- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rosemary, chickpeas, exotic carrots, an anti-aging cocktail with a garlic base — add them to the list of powerful disease-fighting edibles, say scientists, who now include them on a roster of foods that do a body good. Green tea, long a favorite of the health conscious, has newly realized benefits, according to new findings released Wednesday.

The mild beverage, in fact, could protect the eye against glaucoma and other eye disease, says research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

“Scientists have confirmed that the healthful substances found in green tea — renowned for their powerful antioxidant and disease-fighting properties — do penetrate into tissues of the eye. Their new report, the first documenting how the lens, retina, and other eye tissues absorb these substances, raises the possibility that green tea may protect against glaucoma and other common eye diseases,” the publication said.

A team from the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences of the Chinese University of Hong Kong confirmed “beyond a doubt” that eye structures absorbed catechins, or antioxidants, reducing harmful “oxidative stress” in the eye for up to 20 hours.

“Until now, however, nobody knew if the catechins in green tea actually passed from the stomach and gastrointestinal tract into the tissues of the eye,” the report said.

A gourmet herb, meanwhile, is getting a health upgrade. At the stove top or barbecue, adding rosemary to beef decreases cancer-causing agents that form during grilling, pan-frying and barbecuing, according to research from Kansas State University published in the Journal of Food Science.

Scientists went right to the frying pan and basted hamburgers with a rosemary extract to discover the substance “significantly” inhibited the formation of heterocyclic amines on the cooked beef — human carcinogens known to cause cancer.

Chickpeas also are on the healthy list — though not the beige variety common to salad bars. The Volcani Center, a research site for the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, now heralds “colored” chickpeas for their high protein content, plus their heavy doses of protective polyphenols and flavonoids.

Black, red, brown, green, gray and yellow chickpea varieties contain up to 13 times more antioxidants than their paler counterparts. The small legume could “contribute sigificantly to the management of degenerative disease,” noted lead researcher and agronomist Shmuel Galili.

University of Wisconsin researchers had similar revelations about carrots. Splashy new carrots from the foodie set — red, yellow, dark orange and purple — contain lycopene and lutein, the same beneficial antioxidants found in tomatoes. These carrots can help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer, says the report, published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.

Scientists at McMaster University in Canada, also took a closer step to the proverbial fountain of youth by concocting, they say, a “cocktail of ingredients that forestalls major aspects of the aging process.”

Mice who regularly imbibed this cocktail maintained “youthful levels” of activity right into their old age, the researchers found, prompting them to conclude that the “supplement extends longevity.”

And the ingredients?: “items that were purchased in local stores selling vitamin and health supplements for people.”

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