Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bee-Collected Pollen Can Reduce Bad Cholesterol, Lower Blood Pressure

Smoothie Smarts: Bee pollen. Protein Powder. Ginseng. Do these fat burners trim your gut -- or your wallet?
By Howard Cohen, Miami Herald (USA), 10/102006

Once a simple fruit shake sold behind the counter in health food stores, smoothies are now a $1.6 billion industry with some 33,000 smoothie stores dotting the U.S. landscape, according to Mintel Group, a market research company.

These aren't your fern bar's strawberry/banana blends. These babies make bold promises to burn your fat, to turn Clark Kents into Supermen, even improve your sexual potency. Ooo, la-la.

And we're buying it -- an estimated $20 billion a year on supplements and natural remedies. The most common additives at local smoothie spots, at about $1 a scoop, are whey protein powder, soy bean lecithin, bee pollen, L-glutamine, wheat grass, ginseng and spirulina…

But do these smoothie additives work?...


• THE HYPE: ''The world's most perfect food!'' its manufacturers bellow. After all, it contains more than 4,000 enzymes, is a complete protein with vitamins A, C, D, E and K and its makers claim it boosts energy levels, rejuvenates hair, nails, and enhances memory and stamina.

(Bee pollen is made of plant pollens collected by worker bees combined with plant nectar and bee saliva. Bee pollen first started its buzz in the mid-'70s via coaches who claimed the little yellow granules improved athletic ability.)

• THE SKINNY: Serious allergic reactions can include potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis for those with pollen allergies. Can reduce bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure but additional research is required. Has a honey-like flavor, but with a strong aftertaste that can overpower other ingredients in a smoothie. Best used in moderation -- less than a teaspoon -- sprinkled atop a cup of yogurt, ice cream or cereal (use it like wheat germ).

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