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Garlic Goodness


Garlic provides numerous health and physique benefits. Not only does it enhance heart health, but research shows that it aids fat burning, can help to lower the catabolic hormone cortisol, and concomitantly raise testosterone levels. Recent research suggests that garlic can actually boost nitric oxide levels (NO).

Researchers from the university of Adelaide (Australia) gave 50 patients with treated but uncontrolled high blood pressure wither a garlic supplement containing 960 milligrams of aged garlic or a placebo everyday for 12 weeks. They measured the subjects’ blood pressure at the start and every four weeks thereafter. The researchers reported in a 2010 issue of the journal Maturitas that the group supplementing with the garlic had a drop in pressure which was on average 10mm hg (pressure units) lower than in the placebo group. The scientists concluded that this was likely to be due to garlic’s ability to boost NO levels, which relaxes blood vessels and causes a reduction in blood pressure. This relaxation in the blood vessels also increases blood flow to the muscles, which is critical for energy and for producing a muscle pump during workouts, as well as aiding recovery and muscle growth.

The researchers suggested that cooked garlic would not be as effective as a garlic supplement because heat destroys the active ingredient, allicin. So go with garlic supplements and take about 200-1000mg with your pre-workout shake. To maintain higher NO levels throughout the day, also consider taking a dose in the morning and late at night.

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Cocoa: An Inexpensive And Simple Way To Reduce Muscle Soreness


Many athletes load up their post-work out drinks with various supplements, such as Vitargo and branched amino acids, powder, creatine, and other ingredients to enhance muscle recuperation. I will recommend you a simple and affordable ingredient that may work just as well.

Post-exercise soreness is caused by muscle damage, and several studies have shown that antioxidant dietary supplementation can protect again muscle damage. Many bodybuilders take their fish oils religiously to reduce inflammation and capitalise on the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids. However, there are countless scientific studies that suggest that there is one ingredient which is constantly reported to prevent free radical damage, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and is also a potent vasodilator, and now it can reduce muscle soreness.

What is it about cocoa that it is good for our hearts? Cocoa contains more antioxidants than just about any other food you can find. Antioxidants are necessary because they reduce a harmful process called free radical production. Free radicals cause damage to cells, and the antioxidants are like the bodyguards of the cell, and prevent damage. Cocoa contains a class of antioxidants called flavonoids, which are also found in teas and red wine. In fact, cocoa contains more antioxidants and flavonoids than all teas and red wines. Flavonoids may not only have a direct antioxidant effect, but they also have a sparing effect on other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E.

It should be no surprise that cocoa has been used since ancient times as a medicinal remedy for preventing chronic diseases. Cocoa does have some pharmacological properties, such as the ability to increase a substance in the blood called nitric oxide, and it also makes blood less sticky. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to expand and allows for more oxygen-rich blood to flow through our veins, while chocolate increases nitric oxide synthesis, which is good for the heart and blood vessels. Having sticky blood cells makes them more likely to adhere to the lining of your arteries, which is implicated in the in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. Cocoa has ‘aspirin-like’ qualities in that it makes you blood less sticky and allows it to flow easily through the arteries.

Interestingly, a previous study reported that chocolate milk is an effective recovery aid after exercise. The study found similar increases in time to exhaustion and total work for individuals who consumed chocolate milk, compared to a traditional electrolyte-replenishing drink, subsequent to exhaustive exercise. Other reported benefits of cocoa are decreases in oxidative stress markers, and muscle soreness increases in performance output.

In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, cocoa or a placebo was added to athletes’ protein/carbohydrate sports drink. The researchers used pure cocoa powder and found that subjects consuming the cocoa powder had a decrease in post-exercise soreness, compared to the placebo group. The researchers thought the antioxidants in cocoa reduced free radical damage and enhanced muscle recuperation. Adding pure cocoa is a great way to boost antioxidants, as well as reduce cardiovascular diseases. So be sure to use pure cocoa powder without the extra sugar and crap that is in most cocoa powders.


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The New Hype Surrounded By Beetroot Juice


The cultivation of beetroot can be traced back to somewhere around 4,000 years ago. The ancient Babylonians were the first to use it for various applications. Early Greeks and Romans used the root for its medicinal properties and the leaves as vegetables. Moving ahead with time beetroot held an important place in Renaissance (14th-16th century) medicine and was often used for treating various ailments. In medieval England, beetroot juice or broth was recommended as an early digested food for the aged, weak or infirm.

The juice of raw beetroot contains a multitude of benefits. Which will be explained further on.

So what are the nutritional ingredients in beetroot juice?

–          Minerals

Beetroot juice contains magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium and calcium, as well as small amounts of copper, selenium, zinc, iron and manganese.

–          Amino Acids

It contains trace amounts of amino acids (including D-amino acids [Alpha Amino Acids]) which help to build proteins to be used by the body.

–          Antioxidants

Various antioxidants (including flavonoids and carotenoids) are found in the juice. They fight and destroy free radicals in the body and help to fight premature ageing and to maintain a healthy body and mind.

–          Vitamins

Beetroots are a good source of folic acid and vitamin C. It does also contain small amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.

The deep red colour comes from betacyanin, which helps prevent colon cancer. A rich supply of silica is also present which helps to utilise the calcium in the body which is also required for healthy skin, hair, nails and bones.

The Benefits

Research has shown beetroot juice to improve the respiratory system which would benefit swimmers, singers and mountaineers. Beetroot is known to boost levels of nitric oxide in the body, causing muscles to work more effectively and demand less oxygen.

A study by 12 Swedish scientists in The Journal of Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology, was conducted on 12 healthy volunteers who were trained in breath-hold diving. In this test the 9 men and 3 women were either given a 70 millilitre shot of beetroot juice or an inactive placebo drink. They were then asked to hold their breath after having a clip placed on their nose. After drinking the beetroot, the participants were able to hold their breath for an average 4minutes and 38 seconds. After drinking the placebo they managed 4 minutes and 10 seconds. That is a difference of 11%.

Exeter University in the UK, carried out a study and concluded beetroot juice could improve your workouts. The study involved professional cyclists drinking a pint of store bought beetroot juice before riding in a simulated competition. They shaved vital seconds off their finishing times, which could be crucial in a sport where seconds often make a difference between winning and losing.  This study can be found in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. An abstract of the study can be found here, http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2011/06000/Acute_Dietary_Nitrate_Supplementation_Improves.27.aspx

Another study also conducted by researchers in Exeter University, concluded that beetroot juice boosts stamina and an individual could exercise 16% longer. This is due to the nitrate the beetroot contains which reduces oxygen uptake, therefore making exercise less tiring. This study was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. An abstract of the study can be found here, http://jap.physiology.org/content/107/4/1144.abstract

A study published in the American Heart Association Journal, Hypertension, stated that individuals who drank a glass of beetroot juice a day were found to have significantly lower blood pressure just 24 hours later.

Beetroot juice has a very strong and over powering taste. Therefore, it should always be consumed in small quantities and usually mixed with other juices, such as apple, carrot, cucumber and celery, which altogether have nutritional benefits.