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Tasty Tuesday: What the Heck is Kava?

This Tasty Tuesday post is brought to you by a less-than-tasty beverage: kava.  Though it has been used as a medicinal and recreational beverage in the South Pacific for some time now, it is relatively unknown here in the US.  Kava bars are beginning to pop up in major cities, but are still pretty hard to come by everywhere else.  Why would you even want to try this muddy tea-like beverage in the first place?

Aside from it’s sedating effect which makes it a good alternative to alcohol, recent research on the health benefits of kava is promising.  It has been shown to benefit those suffering from chronic anxiety, promote restful sleep, and possess anti-cancer and anti inflammatory qualities.  It also has the rare ability to promote calm without altering mental state (I’m looking at you wine….)  Like any other medicinal plant, it should be used and prepared with care.  Experts recommend against using in combination with prescription drugs or combining it with alcohol.

Curious about kava?  Here are some tips on procuring this elusive plant and preparing it for consumption:

-Find a reputable seller: Unless you happen to live close to a kava bar, you’ll probably need to find an online source or a really good health food store to purchase your kava.  Quality and price varies, but with a little research you can find some reputable sellers.  Make sure to go for a brand that is in good standing with the American Kava Association.

-Stay true to the root(s): To experience the benefits and prevent any any unpleasant side effects, keep the preparation as close to traditional as possible.  You can find plenty of information on traditional preparation online, as well as more expensive (but also more convenient) micronized kava.

-Chug, don’t sip: Straight kava is meant to be chugged, not sipped.  A typical “shell” (kava is traditionally consumed out of coconut shells) is 6-8oz.  Depending on how bitter your kava is, you may want to chase it with a piece of pineapple.  If you really want to sip, I’ve found that most high quality kavas mix well with green juice.

For more info on kava and other powerful plants, head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook or follow on Twitter!

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