The Solution for Winning The Battle Against Heart Disease

The powerful weapon against free radicals includes antioxidants. They’re amazing substances that slow oxidation and block or repair free-radical reactions in our bodies.

The heart is the hardest-working organ in the body. Since the coronary arteries sustain more wear and tear than other arteries, they also need to be constantly repaired. Antioxidants are extremely important in preventing heart disease due to their blocking and repairing functions.

Millions of microscopic cracks and damaged areas may occur inside the artery walls from oxidative damage. When the body does not have adequate amounts of antioxidants, especially glutathione and vitamins C and E, in order to repair the lining of damaged blood vessels, it will be more prone to forming plaque in the arteries. This, along with chronic inflammation, forms fatty streaks in the blood vessels and leads to plaque formation. However, adequate amounts of antioxidants such as gluthathione, vitamins C and E, bioflavonoids, pine bark and grape seed extract, resveratrol, pomegranate juice, and berries such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries may help prevent these cracks from occurring in the first place.

Picture it this way: Imagine repairing a house after a tornado has partially damaged the roof and damaged the walls. If you didn’t have the money to repair the roof and walls properly, and you merely patched them with the inexpensive materials at hand, the next storm might well destroy your dwelling for good.

Likewise, if you have inadequate antioxidants in your diet and you are damaging your blood vessels with smoking, high blood pressure, or a fatty diet, areas of your blood vessels will usually become chronically inflamed and attract monocytes (white blood cells), which are transformed into macrophages, another type of white blood cell. These macrophages are super garbage collectors that gobble up oxidized cholesterol and cellular debris and eventually form fatty streaks and later fatty plaque. However, antioxidant vitamins help to prevent or repair the linking of the blood vessels that are damaged and halt or diminish the destructive inflammatory response. Without adequate antioxidants, more plaque is formed. If this continues over decades, the fatty plaque builds up in your blood vessels, creating atherosclerosis, which can eventually lead to a heart attack.

For a healthy heart, don’t’ forget your citrus fruit and vitamin C. Vitamin C is a very important antioxidant for repairing damage to the coronary arteries. It helps to increase the production of collagen and elastin, both of which add stability to our blood vessels. Collagen produced without vitamin C is weaker and causes blood vessels to become fragile. Scurvy results from an extremely depleted supply of vitamin C reserves in the body. This condition causes a gradual breakdown of collagen, leading to a breakdown in blood vessels, resulting in internal hemorrhaging.

While many animals can create their own vitamin C, people cannot. We must replenish it daily through our diet. Unfortunately, much of our food is so processed that very little vitamin C remains in our foods. Citrus fruit is a major source of vitamin C, but while most of us may have enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy, we don’t have enough to win the war against arteriosclerosis.

USANA Vitamins supplementation USANA Mega Antioxidant contains Olivol is the heart of the Olive. USANA’s patented extract provides highly bioavailable phenolic antioxidants that have been shown to protect low-density lipoproteins (LDL) from oxidation. USANA’s advanced formula offers a full range of the natural mixed tocopherols including Vitamin E to provide you with additional antioxidant support.

Pomegranate

Pomegranates have been grown in the Middle East since ancient times. They have also been cultivated in the Mediterranean region, Europe, Asia, Africa and India. The pomegranate tree was introduced to California in the late eighteenth century; today, pomegranates in the United States are grown primarily in Arizona and California.

Pomegranates are basically round with a tough reddish-pink skin. Cutting the fruit open reveals white, fleshy tissue and hundreds of pips – small translucent sacs that contain juice, tart red pulp and a seed. To eat a pomegranate, slice it in half and place it in a bowl of water. Gently remove the pips from the rind and membrane and strain the pips from the water. Then, enjoy the tart, rich flavor of the pips by themselves, or use them on salads and in baked goods.

Nutritional Benefits of Pomegranate

Pomegranates are an excellent source of potassium, vitamin C and polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, ellagic acid, tannins and punicalagin (of all the polyphenols contained in pomegranate juice, punicalagin is responsible for half of the juice’s antioxidant powder). In one study, researchers compared pomegranate juice with cranberry juice, red win, blueberry juice and orange juice and found that pomegranate juice had more polyphenols than the other juices and that the polyphenols in pomegranate juice were significantly more active. Pomegranate juice neutralized free radicals and prevented LDL cholesterol oxidation, which contributes to atherosclerosis.

Pomegranate and Your Health

Scientific literature increasingly shows that the polyphenols in pomegranate juice protect the heart, fight free radicals and protect against cancer and other chronic diseases.

Studies suggest that regularly drinking pomegranate juice helps to reduce oxidative stress, atherosclerosis, blood pressure and narrowing of the carotid arteries in the neck. Scientists at the Preventive Medicine Research Center in Sausalito, California, found that 240 milliliters (about eight ounces) of pomegranate juice a day improved blood flow to the heart in patients with coronary heart disease.

In 2006, Israeli researchers reported that the antioxidants in pomegranate juice are especially beneficial for diabetics. Noting that diabetes increases oxidative stress and the risk of atherosclerosis, the researchers gave 10 diabetic patients 50 milliliters of pomegranate juice per day for three months. (As a control, 10 non-diabetic patients received the same amount of pomegranate juice). The researchers found that pomegranate juice reduced the risk of oxidation and atherosclerosis in the diabetic patients without increasing blood sugar levels.

Pomegranate juice may even protect against cancer. Laboratory and animal studies have revealed potential roles for pomegranate in fighting lung cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer.

The Bottom Line

As baby boomers reach their fifties and sixties, the emphasis on active lifestyles, maintaining good health and living longer increase. To meet their health goals, more and more people are tuning to fruits and vegetables for the healthful antioxidants they contain. As modern science continues to research the role of free-radical damage in aging and disease, expect to hear more about the potent phytochemicals in acai berries, mangosteen, goji berries and pomegranate, al of which offer numerous benefits to those who want to take control of their health.

Superfruits Fast Facts

Uses and Benefits: Superfruits are nutritional powerhouse, providing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and more. Because of their nutritiaonl value, superfruits may boost overall well-being and help prevent disease.

Forms: Superfruits are whole foods and can be enjoyed as such. Many are also available as juices or fruit extracts. Because of its astringency, the highly nutritious mangosteen pericarp is inedible – look for supplements instead.

Goji Berry

The power of the goji berry is no secret in China, where the berry has been used for its many healing properties for thousands of years. According to the Ben Cao Gang Mu, a well-known Chinese herbal compiled in the late sixteenth century, “Taking in Chinese goji berry regularly may regulate the flow of vital energy and strengthen the physique, which can lead to longevity”. Recently, the goji berry has been discovered in the West, and its amazing antioxidant and health benefits are now available to all.

Modern Uses of Goji Berry

Building on ancient knowledge of the goji berry, modern scientists have extensively researched the fruits’ nutritional profile and health-promoting properties. Studies provide evidence that the goji berry fights free radicals, supports a healthy immune system, improves vision and maintains healthy blood sugar levels.

The Chinese Ministry of Public Health approved sales of the goji berry as a botanical medicine in 1983, and the Chinese State Scientific and Technological commission has declared the goji berry a national treasure.

Nutritional Benefits of the Goji Berry

According to a study conducted by the Beijing National Research Institute in 1988, goji berries contain 21 trace minerals, 18 amino acids, over 500 times more vitamins C than oranges, more beta-carotene than carrots and more calcium than spinach. An eight-ounce portion of goji berries contains 4,000 percent of the RDI (Reference Daily Intake) for vitamin B1, 1,000 percent of the RDI for vitamin B3, 190 percent of the RDI for fiber and over 100 percent of the RDI for chromium.

In addition, goji berries are full of flavonoids, the water-soluble pigments that give blueberries, peppers and oranges their vivid colors. Flavonoids are also powerful antioxidants. In January 2009, a team of researchers in Phoenix, Arizona, reported that regular consumption of goji berries could increase antioxidant markers in humans. According to the results of their double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, subjects who consumed 120 milliliters of goji juice per day for 30 days experienced a significant increase in three antioxidant markers.

Goji Berries and Your Health

Healthy Immune System Support

Goji berries provide support for a healthy immune system. Thus far, most studies on the effects of goji berries on immunity have focused on mice. However, in 2003 researchers from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China reported that a goji compound could be used to induce an immune response in human cells. Specifically, the researchers found that goji stimulated interleukin 2 and tumor growth necrosis factor – two compounds essential for the immune response to cancer.

Improved Vision

Both ancient tradition and modern research suggest that goji berries can improve vision. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two pigments contained in goji berries, protect the retinal by neutralizing the free adicals from sunlight. Chinese researchers tested the effects of goji berries on the eyesight of 27 subjects and reported positive results: dark adaptation dramatically improved; physiologic scotomas (blind spots) decreased; and serum vitamin A and carotene content – indicators of eyesight acuity – increased.

Healthy Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Levels

The goji berry may support blood sugar and cholesterol levels, helping to prevent diabetes, pre-idabetic conditions and cardiovascular disease.

Researchers conducted a study of the glucose-stabilizing properties of the goji berry. According to their report, “It was found that the three Lycium barbarum [goji bery] fruit extracts / fractions could significantly reduce blood glucose levels and serum total cholesterol (TC) and triglyceride (TG) concentrations and at the same time markedly increase high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) levels after ten days treatment in tested rabbits, indicating that there were substantial hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects. In other words, their research revealed that goji berries decreased the amount of blood sugar and total cholesterol in the blood while increasing the amount of “good” HDL cholesterol.

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Cranberries Anti-Adherence Benefits

Ulcers

Most gastric ulcers are caused by Heliobacter pylori bacteria, which adhere to the lining of the stomach wall. Results from a 2002 in vitro study published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition indicate that cranberry juice may help prevent H. Pylori from adhering to the stomach lining. In this respect, ulcer sufferers may benefit from cranberries in much the same way as those with urinary tract infection.

Oral Health

In 2002, researchers in Jerusalem noted that a mouthwash containing a unique cranberry compound was able to break up the dental plaque formed by a number of oral bacteria and decrease the salivary level of the Streptococcus mutans bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Genital Herpes

Researchers have studied cranberry’s anti-adherence effects on the virus that causes genital herpes. An article published in the Journal of Science, Food and Agriculture in 2004 shows that the proanthocyanidin A-1, a compound found in cranberries, may prevent the attachment and penetration of the herpes simplex virus. But like cranberry’s effects on the urinary tract, these benefits are only preventive.

Antioxidants and Free Radicals

Scientists now know that air pollution, cigarette smoke, pesticides, contaminated water and even the food we eat produce harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause damage – or oxidation – to health cells. This damage can impair the proper functioning of the immune system and lead to infections, chronic disease and cancer. Cranberries are a rich source of antioxidants, which can help eliminate harmful free radicals and protect cellular DNA from the oxidative damage and cell mutations that can lead to cancer.

Powerful Proanthocyanidins

Scientists use the umbrella term bioflavonoids for the many healthful phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables, herbs, grains, legumes and nuts. Bioflavonoids frequently have antioxidant properties, and some have been found to possess antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties as well. Research suggests that cranberry’s many health benefits. Proanthocyanidins are just one of the many bioflavonoids that cranberries contain, but research suggests that they are some of the most beneficial.

Proanthocyanidins are potent antioxidants that occur abundantly in blue, red and purple fruits, with cranberries having one of the highest concentrations. In addition to their antioxidant activity, certain proanthocyanidins offer other benefits for a host of health conditions.

The proanthocyanidins found in cranberries help to increase peripheral circulation and thus may help improve vision. In clinical trials of patients with retinal disease, including macular degeneration, patients given proanthocyanidins show significant improvement. Health professionals monitoring the effect of proanthocyanidins on vision have reported that proanthocyanidins also help in the prevention and treatment of glaucoma.

Preliminary animal studies have produced compelling evidence that the antioxidants in cranberries can help keep the mind sharp and free from neurological damage by fighting free radicals in the brain. Proanthocyanidins are among the few antioxidants that cross the blood/brain barrier, thus helping to protect neural tissue. This may explain why these potent chemicals have helped patients with multiple sclerosis and other nerve disease.

Green Tea

For thousands of years, green tea has been popular throughout Asia for its pleasant, soothing taste and time-honored health benefits. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have recommended green tea since 3000 BC, and green tea is still an important part of the Chinese material medica.

Modern studies confirm the efficacy of green tea for preventing and treating diseases and other health conditions. Green tea gets its health-promoting properties from phytochemicals known as polyphenols. Polyphenols are bitter, astringent phytochemicals that constitute 15 to 30 percent of dried green tea leaves by weight.

Although black tea is made from the same plant as green tea, it does not provide the same health benefits. Black tea leaves are fermented, a process that destroys polyphenols. Green tea leaves are lightly steamed, a process that protects polyphenols by destroying the enzyme that oxidizes them.

The polyphenols in fresh tea leaves are catechins, including gallocatechin (GC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin (EC), epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin gallate (ECG). Catechins promote health in the following ways:

Combating oxidative stress
Protecting against cancer
Lowering cholesterol levels
Reducing blood pressure
Fighting bacteria and viruses
Protecting cognitive function

Combating Oxidative Stress

Oxygen is essential for human life, but oxygen metabolism creates harmful by-products known as free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that attack cells in the body, destroying cell membranes, damaging DNA and oxidizing lipids. These cellular assaults can contribute to cancer, heart disease and other serious health conditions. Our bodies protect themselves against free radicals with the help of antioxidants, which can be found in foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables – and green tea.

Studies demonstrate that the polyphenols in green tea efficiently scavenge free radicals and are more powerful than vitamins C and E, two well-known antioxidants. These polyphenols are particularly important in preventing lipid peroxidation, a process that plays a key role in the buildup of arterial plaque. Green tea also increases the activity of the body’s own antioxidant system, including the activation of powerful natural antioxidants like superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.

The Wonders of Antiaging OPCs

OPCs combat many of the negative effects of the aging process, partly through their ability to enhance immune resistance. Strong immune systems contribute to capillary strength, increase peripheral circulation, reduce skin aging and support skin elasticity. OPCs are some of the most potent immune-enhancing nutrients known: they remain in the body for three days; they are 20 times stronger than vitamins C and 50 times stronger than vitamin E; they are highly bioavailable; they are immediately absorbed from the stomach into the bloodstream; and they are distributed to virtually every organ and tissue.

Grape seed extract also enhances capillary strength and vascular function, supporting the heart and decreasing bruising, edema (selling) from injury or trauma, varicose veins and retinopathy.

By increasing peripheral circulation, OPCs may improve vision. Clinical studies have shown that antioxidants can halt cataract progression. OPCs, which have a strong affinity for the portion of the retina that is responsible for visual acuity, prevent free-radical damage and reinforce the collagen structures of the retina. Researchers have reported that OPCs improve symptoms of macular degeneration and other retinal disease. Some health professionals believe that OPCs may also help in the prevention and treatment of glaucoma.

Finally OPCs help reduce the aging of skin and loss of skin elasticity. Because of this, grape seed extract is often used topically in cosmetic preparations. Studies indicate that OPCs inhibit enzymes such as collagenase, elastase and hyaluronidase, all of which are involved in the breakdown of the skin’s structural components. OPCs help protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation damage that lead to wrinkles and skin cancer; stabilize collagen and elastin; and help improve the elasticity and youthfulness of skin. They also strengthen the connective tissue of the skin and fat chambers. When that connection is broken, the quality of the skin changes (there is speculation that cellulite may actually be a sign of OPC deficiency). People taking grape seed extract have reported that it helps tone their skin and reduce cellulite, stretch marks and old scars.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is fat-soluble polyphenol found in grapes and grape products (including grape seed extract). In 1992, scientists became aware of resveratrol in red wine, leading to speculation that resveratrol might be the answer to the French paradox. (The French paradox refers to the relatively low levels of heart disease among French people, despite their high consumption of saturated fat and cigarettes). Since then, in vitro (test tube) studies have found resveratrol to have many potential health benefits.