Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Herbs of Smoothie Essentials: Pumpkin Seeds

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Pepita (from Mexican Spanish: pepita de calabaza, “little seed of squash”) is a Spanish culinary term for the pumpkin seed, the edible seed of a pumpkin or other cultivar of squash (genus Cucurbita). The seeds are typically rather flat and asymmetrically oval, and light green in color inside a whitehull. The word can refer either to the hulled kernel or unhulled whole seed, and most commonly refers to the roasted end product. The pressed oil of the roasted seeds of a specific pumpkin variety is also used in Central and Eastern European cuisine (see Pumpkin seed oil).

According to the USDA,[1] one gram of roasted pepita contain 5.69 mg L-tryptophan and one gram of pepita protein contains 17.2 mg[2] of L-tryptophan. One cup of milk contains 183 mg. This high tryptophan content makes pepita of interest to researchers studying the treatment of anxiety disorders.[3] Some eat the seeds as preventative measure against onset of anxiety attacks, clinical depression and other mood disorders.

Some studies[which?] have also found pumpkin seeds to prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and to regulate cholesterol levels in the body.

A 2011 Egyptian study found that in rats, pumpkin seed oil has anti-hypertensive and cardio-protective properties.[4]

A 2009 double-blind, placebo-controlled Korean study found that in men suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia (n=47), pumpkin seed oil is an effective treatment

[1] “Search the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference”. Nal.usda.gov. Retrieved 2011-05-25.

[2] This second number was obtained by dividing the quantity of L-Tryptophan published by the USDA in dried pumpkin seed by the total of the quantities of all the amino acids, and then multiplying by 1000 mg/g.

[3] Hudson, C; Hudson, S; MacKenzie, J (2007). “Protein-source tryptophan as an efficacious treatment for social anxiety disorder: A pilot study”. Canadian journal of physiology and pharmacology 85 (9): 928–32. doi:10.1139/Y07-082. PMID 18066139.

[4] El-Mosallamy, AE; Sleem, AA; Abdel-Salam, OM; Shaffie, N; Kenawy, SA (2011). “Antihypertensive and Cardioprotective Effects of Pumpkin Seed Oil”. Journal of medicinal food 15 (2): 111114095452002. doi:10.1089/jmf.2010.0299. PMID 22082068.

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The Herbs of Smoothie Essentials: Pantothenic Acid

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Pantothenic acid, also called pantothenate or vitamin B5 (a B vitamin), is a water-soluble vitamin discovered by Roger J. Williams in 1919.[1] For many animals, pantothenic acid is an essential nutrient. Animals require pantothenic acid to synthesize coenzyme-A (CoA), as well as to synthesize and metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Pantothenic acid is the amide between pantoate and beta-alanine. Its name derives from the Greek pantothen (πάντοθεν) meaning “from everywhere” and small quantities of pantothenic acid are found in nearly every food, with high amounts in whole-grain cereals, legumes, eggs, meat, royal jelly, avocado, and yogurt.[2] It is commonly found as its alcohol analog, the provitamin panthenol, and as calcium pantothenate. Pantothenic acid is an ingredient in some hair and skin care products.

[1] Richards, Oscar W. (1938). “The Stimulation of Yeast Proliferation By Pantothenic Acid”. Journal of Biological Chemistry 113 (2): 531–536.

[2] “Pantothenic Acid”. Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Micronutrient Information Center. Retrieved 7 November 2010.

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The Herbs of Smoothie Essentials: Peppermint

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Peppermint (Mentha × piperita, also known as M. balsamea Willd.[1]) is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint.[2] The plant, indigenous to Europe, is now widespread in cultivation throughout all regions of the world.[3] It is found wild occasionally with its parent species.[3][4]

Peppermint is commonly used to soothe or treat symptoms. Examples would be nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, indigestion, irritable bowel, and bloating. It is also used in aroma therapy.[5][6][7]

[1]  WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants: Volume 2. Geneva: World Health Organization. 2002. ISBN 92-4-154537-2. Retrieved October 29, 2010.

[2] The Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs, Alex Frampton, The Reader’s Digest Association, 2009

[3] Harley, R. M. (1975). Mentha L. In: Stace, C. A., ed.Hybridization and the flora of the British Isles page 387.

[4] a b Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. ISBN 0-340-40170-2

[5] “Peppermint”. Mosby’s Handbook of Herbs & Natural Supplements. Credo Reference: Elsevier Health Sciences. 2010.

[6] “Peppermint”. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2009.

[7] Heather Boon; Michael Smith (2004). Bob Hilderley, Senior Editor, Health. ed. The Complete Natural Medicine

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The Herbs of Smoothie Essentials: Biotin

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Biotin is necessary for cell growth, the production of fatty acids, and the metabolism of fats and amino acids. [1][2] It plays a role in the citric acid cycle, which is the process by which biochemical energy is generated during aerobic respiration. Biotin not only assists in various metabolic reactions but also helps to transfer carbon dioxide. Biotin may also be helpful in maintaining a steady blood sugar level.[3] Biotin is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails. As a consequence, it is found in many cosmetics and health products for the hair and skin, though it cannot be absorbed through the hair or skin itself.

[1] http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/ingredReq.do?id=2950&lang=eng

[2] http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=41&lang=eng

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biotin

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