a wealth of other medicinal properties to complement its enduring value as a cooking herb.

Garlic, a bulbous perennial, probably originated in Central Asia, the only place where it grows wild. (There are other plants in other lands referred to as “wild garlic”; they are part of the Allium genus but are not true garlic, A. sativum. Garlic has edible flowers but it is primarily grown for its bulbs, each of which contains 12 to 20 cloves. Garlic has been cultivated by humans from time immemorial. Hundreds of varieties have spread out from Asia to encompass the globe.

GarlicHow to use: 1) Crush, chop or use garlic cloves whole to flavor dishes; 2) Bake, roast or grill a bulb of garlic. When softened, squeeze out the pulp from the individual cloves to eat; 3) Mash the softened pulp of baked garlic to form a smooth paste and use it in soups, sauces and dips. Alternatively, grind fresh garlic to a paste with a mortar and pestle.

In the kitchen: Garlic is a much appreciated ingredient in both hummus bi tahina (chickpea and sesame puree) and baba ghannouj (eggplant and sesame puree), two popular dips with Arab bread.

When frying, use enough olive oil or butter to coat the pan and stir often. Garlic burns quickly if cooked over high heat.

Store garlic in a cool, dark pantry. Garlic stored in the refrigerator quickly dries out and rots.

Remedies across Arabia:

  • Use garlic for ant bites. (Northern Province)
  • Use a clove of garlic to relieve the pain of a bee sting. (United Arab Emirates)
  • Use an ointment made of ground garlic on a wound even if it hurts, since this prevents gangrene. Also, you can clean wounds by mixing ground garlic in warm water and washing the wound with it to kill the microbes. (Eastern Province)
  • Rub a raw garlic clove on the spot where a scorpion stings you, and it will heal. (Eastern Province)
  • My grandmother used garlic to kill warts and prevent them from reappearing. (Bahrain)
Did you know?
  • The Greek historian Herodotus, during a tour of Egypt, reported seeing an inscription on the Great Pyramid at Giza that recorded the quantities of radishes, onions and garlic consumed by the laborers who constructed it.
  • According to tradition, the Prophet Muhammad recommended garlic, applied topically, to remedy viper bites and scorpion stings.
  • Al-Kindi, the medieval Arab physician, used garlic in a drug for treating earaches and other diseases of the ear.
  • Despite garlic’s known antibiotic activity, and despite Internet rumors to the contrary, there have been no scientific studies showing garlic has any effect against anthrax.


Arabic: Murr, Murrah Commiphora myrrha or C. molmol or Balsamodendron myrrha; Burseraceae (Frankincense and Myrrh Family)

Myrrh is collected from the stems of bushy shrubs found growing in southern Arabia and Somalia. A granular secretion exits the stem through natural fissures, or cuts, as a pale yellow liquid. It then hardens to a reddish-brown mass. It can be found in different sizes in the marketplace, most pieces being the size of large marbles or walnuts.

The word myrrh means “bitter” in Arabic. Myrrh is one of the best antiseptics known, an astringent and a stimulant.
How to use: 1) Soak myrrh granules in water for two to three days and then drink the strained liquid; 2) Swallow small granules like pills; 3) Burn as incense.

Remedies across Arabia:

  • Although it doesn’t taste very good because it is so bitter, myrrh is used to alleviate inflammation in the body.
  • Myrrh water is an excellent mouthwash and is helpful for mouth sores or blisters, sore throats, bronchial congestion and other conditions requiring an antiseptic astringent.
  • For burns, soak myrrh in a small amount of water. It is put on burns to reduce scars and to help in quickly healing wounds and to remove warts. (Southern Province)
  • In the past, myrrh oil was wiped on a new baby’s navel. (Bahrain)
  • Myrrh is very good to have if you have external cuts. It makes them get better quickly. (Central Province)
  • We use myrrh for so many uses, for example to treat sores, appendicitis pain after operation, boils, stomach aches and the colon. Soak myrrh stones in water. Then place the water on the area of pain for boils, or drink it. (Central Province)
  • Myrrh is used to help healing of wounds, minor burns and wounds of simple surgical operations. (Southern Province)
Did you know?
  • Ancient Egyptians wore unguent cones saturated with myrrh, marjoram, sweet flag or lotus. They put the cones on their heads in the morning, and as the day grew hot, the cones would slowly melt, running down the body, keeping the skin moist and repelling insects throughout the day.
  • Myrrh is an oil referenced throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Arabian people used it for many skin conditions, such as wrinkled, chapped and cracked skin. It has one of the highest levels of sesquiterpenes, a class of compounds that has direct effects on the hypothalamus, pituitary and amygdala, the seat of our emotions. Myrrh is widely used today in oral hygiene products.
  • The Muslim physician al-Razi (Rhazes), perhaps the greatest of all medieval clinicians, used myrrh to treat ailments of the kidneys and bladder, to dissipate swellings in the stomach and for colic.
  • In Egypt today, traditional medicine practitioners use myrrh as a stimulant, expectorant, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, antiputrescent and astringent. It is also used to treat dental caries and inflamed gums.
  • Myrrh is a fixative, meaning it increases the longevity of the aroma of any fragrance it is combined with but doesn’t dominate or overpower that fragrance.
  • Scientific tests have shown myrrh to possess significant antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.


Arabic: Nakhwa, Nankha or Nanakhwah; Hindi: Ajwain or Ajowan;
Other English: Bishop’s-Weed Trachyspermum ammi, Carum ajowan, Carum copticum, Ammi copticum Umbelliferae/Apiaceae (Carrot/Celery/Parsley Family)

Used as medicine by the ancient Greeks and Arabs, nakhwa is still considered a natural remedy. You can buy the aromatic seeds as well as a distillate.

How to use: 1) Release the aroma of the seeds before use by rubbing between your fingertips, crushing with a mortar and pestle or gently stirring while warming in a frying pan; 2) Use seeds whole or grind them into powder form.

In the kitchen: Nakhwa is sometimes added to traditional Arab coffee. In addition to providing a unique flavor, it is believed to soften the impact of coffee on the stomach and reduce the effects of caffeine. In fact, some people across Arabia drink nakhwa as a substitute for Arab coffee to totally eliminate negative coffee effects.

Did you know?

  • Like black seed (Nigella sativa), nakhwa is a popular ingredient in many herbal medicinal blends.
  • The ancient Sumerians described nakhwa as a “plant of the mountain.”
  • Nakhwa is grown in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, India and Egypt.
  • Though more commonly cultivated today in Asia, nakhwa is actually of African origin, and some Arabs call it “Ethiopian cumin” (al-kammun al-habashi).
  • Al-Kindi (ca. 800–870) used nakhwa in a preparation for hemorrhoids.
  • Nakhwa seeds yield 40 to 55 percent thymol, a valuable crystalline phenol extracted for medicinal purposes.
In the West, thymol is used in some cough medicines.


Arabic: Naft, Batrul

Although few people are aware of it today, petroleum was once considered an effective natural remedy not only in the Middle East but in many parts of the world. Oil upwellings and gas vents were known anciently in present-day Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Natural deposits of thickened petroleum (also called “bitumen”) seeped from openings on land or floated to the surface of lakes. It was easy to gather and was used as a building material, waterproofing material, lubricant, adhesive, medicine, fuel, illuminant and fumigant, and even as a weapon.

How to use: The All-Encompassing Dictionary (Al-Qamus al-Muhit), written in Makkah in the 15th century by Abu Tahir al-Fayruzabadi, a scholar of Persian descent, reveals that oil was commonly sold as medicine and as a fuel for lighting, and that it was used as an incendiary in a type of military flame thrower.
In the kitchen: Petrolatum—a neutral, odorless, tasteless unguent distilled from petroleum and then purified—is sometimes used in bakery products as a release agent. Petrolatum meets modern us Food and Drug Administration requirements for medicinal, cosmetic-formula and animal-feed use, and is also approved for direct contact with food.

Remedies across Arabia: Descriptions of petroleum’s healing powers date from 2000 years ago, although its traditional medicinal use is probably much older. Oil-and-water baths were supposed to strengthen the body. Ointments of bitumen and other chemicals were often applied to sores or broken bones. Other petroleum preparations acted as antidotes to poison, fumigants, disinfectants or laxatives.

The Book of the Powers of Remedies, a medical text prepared by Masarjawah, a prominent physician living in Basra, Iraq, during the seventh century, described the benefits of ingesting oil for fighting disease and infection. Masarjawah wrote: “Warm naphtha, especially water-white naphtha, when ingested in small doses, is excellent for suppressing cough, for asthma, bladder discomfort and arthritis.”

The All-Encompassing Dictionary states, “The best grade of naphtha is the water-white. It is a good solvent, a diluent and an expectorant. Taken internally, it relieves cramps and aches of the belly, and, when applied topically, it can soothe skin rashes and infections.”

Vicks VapoRub, a nasal decongestant, cough suppressant and topical analgesic, contains petrolatum, and other salves, suppositories and cosmetic products also benefit from the consistency contributed by petrolatums.

Did you know?

  • Akkadian clay tablets from about 2200 BC referred to crude oil as naptu, from which derives the root of the Arabic naft.
  • William Rockefeller, father of John D. Rockefeller, sold bottles of raw petroleum to country folk as a cure for cancer.
  • Petroleum is used today in homeopathic medicine to treat motion sickness, eczema and other skin problems, nausea and diarrhea.


Arabic: Rumman Punica granatum; Lythraceae/ Punicaceae
While native to Iran and its neighboring countries, the pomegranate was cultivated in ancient times all around the Mediterranean and throughout the Arabian Peninsula. It is a deciduous tree or large shrub that produces excellent fruit under semiarid conditions.
How to use: 1) Eat the fleshy seeds to enjoy a delicious, slightly tart flavor; 2) Dry the seeds and use in cooking; 3) Extract the juice from the seeds for a refreshing drink or as a flavoring agent in cooking; 4) Dry the outer peelings and crush them for culinary, cosmetic or medicinal purposes. 5) Boil pomegranate peelings in water, then strain and drink the liquid; if more concentrated, the liquid can be used as a dye for clothes; 6) Dry the peelings, then grind and mix with henna to make it darker and provide skin nourishment.

In the kitchen: Pomegranate seeds have a sweet-sour taste. Crushed or whole, they often garnish salads, couscous, hummus and other Middle Eastern dishes. Dried pomegranate seeds and pomegranate syrup are also popular in cooking. Pomegranate juice is a refreshing drink on hot summer days. Pomegranate juice stains indelibly, so it’s wise to wear protective clothing when cooking with it.

Remedies across Arabia: Powdered pomegranate peelings are used on burns and to treat infection on external cuts and wounds. Soaked pomegranate peelings are used for sore throats, stomach aches and indigestion. To treat indigestion, pomegranate peelings are dried, then boiled, and the water drunk. Rose water can be added for flavor. Pomegranate soaked in boiled water is used with honey for heart trouble.

Did you know?

  • Pomegranate seeds are rich in vitamin C and are a good source of dietary fiber.
  • Commercially produced pomegranate syrup is called grenadine.
  • The Romans called the pomegranate fruit punicum, the Latin name for Carthage, because they believed that the best pomegranates came from there.
  • The Spanish name for the pomegranate is granada, and its fruit appears on Granada’s city seal.
  • Pomegranate is believed to be the inspiration for the hand-tossed explosive called a grenade. When a pomegranate is dropped on a hard surface, it bursts and seeds are tossed everywhere. The military borrowed the modern French name for the fruit, grenade.


Arabic: Za’faran, Za’fran Crocus sativus; Iridaceae (Iris Family)
Saffron refers to the dried, red stigmas collected from the flowers of Crocus sativus. Its high price is better understood when we learn that some 75,000 flowers are required to make one pound of dried saffron. Commercial producers of saffron today include Spain, Iran and India. Native to the Middle East, saffron was introduced to Europe by the Muslim Arabs and Berbers of northwest Africa, who conquered most of Spain in the eighth century. From Spain, known as al-Andalus to the Arabs, saffron was carried to Italy and France, where it became popular. Although not completely new to the British Isles, saffron was brought back to England by the crusaders of the 13th century. Historically, saffron has been used for medicine, perfume, dye and as a cooking spice.
How to use: The stigmas produce a bright yellow or orange color when added to water. If a recipe requires ground saffron, one can crush or grind it to a powder. Be sure it is evenly distributed when added to the recipe. Sifting the ground saffron with the dry ingredients is one way to insure a good mix. If using whole saffron threads, soak them for about 10 minutes in a warm liquid required by the recipe, such as milk, water or broth. The color and flavor of the stigmas will be released into the liquid. A pinch of saffron to a cup of liquid yields enough color and flavor for about half a kilo (1 lb) of rice. A little saffron goes a long way.

In the kitchen: Saffron can add taste and color to breads, chicken and rice dishes.

Did you know?

  • Comparing the beauty of his beloved to a garden, Solomon (The Song of Solomon 4:14 in the Old Testament) lists saffron, cinnamon, frankincense and myrrh as some of the plants cultivated in this metaphor. We sense the magnitude of his admiration because these plant products commanded very high prices in ancient markets.
  • Today, saffron remains the most expensive spice in the entire world.
  • Scholars studying frescoes at Thera, a Greek island in the Aegean, believe the wall paintings (dating from 1500 or 1600 BC) depict a goddess presiding over the manufacture and use of a drug from the saffron flower. This suggests that saffron has been used as a medicine for at least 3500 years.


Arabic: Za‘tar, Sa‘tar, Hasha’ Thymus vulgaris; Lamiaceae (Mint Family)

When dining in the Middle East, it is customary to dip bread in olive oil and then in za‘tar for a delicious taste. Although za‘tar is the word for thyme in the Arabic language, it is also a term which describes a Middle Eastern spice blend of powdered dried thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. Each region makes za‘tar a little differently.


How to use: 1) Use fresh green thyme leaves when called for in recipes; 2) Use dried thyme leaves as part of the aromatic spice blend called za‘tar; 3) Sprinkle za‘tar (fresh thyme or the spice blend) on meatballs or vegetables; 4) Use the za‘tar spice blend with olive oil as a dip for bread.

In the kitchen: Flat breads with toppings of melted cheese and za‘tar, labna and za‘tar, or za‘tar alone are unspeakably delicious. Store za‘tar in an airtight container away from direct light.

Remedies across Arabia: A general remedy for colds, flu, fevers, coughs and bronchitis is to take four to five cups of thyme tea a day. Thyme is antiseptic, antispasmodic and antifungal. It is also an expectorant and vermifuge (worm expeller).

Did you know?

  • Five millennia ago, the Sumerians used thyme as an antiseptic.
  • The ancient Egyptians employed thyme as an ingredient in the mummification process.
  • The Arab philosopher-scientist al-Kindi (800–870) used thyme in a medicine to treat a bacterial infection or rash called St. Anthony’s Fire (erysipelas).
  • The Islamic physician al-Razi (865–925) regarded thyme as an appetite enhancer, stomach purifier and treatment for flatulence.
  • Thyme is widely grown commercially for its leaves and essential oils.
  • Thyme is one of a small number of herbs that have more flavor dried than fresh. Others are rosemary and oregano.


Arabic: Kurkum Curcuma longa, C. domestica; Zingiberaceae (Ginger Family)

Often called “Indian saffron,” turmeric rhizome was one of the ancient trade products brought by sea from India. Today turmeric is widely used as a spice, cosmetic and dyestuff, and remains part of traditional medicine from Egypt to Iran.

Turmeric How to use: 1) Slice, grate, chop or grind turmeric to a paste with other ingredients. Then use it as you would fresh ginger root; 2) Grind dried turmeric into powder; 3) Use whole pieces of dried turmeric in pickling.

In the kitchen: Slicing a piece of turmeric rhizome reveals the deep yellow color used to brighten curry powders and a variety of foods. When coloring rice dishes, it is also sometimes a substitute for saffron. But it is easier to buy ready-ground turmeric than to grind it yourself. Wear rubber gloves when handling fresh turmeric to avoid staining your hands.

Did you know?

  • In Indian cuisine, turmeric is an ingredient of virtually all curry powders.
  • Because turmeric is an edible coloring, the food industry uses it to color mustard, butter, cheese and liqueurs.
  • Turmeric is used to dye cotton and silk.
  • Al-Kindi used turmeric in a medicine for throat and mouth pustules, and in a dentifrice to strengthen the gums.
  • The US Patent and Trademark Office

Walnut Bark

Arabic: Deerum Juglans spp.; Juglandaceae (Walnut Family)
Walnut Bark
A container filled with thin bark strips folded up and tied into bundles is another curiosity at a traditional market. Although not widely used nowadays, it is a reminder of the traditional self-reliance and ingenuity of peoples of the Arabian Peninsula during times of more limited resources.
How to use: 1) Chew the end of the bark until soft; 2) Rub the bark vigorously on lips for a natural dark brown lipstick; 3) Use the bark as a toothbrush to clean teeth and gums.

Remedies across Arabia: The bark of the walnut tree is astringent and cleansing. It strengthens the gums and acts as an anti-inflammatory. It has been used to treat gum disease.

Did you know?

  • Pliny reported that walnut trees were introduced into Italy from Persia, and Varro, who was born in 116 BC, mentioned that walnut trees were growing in Italy during his lifetime.
  • Walnut bark is a traditional source of yellow-brown dye.


 Super pepper:

The king of spices Black pepper

has been used as a folk medicine in a variety of cultures has immense health benefits. Read on!

Super pepper: The king of spices
My curiosity about this spice was triggered when I took a mixture of black pepper and black cardamom and it worked as an instant remedy to control diarrhoea.
Black pepper has been used as a folk medicine in a variety of cultures. The chemical piperine is a major active component in both black and white pepper (de-husked pepper) and has numerous reported physiological and drug-like actions.
Now, several scientific studies provide evidence that piperine enhances digestive tract function, has antibiotic properties and anti-inflammatory effects, anti-oxidant properties, anti-cancer effects and may even help in weight loss.
Interestingly, it has been found to have anti-larvicide effect against the dengue-causing mosquito and East Africans believe that body odour produced after ingesting pepper, repels mosquitoes - an idea for health authorities for dengue control maybe.
Also called the king of spices, pepper is one of the oldest and most popular spices in the world. Originated 4,000 years ago and indigenous to the Malabar Coast in India, it was the search for pepper which led to early Western sailors travelling eastwards. The name pepper comes from the ancient Sanskrit word 'pippali' meaning berry. It was used as a desirable currency - dowries, taxes and rents were paid in pepper corns and thus the word "pepper corn rent" was coined.
Spices are traditionally known to stimulate digestion and help control digestive disorders. Black pepper has been used to treat sluggish digestion, flatulence, bloating, lack of appetite and cramps. Several scientific studies have confirmed that piperine favorably stimulates digestive enzymes of pancreas, improves digestive capacity and significantly reduces the gastro-intestinal food transit time. It has been found to be useful in nausea, and both in constipation and diarrhoea. This could be attributed to spasmodic and anti-spasmodic effects, which have been found in black pepper's piperine.
Piperine protects against oxidative damage caused by free-radicals. Black pepper extracts show strong anti-oxidant activity - which can have far-reaching health benefits including cancer prevention, anti-inflammatory effects and immuno-modulatory activity.
A study conducted in 2010 to determine effects of piperine on malignant breast cancer cells found that it inhibited breast stem cell renewal without causing toxicity to normal cells. It was thus concluded that piperine could be a potential cancer preventive agent.
Another study published in 2010 -- conducted to find out the possible immuno-modulatory effects of black pepper - concluded that its extract significantly enhanced activity of natural killer cells, hence showing powerful anti-cancer and anti-tumor effects. It also suggests the use pepper extract as a potential agent to regulate inflammation and prevent carcinogenesis.
Recently, British researchers found that black pepper had anti-bacterial properties since it was shown to effectively combat the bacteria responsible for food poisoning.
A word of caution: piperine can strengthen or modify the effects of numerous other medicines, particularly blood thinning agents. So it is important to seek advice from a qualified professional before using it in therapeutic doses -- but make sure you are generous with it the next time you cook.
Source: Ishi Khosla/Indian Express


Beware! Drinking cola?

Men who drink a litre of cola every day could be harming their sperm count, according to a new Danish study.
On an average, these men’s sperm counts were almost 30 percent lower than those who didn’t drink cola, reports
While the sperm count would still be considered normal by the World Health Organisation, men with fewer sperm generally have a higher risk of being infertile.
The link is unlikely to be due to caffeine, the researchers say, because coffee did not have the same effect. Instead, other ingredients in the beverage or an unhealthy lifestyle could be involved.
Kold Jensen, who led the new research, said only a few studies have looked at caffeine’s impact on reproductive health in men. The participants have generally been a very select group, such as infertile men, and the results have been conflicting.
Danish youth has been upping their consumption of caffeine-containing soft drinks over the last decades and the researchers decided to study how this might affect their reproductive health.
More than 2,500 young men were included in their study. Those who didn’t drink cola had better sperm quality averaging 50 million sperm per millilitre semen and tended to have a healthier lifestyle.
In contrast, the 93 men who drank more than one litre a day had only 35 million sperm per millilitre. However, they also ate more fast foods, and less fruit and vegetables.
It is still not clear if the cola or the unhealthy lifestyle, or both, is to blame and the scientists said further research was needed.
The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.>>>


Countries with the highest percentage of obesity

Thanks to an increasing intake of high calorie food, lack of exercise, and genetic factors among other things, more and more of the world's population seems to be becoming obese. According to WHO, approximately 300 million of the world's adult population is obese and 1 billion overweight and a majority of them are from the advanced countries.

Countries with the highest percentage of obesity
Not surprisingly, OECD statistics reveal that the United States tops the list with obesity prevalent in 34% of its population.


Mexico comes next with 30% of its population hit by the obesity epidemic.

New Zealand

New Zealand
Approximately 27% of Kiwis are obese. The country is third in the list.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, around 25% adults are obese and a majority of them are Black women. OECD predicts that numbers could increase by another 10% in 10 years.


Neighbouring country Australia comes next with 25% of its population being obese. According to the OECD, the rate of obesity in Australia is increasing more than in the other countries and could climb to 15% in the next ten years.

Though OECD statistics reveal that 24% of Canadians are obese, the numbers have been much lesser than what was predicted 15 years back.


Chile is the next fattest country with 22% of its adults falling in the obese category.


An estimated 20% of the adult population in Iceland is obese.
Obesity is just not being too fat, it could lead to illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. A most effective way the menace can be countered is through lifestyle changes. We can only hope the numbers drop in the next few years.

Obesity perils
some resulting fact, world over 17 crore 60 lakh people suffer from diabetes which of this
1. 80 % are due to Obesity
2. 40% uterine and cervical cancers
3. 25% kidney, urinary, bladder etc
4. 10 % breast cancer are due to obesity
5. 21% heart disease (coronary heat diseases)
Our goal is to lose fat and save us from being Obesity


Henna tattoos linked

to leukaemia risk

Henna tattoos, which have become

popular with holiday-makers as they

travel through Asia and the

Middle East have been linked

to higher of leukaemia.

said Dr Sherief Islam
Researchers in the Gulf found a much higher than usual incidence of types of leukaemia in local women – elsewhere, most sufferers are men.
They suggest that one possible reason could be the popular local custom of using henna to create elaborate skin decorations.

They believe that it is not the henna itself that is the problem, but the compounds used as a solvent for the henna powder. Benzene, which is known to cause cancer, is banned for this purpose in many countries, but is still widely employed.
"The majority of the females in UAE routinely use henna to stain their nail, hands, feet and to decorate a large area of the skin of their arms and legs for cosmetic reasons," said the study, by a team from hospitals in the United Arab Emirates, published in the Leukaemia and Lymphoma journal.
"To our knowledge, the henna used at different henna salons in the UAE are actually mixed with benzene and other petroleum products in addition to many other chemical additives for colour enhancement.
"As the use of henna is restricted to females (most common among nationals), benzene and/or any of the other chemicals mixed in henna could be a possible risk factor."

Scientists have warned for years that some beauty products contain additives that have been linked to cancer. Henna has become popular because it is seen as a "natural" product.
But one popular type of liquid used to give a henna effect in tourist resorts around the world, so-called "black henna", is in fact not made of henna and often contains a substance called para-phenylenediamine which can cause allergies and scarring.
The Gulf, where henna application is a viewed as a cosmetic art form, uses real henna, but local authorities acknowledge that clinics often use pre-prepared pastes that have been mixed with benzene.
The journal study found that acute myeloid leukaemia was 93 per cent more common in Emirati women than Emirati men, and 63 per cent higher than in expatriate women. Normally, its incidence is higher in men.
"Benzene has always been known as a cancerous substance," said Dr Sherief Islam, one of the authors of the study. "It can be used as a solvent – in fact, if it's used in industrial paint there are strict health regulations about applying it."
A spokesman for the UK Department of Business said the use of benzene as a solvent was banned for all consumer products in Britain, and in particular for use in cosmetics, under European directives.


Watching hours

of TV daily could

shorten your

life (Reuters)

Sydney - Couch potatoes, beware. Sitting in front of the television for hours daily could shorten your life, according to an Australian study.

Researchers from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in the state of Victoria tracked the lifestyle habits of 8 800 adults and found that each hour spent in front of the TV daily increased the risk of dying earlier from cardiovascular disease.

The study, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, found every hour in front of the TV was associated with an 11 percent increased risk of death from all causes, a nine percent higher risk of cancer death, and an 18 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) related death.
Continues Below ↓

"Compared with people who watched less than two hours of television daily, those who watched more than four hours a day had a 46 percent higher risk of death from all causes and an 80 percent increased risk for CVD-related death," the researchers said in a statement.

The researchers said this association held regardless of other independent and common cardiovascular disease risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, unhealthy diet, excessive waist circumference, and leisure-time exercises.

Researcher David Dunstan said the study focused specifically on television watching but the findings suggest that any prolonged sedentary behaviour, such as sitting at a desk or in front of a computer, may pose a health risk.

"The human body was designed to move, not sit for extended periods of time," said Dunstan, head of the institute's physical activity laboratory in the division of metabolism and obesity.

"Technological, social, and economic changes mean that people don't move their muscles as much as they used to - consequently the levels of energy expenditure as people go about their lives continue to shrink.

"For many people, on a daily basis they simply shift from one chair to another - from the chair in the car to the chair in the office to the chair in front of the television." Dunstan said the findings applied not only to individuals who were overweight and obese, but also those of a healthy weight.

"Even if someone has a healthy body weight, sitting for long periods of time still has an unhealthy influence on their blood sugar and blood fats," he said.

"In addition to doing regular exercise, avoid sitting for prolonged periods and keep in mind to 'move more, more often'. Too much sitting is bad for health." The researchers interviewed 3 846 men and 4 954 women aged 25 and older who underwent oral glucose-tolerance tests and provided blood samples so researchers could measure biomarkers such as cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Participants were enrolled from 1999 and followed through 2006 and reported their television-viewing habits. - Reuters


Fighting against fat


Foods that fight fat
Almonds: When grandma asked you to eat almonds everyday, you may have waved her off, but in reality don't avoid it. A handful of almonds not only keeps your bowel movements in check but also matabolises fat faster.
Strawberries: Did you know that strawberry was a rich source of vitamin C? And you only thought amla could do that for you. Right before your workout, eating vitamin C enriched strawberries can help you lose 30% more fat!
Swiss cheese: With its high content of calcium, cheese aids in breaking fat content.
Cinnamon: Love those cinnamon doughnuts, well you should! Cinnamon when sprinkled on your coffee or other foods helps to keep your insulin in check. It also prevents your body from storing fat.
Mustard/ turmeric: Douse your sandwiches in mustard because its main ingredient slows the fat production of fat cells.
Garlic and onions: Found in most Indian preparations, garlic and onion produce photochemicals that help break down the body's fatty deposits and even cholesterol. They also protect you against heart disease.
Oranges: They are not only great for your skin, but fresh oranges or freshly squeezed orange juice first thing in the morning help your body to store less fat in the long run. Especially true for women!


Exercise that fat
Functional training: Functional training means replicating your daily body movements in the gym. This helps you get fitter and avoids injuries.

1. Start working the bigger body parts first: To burn fat effectively, start weight training with bigger body parts like your legs first.
2. Use bouts of cardio in between weight training: This technique is effective for fat burn. Between sets do a quick 2 minute run, jumping jacks or the cross trainer.
3. Eat pre- and post-workouts: One hour before your workout, have a meal containing carbohydrates and proteins. If you are short on time, just eat a banana. Post workout, consume protein.
4. Weight training is essential: Women need to understand that weight training is not going to bulk them up. It only builds muscle and tones you up.
5. Drink enough water and keep yourself hydrated.
6. Don't take long breaks while working out
Busting Fat-burning myths
"If I want to lose weight quickly, I should go on a starvation diet" - False
Pooja Makhija, consulting dietician and nutritionist, cautions against starvation diet. "When you starve, your body loses the ability to use fat as energy and instead starts using up your muscles as fuel. Instead, just watch what you eat and increase the intake of protein in your diet, cut down on carbohydrates and try and eat balanced meals at least four times a day."
"I will get a shapely waist if I regularly do ab workout."- False
"Doing 100 crunches will not get you a super midriff," asserts celebrity fitness trainer Yasmin Karachiwala. "You have to burn calories overall and get slimmer. The next step is to strengthen your core (back and abs) simultaneously."
"For my cardio workout to be effective, I have to sustain it for over 20 minutes."- True
Yasmin explains, "You start burning fat only after you are 20 minutes into the workout." So it's important that you continue your cardio - cycling, running or walking for over 20 minutes if you want to burn fat.
"I don't need to eat post my workout; all the lost calories will come right back in."- False
It's most important that you repair your body post the wear and tear of a workout. The best way to do this is through protein says fitness expert Yasmin. "A protein shake is the best way to consume protein after a workout because it gets absorbed quickly in the body."
"I can't workout during my periods." - False
You can workout during your periods unless you experience fatal pains. But keep your fitness instructor informed. "For instance, if you experience cramps, you can only work your upper body," informs Yasmin.


When to eat fruits: Before or after meals?

Words by Katherine C. Eustaquio Published in Action & Fitness Magazine 2009
A fruit is the world’s most perfectly packed food. Everything you could possibly need for growth and nourishment is present—vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids and amino acids, and carbohydrates. The bulk of fruits you consume in a day won’t affect your weight. However, eating fruits after heavy meals can throw off your digestion into mid-frenzy, leaving you with a heavy feeling and a rumbling stomach.

The science is simple: when you eat raw fruits on an empty stomach, they break down easily in as fast as 30 minutes and pass through the intestines wherein the nutrients are distributed. Cooked and canned fruits that are heavy with fruit concentrate ferment in the stomach, leaving you with more toxins to deal with later. Raw fruits should be eaten as a snack, preferably 15 -30 minutes before meals.

When your stomach is full, the fruits and its digestive juices will ferment along with the full meal you ate. The food will begin to spoil and turn to acid, resulting to a burping fury or mega trips to the nearest bathroom. It’s also the reason why you get constipated after eating a bunch of bananas after meals.

Another benefit of eating fruits prior to meal times is that the sweetness can make you feel full and satisfied. As a result, you will start to eat less during lunch or dinner.

Fruits, when eaten at the right time, can be the most powerful way of getting rid of your belly fat. It can give you an energy boost much stronger than caffeine, and can promote better digestion than whole grains.

Take note, of course, that we are talking about raw fruits. Cooked and processed fruits come with less nutrients compared to the fresh ones, especially the canned fruits that contain too much artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Unfortunately, with today’s lifestyle, preparing fresh fruits in the morning can be such a hassle, so people resort to the commercial ones sold on grocery aisles. Even fresh juices that claim to be 100% pure do not carry the same health benefits.

This, of course, shouldn’t stop you from grabbing an apple in the morning or opting for an orange for your 3pm snack. If you really want to enjoy the nutrients that come from the world’s most nutritious foods, you should work you way around it.

Ergo, those colorful fruit platters at the end of the buffet table are big, juicy traps. That’s the reason why people who go to buffets leave with a bloated stomach and a need to rush to the nearest bathroom. Even if the caterers do something about the arrangement of food at their buffet tables, it would take years to educate the people on the proper way of eating fruits because as far as the majority is concerned, they think that fruits are desserts.

So think of yourself as one of the chosen few who are in on the secret to a slimmer body and a flat tummy without having the need to diet. If you can practice the proper way to eating these delectable fresh produce, then you won’t need to starve yourself to detox, skimp on a few meals as part of your diet regimen, spend thousands of money on gym memberships, or God forbid, a bagful of laxatives every time you overeat.

Remember, an apple a day can make you slimmer in its own way.
When to eat fruits: Before or after meals?
Words by Katherine C. Eustaquio

Eating fruit before meals and other food combining rules

Natural Hygienists have known for a long time that fruit doesn’t combine well with other foods. The reason is that fruit contains simple sugars that require no digestion. Thus, they will not stay for a long time in the stomach. Other foods, such as foods rich in fat, protein and starch, will stay in the stomach for a longer period of time because they require more digestion. So if you eat fruit after a meal, the fruit sugar will stay for too long in the stomach and ferment. This is why people experience digestive trouble when eating fruit that way. They then blame that particular fruit for their trouble and claim that they are “allergic” to it.

Natural Hygienists have been recommending for a long time that fruit be eaten alone with no other foods. They have also recommended eating melons alone and avoiding mixing acid fruits with sweet fruits such as bananas. These are great recommendations, but can be definitely be simplified.

Many people have a difficult time eating a meal of fruit alone. They’ll eat a meal of melon and not so long after they’ll be hungry again, for the simple and obvious reason that melons are not calorie dense. Eating a small cantaloupe (200 calories) is not going to sustain you for very long. But because they have read somewhere that mixing melons with other fruits is not allowed, they’ll try to wait until the next meal to eat something else and then will often in the meantime overeat on dried fruits and nuts to compensate.

The solution to this is very simple: since fruit digests so fast, it is possible to eat fruit before any other food. You can, when you are hungry, eat as much fruit as you care for. One type of fruit only would be ideal. Then wait a little bit, like 5-10 minutes, and have any other food you desire. This can be a salad, a little avocado with tomatoes, some nuts, or anything. It can be cooked food too. If you’ve been trying to follow food-combining rules without success, this new information could be very valuable to you.

The same goes with mixing other fruits together. You can eat all the melon you want, and then, if you are still hungry, eat another type of fruit to satisfy your appetite. It is not necessary to eat melons alone if they are eaten before another foods. You can even have melon and then have an avocado after. The only thing that is important to remember is to have the fruit first - not after, and ideally only have one variety at a time.

Breast feeding could save 1.3 mln children’s lives
Teaching new mothers how to breastfeed could save 1.3 million children's lives every year, but many women get no help and give up trying, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

Less than 40 percent of mothers worldwide breastfeed their infants exclusively in the first six months, as recommended by the WHO. Many abandon it because they don't know how to get their baby to latch on properly or suffer pain and discomfort. "When it comes to doing it practically, they don't have the practical support," WHO expert Constanza Vallenas told a news briefing in Geneva, where the United Nations agency is based.

This is a problem in both rich and poor countries, she said, calling for more assistance in hospitals, health clinics and communities for new mothers who need information and help. Pregnant women should also be made aware of the risks they face from both seasonal flu and the new H1N1 pandemic, the WHO said, calling as well for more attention to influenza symptoms in the vulnerable group. Expectant mothers should get top priority for antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, ideally administered within 48 hours of the onset of illness, WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi told reporters. "Pregnant women, when they get flu, are at risk and they should see a doctor," she said. "It adds to the risk and it is really essential for pregnant women to seek medication."

02 August 2009, Sunday

A-Z of weight loss

MUMBAI MIRROR 8 December 2009, 12:00am IST

AVOID ALCOHOL: You booze, you lose! Alcohol increases your levels of the hormone leptin, which in turn makes you crave sweets.Don’t want to be branded a teetotaller? Order a glass of Sauvignon Blanc – 119 cals per 5 ounces.

BREAKFAST: A good breakfast with fibre and protein will keep you full till lunchtime and help you avoid bingeing. Opt for multi-grain cereal, lowfat curd or fruits to kick-start your metabolism.

CORTISOL: Prolonged stress leads to high levels of cortisol which makes you crave junk foods. Solution: deal with long-standing stressors. As for short-lived ones, treat yourself to an oil massage.

DENSITY: Go for grub with an energy density of two or less. To calculate this, simply divide the calories by the weight in grams (per serving). Stay at it and watch the pounds melt faster.

EAT AT REGULAR INTERVALS: Go no longer than five hours between meals. Several small meals through the day lead to a better metabolism and greater control over binges.

FRUCTOSE: Ditch the artificially sweetened juices and sodas and get your fructose from natural sources such as fruits. Because natural fructose is kinder to your waistline.

GUM: Chewing on gum helps cleanse the mouth of bacteria, satisfies a sweet-tooth and reduces your urge to eat. The next time you feel the urge to reach for a biscuit packet, try a piece of sugarless gum instead for a zero-calorie treat.

HEART-HEALTHY FOODS: Overweight people face a greater risk of heart disease. So, switch to olive and vegetable oils. Fill up on omega rich foods like walnuts and fatty fish. Choose non-fat dairy products and lean cuts of mutton and skinless poultry.

INSULIN: The amount of insulin you secrete may dictate your diet
. High insulin secretors shed more weight on a low-carb diet and less on a lowfat/high carb diet. Got a jelly belly? You secrete excess insulin and could benefit from fewer carbs.

JOURNAL: Write down everything you eat and you could cut your intake by 1,000 calories a day. Food journaling may seem boring but goes a long way in making you aware of what you eat and thereby helps you shed pounds.

KETOSIS: Ketosis refers to the point where your body runs low on carbs and burns fat for fuel. Therefore, ketosis jump-starts a diet. Restrict carbs and lose more initially. Later, allow yourself wholegrain cereals and roti, in moderation.

LOW BLOOD SUGAR: This is often the reason for between-meal cravings especially for sweet. When it strikes, reach for naturally sweet foods such as fruits and accompany it with a little low-fat dahi for a healthy dose of protein.

MILK: Get better results from your workout by downing milk. Two cups of skim milk after intense weightlifting can build more muscle and burn twice as much fat as drinking fruit juice. But go with real cow's milk as it’s more beneficial than soya milk.

NUMBERS: Nobody enjoys weigh-ins, but people who hop on the scale once a day are more likely to lose and maintain their loss. Make a standing appointment for yourself. But try to strike a balance rather than obsess over the number you see.

OMLETTE: Eggs are an ideal protein source. Protein helps build muscle, which will fry more calories per pound than fat. Bonus: You burn about 25 per cent of the eggs' calories just by digesting them.

PEANUTS = PROTEIN: Take the edge off your appetite by snacking on a handful of peanuts everyday. Because, protein is the "secret" to weight control. Peanuts also boost your resting metabolic rate due to their fatty acid content.

Q 10
Coenzyme Q10 is one of the nutrients needed to produce energy. Most people an energy - mg a day. Other benefits include a stronger immune system. Besides, it's also a great antioxidant.

REPLACEMENTS: Replace any silly weight loss pills you have been advised to take, with a good low fat smoothie.You will lose just as much weight without the side-effects of a pill.

SLIP-UPS: Slip-ups are bound to happen.Anticipate them. Instead of letting them derail your efforts, learn from them and get right back on track by simply keeping your eye on your target.

TEA: The fat-busting benefits of green tea boil down to disease-fighting compounds called catechins. Max your results by steeping your tea for longer. The darker the hue of your brew, the more catechin-rich the cup.Add some lime to tone down the bitterness.

USER-FRIENDLY: There are a million fad diets around; your friends are probably trying some too. But what helps you lose weight isn't the type of diet
but compliance with it. Find a plan you can live with so you'll stick to it.

VINEGAR: Studies show that consuming 4 tbsp of a vinegar mixture with a high-carb diet drops your calorie intake by 275 per day. If you can't stomach vinegar, mix into a low-fat dressing to add zing to your salad.

WATER: It quenches thirst without the calories. Infact, water also ups your caloric burn rate. Sipping six extra 8-ounce glasses a day can burn 17,400 more calories (about 5 pounds of fat) per year.

XYLITOL: Xylitol is a natural substance found in vegetables that tastes and looks just like sugar. But while sugar harms, xylitol protects against disease and has anti-ageing benefits. In its crystalline form, it can replace sugar in cooking.

: Normal-weight women who practise yoga for four or more years will gain three pounds less over 10 years than those who don't. Grab your mat and get breathing!

When you skimp on sleep, your brain thinks you're low on fuel and sends a message to your stomach to start growling.Women who sleep for 5 hours or less are an average of 5 pounds heavier than women who snoozed for 7 hours.Want to stay slim? Hit the pillow.


A stealthy, silent killer

American Heart Association has revealed that only about 10 per cent of people with peripheral vascular disease (PVD) have the classic symptoms of intermittent claudication (characterised by aching or cramping pain).

About 40 per cent do not complain of leg pain, while the remaining 50 per cent have a variety of symptoms.
Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that prevalence of PVD increases dramatically with age with approximately 8 million men and women (age 40 and older) having PVD.

Patients with symptomatic PVD have at least a 30 per cent risk of death from heart attack and a risk of approximately 50 per cent in 10 years.

Peripheral vascular disease is characterised by a reduced blood supply to arms and legs due to a narrowing of arteries in these areas.

The risk factors for PVD are similar to those for cardiovascular disease. Diabetes and cigarette smoking especially are strong risk factors for PVD.

Rates of PVD increase with age, with estimates of 1-2.5 per cent in individuals aged 50-60 years and of 5-9 per cent in people older than 65, Other risk factors include hypertension, high cholesterol levels, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.

In peripheral arterial disease, fatty deposits build up in the inner lining of the arterial walls. These blockages restrict blood circulation to the various tissues in the arms or legs.

In its early stages fatigue or cramping is experienced in the legs and buttocks during activities such as walking or climbing stairs.

Other symptoms include pain, numbness, aching or heaviness in the leg muscles. During physical activity your muscles need increased blood flow.

If your blood vessels are narrowed or blocked your muscles won’t get enough blood. When resting, the muscles need less blood flow, so the pain goes away.

Thus initially patients complain of pain during physical activity. However as the disease progresses patients complain of pain during rest.
PVD is marked by weak pulses in the affected areas i.e. arms or legs.

Risk modification is fundamental to the treatment of PVD which includes control of tobacco use, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

Research has revealed that people eating the most water soluble dietary fibre had 10 per cent risk reduction in cardiovascular disease.

Whole grain products such as whole grain breads, brown rice, barley, corn, pancakes and oats contain soluble fiber which has a substantial potential to lower cholesterol levels.

Smoking cessation is critical to successful management of PVD. Continued tobacco use accelerates disease progression and increases mortality risk.

Among patients with established PVD, higher physical activity levels during daily life are associated with better overall survival and a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

With respect to physical rehabilitation and exercise programmes, a substantial reduction of 20- 25 per cent in cardiovascular death has been observed.

Routine skin and foot care is extremely important for preventing skin compromise. You should inspect your feet daily for cracks, fissures, calluses, corns and ulcers. Foot should be washed daily in lukewarm water with mild soap and dried thoroughly.

Pharmaceutical intervention includes drugs such as vasodilators which dilate the blood vessels and thus improve oxygen delivery to the tissues.

There is no evidence to support the usage of fibrinolytic agents, anticoagulants or antiplatelet therapy for PVD.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy and the application of negative pressure to the lower limb have gained popularity but have limited research evidence.

(Source: Senior Cardiologist, Max Devki Heart & Vascular Institute, Saket, New Delhi, Dr Anil Dhall).


Eat fruits the right way!

Follow these tips and get the maximum benefit from the fruit
Follow these tips and get the maximum benefit from the fruit you eat (Getty Images)
you eat...

Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator.
Refrigerate cut-up fruit to store for later use.
Buy fresh fruits in season when they may be less expensive and at their peak flavour.

Make most of your choices — whole or cut-up fruit rather than juice, for the benefits dietary fibre provides.
Select fruits with more potassium often, such as bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and orange juice.

At breakfast, top your cereal with bananas or peaches; add blueberries to pancakes; drink 100 per cent orange or grapefruit juice.
At dinner, add crushed pineapple to coleslaw, or include mandarin oranges or grapes in a tossed salad.
Try meat dishes that incorporate fruit, such as chicken with apricots or mango chutney.

Cut-up fruit makes a great snack. Either cut them yourself, or buy pre-cut packages of fruit pieces like pineapples or melons. Or, try whole fresh berries or grapes.
Dried fruits also make a great snack. They are easy to carry and store well. Because they are dried, ¼ cup is equivalent to ½ cup of other fruits.

Set a good example for children by eating fruit everyday with meals or as snacks.
Offer children a choice of fruits for lunch.
Depending on their age, children can help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up fruits.
While shopping, allow children to pick out a new fruit to try later at home.
Decorate plates or serving dishes with fruit slices.
Top off a bowl of cereal with some berries. Or, make a smiley face with sliced bananas for eyes, raisins for a nose, and an orange slice for a mouth.
Offer raisins or other dried fruits instead of candy.


Skimmed milk better than sports drinks

Cereal and milk can offer a less expensive alternative to sports drinks, say scientists.
Skimmed milk (Getty Images)

Exercise physiologist Lynne Kammer, from The University of Texas at Austin, came to this conclusion after investigating the post-exercise physiological effects of the foods.

She and her team studied 12 trained cyclists, 8 male and 4 female.

She revealed that, unlike many sports nutrition studies, her team designed the exercise protocol to reflect a typical exercise session.

After a warm-up period, the subjects cycled for two hours at a comfortable work rate, rather than the more frequently seen test-to-exhaustion.

"Our goal was to compare whole grain cereal plus milk-which are ordinary foods-and sports drinks, after moderate exercise. We wanted to understand their relative effects on glycogen repletion and muscle protein synthesis for the average individual. We found that glycogen repletion, or the replenishment of immediate muscle fuel, was just as good after whole grain cereal consumption and that some aspects of protein synthesis were actually better," she said.

"Cereal and non-fat milk are a less expensive option than sports drinks. The milk provides a source of easily digestible and high quality protein, which can promote protein synthesis and training adaptations, making this an attractive recovery option for those who refuel at home," she added.

Based on their observations, the researchers concluded that, for amateur athletes and moderately physically active individuals trying to keep in shape, having a quick bowl of whole-grain cereal with a splash of skimmed milk might be a smarter move than investing in a high-priced sports drink.

Kammer’s study was supported by General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition.


Home births as safe as hospital ones

Having a baby at home with a registered midwife is just as safe as a conventional hospital birth, a new study
Pregnancy (Getty Images)

The study, which looked at 2,889 home births and 4,752 ¬hospital births with the same midwives and 5,331 hospital births attended by doctors, showed women who had a planned home birth are less likely to run into serious problems during labour.

They also have a lower risk of needing ¬epidural pain relief, forceps delivery or a ¬Caesarean, reports The Daily Express .

Dr Patricia Janssen from the University of British Columbia, Canada, who carried out the study, said: “Newborns born after planned home births were at a similar or reduced risk of death, although the likelihood of admission to ¬hospital was higher.

“Women ¬planning birth at home experienced reduced risk for all obstetric interventions measured, and similar or reduced risk for adverse maternal outcomes.”

As for the reason, Janssen said it could be because women who choose home birth are determined not to have those procedures.

She said: “We do not underestimate the degree of self-selection that takes place in a population of women choosing home birth. This self-selection may be an important component of risk management for home birth.”

Milk for breakfast cuts lunch!

Drinking fat free milk instead of a fruit drink at breakfast helps you feel fuller and eat less at lunchtime, according to a
Drinking milk at breakfast helps you feel fuller, eat less at lunchtime (Getty Images)
new study.

During the study, Australian researchers found that drinking fat free milk in the morning helped increase satiety, or a feeling of fullness, and led to decreased calorie intake at the next meal, as compared with a fruit drink.

The milk drinkers ate about 50 fewer calories (or nearly 9 percent less food) at lunch.

In the study, 34 overweight but otherwise healthy men and women participated in two testing sessions – one in which they were served about 20 ounces of fat free milk, and one in which they were served the same amount of a fruit drink (both beverages contributed about 250 calories to the breakfast meal).

During the four hours between breakfast and lunch, the men and women gauged their feelings of fullness and were allowed to eat until comfortably full at lunch.

The researchers found that the milk-drinking adults reported feeling fuller, more satisfied and therefore ate fewer calories at lunch.

The researchers suspect that milk's protein content, the lactose or simply the thickness of the beverage may play a role in the satiety benefits.

Choosing foods that can help enhance satiety is an important success factor in any weight management plan, the researchers suggest.

The study has been published in the July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Diamonds 'may be the ultimate MRI probe'

WASHINGTON: Diamonds are a woman's best friend, they say. Now, a new study has claimed that the gems may soon turn out to be a patient's best
friend as well.

An international team, led by scientists from Harvard University, has carried out the study and found that diamond, formed of pure carbon, occasionally has minute imperfections within its crystalline lattice.

A common impurity is a "nitrogen vacancy", in which two carbon atoms are replaced by a single atom of nitrogen, leaving the other carbon atom space vacant. Nitrogen vacancies are in part responsible for diamond's famed luster, for they are actually fluorescent.

According to the scientists, the slight variations in this fluorescence can be used to determine the magnetic spin of a single electron in the nitrogen. Spin's quantum property that has a value of either "up" or "down", and therefore could represent one or zero in binary computation.

The team's recent achievement was to transfer this quantum information repeatedly between the nitrogen electron and the nuclei of adjacent carbon atoms, forming a small circuit capable of logic operations.

Reading a quantum bit's spin information--a fundamental task for a quantum computer--has been a daunting challenge, but the team demonstrated that by transferring the information back and forth between the electron and the nuclei, the information could be amplified, making it much easier to read.

World's smallest parrot filmed
By Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News


Two buff-faced pygmy parrots jostle on the edge of their tiny nest

The world's smallest parrot has been filmed in the wild for the first time.
The tiny bird, which is not much bigger than an adult person's thumb, is smaller than some of the insects with which it shares the forest.
An expedition team filming in Papua New Guinea for the BBC programme Lost Land of the Volcano caught two of the buff-faced pygmy parrots on camera.
Another adult, which weighs less than half an ounce, was also trapped by the expedition team's bird expert.

On average, buff-faced pygmy parrots (Micropsitta pusio) stand less than 9cm tall and weigh 11.5g (0.41oz).
They are found across the northern lowlands of the island of New Guinea from the west to the southeastern tip, up to an altitude of around 800m.
Males and females look similar, but females have less prominent markings on the head.
The birds have green feathers with yellowish plumage on their underparts; while their cheeks, face, and crown are more buff-coloured, hence their name.
BBC wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan first discovered a tiny nest belonging to two parrots deep within pristine rainforest.
The birds nest in termite mounds, using their beaks and claws to dig their way in before laying eggs in the hole created.


Dr Dumbacher and BBC film cameraman Gordon Buchanan handle the tiny bird

Buchanan staked out the nest from within a camouflaged hide, and was rewarded after a long wait when two birds returned.
He filmed the pair at their nest entrance, as the male and female reinforced their bond by rubbing against one another.
Later, another parrot was trapped unharmed by Dr Jack Dumbacher, an ornithologist from the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, US, who had accompanied the BBC expedition team.
Buff-faced pygmy parrots do not eat fruit and nuts but lichen and fungi.
However, so little is still known about their dietary habits that it has proved difficult to rear the birds in captivity.
During the expedition, the team also managed to sight a rare Salvadore's duck (Salvadorina waigiuensis), a bird that is adapted to living in fast jungle streams.
The Salvadore's duck, or Salvadore's teal as it is also known, is the only duck species endemic to the island of New Guinea.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the bird as Vulnerable, and its total population may be slowly declining.
Other birds sighted included fruit doves that were completely naive to people, suggesting they had never been hunted in the past, and a king bird of paradise, with its crimson feathers, violet-coloured feet and a pair of tail streamers each ending with an emerald disc.
Broadcast of The Lost Land of the Volcano series will begin on BBC One on Tuesday 8 September at 2100 BST.


Virus linked to prostate tumours

A prostate cancer cell
Prostate cancer is a major killer

A virus known to cause cancer in animals has been found for the first time in human prostate cancer cells.
The researchers from the University of Utah and Columbia University medical schools found the virus in 27% of the 200 cancerous prostates they looked at.
They say it was associated with more aggressive tumours and found in only 6% of non-cancerous prostates.
This is the first report to link XMRV (Xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus) to human cancers.

XMRV is a retrovirus like HIV which works by inserting a copy of its own DNA into the chromosomes of a cell they infect.

We still don't know that this virus causes cancer in people, but that is an important question we are going to investigate.
Dr Ila Singh, University of Utah

Where this occurs next to a gene that regulates cell growth it can disrupt the normal development of the cell.
XMRV is known to cause leukaemia and other tumours in animals.
Dr Ila Singh, who led the study from the pathology department at the University of Utah, said: "We still don't know that this virus causes cancer in people, but that is an important question we are going to investigate.
"One of the things peculiar about this virus is that it has an androgen response element - it grows better in the presence of testosterone and possibly other steroid hormones.

Most common cancer in men in UK
10,000 die each year
Most cases are in those aged 70-74
Higher rates in most deprived populations
Source: Cancer Research UK

"This is particularly interesting because if we can prove that it responds to oestrogen it could have a role in other cancers.
"We are already looking at the bodies of 100 women and 100 men, who died from other causes, to see if any other organs carry the virus."
Risk factor
Dr Helen Rippon, Head of Research Management at The Prostate Cancer Charity, said the research was intriguing but posed several key questions about the role the infection plays in prostate cancer.

It is critically important to identify key triggers of prostate cancer to improve early detection
Dr Helen Rippon, Prostate Cancer Charity

She said: "Around the world, extensive work is being undertaken to identify risk factors for prostate cancer which will enable treatments and tests for the disease to be refined.
"It is critically important to identify key triggers of prostate cancer to improve early detection of the disease in men with potentially life threatening prostate cancer."
Dr Chris Parker, Cancer Research UK's prostate cancer expert at the Institute of Cancer Research said: "This exciting study raises the possibility that the virus might contribute to the development of some prostate cancers.
"In the future, if it turns out to be true, then we could speculate about the possibility of vaccination to protect against prostate cancer, similar to the approach now used to prevent cervical cancer.


Top 10 foods that make you feel full

More than how much you eat, what you eat determines the satisfaction level of a meal. Nutritionist Sneha Jain lists 10 foods that make you feel
Healthy food
Foods that make you feel full, without making you fat
full, without making you fat.

Fatty Fish
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which, besides lowering cholesterol, also hasten the metabolism rate. Omega-3 fatty acids alter the level of leptin — a hormone that directly influences metabolism and determines whether you burn calories or store them as fat. Fish also provides ample protein and the best way to eat it is grilled, with steamed vegetables on the side.

Citrus Fruits
Fruits such as grapefruit, lemon, sweet lime, papaya, guava and tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C and fibre. Vitamin C helps the body process fat faster and also stimulates the amino acid known as carnitine — carnitine speeds up the body’s fat-burning capacity. Citrus fruits also have high water content and provide around 50 to 75 kcal, leaving us satiated for a longer period of time.

Green Vegetables
Spinach, asparagus and broccoli have a high thermic effect on the body and a low calorie density. This means that it’s almost impossible for them to be stored as fat because most of their calories are burned off in the digestion process. Apart from that, the fibre in these foods provides roughage and contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help you feel full.

Popcorn is rich in fibre and low on calories. Also, since eating it keeps our mouth busy for a longer time, the satiety levels are high. However stay away from the overly buttered, caramel and cheese cousins.

Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate which takes longer to digest — hence it releases energy slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer. It also keeps blood sugar and insulin levels stable, which helps prevent fat storage. Oatmeal is the most satisfying breakfast cereal, providing more protein per serving than any other grain. Mix it with yoghurt or skimmed milk and it’ll keep you full all morning.

Almond and Walnuts
Raw, unsalted nuts, especially almonds and walnuts, provide essential roughage, protein, fat, minerals and micronutrients. Munching on handfuls of these nuts keeps you full and energetic for longer without adding to your waistline.

Low-Fat Dairy Products
Skimmed milk, low fat cheese and yoghurt are a good source of calcium, which helps break down fat cells. Some studies indicate that not getting enough calcium may trigger the release of calcitrol, a hormone that causes fat storage.

Beans are high in fibre and a good source of protein. They also take longer to digest, making you feel full for a longer time. Also, protein has the highest satiety index (which determines how long will you feel full) than any other element.

Whole grains
Jowar, bajra and ragi contain complex carbohydrates, which release glucose slowly when broken down during digestion. The glucose helps in maintaining your blood sugars levels and combats sugar craving. They are also a rich source of fibre and Vitamin B complex that play an important role in metabolic control.

High water content and ample fibre is the reason why you feel full after eating an apple. An apple’s skin contains pectin soluble fibre that is a natural appetite suppressant. Seems like an apple a day keeps the weight away.


Marital strife? Blame your cell phone!

The CAW unit in south Delhi's Nanakpura area, which has since November 2008 been trying to resolve marital discord through a mediation cell, insists that the mobile phones of newly wedded brides are often to blame.

"While in most cases there is trouble owing to dowry harassment or domestic violence, we have been getting many cases where a minor quarrel which can be resolved makes people want to take extreme steps. The cell phone is what makes it to assume big proportions," says CWC Deputy Commissioner H.P.S. Virk.


Smoking, obesity up breast cancer risk

A study conducted in Canada has reinforced the correlation between being overweight, smoking and breast
Woman smoking
Smoking, overweighing up breast cancer risk (Getty Images)

Published in the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology, the study is unique because it did not include subjects who were diagnosed for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which predispose women to breast cancer.

The study entirely focused on lifestyle factors like smoking, exercise, nutrition and weight.

All women analysed in the study were direct ancestors of the first French colonists.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study conducted on a sample of women without BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which are often found in French-Canadian women," said lead researcher Vishnee Bissonauth, a graduate of the Universite de Montreal's Department of Nutrition, and a researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center.

The study found that weight gains after the age of 20 increased the risk of breast cancer.

Where the weight gain was more than 15.5 kilos, the risk was found to increase by an average of 68 percent.

Risk increases depending on how late in life the weight gain occurs, according to the study.

Women who gained more than 10 kilos after age 30, or more than 5.5 kilos after age 40, were found to be almost twice as likely to suffer from breast cancer as a those whose weight was stable.

The study showed that the risk tripled if the body mass index was at its maximum after age 50.

Smoking a pack a day for nine years was also found to increase breast cancer risks by 59 percent.

Though the impact of smoking seemed to decrease for menopausal women, it remained at 50 percent. Bissonauth stressed the need for more research into the correlation between smoking and breast cancer.

The researchers revealed that moderate physical activity appeared to decrease cancer risks by 52 percent for pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women.

The correlation was also observed for women who did intense physical activity, but the difference was not significant, said the lead researcher.

That finding, said Bissonauth, may be down to the fact that women who did moderate physical activity were more likely to do it regularly, while those who did intense physical activity were likely to quit after a few weeks.

"Cancer is a complex disease and can be latent for several years. Therefore, it is important to work on the factors we can control and to lead a healthy lifestyle, which means watching one's weight, avoid smoking and doing regular exercise," said Bissonauth.

10 things women ignore about cancer!

Prevention is better than cure. Awareness regarding cancer and its preventive strategies is low in India. Screening for cancer results in

disease diagnosis at an early stage resulting in better treatment.

How can women reduce their risk of cancer?
Although pap smears and mammograms are important in screening of cervical and breast cancer, but these alone are not answers for protection against all types of cancers. Smoking, radiation exposure, alcohol and chronic infections are the factors known to increase the risk of cancer. Factors that may affect the risk of the disease are diet and obesity.

Here’s a list of some cancer symptoms, which are overlooked by women. If there is a frequent recurrence of these warning symptoms, then it’s time for you to schedule a visit with your doctor.

1. Unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite or weakness or fatigue.
2. Any oral ulcer that refuses to heal
3. Difficulty in swallowing.
4. Swollen neck nodes, nodes in underarms or any other abnormal swellings in the body.
5. Any lump in breast, nipple discharge.
6. Long standing cough with blood.
7. Bloating, rectal bleeding.
8. Unusually heavy menstrual bleeding or inter-menstrual bleeding.
9. Any abnormal per vaginum discharge or post-coital bleeding.
10. Any blood in urine or faeces.

(Inputs by Dr Ashok Vaid, head, medical oncology, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon)


10 superfoods for shedding weight

It's time for a new slim-down funda: Eat more to weigh less. Eating the right foods help you shed weight by increasing your calorie burn and
Eat more weigh less
10 superfoods for shedding weight (Getty Images)
cutting down food cravings.

1. Steak : Contrary to popular perception, eating a beef stake may help you drop weight. In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women on a diet that included red meat lost more weight than those eating equal calories but little beef. The protein in steak helps you retain muscle mass during weight loss.

2. Eggs : Dig in to eggs, yolks and all: Eggs do not harm your heart, they can help you trim inches. Women on a low-calorie diet who ate an egg with toast and jelly each morning lost twice as much weight as those who had a bagel breakfast with the same number of calories but no eggs, a study from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge reports. Egg protein is filling, so you eat less later in the day.

3. Oats : "Oatmeal has the highest satiety ranking of any food," Grotto says. Unlike many other carbohydrates, oats—even the instant kind—digest slowly, so they have little impact on your blood sugar."

4. Lentils : Lentils are a great tummy flattener. "They're high in protein and soluble fibre, two nutrients that stabilise blood sugar levels," says Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of The F-Factor Diet (Putnam Adult). Eating them helps prevent insulin spikes that cause your body to create excess fat, especially in the abdominal area."

5. Apples : An apple a day can keep weight gain at bay, finds a study from Penn State University at University Park. People who chomped an apple before a pasta meal ate fewer calories overall than those who had a different snack. Apples are high in fibre—4 to 5 grams each—which makes them filling. Plus, the antioxidants in apples may help prevent metabolic syndrome, a condition marked by excess belly fat or an "apple shape."

6. Chiles : A great reason to spice up your meals: You'll increase your metabolism. A compound in chiles called capsaicin has a thermogenic effect, meaning it causes the body to burn extra calories for 20 minutes after you eat the chiles. Plus, "you can't gulp down spicy food. Eating slowly gives your brain time to register that your stomach is full, so you won't overeat.

7. Yogurt : Dietitians often refer to plain yogurt as the perfect food. With its trifecta of carbs, protein and fat, it can stave off hunger by keeping blood sugar levels steady. In a study from the University of Tennessee, people on a low-calorie diet that included yogurt lost 61 per cent more fat overall and 81 per cent more belly fat than those on a similar plan but without yogurt.

8. Parmesan : Women who had one serving of whole milk or cheese daily were less likely to gain weight over time, a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds. Lowfat-dairy fans didn't experience the same benefit. Whole dairy may have more conjugated linoleic acid, which might help your body burn fat.

9. Avocado : Don't let the fat content of an avocado (29 grams) scare you—that's what makes it a top weight loss food. The heart-healthy monounsaturated fat it contains increases satiety.

10. Olive oil : Like avocados, olive oil has healthy fat that increases satiety, taming your appetite. But that's hardly its only slimming feature. Research shows it has anti-inflammatory properties.


Diet plan for pregnant women

Eating nutritious foods, especially fruits and vegetables, could reduce pregnant women’s risk of developing an upper respiratory tract infection
Diet plan during pregnancy
Fruit, vegetable intake cuts upper respiratory tract infection risk in pregnant women (Getty Images)
(URTI), according to a new study.

Researchers Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that consumption of at least seven servings per day of fruits and vegetables moderately reduced the risk of developing URTI in expectant mothers.

URTIs include the common cold and sinus infections, which can lead to lower respiratory problems, such as asthma or pneumonia.

Even though the majority of URTIs are uncomplicated colds, identifying ways to prevent their occurrence is important because colds are the most common reason for school and work absences.

Eating fruits and vegetables improves immunity but hadn’t previously been associated with reducing the risk of URTIs in pregnant women.

The researchers studied more than 1,000 pregnant women and found those who ate the most fruits and vegetables were 26 percent less likely to have URTI relative to those who ate the least amount.

Neither fruit nor vegetable intake alone was found to be associated with the five-month risk of URTI.

The patterns observed for total fruit and vegetable intake and either fruit or vegetable intake alone in relation to the three-month risk of URTI were consistent with those when assessing the five-month risk of URTI.

Women in the highest quartile of fruit and vegetable intake had a stronger reduced three-month risk than the five-month risk of URTI. Moreover, there was a significant decreasing linear trend for the three-month risk of URTI with consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Pregnant women have been recommended to consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. This study showed that intake of higher levels, 6.71 servings per day, was associated with a moderate risk reduction for URTI.

"Pregnant women may require more fruits and vegetables than usual because of the extra demands on the body," said senior author Martha M. Werler, M.P.H., Sc.D., professor at Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University.

The study appears online in the journal Public Health Nutrition.


Heart surgery without cutting breast bone

MYSORE: Doctors of a city-based hospital have achieved a rare feat by conducting a heart surgery without cutting the breast

"We performed the surgery by making an incision just below the left breast. They entry was gained between the ribs. The patient recovered fast and is doing fine," Dr Nagendra Prakash, chief cardiac surgeon, Vikram Hospital and Heart Care said on Friday.

According to him, this is the first such heart surgery in Mysore. Normally, the entire length of the breast bone (sternum) is cut in half using an electric saw. "But we gained entry from the right side of the heart through the right thoracotomy and were successful. Now we have been successful in doing the same procedure from the left side just below the heart," he explained.

This procedure helps the patient recover fast since it spares him of his breast bone that takes some six weeks to recover. Unlike in the standard approach, the patient is weaned off the breathing machine within couple of hours after the surgery and will be allowed to take oral feed.

The minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass surgery allows the patient to resume normal duties within two weeks, he noted.

“Allah is All-Knowing All-Wise"…Quran
A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye...and YES science now shows that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.
A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers. All of the research shows tomatoes are indeed pure heart and blood food.
Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows that grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food .
A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds are on the nut just like the neo-cortex. We now know that walnuts help develop over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.
Kidney Beans
Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys .
Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.
Eggplant, Avocadoes and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats 1 avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? .... It takes exactly 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).
Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the motility of male sperm and increase the numbers of Sperm cells to overcome male sterility.
Grapefruits, Oranges, and other Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts .
Onions look like body cells. Today's research shows that onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes.
sweet potatoes
Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.
Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries
Then which of the favours of your Allah will ye deny? - [Quran 55:13]
Milk :
The Prophet(SAW) said that milk wipes away heat from the heart
just as the finger wipes away sweat from the brow. It strengthens the back,
increases the brain, augments intelligence,renews vision and drives away
Honey :
Considered to be the best remedy for diarrhea when mixed in hot
water. It is the food of foods, drink of drinks and drug of drugs. It is used
for creating appetite,strengthening the stomach, eliminating phlegm,
as a meat preservative,hair conditioner, eye salve and mouthwash. It is
extremely beneficial in the morning in warm water and is also a sunnah.
Olive oil :
excellenent treatment for skin and hair, delays old age, treats inflammation
of the stomach
Mushroom :
The Prophet(SAW) said that mushroom is a good cure for the eyes, it also
serves as a form of birthcontrol and arrests paralysis.
Grapes :
The Prophet was very fond of grapes, it purifies the blood, provides vigour
and health, strengthens the kidneys and clears the bowels.
Dates :
The Prophet(SAW) said that a house without dates has no food, also to be
eaten at the time of childbirth.
Figs :
It is a fruit from paradise and a cure for piles.
Barley :
Good for fever in a soup form
Melon :
Melon contains 1000 blessings and 1000 mercies, The prophet SAW said "None
of your women who are pregnant and eat of water melon will fail to produce
off spring who are good in countenance and good in character.
Pomegranate :
The Prophet(SAW) said it cleanse you of Satan and evil aspirations for 40
Water :
the Prophet(SAW) said the best drink in this world and the next is Water, when you are thirsty drink it by sips and not gulps, gulping produces sickness of the liver.
So praise be to our beloved Nabi(SAW) who produced us with marvelous knowledge which dazzles the wisest minds. May this information be beneficial to all of us Insha-Allah

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