Because of its popularity and widespread use as a dietary supplement, Vitamin C may be more familiar to the general public than any other nutrient. Studies show that more than 40% of older Americans take Vitamin C supplements. In some regions of the country, almost 25% of all adults, regardless of age, take vitamin C. Outside of a multivitamin, vitamin C is also the most popular supplement among some groups of registered dietitians, and 80% of the dietitians who take vitamin C take more than 250 milligrams.
Vitamin C also called ascorbic acid, is a term that literally means “no scurvy.” Some 250 years ago, a British physician found that sailors given citrus fruits were cured of scurvy which is the result of a vitamin C deficiency. Dehydroascorbic acid and ascorbic acid are the active forms of vitamin C found in food. Most supplements contain only ascorbic acid. Levels of ascorbic acid in the blood rise to the same degree following the consumption of both vitamin C containing foods and ascorbic acid.
Because of its role in collagen formation and other life-sustaining functions, vitamin C serves as a key immune system nutrient and a potent free-radical fighter. This double-duty nutrient has been shown to prevent many illnesses, from everyday ailments such as the common cold to devastating diseases such as heart disease.
Physicians are often asked whether or not vitamin C is also an effective way of fighting cancer. While there is a growing body of scientific evidence to suggest that vitamin C is useful in the prevention of cancer, the jury is still out on its effectiveness as a cancer treatment. However, its low cost and astonishing lack of toxicity make it an extremely attractive candidate for further testing.
One of the current investigations underway regarding vitamin C’s role in the treatment of cancer is led by the Dr. Kedar Prasad, professor of radiology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver. Prasad has demonstrated that vitamin C is capable of inhibiting the growth of cancer cells in vitro. He advocates giving vitamin C and other antioxidants to patients while they are undergoing conventional chemotherapy and radiation. Another team led by Dr. Mark Levine from the National Academy of Sciences studied vitamin C and cancer cells in a series of lab tests. Vitamin C appeared to boost production of hydrogen peroxide which killed cancer cells and left healthy cells unharmed. The levels of vitamin C were so high that they could only be achieved through IV infusions. These findings give plausibility to IV ascorbic acid in cancer treatment, and have unexpected implications for treatment of infections where hydrogen peroxide may be beneficial.
Cancer experts said the “overwhelming” evidence still suggested vitamin C was not an effective treatment. Studies during the ’70s first suggested the administration of high doses of vitamin C could help treat cancer, but later research did not back this up. There are many substances that have been shown to kill cancer cells in the lab but failed to fulfill that promise when tested in people says Henry Scowcroft of UK-based Cancer Research, Inc. In the latest study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers conducted laboratory experiments which simulated clinical infusions of vitamin C on a range of nine cancer and four normal cells. In five of the cancer lines, there was a 50% decrease in cell survival, while normal cells were unaffected.
Vitamin C’s benefits are continually in question but one thing is for sure though, that eating a healthy, balanced diet, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, is an effective way to reduce the risk of getting cancer in the first place.
Almonds are undoubtedly the popular nut all over the world. It is the true nutritional powerhouse, which you can eat as a healthy snack when your hunger pangs distract you from doing the work. Moreover, it is perfect to fight a number of health diseases. Take a closer look at the reasons why you should start eating more almonds for an afternoon snack.
Help You Lose Weight: Surprised to hear that? Yes, it’s true that almonds are a rich source of healthy fats, but you cannot deny the fact that they actually help you in losing weight. Basically, these may have great nutritional value, which keeps you full all day long and quenches your cravings for the junk. It helps you in managing a balanced diet that helps in reducing weight. It’s a great thing for all the people who wants to lose weight but don’t want to eat tasteless diet food. This is huge in the weight loss world and you should add it in your weight loss plan.
Keep Your Heart Healthy: In today’s unhealthy lifestyle more and more people get affected by the problem of high cholesterol, which increases the heart diseases and the best and effective way to reduce the risk is eating almonds. Yes, almonds have a lot of minerals; magnesium and potassium that keep your heart healthy.
Reduce The Risk Of Cancer: These delicious almonds can even prevent you from cancer. The protein, magnesium and other vitamins present in this may reduce the risk of cancer. It means you should start eating them right away to ensure a healthy body and mind.
Provide Antioxidants: Almonds are full of antioxidants, which are good to diminish the effects of free radicals. It is good to have them regularly because it keeps you healthy and provide enough antioxidants to your body.
Help you Build Muscles: Most of the gym trainers advise you to have supplements, so, these almonds are a perfect and healthy option for you. They help you build your muscles faster and satisfy you with the results.
All above benefits of eating almonds may surely increase your love for them. So, what are you waiting for? Add them to your diet right now and improve your health. However, it’s important to consult the dietician or doctor before deciding the quantity as per your body need, otherwise, it may turn the table. This is because eating them in excessive quantity could harm your digestion.
Watermelons have reputed roots in Africa, with the first recorded harvest in Egypt somewhere around 5,000 years ago. From there, they were sprouted throughout Asia and Europe. Colonists brought seeds with them to the New World, where around four billion pounds of watermelons are now produced every year. It’s easily the best-loved fruit in America.
A member of the Cucurbitaceae family with – you guessed it – cucumber, as well as squash and pumpkin, watermelons can weigh anywhere from two to 70 pounds. They grow on long vines and rest on the ground while they mature. Often oblong and light green in color, they can also be round, spotted, or striped with white bands running from end to end.
To yield fruit, watermelons need to be pollinated by honeybees – even the sterile, seedless watermelon. The vines alone can grow six to eight feet in a month, producing the first watermelon within 60 days. Mature watermelons grown in warm, sunny climates are usually ready for harvest in about three months.
Rather than being genetically modified as some people fear, seedless watermelons are sterile hybrids created by crossing male pollen – containing 22 chromosomes per cell (making it a tetraploid plant) – with a female watermelon flower having 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seeds contain 33 chromosomes (a triploid seed), rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds.
Watermelon stores very well at room temperature, but should be refrigerated after cutting. An amazing fact about watermelons is that its antioxidants, flavonoids, and lycopene content can remain for as long as seven days.
Health Benefits of Watermelon
Not surprisingly, watermelon contains a hefty amount of vitamin C – 21% of the daily recommended value – that helps your immune system produce antibodies to fight disease. There’s also a 17% daily value of vitamin A, boosting eye health and preventing such diseases as macular degeneration and cataracts. The vitamin B6 content helps form red blood cells and assures your nerves will function as they should. Your body uses vitamin B6 to help break down proteins, so the more protein is consumed, the more vitamin B6 is needed. Potassium, although a relatively small amount is in watermelon, helps balance fluids in your cells. (Low potassium levels sometimes cause muscle cramps.)
One of the natural chemicals in watermelons is citrulline, which converts in the kidneys to arginine, an amino acid that works hard for heart health and maintaining a good immune system. The more this conversion takes place, the less fat is apt to accumulate in the cells, helping to keep obesity and type 2 diabetes from becoming issues. Arginine also removes ammonia and other toxicities from your body.
The antioxidant lycopene is the star player in watermelon, a compound now known to pack even more of a punch than tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and guavas. While most of these fruits get their reddish color from anthocyanin flavonoids, it’s the lycopene content that does it for watermelon.
What does this do for the body? While nearly 92% of watermelon is water, the 8% left over is rich in this compound, protecting and nourishing the heart, prostate, and skin. Lycopene discourages inflammation and may also be important for maintaining strong healthy bones, not to mention its ability to neutralize harmful free radicals. Research indicates that lycopene has greater potency when ripe. In fact, while it’s still white inside, well before maturity, the vitamin and mineral content and just about every other nutritional benefit is close to zero.
Another anti-inflammatory phytonutrient in watermelon is cucurbitacin E, or tripterpenoid, which blocks the activity of pain-, fever- and inflammation-causing enzyme cyclooxygenase. Cucurbitacin E also neutralizes nitrogen-containing molecules in the body.
The nutrients are very similar throughout the entire watermelon and not concentrated in the darker red center as some people believe. In fact, the white rind, which isn’t normally eaten, has some of the highest nutrient concentrations.
However, consume watermelon in moderation because it contains fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.
Watermelon Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
Calories from Fat
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie
Studies Done on Watermelon
Scientists say watermelon has ingredients that deliver beneficial effects to the body’s blood vessels and may even increase libido. Phytonutrients with the ability to relax blood vessels (and maybe even prevent erectile dysfunction) include lycopene, betacarotene, and the more unfamiliar citrulline, which converts to arginine, an amino acid. When this compound is ingested, it dramatically strengthens the heart and circulation system. This may also serve in the treatment of angina, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular ailments.1
Four men and five postmenopausal women ages 51 to 57 – hypertensive but otherwise healthy – received therapeutic doses of watermelon in a test to determine its effectiveness against pre-hypertension. Scientists found improved arterial function and lowered aortic blood pressure in all nine participants, and reported that in addition to the vascular benefits, eating watermelon may even help reduce serum glucose levels and prevent prehypertension from progressing to full-blown hypertension, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
Because of the encouraging evidence generated by the study, continued research with a much larger group of participants was determined to be warranted.2
Watermelon Fun Facts
Of course, there’s a National Watermelon Promotion Board. It reports various interesting watermelon facts, such as the world’s heaviest watermelon, grown in Arkansas in 2005 and weighing in at 268 pounds.
A hint for growers: a pale or buttery yellow spot on the bottom of a watermelon indicates ripeness.
With its vines running first through Africa 3,000 years before the Common Era, watermelons were well-sprouted throughout Asia and Europe before being brought to the Americas with the colonists. This gigantic and lusciously sweet fruit is a member of the cucumber family, and requires honeybees for pollination.
Nutritionally, while vitamin A and C content is significant, it’s the lycopene that takes the prize for what it does for the body, which includes anti-inflammation bone health and an ability to neutralize harmful free radicals.
Another phytochemical is citrulline, which converts to arginine for heart and immune system health. Arginine can prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, and removes ammonia and other toxicities from the body.
Luckily, this is one fruit you’ll have no trouble getting anyone to try as it’s the hands-down favorite among kids and adults alike.
Sulforaphane, an organic sulfur found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, may lower your risk of obesity and may be an ideal substitute or complement to metformin in the treatment of type 2 diabetes
Sulforaphane reduces glucose production and improves liver gene expression. Patients with dysregulated diabetes who received broccoli sprout extract in addition to metformin had 10 percent lower fasting blood glucose levels than the placebo group
Broccoli and broccoli sprouts also have potent anticancer activity courtesy of sulforaphane and other chemoprotective compounds
By Dr. Mercola
Broccoli and broccoli sprouts have potent anticancer activity courtesy of sulforaphane, a naturally occurring organic sulfur, and other chemoprotective compounds. Studies have shown sulforaphane:
•Supports normal cell function and division and acts as an immune stimulant1
•Causes apoptosis (programmed cell death) in colon,2 prostate,3 breast4 and tobacco-induced lung cancer5 cells; three servings of broccoli per week may reduce your risk of prostate cancer by more than 60 percent6
•Activates nuclear factor-like 2 (Nrf2), a transcription factor that regulates cellular oxidation and reduction and aids in detoxification,7 as well as other phase 2 detoxification enzymes.
Broccoli sprouts, in particular, have been shown to help detox environmental pollutants such as benzene.8,9,10 In another study, sulforaphane was found to increase excretion of airborne pollutants by 61 percent.11 The phytonutrients glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin and glucobrassicin also aid detoxification12
•Reduces damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) by as much as 73 percent, thereby lowering your risk of inflammation,13which is a hallmark of cancer. It also lowers C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation14
•Reduces the expression of long noncoding RNA in prostate cancer cells, thereby influencing the micro RNA and reducing the cancer cells’ ability to form colonies by as much as 400 percent15,16,17,18,19
However, the health benefits of this cruciferous veggie do not end there. Research shows it may reduce your risk for a number of common diseases, including but not limited to arthritis, heart disease and kidney disease. Most recently, its beneficial effects on obesityand type 2 diabetes have been highlighted.
Sulforaphane Helps Slash Obesity Risk
Animal research20,21,22,23 suggests sulforaphane may be used as a weight management aid. Mice fed a high-fat diet with sulforaphane gained weight at a rate that was 15 percent slower than those receiving the same diet without sulforaphane supplementation. They also gained 20 percent less visceral fat, the fat that collects around your internal organs, which is particularly hazardous to health. Two different mechanisms behind these effects were discovered
First, sulforaphane was found to speed up tissue browning. Brown fat is a beneficial type of body fat that actually helps you stay slim. It’s a heat-generating type of fat that burns energy rather than storing it
Sulforaphane also decreased gut bacteria in the Desulfobivrionaceae family. These bacteria are known to produce toxins that contribute to metabolic endotoxemia and obesity
Broccoli in the Treatment of Diabetes
Results from a Swedish study24,25 suggest sulforaphane may be helpful in the treatment of diabetes as well, lowering blood glucose levels and improving gene expression in your liver. Medical News Today reports:26
“While there are medications, such as metformin, that can help people with type 2 diabetes to manage their blood glucose levels, [doctoral student Annika] Axelsson and team note that some patients are unable to use them due to their severe side effects, which include kidney damage.
As such, there is a need for safer alternatives. Could sulforaphane meet this need? To answer this question, Axelsson and colleagues created a genetic signature for type 2 diabetes, based on 50 genes associated with the condition. The researchers then applied this signature to public gene expression data.
This allowed them to assess the effects of more than 3,800 compounds on gene expression changes in liver cells that are associated with type 2 diabetes. The team found that sulforaphane — a chemical compound present in cruciferous vegetables including broccoli sprouts, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and watercress — demonstrated the strongest effects.”
Sulforaphane Lowers Glucose Levels in Obese Diabetics With Poor Glucose Control
In tests using cultured liver cells, sulforaphane was shown to reduce glucose production. In diabetic rats, the compound improved gene expression in the liver. Next, they tested a broccoli sprout extract on 97 adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. All except three were also taking metformin.
After 12 weeks, patients with dysregulated diabetes who received a daily dose of broccoli sprout extract — containing an amount of sulforaphane equivalent to about 11 pounds (5 kilos) of broccoli — in addition to metformin had 10 percent lower fasting blood glucose levels than the placebo group. This is a significant enough improvement to reduce your risk of health complications, according to the authors, who described sulforaphane’s effects as follows:27
“Sulforaphane suppressed glucose production from hepatic cells by nuclear translocation of [Nrf2] and decreased expression of key enzymes in gluconeogenesis.
Moreover, sulforaphane reversed the disease signature in the livers from diabetic animals and attenuated exaggerated glucose production and glucose intolerance by a magnitude similar to that of metformin. Finally, sulforaphane, provided as a concentrated broccoli sprout extract, reduced fasting blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in obese patients with dysregulated type 2 diabetes.”
No effect was seen in patients whose diabetes was already well-regulated. According to the authors, broccoli extract may be a good complement to metformin, as the two compounds reduce blood glucose in very different ways. While metformin sensitizes your cells to insulin, thereby increasing cellular uptake of glucose (which reduces blood levels), sulforaphane acts by suppressing liver enzymes that stimulate glucose production.
For patients who cannot tolerate metformin, the supplement may be “an ideal substitute.”28 In future tests, the researchers will evaluate the effects of sulforaphane on people with prediabetes to see whether it might help prevent type 2 diabetes from developing in the first place.
Sulforaphane Also Combats Fatty Liver
As discussed in a recent Bulletproof blog post, the protein Nrf2 binds to antioxidant response element (ARE), a “master switch” that regulates antioxidant and glutathione production in your body. This helps explain why sulforaphane appears to offer such potent protection against chronic disease, as sulforaphane activates Nrf2.
In addition to combating diabetes and cancer, broccoli may also be an important dietary intervention for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease(NAFLD), which affects up to 25 percent of Americans,29 including children. NAFLD is defined as an excessive accumulation of fats in your liver in the absence of significant alcohol consumption.
The overconsumption of net carbs, especially fructose from processed foods, soda and juices, is strongly associated with NAFLD which, if left untreated, can raise your risk of liver cancer. Research30 suggests the fat-forming and pro-inflammatory effects of fructose may be due to transient ATP (the chemical storage form of energy) depletion.
This in turn leads to uric acid formation, which at excessively high levels acts as a pro-oxidant inside your cells. According to an animal study published in 2016, long-term consumption of broccoli may reduce your chances of developing fatty liver caused by the standard American diet by lowering triglyceride levels in your liver.31,32
Other Health-Promoting Compounds in Broccoli
Aside from sulforaphane, broccoli contains several other health-promoting nutrients and compounds, including:
•Fiber, which helps nourish your gut microbiome to strengthen your immune function and reduce your risk of inflammatory diseases.33 Fiber also activates a gene called T-bet, which is essential for producing immune cells in the lining of your digestive tract.34
These immune cells, called innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), help maintain balance between immunity and inflammation in your body and produce interleukin-22, a hormone that helps protect your body from pathogenic bacteria. ILCs even help resolve cancerous lesions and prevent the development of bowel cancers and other inflammatory diseases
•Glucoraphanin, a glucosinolate precursor of sulforaphane that influences carcinogenesis and mutagenesis.35,36 Compared to mature broccoli, broccoli sprouts can contain up to 20 times more glucoraphanin
•Phenolic compounds, including flavonoids and phenolic acids, which have a potent ability to eliminate damaging free radicals and quell inflammation,37,38,39 resulting in a lower risk for diseases such as asthma, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.40 One of the ways phenolic compounds slow the encroachment of disease is by defending against infection, most dramatically by zapping ROS linked to atherosclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
•Diindolylmethane (DIM). Your body produces DIM when it breaks down cruciferous vegetables. Like many other broccoli compounds, DIM has shown multiple potential benefits, including boosting your immune system and helping to prevent or treat cancer41,42
•Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), an enzyme involved in the production of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), a compound involved in mitochondrial health and energy metabolism. NAD may slow age-related decline in health by restoring your metabolism to more youthful levels.43,44,45
Previous research has shown that, with age, your body loses its capacity to create NAD — an effect thought to be related to, or the result of, chronic inflammation. Studies have also shown that taking NAD directly is ineffective. Instead, you’re better off taking its precursor, NMN, found in broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage, avocado and other green vegetables. Once in your system, NMN is quickly converted into NAD
When you eat raw mature broccoli, you only get about 12 percent of the total sulforaphane content theoretically available based on the parent compound. You can increase this amount and really maximize the cancer-fighting power of broccoli by preparing it properly.
In the video above, Professor Emerita Elizabeth Jeffery, a former researcher in the dietary mechanisms of cancer prevention at the University of Illinois, delves into this,46 which shows that steaming your broccoli for three to four minutes is ideal. Do not go past five minutes.
Steaming your broccoli spears for three to four minutes will optimize the sulforaphane content by eliminating epithiospecifier protein — a heat-sensitive sulfur-grabbing protein that inactivates sulforaphane — while still retaining the enzyme myrosinase, which converts glucoraphanin to sulforaphane. Without it, you cannot get any sulforaphane.
Boiling or microwaving your broccoli past the one-minute mark is NOT recommended, as it will destroy a majority of the myrosinase. If you want to boil your broccoli, blanch it in boiling water for no more than 20 to 30 seconds, then immerse it in cold water to stop the cooking process.