Dry Fruits

Discussion in 'Cuisines of India' started by anurar20, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. anurar20

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    Almond - The kings of nuts

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    Almond is the name of the edible and widely cultivated nut of the tree of the genus Prunus. Although popularly referred to as a nut, the almond fruit's seed is botanically not a true nut, but the seed of a drupe (a botanic name for a type of fruit).

    Almonds are the perfect combination of iron, copper, phosphorus & vitamin B1; this help in the formation of new blood cells & raises the hemoglobin levels in the blood. It maintains a smooth physiological function of the brain, nerves, bones, heart & liver. Almonds are scientifically proven to increase brain vitality & its protein content is an
    established muscle builder. The best method of consumption of this resourceful food for the mind & body; is simply have a portion of almonds with a glass of warm milk in the mornings.

    Almond History

    Almonds are mentioned as far back in history as the Bible. They were a prized ingredient in breads served to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Egypt</st1:place></st1:country-region>'s pharos. Their exact ancestry is unknown, but almonds are thought to have originated in <st1:country-region w:st="on">China</st1:country-region> and <st1:place w:st="on">Central Asia</st1:place>.

    Explorers ate almonds while travelling the "Silk Road" between Asia and the <st1:place w:st="on">Mediterranean</st1:place>. Before long, almond trees flourished in the Mediterranean, especially in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Spain</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Italy</st1:place></st1:country-region>. The almond tree was brought to <st1:State w:st="on">California</st1:State> from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Spain</st1:place></st1:country-region> in the mid-1700's by the Franciscan Padres. By the 1870's, research and cross-breeding developed several of today's prominent almond varieties.

    By the turn of the 20th century, the almond industry was firmly established in the <st1:City w:st="on">Sacramento</st1:City> and San Joaquin areas of <st1:State w:st="on">California</st1:State>'s great <st1:place w:st="on">Central Valley</st1:place>. In the past 30 years, <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">California</st1:place></st1:State>'s almond yield has quadrupled. More than 450,000 acres in the lush San Joaquin and <st1:City w:st="on">Sacramento</st1:City> valleys are under almond cultivation, stretching 400 miles between <st1:City w:st="on">Bakersfield</st1:City> and Red Bluff, <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">California</st1:place></st1:State>.

    Throughout history, almonds have maintained religious, ethnic and social significance. The Bible's "Book of Numbers" tells the story of Aaron's rod that blossomed and bore almonds, giving the almond the symbolism of divine approval.

    The Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm. Today, Americans give guests at weddings a bag of sugared almonds, representing fertility, happiness, romance, good health and fortune. In <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Sweden</st1:place></st1:country-region>, cinnamon flavoured rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is a Christmas custom. Find it, and good fortune is yours for a year.

    Health Benefits


    The almond is one of the most versatile nuts in the world. It is delicious alone as a nutritious snack, and it is a prime ingredient in home kitchens and in food manufacturing. Almonds enhance virtually every food they grace with their distinctive taste and satisfying crunch.

    A few health benefits are listed as under:


    Ø Almonds help in fighting diabetes and heart diseases: The presence of powerful nutrients like proteins, dietary fibre, mono unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and Vitamin E make almond a rich diet source for Almonds, Roasted Almonds, Salted Almonds combating degenerative diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases.

    Ø Almonds are the best source of alpha-tocopherol form of Vitamin-E: Almonds are among the best whole food sources and the best nut source of alphatocepherol form of Vitamin E.

    Ø Almonds are a great cholestrol lowering food: Nearly 70 percent of the fat in almonds is mono saturated, a suggested substitute to saturated fats, to reduce the cholesterol levels. Research also shows that almond and almond oil have similar cholesterol-lowering effects.

    Ø Almonds can aid in cancer prevention: Two flavonoids in almonds (quercetin and kaempferol ) were found to be strong suppressors of lung and prostate tumor growth and these plant chemicals inhibited the tumor cell growth in culture in the studies at <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placeName w:st="on">Pennsylvania</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType w:st="on">State</st1:placeType> <st1:placeType w:st="on">University</st1:placeType></st1:place>. Flavonoids found in almonds also suppressed breast cancer cell growth when these cells have been exposed to cancer-causing agents as evident from other research findings.
     
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  2. anurar20

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    Apricot - The famous fruit

    The apricot is regarded as a nutritious & tonic food which enjoys world- wide popularity. The nut of the apricot is rich in Protein & fat. It contains 40 to 45 percent of oil, which is practically identical to almond oil.

    Apricots help cure ailments like constipation, indigestion, anemia, fevers & skin diseases. To enjoy their benefits, store them in a cool & dry place.

    Apricot History

    Apricots are thought to be native of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on">Armenia</st1:country-region>, from where they were brought to regions along the <st1:place w:st="on">Silk Road</st1:place>, and it's been cultivated there since times so ancient they even precede the first writings. Most sources point out the fact that the botanical name is "armeniaca", which indicates its origins from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Armenia</st1:place></st1:country-region>.

    In India, the first apricot cultivations date back to 3000 B.C. Alexander the Great is widely believed to have brought apricots to Greece, while the Roman general Lucullus is credited from bringing back apricot trees from Armenia to Rome. Romans began cultivating apricots about 100 BC, and they definitely knew apricots by 200 A.D. since the Roman food writer, Apicius, recorded recipes for them.

    Persians were also aware of apricots, and the dried fruits were a widespread commodity on the Persian markets: today they are known as "Zard-alu", in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Iran</st1:place></st1:country-region>, where they make up a very important slice of the fruit market.

    In literature there are many different references to the origin of apricots, which makes it very confusing to try and discern their real origin: Loudon (1838) wrote that apricots originated from a wide region including not only <st1:country-region w:st="on">Armenia</st1:country-region>, but also <st1:country-region w:st="on">China</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Japan</st1:country-region>, Caucasus and <st1:place w:st="on">Himalaya</st1:place>.

    Health Benefits

    Apricots are not only colourful and tasty: they also contain several nutrients that promote good health.

    Ø Apricots are very high in beta-carotene and lycopene, two antioxidant compounds commonly found in orange-red fruits and vegetables that promote heart health and prevent several types of cancers.

    Ø Beta-carotene and lycopene in Apricots also protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, reducing the risk of developing atherosclerosis and several cardiovascular diseases.

    Ø Apricots are very high in vitamin A equivalents that protect from the degenerative effect of free radicals (oxidative stress) that tend to damage blood supply to the eyes and cause macular degeneration.

    Ø Apricots are also a very good source of fiber, which has several health benefits especially related to the health of the digestive tract: it prevents constipation and cancer-promoting conditions such as diverticulosis.
     
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  3. anurar20

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    Cashew - It's actually a seed

    The cashew is a tree in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The plant is native to north-eastern <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Brazil</st1:place></st1:country-region>. Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju, which in turn derives from the indigenous Tupi name, acajú. It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew "nuts" and cashew apples.

    The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the pseudofruit.

    The drupe develops first on the tree, and then the peduncle expands into the pseudofruit. Within the true fruit is a single seed, the cashew nut. Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the fruit of the cashew is a seed.

    Cashews have less fat than almonds, walnuts, peanuts & pecans. They are power food which has protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, selenium, iron & zinc. When eaten in moderation, cashews are useful addition to a healthy diet. To enjoy its benefit at its best, store cashews in airtight containers.

    Cashew History

    Cashews are native to equatorial <st1:place w:st="on">South America</st1:place>. From there it migrated through the East Indies to <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> by the Portuguese in the late 16th century. From there cashews were introduced to Asia and Africa and later to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Australia</st1:country-region></st1:place>.

    Cashew, a native of Eastern Brazil was introduced to <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> just as other commercial crops like rubber, coffee, tea etc. by the Portuguese nearly five centuries back. The first introduction of cashew in <st1:country-region w:st="on">India</st1:country-region> was made in <st1:place w:st="on">Goa</st1:place> from where it spread to other parts of the country. The commercial exploitation began from the early 60’s, marginal lands and denuded forests were the areas set apart for the plantation development. Due to the absence of high yielding varieties and multiplication techniques, indiscript seeds and seedlings were used for planting purposes. Because of its adaptive ability in wide range of agro climatic conditions cashew has become a crop of high economy and attained the status of an export oriented commodity bringing considerable foreign exchange to the country.

    Health Benefits

    Eaten in moderation, cashews are a useful addition to healthy diet.

    Ø Cashew helps maintain healthy gums and teeth.

    Ø Cashew is an energizing food.

    Ø Cashew contains healthy monounsaturated fat that promotes good cardiovascular health, because monounsaturated fats reduce high triglyceride levels which are associated with increased risk for heart disease.

    Ø Cashew is rich in antioxidants that help in the elimination of free radicals that may cause some cancer.

    Ø Cashew nuts have a high energy density and high amount of dietary fiber, both have been attributed to a beneficial effect on weight management, but only when eaten in moderation Cashews, Cashew Nuts, Salted Cashew Nuts.

    Ø Cashew’s high copper content is vital in energy production, greater flexibility in blood vessels, bones and joints.

    Ø Cashew nut consumption helps the body utilize iron, eliminate free radicals, develop bone and connective tissue, and produce the skin and hair pigment melanin.
     
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  4. anurar20

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    Figs - All you need to live

    Figs grow on the Ficus carica or the Ficus tree, which are part of the Mulberry family. They are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber. Dried figs are richest in fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs. Figs have a laxative effect and contain many antioxidants. They are a good source of flavonoids and polyphenols.

    It's suggested that the figs be washed before consumption, soaking them eases the digestion too. The color and texture of figs vary. The skin of this fruit can be green, purple or almost black; while the flesh can be red, pink or amber.

    Fig History

    Ficus carica, known to us as the common fig, originated in northern <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on">Asia Minor</st1:place>. Spaniards brought the fig to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">America</st1:country-region></st1:place> in 1520.

    The fig tree was mentioned prominently in The Bible (some scholars believe the forbidden fruit picked by Eve was a fig rather than an apple), but it has been around much, much longer. Sumerian stone tablets dating back to 2500 B.C. record the usage of figs.

    Cooked figs were used as sweeteners in lieu of sugar in historical times, and this usage still continues today in North Africa and the <st1:place w:st="on">Middle East</st1:place>. The fig tree can live as long as 100 years and grow to 100 feet tall, although domestic trees are kept pruned to a height of about 16 feet.

    Health Benefits

    Figs provide renewed vigor & strength to the body especially after prolonged illness or physical & mental exertion. Figs are an excellent tonic for weak people who suffer from cracks in lips, tongue & mouth. Specific health benefits are listed hereunder.

    Ø Figs lower and control high blood pressure because these are packed with potassium, a mineral that can control hypertension.

    Ø Figs also help people lose weight. Figs with their high fiber content can help in weight management.

    Ø Figs are also great for post-menopausal women and for those who have breast cancer. Research has shown that women, who consume fiber-rich fruits regularly, reduce their chances of getting cancer.

    Ø Figs are good for those with diabetes. In some cultures, the leaves of the fig tree are used for its anti-diabetic properties.

    Ø Figs increase bone density. Figs are rich in calcium, a mineral that promotes bone density. The potassium in the fruit also counteracts the loss of urinary calcium, thus, preventing bones from thinning out.

    Ø Figs are good for cardiac health. The leaves of the fig tree are said to lower the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat that are found in the blood stream.

    Ø Figs are also rich in insoluble and soluble fibers that improve the health of the digestive tract: it prevents constipation.

    Ø Figs are rich in benzaldehyde, an anti-cancer compound, beta-carotene, potassium and iron. These also have flavonoids and ficin, a digestive enzyme.
     
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  5. anurar20

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    Pine Nut - Picked off the pinecone

    Pine nut is actually a seed produced by a certain variety of pine tree. They are tiny, but do not underestimate its goodness. Pine nuts are an excellent source of iron, manganese, copper, magnesium & high monounsaturated fat, which keeps the cardiovascular system healthy.

    It's also packed with vitamins A, C & D, which boost the immune system. Pine nuts contain almost three milligrams of iron in one-ounce serving. They are also higher in protein than most nuts & are a good source of thiamine, potassium & phosphorus. Pine nuts are best kept in the refrigerator, in airtight containers.

    Pine Nut History

    The eating of pine nuts dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times when they were commonly preserved in honey. Pine nuts were a common food for Native American Indians of various tribes, as well as Latino, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on">Mediterranean</st1:place>, and Oriental cultures.

    As such, pine nuts are known by many names including Indian nuts, pinon, pignon, pignolia, pignoli, pinolos, pinhao, and pignole.

    Health Benefits

    Listed are a few health benefits of pine cones and the reasons why you should add them to your diet

    Ø Pine nuts can be a potent appetite suppressor as they are a good source of a polyunsaturated fat known as pinolenic acid. When you eat a handful of pine nuts, the pinolenic acid stimulates the secretion of a hormone produced by the intestines known as CCK. CCK sends the signal to your brain that you’re full which turns off your appetite.

    Ø Pine nuts are nutritional powerhouses. A single serving of the pine nut can provide up to fourteen grams of protein per serving, depending upon the species. Pine nuts are anywhere from ten to thirty-four percent protein.

    Ø Pine nuts are also an excellent source of fiber as well as vitamins E, K, and niacin. In terms of minerals, they’re an excellent source of magnesium and potassium which is important for maintaining a healthy heart and blood pressure.

    Ø Pine nuts are high in monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and also help to protect the arteries from damage which can lead to a heart attack.

    Ø Pine nuts are also high in antioxidants which help to protect the cells of the body from free radical damage.
     
  6. anurar20

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    Pistachio - The 'Happy Nut'

    The pistachio is a broad, bushy, deciduous tree which grows slowly to a height and spread of 25 to 30 feet, with one or several trunks. Reddish, wrinkled fruits are borne in heavy clusters somewhat like grapes. Although known as a nut, the fruit of the pistachio is botanically a drupe, the edible portion of which is the seed.

    Pistachios are rich in potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B6 & thiamine. These nuts have relatively lower calorie value compared to other nuts. They are cholesterol-free, high in fiber & low in saturated fats. Pistachios have a high content of monounsaturated fat content; this actually lowers cholesterol levels. They also contain phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. Pistachios are best stored in airtight containers.

    Pistachio History

    The pistachio tree is native to western Asia and Asia Minor, from <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on">Syria</st1:country-region> to the Caucasus and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:place></st1:country-region>.

    Archaeological evidence in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Turkey</st1:place></st1:country-region> indicate the nuts were being used for food as early as 7,000 B.C. The pistachio was introduced to <st1:country-region w:st="on">Italy</st1:country-region> from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Syria</st1:place></st1:country-region> early in the first century A.D. Subsequently its cultivation spread to other Mediterranean countries. The tree was first introduced into the <st1:country-region w:st="on">United States</st1:country-region> in 1854 by Charles Mason, who distributed seed for experimental plantings in <st1:State w:st="on">California</st1:State>, <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Texas</st1:place></st1:State> and some southern states. In 1875 a few small pistachio trees, imported from <st1:country-region w:st="on">France</st1:country-region> were planted in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Sonoma</st1:City>, <st1:State w:st="on">Calif.</st1:State></st1:place>

    In the early 1900's the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture assembled a collection of Pistacia species and pistachio nut varieties at the Plant Introduction Station in Chico, Calif. Commercial production of pistachio nuts began in the late 1970's and rapidly expanded to a major operation in the San Joaquin Valley. Other major pistachio producing areas are <st1:country-region w:st="on">Iran</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on">Turkey</st1:country-region> and to a lesser extent, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Syria</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">India</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Greece</st1:country-region>, <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Pakistan</st1:country-region></st1:place> and elsewhere.

    Health Benefits

    Ø Pistachios are rich in monounsaturated fats that can play a role in lowering coronary heart disease risk by decreasing both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.

    Ø Pistachios are rich in the nutrients like arginine that are thought to reduce hardening of the arteries. Arginine is beneficial because it helps make nitric oxide in the blood, and nitric oxide can prevent build-up along the arterial walls.

    Ø Pistachios also contain phytosterols that may have anti-cancer properties.

    Ø Minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, found in pistachios are important in maintaining normal blood pressure.

    Ø Participants in the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placeName w:st="on">Penn</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType w:st="on">State</st1:placeType></st1:place> pistachio study showed no changes in blood pressure, body mass index or weight gain, further supporting previous studies that have also demonstrated no weight gain from the addition of pistachios to the daily diet.

    Ø A 1-oz serving of pistachios, with 49 kernels and 160 calories, offers an excellent source of vitamin B6, copper and magnesium; and are a good source of fiber, thiamin and phosphorus making them a wise snack choice.
     
  7. anurar20

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    Prunes - Not just fun to eat

    A prune is any of various plum species, mostly Prunus domesticus or European Plum (commonly referred to as a Sugar Plum). They are usually sold as dried fruit. Fresh plums that are marketed as "prunes" have an oval shape and a more easily removed pit. The dried fruit is wrinkly in texture and chewy on the inside.

    All prunes are plums, but not every plum is choicest to be a prune. They are good source of potassium the mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure, heart function & reduced risks of a stroke. It also promotes bone health & slows down muscular degeneration. Prunes also aid in normalizing blood sugar levels, provide intestinal protection & lower cholesterol. Remember to keep prunes fresh by storing them in airtight containers in a cool, dry & dark place.

    Prune History

    The first plum trees took root in the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on">U.S.</st1:country-region> during the California Gold Rush when brothers Louis and Pierre Pellier brought the Petit d’Agen plum tree from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">France</st1:place></st1:country-region> and grafted it to a wild American plum tree.

    Initially, farmers picked the fresh prunes by hand and dried them in the open air and sun. In 1905, a farmer brought in monkeys from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Panama</st1:place></st1:country-region> to pick the fruit instead, with a human supervisor in tow. The monkeys were great at picking the prunes, but also enjoyed eating the fruits of their labor. Soon enough, they were replaced by humans and machines that pick the fresh prunes which were then dried in mechanical dehydrators.

    The prune graft is known today as the California French Prune and comprises approximately 99% of the state’s production, most of which lies within the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placeName w:st="on">Sacramento</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType w:st="on">Valley</st1:placeType></st1:place>. The rich valley soil and abundant water supply provide ideal growing conditions for high quality prunes.

    Health Benefits

    Prunes are absolutely bursting with nutrients and goodness.

    Ø Prunes are the richest food source of protective antioxidants providing a massive boost to natural resistance and vitality. Antioxidants may help lower the risk of heart and lung diseases, some cancers, cataract formation and the effects of aging.

    Ø Prunes have vitamin A, important for healthy eyes and skin, vision, growth, reproduction and the immune system.

    Ø They contain potassium, necessary for nerve impulses and muscle contractions.

    Ø Prunes contain magnesium, vital to many basic metabolic functions.

    Ø Prunes also contain copper that helps the body metabolize and use carbohydrates, thus providing it with energy.

    Ø Prunes provide both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre. About 60 per cent of the dietary fibre in Prunes is pectin, a soluble fibre linked to lowering blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fibre helps reduce blood cholesterol levels thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Insoluble fibre works mainly in the large intestine, acting like a laxative.

    Ø According to research, prunes may also boost skeletal health. Prunes may contribute to the prevention of bone loss in post-menopausal women. The study showed that women who ate 12 prunes daily for three months had significant increases in serum markers of bone formation, and serum BSAP (bone-specific alkaline phosphatase) activity.
     
  8. anurar20

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    Raisin - Far more than a dried

    The word raisin dates back to Middle English and is a loanword from Old French; raisin means "grape," while, in French, a dried grape is referred to as a raisin sec, or "dry grape." The Old French word in turn was developed from the Latin word racemus, "a bunch of grapes."

    Raisin varieties depend on the type of grape used. Seedless varieties include the Sultana (also known as "Thompson Seedless" in the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">USA</st1:place></st1:country-region>) and Flame. Raisins are typically sun-dried, but may also be "water-dipped," or dehydrated. "Golden raisins" are made from Sultanas, treated with Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) , and flame dried to give them their characteristic color.

    Due to the high sugar content in raisins, they don't need preservatives to keep them fresh. Also, raisins will keep their flavor, color and nutritional value for up to 15 months when stored between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Store your raisins in an airtight container to keep them fresh, soft and free from humidity that can cause the fruit sugar to crystallize on the raisins' skin. Also, store your raisins away from brick and concrete walls where they can absorb moisture.

    Raisin History

    The raisin was discovered accidentally, many years before Christ. People ate grapes but did not know that if they were to dry the grape, it would become this useful and delicious dried fruit called the raisin.

    Historians claim that the Phoenicians and Armenians were the first nations to produce raisins. Phoenicians established vineyards in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Spain</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on">Greece</st1:country-region> that were fitting for cultivating raisins and the Armenians established their vineyards in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Iran</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Turkey</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Iraq</st1:place></st1:country-region>. The Greeks and Romans had a high demand for raisins and then other countries started to use raisins as well.

    Health Benefits

    Raisins are nature's original candy - and one of the world's most nutritious dried fruits.

    Ø Constipation: When ingested, raisins swell as the fiber present in them in dried form absorbs water. This helps giving relief in constipation.

    Ø Weight Gain: Raisins, like all dry fruits, are very good for gaining weight, as they are full of fructose and glucose and give a lot of energy. This is further boosted due to presence of many vitamins, amino acids and minerals which facilitate absorption of other nutrients and proteins in the body.

    Ø Acidosis: Raisins are good source of potassium and magnesium (two of the most popular constituents of antacids, being basic in nature) both of which are very effective in reducing acidity. They neutralize the acids and thus help check acidosis.

    Ø Anemia: Raisins contain considerable amount of iron which directly helps treating anemia. It also contains many members of vitamin-B complex which are essential for the formation of blood. Copper in them also help formation of red blood cells.

    Ø Bone Health: While calcium, which is the main constituent of bones, is present in raisins, it is one of the best sources of Boron, a micro nutrient (a nutrient required by the body in very small amount as compared to other nutrients) which is very necessary for proper bone formation and absorption of calcium

    Ø Eye Care: Raisins contain polyphenolic phytonutrients which have anti oxidant properties which are very good for ocular health, as they protect eyes from damages caused by free radicals (oxidants), such as macular degeneration, age related weakening of vision, cataract etc. In addition, raisins contain very good amount of vitamin-A, beta carotene and carotenoid, all of which are essential for a good ocular health.

    Ø Dental Care: Oleanolic Acid, one of the phytochemicals present in raisins, plays a crucial role in protecting teeth against tooth decay, cavities, brittleness of teeth etc. It effectively prevents growth of Streptococcus Mutans and Porphyromonas Gingivalis, two of the species of bacteria which are most responsible for cavities and other dental problems.
     
  9. anurar20

    anurar20 IL Hall of Fame

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    Saffron - The mark of tradition & purity

    Saffron is a spice obtained from the stigmas of the flower of Crocus sativus Linnaeus, commonly known as Rose of Saffron.

    The saffron filaments are actually the dried stigmas of the saffron flower, each flower has just three such stigmas, it takes about 75,000 flowers to get a pound of saffron. A therapeutic plant, saffron is considered as an antispasmodic, which helps in digestion & increases appetite. In the past saffron has been used as a drug to cure infections like flu, depression and as a sedative. Saffron in small quantities is also considered to regulate women's menstruation, and help in conception. It also has a high content of thiamin & riboflavin. Saffron is also believed to reduce melanin content in the epidermis on local application; to simply put it saffron could make a person fairer!

    Saffron History

    Although the origins of saffron are confusing, we can almost confirm that it comes from Orient, because its cultivation was widely spread in Minor Asia far before the birth of Christ.

    One of the first historic references to the use of saffron comes from Ancient Egypt , where it was used by Cleopatra and other Pharaons as an aromatic and seductive essence, and to make ablutions in temples and sacred places.

    Saffron was also highly appreciated in the Classic Greece for its coloring and aromatic properties. It was used as a remedy to sleeplessness and to reduce hangovers caused by wine.

    Arabs used saffron in medicine for its anaesthetic properties. It was the Arabs who introduced the cultivation of saffron in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Spain</st1:place></st1:country-region> in the X century. During the Middle Age, saffron became well known in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Great Britain</st1:place></st1:country-region>. The legend says that, in the period of Edward III, a pilgrim brought a bulb of saffron hidden in a hole in his stick from Middle East to the town of <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Walden</st1:place></st1:City>. There the bulb was grown and reproduced giving prosperity to the town.

    During the Renaissance, <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Venice</st1:City></st1:place> stood out as the most important commercial center for saffron. In that period saffron was worth its weight in gold, and even today it is still the most expensive spice in the world. Nowadays saffron forms part of the culinary culture of different regions in the world:

    Ø In <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> saffron is an indispensable ingredient in many recipes of rice, sweets and ice-creams. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine and in religious rituals.

    Ø In <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Saudi Arabia</st1:place></st1:country-region>, a real Arabic coffee should have saffron and cardamom.

    Ø In the North of Italy and South of Switzerland, saffron is essential in the preparation of its famous Risotto.

    Ø In <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Sweden</st1:country-region></st1:place> it is traditional to bake saffron bread on the day of St. Lucile.

    Ø Finally in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Spain</st1:country-region></st1:place>, saffron is an indispensable ingredient in such famous dishes as Paella, Fabada or Pote Gallego.

    Health Benefits

    Termed as a golden spice, saffron is indeed a very special and a precious spice which has numerous health benefits.

    Ø Saffron is used for the improvement of digestion and appetite.

    Ø Saffron is found to be extremely beneficial for providing relief from gas and acidity related problems.

    Ø Helps in curing insomnia (a pinch of saffron taken with warm milk in the night helps curing insomnia).

    Ø Saffron is a very popular answer to many skin problems, like dry skin, enhancing and lightening the skin tone etc.

    Ø Saffron is used for the treatment of kidney, bladder and liver disorders. It helps in improving circulation to the organs of digestion.

    Ø Saffron helps in treating various disorders like asthma, atherosclerosis, painful menstrual periods and even depression.

    Ø Saffron is considered as a blood purifier and it also has anti-inflammatory properties.

    Ø Massaging the gums with saffron helps in reducing soreness and inflammation of the mouth and the tongue.

    Ø Saffron is an antioxidant and has anti-cancerous properties.

    Ø Saffron being a blood purifier helps in increasing the oxygen content of the blood thereby aiding in the overall health and well being of a person.
     
  10. anurar20

    anurar20 IL Hall of Fame

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    Walnuts - Just a handful everyday

    The regal and delicious walnut comes from an ornamental tree that is highly prized for its beauty. The walnut kernel consists of two bumpy lobes that look like abstract butterflies. The lobes are off white in color and covered by a thin, light brown skin. They are partially attached to each other. The kernels are enclosed in round or oblong shells that are brown in color and very hard.

    Unshelled & shelled walnuts are best refrigerated in air tight containers & stay fresh for six months. Walnuts are regarded as 'Brain Food' aptly for their nutritional benefits & interestingly for their wrinkled brain-like appearance. While walnuts are harvested in December, they are available year round as a great source of important omega-3 fatty acids.

    Walnut History

    While walnut trees have been cultivated for thousands of years, the different types have varying origins. The English walnut originated in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on">India</st1:country-region> and the regions surrounding the <st1:place w:st="on">Caspian Sea</st1:place>, hence it is known as the Persian walnut. In the 4th century AD, the ancient Romans introduced the walnut into many European countries where it has been grown since. Throughout its history, the walnut tree has been highly revered; not only does it have a life span that is several times that of humans, but its uses include food, medicine, shelter, dye and lamp oil. It is thought that the walnuts grown in North America gained the moniker "English walnuts," since they were introduced into <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">America</st1:place></st1:country-region> via English merchant ships.

    Black walnuts and white walnuts are native to North America, specifically the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placeName w:st="on">Central</st1:placeName> <st1:placeName w:st="on">Mississippi</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType w:st="on">Valley</st1:placeType></st1:place> and Appalachian area. They played an important role in the diets and lifestyles of both the Native American Indians and the early colonial settlers. Today, the leading commercial producers of walnuts are the <st1:country-region w:st="on">United States</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Turkey</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">China</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Iran</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">France</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Romania</st1:place></st1:country-region>.

    Health Benefits

    Walnuts are a delicious way to add extra nutrition, flavor and crunch to a meal. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, proteins & antioxidants. Regular consumption of walnuts has a soothing effect on our mind & nerves, thus enabling sound sleep.

    Ø Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, a special type of protective fat the body cannot manufacture. It has many potential health benefits ranging from cardiovascular protection, to the promotion of better cognitive function and anti-inflammatory benefits

    Ø In addition, walnuts contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid that supports the immune system and appears to have several anticancer properties.

    Ø Approximately 15% of the fat found in walnuts is healthy monounsaturated fat. A host of studies have shown that increasing the dietary intake of monounsaturated-dense walnuts has favorable effects on high cholesterol levels and other cardiovascular risk factors.

    Ø Walnuts contain relatively high levels of l-arginine, an essential amino acid, which is converted into nitric oxide, a chemical that helps keep the inner walls of blood vessels smooth and allows blood vessels to relax. Since individuals with hypertension have a harder time maintaining normal nitric oxide levels, which may also relate to other significant health issues such as diabetes and heart problems, walnuts can serve as a great addition to their diets.
     

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