Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Mighty Passion Fruit (Lilikoi)

My father used to grow this thing on a fence in our back yard. It grew wild. The fruit proliferated. He made juice from it. As a kid, I would pick the fruit and rascally throw it at others. The other kids in the neighborhood had a blast throwing the fruit, especially the overly ripe ones, at each others' heads. I can still picture the yellow, slimy pulp oozing down my neighbor's smiling face.

Little did I know, that I was wasting a great source of polyphenols on someone's cranium. Yes, this exotic fruit from South America is packed with tons of antioxidants, polyphenol being the primary one. Green tea is also chock full of this anti-cancer compound. Passion fruit is known as a remedy for high blood pressure, arterial blockage, asthma, and even a metabolism booster for overweight people.

The fruit, dried leaves, and flowers also have a calming effect on the body. Many drink passion fruit tea before they sleep at night in order to promote better rest. Only fruit can do this: promote metabolism and restfulness at the same time. That's why nature is our best medicine cabinet.

I ate some this morning and I still feel the boost of energy flowing through my body, but I am not jittery. It's better than caffeine! Maybe that's why they call it passion fruit. It gets your blood pumping and body resting for optimum performance. It's better than Viagra! Ha! This has not been medically proven, but it does increase your sense of well-being. I feel great right now. I really do.

Next time you walk through an open market or a specialty fruit store, look for some fresh passion fruit. It will add some bravado and pep to your life, as well as a healthy dose of vitamin C. Don't let the seeds deter you, just slurp them down. It has the perfect blend between sweet and sour. Malama Pono

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Health Benefits of Tea

Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary.  ~Chinese Proverb

The wise Chinese sage that penned this saying might have been on to something. Many laud the benefits of drinking two to five cups of green or black tea per day, but there are also many that do not know the healthful qualities of drinking this elixir from Asia. This blog article will address the latter group along with those who know tea is good for them, but do not know the full extent of why it is good. Ignorance is bliss, but wisdom is better (St. Johnny 2010). 

For starters, research is still ongoing about the scope of it's disease preventive and curative properties, but we know these facts about tea: it contains no additives or artificial sweeteners; it contains no calories; tea drinking increases daily intake of fluids; it maintains a healthy, energized metabolism and circulatory system; acts as an antiviral; has less caffeine than coffee; increases alertness without making you jittery; contributes to oral health by impeding bacterial growth; acts as an anti-inflamatory; provides a rich source of vitamins. 

Green tea is also known to contain one hundred times more antioxidants than vitamin C and twenty-five times more than vitamin E in protecting our immune systems. Some research has claimed that green tea is more healthful than black, and some state they are the same when it comes to antioxidant content. There are so many variables that it is hard to state definitively one way or the other (soil content, how much sun, how much shade, length of roasting process). All these things effect the antioxidant content (anti-disease causing agents).

Yes, I like the jolt of a good cup of coffee, but you cannot beat tea for both its relaxing and stimulating effect on the body. It's less intrusive and abrasive on the human anatomy and psyche. I believe it has something to do with the caffeine content and the intangible, feel good attitude one gets when you drink a cup on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or on any afternoon for the matter. Being happy can add years to your life - tea definitely contributes to this reservoir.

This quote sums it up the best: "So, when it comes to tea, think tonic, not curative, healthful collaborator not redeemer. Mix it up and drink tea from all the fascinating classes of tea. Drink tea to relax and connect with the spiritual nature of life's simple pleasures. Enjoy the flavors and the subtle and not so subtle differences waiting to be discovered in the world of tea offerings, and should the rich doses of flavanoids in each cup of tea be determined to cure what ails you, you will be ahead of the curve. (The Story of Tea, pg 357)."

In other words, tea is good for you. Drink two to five cups each day along with a diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, and other unprocessed foods. You will feel better, look better and think better. This is a good thing if you ask me.  

"Tea tempers the spirit and harmonizes the mind; dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue; awakens thought and prevents drowsiness"
Lu Tzu