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Top 10 - Sources of Antioxidants

Antioxidants are magic food components. Research shows that these substances could help the body fight cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease by thwarting the action of harmful free radicals.But which foods are the real antioxidant bombs? Norwegian and US scientists recently compiled an extensive list. In terms of the highest antioxidant content per serving, the winners were:

1. Blackberries
5,75 millimoles per 100g serving
This wonderfully delectable summer fruit came out tops. Blackberries give an antioxidant kick of 5,75 millimoles per serving.

Blackberries are also fat-free, and a source of folic acid and vitamin C, so there's no holding back. Whip them into smoothies, make a wicked fruit coulis to serve with desserts, or simply have them fresh.

You can freeze blackberries and use them all year round. This can be done by coating the berries with a mixture of sugar and ascorbic acid (ask your pharmacist), but it is generally better to freeze lightly boiled berries to which sugar has been added.

2. Walnuts
3,72 millimoles per 100g serving
Nuts are great health foods – they're cholesterol-free, generally low in sodium and a great source of vitamins and minerals. But in terms of antioxidant content, walnuts seem to beat the rest of the nut family with 3,72 millimoles per serving.

Toss these nuts into salads, mix them into muesli, or include them in rice pudding or apple tart. Just make sure that you have no more than a handful of walnuts per day. If you're overweight, cut this amount to a handful no more than three times per week.

3. Strawberries
3,58 millimoles per 100g serving
Strawberries are sexy, fun and – best of all – so low in calories that you can eat as much as you like without giving your weight a second thought.

These fruits should also form part of your diet for another reason: they're packed with antioxidants and clock in at 3,58 millimoles of these health-boosting components per 100g serving.

There's no need to tell you that strawberries are a great addition to desserts, smoothies, salads, and even cocktails – just make sure you eat them as fresh as possible.

4. Artichokes, cooked
3,56 millimoles per 100g serving
The humble artichoke also made the top-10 list. Apart from the 3,56 millimole/100g antioxidant punch, artichokes are a good source of iron.

These veggies also help to reduce bowel upsets and help to let good bacteria flourish in your gut. Cook artichokes for 20 minutes with a slice or two of lemon, a bay leaf and salt. The leaves and the heart can then be eaten.

5. Cranberries
3,13 millimoles per 100g serving
The cranberry really is a super-food. Numerous studies have shown that the anti-inflammatory properties of this fruit can help to prevent and treat urinary tract, and possibly other, infections.

One reason why cranberries are so healthy, is because of their high antioxidant content (3,13 millimoles per 100g).

As cranberries are generally too tart to eat fresh, go for the canned varieties and use these in both sweet and savoury dishes.

6. Raspberries
2,87 millimoles per 100g serving
Raspberries have a long history of being used to treat conditions ranging from tonsillitis to stomach aches and also to strengthening the womb in pregnancy.

Now we know that these berries are not only a good source of antioxidants (2,87 millimoles per 100g serving), but are also high in vitamin C.

Ask your grocery store if they stock fresh or frozen raspberries, and use them in fruit salads, deserts or eat them with yoghurt for breakfast.

7. Blueberries
2,68 millimoles per 100g serving
Another berry, this time the blueberry, made the list. This only goes to show that berries really are super foods.

Apart from the high antioxidant content (2,68 millimoles per serving) there is also preliminary evidence that berries can thwart cholesterol and help prevent liver cancer.

Blueberries are not sour and can be eaten raw. This will preserve their vitamin C content.

8. Cloves, ground
2,64 millimoles per 100g serving
Who would have thought that cloves, a great addition to anything from chicken dishes to Christmas mince pies, could have magic health-boosting properties?

Well, this spice made the top 10 antioxidant list – and with good reason. It contains 2,64 millimoles of antioxidants per 100g serving.

While it's more difficult to get your daily antioxidant injection from this spice – simply because we generally use it in small quantities – you should still try to incorporate it in your diet.

9. Grape juice
2,56 millimoles per 100g serving
You already know that a daily glass of wine can kick-start your health. But plain old grape juice seems to be even better – at least when it comes to levels of antioxidants (2,56 millimoles per serving).

Research shows that red grape juice can improve cholesterol levels and inflammatory markers associated with heart disease. This action has been linked to the antioxidant content of the juice.

But be warned: grape juice has a high sugar content and can add quite a few calories to your diet. Don't drink more than one glass of juice, diluted with water, per day.

10. Cranberry juice
2,47 millimoles per 100g serving
As mentioned above, cranberries have strong anti-inflammatory effects and are particularly useful in preventing urinary tract infections.

As fresh, raw cranberries are too tart to eat, cranberry juice is the ideal way to tap the benefits of this fruit.

Try to drink a small glass of cranberry juice every day – especially if you're prone to urinary tract infections. Or combine cranberry juice with iced Rooibos tea for a refreshing summer drink.

Halvorsen BL, Carlsen MH, Phillips KM, Bohn SK, Holte K, Jacobs DR Jr, Blomhoff R. Content of redox-active compounds (ie, antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;84(1):95-135.


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Soy Causes Fertility Problems in Men - Asian males don't seem to be affected

Multiple studies have shown that animals that consume large amounts of soy beans are likely to have a lower fertility rate. On the other hand, research regarding the impact of soy on humans revealed that the chemicals found in this plant have absolutely no effect on fertility. Now, a new study carried out at the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that even small amounts of food containing soy could reduce the sperm concentration by as much as half.

By studying the diet of 99 men with fertility problems, researchers found that the amount of soy based foods they ate on a daily basis had a significant impact on their reproductive cell count. Usually, the cell concentration is somewhere between 80 and 120 million per milliliter, as compared to 41 million less in the case of men eating on average a serving of soy-based food every day.

Leader of the study, Dr Jorge Chavarro, believes that the chemicals responsible for this effect, known as isoflavones, could be able to mimic a human hormone called oestrogen. High levels of oestrogen can also be caused by the increase of body fat levels, which could explain why overweight and obese men are prone to fertility problems.

The same cannot be said about men living in many parts of the Asian continent, where the soy bean plant comes from, who, although they consume significantly higher amounts of soy than the participants in the study, do not appear to have their fertility impaired.

"Many men are obviously worried about whether their lifestyle or diet could affect their fertility by lowering their sperm count. Oestrogenic compounds in food or the environment have been of concern for a number of years, but we have mostly thought that it was boys exposed in the uterus before birth who were most at risk," said senior lecturer in andrology Dr. Allan Pacey of the University of Sheffield.

"We will have to look at adult diet more closely, although the fact that such large parts of the world have soy food as a major part of their diet and don't appear to suffer any greater infertility rates than those on western diets suggests that any effect is quite small," he added.
By: Gabriel Gache, Science News Editor (

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Chicken and Spinach Calzones - A tasty treat for a healthy office lunch

A calzone is a folded pizza, made from pizza dough and stuffed with cheese, ham or vegetables. The dough is traditionally folded over, sealed on one edge and baked or deep-fried – however, we can add a little bit of a healthy twist to the original Italian recipe by removing the deep-fry part from the equation and replacing the ham with boneless, skinless chicken breast (which will cut most of the fat and sodium intake). This recipe will yield six smaller calzones, which are the ideal size to be packed away and enjoyed at work, along with a fresh vegetable salad. If you're vegetarian, simply replace the chicken with 1 pound of sliced mushrooms and 1/3 cup chopped onions, sautéd together in a teaspoon of olive oil.

What you need (for 6 servings)
1 frozen whole-wheat bread dough loaf (16 ounces, thawed, not risen)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
10 ounces (1 standard package) frozen chopped spinach (thawed, drained)
8 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
4 teaspoons Parmesan cheese
2 egg whites, divided
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon minced garlic

How you do it
First of all, preheat the oven to 350 F. In a nonstick pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the chicken breasts whole, turning them when needed so that they turn a light golden brown. This shouldn't take longer than 10 – 15 minutes at most. Set aside and when cooled cut the chicken breasts into small cubes.

In a small bowl, blend together the spinach, Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, parsley, garlic and one of the egg whites. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the remaining egg white. Then, cut the dough into six pieces and on a floured surface, press each piece into an oval, about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Take each dough oval, brush the edges with the beaten egg white then add the filling in the center: 1/6 of the chicken cubes and 1/6 of the spinach mixture on top. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges firmly together. Crimp with a fork, and place the calzones on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or olive oil. Bake until brown and slightly crispy.

Nutritional information (per 1 calzone):
Calories – 359
Cholesterol - 60 mg
Protein - 33 g
Carbohydrate - 40 g
Fiber - 4 g
Total fat - 9 g (out of which saturated fat - 2 g)
Monounsaturated fat - 2 g
By: Monica Gaza, Life & Style Editor (

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The Secret for Popeye's Power - Spinach and health

The Secret for Popeye's Power - Spinach and health. The brave cartoon sailor based his power on spinach consumption or at least, that’s what we know. But what's real the story behind all that? Spinach is an annually cultivated herbaceous plant with a taproot of up to 1.8 m (6 ft) long. The leaves are fleshy and dark green, reach in minerals, nutrients and vitamins. One plant has 8 to 12 of them.

100 grams of spinach contain 510 mg of sodium, 375 mg of potassium, 49 mg of calcium, 37 mg of magnesium, 29 mg of sulfur, 0.6 mg of manganese, 0.45 mg of zinc, 0.13 mg of copper, vitamins B and C, carotenes (precursors of vitamin A), spinacine, carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. Contrary to widespread opinion, spinach is not rich in iron (amongst plant foods, legumes have a relatively higher iron content, but much lower than animal products).

The spinach is a good heart tonifier and an anti-cancer, anti-anemia, anti-scurvy and re-mineralizing aliment. Spinach also prevents gum and teeth infections, and bleeding - the latter condition being caused by a diet rich in cereals, sugar and starch. This aliment also detoxifies the organism, being beneficial in case of duodenal ulcer, convulsions, nerve degeneration, furuncles, deficiencies of the adrenal and thyroid glands, nephritis, arthritis, abscess, limb swelling, hemophilia, lack of tonus, rheumatic pain, hypo- and hypertension, vision issues and headaches (including migraine).

Because spinach is rich in oxalic acid, it leads to purgation, which ensures a normal function of the intestine. Spinach can be consumed fresh in salads, associated with lemon juice and honey, or as juice (mix in a cup 90 g of spinach juice mixed with 130 g of carrot juice and serve each morning). This vegetable is also recommended in depressions, nervous and physical asthenia, scurvy and senescence and for growth stimulation.

In case of depression, a cup of juice made of spinach and garden cress (in equal parts) must be drunk for 21 days, each morning on an empty stomach. A daily dose of 500 ml of spinach juice cures even the most severe constipation rapidly, while at the same time healing the digestive tract. The effect is felt in 6 weeks.

In some cases, spinach consumption does a body no good. Boiled spinach increases oxaluria and oxalemia. Spinach must be avoided by hyperuremic persons, as 100 grams of spinach contain 700 mg of uric acid. As the spinach is rich in potassium, which must be excreted by the kidneys, sufferers from kidney issues should avoid it.

Spinach is also not recommended in cases of hepatitis, rheumatism, arthritis, gastric and intestinal inflammations and oxalic stones (made of potassium or calcium oxalates).


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8 Things You Did Not Know About Bananas

8 Things You Did Not Know About Bananas - They can cure!
1. Despite the name of banana tree, Musa paradisiaca is a 7-8 m (23-27 ft) tall and robust grass, with a tree-like aspect. It has a false trunk made of the well developed sheaths of the leaves wrapping each other (the proper stem is very short). Upper leaves are very large, over 2 m (6.6 ft) in length and 40 cm (1.3 ft) wide. The plant originated in tropical Asia.

2. Flowers are hermaphrodite or unisex. At the end of the false trunk grows a large inflorescence, tilted sideways. The red large male flowers are located on the tip of the inflorescence, while at the base of the inflorescence the female flowers that will form the bananas are located, forming rich clusters of up to 50 kg (110 pounds). A plantation gives about 30 tonnes of bananas per hectare. After fructifying, the plant dies leaving behind numerous shoots that will form other banana trees next year.

3. Because the leaves have antiseptic properties, they are used as "dishes" by many tropical populations.

4. During the marriage ceremony of Rais and Limbu in Nepal, a sacrificed chicken is made pour blood over a banana leaf placed close to the threshold of the house. The bride must stay for a moment over the blood soaked leaf before entering her future home. Bananas are considered a symbol of fecundity in many cultures.

5. The ash resulted from the burning of dry leaves and stems is rich in potassium and used as a remedy for stomach acidity, intestinal colics and skin ulcerations. The fresh juice of the plant has constrictive properties in external and internal hemorrhages, being used also in case of nervous affections, like hysteria and epilepsy, against dysentery or intoxications with opium.

6. Raw fruits reduce the sugar amount in the blood while mature fruits are contraindicated in case of diabetes (they contain 18 % sugar).

7. Banana roots have tonic properties, being indicated in affections of gall bladder.

8. Infusions made of banana flowers are indicated in case of diabetes.


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Top 10 Alternatives to Meat

120 grams of lean beef contain 25 grams of high quality proteins, almost totally assimilable, unlike the plant proteins, which the body assimilates just in a proportion of 50-65 %. But proteins from the meat can be replaced by various foods.

Proteins are the "bricks" of the organism, and must contain all the essential aminoacids, in precise proportions. Only proteins from eggs, meat, fish and dairy products are complete, that's why plant proteins must be completed by animal proteins.

1. About 300 grams of rice mixed with peas can replace a meat piece. When combined, these aliments furnish the essential aminoacids.

2. Lentil is very rich in protein. 83 grams of lentil have as much protein as 120 grams of beef. Its nutritional value is boosted if combined with other vegetables and cereals.

3. Just 72 grams of peanuts contain the same protein amount like in 120 grams of beef.

4. Parmesan cheese has a double content of proteins compared to red meat.

5. 190 grams of pasta bring the same amount of nutrients (but not proteins) as 120 grams of beef. To increase their nutritional values, pastas must be accompanied by cheese and vegetables.

6. The soy sprouts are much poorer in proteins than the soy beans: 336 grams of sprouts have the same amount of protein as 120 g of beef.

7. Amongst fruits, avocados are the richest in fats and proteins. Yet, 473 g of avocado pulp contain the proteins found in 120 g of beef.

8. Just 130 grams of walnuts have the same amount of protein like 120 g of beef.

9. Common bean contains 23.6 % proteins: more than meat! Still, it misses some essential amino acids.

10. Twenty five slices of whole wheat bread contain 25 grams of protein. Biological value of the bread increases if consumed with butter or milk, especially at breakfast.

By: Stefan Anitei, Science Editor (

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Want to Get Slim? Eat Proteins!

Want to Get Slim? Eat Proteins! - They are the most effective in suppressing hunger. A hamburger loaded with fats and carbohydrates followed by a fat and sugar rich ice cream are the worst solutions for easing your hunger. In fact, an American team has found in a research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism that a high in protein meal seems to be the best solution for keeping hunger in check, in a real breakthrough understanding of how various diets work.

Proteins were found to be the best nutrient category in keeping a hunger hormone under control, while carbohydrates and fats can be even worse than previously thought. The team investigated how effective the three main nutrient categories (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) are on decreasing the levels of at ghrelin, a hormone released by the stomach and involved in boosting the appetite.

"Suppression of ghrelin is one of the ways that you lose your appetite as you begin to eat and become sated," said co-author Dr David Cummings of the University of Washington in Seattle.

16 subjects were offered three types of beverages, each having different concentrations of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Blood samples were collected from each subject before the first beverage, then every 20 minutes, for six hours period following the consumption of the beverages. The researchers assessed in the blood samples the ghrelin amounts.

"The interesting findings were that fats suppress ghrelin quite poorly. They fared the poorest overall," Cummings told

"Proteins were the best suppressor of ghrelin in terms of the combination of the depth and duration of suppression. That is truly satisfying because high proteins are essentially common to almost all of the popular diets," added Cummings.

But the nastiest surprise came with the carbohydrates (sugars): initially, they determined the sharpest drop in ghrelin levels, but hormone's amounts boomed even to a higher level after the initial reaction! Physiologically, the carbohydrates consumption induced an even more acute hunger sensation then before the meal.

"The findings may aid in future research on the effectiveness of different diets," said Cummings.

Proteins abound in lean meat, liver, fish, milk, some dairy products, mushrooms, some nuts and beans.

By: Stefan Anitei, Science Editor

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Viagra for Women

In 2004, Pfizer Inc., the makers of the Viagra pill—introduced to improve men’s sexual health and functioning—announced that they would be abandoning eight years of previous research conducted in an attempt to develop a drug similar to Viagra to improve female libido and sexual health. Other products designed to improve sexual health in women are available, but can these Viagra alternatives provide effective results when it comes in increasing sexual desire in women?

How Does Viagra Work?
Viagra works by blocking an enzyme that acts as an inhibitor of blood flow. In men, this can cause penile tissue to swell. When a man takes Viagra, there is an increase in blood flow to the genital areas, which thus helps to treat erectile dysfunction or impotence in men.

The same enzyme inhibitor affecting male sexual dysfunction influences pelvic blood flow in women. The Viagra research team attempted to find a link between arousal in women and pelvic blood flow in the early stages of trials. However, this attempt failed, and some researchers even suggested that genital arousal in women does not necessarily produce sexual desire in women as it typically does in men. Women may define sexual arousal based on mental and emotional, as well as biological factors.

According to some of the researchers working on the Viagra team, Viagra for women or a Viagra alternative may help women facing sexual dysfunction due to side effects of other medication. In cases where sexual desire is inhibited due to emotional or psychological factors, a female Viagra solution may not be applicable.

Women and Sexual Health
Approximately 43% of women suffer from some form of sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction in women is characterized by a lack of desire, arousal, or orgasm. Lack of desire is considered to be the most common complaint among these women. Approximately 20% of these women report having difficulties with lubrication, which can be assisted by Viagra-like drugs that may increase blood flow to the genitals.

Some common factors that inhibit women’s sexual health include:
* family concerns
* relationship concerns
* illness or death
* financial or job worries
* childcare responsibilities
* previous or current physical or emotional abuse
* fatigue
* depression

Physical factors that may be contributing to sexual dysfunction in women include:
* hypertension
* heart disease
* cancer
* diabetes
* thyroid disorders
* neurological diseases
* autoimmune disorders such as lupus
* prescription drugs such as anti-hypertensives and depression medication
* over-the-counter medications
* drug and alcohol abuse

Solutions Available: Alternatives To Viagra
Currently, drug companies are looking to provide a treatment similar to Viagra for women that would increase the blood flow to the genitals in order to increase lubrication and relax vaginal muscles.

Some products and treatments already available include:
* L-arginine amino acid cream purported to increase vaginal blood flow using the same amino acid previously used by athletes to increase muscle development

* DHEA or the use of supplements of the male hormone Dehydroepiandrosterone, which is produced both by the adrenal gland and ovaries and converted into testosterone and estrogen. However, use of these supplements carries the risk of heart attacks, breast cancer, and emasculating side effects may also occur

* Testosterone Therapy for women who have undergone an oophorectomy (ovary removal) or a hysterectomy. A testosterone patch has recently been created to improve sexual health in women, but has failed to gain approval by the FDA

Many of these products and treatments require close monitoring by a physician since side effects can be severe and include irreversible changes in a woman’s voice or facial hair. In addition, all of the above options have yet to be scientifically validated.

The best treatment for sexual dysfunction in women may simply be exercise, counseling, and vaginal lubrication products which can act as more natural alternatives to Viagra and improve your overall health and wellness.


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Top 10 Weirdest Chinese Foods

Did you know that Westerners are some kind of barbarians in the eyes of a Chinese? Because how the heck can you eat fermented milk emulsion (read cheese), which stinks worse than a skunk? Of course, for them, it’s very tasty to eat rats, dogs, cats. A Chinese folk speech says more or less that they can eat everything that has four legs, except tables; everything that flies, except for airplanes; and everything that is found on water, except boats.

1. In a Chinese market you will see from bats and snakes to cranes and herons (it is said that their meat prolongs That's a real scientific puzzle...), while in the western world most water birds are rejected because of the strong mud stench.

2. You may have heard that the tiger is menaced by the high demand of tiger penis bone on the Chinese black market. For the same people, the tiger penis bone is the symbol of the tiger’s power, including the sexual one. Of course, it’s like chewing chicken or pork bones, but the poachers are menacing the wild tigers because of such stupid beliefs.

3. But the Chinese imagination does not stop here, and for them, each penis in the world is like a panacea. Penises are thought to increase yang (virility) and women are not advised to eat testicles, due to the testosterone content. There are specialized restaurants in penis delicacies. Some penises are served raw, like sushi, others can be cooked. You can serve dog clammy testicles and penis, which is gray and shiny. Dog penis is low in cholesterol and is considered to be quite efficient in boosting the male sex drive, but also for treating all sorts of conditions. Giant salami-shaped donkey penises are considered good for the skin...The double penis of the snakes is considered to increase potency. Sliced and pickled ox penis, which has bland and with a rubbery texture, is considered a general energizer. You can also eat in such a restaurant yak, seal, horse, goat and deer penises. Some westerners compare the tastes of some penises with overcooked squid. The black market delivers also the highly desired tiger penis, at a price of $5,700 (£3,000), but it must be ordered months in advance. It seems that it tastes the same as other penises, but many people in China just like to order tiger to show off, and prove they have quite a lot of money.

4. Aborted reindeer fetus is also considered good for the skin.

5. Sharks have pervaded the Earth for over 450 million years, before any plant or animal got out of the water and colonized the terrestrial surface. Now they face extinction due to a human caprice: Chinese fin shark soup. Once, shark fin was a gift offered just to emperors and shark fin soup is traditionally served at Chinese wedding banquets and on different occasions when the host wants to leave a great impression on the guests with expensive dishes. With the growing number of wealthy Chinese businessmen, the number of this kind of ignorant hosts is increasing as well. Some also think it is healthy, but the fin is nothing more than tasteless cartilage, sought more for its texture, than for its flavor. "Hammerhead, Great White and Basking sharks were some of the species at risk. Shark fin is becoming cheaper and eaten by a growing number of people in China — perhaps by around 100 million people a year.", signals a WildAid report. A 2006 research showed that, annually, 73 million sharks are killed for their fins and the demand for shark fin soup grows with 5 % per year.

6. A Chinese delicacy is the bird's nest soup. It’s made from the nest of a few species of swift, called cave swifts, renowned for building saliva nests. Such nests are among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans. When dissolved in water, the nests get a gelatinous texture. Yammy! Bird saliva! In Hong Kong a bowl of this soup costs between US$ 30 to 100.

7. Perhaps the best known Chinese cuisine ingredient is the dog meat, as this seems to be the most repulsive for the westerners. Cats, too, are not for cuddling, but eating. The problem is that carnivore meat has an extremely powerful flavor that makes it repellent for the westerners. The Chinese have no problem with that, and they will eat practically any known wild carnivore encountered in China. This comes with a feed back: researchers have found that the SARS epidemics were caused by the consume of civet cats, and the virus was transmitted from them to humans. Civet cats are a type of carnivore not related with true cats but with mongooses, and from whose perianal glands the famous civet perfume is extracted.

8. Balut (boiled duck embryos) is better known from the Philippines, but it has a Chinese origin, where it is called maodan ("hairy egg"). Maodan is served skewered. Fertilized duck eggs are left, on average, 17 days and then boiled. The nearly-developed embryo is consumed in the shell. Maodan is thought to be an aphrodisiac and it is in fact a high-protein, hearty snack. "The flavor is savory and delicious; the texture satisfying" said Western travelers who surpassed the idea of eating something with s**t and feathers... Why is the maodan made from duck eggs and not from hen eggs? "Chicken maodan" has a bad taste, to say the least ... Question of tastes...

9. Neither the superstitions nor the good work made by bats in combating insects stop the Chinese from consuming bats, sometimes skinned alive.
This has come with a feedback: bats too are among the causes of the SARS epidemic.

10. Well, in China Dracula could have indulged freely in ... snake blood, which is believed by Chinese to raise the libido... You can drink it at fast-foods, and they deliver it in only seconds. But the show is really a horror movie. The snake curls and whips its body in agony as the handler slits open its chest and rips out a heart that continues working for several minutes. Then its body is stretched vertically and clamped at each end as droplets of red blood fall into a plastic jug half-filled with water. I know that the Chinese cheese is made of soy, not milk, and it is called tofu. But I still prefer to call wine what comes from grapes, and not the infamous snake wine, an alcoholic beverage found not only in China, but in many Southeast Asia countries. The snakes, preferably venomous ones, are preserved to have the snake poison dissolved in the liquor. Still, the venoms, which are proteins, are inactivated by ethanol.

There are two varieties. A large venomous snake can be put into a glass jar of rice wine, often with many smaller snakes, turtles, insects, or birds, and left to ferment for months. Snake blood wine is produced by mixing the snake blood and bile with rice wine or grain alcohol. The snake meat, liver, and skin can be cooked to accompany the drink. This wine is believed to cure all kinds of conditions, from farsightedness to hair loss, and helps increase the sexual performance. Of course, that's nonsense.


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Epilepsy during pregnancy

Consulting your doctor is very important if you suffer from epilepsy and want to get pregnant. The medications you take for your epilepsy may cause complications and may be harmful for your unborn baby. So, it is very wise and essential that you consult your neurologist or family physician before you try to get pregnant.

Most of the time, women with epilepsy are able to have healthy babies. However, they are at greater risk than non-epileptic women to have more complications during their pregnancies and labor. During pregnancy, some epileptic women even with their continued use of epilepsy drugs may suffer from an increase in seizure activity while other women may not suffer any seizures at all. The reason for this may be because during pregnancy, a woman may experience a lot of vomiting which may cause low concentration of anti-epileptic medication in her bloodstream. Therefore, it is very important to seek your doctor's advice because any increase in seizure activity would be very harmful for the baby. People with epilepsy are also most likely to fall and suffer from lack of oxygen during seizures. So, having a seizure during pregnancy could be very dangerous.

Women with epilepsy also have increased chances of giving birth to a baby with defects. These defects are caused by the anti-epileptic medications and may cause deformities in the face, limbs and fingers and toes. Your baby may also be born with ventricular septal defects and neural tube defects. So, consult your doctor about the abnormalities before you get pregnant. Your doctor may recommend you to take ultrasound and an amniocentesis test, which identify birth defects.

Finally, before you get pregnant, you doctor may also recommend that you take a dose of Folic acid every day to help minimize abnormalities in your unborn baby. He or she may also advise you to take Vitamin K to guard hemorrhage in the newborn baby. So, before you get pregnant, set up an appointment with you physician and discuss with him the possibilities and complications of having seizures during pregnancy. Also, speak to him or her about your medication about adjusting your drug dose or changing your drug dose. However, always keep in mind that you never to change your drug dose without consulting your doctor.


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Premature Births Mean Less Fertile Individuals

Premature babies are considered those born before 37 weeks. Even if there are a lot of studies showing the short term effect on the health of the babies of the premature births, a new research investigating about 1.2 million births in Norway pointed the effect of a premature birth in the health of the adults. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that premature babies have an increased risk of dying as children and to reproduce as adults. The academic results of the premature born people were lower, too.

Boys have a risk of premature birth 60% higher, which is accompanied in short term by potentially lethal conditions, like the respiratory distress syndrome. The American-Norwegian team monitored 60,354 premature births. In the case of babies born very early, at 22 to 27 weeks, mortality levels were, by the age of six, 5 times higher in boys and 10 times higher in girls. By the age of 13, the boys of this category had a mortality level 7 times higher than their full-term counterparts, while the girls were not impacted by the premature birth.

In the case of those born between 28 and 32 weeks, boys had a 2.5 higher likelihood of dying compared to their full-term counterparts, while mortality rate was not affected in the case of premature girls. The overall death level for all premature born children was relatively low, around 1%.

But the prematurely born individuals had lower chances of finishing secondary school and to have their own children. 14% of premature-born men and 25% of premature born women had their own natural children, compared to 50% of the full term born men and 68% of the full term born women.

The cause of premature birth are not clearly known, but poor diet and lifestyle are involved. Moreover, individuals analyzed in this research were born as far back as 1967, when intensive care units for premature babies were not common.

Still "premature birth is a bigger problem than people think. These findings support the argument for further research to be done into finding the causes of premature birth, so that more babies can be given the best chance of being born healthy," Jane Brewin, the head of the UK leading baby charities, Tommy's, told BBC News.


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Vitamins and Healthy Sperm

Mexican men know the secret of the chili. It's about folate, a vitamin abundant in liver, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, sunflower seeds and legumes (beans and their relatives). It may sound more familiar to you that women of child-bearing age must have proper levels of folate (vitamin B9) in their diet for delivering healthy babies, but a new study published in the journal Human Reproduction and carried out by a team at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reveals that what the father eats counts too. And guess what? Folate levels in male diet appears to have the same importance. Low levels of this vitamin have been connected to sperm chromosomal abnormalities.

"Our study is the first to look at the effects of diet on chromosomal abnormalities in sperm. These abnormalities would cause either miscarriages or children with genetic syndromes if the sperm fertilized an egg," said co-author Suzanne Young, at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health.

Folate is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA and proteins during cell division. It also controls the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which can cause heart issues when overcoming a certain threshold.

Low levels of folate in women just before and during pregnancy (less than 400 mg daily) has been connected to greatly increased risk of embryos developing neural tube malformations, like spina bifida or anencephaly (undeveloped brain). Many countries (US started from 1998) require the addition of folate to breads, cereals and other grain products. Follow-ups connected this measure with a drop in the cases of neural tube birth defects.

Sperm health and diet
1 to 4 % of a healthy male's sperm displays abnormal chromosome numbers (aneuploidy), a result of defective meiosis. Eggs fertilized by such a sperm develop into an embryo prone to miscarriage or a fetus with aneuploidy, translated to severe conditions (for example, an extra chromosome 21 is the cause of Down syndrome while an extra X chromosome in boys triggers Klinefelter syndrome).

The research was made on a poll of 97 men, aged 22 to 80, current or ex-employees of a government research laboratory. The subjects were chosen after excluding smokers and subjects with already known fertility issues. Questionnaires assessed average intake of dietary and supplemental nutrients. One week later, semen samples were collected. The team considered factors like age, alcohol use and medical history.

Subjects having the highest consume of folate had 19 % less aneuploid sperm cells than those with moderate folate consume, and 20 % lower rates compared to subjects consuming low levels of folate.

"Increasing folate intake can be as simple as taking a vitamin supplement with at least 400 micrograms of folate or eating breakfast cereal fortified with 100% of the RDA [recommended daily intake] for folic acid. In addition, green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, can have up to 100 micrograms of folate per serving," said Young.

Various nutrients in the diet were taken into account.
"The results of the different analyses were different, which gave us some confidence that we could look at the effect of these micronutrients separately. The definitive way to answer this question would be with a randomized control trial with folate supplementation," said Young.

The team did not find a connection between sperm aneuploidy and the other nutrients, like zinc, calcium, beta-carotene and other vitamins. Researchers warn that momentarily this is just a connection, as the cause-and-effect relationship has not been investigated.

"We did come up with enough evidence to justify a larger, clinical and pharmacological trial in men to examine the causal relationships between dietary folate levels and chromosomal abnormalities in their sperm. This information will help us set dietary folate levels that may reduce the risk of miscarriage or birth defects linked to the fathers," said lead researcher Andrew Wyrobek, chair of the Radiation Biosciences Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
So, did you get your daily 400 mg of folate?


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