miércoles, 9 de mayo de 2012

Tea Processing: White, Green, Black

Producing tea is all about oxidation.  White tea has little or no oxidation and Black tea has a lot of oxidation of the tea leaves.  In the middle we have yellow and green tea.  The provenance of the tea will effect flavour but also the processing....

White Tea:
Hardly any processing and no heat. White tea differs principally from green teas in that the white tea process does not incorporate any steaming or pan-firing. The name comes from the silver needle white teas that are used to produce the leaves. The tea plant is called "chaicha". The leaves are thinner and smaller and have a silvery-white down.
The flavour is described, typically as delicate with a lingering floral fragrance and a fresh, mellow, sweet taste with no astringency and grassy flavours.

Yellow Tea:
Yellow tea is partially oxidised tea leaves with some mild steaming involved. During the processing the chlorophyll is broken down and partly oxidized. The taste of yellow tea is somewhat milder, and described as being somewhere between white tea and green tea. The aroma is described as flowery and fresh.

Green Tea:
Tea is first plucked from the stem, two leaves and a bud.
the leaves are then cleaned and dried and often steamed for less than one minute in large vats. This is kills enzymes that may initiate or cause oxidation. 
The leaves are then kneaded by hand, piled and dried for about ten hours during which time it is constantly turned. 
The leaves are then pan fired and this stops the oxidation process for good. Typical flavour descriptors include: sweet, bittersweet, nutty, vegetal, buttery, floral and fruity.

Black Tea:
The final black tea that we buy is a highly oxidised product. The polyphenolics that were green have effectively been oxidised (like Iron and rust!) and are now darker and often a black/brown colour.

There is a critical withering part of the process where the leaves withered and rolled this process bruises the leaves and lets the chemicals in the leaves mix which initiates the oxidation process . The leaves are then separated by a roll breaker to allow for the full oxidation of the tea leaves. This process goes on for several hours while the leaves are spread out in a cool place. Drying / Pan Firing then stops the process. The leaves can then be sized, sorted and blended accordingly. Taste profiles of black tea are varied but really are an extension of the green tea flavour with more astringent and cooked notes reflecting the extra oxidation.

martes, 27 de marzo de 2012

Why Diets don't Generally Work

Why Diets don't Generally Work
1. Companies Lie:
Many claims made by weight-loss programs are not truthful. Adverts maybe filled with testimonials about X Kgs of weight that are lost taking product Y. If it sounds too good to be true...it usually is.

2. Diet plans that focus on a Single food are normally not healthy:
Remember the grapefruit diet? Me neither.

It's a good idea to eat a well balanced diet so that you can maintain vitamin and mineral levels. Far better to focus on a holistic approach which includes a healthy lifestyle (exercise etc.) and healthy eating. Common sense tell us that eating one food type is probably not a good idea, either from a health point of view or a weight loss point of view.

3. Magic pills can sometimes be magically dangerous:
The Chinese herb ma huang was banned by the Food and Drug Administration in April 2004 after causing more than 100 deaths between 1993 and 2000, as well as more than 900 adverse reactions. There are more examples and the less said about this the better. Beware.

4. Open wallet surgery:
Losing weight is hardwork. To paraphrase an old saying: "staying or getting fit is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration".

The weight-loss industry is a big money spinner with an estimated $60 billion spent on weight loss potions between 2008 and 2009. With obesity levels on the increase there is an ever bulging demand with unscrupulous companies eager to help you part with your money. Again, beware!

5. Boot camps work for a short period of time:
The no pain, no gain mentality works when you have highly motivated trainers and you are in an environment which encourages weight loss. However, at some point you have to return to normal "civilian" life. With no protection from the boot camp and with all the worldly temptations around you participants in boot camps soon return to the same old habits that contributed to the weight gain in the first place. If you lose weight quickly you usually gain it again quickly.

6. Open Wallet Surgery part II:
Weight loss surgery is on the increase and is expensive. A gastric bypass operation reduces the size of your stomach so fewer calories are absorbed. These procedures can be dangerous: According to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, the mortality rate for gastric bypass is 1 in every 1,000 patients. Also a number of complications can occur including abdominal infection and gallstones.

Remember too that surgery of this nature can limit calcium absorption by the body. So, yes this may work but there can be consequences.

7. Go Light!:
Low-calorie foods and beverages are on the increase. But people are getting heavier. I am doing the arithmetic here and something does not add up.

Some products are being economical with the truth about their ingredients. Low fat products are products that have Fat removed which is true...but you have to replace the fat with something. From a product design point of view there are normally a couple of ways of doing this: 1. With air; 2. With water; 3. With carbohydrates.

So, calorifically the product may have the same or even more calories than full-fat versions.

domingo, 4 de marzo de 2012


"A study by researchers at the University of North Carolina found that women whose diets were high in trans fats had a 66% higher risk of ischemic stroke (blood clots in vessels supplying blood to the brain) than those whose diets were the lowest in trans fats." So, what are Trans Fats and how can you help your diet?

What are Trans Fats?
Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.  Another name for trans fats is “partially hydrogenated oils."  Look for them on the ingredient list on food packages.

Why do Companies use Trans Fats?
Companies like using trans fats in their foods because they’re easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time.  Trans fats give foods a desirable taste and texture.  Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers.  The subtle difference between Trans and Cis is the positioning of the atoms in the chain.  Although the atoms are the same the spatial arrangement is different and this imparts very different physical characteristics.

How do Trans Fats affect health?
Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels.  Eatingtrans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.  It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Where are Trans Fats found?
Trans fats can be found in many foods – but especially in fried foods like French fries/chips, doughnuts, and baked goods including pastries, pie crusts, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, and stick margarines and shortenings.  You can determine the amount of trans fats in a particular packaged food by looking at the Ingredients/Nutrition panel.  Look for ingredients referred to as “partially hydrogenated oils.”

American Heart Association
Nutrition Dr.

jueves, 12 de enero de 2012

Serotonin & Stress

Taken from WEBMD:

1. What is serotonin?

Serotonin is as a neurotransmitter, a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another. Serotonin is manufactured in the brain, but the majority of it is found in the digestive tract and in blood platelets.

2. How is serotonin made?

Serotonin is made via a biochemical conversion process. A protein called Tryptophan is the starting material  and combines with an enzyme - tryptophan hydroxylase - which forms 5-hydroxytryptamine, otherwise known as serotonin.

3. What role does serotonin play in our health?

Serotonin helps to relay messages in the brain.  It is believed to influence a variety of psychological and other body functions. Most of our brain cells are influenced one way or another by serotonin. 
In terms of our body function, serotonin can also affect the functioning of our cardiovascular system, muscles, and various elements in the endocrine system.

4. What is the link between serotonin and depression?

An imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression. 
One theory about how depression develops centers on the regeneration of brain cells -- a process that some believe is mediated by serotonin, and ongoing throughout our lives. According to Princeton neuroscientist Barry Jacobs, PhD, depression may occur when there is a suppression of new brain cells and that stress is the most important precipitator of depression.   At the time of writing there is no way to measure the levels of serotonin in the living brain.  Blood levels of serotonin are measurable -- and have been shown to be lower in people who suffer from depression.

5. Can diet influence our supply of serotonin?

There are foods and some nutrients that can increase levels of tryptophan, the amino acid from which serotonin is made.

6. Can exercise boost serotonin levels?

Exercise can do a lot to improve your mood -- and across the board, studies have shown that regular exercise can be as effective a treatment for depression as antidepressant medication or psychotherapy.

7. Do men and women have the same amount of serotonin -- and does it act the same way in their brain and body?

Studies show that men do have slightly more serotonin than women, but the difference is thought to be negligible.

8. Since both dementia and Alzheimer's disease are brain-related conditions, does serotonin play a role in either problem?

In much the same way that we lose bone mass as we age, some researchers believe that the activity of neurotransmitters also slows down as part of the aging process. In one international study published in 2006, doctors from several research centers around the world noted a serotonin deficiency in brains of deceased Alzheimer's patients.

9. What is serotonin syndrome -- and is it common or dangerous?

SSRI antidepressants are generally considered safe. However, a rare side effect of SSRIs called serotonin syndrome can occur when levels of this neurochemical in the brain rise too high. It happens most often when two or more drugs that affect serotonin levels are used simultaneously. For example, if you are taking a category of migraine medicines called triptans, at the same time you are taking an SSRI drug for depression, the end result can be a serotonin overload.

domingo, 8 de enero de 2012

MAHATMA GANDHI's thoughts...Take note!

The World is big enough for everyone’s needs – but it is too small for the GREED of some!

El mundo es suficientemente grande para satisfacer las necesidades de todos, pero siempre sera demasiado pequeño para satisfacer la avaricia de algunos.

martes, 3 de enero de 2012

Glycemic Index Explained

Glycemic Index (GI) is simply a tool that helps us differentiate between the carbohydrates in foods that we eat and how our bodies use them.  Recently, we posted a few articles on weight control on our sister blog and GI came up quite a bit so here is the explanation with the help of GI symbol website in Australia.

  • Carbohydrates with a low GI (55 or less) don't make our blood glucose levels rise very high for very long. They provide sustained energy.
  • Carbohydrates with a high GI (70 or more) are the ones that cause our blood glucose levels to go higher for longer. High blood glucose may cause damage to vital organs.

Reference: Check out this website which we copied for this blog and where there is more excellent information on GI.