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One fruit with different shades of red: Tomato

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Did you ever wonder why we consider tomatoes a vegetable even though it’s a fruit? The story dates back to 1887 when the United States imposed a tariff of 10 percent to vegetables but did not impose the tariff to fruits. The U.S. government at the time said that since tomatoes were either eaten cooked or raw, just like all other vegetables, it should be classified as a vegetable. However, botanically speaking, tomatoes are the ripened ovaries of a flower that bears seeds just like all other fruits.

The color red in fruits and vegetables mostly comes from the antioxidant lycopene, which has many health benefits. Today, I will focus on the two major sources of lycopene, tomatoes and pomegranates, which also contain other health benefits. Did you know that as recently as 200 years ago, tomatoes were thought to be poisonous in some cultures? Let’s explore the interesting history of the now ubiquitous tomato before we dive into its health benefits.

Tomatoes are prominent in the Mediterranean diet and are closely associated with Italian cuisine. However, tomatoes are actually native to the southern hemisphere, specifically South America. Countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Bolivia are thought to be where the tomato originated. Although we often see tomatoes the size of apple today, historically cherry tomatoes were the first cultivated varieties. The name tomato is believed to have originated from the Aztec word “tomatl,” which means swelling fruit. After the 1500s, the Spanish introduced tomatoes to Europe. The Italians called it the golden apple, whereas the French called it the love apple. Its seeds were thought to be an aphrodisiac, and that – in addition to its color – is perhaps why the French named it after love.

Tomatoes were first believed to be a dangerous food because of its botanical relatives. Botanically, tomatoes are a part of the Solanaceae plant family and are closely related to the deadly nightshade plant. Historically, there are a great number of anecdotes about tomatoes that we consider funny now. For instance, in 1830, a colonel named Robert Gibbon Johnson prepared a basket of tomatoes and took them along with him to the local courthouse. He sat on the stairs outside the courthouse and began eating all the tomatoes in the basket. Eventually, a large crowd surrounded him as they thought he would die. Everyone was waiting for him to foam at the mouth and twitch until he finally died, but nothing happened. After this incident, tomatoes were accepted as edible, but people were still weary of eating it raw.

Fortunately, we have come a long way since then, and science has taught us that tomatoes provide many health benefits, whether you cook them or not. A medium sized tomato, which is about 120 grams, will provide only 22 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrates and no fat. So, when you take a look at the nutritional breakdown, you may not think that it has much to offer. On the other hand, though, it has much to offer when we take a closer look at its chemistry. From vitamin A and vitamin C, alpha-lipoic acid and lycopene to choline and lutein, tomatoes contain a wide array of beneficial antioxidants. Due to its rich, beneficial makeup, the tomato is referred to as a functional food.

Many of you have probably heard about the anti-aging antioxidant alpha lipoic acid, which helps the body convert glucose into energy. Because it facilitates this process, it aids in regulating the concentration of glucose in the blood, which is why tomatoes help to boost your metabolism if eaten at the end of meals. Scientific evidence also demonstrates that it dilates your blood vessels, which eases hypertension, protects against retinopathy in diabetics and even helps to preserve nerve tissue, protecting your brain.

Lycopene gives the rich red color to tomatoes. It is found in almost every other type of red fruit but tomatoes account for almost 80 percent of all lycopene we consume. Moreover, lycopene is thought to have the highest antioxidant activity of all carotenoids. Its powerful antioxidant effect helps to maintain the strength, thickness, and flexibility of cell membranes. Maintaining a healthy cellular membrane will slow aging and also protect our cells from toxins. There are many studies supporting the health benefits of lycopene that also highlight how it is not just the guardian of our cell membranes. Lycopene is shown to stop LDL oxidation by free radicals so that they cannot be deposited in atherosclerotic plaque. It helps to prevent of diabetes, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, aging of the skin, osteoporosis and infertility. Moreover, research suggests that it may also aid in the treatment of infertility in men by boosting their sperm count. The best news is that, currently, there are no reported side effects from eating foods that are rich in lycopene.

There are also other surprising health effects of tomatoes concerning cancer prevention. Researchers have documented that tomatoes and broccoli have a synergistic effect when taken together that may aid in reducing the risk of prostate cancers. According to a Canadian study, a diet rich in tomatoes and lycopene was linked in a 31 percent reduction in developing prostate cancer.

Aside from all of the aforementioned benefits, tomatoes may also be good food supplement to battle depression. The folic acid content in tomatoes has been shown to reduce the levels of homocysteine in your blood, which interferes with the hormones that regulate mood including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These hormones not only regulate mood, but also your sleep and appetite. So, maintaining a healthier balance of these by increasing folic acid through your diet will regulate your daily routine. Another important nutrient in tomatoes, choline, will also help with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.

Tomatoes are very important in the Mediterranean diet and a study shows why. Researchers demonstrated that if tomatoes are eaten along with healthier fats, like olive oil, the absorption of the carotenoid phytochemicals in tomatoes increases by two to 15 times. However, the Environmental Working Group prepares an annual list of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues and cherry tomatoes are unfortunately high in the list. So, it is advised that you should go for the organic ones to minimize pesticide exposure. But it is not a huge problem according to other studies, which state that the nutritional benefits gained from eating non-organic tomatoes far outweighs the risk of not eating them at all.

English Articles

False Facts About Catching a Cold, Flu

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Everyone catches a cold once or twice in the winter and mid-seasons. Although we take precautions to prevent catching a cold, the false facts that we believe to be true misdirect us. To be able to protect ourselves from the disease, it is important to know facts about the disease in the first place

Even though it is getting warmer, changes in temperature have the potential to lead to different diseases. Some of us have already started to feel tired, get the sniffles or become sneezy. Amid the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, we do not have time to rest and look after ourselves to fight our sicknesses. One should not forget that the most important point in the fight against a cold is to take precautionary measures.

Well, what do you know about illnesses, such as the cold, which affects the quality of our lives immensely? How accurate is the advice that our elders or neighbors give us? One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the source of sickness (for influenza) is not cold weather, but it is microorganisms and viruses. Here are several points about colds that are actually false.

Does going out with wet hair make us sick?

Cold or flu develops after a virus called “rhinovirus” enters the human body. Regardless of the temperature, weather or environmental conditions, once this virus enters into your body through your nose, mouth or other organs, then you will get sick. Otherwise, this virus will not affect you even though it exists in the same place where you are.

In this case, if we go out with wet hair, are we more likely to catch this virus? Well, wet hair only leads you to feel the cold more intensely. That is why this ongoing belief is still popular among people.

A group of American scientists studied the influence of going out with wet hair in cold weather on catching cold or flu. They first asked a group of participants if they believe this factor increases the risk of getting a cold. Some 41 percent of them responded “yes” to this question.

Then they prepared two different settings where the flu virus existed. In one of these settings, there were cold temperature conditions while the other had normal weather conditions. Some of the participants had wet hair and some had dry hair when they entered their own settings.

The result turned out to be very interesting. According to the study, in the same conditions (cold temperature), no difference was observed between the participants with wet hair and those with dry hair regarding their chances of getting cold. The only difference between the two groups turned out to be that the participants with wet hair felt colder than the participants with dry hair.

There are more studies that point out the same results. Thus, it has been scientifically proven that wet hair in cold weather does not increase the chances of getting a cold. Well, you’d better tell your mother about this fact because it is very likely she will resist changing this strong belief about catching a cold.

Do wool caps protect us from getting cold?

I am sure there are thousands of people who spent their childhood wearing woolen caps like I did, thus you became like a pea in a pod with your cap on until the weather gets better. The common belief that woolen caps protect us from getting cold stems from the belief that the fastest and biggest heat loss in the human body occurs from the head when the body starts to lose heat in cold weather, a belief that dates back 50 years.

The U.S. Army Forces conducted various experiments to increase their chances of survival in the perishing cold, to which the soldiers were likely to be exposed. A pretty cold environment was prepared for the experiment guided by scientists. Some volunteer soldiers started to wait in a cold room without wool caps and scientists measured the head temperatures of soldiers at certain intervals. Results show that soldiers lost up to 50 percent of their body heat from the head.

One of the most important reasons why this belief is still popular is the trust in the results of the scientific research. But, does the fact that we lose heat from our head quickly and in large amounts mean that it is the only part of our body that loses heat? Of course, not. If that was the case, only wearing a woolen cap would be enough to protect us from risk of freezing.

Grounding his research in this argument, Dr. Daniel Sessler, president of Cleveland Clinic Research Center, conducted similar a similar study – in cooperation with the U.S. army again – including participants who wore swimsuits in the same conditions. This study showed that almost every part of the human body experiences heat loss at the same level when the body is not protected in cold weather.

Thus, even if we can’t say that wearing a wool cap does not make any difference in cold weather, we can easily say that protecting only the head does not protect us from getting cold.

To sum up, always remember it is microorganisms and viruses that make us sick, not the cold weather itself. We must be especially careful about keeping our hands clean as we are frequently in crowded places and in contact with people who have a cold or the flu. Hands are in constant contact with the mouth and nose, which serve as an entrance point for microorganisms. We must make a habit out of washing our hands especially while it is still cold.

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English Articles

Depression: A Hidden Heart Disease Risk Factor For Women

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Depression is almost twice as likely to affect women than men. Difficulty in sleeping, loss of appetite and fatigue are the most common symptoms, but another lesser-known risk is a higher chance of heart attack

If we have not seen for ourselves a person who has had a heart attack before, the first image that comes to our minds in such a situation is similar to those in movie scenes. In most cases, a man holding his chest suddenly collapses, and the diagnosis is a heart attack. There is a strong public belief that a heart attack is seen in men more than women. This partially true data does not necessarily mean that women are at a lower risk.

The human body generally gives signals about what is happening. The important thing is to interpret these messages correctly and in a timely manner. The male and female bodies are two different systems that process things in different ways. This is why the same disease can show up with different signals in the two sexes. A heart attack is one of them.

If you have problems such as fatigue, heartburn, indigestion, sudden dizziness and lack of quality sleep, it may be a sign that you are at risk of a heart attack. Many women can relate these symptoms to busy work life, stress and city life. These are true, yet your lifestyle may assist in developing such symptoms, which can lead to worse health problems.

Do you constantly feel tired?

Fatigue is one of the most common complaints in our lives. Insomnia, the flu or the side effects of medications can easily cause tiredness, but being able to associate your fatigue with these causes does not mean that the actual cause of your complaints is one of them.

The results of a survey on women who have had a heart attack are quite interesting. More than 70 percent of women who had a heart attack reported that they had a feeling of fatigue that did not go away in the pre-heart attack period.

Do you have trouble sleeping?

There can be many different reasons for lack of sleep, and the vast majority requires regular treatment. If you cannot sleep immediately when you get into bed at night or if it takes too much time, you should be careful. A scientific study on women suffering from a heart attack calls attention to women’s sleep disorders. Almost half of the women who had a heart attack reported that they had suffered from lack of sleep that lasted for a while.

Do you suffer from shortness of breath?

If you are having difficulty doing routine activities during the day and the most obvious change that is bothering you is shortness of breath, never ignore this. Studies have shown that unexpected shortness of breath, which cannot be attributed to a known illness, may be a symptom of a heart attack for women. If you suffer from a cough as well as shortness of breath, this can be a signal you need to take seriously.

Do you suffer from heartburn and indigestion?

Eating habits and existing stomach disorders may cause you to develop heartburn. What should be noted here is whether you have a known illness that can explain your stomach problem. If you have not developed heartburn or indigestion complaints before, do not ignore it.

Another scientific study on women who had a heart attack draws attention to the finding that women who suffer from (unexpected) heartburn and indigestion should be careful. According to the study, almost 40 percent of women who had a heart attack reported that they suffered from heartburn or indigestion before the heart attack occurred.

Apart from heartburn, nausea and vomiting that occur without reason are among the heart attack symptoms for women. A study examining pre-heart attack symptoms showed that women had twice as many stomach and intestinal system diseases as men. In this case, women who have complaints such as heartburn, indigestion, nausea and vomiting that develop without cause should pay twice as much attention as men.

Do you have serious anxiety problems?

Depression, angst and anxiety are frequently experienced among many people. Panic attacks, which have seriously increased in prevalence, are one of the psychological disorders that go along with a heart attack. As I mentioned before, if there is no known cause of the situation you are experiencing, you should take it seriously.

A study on women who had heart attacks call attention to the fact that women suffering from anxiety and angst should be careful. According to the survey, most of the women who had a heart attack said that they suffered from unexpected anxiety and angst in the pre-heart attack period.

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English Articles

A Heart-Friendly Grocery List For Your Next Shopping Trip

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While walking along a supermarket’s aisles, the temptation to buy a variety of food items sets in, not aware that your basket is already full. For a healthy diet especially for the heart, you need a smart grocery list

Having a well-thought grocery list does not only save you time but helps you stick to a healthy diet. The items on your grocery list show how much you prioritize your health without being fooled by the marking hype.

The same thing goes when it comes to your heart health. Avoiding unhealthy food is as crucial as consuming foods rich in nutrients, fiber and healthy fats to prevent heart attacks. We have put together a shopping list for a heart-healthy diet.

The following foods that have been proven to be healthy for your heart should be included on your shopping list.

Beet greens

Are you throwing beet greens in the trash? Don’t! Beet greens is the top item on our list to protect yourself against heart diseases. Studies have revealed many advantages of beet greens for health. Fibers found in beet greens are known to decrease cholesterol absorption. Particularly those who have high cholesterol should definitely take advantage of the health benefits of beet greens. The heart-friendly product also helps stabilize your blood pressure thanks to its potassium content.

Canola oil

Marketed as heart-healthy oil, canola oil, which used to be widely available in local markets is currently a rarity. Made from crushed canola seeds, it has less saturated fat than any of the other oil kinds. It is higher in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Studies show that sterols found in the canola plant lowers bad cholesterol levels. Canola oil is also very rich in antioxidants and (thanks to antioxidants) it reduces inflammation in the body. You need to consume one table spoon of canola oil to get the expected benefits.

Bitter chocolate

There are enough studies to make any chocolate lover happy. Findings show that bitter chocolate speeds metabolism and aids weight loss, putting a smile on women’s faces in particular. However, in order to accelerate your metabolism, you need to make sure that your choice of bitter chocolate contains no less than 70 percent cacao.In addition to boosting metabolism, bitter chocolate is also good for your heart. Flavanols found in cacao help your vessels to flex and your blood to dilute, thus, reducing your blood pressure. Flexing your blood vessels is an important factor helping you reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, do not forget that bitter chocolate must contain at least 70 percent cacao in order to protect your health.


A staple of traditional Turkish cuisine, garlic is usually an indispensable item in the preparation of dishes. Researchers say consuming one clove of garlic – or if you are taking it in powder form, 1 teaspoon – will also provide protection against cardiac diseases. Garlic flexes your muscles and prevents plate formation in vessels and high cholesterol.


The struggle to lose weight has been one of the most popular subjects in the last few years. A number of scientific studies spotlight the fiber content of apples. There is about 5 milligrams of fiber in an apple – enough to meet (+/-) three-quarters of our daily intake need. Those trying to lose weight must definitely include apples in their diet. There are some other studies revealing that eating an apple a day helps you protect against heart diseases. Apple ranks fifth on our list of heart-healthy products. Scientists say that the high fiber flavonoid content of apples reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes and lowers cholesterol levels! Consuming an apple a day is crucial for your health.

Olive oil

Used frequently in Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is deemed as one of the miracles of nature. Very rich in antioxidants, olive oil helps lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels without affecting HDL (good cholesterol). Therefore, it ranks sixth on this list. In order to benefit from olive oil, you need to consume about 2 tablespoons per day. It is advised to consume it raw by adding it to salads. There are a myriad of olive oil varieties available at supermarkets, which perplexes shoppers. It is very normal that you might not be able to decide which one to buy. The packaging and labels are sometimes confusing. My personal advice is to go for the “natural extra virgin olive oil.”

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