Deciding To Argue Effectively

Succeeding is just a bonus. The key to a successful argument lies in our ability to understand that an argument is not a competition, as opposed to what almost all people might believe.

Why Hobbies Are Good for Us?

Hobbies reduce stress, says Alice Domar, director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Harvard Medical School. They distract you from everyday worries...

Get Fit and Healthy With Fruit Vinegars

If traditionally, fruit vinegars were only considered as food ingredient or as delicate flavor enhancer, these new findings and information suggest that they can also be regarded as potential functional foods.

Can Money Buy You Happiness? | Learn From What Experts Say

The secret to using money to buy happiness is to spend money in ways that support your happiness goals. There are ways to spend money that are likely to help give you enduring happiness.

What Piggy Banking Taught Me?

Teach your kids the importance of money, start with piggy banks then get them a savings account later when they are ready. Let them understand the basics of savings before infusing a more complicated concept.

18 March 2010

Get Fit and Healthy With Fruit Vinegars

Vinegar is customarily used for food preservation and as flavoring or condiment. More recently, vinegars made from various fruits with distinctive sensory appeal have emerged in the marketplace. Aside from acetic acid, fruit vinegars can contain citric, malic, lactic, succinic, fumaric and tartaric acids and may also include some disease-fighting phytochemicals, such as polyphenols.

A number of these polyphenols are naturally present in the fruit itself or produced as a result of the fermentation process. The polyphenols present in the finish products depend on the source material, which will dictate their type, quantity, quality and the corresponding health benefits.

Polyphenols have been demonstrated to exhibit positive effects on certain types of cancers, heart disease and a multitude of inflammatory disorders. While the exact mechanism of these effects is somewhat unknown, the health promoting activities are always attributed to the ability of polyphenols to act as antioxidants.

As mentioned earlier, we have to be aware, though, that the antioxidant activity varies with fruit types and depends on the chemical nature of the polyphenols present, not at all times their amount, as some of them are more potent than other kinds.

“What does this put across then?”

If traditionally, fruit vinegars were only considered as food ingredient or as delicate flavor enhancer, these new findings and information suggest that they can also be regarded as potential functional foods. This further implies that specialty vinegars supply functions beyond basic nutrition and a compelling reason why we see other fruits finding their way into vinegar, as well.

“Can we really get fit and healthy with fruit vinegars?”

“Of course, YES!” All you have to do is proceed reading this article to learn more.

To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist -- the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know exactly how much oil one must put with one's VINEGAR.                         ~Oscar Wilde        


Apple. The health benefits of apple cider are infinite. Among the important ones are: skin revitalizer, prevents proliferation of harmful bacteria, good in preventing respiratory infections, sore throats and in the reduction of nasal discharges. It is also used as tonic to improve blood circulation. The large and complex fiber, pectin, in apple has been proven as one of the principal agents in reducing high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol), acting as sequestrant by forming a pectin-cholesterol complex that is subsequently excreted as waste. Malic acid, the major organic acid found in apples relieves painful joint pains due to arthritis by dissolving excessive deposits of uric acid. The various enzymes produced during fermentation process make cider a wonderful agent in speeding up metabolism, which in turn results to keeping the weight under control. The chief polyphenolic substance found in apples or in apple cider is catechin, it is well established as a cyclooxygenase enzyme activity inhibitor. Cyclooxygenase enzyme is responsible for the synthesis of prostaglandin, which produces inflammation, pain and fever and stimulates inflammatory responses in the body. According to various studies in Japan, apple polyphenols also help the body stave off body fats but do not keep away strength and endurance. Scientists who embarked on these undertakings believed that the ability of apple polyphenols to decrease oxidative damage to muscle may have led to the boost in strength. Aside from aiding the digestion and decreasing the levels of LDL in the body, this is perhaps one of the reasons why apple cider is considered as an amazing natural alternative used in weight management programs.

Blueberry. Blueberry vinegar is not only quite pleasing to the eye as well as the taste buds but also packed with health powerhouses. These healthy benefits are attributed to the high level of antioxidants believed to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. In fact, what you may not know is that blueberries are recognized as the fruit with the highest level of antioxidants, a finding substantiated in the study conducted by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. Antioxidants can also help keep your skin looking young and healthy. You will be able to lose “more” weight, as well, if you regularly consume or add blueberry vinegar in your diet and food preparations, since it does contain high levels of both antioxidants and fiber, which are both often credited for aiding in weight loss. It is, likewise, often times called an immune system booster for the simple reason that it holds a hefty amount of Vitamin C. Even more compelling are the brain protective and memory boosting effects associated with the anthocyanins found in it. Anthocyanin, a natural compound linked with many health benefits, is in the blue pigment found in blueberries.

Grape. Aside from excellent flavor that it gives your salads, meals and soups, grape vinegar helps to protect your health with untocyanine. Untocyanine, especially existing in red grape vinegar, is important in helping the human body fight against infections and also in the over all improvement of the immune system. Resveratrol, another natural active component found in red grape skin and possibly in red grape fruit vinegar, is believed to aid in raking off those unwanted fats. Cholesterol reduction, protecting the body against osteoporosis, gum health and returning body temperature to normal in diseases with fever are among other remarkable uses of grape vinegar. If a tablespoon of honey is mixed with two dessertspoons of grape vinegar and added into mineral water and drunk before breakfast, it accelerates reduction of body fat. Consequently, it provides weight control, just as the other previous fruit vinegar types.

There you have it folks! We have just learned that these three (3) most common fruit vinegars can help us get fit and healthy.

Other fruits are finding their way into vinegar too; apricot, black currant, and cherry are among the newest varieties. Tropical fruits such as pineapple, orange, mango, star fruit, bilimbi, lychee, sapodilla and even tomato are also promising and potential candidates for fruit vinegar making.

OK, let us have this as our take-home message from this article…

Next time you plan to cook with vinegar as one of your ingredients, try replacing your traditional white vinegar with fruit vinegar to obtain some of these notable health benefits from this wonderful cooking agent.

Occasionally, I use fruit vinegar as my cooking vinegar just to let my palate experience the exciting taste of "adobo" done with a twist.

Photo Credits: Fruit Vinegar

08 February 2009

Manila Before WW II | A Documentary Video

I do not have the slightest idea on how Manila, the Philippines' premier capital, looked like sometime more than 70 years ago…but I often wonder how.

Written stories, documented history and images were not enough to quench my thirst for the same.

Finally, I chanced upon a “motion picture” that somehow satisfied my curiosity. It acted as a window and showed me the soul I was yearning to visualize.

See it for yourself and be inspired…

06 January 2009

Deciding To Argue Effectively

Arguments are normal. In fact, they abound almost anywhere and everywhere. Moreover, they even come around the corner when you least expect them. However, whether you are the type who keeps away from war of words or the storm trooper, there are always suitable measures that may help you amplify your convincing powers.

Steve Pavlina, a widely recognized and successful personal development blogger, pointed out in his article How to Win an Argument, “The way to win an argument is to aim for a goal other than being right.”

Well, often times, the goal most people assume is to settle on terms to keep away with the argument. Compromise, if you feel like describing it. However, let me remind you that it does not always end up like this in real situations. Sometimes we act as if we have overcome a recent battle and that none of the two parties is affected, but in reality, we may have ended a good relationship, worse, lost a dear friend or a loved one, just because we overlooked some critical points that may have emotionally disturbed the other end.

The goal Steve is trying to point here is beyond coping with existing disagreement. It can be your goal on how to handle the situation. May also be the aim to understand the real motivation of the other person or party, favorable time to lend a helping hand if needed, or the appropriate occasion at which you are ready to give up, to mention a few.

"OK, assuming that I have a goal now, how can this help me succeed in an argument?"

“Good question.” Let me further help you digest the true meaning of a “successful argument”. Don’t worry we won’t be needing extra enzymes here. Just be ready to chew and assimilate the point.

Succeeding is just a bonus. The key to a successful argument lies in our ability to understand that an argument is not a competition, as opposed to what almost all people might believe. Lee J. Ballard has explained this very interestingly and I suggest that you jump to his site for further reading.

Once you are convinced that argument is not a competition then it is time for you to understand some effective ways to handle arguments.

I summarized here effective approaches I have tried, single or in combination, and collated them for everyone to study and understand. I am not an expert on arguments, but I found these tactics useful in almost every situation, whether in workplace, at home or with loved ones and friends. I hope you will find the guide useful.

  • Be mature and calm at all times. Being calm goes hand in hand with being mature and is paramount in dealing with arguments. Yelling, for example, during an argument, is a sign of immaturity. People always seem to shout in arguments because of anger. This is unavoidable if they get agitated and become heated during a disagreement. Always bear in mind that anger will lead you nowhere. You will likely harvest anxiety and will not help you win a fight. Stay cool during an argument and it will certainly aid you.
  • Avoid bad air. If the other person is in a tainted temper, you will not get your message across. Just play as the listener for now.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Arguing with your boss or bosses is bound to make them feel their authority is being undermined. So let them speak and understand their intentions. Agree when necessary and let them hear your thoughts only when called for. Instead of stating your views, try asking questions that show genuine interest. You will realize what I am trying to point out here once you become the ruler of the game.
  • Make a plan if you must. That is if you can, write down your three main points when time permits. In this way, you will not get lost while listening to their arguments.
  • Never harbor on criticisms. Do not talk because you want to criticize. Keep your mind open to issues and raise your concerns constructively. Avoid resorting to irrational criticisms just to keep others from agreeing with you.
  • Use sympathetic body language. Cautiously embrace the same bearing as the other person and mimic their gesture. Though you may not say anything, your actions speak louder than words and can leave a lasting impression.
  • Discover the other person’s real motivation. Sometimes you need to read between the lines. Your friend in the workplace, for example, complains he never sees you, but the real issue could be jealousy of your new job. Try to arrest fictional reason before it finds ways to transform into a "monster". Keep your radars open.
  • Do not be afraid to give up. Yes, giving up does not mean you are at the losing end. It only shows you are a mature being and ready to submit. With this kind of disposition, you will feel more confident since people around will respect you…but why? Simply because you equally respect them with their opinions. At the end of the encounter, you will feel, sometimes, much better than the so-called winners do.
Arguing effectively is like memorizing a song or a dance step. Yes, it is an art, so to speak. It does take practice and patience to use these types of approaches, but trust me, they work like your favorite charms or amulets.

Next time you are caught in an argument, do not aim to WIN but decide to handle it effectively, instead.

What’s on your mind? Care to share your thoughts? Do you agree on this guide or you have other experiences to share? Feel free to leave your ideas.

Photo Credits: Sports and Marriage

Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion

24 December 2008

Can Money Buy You Happiness? | Learn From What Experts Say

They say "money can't buy you happiness" but researchers have proved otherwise. In fact, this is what the lead researcher from the University of Warwick in England, Professor Andrew Oswald, has to say, "The more you get...the cheerier you'll become. Large sums are better than small sums."

Here are some highlights he found out from his study among 9,000 families in Britain throughout a ten-year period.

A small amount of money is not going to solve a major health problem or solve a major psychological problem, but will somehow improve one’s psychological well-being. This assumption was based on the findings they gathered throughout the decade from a number of people that had windfall of cash. His team used this to measure individuals' psychological health using standard strain indicators to gauge their levels of happiness.

The survey also suggested that women tended to be happier than men and that happiness followed a U-shaped pattern in our lives. From birth, happiness slopes downwards to a lowest point in our 30s, then things start to improve from our forties and continue to recover and increasing steadily up to retirement.

While it was evident in the study that money in a way could provide happiness, Oswald was keen to stress that money was not the only factor affecting good mental health or it was necessarily the easiest route to contentment.

Glenn Firebaugh, a sociological researcher at Pennsylvania State University, found similar findings and elaborated in his work that money through income was important in determining happiness. However, physical health was the best single predictor of happiness, followed by income, education, and marital status. His team also found a relative income effect, and that is, the richer you are relative to your age peers, the happier you will tend to be.

Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project has a different point of view. “The secret to using money to buy happiness,” she declares, “is to spend money in ways that support your happiness goals.” “There are ways to spend money that are likely to help give you enduring happiness,” she explains further.

I know we have been told differently but these views and findings will certainly make us think twice.

I am not trying to say only the rich are happy or you can only be happy if you have tons of money. Many people are happy. But, if you have lots of bucks, it’s likely that you’re going to be even happier. Why? Because money breeds optimistic attitude and optimism is a major factor in happiness.

What do you think? Did you find this post useful? Consider subscribing to StitcheS™ to receive future articles in your inbox.

Feel free to leave your comments and share this information to your friends and family.

Photo Credits: Money

17 November 2008

What Piggy Banking Taught Me?

Do you remember if you were piggy banking while you were young or growing as a kid? Think about it! Most adults have fond memories about their childhood piggy banking adventures. Later in life, these adults would tell children their personal stories on how they were first introduced to saving money using piggy banks to encourage the habit of saving. This practice continues to live on even in this time of modern-day banking, though historians speculate that the concept of a piggy bank started in England during the Middle Ages. It may come in different forms, classical or modern yet the principle remains the same.

Let me tell you my personal story then…

At an early age, I was told that if we want to buy something we have to save for it. At first, I find this a bit obscure since if my parents or relatives want they can anyhow set aside an ample amount of money to buy the things we always desire to have as long as we don’t cross the family’s financial boarders. Little did I know what they were trying to instill in us was money management lessons. Because I was so persistent, I asked them how such a kid like me could possibly save money and buy for the things I like to have. This argument led the way to my early training on piggy banking.

Alkansya is the Filipino term for piggy bank. It may come as the literal pig-shaped jar made from ceramic, porcelain, clay or in various innovative types such as empty containers from evaporated milk, baby powder, coconut shell, wide-mouthed bottles, a portion of bamboo trunk, etc. It has an overside opening to where the coins are inserted. Traditionally, it must be broken open in order to retrieve what has accumulated.

From the meager baon (allowance) I regularly received, I had to save a few cents for my piggy bank religiously. "Make sure you stuffed it up." My aunt Tintin even reminded me one time. Stray coins lying on the road or elsewhere, earnings from different errands and gifts from loving uncles and aunts also went into my piggy bank. Unspent money from my birthday and Christmas gifts likewise found their way into my piggy. It was tough at first but it always thrilled me every time I dropped a coin. In no time, regular dropping became a second nature to me. Days went by, only when the piggy bank got heavy, did I gather up the nerve to shatter it to find out what I have amassed after a long period of sacrifice. Then I spent hours thinking of the best way to make that money last. I wanted to get the most out of it. I forgot that the reason for this exercise was for me to buy everything I want. I was determined because I had a goal to fulfill. But then again, the goal was not to spend but to save. I think that was how I first learnt about the value of money. It is hard to earn money and therefore I just need to be mindful on how I should spend it wisely.

My inclination to save using piggy bank continued until I was ready for something big. Something for the teenagers, so to speak. This time I was introduced to the real world of banking. My aunt Isabel who was an entrepreneur and often went to bank to carry out various transactions guided me to open my first savings account. I was in ecstatic mode while I was telling my father and mother about the experience. They reminded me, however, that while saving brought enjoyable training to me I should also imbibe good spending habits and bring these lessons along until the day I mature. They even pointed out that with this wisdom I could not go wrong with my personal finances.

Today as I look back, I exactly know why managing personal finances have never been a big deal to me, only because piggy banking taught me many lessons I carried on while I was growing.

So if you are trying to teach your kids the importance of money, start with piggy banks then get them a savings account later when they are ready. Let them understand the basics of savings before infusing a more complicated concept. This is a great way of developing in your child an appreciation of the value of money. Create the “money-smart” attitude in your kids and watch them start financial planning at an early age.

Do you have exciting stories to share about piggy banking? Why not share them with us?

By the way, did you know that piggy banking also applies to adults?

What do you think? Was this post useful to you? You may want to consider subscribing to Stitches™ to automatically receive future articles in your inbox.

Photo Credits: Piggy Bank

19 October 2008

Learning the Fine Art of Haggling

One of our major objectives whenever we go to market to buy goods we need is to bargain as much as we can. I guess this is human nature in the sense that we always anticipate the reward of gratification after being able to fulfill this goal. But, did you know, there are effective ways to execute haggling in such a way a win-win game is reached between us buyers and the vendor?

At a very young age I was exposed to this activity as my aunt Isabel would always tagged me along to bring the basket for her while she carried on her buying routine. During the process, I vividly remember how she politely persuaded each vendor on the stuff she wanted to buy. And from here I learned my early lessons on how one can effectively bargain without leaving an arrogant impression to the seller. In fact, Tita Isabel would always tell me that in haggling, for as long as you do it right, one can even win respect and that this translates to good business relationship with the seller in the long run. In the local Filipino dialect, this relationship is termed “suki”. It means a regular customer, a frequent buyer or a loyal shopper. She also pointed out that one who does not haggle leaves a rude impression to the vendor. It is a sign of economic arrogance, she added.

From this simple yet remarkable lesson I learned from her, I am sharing with you the tricks she handed on to me.

  • Never negotiate the price of an item you do not intend to buy. Bear in mind that this is unfair to the seller and to other buyers who are interested on the same item you like.
  • Be rational and not selfish. In order to stay in business the seller must make profit, so do not make offensive discount demands. It will be easier to work with if the seller believes that your intentions are genuine and not just trying to cheat him or her.
  • Be calm and polite at all times. Keep in mind that your goal is to get the best possible deal you can. Be cautious enough with your actions so that the seller will be convinced that you really are interested on the item you are negotiating.
  • Do not forget to say THANK YOU. You are completely aware that not all attempts will be successful. It is very important to thank the merchant even if a desirable negotiation is not triumphantly reached. Most sellers will appreciate this approach more than an abrupt exit. This attitude will create an outstanding impact that a vendor will always seek ways to help you close a good deal the next time you come around.

There you have it folks. I hope this lesson has somehow convinced you that there is really a fine way to haggle.

Best of luck in the future as you practice haggling using these simple tips.

By the way, I have repeatedly used these tricks. Trust me! They do really work.

Happy weakened!

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Photo Credit: Haggling

05 October 2008

Turmeric | Meet the "Queen" of Spices

Turmeric (Curcuma longa), a botanical relative of Ginger, has long been valued in almost all parts of Asia as the “Queen of all Spices” due to its various food and industrial uses as well as for its powerful healing properties.

It has been used for over 4000 years in India, where it was most likely first utilized as a natural coloring for foods and dye for fabrics. Locals and villagers concocted turmeric with other plant pigments and made paint for various folk painting traditions. They also used the paste in painting their doorways to ward off insects.

Turmeric has also wide applicability in cosmetics. Traditionally, Indian women rub turmeric on their cheeks and other parts of their skin to produce a natural golden glow. They do this in many celebrations but most especially as an aesthetic ritual prior to their wedding. Washing in turmeric improves skin complexion and reduces hair growth on body. For this reason, turmeric is considered as a natural depilatory. The oil and extract of turmeric leaf is used as sunscreen while turmeric powder combined with milk is an effective cosmetic combination that acts as pure cleanser for stubborn acne and in restoring or maintaining youth by controlling wrinkle formation.

As spice, turmeric, finds its application in cooking by adding distinctive yellow color and a warm, mild flavor to foods. It is most familiar in Indian and other Asian curries and found in American prepared mustard. The mellow flavor and stunning color that primarily characterize turmeric make it an absolute substitute to the most rare and expensive saffron. Although many discriminating experts maintain that it may not impart the same distinct taste, it is often used as the appropriate alternative to enhance or mask the blunt character of food when the very dear saffron is out of reach.

But, why do I know this? Let me cut the story of the “Queen” for a while and pull in a short tale on how I first learned about turmeric’s utility in cooking.

My first encounter with turmeric was when my late mother introduced to me her famous biringhe (Pampangueño’s version of Spanish paella and sometimes fondly called aroz a la valenciana). It is an “all-in-one” rice recipe made of savory sticky rice cooked with coconut cream, chicken and liver topped with slices of boiled or salted eggs and raisins. According to her, the dish can be made delectable and appetizing even in the absence of the very dear saffron. With turmeric around, she emphasized while I interestingly watched her prepare the popular local delicacy,there is no reason you can’t make the best biringhe in town. I took her word and whenever we have the chance to cook her specialty we don’t panic if saffron would not make it as an ingredient.

OK, back to where we were before I intentionally changed my gear. The story about the “Queen” of the spices, right?

Moving on, we will now discuss the medicinal properties of turmeric.

Turmeric, with the flavonoid curcumin as active component, is an amazing spice. It is well recognized to possess many potential medicinal properties.

Scientific investigations suggest that curcumin is a potent antioxidant that may help prevent breast cancer as well as prostate, lung and colon cancers. Turmeric is likewise useful for all inflammatory disorders and for autoimmune conditions. Some forms of arthritis are caused or exacerbated by inflammation and free radicals, so turmeric may help. This is perhaps the reason why some villagers in Asia are recommending turmeric to help alleviate pain attributed to arthritis. It also may have a role in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. A number of animal studies have shown that curcumin blocked the formation and accumulation of amyloid plaque that characterizes Alzheimer's. Indians appear to have the lowest rate of Alzheimer's in the world, possibly because they eat turmeric with almost every meal.

Recent research has shown that dietary turmeric may combat underlying cause of obesity, help with some complications of diabetes, help lower blood cholesterol levels and has shown promise in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis.

Although these exciting revelations are starting to surface, we can’t simply discount the many traditional uses of turmeric that were long adored by our forefathers.

Turmeric purifies the blood, aids digestion of protein and promotes proper metabolism. It is used in the treatment of fever, mild stomach upset & ulcers, infection, dysentery, jaundice and other liver & gallbladder problems. Ancient Chinese physicians used turmeric to treat chest congestion, menstrual discomforts, depression and many more ailments. Indians used it as a readily available antiseptic for cuts and burns. For thousands of years, Ayurvedic doctors have recognized turmeric as a key balancing and detoxifying herb. In fact, the Ayurvedic text recommends a daily dose of turmeric to boost the body’s immune system. The inhalation of smoke from burning turmeric is also said to relieve hysterical fits.

Aside from these many healing attributes, turmeric is also very rich and an excellent source of alkaloids, B vitamins, essential minerals (iron, manganese and potassium), dietary fiber and protein.

Overall, turmeric appears to be not only useful in cooking curries and perhaps my mother’s biringhe, as you have learned from these compiled notes. It is collectively a wonder spice more than deserving to be hailed as the “Queen of all Spices”.

What do you think? Do you have other interesting stories to share on turmeric?

Feel free to leave your comments and share this information to your friends and family.

Photo credits: Turmeric

25 August 2008

Mushroom: The Mighty Fungus

Did you know that the “ugly” name associated with mushrooms is not bad at all?

Now, that sounds interesting.

Come, let me walk you through some interesting facts about the mighty fungus.

Mushrooms are known in the scientific community as fungi. And when we hear of fungi we tend to imagine very awkwardly. This is because we are more familiar with the disease causing type, which brings many health troubles.

Let us temporarily depart from this thought and try to converge as we journey towards unearthing the many secrets of this mighty friend of ours.

Well, mushrooms have been used for many years both as food and for medicinal purposes. People across the globe consider them as vegetable (although they don’t have chlorophyll – essential botanical characteristic of vegetables) or herb, but our Chinese neighbors treasure them as health food. Of the 14,000 over identified verities, only about 3, 000 are edible, around 700 have known natural medicinal properties, and less than 1.0% are recognized as poisonous.

Wow! Isn’t that too much for us to understand?

OK, I’ll make it simpler for you.

Mushrooms for Food

Mushrooms have been used for food throughout recorded history.

The Pharaohs considered mushrooms as delicacies and food for royalty while Greeks regarded them as strength-giving food for warriors during battle. Romans served them as “food of the gods” on festive occasions [1] [2] [3].

For these reasons, many believed that mushrooms had properties that could produce super- human strength. Consequently, they were considered as very pricey commodity.

Back in the province where I grew up, various dishes made from mushrooms are some of the favorite delicacies served specially during rainy seasons, when they are abundant. My grandmother and aunts would always advise us young kids to feed on mushrooms while they were plenty. According to them, mushrooms are packed with various types of nutrients known to make humans healthy and strong. It is for this simple reason, they would add, that dwarfs are strong and clever, as well. Delighted with this story, of course, we can’t help but convince ourselves to consume any mushroom preparations served on us.

Well, this is not a fable at all, maybe they were just handing down to us the information they learned from their ancestors in the form of tales to entice and encourage us to submit to their persuasions. Ah, kids are really difficult to win over especially when they think that mushrooms are some type of vegetables.

Today, some types of edible mushrooms are available all year-round through commercial cultivation and are widely used in cooking especially in many notable cuisines around the world. They are used for soups, sauces, garnishes, gravies, stuffing, and raw in salads. They combine well with various types of vegetables and the combination usually comes out very delectable.

Nutritional Value

Mushrooms are a great source of essential and valuable minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and selenium, nutrients often lacking in our highly processed-food diets. In addition, many species are high in dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble, and provide considerable amount of group B vitamins, ascorbic acid and vitamin D. Mushrooms, likewise, contain nearly no fat and zero cholesterol and are naturally low in sodium [4] [5].

Fresh mushrooms have about 13-46 % crude protein from their fruiting bodies [6]. This is less protein than animal sources, but more than most plants. Interestingly, mushrooms proved to be good sources of almost all essential amino acids when compared with common vegetables [7] and even contain amino acids that are scarce in grains [8].

What does this mean?

With this information on hand, we can freely combine mushrooms in our daily meals with much less worries on elevated blood cholesterol, sodium, triglycerides and sugar levels later on.

Medicinal Properties

Like most fruits and vegetables, fungi, specifically mushrooms, are also naturally blessed with potentially bioactive components known to alleviate various types of medical maladies.

I enumerated 10 of the most common edible medicinal mushrooms for your reference.

Here they go...

1. Button Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus)

Collaborative American & Chinese study demonstrated that increased intake of white button mushrooms may promote innate immunity against tumors and viruses through the enhancement of a key component, natural killer (NK) cell activity.

2. Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinus edodes)

Shiitake is one of the best known and well characterized mushrooms used for medicinal purposes. Lentinan, a highly purified polysaccharide fraction extracted from Shiitake mushrooms, is an approved natural anticancer drug in Japan. Shitakes was also found to lower blood pressure and the bad LDL cholesterol.

3. Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Proteoglycan fractions from oyster mushrooms were found to exhibit anti-tumor and immunomodulating effects in a research conducted at the Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology. Oyster mushrooms are, likewise, a natural source of statin, a cholesterol depressing drug. Studies have shown that they typically contain 0.4% to 2.7% statins on a dry weight basis.

4. Enoki Mushroom (Flammulina velutipes )

Enoki mushrooms contain a powerful polysaccharide called flammulin. Japanese and Chinese researchers have reported anti-cancer and anti-tumor activity from extracts containing this water-soluble polysaccharide. It is believed that the abnormally low cancer rates in Nagano, Japan (the center of enoki cultivation) are related to the high consumption of enoki in that region. Enoki is also thought to stimulate the immune system and be anti-viral and anti-bacterial. Blood pressure lowering and cholesterol lowering compounds have likewise been found in Enoki. Other research indicates that enoki may be useful in treating lymphoma and prostate cancer.

5. Paddy Straw Mushroom (Volvariella volvacea)

The straw mushroom is one of the common edible mushrooms and is widely cultivated in Southeast Asian countries. It has been reported to produce a hypotensive response in animals including humans. They have been used, as well, as an auxiliary treatment for cancer and diabetes patients.

6. Wood Ear Fungus “Black Mushrooms” (Auricularia auricula )

Wood Ear Fungus is widely used for its medicinal properties for many centuries in China. It is particularly useful in treating hemorrhoids, agina, diarrhea and gastrointestinal problems. Additionally, regular consumption of this type of mushroom in small doses proved to be beneficial in preventing strokes and heart attacks. Other findings from modern medecine suggest that it can also be used to lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides, cure diabetes and cancer, and reverse ageing.

7. White Jelly Fungi (Tremella fuciformis)

Known as the white jelly fungus or silver ear, is one of the most significant of the medicinal mushrooms, with a long tradition of healing in China. The extracted polysaccharides from tremella are proven to enhance cellular and immune function. White jelly fungus is also used in Chinese hospitals in conjunction with chemo and radiation therapy and for the treatment of hepatitis. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), silver ear finds its specific action on the lungs, used for coughs, asthma and bronchitis in a one-month daily use program. It is recommended for anyone smoking tobacco or other herbal products. Clinical research has also shown the fungus to be antidiabetic, antitumor, hepatoprotective, cholesterol reducing, to slow aging and prevent osteoporosis by enhancing calcium absorption.

8. Nameko (Pholiota nameko)

As with all other edible mushrooms, Namekos also have medicinal properties including immune boosting and cancer fighting properties, with up to 30% cancer fighting success rates with full recoveries worldwide. In a separate study, conducted at the Tokyo National Cancer Research Center in Japan, hydrothermal extract of nameko has been shown to suppress tumor proliferation by as much as 86.5%.

9. Monkey Head Fungus (Hericium erinaceus)

Also known as pom pom mushrooms. Hericium erinaceus is best known for its traditional use in treating chronic ailments of the stomach and digestive tract, as well as nervous system disorders. Other reported medical benefits include improving and protecting liver functions, restoring the body's natural strength, reduces cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and inhibits cancers and tumors.

10. Ganodrma - Reishi n Japanese or Ling Chih/Lingzhi in Chinese (Ganoderma lucidum)

Ganoderma is a commonly used Chinese herb and an important ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) herbal formulations for immune dysfunction related illnesses. It has six species in the category of medicinal mushrooms of which have been reported to contain an estimated of more than 200 active elements having specific medicinal properties. Recent study carried out at the Department of Medical Biochemistry, Ehime University in Japan, have revealed that it can help prevent the spread of cancer, especially of the prostate, breast, liver and spleen. Other properties of Ganoderma such as anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, antidiabetic, anti-hypotensive, and protective of the liver have also been documented. Like the majority of edible medicinal mushrooms, Ganoderma was found to inhibit platelet aggregation, and to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

You see, many mushrooms thought merely as palatable food ingredient have been shown in many studies to have surprising medicinal properties. Yes, the humble mushroom could be a veritable source of natural remedy that can help promote health and longevity.

There you go, folks. I hope the reading time you spent on this rather lengthy article brought some enlightenment on the many nutritional and healthy benefits of this small yet mighty fungus.

What do you think? Are you just like me who needed a good old tale to believe that mushrooms are indeed “giants” sitting in the backyard? Do you despise mushrooms like Voltaire and Alexander Dumas?

“I confess that my stomach does not take to this style of cooking. I cannot accept calves sweetbreads swimming in a salty sauce, nor can I eat mince consisting of turkey, hare, and rabbit, which they try to persuade me comes from a single animal . . . . As for the cooks, I really cannot be expected to put up with this ham essence, nor the excessive quantity of morels and other mushrooms, pepper, and nutmeg with which they disguise perfectly good food.” Voltaire (1694-1778) [Pen name of Francois Marie Arouet]

"I confess, that nothing frightens me more than the appearance of mushrooms on the table, especially in a small provincial town." Alexander Dumas, early 19th century

Think about it!

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Photo Credits:

Button Mushrooms

Rosemary Chicken & Mushrooms

Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms