The muscadine grape, or more specifically, an extract of the muscadine grape of a nutrient that may soon become as household a name as resveratrol, called ellagic acid (also called EA), was part of an intriguing study that had multiple implications when it comes to the metabolism and usage of fat in the human body. The study was done on mice, as most studies are before they are tested on humans, since they have similar metabolic processes to us.

These studies are so far demonstrating that EA may benefit not only your overall cell health due its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but it may also have exciting implications for fat loss, weight maintenance and the overall metabolism and regulation of fat accumulation.

How does ellagic acid affect fat cells and their excess production and storage?

In the study with mice, they received the equivalent of about one and a half cups of muscadine grapes, which are high in ellagic acid, and another group of mice were not. It is important to note that muscadine grapes are the only type of grape with this nutrient, however some oak aged wines also generate this nutrient, and several other foods as listed below, are also rich in EA. Both groups of mice in the study were fed a high fat diet.

However, the mice who consumed the ellagic acid rich food in conjunction with a high fat diet, showed not only less fat cell formation and a marked decrease in liver storage (this often results in what’s termed as a “fatty liver” which can be a dangerous condition over time), but also showed much better control over their insulin levels. This seemed to indicate the EA helped in controlling the release and metabolism of simple sugars (all carbs are broken down into these simple sugars).

The logical conclusion of this study is that ellagic acid seemed to have not only an effect on how the mice stored and metabolized the excess fat in their diet, but also on another important component of overall health and weight maintenance, which is the efficient control of blood glucose levels. Further adding to the effect EA has on fat cells and fat storage, another study, based on human biological models translated from the findings in mice, provided evidence that ellagic acid actually suppresses the formation and growth of fat cells.

Since EA seems to have a huge benefit for expedient carbohydrate and fat metabolism, the implications for weight loss and healthy weight maintenance are promising. While those that released the study were careful to avoid coming out and saying EA is a weight loss aid, they did acknowledge that it may help support healthy blood sugar levels, metabolize fat, and prevent it from storing in the liver, as well as provide important antioxidant support to healthy cells.

Ellagic acid protects the skin from photo aging by protecting against UV damage

EA has another interesting effect that may have anti-aging benefits for those concerned with photo aging (damage caused to the skin by UV exposure). One study showed that daily doses of EA helped protect against UV damage, which is one of the biggest factors in making the skin appear older. The supposed mechanism for this protective quality is that it works by blocking the production of enzymes that break down collagen in damaged skin cells.

This may be due also to its effects on blood glucose control, since sugars in the blood are one of the biggest causative agents in the breakdown of collagen. Excess sugars actually make the walls of collagen rigid, instead of soft and pliable, which lends to the creasing, wrinkling and generally crepey appearance of skin as it ages.

It also reduced the effect of inflammation on skin cells by suppressing the effects of a molecule that is involved in inflammatory reactions. The anti-inflammatory effects of EA could have a very positive effect on preventing sun damage since the skin breaks down over time due to constant exposure to free radicals, whether it be from environmental and UV causes, diet or chemicals.

This anti-inflammatory and cell-protective quality also has numerous benefits when it comes to cancer prevention for a number of different types of cancer, including both male and female dominant types of cancers.

Where can you get the highest concentrations of EA?

The top food choice is probably going to be strawberries. Fresh, wild strawberries have the highest levels, followed by raspberries and blackberries. So fire up that smoothie blender! And remember that frozen organic berries may hold even more antioxidants than fresh since they are immediately frozen after being harvested.

Pomegranates also contain EA, but they are not as high in the actual bioavailable form of EA as the berries are. One of my favorite nuts, the walnut, contains some EA as well, and as you most certainly know by now walnuts also contain a whole host of other beneficial nutrients. Red wine made with muscadine grapes, or aged in oak barrels also contains ellagic acid.

By Natural Advocate | May 12, 2010 - 9:59 pm - Posted in Foods, Herbal Weight Loss

I used to only eat mangos one way – dried. Dried, organic mangos are awesome. They’re like natures version of a chewy, flavorful fruit rollup. Remember those little sugar bombs that you used to indulge in as a kid? The ones that would never fill you up, give you a sugar rush, and make you even hungrier than you were before you ate the dang thing!? Yeah those!

Well, unlike nutritionless fruit rollups, dried mangos have a lot of nutritional value, but of course eating the real thing is better for you, as with any fruit vs. dried fruit. The dried version does maintain some of it’s fiber, but eating the whole fruit will give you even more fiber. In fact, there is an estimated whopping 4 grams of dietary fiber in just one medium mango! That’s a great source of natural fiber.

Not to mention, they have great, beneficial, body cleansing enzymes that help you maintain your digestive effectiveness as well as keep you regular. One thing that I swear by if I’m feeling a little bit bloated and constipated is to drink a Naked Mango smoothie with probiotics to help “get things moving” again. If you don’t like the idea of drinking juiced fruits, then try mango fresh or dried, they both will help to act as natural stimulant to your digestive waste removal.

Mangos are a tropical fruit, and as with many other tropical fruits, they are somewhat high in sugar compared to other fruits, like apples for instance. However, don’t let that stop you from eating this incredibly nutritious, cleansing fruit. It is great if you’re looking to cleanse your system after day of bad eating. You just cut one up (beware the long, oblong shaped fibrous pit in the middle), in the morning and eat that for breakfast. You’ll be amazed at how long this roughly 150 calories fruit fills you up!

The natural enzymes in mango actually help to “scrub” out the intestines, the stomach, and they also aid in digsetion. Papaya is another fruit that can aid you in digestion. Mango is also very high in Vitamin A and B6 as well.

By Natural Advocate | November 25, 2007 - 9:42 pm - Posted in Herbal Weight Loss

I’ve been interested in doing the “Master Cleanse” diet for some time now, but I’ve also been reading a lot of debate and controversy on the subject of the modified fasting and detoxifying diet online as well.  I have to admit, a lot of what the medical professionals say about how the diet couldn’t possibly detoxify the body using maple syrup, cayenne pepper and lemon juice with water, and eating no food as well as taking herbal laxatives as a colon cleansing agent and detoxifier every night, makes a little sense, but I also have read so much anecdotal evidence that the fast really works that I can’t help but test it out myself.

I also happen to have two people that are close to me that have tried the Master Cleanse diet and say that it made them feel great, with more energy, and a little bit of weight loss, as well as great skin and a host of other side benefits that they definitely recommend the master cleanser diet as a way to sort of realign your eating habits, and, well, to just take the focus off food for a while and channel your energy elsewhere.  Many of us don’t realize how much time and energy we waste on preparing, thinking about, and consuming food. 

Heck, I thought about it just the other day.  If I had all that time back that I use to prepare lunches, breakfasts and dinners, AND the time that it just takes me to do the dishes for all those meals, I’d have so much more time in my schedule, and I’d be able to focus my energies on more important things! 

My two friends who tried it didn’t just experience weight loss and physical benefits, but they also said that it really made them appreciate their life, and other things that they didn’t even think about or have time to focus on before.  One even said that she got almost a spiritual high on the last few days of the fast, and that was truly one of the reasons I decided I’m going to try it – and soon – before Christmas time gets in full swing.  So, I’ll be letting you know how my herbal colon cleansing, detoxifying diet goes when I start it!  Hopefully I’ll be full of glowing reviews! 

By Natural Advocate | March 6, 2007 - 8:37 am - Posted in Foods, Herbal Weight Loss

Most Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables in any form. Nutritionists usually agree that fresh is best for flavor and full nutritional value. What are the pros and cons of fresh versus frozen and canned?

Frozen vegetables generally use less sodium in the freezing process when compared with canning. Certain vegetables freeze better and maintain the quality of flavor and color. Spinach, peas, beans and corn are examples of vegetables that freeze well.

Canned vegetables are good for price and convenience. The downside to canned vegetables is that they are loaded with sodium. The canning process effects the color and consistency of the vegetables. The color is duller and the vegetables lose crispness.

Frozen fruits maintain their nutrition. The freezing process locks in nutrition. As far as cost goes, frozen fruits can be more reasonable than fresh, especially when the fruit is out of season. The disadvantage of frozen fruit is it is more watery and loses texture.

The advantage of canned fruit is affordability and convenience.The disadvantage of canned fruit is that it is often packed with a lot of sugar. If you read the labels, look for the cans without the syrup. Another downside to canned fruit is that it is mushy and lacks the crispness of fresh.

While fresh is usually best, frozen and canned products are a good idea so you’ll always have some fruits and vegetables on hand. It’s a good way to get your favorite fruits and vegetables when they are out of season. There is still nutritional value in frozen and canned fruits and vegetables.

By Natural Advocate | January 12, 2007 - 2:50 pm - Posted in Herbal Weight Loss

The FTC, the federal commission that is essentially in charge of making sure consumers are not misled, at least to the best of their abilities, fined several high profile weight loss supplements recently to the tune of millions of dollars, for false advertising.  False advertising in supplement world means that you are inflating the claims of your product, and your company does not have any research or conclusive data to back up those claims. 

One of the really big name diet supplements that was fined was the infamous Anna Nicole Smith endorsed Trimspa, which is one of the first diet suppelements to include the now famous hoodia gordonii extract, a molecule found in African cacti that has been helpful in reducing appetite, and even thirst for hours on end.  I’m a little baffled on this one, because it does claim it can help you thermogenically burn calories and reduce appetite, and I’ve taken it before and did find a depletion of appetite to be a side effect, so it  actually worked for me. 

Another was the One a Day weight loss support vitamin supplement, which claimed that daily use of the vitamin would help to increase metabolism.  No substantiation for that claim could be found.  There were also a few other high profil OTC diet supplements that were fined as well, one even went as far as to claim their product made people lose more weight than people on a placebo when in fact investigators found their research showed the exact opposite, that people on the placebo lost more weight, so this was pretty much a blatant lie in their advertising. 

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