Friday, December 12, 2014

Health Benefits of Beetroot

Beetroot is a super vegetable

The health benefits of beetroot places it among the class of super vegetables.  Many research studies have found that beetroot is good for the health.  Its medicinal properties and availability throughout the year are key reasons that would encourage you to make beetroot as a part of your regular diet. Let us find out more about the health benefits of beetroot.

A Brief Overview of Beetroot Health Benefits

Blood Pressure: A research study has found that beetroot juice reduced the blood pressure (BP) in people with high BP who drank one cup of this vegetable’s juice everyday.1

What element of the beetroot lowers the blood pressure? According to the same study, the inorganic nitrate in beetroot helps lower the BP.  The nitrate may relax the blood vessel walls and improve the flow of the blood. 

Dementia: Beetroot may reduce the risk of dementia. It is a brain disease that affects certain brain functions, like thinking and remembering, in old people. A diet rich in nitrate, which is found in beetroot, may stop the progression of dementia.

Bacteria in the mouth convert the nitrate into nitrite.

What does the nitrite do?  A research study found that it improves the blood flow to areas of the brain responsible for analytical and memory functions and that high nitrate diet may fight dementia.2 

Diabetic Neuropathy: It is the damage of the nerves, most likely caused by diabetes. Vegetables like beetroot that have an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid may be a remedy for diabetic neuropathy.

A research study found that pain, numbness and burning or tickling sensation, in neuropathic diabetic patients, reduced with alpha-lipoic acid treatment.3 

Fatty Acids in Liver: Beetroot has bioactive agents, betaine and polyphenols. These agents are said to have properties that protect the liver. A research, conducted on rats found, among others, that beetroot diet decreased fatty acids.4 

Chronic Diseases: Beetroot may prevent chronic diseases. Thanks again to betaine, a compound found in this vegetable. A research study says that “betaine is an important nutrient for the prevention of chronic disease.”5 

Beetroot in South Indian Vegetarian Cuisines

Want to increase the nutritional value of a dish? Add beetroot to it!

Here are some of the cuisines and links to their recipes, at, with beetroot as a main or secondary ingredient:

Beetroot Palya: It is also known as beetroot curry and is a side dish that has a best fit with items like chapati and rice. Garnish it with fresh coriander leaves and a few drops of lemon juice. These should take the taste of the food to a new level.

Recipe of Beetroot Palya

Beetroot Chutney: It is a side dish, which has a good match with items like dosa, idli and chapati.

Recipe of Beetroot Chutney

Here are some of the other cuisines with beetroot as an item:

Sambars: Add beetroot to sambars to give it a special taste dimension.

Salads: How can you use beetroots in salads? Add its gratings to a salad to give it a visual appeal.

Because of the many health benefits of beetroot, make it a regular component of your diet.


1Nitrite & Hypertension, Hypertension, a Journal of American Heart Association, 

2 Acute effect of a high nitrate diet on brain perfusion in older adults, Nitric Oxide,

3Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Diabetic Neuropathy, The Review of Diabetic Studies,

4Liver-protecting effects of table beet (Beta vulgaris var. rubra) during ischemia-reperfusion, Nutrition accessed through the US National Library of Medicine,

5Betaine in human nutrition, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,

Friday, September 26, 2014

Health Benefits of Onions

The health benefits of onions are many. Research studies have shown that onions may prevent or reduce the risk of some diseases. In additions to its health benefits, onions add to the taste of a range of dishes. Before we find out some answers to the question, “What are the health benefits of onions?” let’s take a look at how onion is used in some Indian vegetarian food.

Onions in Indian Dishes – A Quick Overview

Onions are a common ingredient that many Indians use in their everyday cooking. This vegetable is almost necessary to prepare a seasoning. It is also a main item in dishes like sambars and many of the curries. From masala rice roti to masala dosa curry, rava upma to masala vada, onions are a must-have ingredient in a countless number of Indian recipes.

As raw onions are crunchy and have a special taste, these vegetables are a key part of many of the salads too. These include sprouted moong salad and onion raita.

The links to recipes for some of the dishes that use onions are given at the end of the article.

Onions Health Benefits

It’s now time to take a peek into the medicinal storehouse of onions.  Here is a snapshot of the health benefits of onions:


Onion powder in the diet may help in the management of diabetes. A research study found that 3% onion powder, in the diet fed to diabetic rats, reduced much the high blood sugar or hyperglycemia. The researchers also found a significant decrease in blood cholesterol.

Stomach Cancer

A research study has found that eating allium vegetables like onion may reduce the risk of stomach cancer. The research has found an inverse relationship between the consumption of onions and the incidence of stomach cancer.

Stomach Ulcer

A compound called quercetin found in onions are said to aid the healing of stomach ulcers. This compound, among others, is believed to reduce the start of cancerous tumors.


Onions are said to prevent the breakdown of bones and, therefore, reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Chronic Prostatitis

Thanks again to quercetin, the wonder compound found in onions. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, quercetin is said to decrease inflammation in the prostate.

Vascular Disease

Certain quantity of white blood cells may thicken the artery wall, resulting in the arteriosclerotic vascular disease (ASVD).  A research study has found that onion extract may reduce the risk of ASVD, because of the extract’s anti- arteriosclerotic effect.


According to The Free Dictionary, cataractogenesis is “the process of cataract formation.” Onions, through their compounds quercetin, may reduce the risk of cataractogenesis.

Because of the health benefits of onions, you would want to make it a part of your everyday diet and reduce the risk of some diseases.

Here are the links to some of the recipes that have onions as an ingredient:

Sambar Recipe for Idli 

Masala Dosa Curry

Onion Curry 

Chawal ki Roti 

Masala Vada

Vegetable Upma

Onion Raita

Onion Samosa 

Onion Pakoda

Onion Chutney


Influence of dietary capsaicin and onion on the metabolic abnormalities associated with streptozotocin induced diabetes mellitus, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry,

Consumption of onions and a reduced risk of stomach carcinoma, Gastroenterology,

Onions – Phytochemical and Health Properties,

A γ-Glutamyl Peptide Isolated from Onion (Allium cepa L.) by Bioassay-Guided Fractionation Inhibits Resorption Activity of Osteoclasts, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,

Current treatment options in the management of chronic prostatitis, Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, accessed through the US National Library of Medicine,

Onion extract (Allium cepa L.), quercetin and catechin up-regulate paraoxonase 1 activity with concomitant protection against low-density lipoprotein oxidation in male Wistar rats subjected to oxidative stress, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture,

Quercetin inhibits hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidation of the rat lens, Free Radical Biology & Medicine, accessed through the US National Library of Medicine,

Monday, July 7, 2014

Ginger Health Benefits | How to use Ginger

Ginger is a storehouse of medicinal values

The ginger health benefits are many. It is an herb, which plays two roles: as a flavoring agent and natural medicine. It is usually available throughout the year and costs less, in season, than some of the other herbs.  All these reasons should tempt you to know the ginger health benefits.

Ginger is used in, among others,  some Ayurvedic medicines. From indigestion to cold, stings to arthritis, ginger is said to be used as a treatment for a range of diseases. 

Brief Overview of the Ginger Health Benefits

Reduces Menstrual Pain

Dietary ginger may reduce painful menstrual cramps, a research study has found.1

Reduces Blood Pressure

A team of Thailand researchers found that the extract of cassumunar ginger, a type of ginger, has the potential to reduce the mean arterial blood pressure.2

Relieves Migraine

Ginger powder may significantly reduce headache. The team of researchers who found this ginger trait says that the adverse side effects of ginger powder were less than that caused by sumatriptan, a drug used in the treatment of migraine.3

Prevents Injury to Liver

Medicines such as acetaminophen or Tylenol, a painkiller, may also have an association with “chemically-driven liver damage”. A research study has found that ginger can prevent such damage.4

Relieves Asthma Symptoms

Ginger, the wonder herb, may reduce asthma symptoms.  Thanks to the three ginger constituents 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol and 6-shogaol. These constituents with asthma therapies, such as β-agonists, may give more relief of asthma symptoms.5

Works as a Part of Therapy for Ovarian Cancer

The researchers at the University of Michigan, Comprehensive Cancer Center, found that ginger powder was able to cause the death of ovarian cancer cells.  Further, the research study revealed that ginger might be able to reduce the resistance of cancer cells to cancer treatment like chemotherapy.

According to the researchers, ginger was able to kill the cells in two ways. 1.  Apoptosis, which is the outcome of the cells killing themselves. 2. Autophagy, “results from cells digesting or attacking themselves.”6

Reduces Muscle Pain caused by Exercise

Raw ginger may be an answer to reduce the muscle pain caused by certain exercises, according to a research study. The researchers of this study say that “Daily supplementation with ginger reduced muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise…”7

Now that you are aware of some of the ginger health benefits and you know how to use ginger, you may want to make it a part of your regular diet to reap the advantages this herb offers.  As always, consult your physician before you begin to consume ginger for medical reasons. 

Ginger in Indian Dishes – A Quick Glance

Many Indian dishes recipes have ginger as their common ingredient.  The rice dishes like chitranna or lemon rice, methi pulao, palak pulao and ghee rice have this herb as an item.  It is used in a number of curries too. Many types of chutneys, for example, coconut chutney, have ginger as an ingredient.

What about the dishes prepared with ginger as the main item? The cuisines that are in this class include ginger chutney and ginger pickle.

It is common to add the pieces of a crushed ginger to buttermilk to not only give it a flavor, but also to add to its medicinal values.

Some herbal juices also have ginger as a key item.

“How to use ginger?” is a question some first-time users of this herb have.  Ginger chops, paste and crushed pieces are some of the forms you can use, depending on the type of dish you are preparing.  For instance, ginger paste is used in making ghee rice; ginger chops are used in preparing chitranna or lemon rice.

Dry ginger powder is also used in some dishes like Kanchipuram idli.

Here are the recipes, at, for the dishes mentioned above and that uses ginger.  Copy the URL / address in the second column of the table below and paste it in your address browser bar:

Dish Recipe at
Chitranna / Lemon Rice
Methi Pulao
Palak Pulao
Ghee Rice
Coconut Chutney
Butter Milk


1Comparison to assess the effectiveness of active exercises and dietary ginger vs. active exercises on primary dysmenorrhea among adolescent girls, Nursing and midwifery research journal,

2Potent antihypertensive activity of Thai-Lanna medicinal plants and recipes from “MANOSROI III” database, Pharmaceutical Biology accessed through Informa Healthcare,

3Comparison Between the Efficacy of Ginger and Sumatriptan in the Ablative Treatment of the Common Migraine, Phytotherapy Research accessed through Wiley Online Library,

4Hepatoprotective, Antioxidant, and Ameliorative Effects of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) and Vitamin E in Acetaminophen Treated Rats, Journal of Dietary Supplements accessed through Informa Healthcare,

5Active Constituents Of Ginger Potentiate -Agonist-Induced Relaxation Of Airway Smooth Muscle, American Thoracic Society International Conference Abstracts accessed through ATSJournals,

6Ginger causes ovarian cancer cells to die, U-M researchers find, University of Michigan, Comprehensive Cancer Center,

7Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Reduces Muscle Pain Caused by Eccentric Exercise, The Journal of Pain,

Friday, April 18, 2014

What are the Benefits of Garlic?

Garlic is said to be a storehouse of medicinal values

 If you have the question, “What are the benefits of Garlic?” then the answer is, “many”.  Yes, that’s right.  Garlic the humble, natural ingredient used in everyday cooking is a storehouse of medicinal values.

In the medical field, particularly in the alternative medicine area, garlic is considered as a super food.  A number of research studies stand proof to the advantages of garlic.

You have heard the saying, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away.”  For garlic, the statement can be, “garlic keeps sickness away.”

How is garlic used in cooking?  A common use of garlic is that it is used in seasoning. Its paste is used for preparing some curries and rice items.

Some of the dishes in which garlic is the main item are garlic chutney, garlic pickle and garlic chutney powder.

Do you want the recipe for garlic pickle?  Here it is:

For buttermilk also, raw garlic is added to make it spicy.

Here is the recipe, posted at, for buttermilk:

To a lesser extent, and mainly as a medicine, garlic is consumed in its raw form.

Garlic has a lot of water content. Every 100 grams of raw garlic has approximately about 59 grams of water.

In the mineral category, calcium is abundant in garlic.  Do you want to get Vitamin C in its natural form?  Then, you might want to make garlic as a regular part of your diet. The reason is this vegetable has a lot of Vitamin C too.

Here is more good news: Garlic has zero cholesterol.

Here are the points that are some answers to the question, “What are the benefits of garlic?”

Allicin, the Wonder Compound

Allicin is obtained by crushing garlic cloves. This compound is said to be a remedy for a number of diseases. Allicin, for example, is said to cure some stomach-related illness, prevent weight gain, lower blood pressure, improve blood circulation and prevent the growth of cancer cells.

To get the best results from allicin, the crushed garlic should be mixed immediately in the appropriate food and it also should be consumed immediately.

Natural Antibiotic

A research study has found that a compound found in garlic, diallyl sulfide, is a very powerful element that may fight diseases caused by food.


Garlic is said to protect cells from damage and might prevent some cancers.

Heart Disease

A research study makes a mention of other research studies and says that such work have shown “an inverse correlation between garlic consumption and progression of cardiovascular disease.” So, garlic may reduce the risk of heart diseases.

Natural Antiseptic

The antimicrobial properties of garlic may help in the healing of wounds.

Food preservative

A research work has shown that garlic may work as a food preservative.  It’s not a surprise then that, in India, many add garlic, for example, to pickles to increase their shelf time.

Cold and Flu

The consumption of garlic may prevent the symptoms of cold and flu.  One research study says that garlic does this by “immune enhancement”.

Because you now have a few answers to the query, “What are the benefits of garlic?” and that it is not costly at all, relative to other vegetables, you may want to use this herb on a daily basis to give flavor to the food, and more importantly for the health advantages of garlic.


1. Antimicrobial effect of diallyl sulphide on Campylobacter jejuni biofilms, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy,
2. Antimicrobial screening of some indian spices, Phytotherapy Research,
3. Garlic and Cardiovascular Disease: A Critical Review, The Journal of Nutrition,
4. Clarifying the Real Bioactive Constituents of Garlic, The Journal of Nutrition,
5. Allium sativum and its health benefits: An overview, Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research,
6. U.S. National Nutrient Database

Friday, January 17, 2014

Health Benefits of Carrots

Carrot halwa is one of the carrot recipes

The health benefits of carrots are many.  It is no surprise then many use carrots as a cooking ingredient, almost on a daily basis.  This vegetable is used in a variety of food, ranging from sweet dishes to curries, sambars to salads.  One of the mouth-watering sweet dishes made from carrot is carrot halwa.  The link to the recipe of carrot halwa is given at the end of this post.   From the taste and the health views, carrots get a top score.  Here is a quick overview of the health benefits of carrots:

Rich source of Vitamin A: It is necessary, among others, for eye health and strengthening the immune system.

Types of Vitamin A: The two types are:

1.  Preformed Vitamin A: Available in meat
2.  Provitamin A: Found in vegetables and fruits as beta-carotene.

Which food has Vitamin A?  Many vegetables and fruits have Vitamin A in its natural form.

The three vegetables that have the highest amount of Vitamin A, in the ascending order, are:

1.  Sweet potato
2.  Spinach
3.  Carrot

Other vegetables and fruits that have Vitamin A include broccoli, capsicum, pumpkin, cantaloupe and raw mangoes.

Carrot also has fiber, which helps in digestion.  This vegetable also has, among others, Vitamin C.

Cardio Vascular Disease:  Many research studies have proved that a strong link exists between consuming much fruits and vegetables, including carrots, and cardio vascular health.

Carrot juice is said to be good for the heart

A research study says that, “Drinking carrot juice may protect the cardiovascular system by increasing total antioxidant status…1

Cancer:  Research studies have shown that the antioxidants, including, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, caffeic acid and cyanidins, in carrots, might work as an anti-cancer agent.  It may prevent lung, prostate and other cancers.

Blood sugar levels:  Carrots may help regulate blood sugar levels.  Thanks again to the antioxidants in carrots.

TIP: Eat baby carrots, as a snack, if you feel hungry between meals.  Such carrots could be a great substitute, for example, for snacks made from deep frying in oil.  Do remember to thoroughly wash the carrots before you eat them.

Here is the link for info on how to prepare carrot halwa:


Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin A,
Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention,
1Drinking carrot juice increases total antioxidant status and decreases lipid peroxidation in adults, Nutrition Journal,