NATURES BEAUTY - LILY

Easter is upon us, and no flower is more associated with the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection than the lily. Traditional lore says white lilies emerged where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the earth in his final hours on the cross. The ancient Greeks believed lilies came from the breast milk of Hera, the queen of the gods. In Roman mythology, Venus, the goddess of beauty, was jealous of the flower’s white loveliness. A European legend says if you approach an expectant mother holding a lily….

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NATURES BEAUTY - SQUASH

Is squash a vegetable or a fruit? You would probably call a zucchini squash a vegetable, but you would most likely call a pumpkin a fruit. The definitive answer, from a botanical view, is squash are fruits because they contain the seeds of the plant.  Squash are some of the oldest cultivated crops on earth, believed to have originated in Mexico and Central America more than 10,000 years ago. The word squash comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means…..

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NATURES BEAUTY - CINNAMON

One of the best-loved spices of cooks and food lovers alike is cinnamon. Made from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree, cinnamon has been around since the days of ancient Egypt, where it was used to embalm mummies. The tree is native to the Caribbean, South America and Southeast Asia. Indonesia and China produce three-quarters of the world’s supply of cinnamon today.

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NATURES BEAUTY - CRANBERRIES

What would our Thanksgiving Day feasts be without cranberries? This staple of our holiday dinner has a long, proud history in the United States. According to the Cranberry Marketing Committee (uscranberries.com), Native Americans used cranberries as a food staple as early as 1550. They ate them fresh and mashed them with cornmeal and baked them into bread. They used maple sugar or honey to sweet them. They also mixed cranberries with wild game and melted fat to make pemmican. They made cranberry poultices to draw poison from arrow wounds and used cranberry juice as a dye.


Cranberries are low, creeping shrubs or vines with slender, wiry stems and small evergreen leaves. German settlers called them crane berries because the blossom resembles the head and neck of a crane. Early New Englanders called them bearberries because bears often ate them (the berries, not the early New Englanders). More than 100 varieties of cranberries grow in North America. They are primarily grown in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Oregon, Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington. These areas have the special conditions cranberries require, such as sandy soil and abundant fresh water. Cranberries are harvested by flooding the bogs and marshes where they grow with 6 to 8 inches of water. The floating cranberries are then easily scooped up. Most cranberries are processed into juice, sauce and sweetened dried cranberries.

Cranberries may be small, but they are packed with nutrients that offer a variety of health benefits. Cranberries have plenty of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer traits. Whole cranberries have been shown to protect the cardiovascular system and liver. They are a good source of fiber and vitamins C, A and K.


One controversy surrounding cranberries is the question about their effectiveness in treating or preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs). It is said cranberries help prevent bacteria from attaching to the lining of the urinary tract. A comprehensive review in 2012 of available research concluded there is no evidence that cranberry juice or cranberry extract tablets or capsules are effective in preventing urinary tract infections. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says a cause and effect relationship has not been established between using certain cranberry products and reducing the risk of developing a UTI. Yet another more recent study from 2017 showed cranberry products significantly reduced the incidence of recurring urinary tract infections. These variations probably result from inconsistencies in clinical factors and study methods, says the EFSA. Your best bet is to ask your doctor about using cranberry if you have a UTI.


From salads to relishes to cookies and many other dishes in between (including cocktails), cranberries are very versatile. The cranberry is the state fruit of Wisconsin, which provides over half of the U.S. production of cranberries, making it the nation’s leading cranberry producer. Nov. 23 is Eat a Cranberry Day. Even if you don’t live in the Badger State, it’ll do you good to incorporate cranberries in your daily diet – not just on Nov. 23 (and not just one).

TANYA TYLER

Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine

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