Matcha a healthy choice: Drink this Japanese tea as it improves mood, memory and concentration

With Indian consumers getting more aware and conscious of healthy eating, consumption of green tea, gluten-free products or super foods has seen a rise. Matcha, a green tea from Japan, is an ingredient being innovatively used in ice creams, cupcakes and doughnuts.

For the uninitiated, Matcha is a finely ground green tea. In ancient Japan, monks primarily consumed it as a beverage of choice. Now it can either be dissolved in milk or water to add to its versatility — and also for its health benefits.

“Apart from health benefits like improving moods, memory and concentration, helping you relax, aiding in weight loss, matcha has taken a diverse transformation into the culinary world with people being more conscious about what they eat,” Chef Himanshu Taneja, Director of Culinary at The St. Regis Mumbai, told IANS.

“Adding matcha in food from a simple Frappuccino and turning it into a green tea Frappuccino, to adding matcha in our desserts like matcha cheesecake or a matcha ice cream, the ingredient is versatile and helps add to the health quotient,” he added.

Experts say eating healthy and staying fit has become an area of focus for people across all age groups, and they are increasingly looking at a variety of options that contribute to that lifestyle.

Given that Matcha is high in antioxidants, enhances calmness, boosts memory and concentration, increases energy levels and endurance, helps to burn calories and detoxifies the human body, improve cholesterol levels and more, it is fast making its way as an ingredient of significance.

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Chef Rahis Khan of Delhi’s Metropolitan Hotel and Spa says matcha nowadays is used to add flavour to a variety of Western-style confectionery items including chocolates, cakes, candies, cookies and green tea ice creams as it is the only tea in which the entire tea leaf is dissolved in water to provide the maximum benefits of its components.

“We, at (the hotel’s) Sakura (restaurant) serve matcha ice cream. Also, matcha-based drinks have been introduced such as smoothies, lattes, milkshakes and also alcoholic beverages,” Khan told IANS.

Foodhall, a premium lifestyle food destination by the Future Group, is also experimenting a lot with matcha. It has started a matcha experience zone that has flavoured macarons, iced tea latte, cupcake, cookies, baklavas, eclairs and doughnuts.

“I think with more places experimenting with matcha as an ingredient, people have become more open to adding it and experimenting with such dishes,” Olivier Vincenot, Corporate Chef at Foodhall, told IANS.

The combination of flavour and nutrition that it provides is interesting, says Smritika Sharma, Marketing Head at beverage brand RAW Pressery.

“Matcha is stronger as compared to other green teas, even when compared on caffeine levels. One must lower quantities right before bed time. Packed with catechins, matcha is an ideal pre-workout beverage. It boosts thermogenesis by 8 to 10 percent and hence improves fat burn.

“Matcha in cosmetics or through homemade masks is great for the skin. The chlorophyll present in the leaves acts as a powerful detoxifier which stimulates skin cells. Matcha, when applied topically, is also known to reduce sebum production and therefore is great for acne,” Sharma told IANS.

Children concieved by IVF are just as healthy as children born naturally

Children conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF) are as healthy as their naturally-conceived peers, according to a study published on Wednesday.

The study, compiled by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), found that IVF children were healthy physically, mentally and emotionally by the time they reached school age, Xinhua news agency reports.

Lead researcher David Amor said the results should provide peace of mind for parents of IVF children as the number of births from sperm donor conception has doubled in Victoria since 2010. “Women and couples who are choosing donors put a lot of thought and effort selecting them,” the report quoted Amor as telling the Australian media.

“The IVF services put a lot of effort into recruiting donors. The information the recipient gets about the donor is fairly minimal,” he added.

Amor said, “There’s some general health screening, but we don’t know if these men are representational of the general population. Given IVF is undergoing a bit of a renaissance in terms of the demand, these findings should be reassuring for parents.”

For this study, the mothers of 224 Victorian IVF children were asked to fill out a survey on the health and well-being of their kids as well as themselves. Results indicated that donor-conceived children had more special health needs than naturally-conceived children but IVF children generally had a healthier family life, the report said.

Amor said that both of those results could be explained by the parents of IVF children being more protective of their own kids.

He said that researchers would now move on to study the health of IVF children who are now in their own child-bearing years.

How to Make Healthy Eating Painless, As Told by a Chef

The idea of meal prepping or eating clean at home and work sounds great—better food choices make us think clearer and feel better all-around—but for some of us, walking into the produce section (or kitchen to actually begin the process) is a daunting task to say the least. We reached out to Peder Bondhus, brand chef for Flower Child, an organic restaurant chain, to give some of his top tips on how to make eating better easier, more efficient and more delicious than ever.

Choose Your Vegetables Wisely

Nobody wants to buy fruits and vegetables that are going to turn the next day. Instead, opt for the variety that tend to stick around the longest and deliver the same nutritional benefits. “The vegetables that remain freshest the longest are root vegetables,” Bondhus says, which he explains include carrots, radishes, yams or sweet potatoes (basically, anything you can think of that has a root sticking off the end of it). “They seemingly last forever.” These options are great if you are trying to begin meal prepping, as they don’t go bad easily and are easily stored in containers in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them.

Image/Flower Child

Take Time to Prep

If you’ve made the choice to eat healthy, or already do, you should be sure to make the most of your good-for-your-body purchases by prepping them properly (this will also keep them around for longer). “The way I prefer to prep my produce at home is by washing and drying it, first,” Bondhus says. “Not only is this step important because you’re cleaning the produce of any bacteria, but prepping it also extends the shelf life.” Bondhus explains that ensuring everything is fully dried before storing it away is critical.

Bonus tip: “I also like to trim produce down to make it more space-efficient in the refrigerator.”

Image/Flower Child

Don’t Overdo It

Now that the proper food is selected and prepared, avoid ruining it—both the taste and a lot of the health benefits—by cooking it wrong. “I find the best way to cook or prepare vegetables is simply. They just need a little extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe some fresh herbs,” Bondhus explains, adding that he then recommends roasting the vegetables on a sheet tray in the oven or just grilling them lightly. Even better, both of these preparations work well if you’re trying to cook in advance and store it away for later.

Image/Flower Child

Combine What Works 

When I asked Bondhus what vegetable-protein combinations he counts as his favorites—that could be easily recreated at home—I was pleasantly surprised at the foolproof and delicious duos he told me are popular at Flower Child (and couldn’t wait to attempt them myself!). “Roasted sweet potatoes, grilled asparagus and gently-sautéed broccoli all go great with grilled chicken or tofu.”

Image/Flower Child

Know Can Be Done in Advance, and What Can’t

Chopping, seasoning and combining some of your ingredients in advance can be a total time-saver, just like some health foods can be made in batches and stored in the fridge, but it’s important to remember that not all of your ingredients will always be able to be prepared beforehand. “When it comes to batching out ingredients, most of your heartier vegetables can be prepped in advance,” says Bondhus. “But, most greens and lettuces should be prepped the day you need them.”

Image/Flower Child

Don’t Mindlessly Munch

Making smart food choices can all end with one bad snack decision at work. To keep blind snacking at bay, keep nutritious options at your desk or in your car. “The best healthy snack for me is any kind of nut,” Bondhus says, naming almonds and pistachios as his go-tos. “When I have a sweet tooth I reach for dates. They fill you up, taste great and are low-glycemic.”

Image/Flower Child

Study the Menu

Dining at a restaurant can turn a strict diet into a cheat day really quickly. To avoid it, Bondhus says to be cautious of portion sizes, avoid fried food, heavy sauces and dressings. “These can be high in oil and often are high in sugar.” Also, order a glass of water before your food (and cocktail!) comes out to control hunger and keep you feeling full.

Image/Flower Child

Study Shows This Diet Change Could Help You Lose Twice As Much Weight As Cutting Calories

Going “vegetarian” has been a hot topic for years now, and experts continue to debate whether it is better for your skin, weight and overall health, among other things. Many vegetarians (at least most of the ones I know) love having a plethora of reasons to convince omnivores to give up meat and move into their world of eco-friendly eating. And thanks to the results of a new study, here’s yet another one veggie-only lovers can use to back up their case.

Scientists from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. studied 74 people with type 2 diabetes who were randomly prescribed either a low-calorie, vegetarian diet (the only animal product allowed was low-fat yogurt; one serving a day) or a standard anti-diabetic diet.

To determine the participants’ weight-loss potential, their diets were limited to 500 calories a day less than they would need to maintain their weight. The results, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, showed that after six months, those who had followed the vegetarian diet lost nearly 14 pounds compared to those on the traditional diet, who only dropped 7 pounds.

The researchers also analyzed the way fat was stored in the participants’ thighs to see how each diet affected it. Both diets resulted in a similar reduction in subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin), but more muscle fat was lost by those who ate a vegetarian diet.

Although it was a small study, the bottom line reveals surprising stats: Going “vegetarian” is twice as effective as eating a carnivorous diet when it comes to losing weight. Plus, research also uncovered that vegetarians reduce their muscle fat more effectively as well, and therefore boost their metabolism, too.

Dr. Hana Kahleová, lead author of the study, says, “This finding is important for people who are trying to lose weight, including those suffering from metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes. But it is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy.”

Exercising as a child may help cut health risks of a high-fat diet in adulthood

Australian researchers have found that exercising as a child could potentially counteract the damage of a high-fat diet later in life. Carried out by a team from the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland, the animal study looked at the effect of different diets and exercise programs on rats’ bone health and metabolism, focusing on the activity of the genes in bone marrow.

Rats were given either a high-fat diet and a wheel for extra exercise, a high-fat diet but no wheel, or a regular diet and no wheel. High-fat diets in childhood are known to “turn up,” or increase, the activity of other genes that cause inflammation — the body’s natural self-protective response to acute infection or injury. Ongoing inflammation as a result of high-fat diets can damage cells and tissues, increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer among other conditions.

  • Obesity

However, the team found that in the rats given a high-fat diet and an exercise wheel, the early extra physical activity caused inflammation-linked genes to be turned down, not turned up. It appeared that exercise altered the way the rats’ bones metabolized energy from food, disrupting the body’s response to a high-calorie diet.

“What was remarkable was that these changes lasted long after the rats stopped doing that extra exercise — into their mid-life,” commented Dr Justin O’Sullivan, a molecular geneticist at the Institute. “The bone marrow carried a ‘memory’ of the effects of exercise. This is the first demonstration of a long-lasting effect of exercise past puberty.”

The study will further look into longer-term effects into old age. (AFP)

“The rats still got fat,” he pointed out, “but that early extra exercise basically set them up so that even though they put on weight they didn’t have the same profile of negative effects that is common with a high fat diet.” Dr O’Sullivan says that the results may help explain why even though obesity and diabetes are often linked, not everyone who is obese develops diabetes.

“It also strongly emphasizes the health benefits of exercise for children.” The team are now carrying out further research, varying the exercise and looking at the even longer-term effects into old age in the hope of recreating their results.

Young Teens Beware- You May Just Be As Inactive As The 60 Year Olds

Kids perhaps its time to put the smart phone down and go for a jog, as according to a recent study, physical activity amongst teens and young adults may be at an all-time low. The alarming findings labelled the 19 year olds to be as sedantry as the 60 year olds.


The reduced physical activity levels has already been touted as one of the major contributors in the growing obesity epidemic, particularly among children and teens. At this point, the study conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US is definitely a wake-up call.


The researchers of the study published in the journal Preventive Medicin, found that young adults after the age of 20 show the only increase in activity over the lifespan, and starting at age 35, activity levels declined through midlife and older adulthood.


The study also identified different times throughout the day when activity was highest and lowest, across age groups and between males and females.


Assistant Professor Vadim Zipunnikov and senior author of the study said, “Activity levels at the end of adolescence were alarmingly low, and by age 19, they were comparable to 60- year-olds.”


According to the researchers, these patterns could be a strong message to the programmes and campaingns aimed towards increasing physical activity to relook their target, and focus not only age groups but also the time span with the least activity, such as during the morning for children and adolescents.


Zipunnikov further said, “For school-age children, the primary window for activity was the afternoon between 2 and 6 pm. So the big question is how do we modify daily schedules, in schools for example, to be more conducive to increasing physical activity?”


The researchers used data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from the 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 survey cycles.


For the study 12,529 participants wore tracking devices for seven straight days, removing them for only bathing and at bedtime. The devices measured how much time participants were sedentary or engaged in light or moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.


According to the findings , the only age group that saw an increase in activity levels, were the 20 somethings, which was spread out throughout the day, with an increase in physical activity in the early morning, compared to younger adolescents, the increase may be related to starting full-time work and other life transitions.


It was also found that for all age groups, males were generally found to have higher activity levels than females, particularly high-intensity activity, but after midlife, these levels took a sharp drop as compared to females.Among adults 60 years and older, males were more sedentary and had lower activity levels than females.


The study found that more than 25 per cent of boys and 50 per cent of girls aged six to 11 and over 50 per cent of male and 75 per cent of female adolescents aged 12 to 19 had not met the WHO recommendation and guidelines of minimum physical activity levels. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a day for children aged five to 17 years.

Medical admission: Students upset as Punjab govt doubles reservation for Backward Classes

The Punjab government’s decision to double reservation for Backward Classes (BCs) in the state from 5% to 10% in all government medical and dental colleges has upset general category students, who have threatened to move court. Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) issued a notification in this regard on Tuesday, on instructions from secretary, department of medical education and research, Vikas Pratap.

Anxious students and parents are reaching out to the BFUHS authorities seeking the withdrawal of the decision.

A parent said, “The Punjab government should also think about the interest of general category students. We are already suffering due to reservations and quotas. With increase of BC quota reservation, things will be worse for general students. The government should give equal opportunity to all.”

The counselling for NEET to fill seats in the state starts on July 16 when the provisional list of candidates will be displayed. Aspirants are vying for 1,125 MBBS seats in eight medical colleges and 1,130 BDS seats in 14 dental colleges.

Baba Farid University of Health Sciences

Total reservation will be 76%

Total reservation in government medical colleges is 76% including 15% NRI quota and 15% in the CBSE quota.

This includes 25% reservation for SC, 10% BCs, backward area/border area (1% each), 3% physically handicapped, 1% sports persons, 1% each for children/ grandchildren of terrorist affected persons and children of Sikh riot affected persons; 1% for wards of defence personnel, 1% for wards of Punjab police personnel and 1% reservation for children of freedom fighters of Punjab.

The reservation in private institutions is 54% including around 15% NRI quota (There is no CBSE quota for private institutes)

BFUHS vice-chancellor Dr Raj Bahadur said, “Our University is the designated nodal agency for common counselling of the NEET. We have to follow government instructions. Thus, BC candidates will now have 10% reservation instead of 5% during admission of NEET candidates.”