Powerful plants.
Backed by science.

Ordinary Ingredients.
Extraordinary benefits.

Don’t be fooled by the normal sounding names – our ingredients pack a powerful punch. There is an incredible amount of research that shows you don’t need strange supplements to feel your best – just good old fruit & veg. 

We are so passionate about freeze drying, because it is so powerful. It preserves the incredible benefits that nature provides in these amazing ingredients.

The Science

We’re science lovers here at FOGA. And as science lovers, we interrogate things we hear, look to understand who has written them and why. We assess evidence for balance. Food has become the subject of science recently – but often for the wrong reasons. More often than not, some new – high margin – product is subjected to extensive biased tests funded by someone with money to make in order to convince us to part with our cash.

There’s not as much cash in bananas as there is in pills, so they aren’t studied as much. However, dig deeply enough and the work is there. In this page, we summarise our research on our incredible ingredients. It’s long, and detailed, but it’s incredibly important to us.

Our Ingredients

We work hard to source the best quality produce in the world. Organic produce, that’s better for us and better for the planet. It’s picked at its nutritious best, flash frozen then gently dried, preserving all the precious nutrients and taste. This is the magic of freeze drying. 

The Science

We’re science lovers here at FOGA, and there is an incredible amount of science that shows you don’t need strange supplements to feel your best – just good fruit & veg every day. We’re here to help make that easier for you. 

And as science lovers, we interrogate things we hear, look to understand who has written them and why. We assess evidence for balance. In this page, we summarise the research on our incredible ingredients. It’s long, and detailed, but it’s incredibly important to us.

Acai fruit are a superfood, native to the Amazon rainforest, where they are eaten as a staple part of the diet. Commonly misconceived as berries, acai are actually drupes which have a stone in, similar to an apricot. They are a particularly unusual fruit as they are high in fat and low in sugar so are often made into juices and purees where sugar is added to sweeten them (but not in our Plantshakes!). Acai are a deep purple colour, hinting at their amazing antioxidant content, trumping fruit like blueberries and cranberries. Antioxidant content can be measured with a Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score, 100g of frozen acai pulp with a score of 15,405 and 100g of blueberries with a score of only 4,669. It is primarily anthocyanins found in acai, which neutralises the free radicals causing oxidative stress, often held responsible for the progression of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Numerous animal studies have found acai antioxidants to improve cardiovascular heath through the lowering of cholesterol in the blood. A 2009 study by… showed rats fed a high cholesterol diet had reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels when administered 2% acai for 6 weeks. Additionally, a study in rabbits which were fed acai, led to a reduction in cholesterol and atherosclerotic plaque size. Additionally, this experiment also suggested that acai contain plant sterols, which prevents to absorption of cholesterol into the blood.

Antioxidants also have famous cancer fighting properties, for which evidence has been found in both animal and test tube studies. For example, a 2017 and 2012 study found that mice fed acai pulp could have a reduced incidence of colon and bladder cancer, respectively. Several animal studies have also reviewed acai’s capability in improving brain function and reducing the impacts of an aging brain. Studies looking at the impacts of acai on the hippocampus of both rat and mice brains, demonstrated reduced inflammatory mediators and improved signalling across its neurones. This suggests the antioxidants in acai could stop oxidation to the lipids, proteins and nucleic acids of the brain, thus improving memory retention, and cognitive and motor function. These antioxidants were also seen to stimulate autophagy in the brain, a process that removes non-functioning and toxic cells that may now cause damage. All in all, acai is an extremely promising superfruit, which we are only at the brink at beginning to understand their full potential… so bring on the clinical trials!

Now we have all heard “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and it’s not without reason, as they are packed with vitamin C, B-complex vitamins and fibre. Starting with vitamin C, studies have shown that 100g of fresh apples could have the equivalent of 1500mg of vitamin C. This particular study showed the antioxidant properties of this vitamin C could inhibit the progression of colon- and liver-based cancer cells in vitro investigations. Moreover, B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamine and vitamin B6, are fundamental in the new generation and maintenance of red blood cells. This ensures there is constant and sufficient oxygenation of the muscles and organs.

Secondly, apples contain both a respectable amount of soluble and insoluble fibres, studies showing that consuming just one large apple provides 30% of the daily required fibre. 81% of the apple flesh is said to be formed of the soluble fibre pectin, shown to contribute to lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood, in turn decreasing risk of heart disease. In one study, it was found that older women who ate apples everyday lowered their LDL levels by 23% in 6 months. Furthermore, their HDL (good cholesterol) levels rose by 4% in the same 6 months.

Finally, the antioxidant activity apples have been attributed to many health benefits, due to their abundance in phytochemicals like polyphenols, flavonoids, and carotenoids. Most prominently are quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid, all of which reduce the oxidative stress which contributes to the progression of cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes to name a few. Research has even show high flavonoid consumption can lower risk of stroke by 20%. These phytochemicals can help improve vascular function, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and regulate hyperglycaemia. Furthermore, studies have found that the combination of the flavonoids and fibre found in apples naturally is more beneficial than that of either alone, all mediated by the gut microbiota they help keep healthy.

Our organic bananas are sourced from Sri Lanka where the warm, humid climate promotes their growth. They have a fantastic nutritional value, which give a multitude of health benefits to their consumer. Bananas are high in vitamins B5, B6 and C, which are essential in the extraction of energy from food, the generation of new blood cells for enhancing oxygen delivery, and for improved immune strength. Furthermore, the mineral bananas are famously rich in, potassium (‘K’ for all you chemists), has important biological roles in fluid regulation, contraction of the muscle and delivery of nerve signals around the body. The minerals in bananas you may be less aware of, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and zinc, form fundamental components of our cells, the mechanisms of cellular processes, the production of energy and enhancement of immune function. It is therefore safe to suggest that the vitamins and minerals bananas supply us with may not only improve our overall health, but also our body’s performance during exercise.

Additionally, the resistant starches in bananas have shown to have probiotic functions, reducing gut inflammation, and reducing bowel cancer risks. Bacteria found in the large intestines break down these starches into a short fatty acid chain called butyrate which acts to improve gut health. Butyrate is used for energy in colonocytes (gut cells) as well as stabilising the bacteria and other variables in the surrounding environment. The reduced inflammatory environment hinders tumour progression thus lowering the risk of bowel cancer. Both resistant starch and pectin fibres also stimulate the production of GLP-1 and peptide YY proteins which promotes insulin production. This can help stabilise blood sugar spikes and therefore regulate disorders such as type II diabetes and obesity.

The star of the show in many fruits and vegetables, antioxidants, are also found in abundance in bananas. These phytochemical compounds like polyphenols, carotenoids and phytosterols neutralise damaging free radicals and therefore protect the body against oxidative stress. Polyphenols and carotenoids have both shown to give protection against degenerative diseases like arthritis as well as reducing cancer progression. Additionally, they can have anti-aging properties, enhance mood and form precursors for vitamin A. Phytosterols act against LDL (bad cholesterol) competing for its absorption from the gut into the blood, improve overall cardiovascular health.

Evidence

Evidence

Notorious for staining and everything and anything, with FOGA Plantshakes you can have all the benefits of the beetroot without the mess. Beetroot, along with other vegetables with leafy greens, contains nitrates, compounds which form nitric oxide once in the body. Nitric oxide flows around the blood stream and crosses into the endothelial cells of the blood vessel walls. This leads to a cascade of chemical interactions, resulting in the relaxation of the arteries and dilation of the blood vessels, thus decreasing overall blood pressure. Various studies have shown that eating beetroot can reduce blood pressure 3-10mmHg in only a few hours after consumption, which in turn lowers the risk of heart disease. Nitric oxide also provides benefits during periods of high intensity endurance exercise, by aiding the mitochondria in more efficient production of energy. A multitude of studies have suggested beetroot consumption may lead to improved cycling, stamina, and overall exercise performance.

In addition to nitrates, beetroot contains various vitamins and minerals which provide health benefits. Vitamin C boosts immunity and folate (vitamin B9) is key to the function of normal cells and tissues. Iron is vital in the transport of oxygen in the red blood cells and potassium regulates the heart rate and lowers blood pressure. Beetroots also contains manganese, important for supporting bone mineral density, modulating blood sugar levels, nutrient metabolism, as well as having antioxidant function. In fact, beetroot is thought to be one of the top ten most potent antioxidant vegetables, as well as one of the richest sources of glutamine (vital for intestinal cell health, providing them energy and maintaining the integrity of the intestinal wall). Finally, beetroot contains 2.5g of fibre per 100g, aiding with digestion and also thought to increase white blood cell production.

Frustratingly, these juicy, black wonders are super seasonable, only appearing the UK from August to October. Cue: FOGA Plantshakes, making sure you get their delicious taste and amazing health benefits all year round. Firstly, they are rich in vitamins and minerals we all know our body needs. 1 cup contains around half your RDI of vitamin C, essential for collagen formation, absorption of iron, and boosting immunity, as well as one third of your RDI of vitamin K, important for normal blood clotting and bone metabolism. It also gives you half your RDI of manganese, important in bone development, immune health, nutrient metabolism, and collagen formation, and 8g of fibre, promoting normal bowel movement, controlling blood sugar spikes, and nourishing gut bacteria.

Blackberries are also high in polyphenols, reducing the negative impacts of oxidative stress damage. One of these may be reducing the damage of aging oxidative stress on the brain. One 2009 animal study found rats consuming blackberries had improved cognitive and motor activity in comparison to control rats. This is likely as the blackberry polyphenols neutralise the damaging free radicals, improving the communication between brain neurones, preventing brain inflammation and age-associated memory loss ass. Blackberries have also shown to potentially have antiviral and antibacterial properties. One 2011 study found that topically administering blackberry extract to cold sores stops early replication of the virus responsible, Herpes Simplex Type 1 Virus. Furthermore a 2013 study showed the blackberry’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities worked against the bacteria responsible for gum and other oral disease. The anti-inflammatory properties may be extended to therapeutically treating stomach ulcers. A 2013 study found that ellagitannin antioxidants (specifically sanguiin H-6 and lambertianin C) found in blackberries reduced the inflammatory res naringinponse in rats with ethanol-induced gastric lesions (mimics stomach ulcers), decreasing the ulcer index by 88%.

Black pepper is a seasoning staple for many of us, but its also brings it own health benefits to the table. Its suggested to have antimicrobial qualities against nasties like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, having gastroprotective activity against ulceration, as well as  potential hypoalgesic effects. The superstar player in black pepper is a alkaloid chemical compound called piperine which has a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity, in addition to increasing absorption of awesome compounds like curcumin in turmeric.

The antioxidant profile allows piperine to neutralise damaging free radicals, as demonstrated in a 2004 study of rats fed a high fat diet. Here, the rats which had been administered black pepper had significantly fewer markers of free radical damage in their cells after 10 weeks. In vivo studies have also demonstrated piper effectively reduces inflammation. This has been shown in arthritic rats, where a 2009 study suggested piperine inhibited expression, production, and migration of pro-inflammatory mediators (i.e. IL-6 MMP13, PGE2 and AP-1), thus reducing inflammation and pain. This is similarly supported in a 2013 study on rats with induced rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting piperine could also be used a safe and effective treatment for some inflammatory diseases. Piperine has even potential abilities to reduce airway inflammation in asthma and seasonal allergic reactions.

There is also evidence piperine could also provide health benefits in several chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In cancer, in vitro studies have shown piperine to slow growth and induce cell death of colon, breast, and prostate cancer cells. Piperine’s ability to control blood sugar levels and improve sugar metabolism could benefit and even treat diabetics, as suggested in a 2016 study. A 2003 study on swiss albino miss suggested it could lower blood glucose levels, in addition to a 2013 study on 86 overweight individuals suggesting piperine could increase insulin sensitivity over an 8-week period. Piperine’s potential to lower cholesterol would also benefit those with and reduce risks of developing cardiovascular disease. This is suggested by findings in one study, where they observed that rats fed a high-fat diet and black pepper extract hade reduced total cholesterol and LDL levels in their blood.

Alkaloid compounds like piperine also do a lot of good for the brain, suggested to boost cognitive function and even have anti-depressant effects. Particularly studied in Alzheimer’s disease, piperine has been found to improve memory in Alzheimer’s-induced rats running a maze, and lower the formation of amyloid plaques, who’s accumulation around the brain is a key feature of the disease.

When reading about the nutritional benefits of fruit and vegetables you see the word antioxidant flown around a lot. Well, the blueberry is the king of the antioxidants, vastly rich in flavonoids, a family of polyphenols. The flavonoid put down to giving blueberries most of their “superpowers” is anthocyanin, which gives them their rich, dark purple colour. Antioxidants help combat oxidative stress, and this damage can happen to various cells and molecules in the body all with negative health impacts. Firstly, oxidative stress can occur to our DNA, damaging it, resulting in the faster progression of aging (DNA damage is natural part of the aging process) but can also result in cancer cell formation. Cancers often can originate where the DNA is damaged by chemicals, UV light and even free radicals which induce oxidative stress on the DNA, resulting in cancerous mutations. Oxidative stress can also occur to LDL (bad cholesterol) in the blood, which induces the progression to heart disease. One 2013 study showed that consuming 75g blueberries with a high-carbohydrate and low-fat breakfast can provide significant oxidative protection to LDL, with similar results found in obese individuals. Blueberry antioxidants also protect the blood vessel endothelium from oxidative damage, helping to lower blood pressure. One 8-week study found that a 50g serving of blueberries reduced blood pressure by 4-6% in obese individuals categorised as high risk for heart disease. Finally, the antioxidants can reduce oxidative damage in the brain, helping improve function, reduce the impacts of an aging brain such as losing memory. This has been predominantly examined in animal studies, where consuming blueberries helped to modulate cell signalling pathways, improve motor and cognitive function by benefiting aging neurones. In a human study with over 16000 older individuals, it was shown that consumption of blueberries and strawberries were liked to a reduction in mental aging by up to two and a half years.

Other benefits include the anti-diabetic function of anthocyanin, positively impacting glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity. In a 2006 4-week randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial, it was found that a blueberry supplement significantly reduced fasting plasma glucose levels, inflammatory proteins (specifically C-reactive proteins), and  enzymes linked to diabetes circulating in the blood, when compared to the control group. This demonstrates its therapeutic potential for diabetes.

Finally, as blueberries are closely related to cranberries, they share the anti-adhesive molecules which inhibit bacteria such as E. coli from attaching to the walls of the bladder. Therefore, this can reduce risk of urinary tract infection.

Broccoli is a member of the brassica family along with that cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts. However, what makes this cruciferous vegetable so special is the nutrition it stores in its tender stems and little dark florets! Firstly, it contains a rich and diverse supply of vitamins and minerals, 1 cup providing 135% of our vitamin C, 116% of our vitamin K, 14% of our folate, 11% of our vitamin A, 8% of our potassium, 6% of our phosphorus and 3% of our selenium relevant RDI’s. This supports a range of normal body processes as well as boosting health in various other areas. Vitamin C in known to improve immune activity, the absorption of iron, and helps form collagen to aid with wound healing and the reduction of wrinkling skin and dry hair. Vitamin K regulates normal blood clotting, folate is required for new production and maintenance of body cells, and potassium is essential for nerve function and heart contraction (just to provide a few!).

However, broccoli’s antioxidant capacity is what has led scientists to make impressive claims of its health benefits. Antioxidants neutralise damaging free radicals, reducing inflammation and providing the body with a degree of protection against chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes as well as the impacts of aging. Early evidence for broccoli’s reduction in risk for these diseases has been conducted, however many require human trials before solid conclusions can be drawn. Notably, broccoli contains high levels of glucoraphanin, which is converted into a powerful antioxidant called sulforaphane when digested. One 2014 review of 17 studies, suggested that through the primary use of patient blood sugar, cholesterol and lipid profiles, broccoli sulforaphane could reduce the risk of myocardial infarction through its anti-oxidative stress activity. Adding to this, a 2012 human trial observed significant reductions in LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and increased levels of HDL (good cholesterol), suggested broccoli consumption provides reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, A 2008 review of epidemiological studies also suggests that broccoli consumption can decrease levels of homocysteine which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Sulforaphane, along with other broccoli antioxidants is also thought to have anti-cancer activity in the cases of colorectal, prostate, gastric, breast, kidney and bladder cancers. A study conducted in 2010 using both in vitro and in vivo methods, suggested sulforaphane could inhibit breast cancer stem cells and downregulate tumorigenesis pathways. Various other studies have also noted sulforaphane for its ability to inhibit enzymes involved in the activation of carcinogens and upregulate the enzymes which help clear carcinogens and reactive oxygen species. Sulforaphane’s interference in cancer cell cycle arrest and enforcement of their programmed cell death, suggested it could be used as a potential chemoprevention therapy.

Other antioxidants like polyphenols are also found in broccoli, including kaempferol, quercetin glucosides and isorhamnetin. These provide significant anti-inflammatory properties, as seen in the case of kaempferol in both in vitro and in vivo studies. Additionally, broccoli has reasonable amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, protecting your eyes for age-related macular degeneration. Activities of antioxidants can also prevent age-related brain function decline, slow down wrinkling and reduce blood sugar levels.

‘Carrots help you see in the dark’- well not quite, but they sure do improve eye health. Carrots are a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which gives carrots their orange colour. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, promoting good vision, and functions in normal growth and improved immune activity. Vitamin A reduces the risk of night-time blindness, dry eyes and corneal scarring, along with carotenoid antioxidants fighting off age-induced macular degeneration. Other vitamins and minerals in carrots have other essential functions; vitamin K1 maintaining normal blood clotting, vitamin B6 aiding in energy conversion, biotin helping metabolise fats and proteins and potassium helping control blood pressure.

Carotenoids, the antioxidants in carrots, protect the body from oxidative stress which can led to the progression of degenerative diseases like CVD, cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers. Beta-carotene along with alpha-carotene are converted to vitamin A, lycopene, lutein, anthocyanins and polyacetylenes. Several studies have examined their effectivity against different cancers through use of dietary questionnaires over a course of years. A case control study examining 450 cases of prostate cancer suggested carrot’s high lycopene and beta-carotene levels could reduce cancer risk. A 2007 study followed over 82,000 45-83-year olds with stomach cancer for 8 years suggested carotenoids can also reduce the risk of cancer. A 2000 study on 2410 individuals with colon cancer found carrot’s lutein reduced cancer risk in both men and women. (maybe merge?)

The sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre in carrots are provides health benefits, primarily pectin and cellulose, respectively. Insoluble fibre aids with bowel movement and digestion, shown to reduce risk of constipation. Soluble fibre also aids digestion but has alternative functions to insoluble. The gut microbiotic bacteria feed on the fibre, forming short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, providing gut cells energy, maintaining their health and reducing risk of bowel inflammation. It can also provide protection to the cardiovascular system and reduce cholesterol levels. This was suggested in a 2003 animal study, where rat’s consumption of carrot for 3 weeks reduced cholesterol uptake into the blood and increased LDL removal via bile acid and its faecal excretion. This is supported by older human trials conducted in 1979, finding the consumption of 200g of carrot reduced cholesterol levels in the blood by 11% and faecal excretion of bile and fats by 50%.

Cayenne is the little punch of spice we like to add to our peach Plantshake, for both delicious and nutritious reasons. Cayenne are chilli peppers from the nightshade family, loaded with capsaicin, a bioactive compound responsible for spice and medicinal qualities. One such quality is improving digestive health. Capsaicin is able to stimulate nerves in the stomach, leading to increased gastric emptying, digestive fluids, and delivery of enzymes to the stomach. This helps to improve the digestion of food and reducing risk of dyspepsia. Furthermore, it can also stimulate nerves to aid defence against infection in the stomach, reducing build up bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, responsible for stomach ulcers. In fact, a 2006 study has shown capsaicin to help reduce risk of stomach ulcers, although it is often misconceived as making them worse! Capsaicin also appears to increase metabolism through a process called diet-induced thermogenesis, where the body produce more heat so burns more calories. Although only a short-term effect, a 2013 study found those eating capsaicin and medium-chain triglyceride oil for breakfast, burned 51% more calories than the controls. Moreover, a 2009 study even suggested that capsaicin could reduce production of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, helping us feel fuller whilst eating less. This was further proven in a 2005 study where individuals taking capsaicin supplements or capsaicin-infused drinks ate 10% and 16% less than control groups, respectively. All in all, capsaicin = happy tummy.
Although you may think that spice is causing you pain, the truth is actually the opposite. By reducing levels of a neuropeptide called substance P, capsaicin can reduce amounts that reach the brain and induce a pain signal. This can provide benefit to those with lower back pain, muscle/joint pain, and pain of the nerves in cases like shingles. Substance P is also responsible for the symptoms of psoriasis, an autoimmune disease with painful scaling and itching rashes on the skin, which several studies have shown capsaicin to reduce the symptoms of. Capsaicin has also shown evidence of lowering blood pressure in both in vitro and in vivo studies. One 2010 animal study suggested capsaicin activated TRPV1 receptors, which induced an increase of nitric oxide in blood vessel walls and therefore their relaxation and the lowering of blood pressure. A 2015 study found capsaicin had a similar relaxation of blood vessels and lowering of blood pressure in pigs. All of this goodness, and studies such as those illustrated as a 2016 review also suggest that capsaicin can reduce cancer cell growth and even induce their death. Truly, a wonder spice.

The word “chia” in ancient Mayan means “strength”, which hints to why these seeds were prized for their powerful nutritional benefits by the Mayans and Aztecs. Thousands of years later and the chia has not changed, still with a nutritional inventory to trump many other foods. They are high in fibre, with 11g of the total 12g of carbohydrates in a 28g serving being fibre (a whopping 40% fibre!). This fibre feeds the gut microbiota with short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. This keeps a steady flow of energy and reduces gut inflammation. As well as fibre, they contain 4g of protein in a 28g, containing a balanced amount of the essential amino acids we cannot produce ourselves. Similar to flaxseed, chia seeds are also high in omega-3’s (5g in a 28g serving), primarily alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These ALA’s are converted into DHA and EPA in the body, sadly an inefficient process, to gain omega-3s benefits. However, if high enough levels are reached of DHA and EPA, it can improve cardiovascular health and reduce the inflammation in conditions like arthritis and cancer. ALA’s in chia have also been linked to reduced blood sugar levels. Several studies using rats found consumption of chia improved insulin sensitivity and blood glucose level control. This is also supported by human studies, showing that consumption of bread containing chia lowers the rise in blood sugar levels following a meal, compared to bread without chia.

In addition to macronutrients like carbohydrates, fats and proteins, chia seeds are rich in micronutrients. In fact, a 28g serving of chia contains 18%, 30% and 27% of our RDI of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, respectively. All these nutrients are imperative to bone health, maintaining strength and growth, so chia is a useful addition to the diet of those who do not consume dairy products!

Cinnamon is perhaps a wonder-spice, with its medical uses dating all the way back to ancient Egyptian times, so there has got be a good reason, right? Indeed, there is! It contains amazing properties essential for controlling blood sugar levels, reducing bad cholesterol and helping fight neurogenerative disease, infections and even cancer. Cinnamaldehyde is the chemical compound in cinnamon responsible for this activity, and also its beautiful aromatic smell. Its anti-inflammatory properties have been noted in both in vitro and in vivo studies, also aided by its richness in polyphenol antioxidants. Did you know cinnamon actually contains more antioxidants than garlic and oregano? All this helps protect our health and reduce risk of disease. For example, a 2003 study observed that type 2 diabetics consuming cinnamon for 40 days led to a reduction in blood lipids, LDL and total cholesterol compared to a placebo group, protecting cardiovascular health. Furthermore, a 2013 study suggested cinnamon could also improve HDL levels, and a 1982 study that it could reduce blood pressure in dogs. This is all due to the magical powers of cinnamaldehyde.

Diabetics, along with all of us could actually receive a whole lot of good from around a 1-6g daily dose of cinnamon. Firstly, it could lower our blood sugar levels by 10-29% shown in human trials in 2006, 2007, and 2008. It does this through two mechanisms, one being inhibiting the digestive enzymes alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase, delaying the absorption of glucose into the blood. The second mechanism involves hydroxychalcone, a compound in cinnamon which mimics insulin and binds to receptors on adipocytes, causing them to take up glucose from the blood. Other bioactive compounds can also stop the inhibition of these receptors, allowing them to take up more glucose and lower the levels of glucose in the blood. Secondly, chromium and polyphenols found in cinnamon can reduce the insulin resistance seen in type 2 diabetics.

Other benefits it provides could be for reducing infections, whether it be in fungal respiratory, Listeria and Salmonella bacterial or HIV related. Cinnamon could also act against cancer, inhibiting blood vessels from growing excessively around tumours (vascularisation), leading to the death of cancer cells which cannot receive sufficient nutrients from the blood. A 2007 study also suggested cinnamon could activate detoxifying enzymes in the colon of mice, proposing it may help protect against colon cancer growth.  In Alzheimer’s disease, cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin in cinnamon have shown to inhibit a build of a protein called tau in the brain, a key characteristic of the disease. Furthermore, in Parkinson’s disease cinnamon appeared to regulate and normalise dopamine neurotransmitter levels, ultimately improving brain motor function.

Ah, coffee. Thank you, world, for coffee. It keeps us feeling stimulated and energised, that morning cup helping us prepare the kickstart the day. The magic source of this bean’s power is of course the stimulant caffeine, which once in the brain increases our neurone’s firing activity. Many controlled studies have shown how this caffeine was able to provide the consumer with energy and improved brain function, in areas such as reaction times, alertness, memory, mood and general brain function. However, it is not just a boost of energy coffee can give you, some studies also suggest the direct action of caffeine can lower your risk of Parkinson’s disease, with a risk reduction between 32-60%. This is because the increased neurone of coffee occurs when caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. This allows other neurotransmitters (these are chemical signals between nerves) such as dopamine to increase, allowing the neurones to fire faster. Many of Parkinson’s disease symptoms are caused by a loss of neurones that produce dopamine and a drop in dopamine levels. Therefore, caffeine’s activity provides protection from this development

Caffeine’s stimulation of the central nervous station can positively impact physical performance too, by increasing adrenaline and epinephrine levels in the blood. These hormones prepare your body for intense exercise, or the commonly known fight-or-flight response. This has been shown in studies from 2004 and 2005, where the addition of caffeine increased performance of individuals by 12% and 11%, respectively. Additionally, the highly advertised “fat-burning” quality of caffeine increases the supply of free fatty acids for use as fuel during exercise. In fact, caffeine may improve metabolic rates and one 2004 study suggested fat burning increased by 29% and 10% in lean and obese individuals, respectively.

Courgette or zucchini? Who cares! The main thing you need to know is that this cucumber look-a-like is a nutrient-dense food that you should include in your diet. The skin holds the highest levels of carotenoid antioxidants, its rich supply promoting eye, cardiovascular, bone, and digestive health. A whole host of goodies in courgettes could support improved vision, such as their high content of vitamin A and vitamin C, providing 40% and 14% of your RDI (per 1 cup), respectively. Vitamin A is associated with a reduced risk of dry eyes and night-time blindness, whereas vitamin C produces collagen to provide structure to the eye, as well as reducing risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The courgette’s carotenoids also play a key role in reducing AMD risk, specifically that of lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the retina of the eye, protecting your eyes from absorbing damaging UV and other excess light, thus reducing AMD risk.

Both soluble and insoluble fibre in courgettes also provides many health benefits. Firstly, insoluble fibre aids the flow of movement in digestion and reduces risk of constipation. Soluble fibre on the other hand, feeds the microbiota which produce short chain fatty acids (i.e. butyrate) which nourish your gut cells. These short chain fatty acids reduce gut inflammation, lowering risk of cancer formation, as well as reducing symptoms of digestive disorders such as IBS and Crohn’s disease.

A high fibre diet is also linked to a reduced risk in heart disease, as suggested by a 2014 meta-analysis of 18 studies with 672,408 participants. Courgette’s soluble fibre, pectin, is thought to have a role in lowering LDL levels. This is supported in a 1999 review of 67 studies, suggesting consumption of 2-10g of daily soluble fibre for 2 months could reduce total and LDL cholesterol by 1.7mg/dl and 2.2mg/dl, respectively. Alongside fibre, courgettes carotenoids also provide cardiovascular protection, and the 13% of your potassium RDI (in one cup) may help reduce blood pressure. Both fibre and carotenoids have also been shown to stabilise blood sugar levels after a meal and increase insulin sensitivity. This is particularly of help for type 2 diabetics.

Have you ever eaten raw cranberries? I wouldn’t, but they are delicious cooked, juiced and are often mixed with other fruits. However, sadly a lot of their antioxidant superpowers and beneficial fibre are lost when juicing. Here at FOGA we have you covered, providing the cranberry’s nutrition in full. Cranberries are famous for their preventative action against urinary tract infections (UTIs), which is provided by A-type molecules called proanthocyanidins (or tannins). They provide the richest fruit source of A-type proanthocyanidins, acting as anti-adhesives thus inhibiting bacteria like E. coli from binding to the bladder wall and causing a UTI. Evidence for this has been provided in a multitude of human clinical trials in both children and adults, in addition to systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Furthermore, A-type proanthocyanidins may have anti-adhesive actions against Helicobacter pylori from binding to the stomach wall, this infection usually inducing stomach inflammation, ulcers, and even cancer. Several studies prove this in both adults and children, one with 189 adults consuming 500ml cranberry juice daily and significantly reducing their infections, and one with 295 children drinking daily cranberry juice over a 3-week period, reducing bacterial growth by 17% in those infected.

Cranberries contain many other flavonol polyphenols, giving them the superfood title, including quercetin, myricetin, peonidin (gives the red colour!) and ursolic acid. These have many of the usual antioxidant functions: reducing oxidative stress, mutations leading to cancer formation, aging symptoms, and inflammation. They equally contain some vital vitamins and minerals: vitamin C for immune strength, collagen formation and iron absorption, vitamin K1 for normal blood clotting and vitamin E having antioxidant activity. Moreover, manganese is important for supporting bone mineral density, modulating blood sugar levels, nutrient metabolism, as well as having antioxidant function, and sufficient copper is required to maintain a healthy heart. Finally, cranberries contain both soluble and insoluble fibre (4.6g in 100g), nourishing gut health and controlling blood sugar levels, and aiding movement through the digestive tract, respectively.

Echinacea is an aromatic plant found across the plains of eastern and central North America, as well as in Europe. The leaves and roots are utilised in teas, tablets, and tinctures, to provide us with their health power. Echinacea is famously taken for its immune strengthening and flu-fighting properties. Studies have found prolonged echinacea consumption could reduce the risk of contracting a cold by 58% and reduce the duration of symptoms by 1-4 days. It may even improve the effectivity of the flu vaccine, so really could help beat those winter blues!

Echinacea also has strong antioxidant power, and an equally a fantastic anti-inflammatory. Echinacea’s caffenic acid derivatives have been studied for their promising potential as anti-hypertensives and their anti-hyperglycaemia activity. Such antioxidants are heavily associated with a decrease in heart disease risk, through both lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Additionally, echinacea’s control of blood sugar levels could help reduce the blood sugar spikes seen in type 2 diabetics. Antioxidant’s ability to neutralise the damaging free radicals which induce oxidative stress, means echinacea can reduce cellular damage and encourage growth of healthy cells. This property is one of the reasons it is thought to help fight cancer, by reducing the cellular damage the tumour causes. A 2016 study into echinacea’s anti-cancer potential also drew on its immune stimulating activity, specifically by its flavonoids, which were identified to promote lymphocyte activity. This included increasing the engulfment of cancerous cells and increasing natural killer cells activity to destroy cancerous tissue. What’s great is that this form of treatment would have considerably fewer side effects than chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Ginger is a part of the Zingiberaceae family, along with turmeric and cardamom, so unsurprisingly is responsible for many great health benefits. The underground part of the plant, called the rhizome, is the part used for spice as well as being the part containing the bioactive compound gingerol. Gingerol is the reason ginger has been recognised to have powerful medicinal properties, from easing nausea, reducing inflammation, aiding digestion and fighting common respiratory infections. Several major studies have looked into ginger’s ability in treating nausea and vomiting caused from a range of ailments. A series of 5 randomised control trials showed that consuming 1g of ginger reduces risk of nausea and vomiting occurring 24 hours after surgery by 69% and 61% respectively. Furthermore, a 2011 study looking nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in 60 bone-sarcoma patients showed ginger was effective at reducing both acute and delayed nausea and vomiting. Lots of promising research even shows 1.1-1.5g ginger is effective at treating nausea caused by morning sickness, in a review of 1,278 pregnant women across 12 studies. Ginger is also a promising treatment for dyspepsia, where delayed emptying of the stomach induces indigestion. In both a 2011 and 2008 study, consumption of 1.2 ginger capsules accelerated gastric emptying from 16 minutes to 12 minutes and by 50% compared to the control group, respectively.

Gingerol’s anti-inflammatory properties have also shown to be effective in reducing pain for a number of conditions. A 2001 trial of 247 individuals with osteoarthritis showed that consumption of ginger reduced pain by 63%. Similar findings were seen in a 2011 study using an ointment containing ginger, suggesting it reduced pain, morning stiffness and restricted movement. Prolonged consumption of ginger may also ease muscle soreness following exercise (hypoalgesic effects?), as shown in 2010 study of 74 volunteers consuming 2g ginger and performing strenuous elbow exercises.

Gingerol can help fight off infection, two 2012 studies showing gingers ability to inhibit growth of multiple-drug resistant bacteria. In vitro studies have also observed fresh ginger to be effective in treating RSV virus, commonly causing respiratory infections. Its antiviral properties against both the common cold and flu have also been observed with in combination with goldenrod. As well as flu-busting powers, ginger also has antioxidant properties. Numerous animal studies suggest ginger antioxidant action could therefore reduce age-related decline of the brain. This is due the antioxidants inhibiting oxidative stress in the brain, slowing the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s. One 2012 study of 60 middle-aged women were given 400mg or 800mg of ginger extract for 2 months, and results showed both memory and reaction times of the women improved.

  • Blood sugar levels
  • Menstrual pain
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Up and coming evidence of anti-cancer activity.

The green tangy-sweet flesh of the kiwi is packed with polyphenols, vitamins C, K and E, as well as both folate and potassium, but you can eat its fuzzy brown peel too! In fact, one cup of kiwi contains 273% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. One study found the high vitamin C content could help treat asthma and reduce wheezing in susceptible children, when kiwis were consumed regularly as a part of their diet. The vitamin C in kiwis can also boost immune strength, a 2012 study showing them to reduce likelihood of developing cold and flu-like illnesses, especially in high risk groups such as young children and over 65s.

Kiwi phytochemicals with antioxidant properties work alongside vitamins to give individuals health benefits. The antioxidants combat oxidative stress in the body which can cause damage to our cells. In a 2004 cohort study of 118,428 men and women, the antioxidants and vitamins in 3 daily servings of kiwi have shown to reduce macular degeneration by 36%, one of the leading causes of sight loss. Their anti-oxidative stress action has also shown to reduce risk of the progression of degenerative diseases such as colon cancer. Additionally, the power of antioxidants may improve cardiac function, along with the actions of vitamins C and E. By aiding blood vessel endothelial function, they can lower blood pressure, therefore reducing risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Antioxidants also work both individually and in synergy with kiwi nutrients to reduce the risk of blood clotting and levels of fat in the blood. A study found eating 2 to 3 kiwis daily for 28 days reduced the clotting response by 18% when stimuli were present, and lowered blood triglycerides by 15% compared to control groups. This gives a similar effect to having an aspirin every day.

Finally, kiwis also contain a good amount of fibre which aids with digestion, as well as contain the proteolytic enzyme, actinidin. This breaks down the proteins we eat and helps with their absorption through the small intestines and into the blood.

When life gives you lemons… have some! Firstly, just one lemon contains half your RDI of vitamin C, brilliant in boosting immunity, forming collagen, absorbing iron, and improve cardiovascular health. Several studies from 2014 have shown that daily consumption with lemon alongside walking is effective in reducing high blood pressure, especially in hypertensive individuals. Lemons also contain antioxidants which have been suggested to benefit the cardiovascular system. Epidemiological studies show consumption of lemon flavanones like hesperidin and naringin may lead to reduced risks of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, hesperidin and diosmin may lead to lower blood cholesterol levels. Other flavonoids have roles in regulating lipid metabolism, controlling fat levels in the blood and risk factors in cardiovascular disease, as well as type II diabetes and metabolic disease.
The soluble fibre in lemons, called pectin, has been shown to be beneficial to heart health. One study proposed consumption of 24g of pectin daily for a month reduced total blood cholesterol levels, therefore decreasing blood pressure. Pectin also functions in improving digestion health, by nourishing the microbiotic bacteria and slowing carbohydrate digestion to delay rapid sugar uptake into the blood.
Lemons also contain citric acid, which can provide us with many health benefits. Firstly, citric acid increases the pH of the urine therefore increasing total urine volume produced. This creates unfavourable conditions for kidney stones to grow, and lemon consumption has shown to reduce repeated formation in individuals who have already suffered kidney stones. It turns out even lemonade may have therapeutic potential against kidney stones! Citric acid, along with vitamin C, also improves iron absorption from plant sources. Iron is essential to the transport of oxygen in the blood; therefore, deficiency can lead to conditions such as anaemia.

Lucuma is a South American superfruit, which can be turned to powder to act as a highly nutritious natural sweetener for those looking to chuck the refined sugars. It boasts a range of goodies like calcium, iron, niacin, vitamin C and potassium, as well as a good dose of oxidative-stress-busting antioxidants. The two primary groups of antioxidants found in lucuma are polyphenols and carotenoids, known for their anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity, in addition to improving cardiovascular health. Although there is limited research into many of the properties of lucuma’s specific antioxidants, early generalised studies have been completed on their activity. Lucuma are rich in xanthophylls like lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants found in the carotenoid family. They both provide the fruit with its yellow colour and improved eye health. Substantial evidence suggests that these antioxidants are protective against age-related macular degeneration, leaded to reduced vision.
Polyphenols protect the body from damage caused by free radicals, reducing risks of chronic disorders like CVD, cancer, and diabetes. One 2009 study suggested lucuma polyphenols may inhibit angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE), responsible for the control in blood pressure. Therefore, lucuma could lower high blood pressure and reduce risk of CVD. In terms of type 2 diabetes, it has been noted that the high phenolic content and high antioxidant activity of lucuma could also provide these individuals with protection. An in vitro study in 2009 found there was 11.4mg phenolic content per gram of lucuma, which helped inhibit an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase, created effective anti-diabetes activity. This is supported by findings in a 2016 in vitro study, where lucuma was found to have significant antioxidant and anti-hyperglycaemic activity. In addition to lucuma’s antioxidant activity, it contains complex carbs like starch and fibre, over that of simple sugar. Fibre is non-digestible, promoting lower, healthier blood sugar levels which provides benefits to diabetics. On top of this, the soluble fibre improves insulin sensitivity and reducing blood sugar spikes that occur following a meal.

Maca is a native plant to Peru, who’s root is dried and ground into a nutty, earthy powder to add nutrition to the local diets. It is rich in awesome vitamins and minerals, a 28g serving providing 133% of your vitamin C RDI, helping to boost immunity, better absorb iron and form collagen. 28g of maca also contains: 85% of your daily recommended copper RDI intake to help maintain good heart health and 23% of your daily iron RDI intake for efficient transportation of oxygen in the blood, along with potassium, vitamin B6 and manganese. Maca also contains fantastic bioactive phytochemicals like polyphenols and glucosinolates. It’s worth noting that studies looking into maca’s acclaimed health benefits are still at the early stages of testing but we’re watching closely!

A major selling point of maca is its improvement of fertility and libido in both men and women. A 2010 review, who evaluated several studies with a total of 131 individuals suggested maca consumption improved libido after 6 weeks and a 2002 study observed similar results after 8 weeks of daily consumption. Secondly, several small studies conducted in 2015 and 2001 suggested maca consumption could increase male fertility, improving sperm concentration, sperm motility, and semen volume. This was also observed in a 2016 review of 5 studies on male fertility and maca consumption.

Maca could also ease the symptoms of menopause, like hot flushes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, sleep problems and irritability. A 2011 review of 4 studies illustrating this reduction in symptoms, however noted the requirement for more rigorous trials to draw firmer conclusions. Several animal studies have shown maca can have protective activity around bones, helping menopausal women who have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. The flavonoids in maca have also shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in menopausal women.

Energy and endurance

Maca can also provide you with that energy boost, without the crash from caffeine. It is known for improving stamina and endurance, evaluated in a both a 2002 and 2012 study, where mice given maca extract were able to swim for longer than those not, along with having a more rapid recovery from muscle fatigue. This ability to increase exercise performance is also observed in a 2009 study, where 8 male cyclists were able to complete a 25-mile bike ride faster, after 14 days of maca consumption.

Traditional Peruvian use of maca to improve their children’s learning of school, has also been scientifically evaluated to see how it improves brain function. A 2016 study observed maca to have neuroprotective effects in middle-aged mice, preserving mitochondrial function (producing energy) and increase autophagy (removal of dead and toxic cells) in the brain. Other animal studies have also suggested maca is linked to improved learning and memory.

Mangoes are beautifully sweet, tropical fruits, luckily full of the healthier, unprocessed sugars, perfect for some more guilt-free indulgence! As well as being delicious, they have numerous health benefits including a secret superpower, mangerifin, an xanthone antioxidant which is considered superior to many other antioxidants. Like other antioxidants, it protects the body against the damage of oxidative stress, and has been shown to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-atherosclerotic (linked to heart attack risk), anti-allergenic and immunomodulatory functions.
Firstly, in rat models mangerifin has shown to inhibit colon tumorigenesis, and in other test-tube and animal studies stopped growth and destroyed tumour cells in leukaemia, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. In Parkinson’s disease, mangerifin has shown to protect neuroblastoma cells from damage from a neurotoxic chemical called MPP+, a product of oxidative stress. In the heart and circulatory system, mangerifin was shown to protect endothelial and red blood cells, improving their functionality, and maintaining their integrity. This helps lower blood pressure and overall circulatory health. Additionally, mango’s magnesium and potassium content has shown importance in maintaining a healthy, steady pulse and ensuring proper relaxation of the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. Moreover, in diabetic rat models mangerifin was shown to reduce the amounts of circulating triglycerides and LDL from being oxidised and damaged, ultimately lowering overall plasma cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and increasing healthy HDL levels. Finally, mangerifin has also shown to inhibit the glucosidase enzymes; sucrase, isomaltase and maltase, responsible for the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugars. This delayed breakdown of the sugars leads to slowed sugar absorption from the gut into the blood, which helps modulate blood glucose levels, especially important for those with diabetes.
Mangoes also contain other antioxidants like catechins, anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and benzoic acid, but it has also been suggested that the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may support improved eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the retina of the eye, protecting your eyes from absorbing damaging UV and other excess light. Additionally, the vitamin A found in mangoes may help reduce dry eyes, night-time blindness, and more seriously, cornea scarring.
Along with antioxidants, mango is also rich in vitamins and nutrients, containing around two thirds of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C in one cup! It is also high in vitamin A, K, E, B6 and B5, as well as copper, folate, magnesium, and potassium. These vitamins contribute to a strengthened immune system; vitamin A vital for fighting off infection, vitamin C crucial for the production of new immune cells and folate, vitamin K, E and B5 and B6 also aiding in immunity. These vitamins are also fundamental in skin and hair health, vitamin C being responsible for collagen formation. Collagen gives the hair and skin structure, reducing sagging and wrinkling. Furthermore, vitamin A encourages hair growth and sebum production, which moisturises the scalp and keeps the hair follicles healthy. Mangoes also contain 2.6g of dietary fibre per cup, aiding with digestion. Additionally, they contain the enzyme amylase, which helps break down carbohydrates into sugars during digestion and improve constipation and diarrhoea symptoms. In fact, one 4-week study showed daily mango consumption to reduce the symptoms of diarrhoea and constipation over that of supplements with equal soluble fibre content.

Power to matcha! It is an antioxidant powerhouse, 1 cup of matcha tea having as many antioxidants as 10 cups of green tea. Matcha and green tea actually originate from the same plant, however, matcha plants are covered from sunlight 20-30 days before their harvest. In these days of darkness, chlorophyll production booms and amino acid levels increase drastically, leading to increased levels of both antioxidants and caffeine, more so than that of green tea.

Think of matcha as a guardian to disease, providing protection from cancer, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, as well as boosting your brain performance. Aforementioned, matcha is subject to incredible antioxidant levels, primarily catechins such as pigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG). These levels are much higher than those in green tea, helping neutralise more free radicals and provide greater protection from oxidative damage in chronic disease. The EGCG found in matcha has been identified to have particularly good anti-cancer properties. Both in vitro and in vivo studies have suggested EGCG to be effective in reducing risk and growth of a multitude of cancers, such as prostate, lung, skin, and liver. A 2001 study observed that it was matcha EGCG specifically that reduced tumour sizes and slowed their growth in rats with breast cancer.

Matcha is also thought to protect against liver disease, an organ essential for flushing out toxins, metabolising drugs, and processing nutrients. This is supported in both a 2009 study on diabetic rats, and a 2015 meta-analysis of 15 studies showing drinking green tea reduced liver disease risk. A 2016 study also suggested matcha fights against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). After individuals were given green tea for 90 days, there were significant reductions in the liver enzymes levels associated with NAFLD (specifically alanine aminotransferase and aspartate transferase).

Matcha is thought to lower risk of heart disease through lowering blood cholesterol levels and protecting LDL from oxidation. A 2011 meta-analysis of 14 studies provided substantial evidence for matcha reducing both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. Furthermore, a 2016 in vivo study suggested matcha could supress high blood glucose levels, increase lipid breakdown and boost antioxidants in order to reduce heart disease and stroke risk.

Matcha’s superpowers don’t end there, various studies also suggest it can also boost brain function through a variety of its components. Firstly, its antioxidants. One 2017 study suggested 4g of matcha could increase reaction times, memory, and attention span, due to antioxidant cognitive protection action. A small 2014 study has also proposed those matcha antioxidants can reduce the age-related decline of brain function in elderly individuals. Secondly, its caffeine. Matcha contains 70mg of caffeine per teaspoon, and caffeine has sufficient evidence suggesting it can improve reaction times, alertness, memory, mood, and general brain function. Thirdly, matcha contains a compound called L-theanine, known to alter the effects of caffeine. It promotes the favourable alertness and reduces the energy crash we all dread after a cup of coffee. It is thought to increase the alpha-wave activity in the brain, helping you to feel more relaxed and let go of stress.

Moringa is like matcha’s older but arguably cooler cousin. It has been around for thousands of years and the leaves of the moringa tree are full of vitamins, minerals, and powerful plant compounds — you name it! Moringa dishes up to three times more iron than spinach (equivalent of 32.2% of your RDI in just 10g!), boosting immunity and reducing tiredness and fatigue. And moringa’s high vitamin A levels (18.9% of your RDI) help make you sure you can absorb as much of this awesome iron as possible! The vitamin A works alongside moringa’s vitamin E and C, to help maintain skin health and battle the effects of aging. It does this through minimising oxidative stress to the skin and producing collagen to help maintain its structure.

In addition to vitamins, powerful antioxidants are out to play, stopping oxidative stress in its tracks. Moringa has one of the highest existing food ORAC values of 157,000 (similar to matcha), hosting a variety of different antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, and chlorogenic acid. These are known for reducing risks of chronic diseases such as diabetes. Particularly chlorogenic acid is associated with controlling blood sugar levels following a meal, but there are other reasons moringa is an acclaimed anti-diabetic food. Plant compounds called isothiocyanates have been suggested to reduce insulin resistance whereas antioxidant phytochemicals provide blood sugar level control. This is shown in a 2012 study of 90 post-menopausal taking 1.5 teaspoons of moringa daily for 3 months, which then observed increased antioxidant levels and a decrease in fasting blood sugar levels. A review also completed in 2012, dictated a potential role of moringa in reducing hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) in diabetics. It also suggested it may have a role in reducing chronic dyslipidaemia, a risk factor to cardiovascular disease. Both in vivo and human trials have suggested moringa may reduce cholesterol levels, as well as quercetin lowering blood pressure, all reducing the risk of CVD.

Returning back to isothiocyanate, a potent plant compound, is also infamous for its anti-inflammatory capabilities. One 2008 study found doses of 10, 30, and 100mg/kg of moringa extract to have significant anti-inflammatory activity in a dose-dependent manner. This study even suggested it could relieve some forms of pain. Additionally, a 2010 study thought that moringa could have immunosuppressive anti-inflammatory capacity. So, there are many inflammatory ailments moringa could provide relief for!

Peaches are not just soft, juicy, and fuzzy, they are also good sources of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, and manganese. Not only this, but they have certain antioxidants which have shown to improve heart health and have anti-allergenic and anti-cancer properties. Peaches contain carotenoids, polyphenols and caffenic acid, all shown to reduce cancer development and even aid in the destruction of tumour cells. One 2014 study found eating 2-3 peaches daily provides sufficient polyphenols to become effective at preventing the development of a specific breast cancer. They may also reduce allergy symptoms through cyanogenic and phenolic glycosides. These inhibit histamines, a chemical that usually stimulates the immune system to remove the “foreign” particle that causes the allergy, stimulating an inflammatory response. The peach therefore can stop this inflammatory response and reduce the allergic reaction. Furthermore, the peach’s flavonoid and stilbene content were seen to elevate HDL and lower triglyceride levels over the course of 2 years in a study of over 1000 patients. This suggests that the peach antioxidants may be able to reduce risk factors for heart disease such as increased blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Additionally, as a peach is moved through the digestive tract, it can bind to bile acids. These are produced in the gall bladder and help break up big pieces of fat into more digestible sizes for our enzymes, but they are also full of LDL. When the peach binds to the bile acid, its supply of LDL is excreted in the faeces, leading to a decrease in blood LDL levels and a reduced risk of heart disease. Finally, studies have found peach juice to reduce levels of angiotensin II, a hormone which acts to increase blood pressure.

One medium sized peach contains around 2g of fibre, half of which is insoluble fibre and the other half soluble. Insoluble fibre aids movement through the digestive tract, whereas soluble feeds the gut microbiota which then produce short-chain fatty acids (i.e. butyrate, acetate, and propionate). These short-chain fatty acid’s feed the gut cells and reduce gut inflammation. This action may help reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. Finally, glucosylceramide has been indicated in test tube studies to improve the retention of the skin’s moisture and its texture.

Here at FOGA, we are not the only ones who are nuts about legumes, it turns out bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts are peanut lovers too! This is primarily due to it being an excellent source of plant-based protein, 100g of peanuts providing around half our recommended daily amount. Proteins are essential for the building and repairing of body cells like in the muscles and ligaments. This is especially important for those of us like to push ourselves to reach that next personal best (- maybe PB should really stand for peanut butter!). Peanuts are also rich in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, mostly consisting of oleic and linolenic acid, or known to us as the good fats. These have unique properties for fatty acids, shown in studies to reduce lipid levels in the blood, lower the oxidation of LDL and have protective action against heart disease.
Peanuts are also rich sources of vitamins and minerals, including biotin, niacin, vitamin E, folate, copper, phosphorus and manganese and magnesium. These have important duties across the board of health, whether it be assisting with healthy pregnancies, reducing cardiovascular disease risk or functioning in normal growth and development. Peanuts, like fruit and veg, also boast a healthy load of phytochemicals, fighting oxidative stress and reducing cholesterol absorption. The main antioxidants are in the family of polyphenols, like p-Coumaric acid, resveratrol and isoflavones, which neutralise the damaging free radicals associated in the progression of heart disease and cancer. Peanuts also contain considerable amounts of phytosterols. As they have a remarkably similar structure to cholesterol, they can help absorption into the blood. Lower overall blood cholesterol levels reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, a study in 2013 showed through 151 participants’ consumption of 42g peanuts, diastolic blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels were significantly reduced in those with high CVD risk.

Pineapple were once symbols of wealth and exoticism. These days pineapples are simply a tasty, tropical fruit bursting with vitamins. A lot of its awesome health benefits come from a protease called bromelain, which breaks down long chains of protein into amino acids and smaller peptide chains. This improves their absorption into the small intestine, aiding digestion, particularly for those with pancreatic insufficiency. But bromelain has a whole host of other functions, whether they be anti-inflammatory or anti-cancer. Its anti-inflammatory powers are demonstrated across studies in arthritis and infectious disease. One double-blind randomised study of 103 individuals with osteoarthritis were treated for 6 weeks taking a supplement containing bromelain. The results showed it was equally as effective at relieving pain as those using common osteoarthritis medicine, diclofenac. In the cases of infection, it was observed in a 2014 study on 98 healthy children, that when fed pineapple there was a significantly lower risk of both bacterial and viral infection. Furthermore, if a lot of pineapple was consumed, then number of infection-fighting white blood cells called granulocytes, was almost four times higher. Its immune boosting function has also been demonstrated in a cohort study of 116 children with sinus infections, who recovered significantly faster when taking a bromelain supplement compared to standard therapy or combined bromelain and standard therapy. There have also been several test-tube and animal studies into the cancer-fighting properties of bromelain. It has been shown to suppress proliferation of breast cancer cells and promote programmed death of these cells. This has also been shown in cancers of the colon, digestive system, skin, and bile duct. Bromelains promotion of white blood cells aids in the suppression of cancer growth and destroying cancerous cells.

In addition to the magical bromelain, 1 cup of pineapple also contains 131% of your vitamin C and 76% of your manganese RDI. Vitamin C can improve immune health, the absorption of iron and the formation of collagen, whereas manganese is essential for growth, efficient metabolism and also has antioxidant activity. Pineapple, like many fruits is relatively rich in antioxidants like flavonoids and phenolic acids which stop damaging oxidative stress responsible for aging, chronic disease, and cancer progression. What’s more, pineapple antioxidants are bound, allowing them to withstand harsh environments in the body and have longer lasting impacts.

Raspberries are very seasonal, only grown in a few short summer months and keep for a limited time once picked. Cue: FOGA Plantshakes, which not only ensure you can get their nutritional benefits all year round, but you also get enough of the little berries to feel their benefit! They are naturally sweet and tart, but also packed with over half your RDI of vitamin C in only 1 cup. This vitamin C is well-known for its plethora of health benefits, whether it be boosting immunity, helping your body absorb iron or promoting your body’s growth and repair, just to name a few! 1 cup of raspberries also contains 41% of your RDI of manganese, important for supporting bone mineral density, modulating blood sugar levels, nutrient metabolism, as well as having antioxidant function. The 8g of fibre per cup has also been shown to aid with digestion and help control blood sugar levels. In animal studies, mice were fed freeze-dried raspberries alongside a high fat diet, and it was found these mice had lower blood sugar levels, less insulin resistance, and less evidence for fatty liver disease than the control group due to their fibre content. Additionally, the tannins in raspberries inhibit alpha-amylase, an enzyme which breaks down starch into sugar. By delaying the breakdown of the carbohydrates, it slows the uptake of sugar from the gut into the blood, stopping sugar spikes following a meal.

As with most fruits and vegetables, raspberries are packed with antioxidants such as quercetin and ellagic acid. In one animal study on mice, they suggested that ellagic acid may be responsible for not only stopping oxidative stress but also repairing DNA damage. DNA damage is what is responsible for the creation of cancerous cells, so it not surprising that numerous studies have suggested raspberries to have anti-cancer properties. In in vitro studies, raspberry extract was found to destroy 90% breast, colon, and stomach cancers and in another study, the raspberry antioxidant, sanguiin H-6, was responsible for killing 40% of ovarian cancer cells. In animal studies on mice, raspberry extract prevented liver tumorigenesis, the risk of tumour formation decreasing as raspberry dose increased. Scientists are now working on completing human studies to better understand the raspberries anti-cancer potential. In addition to their cancer-fighting, antioxidants are anti-inflammatory so can help reduce arthritis symptoms and are anti-aging so reduce appearance of skin wrinkling (along with collagen production improved by raspberries’ high vitamin C content!).

If you haven’t heard of this mushroom before don’t panic, this one does quite the opposite from poisoning you. Reishi mushrooms are a popular fungus used in Eastern medicine to provide us with a whole host of health benefits. The mushroom contains several bioactive chemical compounds responsible for these benefits, such as triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycan. Their key action is boosting immunity, which in itself hints to many more possible advantages.

Reishi mushrooms are claimed to affect the transcription of white blood cell genes and alter inflammatory pathways to our benefit. Many in vitro studies have investigated reishi’s ability to do this, such as increasing the activity of natural killer cells and lymphocytes. These natural killer cells are known to fight infection and destroy cancerous cells, and a 2005 study also observed lymphocytes’ ability to reduce colorectal cancer risk. This is why reishi’s anticancer powers are its most famous, with numerous studies demonstrating it can induce cancer cell death. Firstly, in a study of 4147 studied breast cancer survivors, around 58% of them claimed to take a reishi supplement, suggesting it may be responsible for an increased cancer survival rate. Reishi may also reduce the risk of prostate cancer, primarily through its potential ability to reduce testosterone levels. Finally, a 2010 study has suggested it could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. The study observed that the consumption of a reishi supplement for one year was linked to a reduction in precancerous lesions in the large intestine.

Black pepper is a seasoning staple for many of us, but its also brings it own health benefits to the table. Its suggested to have antimicrobial qualities against nasties like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, having gastroprotective activity against ulceration, as well as  potential hypoalgesic effects. The superstar player in black pepper is a alkaloid chemical compound called piperine which has a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity, in addition to increasing absorption of awesome compounds like curcumin in turmeric.

The antioxidant profile allows piperine to neutralise damaging free radicals, as demonstrated in a 2004 study of rats fed a high fat diet. Here, the rats which had been administered black pepper had significantly fewer markers of free radical damage in their cells after 10 weeks. In vivo studies have also demonstrated piper effectively reduces inflammation. This has been shown in arthritic rats, where a 2009 study suggested piperine inhibited expression, production, and migration of pro-inflammatory mediators (i.e. IL-6 MMP13, PGE2 and AP-1), thus reducing inflammation and pain. This is similarly supported in a 2013 study on rats with induced rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting piperine could also be used a safe and effective treatment for some inflammatory diseases. Piperine has even potential abilities to reduce airway inflammation in asthma and seasonal allergic reactions.

There is also evidence piperine could also provide health benefits in several chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In cancer, in vitro studies have shown piperine to slow growth and induce cell death of colon, breast, and prostate cancer cells. Piperine’s ability to control blood sugar levels and improve sugar metabolism could benefit and even treat diabetics, as suggested in a 2016 study. A 2003 study on swiss albino miss suggested it could lower blood glucose levels, in addition to a 2013 study on 86 overweight individuals suggesting piperine could increase insulin sensitivity over an 8-week period. Piperine’s potential to lower cholesterol would also benefit those with and reduce risks of developing cardiovascular disease. This is suggested by findings in one study, where they observed that rats fed a high-fat diet and black pepper extract hade reduced total cholesterol and LDL levels in their blood.

Alkaloid compounds like piperine also do a lot of good for the brain, suggested to boost cognitive function and even have anti-depressant effects. Particularly studied in Alzheimer’s disease, piperine has been found to improve memory in Alzheimer’s-induced rats running a maze, and lower the formation of amyloid plaques, who’s accumulation around the brain is a key feature of the disease.

This delightfully fragrant evergreen herb is not just for seasoning our dishes, but nourishing our bodies with vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds. Firstly, rosemary is a great source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B6, improving blood cell function, bone strength, brain development and for efficient hormone production. But the magic is really found in their phytochemical antioxidant compounds. The distinguished phytochemical families in rosemary are phenolic diterpenes, flavonoids, and triterpenes, such as carnosic acid, genkwanin, and ursolic acid, respectively. These neutralise the free radicals responsible for oxidative stress and cellular damage in the body. It is therefore claimed that rosemary’s antioxidants could be anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antihyperlipidemic, neuroprotective, hepatoprotective and fight off cancer.

The anticancer qualities of rosemary could stem from both its anti-inflammatory and an anti-tumour properties. This is suggested in 2007 paper, dictating that crude ethanolic rosemary extract could slow the spread of leukaemia and breast carcinoma cells. The two antioxidants; carnosic acid and carnosol have been individually suggested to have anticancer action against in vitro models of leukaemia, breast, and prostate cancers.

Carnosic acid’s antioxidant properties have also been attributed in providing neurological protection from oxidative stress. The antioxidants can reduce the impact of the cognitive decline that naturally occurs during aging and may even protect against strokes. Furthermore, rosemary could improve memory and concentration, as evaluated in a 2012 study of 20 volunteers. It was observed that cognitive tasks were performed with increased concentration, accuracy, speed, and even improved mood, following exposure to a rosemary aroma.

Black pepper is a seasoning staple for many of us, but its also brings it own health benefits to the table. Its suggested to have antimicrobial qualities against nasties like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, having gastroprotective activity against ulceration, as well as  potential hypoalgesic effects. The superstar player in black pepper is a alkaloid chemical compound called piperine which has a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity, in addition to increasing absorption of awesome compounds like curcumin in turmeric.

The antioxidant profile allows piperine to neutralise damaging free radicals, as demonstrated in a 2004 study of rats fed a high fat diet. Here, the rats which had been administered black pepper had significantly fewer markers of free radical damage in their cells after 10 weeks. In vivo studies have also demonstrated piper effectively reduces inflammation. This has been shown in arthritic rats, where a 2009 study suggested piperine inhibited expression, production, and migration of pro-inflammatory mediators (i.e. IL-6 MMP13, PGE2 and AP-1), thus reducing inflammation and pain. This is similarly supported in a 2013 study on rats with induced rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting piperine could also be used a safe and effective treatment for some inflammatory diseases. Piperine has even potential abilities to reduce airway inflammation in asthma and seasonal allergic reactions.

There is also evidence piperine could also provide health benefits in several chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In cancer, in vitro studies have shown piperine to slow growth and induce cell death of colon, breast, and prostate cancer cells. Piperine’s ability to control blood sugar levels and improve sugar metabolism could benefit and even treat diabetics, as suggested in a 2016 study. A 2003 study on swiss albino miss suggested it could lower blood glucose levels, in addition to a 2013 study on 86 overweight individuals suggesting piperine could increase insulin sensitivity over an 8-week period. Piperine’s potential to lower cholesterol would also benefit those with and reduce risks of developing cardiovascular disease. This is suggested by findings in one study, where they observed that rats fed a high-fat diet and black pepper extract hade reduced total cholesterol and LDL levels in their blood.

Alkaloid compounds like piperine also do a lot of good for the brain, suggested to boost cognitive function and even have anti-depressant effects. Particularly studied in Alzheimer’s disease, piperine has been found to improve memory in Alzheimer’s-induced rats running a maze, and lower the formation of amyloid plaques, who’s accumulation around the brain is a key feature of the disease.

Don’t we all love salt, a major flavour provider for many od us but is also warned heavily by media as high levels increase blood pressure and your risk of heart disease. However, salt is also essential for our bodies and must be maintained in moderation in a balanced diet. Salt is made up of two ions: sodium and chloride, each serving essential function. Sodium is used control the movement of water in and out of the blood and into the urine in the kidney. This means sodium can control the blood’s volume and therefore its pressure, hence why too much salt can make your blood pressure go up! But without sodium there would be no control in the kidneys, ending in disaster. Sodium is also essential in many other bodily processes, such as in nerve and muscle function, as well as being involved in regulating bodily fluids.

Chloride ions have their own action, acting as electrolytes in the body. Chloride is used in cellular processes and regulating both blood pressure and pH. Chloride is also a key component of stomach acid (HCl), without which we would be unable to break down our food and absorb all the required nutrients. So, when the news articles tell you “salt is a crystalline demon”, know that instead it is essential in moderation and their advice should be taken with a pinch of salt (no pun intended!).

You may know spinach as the famous source of Popeye’s strength, who would eat it to gain huge muscular strength, big enough to overcome any of his foe’s. Now, we cannot guarantee that spinach will help you defeat your enemies, but they are still full to the brim with healthy goodness. spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals such as iron, essential to create haemoglobin, the molecule which delivers oxygen to the tissues in the blood. It also contains vitamin C for immune strength, vitamin K1 for normal blood clotting, folic acid for normal cell and tissue function, and calcium for bone strength and vital signalling across the body. Additionally, spinach contains a number of compounds which support good eye health. The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin can accumulate in the retina and stop excess UV and visible light from damaging the eye and causing macular degeneration. Additionally, carotenoids in spinach form vitamin A in the body, which helps with eye health, the prevention of dry eyes and night-time blindness.

Related to beetroot, spinach is rich in nitrates which create nitric oxide in the body and are beneficial to heart health. Once into the endothelial cells of the blood vessels, nitric oxide induces the relaxation of the arteries and dilation of the blood vessels. As shown in a study by… of 30 people, consumption of spinach reduces systolic blood pressure and may improve cardiovascular health. As with most fruits and vegetables, the antioxidants in spinach have amazing power to improve our health. Quercetin, of which spinach is one of the richest dietary sources, helps control infection and reduce inflammation. Kaempferol may reduce progression of chronic conditions and cancer. It is MGDG and SQDG, which may be particularly effective in reducing cancer growth. Both prospective studies in prostate cancer and case control studies in breast cancer, show consumption of spinach could both prevent and slow tumorigenesis.

Strawberries are linked with reduced risk of heart disease

Strawberries are high in anthocyanins that studies have linked with improved heart health1,2. Large-scale studies have shown that consuming berries reduces the risk of dying from heart disease.

Studies have linked freeze dried strawberries with a significant decrease in several major risk factors, including LDL (bad) cholesterol, inflammatory markers, and oxidized LDL particles 3,4.

KEY TAKEAWAY
Consuming strawberries can improve your heart health.

Strawberries help you to effectively regulate blood sugar

Studies into Strawberries show that they slow down the digestion of glucose in our food, reducing spikes in both glucose and insulin5,6.

Imbalances in blood sugar regulation is linked with a higher  risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Therefore, strawberries may be useful for preventing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes7.  

KEY TAKEAWAY
Strawberries may reduce the risk of diabetes.

Strawberries have been linked with preventing certain cancers

Scientists investigating oxidative stress and inflammation have shown that the antioxidant effects of berries may help prevent certain cancers8.

Freeze dried strawberries, specifically, have been linked with reducing tumour formation in animals with mouth cancer and in human liver cancer cells9,10. This effect is thought be be caused by their ellagic acid & ellagitannin content – a compount that has been shown to stop the growth of cancer cells11.

KEY TAKEAWAY
The antioxidant effect of strawberries & other berries may help to prevent and inhibit cancer. 

Found In

Peach & Cayenne

Berries & Cinnamon

Strawberry & Banana Protein

Strawberry & Mango

References & Research for this Email
1. Basu, Rone, Lyons – “Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health” – Nutrition Review, 2010
2. Wallace, T – “Anthocyanins in cardiovascular disease” – Advances in Nutrition, 2011
3. Basu et al – “Freeze-dried strawberry powder improves lipid profile and lipid peroxidation in women with metabolic syndrome: baseline and post intervention effects” – Nutrition Journal, 2010
4. Basu et al – “Strawberries decrease atherosclerotic markers in subjects with metabolic syndrome” – Nutrition Research, 2010
5. Torronen et al – “Berries modify the postprandial plasma glucose response to sucrose in healthy subjects” – British Journal of Nutrition, 2010
6. Edhirisinghe et al – “Strawberry anthocyanin and its association with postprandial inflammation and insulin” – British Journal of Nutrition, 2011
7. Ludwig, D – “The glycemic index: physiological mechanisms relating to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease” – JAMA, 2002
8. Seeram, N – “Berry fruits for cancer prevention: current status and future prospects” – Journal of Agricultural Chemistry, 2008
9. Casto et al – “Chemoprevention of oral cancer by lyophilized strawberries” – Anticancer Research, 2013
10. Meyers et al – “Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of strawberries” – Journal of Agricultural Food Chemisty, 2003
11. Pinto et al – “Evaluation of antiproliferative, anti-type 2 diabetes, and antihypertension potentials of ellagitannins from strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) using in vitro models” – Journal of Medicinal Food, 2010

Spirulina is a particularly mysterious blue-green algae, worthy of the title “superfood”. It is a cyanobacteria, taking its energy from the sun and providing their consumers with all sorts of goodness. Gram for gram, it’s one of the most nutritious foods in the world, with only 7g providing you with 21% of your copper, 15% of your riboflavin, 11% of your thiamine, 11% of your iron and 4% of your niacin RDI, along with trace amounts of almost every other essential nutrient. 7g of Spirulina also gives you 4g of high-quality protein and 1g of fats, including that of super healthy omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains a magic, antioxidant called phycocyanin, which not only give the algae its fantastic colour, it helps to fight off damaging oxidative-stress and inflammation responsible for the progression of many chronic diseases’. Spirulina is particularly effective in stopping oxidation of LDL, otherwise known as lipid peroxidation, a key risk factor of heart disease.

Spirulina actually does a whole lot of good for heart, reducing blood pressure as well as damaging LDL and triglycerides. A 2009 study noted that spirulina appeared to stimulate the synthesis/release of nitric oxide, which diffuses into the blood vessel walls, causing them to relax and reduce blood pressure. Along with nitric oxide, spirulina causes blood vessel relaxation through the stimulation of synthesis/release cyclooxygenase-dependent metabolite of arachidonic acid, and constriction by reducing synthesis/release of eicosanoid, overall lowering a person’s blood pressure. One 2007 study suggesting a 4.5g daily dose for 6 weeks will reduce blood pressure in those with normal pressure levels. Secondly, spirulina may reduce LDL and triglyceride levels, whilst increasing HDL levels, ultimately reducing CVD risk. This was observed in a 2001 study of 25 type 2 diabetics receiving 2g daily spirulina for 2 months, displaying a decrease in these risk factors including a favourable increase in apolipoprotein A1:B ratio (also reducing CVD risk). Additionally, 2014 study found a 1g dose was sufficient to reduce triglycerides and LDL by 16.3% and 10.1% respectively, whereas other studies suggested higher doses of 4.5-8g were required.

Spirulina also has great anti-cancer potential, with key studies being conducted in oral cancers. A 1995 study on 87 Indian pan tobacco chewers presenting with precancerous lesions (oral submucous fibrosis), found consumption of 1g spirulina daily caused 45% of lesions to disappear in 1 year. Even more surprisingly, almost half of the patients redeveloped lesions once they stopped taking spirulina. A more recent study in 2013, saw that a 1g spirulina dose improved oral submucous lesions more that the drug Pentoxyfilline. Therefore, spirulina could be proposed as a successful chemotherapy alternative.

The humble tangerine, our beloved easy peeler, and the orange’s baby cousin. The orange and tangerine belong to the same family, so they share many similar fantastic health properties. They are rich in vitamin C, known to help boost our immune system, improve iron absorption, and help form collagen. Collagen makes up a third of all protein in out body, found in our joints, muscles blood vessel walls, and is partially responsible for maintaining skin structure and fighting off those wrinkles! Its not just vitamin C in tangerines which promotes skin health, enter vitamin A, preventing spots, speeding up healing, and naturally moisturising the skin. Tangerines actually contain around three times more vitamin A than oranges, also functioning in eye and hair health. Vitamin A may help reduce dry eyes, night-time blindness, and the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Research at the Western Human Nutrition Research Centre in UC Davis suggested that tangerines can lessen vitamin A deficiencies in developing countries, preventing blindness in these areas. Vitamin A can also work alongside vitamin B12 found in tangerines, to promote healthier hair and its faster growth.

Tangerines also contain a good amount of soluble fibre, helping reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood sugar levels to help in diabetes. Carotenoids in tangerines can additionally fight against the risks of such chronic diseases, by neutralising the free radicals responsible for oxidative damage.

Thyme is only at the beginning of its journey into becoming a renowned super-herb. Thyme is already known for its awesome antibacterial properties due to a chemical compound called thymol. This has led to its use as a pesticide and mould disinfectant, also treating against bacteria, viruses, and repelling animals and mosquitoes. In relevance to our own bodies, the antibacterial quality could help treat acne. UK researchers have suggested a thyme tincture could fight acne better than anti-acne products such as benzoyl peroxide, providing a natural solution for spotless skin.

Additionally, rosemary’s vitamin C and A contents help boost immunity, along with minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, and fibre. There is also evidence for thyme’s anti-hypertensive activity, helping manage high blood pressure and other risk factors of CVD. A 2014 study suggested there are bioactive compounds in thyme could reduce serum liver enzyme, cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL levels, whilst significantly increasing HDL levels. They also evaluated that thyme could lower heart rate in hypertensive rats. Finally, thyme could boost your mood. This is achieved by a compound found in thyme called carvacrol, which can affect neurone activity to boost feelings of wellbeing, as suggested in a 2013 study.

Turmeric owes itself to a chemical compound called curcumin, providing its golden colour and strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. We pair it with banana in our Plantshakes, but more importantly with black pepper. Black pepper contains piperine, a compound which improves curcumin’s absorption by 2000%, so without it you would not get turmeric’s brilliant benefits.

Curcumin’s antioxidant powers are multifaceted. The compound itself it’s a great antioxidant, shown to inhibit lipid membrane peroxidation, as well as oxidative damage of proteins and DNA, all associated with the progression of various chronic diseases. However, what’s special about curcumin is it also stimulates the body’s own antioxidant response, a antioxidant double-whammy if you will. As stated in a 2005 review, curcumin can modulate glutathione levels which can control the body’s antioxidant levels, in addition to neutralising free radicals and inhibiting proinflammatory mediators (i.e. NF-κB and IL-8).

And when it comes to anti-inflammatory effects, curcumin rules as king. Acute inflammation is often required to remove disease, but chronic inflammation exacerbates it, playing a role in worsening a wide range of diseases. Curcumins anti-inflammatory effect has been suggested in atherosclerotic CVD, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and chronic anterior uveitis, to name just a few. Furthermore, it has even been suggested to be as effective at aspirin an ibuprofen at reducing inflammation. It does this through the inhibition of inflammatory pathways such as NF-κB.

Curcumin may even prevent a truly feared chronic disease, cancer. Vast in vitro and in vivo studies have been conducted suggested a variety of mechanisms of action to stop growth and kill cancerous cells, whether it be through interfering with the cell cycle, stopping angiogenesis or metastasis. A 2011 phase IIa clinical trial on curcumins activity of colorectal cancer, suggested a 2-4g dose for 30 days can reduce cancerous lesions such as aberrant crypt foci by 40%.

The list of benefits does not stop there, with it also thought to have an impact on disorders of the brain. Firstly, this is by curcumin ability to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), causing neurones to increase in number. Deceased levels of the BDNF hormone are associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and depression, to which curcumin could have a neuroprotective function. In Alzheimer’s, curcumin can also act by reducing the number of amyloid plaques in the brain. This build-up of the tangled proteins is a key feature of Alzheimer’s.

ACAI BERRIES

Acai fruit are a superfood, native to the Amazon rainforest, where they are eaten as a staple part of the diet. Commonly misconceived as berries, acai are actually drupes which have a stone in, similar to an apricot. They are a particularly unusual fruit as they are high in fat and low in sugar so are often made into juices and purees where sugar is added to sweeten them (but not in our Plantshakes!). Acai are a deep purple colour, hinting at their amazing antioxidant content, trumping fruit like blueberries and cranberries. Antioxidant content can be measured with a Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score, 100g of frozen acai pulp with a score of 15,405 and 100g of blueberries with a score of only 4,669. It is primarily anthocyanins found in acai, which neutralises the free radicals causing oxidative stress, often held responsible for the progression of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Numerous animal studies have found acai antioxidants to improve cardiovascular heath through the lowering of cholesterol in the blood. A 2009 study by… showed rats fed a high cholesterol diet had reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels when administered 2% acai for 6 weeks. Additionally, a study in rabbits which were fed acai, led to a reduction in cholesterol and atherosclerotic plaque size. Additionally, this experiment also suggested that acai contain plant sterols, which prevents to absorption of cholesterol into the blood.

Antioxidants also have famous cancer fighting properties, for which evidence has been found in both animal and test tube studies. For example, a 2017 and 2012 study found that mice fed acai pulp could have a reduced incidence of colon and bladder cancer, respectively. Several animal studies have also reviewed acai’s capability in improving brain function and reducing the impacts of an aging brain. Studies looking at the impacts of acai on the hippocampus of both rat and mice brains, demonstrated reduced inflammatory mediators and improved signalling across its neurones. This suggests the antioxidants in acai could stop oxidation to the lipids, proteins and nucleic acids of the brain, thus improving memory retention, and cognitive and motor function. These antioxidants were also seen to stimulate autophagy in the brain, a process that removes non-functioning and toxic cells that may now cause damage. All in all, acai is an extremely promising superfruit, which we are only at the brink at beginning to understand their full potential… so bring on the clinical trials!

APPLE

Now we have all heard “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and it’s not without reason, as they are packed with vitamin C, B-complex vitamins and fibre. Starting with vitamin C, studies have shown that 100g of fresh apples could have the equivalent of 1500mg of vitamin C. This particular study showed the antioxidant properties of this vitamin C could inhibit the progression of colon- and liver-based cancer cells in vitro investigations. Moreover, B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamine and vitamin B6, are fundamental in the new generation and maintenance of red blood cells. This ensures there is constant and sufficient oxygenation of the muscles and organs.

Secondly, apples contain both a respectable amount of soluble and insoluble fibres, studies showing that consuming just one large apple provides 30% of the daily required fibre. 81% of the apple flesh is said to be formed of the soluble fibre pectin, shown to contribute to lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood, in turn decreasing risk of heart disease. In one study, it was found that older women who ate apples everyday lowered their LDL levels by 23% in 6 months. Furthermore, their HDL (good cholesterol) levels rose by 4% in the same 6 months.

Finally, the antioxidant activity apples have been attributed to many health benefits, due to their abundance in phytochemicals like polyphenols, flavonoids, and carotenoids. Most prominently are quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid, all of which reduce the oxidative stress which contributes to the progression of cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes to name a few. Research has even show high flavonoid consumption can lower risk of stroke by 20%. These phytochemicals can help improve vascular function, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and regulate hyperglycaemia. Furthermore, studies have found that the combination of the flavonoids and fibre found in apples naturally is more beneficial than that of either alone, all mediated by the gut microbiota they help keep healthy.

BANANA

Our organic bananas are sourced from Sri Lanka where the warm, humid climate promotes their growth. They have a fantastic nutritional value, which give a multitude of health benefits to their consumer. Bananas are high in vitamins B5, B6 and C, which are essential in the extraction of energy from food, the generation of new blood cells for enhancing oxygen delivery, and for improved immune strength. Furthermore, the mineral bananas are famously rich in, potassium (‘K’ for all you chemists), has important biological roles in fluid regulation, contraction of the muscle and delivery of nerve signals around the body. The minerals in bananas you may be less aware of, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and zinc, form fundamental components of our cells, the mechanisms of cellular processes, the production of energy and enhancement of immune function. It is therefore safe to suggest that the vitamins and minerals bananas supply us with may not only improve our overall health, but also our body’s performance during exercise.

Additionally, the resistant starches in bananas have shown to have probiotic functions, reducing gut inflammation, and reducing bowel cancer risks. Bacteria found in the large intestines break down these starches into a short fatty acid chain called butyrate which acts to improve gut health. Butyrate is used for energy in colonocytes (gut cells) as well as stabilising the bacteria and other variables in the surrounding environment. The reduced inflammatory environment hinders tumour progression thus lowering the risk of bowel cancer. Both resistant starch and pectin fibres also stimulate the production of GLP-1 and peptide YY proteins which promotes insulin production. This can help stabilise blood sugar spikes and therefore regulate disorders such as type II diabetes and obesity.

The star of the show in many fruits and vegetables, antioxidants, are also found in abundance in bananas. These phytochemical compounds like polyphenols, carotenoids and phytosterols neutralise damaging free radicals and therefore protect the body against oxidative stress. Polyphenols and carotenoids have both shown to give protection against degenerative diseases like arthritis as well as reducing cancer progression. Additionally, they can have anti-aging properties, enhance mood and form precursors for vitamin A. Phytosterols act against LDL (bad cholesterol) competing for its absorption from the gut into the blood, improve overall cardiovascular health.

Evidence

Evidence

BEETROOT

Notorious for staining and everything and anything, with FOGA Plantshakes you can have all the benefits of the beetroot without the mess. Beetroot, along with other vegetables with leafy greens, contains nitrates, compounds which form nitric oxide once in the body. Nitric oxide flows around the blood stream and crosses into the endothelial cells of the blood vessel walls. This leads to a cascade of chemical interactions, resulting in the relaxation of the arteries and dilation of the blood vessels, thus decreasing overall blood pressure. Various studies have shown that eating beetroot can reduce blood pressure 3-10mmHg in only a few hours after consumption, which in turn lowers the risk of heart disease. Nitric oxide also provides benefits during periods of high intensity endurance exercise, by aiding the mitochondria in more efficient production of energy. A multitude of studies have suggested beetroot consumption may lead to improved cycling, stamina, and overall exercise performance.

In addition to nitrates, beetroot contains various vitamins and minerals which provide health benefits. Vitamin C boosts immunity and folate (vitamin B9) is key to the function of normal cells and tissues. Iron is vital in the transport of oxygen in the red blood cells and potassium regulates the heart rate and lowers blood pressure. Beetroots also contains manganese, important for supporting bone mineral density, modulating blood sugar levels, nutrient metabolism, as well as having antioxidant function. In fact, beetroot is thought to be one of the top ten most potent antioxidant vegetables, as well as one of the richest sources of glutamine (vital for intestinal cell health, providing them energy and maintaining the integrity of the intestinal wall). Finally, beetroot contains 2.5g of fibre per 100g, aiding with digestion and also thought to increase white blood cell production.

BLACKBERRIES

Frustratingly, these juicy, black wonders are super seasonable, only appearing the UK from August to October. Cue: FOGA Plantshakes, making sure you get their delicious taste and amazing health benefits all year round. Firstly, they are rich in vitamins and minerals we all know our body needs. 1 cup contains around half your RDI of vitamin C, essential for collagen formation, absorption of iron, and boosting immunity, as well as one third of your RDI of vitamin K, important for normal blood clotting and bone metabolism. It also gives you half your RDI of manganese, important in bone development, immune health, nutrient metabolism, and collagen formation, and 8g of fibre, promoting normal bowel movement, controlling blood sugar spikes, and nourishing gut bacteria.

Blackberries are also high in polyphenols, reducing the negative impacts of oxidative stress damage. One of these may be reducing the damage of aging oxidative stress on the brain. One 2009 animal study found rats consuming blackberries had improved cognitive and motor activity in comparison to control rats. This is likely as the blackberry polyphenols neutralise the damaging free radicals, improving the communication between brain neurones, preventing brain inflammation and age-associated memory loss ass. Blackberries have also shown to potentially have antiviral and antibacterial properties. One 2011 study found that topically administering blackberry extract to cold sores stops early replication of the virus responsible, Herpes Simplex Type 1 Virus. Furthermore a 2013 study showed the blackberry’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities worked against the bacteria responsible for gum and other oral disease. The anti-inflammatory properties may be extended to therapeutically treating stomach ulcers. A 2013 study found that ellagitannin antioxidants (specifically sanguiin H-6 and lambertianin C) found in blackberries reduced the inflammatory res naringinponse in rats with ethanol-induced gastric lesions (mimics stomach ulcers), decreasing the ulcer index by 88%.

BLACK PEPPER

Black pepper is a seasoning staple for many of us, but its also brings it own health benefits to the table. Its suggested to have antimicrobial qualities against nasties like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, having gastroprotective activity against ulceration, as well as  potential hypoalgesic effects. The superstar player in black pepper is a alkaloid chemical compound called piperine which has a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity, in addition to increasing absorption of awesome compounds like curcumin in turmeric.

The antioxidant profile allows piperine to neutralise damaging free radicals, as demonstrated in a 2004 study of rats fed a high fat diet. Here, the rats which had been administered black pepper had significantly fewer markers of free radical damage in their cells after 10 weeks. In vivo studies have also demonstrated piper effectively reduces inflammation. This has been shown in arthritic rats, where a 2009 study suggested piperine inhibited expression, production, and migration of pro-inflammatory mediators (i.e. IL-6 MMP13, PGE2 and AP-1), thus reducing inflammation and pain. This is similarly supported in a 2013 study on rats with induced rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting piperine could also be used a safe and effective treatment for some inflammatory diseases. Piperine has even potential abilities to reduce airway inflammation in asthma and seasonal allergic reactions.

There is also evidence piperine could also provide health benefits in several chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In cancer, in vitro studies have shown piperine to slow growth and induce cell death of colon, breast, and prostate cancer cells. Piperine’s ability to control blood sugar levels and improve sugar metabolism could benefit and even treat diabetics, as suggested in a 2016 study. A 2003 study on swiss albino miss suggested it could lower blood glucose levels, in addition to a 2013 study on 86 overweight individuals suggesting piperine could increase insulin sensitivity over an 8-week period. Piperine’s potential to lower cholesterol would also benefit those with and reduce risks of developing cardiovascular disease. This is suggested by findings in one study, where they observed that rats fed a high-fat diet and black pepper extract hade reduced total cholesterol and LDL levels in their blood.

Alkaloid compounds like piperine also do a lot of good for the brain, suggested to boost cognitive function and even have anti-depressant effects. Particularly studied in Alzheimer’s disease, piperine has been found to improve memory in Alzheimer’s-induced rats running a maze, and lower the formation of amyloid plaques, who’s accumulation around the brain is a key feature of the disease.

WILD BLUEBERRIES

When reading about the nutritional benefits of fruit and vegetables you see the word antioxidant flown around a lot. Well, the blueberry is the king of the antioxidants, vastly rich in flavonoids, a family of polyphenols. The flavonoid put down to giving blueberries most of their “superpowers” is anthocyanin, which gives them their rich, dark purple colour. Antioxidants help combat oxidative stress, and this damage can happen to various cells and molecules in the body all with negative health impacts. Firstly, oxidative stress can occur to our DNA, damaging it, resulting in the faster progression of aging (DNA damage is natural part of the aging process) but can also result in cancer cell formation. Cancers often can originate where the DNA is damaged by chemicals, UV light and even free radicals which induce oxidative stress on the DNA, resulting in cancerous mutations. Oxidative stress can also occur to LDL (bad cholesterol) in the blood, which induces the progression to heart disease. One 2013 study showed that consuming 75g blueberries with a high-carbohydrate and low-fat breakfast can provide significant oxidative protection to LDL, with similar results found in obese individuals. Blueberry antioxidants also protect the blood vessel endothelium from oxidative damage, helping to lower blood pressure. One 8-week study found that a 50g serving of blueberries reduced blood pressure by 4-6% in obese individuals categorised as high risk for heart disease. Finally, the antioxidants can reduce oxidative damage in the brain, helping improve function, reduce the impacts of an aging brain such as losing memory. This has been predominantly examined in animal studies, where consuming blueberries helped to modulate cell signalling pathways, improve motor and cognitive function by benefiting aging neurones. In a human study with over 16000 older individuals, it was shown that consumption of blueberries and strawberries were liked to a reduction in mental aging by up to two and a half years.

Other benefits include the anti-diabetic function of anthocyanin, positively impacting glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity. In a 2006 4-week randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial, it was found that a blueberry supplement significantly reduced fasting plasma glucose levels, inflammatory proteins (specifically C-reactive proteins), and  enzymes linked to diabetes circulating in the blood, when compared to the control group. This demonstrates its therapeutic potential for diabetes.

Finally, as blueberries are closely related to cranberries, they share the anti-adhesive molecules which inhibit bacteria such as E. coli from attaching to the walls of the bladder. Therefore, this can reduce risk of urinary tract infection.

BROCCOLI

Broccoli is a member of the brassica family along with that cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts. However, what makes this cruciferous vegetable so special is the nutrition it stores in its tender stems and little dark florets! Firstly, it contains a rich and diverse supply of vitamins and minerals, 1 cup providing 135% of our vitamin C, 116% of our vitamin K, 14% of our folate, 11% of our vitamin A, 8% of our potassium, 6% of our phosphorus and 3% of our selenium relevant RDI’s. This supports a range of normal body processes as well as boosting health in various other areas. Vitamin C in known to improve immune activity, the absorption of iron, and helps form collagen to aid with wound healing and the reduction of wrinkling skin and dry hair. Vitamin K regulates normal blood clotting, folate is required for new production and maintenance of body cells, and potassium is essential for nerve function and heart contraction (just to provide a few!).

However, broccoli’s antioxidant capacity is what has led scientists to make impressive claims of its health benefits. Antioxidants neutralise damaging free radicals, reducing inflammation and providing the body with a degree of protection against chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes as well as the impacts of aging. Early evidence for broccoli’s reduction in risk for these diseases has been conducted, however many require human trials before solid conclusions can be drawn. Notably, broccoli contains high levels of glucoraphanin, which is converted into a powerful antioxidant called sulforaphane when digested. One 2014 review of 17 studies, suggested that through the primary use of patient blood sugar, cholesterol and lipid profiles, broccoli sulforaphane could reduce the risk of myocardial infarction through its anti-oxidative stress activity. Adding to this, a 2012 human trial observed significant reductions in LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and increased levels of HDL (good cholesterol), suggested broccoli consumption provides reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, A 2008 review of epidemiological studies also suggests that broccoli consumption can decrease levels of homocysteine which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Sulforaphane, along with other broccoli antioxidants is also thought to have anti-cancer activity in the cases of colorectal, prostate, gastric, breast, kidney and bladder cancers. A study conducted in 2010 using both in vitro and in vivo methods, suggested sulforaphane could inhibit breast cancer stem cells and downregulate tumorigenesis pathways. Various other studies have also noted sulforaphane for its ability to inhibit enzymes involved in the activation of carcinogens and upregulate the enzymes which help clear carcinogens and reactive oxygen species. Sulforaphane’s interference in cancer cell cycle arrest and enforcement of their programmed cell death, suggested it could be used as a potential chemoprevention therapy.

Other antioxidants like polyphenols are also found in broccoli, including kaempferol, quercetin glucosides and isorhamnetin. These provide significant anti-inflammatory properties, as seen in the case of kaempferol in both in vitro and in vivo studies. Additionally, broccoli has reasonable amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, protecting your eyes for age-related macular degeneration. Activities of antioxidants can also prevent age-related brain function decline, slow down wrinkling and reduce blood sugar levels.

CARROT

‘Carrots help you see in the dark’- well not quite, but they sure do improve eye health. Carrots are a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which gives carrots their orange colour. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, promoting good vision, and functions in normal growth and improved immune activity. Vitamin A reduces the risk of night-time blindness, dry eyes and corneal scarring, along with carotenoid antioxidants fighting off age-induced macular degeneration. Other vitamins and minerals in carrots have other essential functions; vitamin K1 maintaining normal blood clotting, vitamin B6 aiding in energy conversion, biotin helping metabolise fats and proteins and potassium helping control blood pressure.

Carotenoids, the antioxidants in carrots, protect the body from oxidative stress which can led to the progression of degenerative diseases like CVD, cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers. Beta-carotene along with alpha-carotene are converted to vitamin A, lycopene, lutein, anthocyanins and polyacetylenes. Several studies have examined their effectivity against different cancers through use of dietary questionnaires over a course of years. A case control study examining 450 cases of prostate cancer suggested carrot’s high lycopene and beta-carotene levels could reduce cancer risk. A 2007 study followed over 82,000 45-83-year olds with stomach cancer for 8 years suggested carotenoids can also reduce the risk of cancer. A 2000 study on 2410 individuals with colon cancer found carrot’s lutein reduced cancer risk in both men and women. (maybe merge?)

The sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre in carrots are provides health benefits, primarily pectin and cellulose, respectively. Insoluble fibre aids with bowel movement and digestion, shown to reduce risk of constipation. Soluble fibre also aids digestion but has alternative functions to insoluble. The gut microbiotic bacteria feed on the fibre, forming short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, providing gut cells energy, maintaining their health and reducing risk of bowel inflammation. It can also provide protection to the cardiovascular system and reduce cholesterol levels. This was suggested in a 2003 animal study, where rat’s consumption of carrot for 3 weeks reduced cholesterol uptake into the blood and increased LDL removal via bile acid and its faecal excretion. This is supported by older human trials conducted in 1979, finding the consumption of 200g of carrot reduced cholesterol levels in the blood by 11% and faecal excretion of bile and fats by 50%.

CAYENNE PEPPER

Cayenne is the little punch of spice we like to add to our peach Plantshake, for both delicious and nutritious reasons. Cayenne are chilli peppers from the nightshade family, loaded with capsaicin, a bioactive compound responsible for spice and medicinal qualities. One such quality is improving digestive health. Capsaicin is able to stimulate nerves in the stomach, leading to increased gastric emptying, digestive fluids, and delivery of enzymes to the stomach. This helps to improve the digestion of food and reducing risk of dyspepsia. Furthermore, it can also stimulate nerves to aid defence against infection in the stomach, reducing build up bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, responsible for stomach ulcers. In fact, a 2006 study has shown capsaicin to help reduce risk of stomach ulcers, although it is often misconceived as making them worse! Capsaicin also appears to increase metabolism through a process called diet-induced thermogenesis, where the body produce more heat so burns more calories. Although only a short-term effect, a 2013 study found those eating capsaicin and medium-chain triglyceride oil for breakfast, burned 51% more calories than the controls. Moreover, a 2009 study even suggested that capsaicin could reduce production of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, helping us feel fuller whilst eating less. This was further proven in a 2005 study where individuals taking capsaicin supplements or capsaicin-infused drinks ate 10% and 16% less than control groups, respectively. All in all, capsaicin = happy tummy.
Although you may think that spice is causing you pain, the truth is actually the opposite. By reducing levels of a neuropeptide called substance P, capsaicin can reduce amounts that reach the brain and induce a pain signal. This can provide benefit to those with lower back pain, muscle/joint pain, and pain of the nerves in cases like shingles. Substance P is also responsible for the symptoms of psoriasis, an autoimmune disease with painful scaling and itching rashes on the skin, which several studies have shown capsaicin to reduce the symptoms of. Capsaicin has also shown evidence of lowering blood pressure in both in vitro and in vivo studies. One 2010 animal study suggested capsaicin activated TRPV1 receptors, which induced an increase of nitric oxide in blood vessel walls and therefore their relaxation and the lowering of blood pressure. A 2015 study found capsaicin had a similar relaxation of blood vessels and lowering of blood pressure in pigs. All of this goodness, and studies such as those illustrated as a 2016 review also suggest that capsaicin can reduce cancer cell growth and even induce their death. Truly, a wonder spice.

CHIA

The word “chia” in ancient Mayan means “strength”, which hints to why these seeds were prized for their powerful nutritional benefits by the Mayans and Aztecs. Thousands of years later and the chia has not changed, still with a nutritional inventory to trump many other foods. They are high in fibre, with 11g of the total 12g of carbohydrates in a 28g serving being fibre (a whopping 40% fibre!). This fibre feeds the gut microbiota with short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. This keeps a steady flow of energy and reduces gut inflammation. As well as fibre, they contain 4g of protein in a 28g, containing a balanced amount of the essential amino acids we cannot produce ourselves. Similar to flaxseed, chia seeds are also high in omega-3’s (5g in a 28g serving), primarily alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These ALA’s are converted into DHA and EPA in the body, sadly an inefficient process, to gain omega-3s benefits. However, if high enough levels are reached of DHA and EPA, it can improve cardiovascular health and reduce the inflammation in conditions like arthritis and cancer. ALA’s in chia have also been linked to reduced blood sugar levels. Several studies using rats found consumption of chia improved insulin sensitivity and blood glucose level control. This is also supported by human studies, showing that consumption of bread containing chia lowers the rise in blood sugar levels following a meal, compared to bread without chia.

In addition to macronutrients like carbohydrates, fats and proteins, chia seeds are rich in micronutrients. In fact, a 28g serving of chia contains 18%, 30% and 27% of our RDI of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, respectively. All these nutrients are imperative to bone health, maintaining strength and growth, so chia is a useful addition to the diet of those who do not consume dairy products!

CINNAMON

Cinnamon is perhaps a wonder-spice, with its medical uses dating all the way back to ancient Egyptian times, so there has got be a good reason, right? Indeed, there is! It contains amazing properties essential for controlling blood sugar levels, reducing bad cholesterol and helping fight neurogenerative disease, infections and even cancer. Cinnamaldehyde is the chemical compound in cinnamon responsible for this activity, and also its beautiful aromatic smell. Its anti-inflammatory properties have been noted in both in vitro and in vivo studies, also aided by its richness in polyphenol antioxidants. Did you know cinnamon actually contains more antioxidants than garlic and oregano? All this helps protect our health and reduce risk of disease. For example, a 2003 study observed that type 2 diabetics consuming cinnamon for 40 days led to a reduction in blood lipids, LDL and total cholesterol compared to a placebo group, protecting cardiovascular health. Furthermore, a 2013 study suggested cinnamon could also improve HDL levels, and a 1982 study that it could reduce blood pressure in dogs. This is all due to the magical powers of cinnamaldehyde.

Diabetics, along with all of us could actually receive a whole lot of good from around a 1-6g daily dose of cinnamon. Firstly, it could lower our blood sugar levels by 10-29% shown in human trials in 2006, 2007, and 2008. It does this through two mechanisms, one being inhibiting the digestive enzymes alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase, delaying the absorption of glucose into the blood. The second mechanism involves hydroxychalcone, a compound in cinnamon which mimics insulin and binds to receptors on adipocytes, causing them to take up glucose from the blood. Other bioactive compounds can also stop the inhibition of these receptors, allowing them to take up more glucose and lower the levels of glucose in the blood. Secondly, chromium and polyphenols found in cinnamon can reduce the insulin resistance seen in type 2 diabetics.

Other benefits it provides could be for reducing infections, whether it be in fungal respiratory, Listeria and Salmonella bacterial or HIV related. Cinnamon could also act against cancer, inhibiting blood vessels from growing excessively around tumours (vascularisation), leading to the death of cancer cells which cannot receive sufficient nutrients from the blood. A 2007 study also suggested cinnamon could activate detoxifying enzymes in the colon of mice, proposing it may help protect against colon cancer growth.  In Alzheimer’s disease, cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin in cinnamon have shown to inhibit a build of a protein called tau in the brain, a key characteristic of the disease. Furthermore, in Parkinson’s disease cinnamon appeared to regulate and normalise dopamine neurotransmitter levels, ultimately improving brain motor function.

COFFEE

Ah, coffee. Thank you, world, for coffee. It keeps us feeling stimulated and energised, that morning cup helping us prepare the kickstart the day. The magic source of this bean’s power is of course the stimulant caffeine, which once in the brain increases our neurone’s firing activity. Many controlled studies have shown how this caffeine was able to provide the consumer with energy and improved brain function, in areas such as reaction times, alertness, memory, mood and general brain function. However, it is not just a boost of energy coffee can give you, some studies also suggest the direct action of caffeine can lower your risk of Parkinson’s disease, with a risk reduction between 32-60%. This is because the increased neurone of coffee occurs when caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. This allows other neurotransmitters (these are chemical signals between nerves) such as dopamine to increase, allowing the neurones to fire faster. Many of Parkinson’s disease symptoms are caused by a loss of neurones that produce dopamine and a drop in dopamine levels. Therefore, caffeine’s activity provides protection from this development

Caffeine’s stimulation of the central nervous station can positively impact physical performance too, by increasing adrenaline and epinephrine levels in the blood. These hormones prepare your body for intense exercise, or the commonly known fight-or-flight response. This has been shown in studies from 2004 and 2005, where the addition of caffeine increased performance of individuals by 12% and 11%, respectively. Additionally, the highly advertised “fat-burning” quality of caffeine increases the supply of free fatty acids for use as fuel during exercise. In fact, caffeine may improve metabolic rates and one 2004 study suggested fat burning increased by 29% and 10% in lean and obese individuals, respectively.

COURGETTE

Courgette or zucchini? Who cares! The main thing you need to know is that this cucumber look-a-like is a nutrient-dense food that you should include in your diet. The skin holds the highest levels of carotenoid antioxidants, its rich supply promoting eye, cardiovascular, bone, and digestive health. A whole host of goodies in courgettes could support improved vision, such as their high content of vitamin A and vitamin C, providing 40% and 14% of your RDI (per 1 cup), respectively. Vitamin A is associated with a reduced risk of dry eyes and night-time blindness, whereas vitamin C produces collagen to provide structure to the eye, as well as reducing risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The courgette’s carotenoids also play a key role in reducing AMD risk, specifically that of lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the retina of the eye, protecting your eyes from absorbing damaging UV and other excess light, thus reducing AMD risk.

Both soluble and insoluble fibre in courgettes also provides many health benefits. Firstly, insoluble fibre aids the flow of movement in digestion and reduces risk of constipation. Soluble fibre on the other hand, feeds the microbiota which produce short chain fatty acids (i.e. butyrate) which nourish your gut cells. These short chain fatty acids reduce gut inflammation, lowering risk of cancer formation, as well as reducing symptoms of digestive disorders such as IBS and Crohn’s disease.

A high fibre diet is also linked to a reduced risk in heart disease, as suggested by a 2014 meta-analysis of 18 studies with 672,408 participants. Courgette’s soluble fibre, pectin, is thought to have a role in lowering LDL levels. This is supported in a 1999 review of 67 studies, suggesting consumption of 2-10g of daily soluble fibre for 2 months could reduce total and LDL cholesterol by 1.7mg/dl and 2.2mg/dl, respectively. Alongside fibre, courgettes carotenoids also provide cardiovascular protection, and the 13% of your potassium RDI (in one cup) may help reduce blood pressure. Both fibre and carotenoids have also been shown to stabilise blood sugar levels after a meal and increase insulin sensitivity. This is particularly of help for type 2 diabetics.

CRANBERRY

Have you ever eaten raw cranberries? I wouldn’t, but they are delicious cooked, juiced and are often mixed with other fruits. However, sadly a lot of their antioxidant superpowers and beneficial fibre are lost when juicing. Here at FOGA we have you covered, providing the cranberry’s nutrition in full. Cranberries are famous for their preventative action against urinary tract infections (UTIs), which is provided by A-type molecules called proanthocyanidins (or tannins). They provide the richest fruit source of A-type proanthocyanidins, acting as anti-adhesives thus inhibiting bacteria like E. coli from binding to the bladder wall and causing a UTI. Evidence for this has been provided in a multitude of human clinical trials in both children and adults, in addition to systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Furthermore, A-type proanthocyanidins may have anti-adhesive actions against Helicobacter pylori from binding to the stomach wall, this infection usually inducing stomach inflammation, ulcers, and even cancer. Several studies prove this in both adults and children, one with 189 adults consuming 500ml cranberry juice daily and significantly reducing their infections, and one with 295 children drinking daily cranberry juice over a 3-week period, reducing bacterial growth by 17% in those infected.

Cranberries contain many other flavonol polyphenols, giving them the superfood title, including quercetin, myricetin, peonidin (gives the red colour!) and ursolic acid. These have many of the usual antioxidant functions: reducing oxidative stress, mutations leading to cancer formation, aging symptoms, and inflammation. They equally contain some vital vitamins and minerals: vitamin C for immune strength, collagen formation and iron absorption, vitamin K1 for normal blood clotting and vitamin E having antioxidant activity. Moreover, manganese is important for supporting bone mineral density, modulating blood sugar levels, nutrient metabolism, as well as having antioxidant function, and sufficient copper is required to maintain a healthy heart. Finally, cranberries contain both soluble and insoluble fibre (4.6g in 100g), nourishing gut health and controlling blood sugar levels, and aiding movement through the digestive tract, respectively.

ECHINACEA

Echinacea is an aromatic plant found across the plains of eastern and central North America, as well as in Europe. The leaves and roots are utilised in teas, tablets, and tinctures, to provide us with their health power. Echinacea is famously taken for its immune strengthening and flu-fighting properties. Studies have found prolonged echinacea consumption could reduce the risk of contracting a cold by 58% and reduce the duration of symptoms by 1-4 days. It may even improve the effectivity of the flu vaccine, so really could help beat those winter blues!

Echinacea also has strong antioxidant power, and an equally a fantastic anti-inflammatory. Echinacea’s caffenic acid derivatives have been studied for their promising potential as anti-hypertensives and their anti-hyperglycaemia activity. Such antioxidants are heavily associated with a decrease in heart disease risk, through both lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Additionally, echinacea’s control of blood sugar levels could help reduce the blood sugar spikes seen in type 2 diabetics. Antioxidant’s ability to neutralise the damaging free radicals which induce oxidative stress, means echinacea can reduce cellular damage and encourage growth of healthy cells. This property is one of the reasons it is thought to help fight cancer, by reducing the cellular damage the tumour causes. A 2016 study into echinacea’s anti-cancer potential also drew on its immune stimulating activity, specifically by its flavonoids, which were identified to promote lymphocyte activity. This included increasing the engulfment of cancerous cells and increasing natural killer cells activity to destroy cancerous tissue. What’s great is that this form of treatment would have considerably fewer side effects than chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

GINGER

Ginger is a part of the Zingiberaceae family, along with turmeric and cardamom, so unsurprisingly is responsible for many great health benefits. The underground part of the plant, called the rhizome, is the part used for spice as well as being the part containing the bioactive compound gingerol. Gingerol is the reason ginger has been recognised to have powerful medicinal properties, from easing nausea, reducing inflammation, aiding digestion and fighting common respiratory infections. Several major studies have looked into ginger’s ability in treating nausea and vomiting caused from a range of ailments. A series of 5 randomised control trials showed that consuming 1g of ginger reduces risk of nausea and vomiting occurring 24 hours after surgery by 69% and 61% respectively. Furthermore, a 2011 study looking nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in 60 bone-sarcoma patients showed ginger was effective at reducing both acute and delayed nausea and vomiting. Lots of promising research even shows 1.1-1.5g ginger is effective at treating nausea caused by morning sickness, in a review of 1,278 pregnant women across 12 studies. Ginger is also a promising treatment for dyspepsia, where delayed emptying of the stomach induces indigestion. In both a 2011 and 2008 study, consumption of 1.2 ginger capsules accelerated gastric emptying from 16 minutes to 12 minutes and by 50% compared to the control group, respectively.

Gingerol’s anti-inflammatory properties have also shown to be effective in reducing pain for a number of conditions. A 2001 trial of 247 individuals with osteoarthritis showed that consumption of ginger reduced pain by 63%. Similar findings were seen in a 2011 study using an ointment containing ginger, suggesting it reduced pain, morning stiffness and restricted movement. Prolonged consumption of ginger may also ease muscle soreness following exercise (hypoalgesic effects?), as shown in 2010 study of 74 volunteers consuming 2g ginger and performing strenuous elbow exercises.

Gingerol can help fight off infection, two 2012 studies showing gingers ability to inhibit growth of multiple-drug resistant bacteria. In vitro studies have also observed fresh ginger to be effective in treating RSV virus, commonly causing respiratory infections. Its antiviral properties against both the common cold and flu have also been observed with in combination with goldenrod. As well as flu-busting powers, ginger also has antioxidant properties. Numerous animal studies suggest ginger antioxidant action could therefore reduce age-related decline of the brain. This is due the antioxidants inhibiting oxidative stress in the brain, slowing the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s. One 2012 study of 60 middle-aged women were given 400mg or 800mg of ginger extract for 2 months, and results showed both memory and reaction times of the women improved.

  • Blood sugar levels
  • Menstrual pain
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Up and coming evidence of anti-cancer activity.
KIWI

The green tangy-sweet flesh of the kiwi is packed with polyphenols, vitamins C, K and E, as well as both folate and potassium, but you can eat its fuzzy brown peel too! In fact, one cup of kiwi contains 273% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. One study found the high vitamin C content could help treat asthma and reduce wheezing in susceptible children, when kiwis were consumed regularly as a part of their diet. The vitamin C in kiwis can also boost immune strength, a 2012 study showing them to reduce likelihood of developing cold and flu-like illnesses, especially in high risk groups such as young children and over 65s.

Kiwi phytochemicals with antioxidant properties work alongside vitamins to give individuals health benefits. The antioxidants combat oxidative stress in the body which can cause damage to our cells. In a 2004 cohort study of 118,428 men and women, the antioxidants and vitamins in 3 daily servings of kiwi have shown to reduce macular degeneration by 36%, one of the leading causes of sight loss. Their anti-oxidative stress action has also shown to reduce risk of the progression of degenerative diseases such as colon cancer. Additionally, the power of antioxidants may improve cardiac function, along with the actions of vitamins C and E. By aiding blood vessel endothelial function, they can lower blood pressure, therefore reducing risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Antioxidants also work both individually and in synergy with kiwi nutrients to reduce the risk of blood clotting and levels of fat in the blood. A study found eating 2 to 3 kiwis daily for 28 days reduced the clotting response by 18% when stimuli were present, and lowered blood triglycerides by 15% compared to control groups. This gives a similar effect to having an aspirin every day.

Finally, kiwis also contain a good amount of fibre which aids with digestion, as well as contain the proteolytic enzyme, actinidin. This breaks down the proteins we eat and helps with their absorption through the small intestines and into the blood.

LEMON

When life gives you lemons… have some! Firstly, just one lemon contains half your RDI of vitamin C, brilliant in boosting immunity, forming collagen, absorbing iron, and improve cardiovascular health. Several studies from 2014 have shown that daily consumption with lemon alongside walking is effective in reducing high blood pressure, especially in hypertensive individuals. Lemons also contain antioxidants which have been suggested to benefit the cardiovascular system. Epidemiological studies show consumption of lemon flavanones like hesperidin and naringin may lead to reduced risks of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, hesperidin and diosmin may lead to lower blood cholesterol levels. Other flavonoids have roles in regulating lipid metabolism, controlling fat levels in the blood and risk factors in cardiovascular disease, as well as type II diabetes and metabolic disease.
The soluble fibre in lemons, called pectin, has been shown to be beneficial to heart health. One study proposed consumption of 24g of pectin daily for a month reduced total blood cholesterol levels, therefore decreasing blood pressure. Pectin also functions in improving digestion health, by nourishing the microbiotic bacteria and slowing carbohydrate digestion to delay rapid sugar uptake into the blood.
Lemons also contain citric acid, which can provide us with many health benefits. Firstly, citric acid increases the pH of the urine therefore increasing total urine volume produced. This creates unfavourable conditions for kidney stones to grow, and lemon consumption has shown to reduce repeated formation in individuals who have already suffered kidney stones. It turns out even lemonade may have therapeutic potential against kidney stones! Citric acid, along with vitamin C, also improves iron absorption from plant sources. Iron is essential to the transport of oxygen in the blood; therefore, deficiency can lead to conditions such as anaemia.

LUCUMA

Lucuma is a South American superfruit, which can be turned to powder to act as a highly nutritious natural sweetener for those looking to chuck the refined sugars. It boasts a range of goodies like calcium, iron, niacin, vitamin C and potassium, as well as a good dose of oxidative-stress-busting antioxidants. The two primary groups of antioxidants found in lucuma are polyphenols and carotenoids, known for their anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity, in addition to improving cardiovascular health. Although there is limited research into many of the properties of lucuma’s specific antioxidants, early generalised studies have been completed on their activity. Lucuma are rich in xanthophylls like lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants found in the carotenoid family. They both provide the fruit with its yellow colour and improved eye health. Substantial evidence suggests that these antioxidants are protective against age-related macular degeneration, leaded to reduced vision.
Polyphenols protect the body from damage caused by free radicals, reducing risks of chronic disorders like CVD, cancer, and diabetes. One 2009 study suggested lucuma polyphenols may inhibit angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE), responsible for the control in blood pressure. Therefore, lucuma could lower high blood pressure and reduce risk of CVD. In terms of type 2 diabetes, it has been noted that the high phenolic content and high antioxidant activity of lucuma could also provide these individuals with protection. An in vitro study in 2009 found there was 11.4mg phenolic content per gram of lucuma, which helped inhibit an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase, created effective anti-diabetes activity. This is supported by findings in a 2016 in vitro study, where lucuma was found to have significant antioxidant and anti-hyperglycaemic activity. In addition to lucuma’s antioxidant activity, it contains complex carbs like starch and fibre, over that of simple sugar. Fibre is non-digestible, promoting lower, healthier blood sugar levels which provides benefits to diabetics. On top of this, the soluble fibre improves insulin sensitivity and reducing blood sugar spikes that occur following a meal.

MACA

Maca is a native plant to Peru, who’s root is dried and ground into a nutty, earthy powder to add nutrition to the local diets. It is rich in awesome vitamins and minerals, a 28g serving providing 133% of your vitamin C RDI, helping to boost immunity, better absorb iron and form collagen. 28g of maca also contains: 85% of your daily recommended copper RDI intake to help maintain good heart health and 23% of your daily iron RDI intake for efficient transportation of oxygen in the blood, along with potassium, vitamin B6 and manganese. Maca also contains fantastic bioactive phytochemicals like polyphenols and glucosinolates. It’s worth noting that studies looking into maca’s acclaimed health benefits are still at the early stages of testing but we’re watching closely!

A major selling point of maca is its improvement of fertility and libido in both men and women. A 2010 review, who evaluated several studies with a total of 131 individuals suggested maca consumption improved libido after 6 weeks and a 2002 study observed similar results after 8 weeks of daily consumption. Secondly, several small studies conducted in 2015 and 2001 suggested maca consumption could increase male fertility, improving sperm concentration, sperm motility, and semen volume. This was also observed in a 2016 review of 5 studies on male fertility and maca consumption.

Maca could also ease the symptoms of menopause, like hot flushes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, sleep problems and irritability. A 2011 review of 4 studies illustrating this reduction in symptoms, however noted the requirement for more rigorous trials to draw firmer conclusions. Several animal studies have shown maca can have protective activity around bones, helping menopausal women who have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. The flavonoids in maca have also shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in menopausal women.

Energy and endurance

Maca can also provide you with that energy boost, without the crash from caffeine. It is known for improving stamina and endurance, evaluated in a both a 2002 and 2012 study, where mice given maca extract were able to swim for longer than those not, along with having a more rapid recovery from muscle fatigue. This ability to increase exercise performance is also observed in a 2009 study, where 8 male cyclists were able to complete a 25-mile bike ride faster, after 14 days of maca consumption.

Traditional Peruvian use of maca to improve their children’s learning of school, has also been scientifically evaluated to see how it improves brain function. A 2016 study observed maca to have neuroprotective effects in middle-aged mice, preserving mitochondrial function (producing energy) and increase autophagy (removal of dead and toxic cells) in the brain. Other animal studies have also suggested maca is linked to improved learning and memory.

MANGO

Mangoes are beautifully sweet, tropical fruits, luckily full of the healthier, unprocessed sugars, perfect for some more guilt-free indulgence! As well as being delicious, they have numerous health benefits including a secret superpower, mangerifin, an xanthone antioxidant which is considered superior to many other antioxidants. Like other antioxidants, it protects the body against the damage of oxidative stress, and has been shown to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-atherosclerotic (linked to heart attack risk), anti-allergenic and immunomodulatory functions.
Firstly, in rat models mangerifin has shown to inhibit colon tumorigenesis, and in other test-tube and animal studies stopped growth and destroyed tumour cells in leukaemia, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. In Parkinson’s disease, mangerifin has shown to protect neuroblastoma cells from damage from a neurotoxic chemical called MPP+, a product of oxidative stress. In the heart and circulatory system, mangerifin was shown to protect endothelial and red blood cells, improving their functionality, and maintaining their integrity. This helps lower blood pressure and overall circulatory health. Additionally, mango’s magnesium and potassium content has shown importance in maintaining a healthy, steady pulse and ensuring proper relaxation of the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. Moreover, in diabetic rat models mangerifin was shown to reduce the amounts of circulating triglycerides and LDL from being oxidised and damaged, ultimately lowering overall plasma cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and increasing healthy HDL levels. Finally, mangerifin has also shown to inhibit the glucosidase enzymes; sucrase, isomaltase and maltase, responsible for the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugars. This delayed breakdown of the sugars leads to slowed sugar absorption from the gut into the blood, which helps modulate blood glucose levels, especially important for those with diabetes.
Mangoes also contain other antioxidants like catechins, anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and benzoic acid, but it has also been suggested that the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may support improved eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the retina of the eye, protecting your eyes from absorbing damaging UV and other excess light. Additionally, the vitamin A found in mangoes may help reduce dry eyes, night-time blindness, and more seriously, cornea scarring.
Along with antioxidants, mango is also rich in vitamins and nutrients, containing around two thirds of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C in one cup! It is also high in vitamin A, K, E, B6 and B5, as well as copper, folate, magnesium, and potassium. These vitamins contribute to a strengthened immune system; vitamin A vital for fighting off infection, vitamin C crucial for the production of new immune cells and folate, vitamin K, E and B5 and B6 also aiding in immunity. These vitamins are also fundamental in skin and hair health, vitamin C being responsible for collagen formation. Collagen gives the hair and skin structure, reducing sagging and wrinkling. Furthermore, vitamin A encourages hair growth and sebum production, which moisturises the scalp and keeps the hair follicles healthy. Mangoes also contain 2.6g of dietary fibre per cup, aiding with digestion. Additionally, they contain the enzyme amylase, which helps break down carbohydrates into sugars during digestion and improve constipation and diarrhoea symptoms. In fact, one 4-week study showed daily mango consumption to reduce the symptoms of diarrhoea and constipation over that of supplements with equal soluble fibre content.

MATCHA

Power to matcha! It is an antioxidant powerhouse, 1 cup of matcha tea having as many antioxidants as 10 cups of green tea. Matcha and green tea actually originate from the same plant, however, matcha plants are covered from sunlight 20-30 days before their harvest. In these days of darkness, chlorophyll production booms and amino acid levels increase drastically, leading to increased levels of both antioxidants and caffeine, more so than that of green tea.

Think of matcha as a guardian to disease, providing protection from cancer, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, as well as boosting your brain performance. Aforementioned, matcha is subject to incredible antioxidant levels, primarily catechins such as pigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG). These levels are much higher than those in green tea, helping neutralise more free radicals and provide greater protection from oxidative damage in chronic disease. The EGCG found in matcha has been identified to have particularly good anti-cancer properties. Both in vitro and in vivo studies have suggested EGCG to be effective in reducing risk and growth of a multitude of cancers, such as prostate, lung, skin, and liver. A 2001 study observed that it was matcha EGCG specifically that reduced tumour sizes and slowed their growth in rats with breast cancer.

Matcha is also thought to protect against liver disease, an organ essential for flushing out toxins, metabolising drugs, and processing nutrients. This is supported in both a 2009 study on diabetic rats, and a 2015 meta-analysis of 15 studies showing drinking green tea reduced liver disease risk. A 2016 study also suggested matcha fights against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). After individuals were given green tea for 90 days, there were significant reductions in the liver enzymes levels associated with NAFLD (specifically alanine aminotransferase and aspartate transferase).

Matcha is thought to lower risk of heart disease through lowering blood cholesterol levels and protecting LDL from oxidation. A 2011 meta-analysis of 14 studies provided substantial evidence for matcha reducing both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. Furthermore, a 2016 in vivo study suggested matcha could supress high blood glucose levels, increase lipid breakdown and boost antioxidants in order to reduce heart disease and stroke risk.

Matcha’s superpowers don’t end there, various studies also suggest it can also boost brain function through a variety of its components. Firstly, its antioxidants. One 2017 study suggested 4g of matcha could increase reaction times, memory, and attention span, due to antioxidant cognitive protection action. A small 2014 study has also proposed those matcha antioxidants can reduce the age-related decline of brain function in elderly individuals. Secondly, its caffeine. Matcha contains 70mg of caffeine per teaspoon, and caffeine has sufficient evidence suggesting it can improve reaction times, alertness, memory, mood, and general brain function. Thirdly, matcha contains a compound called L-theanine, known to alter the effects of caffeine. It promotes the favourable alertness and reduces the energy crash we all dread after a cup of coffee. It is thought to increase the alpha-wave activity in the brain, helping you to feel more relaxed and let go of stress.

MORINGA

Moringa is like matcha’s older but arguably cooler cousin. It has been around for thousands of years and the leaves of the moringa tree are full of vitamins, minerals, and powerful plant compounds — you name it! Moringa dishes up to three times more iron than spinach (equivalent of 32.2% of your RDI in just 10g!), boosting immunity and reducing tiredness and fatigue. And moringa’s high vitamin A levels (18.9% of your RDI) help make you sure you can absorb as much of this awesome iron as possible! The vitamin A works alongside moringa’s vitamin E and C, to help maintain skin health and battle the effects of aging. It does this through minimising oxidative stress to the skin and producing collagen to help maintain its structure.

In addition to vitamins, powerful antioxidants are out to play, stopping oxidative stress in its tracks. Moringa has one of the highest existing food ORAC values of 157,000 (similar to matcha), hosting a variety of different antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, and chlorogenic acid. These are known for reducing risks of chronic diseases such as diabetes. Particularly chlorogenic acid is associated with controlling blood sugar levels following a meal, but there are other reasons moringa is an acclaimed anti-diabetic food. Plant compounds called isothiocyanates have been suggested to reduce insulin resistance whereas antioxidant phytochemicals provide blood sugar level control. This is shown in a 2012 study of 90 post-menopausal taking 1.5 teaspoons of moringa daily for 3 months, which then observed increased antioxidant levels and a decrease in fasting blood sugar levels. A review also completed in 2012, dictated a potential role of moringa in reducing hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) in diabetics. It also suggested it may have a role in reducing chronic dyslipidaemia, a risk factor to cardiovascular disease. Both in vivo and human trials have suggested moringa may reduce cholesterol levels, as well as quercetin lowering blood pressure, all reducing the risk of CVD.

Returning back to isothiocyanate, a potent plant compound, is also infamous for its anti-inflammatory capabilities. One 2008 study found doses of 10, 30, and 100mg/kg of moringa extract to have significant anti-inflammatory activity in a dose-dependent manner. This study even suggested it could relieve some forms of pain. Additionally, a 2010 study thought that moringa could have immunosuppressive anti-inflammatory capacity. So, there are many inflammatory ailments moringa could provide relief for!

PEACH

Peaches are not just soft, juicy, and fuzzy, they are also good sources of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, and manganese. Not only this, but they have certain antioxidants which have shown to improve heart health and have anti-allergenic and anti-cancer properties. Peaches contain carotenoids, polyphenols and caffenic acid, all shown to reduce cancer development and even aid in the destruction of tumour cells. One 2014 study found eating 2-3 peaches daily provides sufficient polyphenols to become effective at preventing the development of a specific breast cancer. They may also reduce allergy symptoms through cyanogenic and phenolic glycosides. These inhibit histamines, a chemical that usually stimulates the immune system to remove the “foreign” particle that causes the allergy, stimulating an inflammatory response. The peach therefore can stop this inflammatory response and reduce the allergic reaction. Furthermore, the peach’s flavonoid and stilbene content were seen to elevate HDL and lower triglyceride levels over the course of 2 years in a study of over 1000 patients. This suggests that the peach antioxidants may be able to reduce risk factors for heart disease such as increased blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Additionally, as a peach is moved through the digestive tract, it can bind to bile acids. These are produced in the gall bladder and help break up big pieces of fat into more digestible sizes for our enzymes, but they are also full of LDL. When the peach binds to the bile acid, its supply of LDL is excreted in the faeces, leading to a decrease in blood LDL levels and a reduced risk of heart disease. Finally, studies have found peach juice to reduce levels of angiotensin II, a hormone which acts to increase blood pressure.

One medium sized peach contains around 2g of fibre, half of which is insoluble fibre and the other half soluble. Insoluble fibre aids movement through the digestive tract, whereas soluble feeds the gut microbiota which then produce short-chain fatty acids (i.e. butyrate, acetate, and propionate). These short-chain fatty acid’s feed the gut cells and reduce gut inflammation. This action may help reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. Finally, glucosylceramide has been indicated in test tube studies to improve the retention of the skin’s moisture and its texture.

PEANUT

Here at FOGA, we are not the only ones who are nuts about legumes, it turns out bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts are peanut lovers too! This is primarily due to it being an excellent source of plant-based protein, 100g of peanuts providing around half our recommended daily amount. Proteins are essential for the building and repairing of body cells like in the muscles and ligaments. This is especially important for those of us like to push ourselves to reach that next personal best (- maybe PB should really stand for peanut butter!). Peanuts are also rich in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, mostly consisting of oleic and linolenic acid, or known to us as the good fats. These have unique properties for fatty acids, shown in studies to reduce lipid levels in the blood, lower the oxidation of LDL and have protective action against heart disease.
Peanuts are also rich sources of vitamins and minerals, including biotin, niacin, vitamin E, folate, copper, phosphorus and manganese and magnesium. These have important duties across the board of health, whether it be assisting with healthy pregnancies, reducing cardiovascular disease risk or functioning in normal growth and development. Peanuts, like fruit and veg, also boast a healthy load of phytochemicals, fighting oxidative stress and reducing cholesterol absorption. The main antioxidants are in the family of polyphenols, like p-Coumaric acid, resveratrol and isoflavones, which neutralise the damaging free radicals associated in the progression of heart disease and cancer. Peanuts also contain considerable amounts of phytosterols. As they have a remarkably similar structure to cholesterol, they can help absorption into the blood. Lower overall blood cholesterol levels reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, a study in 2013 showed through 151 participants’ consumption of 42g peanuts, diastolic blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels were significantly reduced in those with high CVD risk.

PINEAPPLE

Pineapple were once symbols of wealth and exoticism. These days pineapples are simply a tasty, tropical fruit bursting with vitamins. A lot of its awesome health benefits come from a protease called bromelain, which breaks down long chains of protein into amino acids and smaller peptide chains. This improves their absorption into the small intestine, aiding digestion, particularly for those with pancreatic insufficiency. But bromelain has a whole host of other functions, whether they be anti-inflammatory or anti-cancer. Its anti-inflammatory powers are demonstrated across studies in arthritis and infectious disease. One double-blind randomised study of 103 individuals with osteoarthritis were treated for 6 weeks taking a supplement containing bromelain. The results showed it was equally as effective at relieving pain as those using common osteoarthritis medicine, diclofenac. In the cases of infection, it was observed in a 2014 study on 98 healthy children, that when fed pineapple there was a significantly lower risk of both bacterial and viral infection. Furthermore, if a lot of pineapple was consumed, then number of infection-fighting white blood cells called granulocytes, was almost four times higher. Its immune boosting function has also been demonstrated in a cohort study of 116 children with sinus infections, who recovered significantly faster when taking a bromelain supplement compared to standard therapy or combined bromelain and standard therapy. There have also been several test-tube and animal studies into the cancer-fighting properties of bromelain. It has been shown to suppress proliferation of breast cancer cells and promote programmed death of these cells. This has also been shown in cancers of the colon, digestive system, skin, and bile duct. Bromelains promotion of white blood cells aids in the suppression of cancer growth and destroying cancerous cells.

In addition to the magical bromelain, 1 cup of pineapple also contains 131% of your vitamin C and 76% of your manganese RDI. Vitamin C can improve immune health, the absorption of iron and the formation of collagen, whereas manganese is essential for growth, efficient metabolism and also has antioxidant activity. Pineapple, like many fruits is relatively rich in antioxidants like flavonoids and phenolic acids which stop damaging oxidative stress responsible for aging, chronic disease, and cancer progression. What’s more, pineapple antioxidants are bound, allowing them to withstand harsh environments in the body and have longer lasting impacts.

RASPBERRY

Raspberries are very seasonal, only grown in a few short summer months and keep for a limited time once picked. Cue: FOGA Plantshakes, which not only ensure you can get their nutritional benefits all year round, but you also get enough of the little berries to feel their benefit! They are naturally sweet and tart, but also packed with over half your RDI of vitamin C in only 1 cup. This vitamin C is well-known for its plethora of health benefits, whether it be boosting immunity, helping your body absorb iron or promoting your body’s growth and repair, just to name a few! 1 cup of raspberries also contains 41% of your RDI of manganese, important for supporting bone mineral density, modulating blood sugar levels, nutrient metabolism, as well as having antioxidant function. The 8g of fibre per cup has also been shown to aid with digestion and help control blood sugar levels. In animal studies, mice were fed freeze-dried raspberries alongside a high fat diet, and it was found these mice had lower blood sugar levels, less insulin resistance, and less evidence for fatty liver disease than the control group due to their fibre content. Additionally, the tannins in raspberries inhibit alpha-amylase, an enzyme which breaks down starch into sugar. By delaying the breakdown of the carbohydrates, it slows the uptake of sugar from the gut into the blood, stopping sugar spikes following a meal.

As with most fruits and vegetables, raspberries are packed with antioxidants such as quercetin and ellagic acid. In one animal study on mice, they suggested that ellagic acid may be responsible for not only stopping oxidative stress but also repairing DNA damage. DNA damage is what is responsible for the creation of cancerous cells, so it not surprising that numerous studies have suggested raspberries to have anti-cancer properties. In in vitro studies, raspberry extract was found to destroy 90% breast, colon, and stomach cancers and in another study, the raspberry antioxidant, sanguiin H-6, was responsible for killing 40% of ovarian cancer cells. In animal studies on mice, raspberry extract prevented liver tumorigenesis, the risk of tumour formation decreasing as raspberry dose increased. Scientists are now working on completing human studies to better understand the raspberries anti-cancer potential. In addition to their cancer-fighting, antioxidants are anti-inflammatory so can help reduce arthritis symptoms and are anti-aging so reduce appearance of skin wrinkling (along with collagen production improved by raspberries’ high vitamin C content!).

REISHI MUSHROOM

If you haven’t heard of this mushroom before don’t panic, this one does quite the opposite from poisoning you. Reishi mushrooms are a popular fungus used in Eastern medicine to provide us with a whole host of health benefits. The mushroom contains several bioactive chemical compounds responsible for these benefits, such as triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycan. Their key action is boosting immunity, which in itself hints to many more possible advantages.

Reishi mushrooms are claimed to affect the transcription of white blood cell genes and alter inflammatory pathways to our benefit. Many in vitro studies have investigated reishi’s ability to do this, such as increasing the activity of natural killer cells and lymphocytes. These natural killer cells are known to fight infection and destroy cancerous cells, and a 2005 study also observed lymphocytes’ ability to reduce colorectal cancer risk. This is why reishi’s anticancer powers are its most famous, with numerous studies demonstrating it can induce cancer cell death. Firstly, in a study of 4147 studied breast cancer survivors, around 58% of them claimed to take a reishi supplement, suggesting it may be responsible for an increased cancer survival rate. Reishi may also reduce the risk of prostate cancer, primarily through its potential ability to reduce testosterone levels. Finally, a 2010 study has suggested it could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. The study observed that the consumption of a reishi supplement for one year was linked to a reduction in precancerous lesions in the large intestine.

Black pepper is a seasoning staple for many of us, but its also brings it own health benefits to the table. Its suggested to have antimicrobial qualities against nasties like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, having gastroprotective activity against ulceration, as well as  potential hypoalgesic effects. The superstar player in black pepper is a alkaloid chemical compound called piperine which has a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity, in addition to increasing absorption of awesome compounds like curcumin in turmeric.

The antioxidant profile allows piperine to neutralise damaging free radicals, as demonstrated in a 2004 study of rats fed a high fat diet. Here, the rats which had been administered black pepper had significantly fewer markers of free radical damage in their cells after 10 weeks. In vivo studies have also demonstrated piper effectively reduces inflammation. This has been shown in arthritic rats, where a 2009 study suggested piperine inhibited expression, production, and migration of pro-inflammatory mediators (i.e. IL-6 MMP13, PGE2 and AP-1), thus reducing inflammation and pain. This is similarly supported in a 2013 study on rats with induced rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting piperine could also be used a safe and effective treatment for some inflammatory diseases. Piperine has even potential abilities to reduce airway inflammation in asthma and seasonal allergic reactions.

There is also evidence piperine could also provide health benefits in several chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In cancer, in vitro studies have shown piperine to slow growth and induce cell death of colon, breast, and prostate cancer cells. Piperine’s ability to control blood sugar levels and improve sugar metabolism could benefit and even treat diabetics, as suggested in a 2016 study. A 2003 study on swiss albino miss suggested it could lower blood glucose levels, in addition to a 2013 study on 86 overweight individuals suggesting piperine could increase insulin sensitivity over an 8-week period. Piperine’s potential to lower cholesterol would also benefit those with and reduce risks of developing cardiovascular disease. This is suggested by findings in one study, where they observed that rats fed a high-fat diet and black pepper extract hade reduced total cholesterol and LDL levels in their blood.

Alkaloid compounds like piperine also do a lot of good for the brain, suggested to boost cognitive function and even have anti-depressant effects. Particularly studied in Alzheimer’s disease, piperine has been found to improve memory in Alzheimer’s-induced rats running a maze, and lower the formation of amyloid plaques, who’s accumulation around the brain is a key feature of the disease.

ROSEMARY

This delightfully fragrant evergreen herb is not just for seasoning our dishes, but nourishing our bodies with vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds. Firstly, rosemary is a great source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B6, improving blood cell function, bone strength, brain development and for efficient hormone production. But the magic is really found in their phytochemical antioxidant compounds. The distinguished phytochemical families in rosemary are phenolic diterpenes, flavonoids, and triterpenes, such as carnosic acid, genkwanin, and ursolic acid, respectively. These neutralise the free radicals responsible for oxidative stress and cellular damage in the body. It is therefore claimed that rosemary’s antioxidants could be anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antihyperlipidemic, neuroprotective, hepatoprotective and fight off cancer.

The anticancer qualities of rosemary could stem from both its anti-inflammatory and an anti-tumour properties. This is suggested in 2007 paper, dictating that crude ethanolic rosemary extract could slow the spread of leukaemia and breast carcinoma cells. The two antioxidants; carnosic acid and carnosol have been individually suggested to have anticancer action against in vitro models of leukaemia, breast, and prostate cancers.

Carnosic acid’s antioxidant properties have also been attributed in providing neurological protection from oxidative stress. The antioxidants can reduce the impact of the cognitive decline that naturally occurs during aging and may even protect against strokes. Furthermore, rosemary could improve memory and concentration, as evaluated in a 2012 study of 20 volunteers. It was observed that cognitive tasks were performed with increased concentration, accuracy, speed, and even improved mood, following exposure to a rosemary aroma.

Black pepper is a seasoning staple for many of us, but its also brings it own health benefits to the table. Its suggested to have antimicrobial qualities against nasties like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, having gastroprotective activity against ulceration, as well as  potential hypoalgesic effects. The superstar player in black pepper is a alkaloid chemical compound called piperine which has a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity, in addition to increasing absorption of awesome compounds like curcumin in turmeric.

The antioxidant profile allows piperine to neutralise damaging free radicals, as demonstrated in a 2004 study of rats fed a high fat diet. Here, the rats which had been administered black pepper had significantly fewer markers of free radical damage in their cells after 10 weeks. In vivo studies have also demonstrated piper effectively reduces inflammation. This has been shown in arthritic rats, where a 2009 study suggested piperine inhibited expression, production, and migration of pro-inflammatory mediators (i.e. IL-6 MMP13, PGE2 and AP-1), thus reducing inflammation and pain. This is similarly supported in a 2013 study on rats with induced rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting piperine could also be used a safe and effective treatment for some inflammatory diseases. Piperine has even potential abilities to reduce airway inflammation in asthma and seasonal allergic reactions.

There is also evidence piperine could also provide health benefits in several chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In cancer, in vitro studies have shown piperine to slow growth and induce cell death of colon, breast, and prostate cancer cells. Piperine’s ability to control blood sugar levels and improve sugar metabolism could benefit and even treat diabetics, as suggested in a 2016 study. A 2003 study on swiss albino miss suggested it could lower blood glucose levels, in addition to a 2013 study on 86 overweight individuals suggesting piperine could increase insulin sensitivity over an 8-week period. Piperine’s potential to lower cholesterol would also benefit those with and reduce risks of developing cardiovascular disease. This is suggested by findings in one study, where they observed that rats fed a high-fat diet and black pepper extract hade reduced total cholesterol and LDL levels in their blood.

Alkaloid compounds like piperine also do a lot of good for the brain, suggested to boost cognitive function and even have anti-depressant effects. Particularly studied in Alzheimer’s disease, piperine has been found to improve memory in Alzheimer’s-induced rats running a maze, and lower the formation of amyloid plaques, who’s accumulation around the brain is a key feature of the disease.

SALT

Don’t we all love salt, a major flavour provider for many od us but is also warned heavily by media as high levels increase blood pressure and your risk of heart disease. However, salt is also essential for our bodies and must be maintained in moderation in a balanced diet. Salt is made up of two ions: sodium and chloride, each serving essential function. Sodium is used control the movement of water in and out of the blood and into the urine in the kidney. This means sodium can control the blood’s volume and therefore its pressure, hence why too much salt can make your blood pressure go up! But without sodium there would be no control in the kidneys, ending in disaster. Sodium is also essential in many other bodily processes, such as in nerve and muscle function, as well as being involved in regulating bodily fluids.

Chloride ions have their own action, acting as electrolytes in the body. Chloride is used in cellular processes and regulating both blood pressure and pH. Chloride is also a key component of stomach acid (HCl), without which we would be unable to break down our food and absorb all the required nutrients. So, when the news articles tell you “salt is a crystalline demon”, know that instead it is essential in moderation and their advice should be taken with a pinch of salt (no pun intended!).

STRAWBERRIES

Strawberries are linked with reduced risk of heart disease

Strawberries are high in anthocyanins that studies have linked with improved heart health1,2. Large-scale studies have shown that consuming berries reduces the risk of dying from heart disease.

Studies have linked freeze dried strawberries with a significant decrease in several major risk factors, including LDL (bad) cholesterol, inflammatory markers, and oxidized LDL particles 3,4.

KEY TAKEAWAY
Consuming strawberries can improve your heart health.

Strawberries help you to effectively regulate blood sugar

Studies into Strawberries show that they slow down the digestion of glucose in our food, reducing spikes in both glucose and insulin5,6.

Imbalances in blood sugar regulation is linked with a higher  risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Therefore, strawberries may be useful for preventing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes7.  

KEY TAKEAWAY
Strawberries may reduce the risk of diabetes.

Strawberries have been linked with preventing certain cancers

Scientists investigating oxidative stress and inflammation have shown that the antioxidant effects of berries may help prevent certain cancers8.

Freeze dried strawberries, specifically, have been linked with reducing tumour formation in animals with mouth cancer and in human liver cancer cells9,10. This effect is thought be be caused by their ellagic acid & ellagitannin content – a compound that has been shown to stop the growth of cancer cells11.

KEY TAKEAWAY
The antioxidant effect of strawberries & other berries may help to prevent and inhibit cancer. 

Found In

Peach & Cayenne

Berries & Cinnamon

Strawberry & Banana Protein

Strawberry & Mango

SPIRULINA

Spirulina is a particularly mysterious blue-green algae, worthy of the title “superfood”. It is a cyanobacteria, taking its energy from the sun and providing their consumers with all sorts of goodness. Gram for gram, it’s one of the most nutritious foods in the world, with only 7g providing you with 21% of your copper, 15% of your riboflavin, 11% of your thiamine, 11% of your iron and 4% of your niacin RDI, along with trace amounts of almost every other essential nutrient. 7g of Spirulina also gives you 4g of high-quality protein and 1g of fats, including that of super healthy omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains a magic, antioxidant called phycocyanin, which not only give the algae its fantastic colour, it helps to fight off damaging oxidative-stress and inflammation responsible for the progression of many chronic diseases’. Spirulina is particularly effective in stopping oxidation of LDL, otherwise known as lipid peroxidation, a key risk factor of heart disease.

Spirulina actually does a whole lot of good for heart, reducing blood pressure as well as damaging LDL and triglycerides. A 2009 study noted that spirulina appeared to stimulate the synthesis/release of nitric oxide, which diffuses into the blood vessel walls, causing them to relax and reduce blood pressure. Along with nitric oxide, spirulina causes blood vessel relaxation through the stimulation of synthesis/release cyclooxygenase-dependent metabolite of arachidonic acid, and constriction by reducing synthesis/release of eicosanoid, overall lowering a person’s blood pressure. One 2007 study suggesting a 4.5g daily dose for 6 weeks will reduce blood pressure in those with normal pressure levels. Secondly, spirulina may reduce LDL and triglyceride levels, whilst increasing HDL levels, ultimately reducing CVD risk. This was observed in a 2001 study of 25 type 2 diabetics receiving 2g daily spirulina for 2 months, displaying a decrease in these risk factors including a favourable increase in apolipoprotein A1:B ratio (also reducing CVD risk). Additionally, 2014 study found a 1g dose was sufficient to reduce triglycerides and LDL by 16.3% and 10.1% respectively, whereas other studies suggested higher doses of 4.5-8g were required.

Spirulina also has great anti-cancer potential, with key studies being conducted in oral cancers. A 1995 study on 87 Indian pan tobacco chewers presenting with precancerous lesions (oral submucous fibrosis), found consumption of 1g spirulina daily caused 45% of lesions to disappear in 1 year. Even more surprisingly, almost half of the patients redeveloped lesions once they stopped taking spirulina. A more recent study in 2013, saw that a 1g spirulina dose improved oral submucous lesions more that the drug Pentoxyfilline. Therefore, spirulina could be proposed as a successful chemotherapy alternative.

TANGERINE (MANDARIN)

The humble tangerine, our beloved easy peeler, and the orange’s baby cousin. The orange and tangerine belong to the same family, so they share many similar fantastic health properties. They are rich in vitamin C, known to help boost our immune system, improve iron absorption, and help form collagen. Collagen makes up a third of all protein in out body, found in our joints, muscles blood vessel walls, and is partially responsible for maintaining skin structure and fighting off those wrinkles! Its not just vitamin C in tangerines which promotes skin health, enter vitamin A, preventing spots, speeding up healing, and naturally moisturising the skin. Tangerines actually contain around three times more vitamin A than oranges, also functioning in eye and hair health. Vitamin A may help reduce dry eyes, night-time blindness, and the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Research at the Western Human Nutrition Research Centre in UC Davis suggested that tangerines can lessen vitamin A deficiencies in developing countries, preventing blindness in these areas. Vitamin A can also work alongside vitamin B12 found in tangerines, to promote healthier hair and its faster growth.

Tangerines also contain a good amount of soluble fibre, helping reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood sugar levels to help in diabetes. Carotenoids in tangerines can additionally fight against the risks of such chronic diseases, by neutralising the free radicals responsible for oxidative damage.

THYME

Thyme is only at the beginning of its journey into becoming a renowned super-herb. Thyme is already known for its awesome antibacterial properties due to a chemical compound called thymol. This has led to its use as a pesticide and mould disinfectant, also treating against bacteria, viruses, and repelling animals and mosquitoes. In relevance to our own bodies, the antibacterial quality could help treat acne. UK researchers have suggested a thyme tincture could fight acne better than anti-acne products such as benzoyl peroxide, providing a natural solution for spotless skin.

Additionally, rosemary’s vitamin C and A contents help boost immunity, along with minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, and fibre. There is also evidence for thyme’s anti-hypertensive activity, helping manage high blood pressure and other risk factors of CVD. A 2014 study suggested there are bioactive compounds in thyme could reduce serum liver enzyme, cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL levels, whilst significantly increasing HDL levels. They also evaluated that thyme could lower heart rate in hypertensive rats. Finally, thyme could boost your mood. This is achieved by a compound found in thyme called carvacrol, which can affect neurone activity to boost feelings of wellbeing, as suggested in a 2013 study.

TURMERIC

Turmeric owes itself to a chemical compound called curcumin, providing its golden colour and strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. We pair it with banana in our Plantshakes, but more importantly with black pepper. Black pepper contains piperine, a compound which improves curcumin’s absorption by 2000%, so without it you would not get turmeric’s brilliant benefits.

Curcumin’s antioxidant powers are multifaceted. The compound itself it’s a great antioxidant, shown to inhibit lipid membrane peroxidation, as well as oxidative damage of proteins and DNA, all associated with the progression of various chronic diseases. However, what’s special about curcumin is it also stimulates the body’s own antioxidant response, a antioxidant double-whammy if you will. As stated in a 2005 review, curcumin can modulate glutathione levels which can control the body’s antioxidant levels, in addition to neutralising free radicals and inhibiting proinflammatory mediators (i.e. NF-κB and IL-8).

And when it comes to anti-inflammatory effects, curcumin rules as king. Acute inflammation is often required to remove disease, but chronic inflammation exacerbates it, playing a role in worsening a wide range of diseases. Curcumins anti-inflammatory effect has been suggested in atherosclerotic CVD, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and chronic anterior uveitis, to name just a few. Furthermore, it has even been suggested to be as effective at aspirin an ibuprofen at reducing inflammation. It does this through the inhibition of inflammatory pathways such as NF-κB.

Curcumin may even prevent a truly feared chronic disease, cancer. Vast in vitro and in vivo studies have been conducted suggested a variety of mechanisms of action to stop growth and kill cancerous cells, whether it be through interfering with the cell cycle, stopping angiogenesis or metastasis. A 2011 phase IIa clinical trial on curcumins activity of colorectal cancer, suggested a 2-4g dose for 30 days can reduce cancerous lesions such as aberrant crypt foci by 40%.

The list of benefits does not stop there, with it also thought to have an impact on disorders of the brain. Firstly, this is by curcumin ability to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), causing neurones to increase in number. Deceased levels of the BDNF hormone are associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and depression, to which curcumin could have a neuroprotective function. In Alzheimer’s, curcumin can also act by reducing the number of amyloid plaques in the brain. This build-up of the tangled proteins is a key feature of Alzheimer’s.