Garlic: While garlic contains phytonutrients similar to those found in onions, it also possesses selenium, a substance that, according to some studies, offers protection against various cancers and against the deterioration of the body caused by free radicals. Different studies have looked at and remarked on its ability to both guard against heart disease and arterial calcification (hardening of the arteries), and to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. Since it is a source of the flavonoid quercetin, it contains antibiotic properties that empower it to fight colds, stomach viruses, and yeast infections.
Ginger: Ginger is already widely employed throughout the world by anyone who wants to cure dyspepsia (stomach upsets), reduce gastrointestinal gases, and to relieve nausea that arises from pregnancy, seasickness, and even from chemo drugs used in cancer and other medical therapies. Ginger is largely composed of fragrant essential oils, which give it a distinctive aromatic flavor. One of these oils, gingerol, makes it a natural sedative for calming the gastrointestinal tract. This oil also provides some protection from pathogenic bacteria that upset the stomach. All in all, ginger is rich in antibiotic properties that combat the GI infections that bring on diarrhea and dehydration. Beyond this, new evidence suggests ginger helps lower cholesterol, a boon that provides protection from cardiovascular disease.
Folk medicine has long honored ginger. Bear in mind, by the way, that while some scientists look down on folk medicine, numerous modern pharmaceuticals have been derived from folk remedies, suitably renamed and price-tagged. This folk science, now supported by modern science, has seen ginger as a mild immune booster, which wards off colds and flus, sinus congestions, and coughs. There have also been some preliminary findings in animal studies suggesting that ginger may help to treat diabetes. This is an exciting new perspective.
Goji Berry: The goji berry, a fruit with many health-giving properties, has sometimes been traduced by more unscrupulous food companies by being sold in such things as (to imagine a name) “Goji Power Plus Bars,” which are actually low on goji as an ingredient and high on unrefined sugar. Now let’s look at the value of goji, which has caused such companies to try to trade on its good name. Also known as wolfberry in its native Europe, the plant is found through much of Asia, where it appears in exotic (to Westerners) Tibetan and Himalayan descriptions. The word goji is actually a
Westernization of the Chinese word for the berry, which can be transliterated as “gouqi.” The berry is a common ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, dating back thousands of years in its use. The oblong red goji berry has no problem fulfilling the requirements to be designated a super food. It has a high concentration of phytochemicals, amino acids, vitamins B and C, and beta-carotene. Additionally, it contains 11 essential and 22 trace dietary minerals, is moderately high in alpha-linolenic acid, and an outstanding source of the antioxidant lycopene. One can look to the goji berry for extra protein, dietary fibers, calcium, zinc, and selenium. With all these nutrients found in it, the goji will obviously have many health-lifting effects, and these include protection from cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases as well as from age-related vision disorders (such as glaucoma and macular degeneration). Studies have pointed to its neuro-protection, positive immunomodulatory, and anti-cancer properties. This last benefit has been underscored by a study published in the Chinese Journal of Oncology, which indicated cancer patients responded better to treatment while on a diet that included goji. However, the study recommended that individuals on blood-thinning medications avoid eating goji berries, which may interfere with the drugs. Last but far from least, it offers liver protection and can improve sexual function.
Green Tea: The ingredient in tea—in green tea particularly—that has stirred the most scientific interest is catechin. Approximately 25 percent of a dry tea leaf is catechin. Although traces of catechin are also found in chocolate, wine, and other fruits and vegetables, it is tea that offers the greatest amount of this super nutrient. The multi-tasking catechin not only has been shown to reduce the plaque buildup that is part of atherosclerosis, but it gives protection against infectious bacteria, and reduces oxidative stress. In our polluted world, tea catechins are especially needed due to another of its curative features, which is that it can improve DNA replication and protect against genetic damage from environmental toxins. Studies in recent years have noted its inflammatory properties and suggested it can play a role battling against cancer. Other scientific examinations note that green tea can improve bone density and cognitive function, reduce the risk of developing kidney stones, and strengthen heart function. There is also some evidence showing that green tea’s polyphenols protect against the brain cell death that is associated with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. I remember reading about the traditional Chinese dental hygiene procedure of brushing with tea. At the time, years ago, I thought it was humorous, but I realize now, that like many folk practices, it is rooted in real insight. Even if brushing with tea doesn’t prevent cavities, it is full of other health enhancer.