Remember a few years ago when pomegranate juice was all the rage? Well, it seems as though there may be a new super-food fruit juice in town: tart cherry juice.
Makers of tart cherry juice claim that the drink can do everything from help with wrinkles, insomnia, headaches, swelling, puffiness around the eyes and — most importantly for exercisers — increase muscle recovery time. Manufacturers say that tart cherry juice is high in the antioxidant vitamin E, along with melatonin, vitamin A and beta carotene.
While there hasn’t been that much independent research on the juice, one study published in the online version of the British Journal of Sports Medicine evaluated whether or not a highly-concentrated, specially-processed tart cherry juice blend could prevent the symptoms of muscle damage in a 14 male college students. The study participants were asked to either drink a bottle of the cherry juice blend twice a day for three days before exercise and for four days afterwards, or to drink a placebo juice containing no cherries. The 12-ounce bottle of juice contained the liquid equivalent of 50 to 60 tart cherries blended with commercially available apple juice (from all the cherry juice blends on the market, this is a pretty typical blend, I’ve found).
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The human body is made up of over 100 trillion cells, and every hour at least one billion need to be replaced. Most cells are replaced because they are damaged by free radicals, which are atoms that have lost an electron due to metabolism, the immune system, which neutralizes viruses or bacteria, and environmental factors, such as: polution, radiation, smoke, or herbicides.
These free radicals attack normal cells just like the game “Pacman”. Free radicals search out an extra electron, thus damaging the perfectly healthy cells. This where antioxidants come into play. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating an electron, which ends the electron “stealing” reaction. They act as scavengers by helping prevent cell and tissue damage that could lead to possible disease. Antioxidants are stable in either form (with or without electron), so they do not transform into free radicals. They are like your own little cell protectors.
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With the coming of winter, we’re faced with exciting and exotic produce to enjoy. Among the many to choose from is the pomegranate.
Although its health benefits are impressive, USA Today and the Federal Trade Commission remind us that pomegranate isn’t a cure-all. Consuming pomegranates will give you tons of great health benefits, but it certainly won’t provide any miracle cures.
Pomegranate seeds and juice provide ample amounts of:
UPDATE [9/28/10]: In response to the FTC’s charges, POM as issued a statement that they feel the allegations are “unwarranted” and that the health benefits of pomegranate juice are “backed by $25 million in medical research.” The juice producer goes even further by stating that the FTC “is wasting taxpayer resources to persecute the pomegranate.”
Yet another popular drink manufacturer must face government regulators over exaggerated health claims. While the Food and Drug Administration has called out several food and beverage producers, this time the Federal Trade Commission is stepping onto the field. The FTC is suing POM Wonderful LLC of Los Angeles over their claims about the wonders of pomegranate juice.
The commission is targeting POM Wonderful 100% Juice and POMx dietary supplements. They say that ads for these items make “false and unsubstantiated claims that their products will prevent or treat heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.”
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As a chef’s wife, I am constantly having to raise the bar on nightly dinners. Not that chefs are hard to please; quite the contrary. A little known secret about fancy-schmancy chefs is that because they spend their day cooking gourmet food, when they come home, really, all they want is a sandwich and a cold beer.
However, I’m competitive, and I like showing off in the kitchen. So imagine my surprise when looking for recipes using pomegranates (which are in season right now and are gorgeous, not to mention full of anti-oxidants), I found a fantastic recipe on Weight Watcher’s website! Using POM pomegranate juice, which I love; fresh beets, which I always want to get but am flummoxed by what to do with them; and citrus (on sale right now-Yes!), this side dish is only 5 points, and extremely satisfying. In fact, I found very little variance from how a chef would prepare this dish, and the recipe, other than that a chef would probably add Extra Virgin Olive oil and some crumbled goat or feta cheese at the finish, for a mediterranean flavor.
Don’t worry about the quality of the port wine that you use in the recipe, just get the least expensive. But do get the Ruby port, and not the Tawny. “Tawny” refers to the winemaking method whereby the port is aged in wood, so when the wine reduces (cooks down) in the recipe, you could be left with some bitter flavors. “Ruby” is always what you want to look for when buying port wine for cooking. And note that cooking wine eliminates the alcohol, which reduces the calories!
I’m off to go have fun in the kitchen! Catch up with you later……
Check out more healthy Weight Watchers recipes here.