For this week’s food I’ve decided to do something a little different. I’ve decided to write about a spice. We use spices and herbs everyday in all sorts of foods but we seldom know the nutritional value of these spices and what they can do for our bodies and in some cases, our minds. So I’ve decided to “spice” things up a bit and you’ll see in a minute how cloves can be beneficial for your body, hair, and for other purposes.
Like many other spices, cloves are available throughout the year. Cloves are known for their uniquely warm, sweet and aromatic taste, which can be added to ginger bread, pumpkin pie, and various other foods. The cloves are the unopened pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. The buds are picked by hand and are dried until they turn brown in color. Cloves are about ½ inch long and about ¼ inch in diameter, and with the tapered stem, they closely resemble tiny nails. Cloves have a very hard exterior but their flesh features an oily compound that is essential to their nutritional and flavor profile.
Cloves contain a significant amount off an active component called eugenol, which has made cloves the subject of numerous health studies, including studies on the prevention of toxicity of environmental pollutants like carbon tetrachloride, digestive tract cancer, and joint inflammation. In the United States, eugenol extracts have been used in dentistry with very positive effects. You can even find clove oil in some over-the-counter store throat sprays and mouth washes and clove has been shown to work very well on toothaches. Eugenol also functions as an anti-inflammatory substance containing a variety of flavonoids.
Cloves are also a nutrient-dense spice. In addition to anti-inflammatory components, cloves are an excellent source of manganese, with about 66% of the daily recommended value, a very good source of dietary fiber (for your digestive system and waistline), as well as vitamin C and heart protective omega-3 fatty acids. Cloves are also a good source of calcium and magnesium. As we remember from previous super foods manganese, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids are all very helpful and essential to hair health as well as over all health.
So what else can cloves do? Well in addition to keeping area around the hair follicles from being inflamed and providing nutrients, cloves can also be used in henna mixes. Many of you who use henna may already know that adding ground clove to henna can make darker tones of red and auburn. So if you have grey hair and afraid the dye component from henna would be too bright, or if you’re looking for away to darken the tone in general, try adding a little bit of ground clove to your henna mix. As with the henna you want to make sure that the ground clove that you are using is very finely ground for ease of rinsing.
Some serving suggestions for cloves include adding ground cloves and curry powder to healthy sautéed onions, garlic and tofu for an Indian-inspired zest. You can also use cloves to add a warming note to apple cider in combination with cinnamon. You can also pierce an onion with whole cloves and add to soups, broths or poaching liquids. Regardless of what dish you add this little super spice to, you’ll also be adding great nutrients as well.
Question: What are your thoughts on the cleansing systems that are sold in some of the health stores, like the Jillian Michaels program?
Answer: I must first point out that I am always very skeptical when I see weight loss or diet supplements on the shelf at my local store or pharmacy. I am even more skeptical about detoxifying products and ANYTHING with a celebrity on the front of it. The one thing that you have to remember, is that the supplement industry (and detoxifying products fall under this) is not regulated by the FDA , so anyone can make a supplement, put anything they want in it (safe or unsafe), make any claim about it they want (true or false), and sell it to the unsuspecting public, usually with a high price tag. Most of these supplements list exotic sounding herbs as their ingredients and we must remember that just because something is herbal or natural doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Hemlock is an herb. Sounds safe because it’s an herb and herbs are natural which means its safe, right? Safe, that is until you eat it and lose your life, because the poison in hemlock attacks the nervous system which causes one to stop breathing. Imagine if I made a supplement with the smallest trace of this herb in it and didn’t list it in the ingredients list (because the FDA doesn‘t make me) and sold said supplement as a weight loss pill. The point that I’m trying to make is that, although supplements many not contain hemlock, they can contain “herbal” ingredients that could pose some serious health risks. And these manufacturers can sometimes get away with it because again the FDA doesn’t regulate diet or nutritional supplements. With the most detoxifying systems the herbs that are listed are basically laxatives and diuretics and some of these herbs can cause an issue in large doses. The Jillian Michaels detoxifying system was mentioned and that system does contain herbs that act as laxatives and diuretics.
A lot of health experts have taken a look at these supplements and have concluded that they won’t help in the long run. Most dietitians and physicians will generally tell you to stay away from this kind of stuff. The reason being that there just isn’t enough research done with these products to prove not only their effectiveness but their safety as well. Being the kind of person that I am, I need solid scientific research to ensure that something is safe and effective before I will recommend it. Successful detoxifying and weight loss comes from lifestyle changes, exercise, and well-balanced diets. I repeat it all the time because it’s the only formula that has been scientifically proven time and time again to work in the immediate future as well as the long term. There is no magic “pill” or “diet” that will help you achieve this even though the supplement industry tries to tell you otherwise, because they want your money. So keep your money in your pocket and keep walking when you see this stuff. I want to point out that I am not saying that all supplements are bad. My main issue is with diet and weight loss supplements, because they target a very vulnerable audience. I will say that if you choose to take ANY supplement (weight loss or otherwise) please, please, PLEASE, for your health and safety do extensive research before you start popping pills.
Now, since the Jillian Michaels detoxifying program was specifically named, I feel it necessary to point something out. Jillian Michaels and the manufacturer of her supplement line have been hit with, not one, not two, but three lawsuits in a court in California in regards to The Jillian Michaels Maximum Strength Calorie Control pills. One suits cites false advertisements as the basis of the lawsuit and another charges that the supplements were made with a “potentially lethal” ingredient (remember that hemlock?). You can find more articles about the lawsuits on MSNBC.com and nydailynews.com using keywords “Jillian Michaels lawsuits” in the search tool.
Normally, I would end my articles with “Until next week…” but unfortunately there won’t be a next week. I have to step away from my weekly articles for a while as earlier this week the military has called upon my husband and I to move to a different part of the country by the end of July. So, almost all my time in the upcoming weeks will be spent relocating. I do apologize to everyone and I hope to be sharing with everyone again by mid-August, hopefully sooner. So, until then…
Peace and Love,