The spice fenugreek appears to significantly improve muscle strength and weight lifting power output while possessing anti-cancer properties in vitro. In my 2-min video Benefits of Fenugreek Seeds I profile a study entitled “The effects of a commercially available botanical supplement on strength, body composition, power output, and hormonal profiles in resistance-trained males.” Something had a “significant impact on both upper- and lower-body strength and body composition in comparison to placebo in a double blind controlled trial. These changes were obtained with no clinical side effects.” Something allowed these men to leg press an extra hundred pounds compared to placebo. And the magical substance? Powdered fenugreek–a spice that may even double as an anti-cancer agent.
In the video I show human prostate cancer cells in a petri dish before and after being exposed to various concentrations of fenugreek compared to the effect of the spice on normal prostate cells. The effect was striking. The study concluded: “In summary, fenugreek seeds may possess potent anti-cancer properties.”
So what’s the downside? Well, there is a side effect of fenugreek seed consumption—it makes your armpits smell like maple syrup! See my 2-min. video Side-Effect of Fenugreek Seed Consumption for more.
Fenugreek may be to strength training what beets and arugula are to cardio. My ten video series on improving athletic performance with vegetables starts with Doping With Beet Juice and ends with So Should We Drink Beet Juice or Not?.
Other plants with apparently remarkable benefits include amla (see, for example, Amla Versus Diabetes), saffron (Saffron for the Treatment of Alzheimers), the tea plant (Dietary Brain Wave Alteration), and humble broccoli (Broccoli Versus Breast Cancer Stem Cells). More on the power of plants in general in Power Plants and spices like fenugreek in particular in Antioxidants in a Pinch. See what a whole diet of plants can do to prostate cancer cell growth in Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation Bioassay.
Fenugreek is certainly something I’ve been trying to incorporate more into my family’s diet based on all this amazing new data. It’s strong stuff though! I’d be interested to hear any tips on how folks have been able to sneak it into their diets. I make these mean chia seed-encrusted dried mangoes that I sprinkle with fenugreek powder using the mix-a-yummy-with-yucky technique for adding less-than-delicious things to one’s diet (like putting amla in smoothies). I find home-dried mangos so yummy I figure I could rub them with just about anything!
-Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: sportsandsocial / Flickr
The skin is the largest organ in the body—about 20 square feet—and the most vulnerable organ in the body. It’s exposed to both the oxidizing effects of UV radiation from the sun and the oxidizing effects of oxygen in the air, and years of oxidant stress can take a toll. As we age, our skin becomes thinner, more easily damaged, loses volume and elasticity, and can sag and wrinkle. So what can we do about it?
Three things contribute to the aging of skin: 1) Oxidative stress induced by sun-damage, 2) inflammation, and 3) ischemia or lack of adequate blood flow. Oxidative stress means we need antioxidants so one might predict plant foods would help (see Antioxidant Power of Plant Foods Versus Animal Foods). Similarly saturated fat and cholesterol intake may contribute to inflammation and ischemia (see The Leaky Gut Theory of Why Animal Products Cause Inflammation and Blocking the First Step of Heart Disease). Let’s see if our predictions hold up.
In my 3-min. video Beauty is More than Skin Deep I profile a study that concluded “In particular, a high intake of vegetables, legumes [beans, peas, lentils, and soy] and olive oil appeared to be protective against skin wrinkling, whereas a high intake of meat, dairy and butter appeared to have an adverse effect. Prunes, apples and tea appeared especially protective.”
Another recent study found that green tea phytonutrients were able to protect skin against harmful UV radiation and help improve women’s skin quality. After a few months on green tea there was a 16% reduction in skin roughness and a 25% reduction in scaling. See the video for micrographs that track the changes.
For an extraordinary report on green tea and skin health, check out: Treating Gorlin Syndrome With Green Tea.
Eating healthier can produce healthier skin, but who cares about microscopic changes? What about overt visible-to-the-naked eye changes? See my 2-min. video Preventing Wrinkles with Diet to see what dietary intervention may significantly protect against wrinkles in the crow’s foot area around the eyes.
For other videos on appealing to vanity to get people to eat healthier, see:
- Golden Glow
- Produce, Not Pills to Increase Physical Attractiveness
- Rosy Glow
- Can Cellulite Be Treated With Diet?
Want to know what else green vegetables can do? I’ve got 45 videos on greens. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Prevent Glaucoma and See 27 Miles Farther
- Broccoli Versus Breast Cancer Stem Cells
- Kale and the Immune System
-Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: Orofacial / Flickr