Calcium the Veggie Way

Perhaps the strongest argument against dairy products in our diet: lots of us are lactose intolerant. Those lactose-intolerant folks, who don’t digest dairy well, are continually barraged with information that makes them believe they will lose their bones if they don’t consume dairy products in some way. They may be better off without it.

You do not need dairy products to get sufficient calcium if you eat a healthy diet. All unprocessed natural foods are calcium-rich; even a whole orange (not orange juice) has about 60 mg of calcium.

Government health authorities advise us to consume 1,500 mg of calcium daily. This is a tremendous amount of calcium. So much is recommended because of all the factors mentioned above. Even this high level of calcium will not prevent osteoporosis, but in a population with so many factors that cause osteoporosis, the extra calcium will make the negative balance less negative and partially slow the rate of osteoporosis. However, the only way to prevent osteoporosis and have strong bones is to exercise and to stop the causes of high urinary calcium excretion.

Since bok choy is packed with calcium, give these recipes a try:
Bok Choy and Bean Medley
2 pounds bok choy, chopped
1 15-oz can no salt pinto or kidney beans
1 15-oz can no salt aduki (adzuki) beans
1 cup prunes, soaked in water (just to cover) for at least 1 hour, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds
Including the prune soaking water, saute' the first six ingredients for 10 minutes. Before serving sprinkle toasted nuts over top. This may be served as a side dish or over brown rice, quinoa or bulgar for a main dish. Serves 6.

Doubly Delicious Greens
1 large bunch bok choy, chopped
1 large bunch Swiss chard, chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (no salt)
2 cups shiitake and/or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
Place bok choy, Swiss chard, onions, and garlic in a large steamer and steam until almost tender, about 10 minutes. In a large pot add tomatoes, mushrooms, steamed greens mixture, and seasoning. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serves 8.

Stop-Motion Veggies

Just some mushrooms having a good time—stop-motion style. Take a look:

Produce Power

The Los Angeles Times takes a good long look at the power of produce and how eating lots of it kicks cancer in the pants. More from Anna Gosline:
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and scores of phytochemicals that scientists are just beginning to understand, and studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes -- and some kinds of cancer.

Since its inception in 1991, the 5 A Day campaign, led by the National Cancer Institute and Produce for Better Health Foundation, has upped its daily recommendation to as many as 13 servings under a new campaign name.

And in bestselling health books and the popular press, the talk of fruits and vegetables is sometimes breathless. Pomegranate juice is a "miracle medicine"! Blueberries are "the super berry"! Kale can keep you alive! Tomatoes for life everlasting!

Eat or drink this produce, we are told, and the powerful clout of super-antioxidants and tumor-fighting chemicals they contain will bash that cancer before it gets going.

In fact, the anti-cancer clout of fruits and vegetables is nuanced and complex, and a story still evolving in labs across the country. At times the science has proven to be murky. Small studies that rely on what people remember of their diets from years past often find a strong preventive effect of eating lots of fresh produce.
All you got to do is sift through Followhealthlife’s health food archive to see just how powerful fruits and veggies really are.

The Cardio Blog on Fiber

If you eat lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes—you get a lot of fiber! And that’s a good thing. According to Dr. Fuhrman, not only is fiber vital for superior nutrition, but, it can also help you shed those unwanted pounds. More from Eat to Live:
Because meats, dairy, and oils are so dense in calories, it is practically impossible for us to eat them without consuming an excess of calories. These calorie-rich foods can pile up a huge number of calories way before our stomachs are full and our hunger satisfied. However, eating foods higher in nutrients and fiber and lower in calories allows us to become satiated without consuming excess calories.
And Dr. Fuhrman isn’t the only one showing fiber some love. The Cardio Blog offers up four good reasons to get your fiber. Check it out:
Cholesterol Reduction. By trapping bile acids that would otherwise be absorbed and converted into cholesterol, fiber can help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.

Improved Protein Absorption. Eating foods high in fiber while eating foods high in protein will slow down the breakdown of that protein, thereby allowing for greater absorption.

Better Colon Function. This one you are likely aware of already. I'll leave it at that.

Prevents Body-Fat Storage. Soluble fiber helps the body use carbs for glycogen synthesis and energy production, rather than storing them as fats. Also, just as fiber slows down the body's processing of proteins, fiber can slow down how fast your body metabolizes carbs. For you, this means that your insulin levels will not spike as a result of eating a high-carb food, which is yet another way to help prevent body fat storage.
Now here’s something I bet you didn’t know. Nuts and seeds are loaded with fiber. Dr. Fuhrman talks about in this post, Nuts & Seeds Protect Against Heart Disease:
Raw nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients. They contain lignans, bioflavonoids, minerals, and other antioxidants that protect the fragile freshness of the fats therein; they also contain plant proteins and plant sterols that naturally lower cholesterol. And because nuts and seeds supply certain fibers, phytochemicals, phytosterols, and bioactive nutrients not found in other foods (such as polyphenols and arginine), they have other beneficial effects that prevent blood vessel inflammation.

The Talented Tomato

This little tomato can do a neat trick…once. Take a look:

Monday: Health Points

A recent study indicates pediatric type 2 diabetes is still relatively infrequent, experts are concerned about the trend and the impact the condition, particularly its complications, might have on affected children and families.

"It does exist and it's increasing," noted endocrinologist Dr. Silva Arslanian, director of the Weight Management and Wellness Center at Children's Hospital. "It's increasing because more and more children are becoming obese."
I just yesterday came across research (from a 2007 Ohio State study) involving a certain variety of orange tomato called a Tangerine Tomato. Evidently, people are able to better absorb the antioxidant lycopene from this particular type of tomato than from the more typical red tomatoes.

If you have trouble finding Tangerine Tomatoes at your grocery store, try other kinds of orange tomatoes or gold heirloom varieties. But, whatever kind, color, brand, or type of tomato you choose, always be sure to cook your tomatoes in order to receive the greatest absorption of lycopene.
While obesity has long been suspected of hampering a woman's ability to conceive, the University of Adelaide research is said to be the first to find a direct scientific link.

Researcher Cadence Minge said experiments on female mice showed that fat has an impact on the egg before it is even fertilised.
The teacher announced daily snacks must be healthy. Juice boxes were not allowed. A water bottle was fine, but the drinking fountain even better. Geez, I was starting to really like this school. Fruit and vegetables were strongly suggested, but no cookies, mile-high frosted cupcakes or sugary fruit snacks. I nearly stood up and clapped, but I didn't want to freak out a roomful of mommy strangers. After reading Allie's recent post on water, I will definitely pack a water bottle…

…Think fruits and vegetables. Don't throw those sugary graham crackers in your shopping cart. Stay away from the processed carbohydrates. This is your chance to develop healthier habits for a lifetime. Hey, you might not even need to be the fall guy -- hopefully it's "school policy."
''Children could actually blame their mothers for this,'' said Jane Wardle, director of the Health Behavior Unit at University College London, one of the authors of the study in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Wardle and colleagues asked the parents of 5,390 pairs of identical and non-identical twins to complete a questionnaire on their children's' willingness to try new foods.

Identical twins, who share all genes, were much more likely to respond the same way to new foods than non-identical twins, who like other siblings only share about half their genes. Researchers concluded that genetics played a greater role in determining eating preferences than environment, since the twins lived in the same household.
  • Now, I’m not sure if this is a joke or not, but Diet-Blog is all over something called “The Diet Fork.” Judge for yourself:
The following features will (apparently) lead to weight loss...
  • Shorter and dulled teeth inhibiting user from grasping larger pieces of food at any one time.
  • Smaller triangular shaped surface area allowing dieter to hold less food than many other forks.
  • Uncomfortable grip compelling user to put fork down between bites, slowing the user's eating speed.

A Carrots Life

Here is the boring and awkwardly animated life of a carrot:


Friday: Health Points

Unscrupulous vendors in Thailand have been selling meat of the deadly puffer fish disguised as salmon, causing the deaths of more than 15 people over the past three years, a doctor said Thursday.

Although banned since 2002, puffer fish continues to be sold in large quantities at local markets and restaurants, said Narin Hiransuthikul of Bangkok's Chulalonkorn University Hospital.
A group of Clemson chemists have found a new mechanism for antioxidant activity according to a recent presentation at the 234th American Chemical Society national meeting. According to the researchers, antioxidant bind naturally to iron and copper in the body, preventing the formation of reactive compounds that can damage DNA.
A new study shows that even low levels of weekly exercise - below currently recommended levels -- has major health benefits. In the study, 30 minutes of brisk walking three days per week was enough to drive down blood pressure and improve overall fitness in a group of healthy sedentary adults.

For optimum health, adults are currently recommended to engage in 30 minutes of moderately strenuous exercise on at least five days of the week. But few people achieve this level of weekly activity, often citing lack of time as the reason.
But buying produce directly from local farms is only one aspect of this emerging trend. Another is the large number of farmers markets cropping up around the region, and so popular that Governor Deval Patrick has proclaimed this week Farmers Market Week because, he said, they are "essential to the vitality of Massachusetts farms." The US Department of Agriculture had named Aug. 6 to 11 National Farmers Market Week, noting that such markets have increased by 18 percent across the country since 2004.
  • The obesity epidemic, what’s your take on it? Not sure? Well Freakonomics Blog has compiled a whole bunch of different opinions on it. Check it out:
Similarly, the idea that obesity is itself a disease or causes disease is based largely on correlations in large epidemiological studies, not on any clear causal link between excess weight and disease. With the exception of a few minor conditions (like osteoarthritis), we don’t have any good evidence that adiposity causes any physical harm. By the same statistical criteria used to call obesity a disease, one could also claim that being male, being overly tall, or even being black is a disease (i.e., all correlate with early mortality and morbidity). The fact that we choose to demonize fatness rather than these other traits illustrates how concerns about obesity are rooted far more in political and cultural standards than scientific ones.
Little is known about how chemicals in clothing can affect people. But concern over pesticides and chemicals in fabric has sparked consumer interest in organic baby clothes that can be purchased everywhere from small boutiques to Target.

Formaldehyde is used to give clothes a "permanent press" look. Exposure to it in concentrations of 20 parts per million (ppm) can cause eye, skin and nasal irritations, respiratory problems, asthma and cancer.

More Cruciferous Power

From the July 2007 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

The Hormonal Connection
Your body produces hormones that function as chemical messengers to help control its function. These messengers can take many forms—beneficial or harmful, depending on how well or how badly we eat. The consumption of cruciferous vegetables has been shown to shift hormonal balance to more favorable hormonal compounds. Isothiocyanates form compounds such as diindolylmethane (DIM), which help the body transform estrogen and other hormones into forms that are more easily excreted from the body. Estrogen and testosterone have a functional role in the body, but too much of them and too much of the wrong type can be disease-promoting (such as increasing the risk of breast and prostate cancer). Postmenopausal hormonal replacement therapy has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer and heart disease.

Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer
Cruciferous vegetables have been shown to have a direct effect on human cancer cells, and these effects have been confirmed by numerous animal studies and with human cell lines. Juicing cruciferous vegetables is strongly recommended and has been shown to markedly inhibit the growth of breast cancer with significant death of cancer cells occurring at higher concentrations of cruciferous juice. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) also have been shown to promote cell death in most common cancers, such as colon cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer.

There are various ITCs such as phenylethylisothiocyanate (PEITC), diindolylmethane (DIM), and indole-3-carbinol (I3C) that all work synergistically at different cellular loci to promote excretion of carcinogens and induce killing of cells that are dysplastic or that have cancerous changes. Isothiocyanates also have been shown to have other important immunologic benefits. They ameliorate systemic lupus in mice, inhibit herpes virus replication, and inhibit human papilloma virus.

Some ITCs with Known Biologic Anticancer Activity
ITCs with known biologic anticancer activity include: sulforaphane, PEITC, allyl isothiocyanate, indole-3- carbinol, and 3, 3-diindolylmethante.

One should be cautious of trying to use supplements of these compounds instead of the whole food source. For example, indole-3- carbinol, which is converted to other beneficial metabolites such as DIM, can produce other metabolites that may be tumor promoters if taken in isolation. Taking a supplement of this compound outside of the food containing it could have untoward effects, especially if one has cancer.

The Thyroid Connection
Isothiocyanates were in the past considered goitergens (anti-nutrients) that inhibit the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. However, this no longer thought to be significant in humans. Nutritional excellence Lastly, while everyone eventually jumps on the “cruciferous vegetables are good for you” bandwagon, let’s not forget H = N/C (Health = Nutrient intake divided by Calorie intake). In other words, besides all of their unique features, green cruciferous vegetables still contain more vitamins and minerals per calorie than any other foods.

Cruciferous Phytochemicals at Work

From the July 2007 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

Cruciferous vegetables contain phytochemicals that have unique abilities to modify human hormones, detoxify compounds, and prevent toxic compounds from binding to human DNA, preventing toxins from causing DNA damage that could lead to cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables are unique in that they are rich sources of sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates. It is the presence of glucosinolates that makes a vegetable earn the designation of cruciferous. There have been over 120 glucosinolates identified. These compounds help produce other healthful compounds, which is important since humans do not absorb glucosinolates well.

Myrosinase is an enzyme that is compartmentalized (separated) in the cell walls of cruciferous vegetables. It is released only when the cell walls are damaged (for example, via chewing, chopping, blending, or juicing), at which point it catalyzes the conversion of glucosinolates into isothiocyanates (ITCs) such as indole 3-carbonole. These ITCs are well absorbed and have potent and diverse beneficial effects in humans and other animals.

Myrosinase is deactivated by cooking. The more the food is heated, the more is lost. As a result, fewer isothiocyanates are produced when we cook and overcook these vegetables. Maximum levels of these highly potent anticancer compounds are available from raw vegetables that are somewhat bitter, such as broccoli sprouts, watercress, and arugula.The very high levels of isothiocyanates (ITCs) produced by these foods give that “bitter” taste. However, myrosinase also is produced by the gut flora, so absorption of compounds derived from cruciferous vegetables is still possible from cooked greens.

Sulforaphane, broccoli’s much studied compound, is an isothiocyanate that has a unique mechanism of action. This compound blocks chemical-initiated tumor formation and induces cell cycle arrest in abnormal cells, meaning that it inhibits growth and induces cell death in cells with early cancerous changes in a dose-dependent manner (i.e., the more you eat, the better). Recent studies show that the amount of sulforaphane derived from eating a reasonable amount of broccoli can have dramatic effects to protect against colon cancer.

Dark Vegetables

No, that’s not the name of a horror movie. Rather, some really great veggies that’ll help you ward off disease. The Cancer Blog investigates new research that claims dark fruits and vegetables help fight colon cancer. Take a look:
I'm of the mind that blueberries harness one of the best arsenals of natural cancer-fighting nutrition known to the planet, so it's good to see a new study reiterate this fact. Ever try fresh blueberries on top of 100% whole-grain waffles? Makes an excellent breakfast, while at the same time giving your body a shower of anti-cancer nutrition.

Evidence has shown in the past that anthocyanins (the dark color compounds in some fruits and veggies) can slow the growth of colon cancer cells by 50 to 80 percent. This just in -- they taste fantastic as well.
Here are a couple more dark-powerhouses. From Ten Super Foods to Use in Your Recipes and Menus:
Blueberries/Blackberries are packed with tannins, anthocyanidins, flavonoids, polyphenols, and proanthcyanidins that have been linked to prevention and reversal of age-related mental decline. They also have powerful anti-cancer effects. Use frozen organic berries in the winter when fresh ones are not available.

Carrots/Beets are colorful root crops that add beauty and flavor to dishes. Shredded raw in salads, cooked, or in soups, they are high in fiber and antioxidants compounds such as cartonoids abd betacyanin, a powerful cancer protective agent found to inhibit cell mutations.

Cruciferous Defense Against Cancer

From the July 2007 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

Compounds derived from cruciferous vegetables are our best defense against cancer-causing chemicals in the environment. They inactivate chemical carcinogens before the initiation of cancer can occur, and they enable the removal of these substances from our tissues by a synergistic enhancement of detoxifying enzyme activity. They also can block the formation of tumors initiated by chemicals in lab animals and kill cells that have demonstrated DNA damage, protecting against non-cancerous conditions, such as fibroid tumors, as well.

Cruciferous vegetables help detoxify carcinogens and other toxins, rendering them harmless. They also up-regulate the liver’s ability to remove toxins, remove free radicals, prevent oxidative and DNA damage in cells, transform hormones into beneficial compounds inhibiting hormone- sensitive cancers, enhance and protect against the age-related loss of cellular glutathione, and enable cell death in cells that have abnormal mutations and DNA damage.

A perfect example is a study on prostate cancer showing 28 servings of vegetables per week decrease risk of prostate cancer by 33%, but just 3 or more servings of cruciferous vegetables per week decreased risk of prostate cancer by 41%.

The National Cancer Institute of the National Institute for Health recommends 9 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. I recommend 6 fresh fruits per day and 8 servings of vegetables, with at least 2 servings of cruciferous vegetables per day (one raw and one cooked). Do you eat green cruciferous vegetables daily?

Cruciferous Vegetables

From the July 2007 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

With the growing popularity of nutritional supplements, more and more Americans are looking for accurate information about the nutrients that can make a real difference in their health and longevity. The reality is, however, that the most powerful thing you can do to improve your health is to eat more green vegetables. Americans eat a piddling amount of greens. If they ate a lot more, disease rates of all types would plummet. Not only are vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals, they also contain thousands of phytochemicals that are critically important for our health.

As researchers have looked more deeply into nutritional science, it has become widely known that eating a whole-food, plant-based diet is a far better way to get your nutrients than fiddling around with supplements of various individual nutrients. And the very best way to get the benefits of this superior nutrition is to harness the power of high-nutrient super foods. Not all vegetables are created equal, and one of the most fascinating areas of research in the last 10 years has been the therapeutic value of cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are those in the broccoli and cabbage family and include such foods as bok choy, radishes, and watercress.

Close to 300 case-controlled studies have shown a protective effect of vegetable consumption against cancer, and cruciferous vegetables have the most powerful anticancer effects of all foods. Studies have shown that eating fresh fruits, beans, vegetables, seeds, and nuts reduces the occurrence of cancer. If consumption of plant food intake goes up 20% in a population, cancer rates typically drop 20%. But cruciferous vegetables have been shown to be twice as effective. As cruciferous vegetable intake goes up 20% in a population, cancer rates drop 40%.

Most of the phytonutrients we hear about (vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene) function as antioxidants in your body, meaning that they neutralize free radicals, rendering them harmless. The phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables do this and more; they also activate your body’s own built-in antioxidant control system.

When you take in otherwise natural antioxidants such as vitamin C and E in the form of isolated supplements, they fight little one-on-one skirmishes against free radicals, but not much more. Their beneficial effects are gone in a few hours. Synthetic or isolated fractions of vitamin E, beta carotene, or vitamin C are even less effective and also can cause pro-oxidant behavior, creating more of the free radicals that you are trying to fight.

The benefits of the glucosinolates in whole green vegetables are vastly superior. Instead of getting short-lived benefits (or outright harm), the unique compounds in cruciferous vegetables cycle over and over, protecting your body for 3-5 days after consumption. They fuel numerous bodily systems already in place, enabling them to function more effectively. These systems defend not only against free radicals, but many other types of damage, as well

Dumb Science: Isolated Vitamins NOT Magic Pills

If you spend most of your time reading health news, you’ll soon realize that for every good piece of science, there’s a broad confederacy of junk science. Take this one for example. A new study has determined that taking vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene supplements won’t prevent heart disease in high-risk women. Carolyn Colwell of HealthDay News reports:
"Antioxidants are clearly not the magic bullet for heart disease prevention," said Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, the study's principal investigator and chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston. "We didn't see an overall benefit or risk for these vitamins and cardiovascular disease."

The study shows that vitamins C, E and beta-carotene supplements are no substitute for conventional cardiovascular medications with proven results, added Dr. Nanette K. Wenger, an associate professor in the division of cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Women patients, in particular, seem to "love their antioxidants, and sometimes, for some reason, stop life-saving medications and start taking them," added Wenger, chairwoman of the data safety and monitoring board for the study.

The findings also mean "we have to redouble the efforts on conventional prevention" such as healthy diet, exercise, weight control and avoiding tobacco, Manson said. "One problem is that occasionally, if there is an expectation of benefit from popping a pill, people are less vigilant about controlling established risk factors and much more difficult lifestyle modifications," she added.
Okay, I’m not a doctor, I have no medical background, and honestly, I’m not that bright, but even I know that adding vitamins to a rotten diet isn’t actually going to help improve your health. To quote some farmer, “Y’all can put a pig in a dress, but, it’s still a pig.” When I asked Dr. Fuhrman about this study, he pretty much had the same reaction:
People that still think that individual vitamins like C and E and beta carotene are an answer to improvements in health, should put away their typewriters and white out, and take a ride in their Edsels. But, there is lots of worthless research being done out there.
On a side note, and maybe it’s because I’m too young, but I had to Google Edsels. Okay, back to the junk science at hand. In his work Dr. Fuhrman makes it crystal clear that vitamins and pills alone aren’t the way to superior nutrition. The basis of our health and longevity can be found in the fruits, vegetables, seeds, and legumes around us—eat them! More from Eat to Live:
When you eat mostly natural plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and beans, you get large amounts of various types of fiber. These foods are rich in complex carbohydrates and both insoluble and water-soluble fibers. The fibers slow down glucose absorption and control the rate of digestion. Plant fibers have complex physiological effects in the digestive tract that offer a variety of benefits, such as lowering cholesterol.1
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg!
Continue Reading...

Floating Lettuce

I saw this on television a few months ago. Here’s how they grow hydroponic lettuce:

Answers to Common Questions about Flaxseed

From the December 2002 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

Why is flaxseed considered so healthful?

Flaxseed is rich in lignans, a type of fiber associated with a reduced risk of both breast cancer and prostate cancer, and omega 3 essential fatty acid, also known as alpha linoleic acid (ALA), which is essential for health maintenance and disease prevention. In addition, flaxseed is a good source of iron, zinc, calcium, protein, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and folate.

Where can I buy flaxseed?
You can buy whole flaxseed and packaged ground flaxseed at most health food stores. Increasingly, supermarkets also are selling flaxseed, in their bulk food sections.

Which is better for me, whole or ground flaxseed?
Ground flaxseed provides more nutritional benefits than does whole flaxseed. That’s because the seeds are very hard, making them difficult to crack, even with careful chewing. Grinding breaks the seeds up, making them easier to digest when eaten. If whole flaxseeds remain unbroken, they may pass undigested through the body.

How can I grind the seeds?
Flaxseed is easy to grind, and you likely have the right tool in your kitchen. Grind flaxseed at home using a coffee grinder, VitaMix, food processor, or blender. Like coffee beans, you can grind flaxseed coarsely or finely. Most recipes call for finely ground flaxseed.

What is the difference between brown and golden flaxseed?
Brown and golden flaxseed provide the same nutritional benefits.

How should I store flaxseed and for how long will it keep?
Whole flaxseed comes in Nature’s own finest packaging—its natural hard hull keeps it fresh. You can store clean, dry, good quality, whole flaxseed at room temperature for up to a year. Some people keep a jar of flaxseed handy on their kitchen counter. Ground flaxseed (like all foods that are high in vegetable fat) requires a little more care in handling and storing. It’s best to grind whole flaxseeds as you need them to ensure freshness. After grinding, you should refrigerate or freeze the ground flaxseed in an airtight, opaque container. Handled this way, it will keep for up to 90 days.

Is flaxseed high in calories?

One tablespoon of whole flaxseed (11 grams) contains about 50 calories, 2.5 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fiber, 23 mg of calcium, 33 mcg of folate, and 2.5 grams of essential omega 3 fatty acid. Although flaxseed is over 82 percent fat, over half (57 percent) of the fat in flaxseed is in the form of the omega 3 essential fatty acid.

Are flaxseed oil and flaxseed oil supplements as good as ground flaxseed?
No. I do not recommend the use of flaxseed oil or flaxseed oil supplements. Flaxseed oil is pure fat and virtually devoid of all or most of the nutrients (except for vitamin E) found in ground flaxseed. Also, flaxseed oil is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), and there is evidence that extracted PUFA oils may suppress the immune system, and possibly increase the growth rate of certain cancers and/or tumors. If you want the benefit of flaxseed, eat the ground seeds and avoid the oil.

Are there any downsides to consuming the whole seeds?
Yes. Like all nuts and seeds, flaxseed is very high in calorie density. Therefore, if you are going to use flaxseed, you must do so in moderation and be careful about the portion size. One-and-a-half tablespoons of ground flaxseed will provide an adequate amount of omega 3 fatty acids and has only about 50 calories. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone consume more than 2-3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed in a single day.

What’s the easiest way to use it?
You can add the ground flaxseed to your morning oatmeal or other cereal. I blend ground flaxseed into a fruit smoothie each morning. Some people like to eat the ground flaxseed by itself. They say it has a sweet, nutty flavor.


People in Utah must be crazy? This woman thinks she grew a strawberry inside a tomato. The Associated Press is on it:

My favorite part is the old man, “That is a strawberry, irregardless of what they say. That’s a strawberry.” He needs to get out more. Anyway, in the event that strawberries and tomatoes do meld. They’re both nutritional heavyweights. Dr. Fuhrman explains in Disease-Proof Your Child:
Berries: Add berries to morning cereals. Make dessert sorbets from frozen berries. My kids love frozen strawberries blended with an orange or orange juice. We usually add a slice of dried pineapple and use our Vita-Mix to make a smooth and delicious strawberry sorbet.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a wonderful food in their own class. Whether you consider them a fruit or vegetable, it matters not. Slice them into pita pocket sandwiches. Mash some almond butter with a fork into some tomato sauce to add to the vegetable-tomato-sprout avocado pita pocket. What a great school lunch.
And in fact, Dr. Fuhrman considers tomatoes and strawberries two of the best foods you can eat. Here’s the complete list:
Top Seven Foods for Good Health and Longevity
  • Black raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Flax Seeds
  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli sprouts

Potato Dance Party

I guarantee this strange song will be stuck in your head. Get down potato—get down! Take a look:

Healthy Eating Sticks with Kids

From what I’ve noticed, kids and veggies mix like oil and water. Remember this video? This little girl is hardly enthusiastic about her nutrient-rich green beans. Take a look:

I’m sure for some parents this video is like a Vietnam flashback. Make’s it hard to believe Dr. Fuhrman would say something like this. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
It is important to realize that it is never too late to teach your children the importance of eating healthy. As you learn, share enthusiastically with them. Work on improving your diets together. If your child is a teenager, let her read what you are reading. You may want to add that it will help their complexion and body shape. Even teenagers will make beneficial improvements in their diets when presented with compelling reasons. I have lectured to high school assemblies many times and am always impressed by how interested, enthusiastic, and willing to make changes teenagers can be. Research supports this willingness of adolescents to make significant dietary change when presented with accurate compelling information.1
But, I’m inclined to believe him—yeah, I’m brownnosing a bit—because a new study claims diet advice given to children early on, stays with them as they grow up. The Associated Press reports:
The study of children in Finland found that those who were taught to focus on healthy fats -- those found in fish, nuts, seeds and oils from plants -- had slightly lower cholesterol levels compared to those who ate an unrestricted diet.

The researchers have been following the 1,062 children since the age of 7 months. About half of the children and their families were counseled to shift fat intake from animal-based saturated fats to healthier unsaturated fats. The rest did not get specific diet advice. The new study reported the results on the children at age 14.

Dr. Harri Niinikoski, lead author of the study done at the University of Turku in Finland, said children begin forming their eating and lifestyle habits in childhood.

"We think that this lifestyle change can be started early," he said.
Interesting, take me for example. All my life my mother drummed into my head, “Fast food will kill you.” As a result, to this day I can count on my fingers how many times I’ve had McDonalds.

Sterols: Plant Nutrients, Heart Helpers

More good news for vegetable-based diets. Prevention Magazine reports that plant sterols help to protect your heart. Julie Upton has more:
Sterols and stanols are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and oils. Adding 2g of either to your daily diet can help lower your total cholesterol by about 10% — often within 2 weeks, according to numerous studies published in both American and European medical journals. That may not sound like a substantial reduction, but it could translate to a 20% lower risk of heart disease — which is the number one killer in the United States, says Joseph Keenan, MD, a professor of family medicine and a joint professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota.

Our primer will help you better understand how these unique compounds work, how they can protect your health, and the easiest way to incorporate them into your diet…

…Plant sterols and stanols act very much like cholesterol itself: Soft and waxy, they serve as building blocks for hormones, vitamins, and cell walls. These structural similarities give them their cholesterol-lowering capabilities. As sterols travel through the digestive tract, they compete with cholesterol, so some of the sterols are absorbed into the bloodstream instead of artery-clogging cholesterol. The bonus: Studies show that sterols and stanols don't affect artery-protecting HDL cholesterol.
Clearly not new information, but its still great to hear this echoed. So, are you looking for a good source of sterols? Dr. Fuhrman thinks eating nuts and seeds are a smart move. From the March 2007 edition of Healthy Times:
Raw nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients. They contain lignans, bioflavonoids, minerals, and other antioxidants that protect the fragile freshness of the fats therein; they also contain plant proteins and plant sterols that naturally lower cholesterol. And because nuts and seeds supply certain fibers, phytochemicals, phytosterols, and bioactive nutrients not found in other foods (such as polyphenols and arginine), they have other beneficial effects that prevent blood vessel inflammation.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected and novel findings in nutritional epidemiology in the past five years has been that nut consumption offers such strong protection against heart disease. Several clinical studies have observed beneficial effects of diets high in nuts (including walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and other nuts) on blood lipids.1 A review of 23 intervention trials using nuts and seeds demonstrated convincingly that eating nuts daily decreases total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.2 Not only do nuts and seeds lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, they can help normalize a dangerous type of LDL molecule (the small, dense LDL particles that damage the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels).3
But remember, oils aren’t the best source of sterols. Dr. Fuhrman would rather you get them from the whole food and not oil. From Cholesterol Protection for Life:
Do not use oil: Instead, use nuts and avocado to flavor dressings and sauces. Oil is a high calorie food, with the vast majority of nutrients lost. In comparison, the use of raw nuts and seeds such as flax, walnuts, and sunflower seeds have shown remarkable protective effects for both heart disease and cancer. When you consume your fat in nature's protective package, (nuts and seeds) in place of extracted oils, you get the lignins and flavonoids and other valuable nutrients that support excellent health.

For example, flax seed oil is also oil and just like other oils it contains 120 calories per tablespoon. Ground flax seeds contain lignans, flavonoids beneficial fibers, sterols and a host of other beneficial substances and only has 30 calories per tablespoon. Eat the food not the extracted oil. Excessive amounts of oil are not favorable. Even too much of the benefical oil in flax is linked to higher rates of prostate cancer.4
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Iron-Rich Plants

According to this Reuters report, iron deficiency is a major global issue, but some Swiss scientists have a solution. Grow plenty of iron-rich plants. Here’s more:

Growing iron-rich plants may be the best way to combat iron deficiencies in people around the world, Swiss scientists said on Thursday.

With genetic engineering and selective breeding of such plants, growers can make strides against a problem that affects two billion people worldwide, they wrote in the Lancet medical journal…

… Iron-rich meat is too costly for many in the developing world, they said. Iron supplements in pill form are difficult to distribute in those nations, and many people are reluctant to take them.

While fortifying foods such as wheat-flour or rice with iron has worked well, genetically enriching these plants would preserve more of the mineral during processing.

That’s why I eat a ton of Romaine lettuce! In Nutrient Density of Green Vegetables Dr. Fuhrman points out that green vegetables are packed with iron. Check it out:

Nutrients Present in 100-Calorie Portions (Iron)
  • Broccoli: 3.5 mg
  • Sirloin Steak: .7 mg
  • Romaine Lettuce: 7.7 mg
  • Kale: 5.8 mg

More iron than steak and cheaper! Seems like a no-brainer.

Free Fruit Fridays

Here’s an idea. Want school children to eat more fruit? Give it away for free! The Diabetes Blog explains:
Australia has its own problems with rising obesity and diabetes, and this fiber-loaded funding is more than just good stuff on Fridays. Premier John Brumby stated the Victorian plan is more comprehensive than a UK free fruit program that resulted in limited impact, per a published study last month in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Brumby explained Free Fruit Friday is part of a broader strategy, pairing with other programs such as Go For Your Life, another government program touting healthy eating and physical activity. He believes the effort will create behavioral change. Bold statement. I'll be curious to read the program evaluation results down the line. You can't help but like the idea of kids scooping up free fruits and vegetables in schools. The initiative suggests schools purchase locally -- fresher produce and support of the small farmer.
Well, if Aussie kids are anything like American kids, this should work. People love free stuff. Either way, it sure beats a pen.

A Peach Returns to the Earth

Watch as this peach slowly melts back into the earth from whence it came. Take a look:

Flavonoids and Bioflavonoids

From the July 2007 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

Flavonoids and bioflavonoids mean the same thing. I will refer to them as flavonoids only. They refer to phytochemical compounds in plants that are absorbed by the body but then rapidly excreted as if they were a foreign substance, but without causing damage. Flavonoids do not function like conventional hydrogendonating antioxidants, but have an interesting hodgepodge of effects inside the cells. The hallmark of their unique properties is that they do not stay in the body very long and induce phase II detoxification enzymes in the liver, while at the same time attracting other toxins in the body to be expelled simultaneously. Flavonoids are like dust mops for toxins that get thrown out along with the dust that they collect.

Too Much of a Good Thing
Taking extra large amounts of supplemental flavonoids could be harmful, not helpful.Too many flavonoids, and especially too much of a single flavonoid, may not be health favorable.

For example, the potent antioxidant activity of epicatechin found in test tube chocolate may have very little, if any, antioxidant activity in the body because it is a flavonoid that is rapidly excreted by the body. The resveratrol found in grapes and red wine and the potent catechins in green tea may have powerful and beneficial effects, but if taken in concentrated dosages in a supplement form may do more harm than good.

Important Flavonoid Study
A team of University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) scientists led by C.F. Skibola and M.T. Smith has found that high concentrations of flavonoids in supplements sold at health stores actually may promote cancer formation. In a study of the impact of flavonoid intake on the cell, scientists found that excessively high levels of flavonoids in the body can damage the chromosomes and DNA in cells, leaving them more susceptible to cancer. Their study was published in the scientific journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.6

Populations living in Japan show the highest levels of flavonol intake due to their high green tea consumption.“ Flavonoids found in foods are for the most part very beneficial for a variety of reasons,” Skibola said. “They can possess antioxidant, antiinflammatory, [and] anti-proliferative activity.”

The ingredients in tofu and soybean that are thought to decrease the rate of cancer are the isoflavones genistein and diadzein.Populations in Asian countries consume approximately 20-80 grams of these isoflavones each day,while those in Western countries consume approximately one-three grams. Genistein is believed to have anticancer effects because it can act as an estrogen antagonist, which inhibits the reaction that estrogen has on cells.

“Soy contains phytoestrogens which are compounds with weak estrogenic activity,” Skibola said. “We know that individuals who have more soy in their diets—typically individuals of Asian descent—have lower risk of hormonally-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer.”

At low levels, estrogenic compounds, such as the phytoestrogens in soy, act like the estrogens synthesized naturally by the body. They outcompete the estrogens, thereby lowering the possibility for the estrogen to promote breast cancer. The phytoestrogens in soy compete with endogenous estrogens and inhibit a number of enzymes involved in estrogen metabolism. This is protective—by enhancing estrogen clearance through the body and altering the circulating forms of estrogen in the body to more favorable forms.

Supplement Problems

Along with the rising popularity of flavonoids has come a rise in production by the supplement industry, which has rushed to package and market flavonoids in the form of pills. At low concentrations, flavonoids help the body get rid of harmful free radicals and also promote the inhibition of enzymes like protein kinase, which is necessary in cell division. The effects of flavonoids are thought to be potentially anticarcinogenic because flavonoids can block and inhibit the excessive cell division characterized by cancer. Certain flavonoids can inhibit enzymes, such as protein kinases, that are involved in cellular proliferation and tumor progression. This is one reason flavonoids can be considered anticarcinogens. But even with all of the benefits that flavonoids provide the body, a great danger lies in overconsumption of the chemicals, the UC Berkeley scientists said. Although phytoestrogens are not as potent as endogenously produced estrogens, excess amounts of these compounds can actually promote breast cancer and feminize males.

According to the scientists, the average person in the United States consumes approximately 500-1000 milligrams of flavonoids each day in his or her diet. Popular flavonoid supplements, such as ginkgo biloba, usually contain 10-20 times more than the amount recommended for the human body in one pill. There exists a common misconception that if something is good, then much more is better. This false understanding may cause individuals who are looking for health benefits to ingest dangerously high levels of these compounds in isolated forms. The high levels and the unnatural delivery may create imbalances and effects that are unexpected. “At high concentrations, certain flavonoids can act as pro-oxidants and become mutagenic, meaning that they could cause oxidative damage and cause DNA and chromosome damage,” Skibola said. “They also can inhibit a number of enzymes that can alter normal body functions. They can interfere with the metabolism of drugs and with mineral absorption in our bodies.”

When consumed in excessive quantities, flavonoids act as mutagens and contribute to free radical formation. They can damage DNA, break chromosomes, and act as endocrine disrupters, inhibiting enzymes such as DNA topoisomerase, which could lead to DNA breaks that potentially lead to cancer. “Thus,” the researchers said,“ in high doses, the adverse effects of flavonoids may outweigh their beneficial ones, and caution should be exercised in ingesting them at levels above that which would be obtained from a diet rich in high-nutrient plant foods.”

Natural Not Necessarily Safe
Just because something comes from a natural source doesn’t mean it can’t hurt you. For example, Skibola and Smith found that excessive intake of flavonoids may dangerously harm a growing fetus in a pregnant woman’s body because flavonoids are small and readily cross the placental barrier between a mother and the child in her womb.

All fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids. If your diet were 100% from flavonoid-rich fruits and vegetables, you would get only the beneficial effects. The problem lies in using flavonoid concentrates produced by pharmaceutical and nutriceutical companies who are producing supplements of these substances in amounts 20-100 times as high as could be achieved from natural foods. The amount of flavonoids consumed by even strict vegetarians eating all healthful plants comes nowhere near the dangerous concentrations in supplements, the scientists said.

“There is no evidence that a veggie diet is harmful,” Smith said. “You can’t eat enough onions, soy, etcetera to harm yourself.” In light of the research, Smith and Skibola hope to convey a message to the supplement industry about the potential harm of excessive flavonoid uptake. “The supplement industry needs to stop selling these potentially harmful products,” Smith said. “Until these supplements are shown to be safe, they should not be sold. If I were the FDA, I would ban them. One of the mainstays of medicine is ‘first do no harm.’”

Combining Whole Foods
Combining cruciferous vegetables with other whole foods maximizes their beneficial effects. Scientific studies show that eating whole foods is more effective at fighting cancer than consuming extracts or individual components of those foods. The effectiveness is increased further when a variety of whole, nutrient-rich, natural foods is eaten at the same time. A recent study on rats illustrated this concept when a compound made of tomatoes and broccoli was compared to feeding them the powders made from extracts from either tomatoes or broccoli. The combination of tomatoes and broccoli was dramatically more effective at shrinking the prostate tumors (52% shrinkage) and showed the power of using food over supplements for cancer prevention and treatment. The group given lycopene (in powder form derived from tomatoes) showed an insignificant effect.7

Optimal benefits will occur from a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables. Include them in both raw and cooked forms from a variety of foods. These benefits cannot be duplicated by taking any one pre-formed compound or supplement. A consensus has been building for over a quarter of a century that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, and seeds is associated with lower risks of developing various types of malignancies.

The evidence is now overwhelming that cruciferous vegetables play a major and unique role in the widely recognized protective effects of natural plant foods against cancer— and are the most important player in this arena. The increased production of these biologically active compounds from raw vegetables is consistent with the studies that show a dramatically lower risk of cancer in those consuming more raw greens in their diet.8 For those in the know, these foods are the most important nutritional factors to prevent common human cancers.9
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Quinoa, Quinoa, Quinoa!

Ever tried quinoa? Don’t worry. I haven’t either, but I’ve heard it’s great! And Diet Blog offers up five good reasons to give quinoa a try. Here are a couple good ones:
3. Quinoa is a good source of protein.
A ½ cup serving of dry quinoa has approximately 11 grams of protein. When cooked, one cup of quinoa is about 254 calories and has almost 9 grams of protein.

4. Quinoa is loaded with minerals.
Quinoa contains potassium, magnesium and manganese. Of these three minerals, magnesium is one of the most common mineral deficiencies in the body. Magnesium helps regulate the absorption of calcium, energy production and aids with muscle contraction.
Now, when you’re ready, give these recipes a whirl: Get Your Quinoa On.

Bananas vs. Cats

These cats are having a tough time with a gang of rabid bananas. Take a look:

Wait, aren't they’re Siamese cats. Don’t they know karate?

Healthy Eating or Food Reich?

Diet Blog examines the differences between healthy eaters and food Nazis. Here’s a peak:
  • Healthy eaters do their best to make good choices - and concentrate on looking after their own bodies.
  • Food Nazis not only control their own diet - they tell everyone else what to do as well.
  • Healthy eaters realize that personal responsibility and education are keys to eating right.
  • Food Nazis want to ban everything.
What are you? I think I’m a little of both.

Wait, Diet Foods are Junk?

Yeah. I know, hard to believe. New research has determined that low-calorie diet foods and drinks can actually contribute to obesity in children. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
The study found that animals learn to associate the taste of food with the amount of caloric energy it provides. The researchers speculate that children who eat low-calorie versions of foods that normally have a high calorie content may develop distorted connections between taste and calorie content, resulting in overeating as the children grow up.

"The use of diet food and drinks from an early age into adulthood may induce overeating and gradual weight gain through the taste conditioning process that we have described," lead author and sociologist Dr. David Pierce, of the University of Alberta, said in a prepared statement.

In a series of experiments published Aug. 8 in the journal Obesity, the researchers found that young rats started to overeat when they received low-calorie food and drink. Adolescent rats did not overeat when given low-calorie items.
You mean the standard American definition of low-calorie and all the misinformation it entails doesn’t work? No way! That was heavy sarcasm folks. Skip the low-cal junk food and try making your kids healthy snacks like these. From Followhealthlife’s recipe category:
Pita Apple Bake
2 apples, chopped
¼ cup raisins (optional)
2 tbsp. water or apple juice
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed (optional)
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 whole-wheat pita, split and separated
Heat the apples, raisins (if desired), and water or juice over a low flame for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and mix in flaxseed and cinnamon. Cut pita in half and fill with apple mixture. Toast in the toaster oven on high for 3 minutes. Try it with other fruits, like pears or peaches, too.

Blueberry and Flax Yogurt
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup regular soy milk
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
3 medjool or 6 Deglet Noor dates
Blend until smooth. Chill and serve. Great for school lunches too.

Fuhrman Fudgsicles
2 ripe bananas
1 cup cashew nuts
2 tablespoons carob powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Blend ingredients together in blender or food processor. Spoon out into ice pop tray and freeze. Rinse outside of popsicle outside of popsicle tray with hot water to pull the pops out of the tray easily.

Coumadin, Vitamin K, and a Plant-Based Diet

From the September 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

I have been asked by multiple individuals to give a complete answer with guidelines for patients on Coumadin (Warfarin is the generic name) who have been told by their health professionals to avoid green vegetables because of the interaction between Coumadin and vitamin K.

This subject is of interest to me because I am a physician and author who advocates a green vegetable-rich diet for both weight loss and disease reversal and longevity. As a proponent of a diet rich in leafy greens, broccoli, and other foods rich in vitamin K, my dietary recommendations often contradict the advice of dietitians, nurses, and doctors who advise their patients taking Coumadin to avoid vitamin K-containing foods.

The reason health professionals recommend that their patients on Coumadin avoid vitamin K containing foods is because Coumadin produces its anticoagulation (blood thinning) effects by interfering with the activation of a vitamin K-dependent enzyme that is needed to build clotting factors.

When you ingest more vitamin K from green vegetables, you can decrease the effectiveness of Coumadin. A higher dose of the drug will then be required to maintain the recommended degree of blood thinning. The term “blood thinning” is a lay term that means a reduction in the natural ability of the body to form a blood clot.

The following definitions are important in order to understand this issue:

Coagulation: refers to the formation of blood clots formed by clotting factors and platelets, a normal body reaction when, for example, you cut yourself. Coumadin (Warfarin) is called an anticoagulant because it works against the formation of blood clots.

clots formed inside the blood vessels, typically to seal a defect in the vessel wall. These clots, when formed in the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen, cause heart attacks. Thrombus is singular; thrombi is plural.

a traveling clot, usually caused by a thrombus that breaks off and travels to a distal portion of the artery where it is narrower, occluding it, leading to a stroke, pulmonary infarction, or heart attack. A traveling thrombus is an embolus. Embolus is singular; emboli is plural.

In many cases, Coumadin is used as a preventive treatment to reduce the chance of forming emboli that could cause a stroke. Coumadin is most often prescribed for patients with atrial fibrillation, a common irregularity in the heart rate. When you have this irregular heartbeat, the turbulent flow of blood increases the likelihood of the formation of an embolus that can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Coumadin therapy also is used by people who have experienced a serious blood clot.

Serious Side Effects
Since Coumadin is a drug given to prevent clots, the major side effect is bleeding. When you are taking Coumadin, you will not stop bleeding easily if you are cut. If you get in a car accident, you will more likely bleed to death. If you have a stomach ulcer or a broken blood vessel in your digestive tract while taking Coumadin, you can bleed to death.

The main problem with this medication is its very narrow therapeutic range—too much, and you can suffer from a major bleeding episode; too little, and it is ineffective at preventing embolic events. Patients have to be closely monitored with blood tests and their dose adjusted accordingly to make sure they are taking the correct amount.

According to current estimates, 70 percent of patients on Coumadin tend to stop taking the medicine because of frustration with blood tests, dosage changes, and side effects. While Coumadin monitoring is a medical necessity, many times the demands of heavy patient loads can make it very challenging for busy physicians to follow patients as closely as necessary.

Besides the risk of a major bleed, another serious but more infrequent complication of Coumadin therapy is drug-induced limb gangrene and skin necrosis. Other adverse reactions that occur infrequently include white blood cell diseases, hair loss, allergic reactions, diarrhea, dizziness, hepatitis and abnormal liver function, skin rash, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, and itching.

Physicians treat patients with Coumadin primarily to decrease the occurrence of thrombo embolism. They perceive that this risk has a greater clinical impact than the risk of Coumadin induced bleeding. However, only recently has the extent of the risks of bleeding been thoroughly investigated. A recent meta-analysis that pooled data from 33 separate studies examined the bleeding rates of patients who received at least three months of anticoagulation therapy. Major bleeding occurred at a rate of 7.22 per 100 patient-years, and fatal bleeding occurred at the rate of 1.3 per 100 patient-years.1 That means if 10 people were put on Coumadin therapy for ten years each, seven out of the ten would have suffered a bleeding event and one would have died from taking Coumadin.

Only for High-Risk Patients
Before 1990, Coumadin therapy for the prevention of stroke for those who had atrial fibrillation was limited to those who also had additional risk factors, such as rheumatic heart disease and prosthetic heart valves.

In recent years, however, hundreds of thousands of patients with atrial fibrillation, including those without significant accompanying risk factors, have been placed on Coumadin to decrease the risk of embolic stroke. Medical studies have shown that patients with atrial fibrillation, who also have other risk factors for strokes, did have a survival advantage and a reduced risk of strokes when Coumadin was prescribed. The results were considerably better than those in high-risk patients who only used aspirin, but not considerably better in patients who had only atrial fibrillation and no other serious risk factors.

Younger patients with atrial fibrillation and those without cardiac risk factors have not been demonstrated to have lived longer as a result of taking Coumadin. Aspirin does just as well in this low-risk group mainly because strokes are more infrequent.

The American College of Cardiology recommends aspirin, not Coumadin, for those patients with atrial fibrillation who have a relatively low risk for embolic stroke. That includes patients who do not have diabetes, advanced atherosclerosis, poorly controlled blood pressure, an enlarged heart, a recent embolic event, obesity, or who smoke. In other words, it is standard practice that treatment with Coumadin be guided by the risk of thromboembolic events and not be used for those patients at relatively low risk.

Eat more healthfully and stop taking Coumadin. The main problem with the studies that show that patients at risk of stroke benefit from anticoagulation with Coumadin is that they tested mostly high-risk patients on the typical disease-creating American diet, not low-risk patients on a vegetable-heavy, plant-based diet. As one’s diet changes to include more vegetation and less and less animal products and refined foods, one’s cholesterol drops, one’s blood pressure typically decreases, and one’s risk of a heart attack or embolic stroke plummets.

A high-nutrient, plant-based diet already has been demonstrated in medical studies to have a powerful effect at decreasing the risk of embolic stroke as well as heart attacks. In fact, in the Nurses Health Study a mere 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables reduced risk of embolic stroke by 30 percent (and this is still a poor diet by my standards). 2 Another study looking at the consumption of greens, vegetables, and daily fruit consumption found a dramatic decrease in stroke incidence (approaching 50 percent) when they compared high and low fruit and vegetable consumption.3 My dietary recommendations, extremely low in salt and offering the equivalent of more than 10 servings per day of stroke-protecting produce, have been demonstrated to dramatically lower cholesterol and offer a much greater resistance to both strokes and heart attacks than Coumadin therapy. For people following my nutritional advice, the use of Coumadin becomes ill-advised. The use of this dietary intervention quickly drops people from a high-risk to a low-risk status. In most cases, Coumadin is no longer needed.

Most people on Coumadin would be much safer if they ate an ideal diet with lots of vitamin K containing greens; took an aspirin, EPA/DHA fatty acids, and LDL protect daily; and stopped taking the Coumadin. The risk of all causes of death would decrease precipitously. Eating right will not cause you to bleed to death. Instead, it can save your life.

Natural anticoagulants to consider instead of Coumadin are tomato juice, pomegranate juice, fish oil, vitamin E, horse chestnut seed extract, and ginkgo biloba.

Is Coumadin the Only Hope?
For those who absolutely must take Coumadin, because of a recent thrombotic event, the danger of not eating a healthful diet exceeds the risk of increasing the Coumadin dose slightly to accommodate the healthier diet. As long as the amount of greens you eat is consistent, your doctor can adjust your Coumadin dose to accommodate it.

For the patient who must stay on Coumadin, the diet must be consistent from day to day to avoid fluctuations in the effectiveness of the drug. To keep the vitamin K amount constant, it is sensible to eat one large raw salad a day and one serving of dark green vegetables such as asparagus and string beans, but leave out the dark green leafy vegetables, such as steamed kale, collards, and spinach. Adding some of those to a soup is okay, however. The goal is to keep your vitamin K level stable, so the amount of blood thinning does not swing into a danger zone. A dangerous level of blood thinning can occur if the dose of Coumadin is adjusted to a high vitamin K intake and then suddenly the patient does not eat many vitamin K-containing foods for a few days. In other words, the main goal is to eat the same amount of vitamin K-containing foods every day.

In summary, the evidence indicates that both Coumadin and aspirin are effective for prevention of emboli in patients with atrial fibrillation. Coumadin is more effective than aspirin in those very high-risk patients, but is associated with a higher rate of serious bleeding. The advice of the typical healthcare provider to severely limit vitamin K-containing foods does not consider the risk reduction that occurs from the dietary improvements. A diet high in processed foods and animal products, although low in vitamin K, will increase your risk of a heart attack and stroke. Instead, eat even more of those high-vitamin K foods and, if at all possible, get off the Coumadin.
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Sowing Seeds of Good Health

From the March 2007 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

In addition to being tasty and healthful, nuts and seeds are portable, making them important foods to take on along when traveling. How else can you carry half a day’s calories in a little pocket in your computer case? Nuts and seeds are tiny packages of high-calorie, high-nutrient goodness that can enable you to climb a mountain on an all-day hike without eating any of the high-calorie, low-nutrient junk food everyone else is consuming.

Seeds are particularly wonderful foods. They have all of the advantages of nuts and more. They are higher in protein than nuts and have many additional important nutrients. Each seed is a living food that, if stored under favorable conditions, can still germinate after as long as 200 or more years.

Flaxseed is more that just a terrific source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids; it also is rich in anticancer lignans. Plus, it contains mucilage that lubricates and eases bowel movements. While you can buy ground flaxseed, it is best to grind your own fresh at home. The best flaxseed grow in low cadmium soils, such as where Northern Edge brand flaxseed is grown. In studies involving women who have breast cancer, those who were given flaxseed had reduced tumor growth compared with those who were not.1

Sunflower seeds are exceedingly rich in vitamin E, selenium, iron, and other minerals. With 22 percent of calories from protein and rich in tryptophan, sunflower seeds are the healthiest way vegans can make sure they get sufficient protein. Pumpkin seeds are high in phytochemicals, calcium, and iron, and are another good source of omega-3’s.

Sesame seeds have the highest level of calcium of any food in the world. Interestingly, they not only have a highly absorbable spectrum of vitamin E, they increase the bioactivity of vitamin E in the body.2 Comparing the many forms of vitamin E in sesame seed with the vitamin E in supplements is like comparing a real horse to a toy horse. Sesamin, a sesame lignan, has beneficial effects on postmenopausal hormonal status, raises antioxidant activity in body cells, decreases the risk of breast cancer, and lowers cholesterol.3
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Powerful Flax

The Cancer Blog knows flaxseed is one heck of a super food. Take a look:
Flax, also known as Common Flax or Linseed, is an annual plant that grows to 120 cm tall, with slender stems. Native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India, its leaves are green, its flowers blue, its fruit round and containing glossy brown seeds. Grown for both its seeds and its fibers, parts of this plant are used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets, and soap. The seeds, like what sit in my refrigerator, come in two forms -- brown and yellow or golden. The yellow, golden variety is the one most often consumed.

Consumption of flax seed is good for several reasons, thanks to lignans that power it with nutrition. It contains beneficial levels of omega-3 fatty acids, promotes heart health, lessons the severity of diabetes, and has anti-cancer properties. A series of research studies at the University of Toronto have shown that flaxseed can reduce tumor growth in mice, particularly the tumors found in human post-menopausal breast cancer.
Dr. Fuhrman’s down with flax too. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
Flax seeds are rich in lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, and scientific studies have confirmed that flax seeds have a positive influence on everything from cholesterol levels and constipation to cancer and heart disease. Use ground flax seed in oatmeal, or add them to whipped frozen bananas, stewed apples, and cinnamon and nut balls. Keep in mind that the scientifically documented benefits from flax seeds come from raw, ground flax seed, not flax seed oil.

Nuts & Seeds Protect Against Heart Disease

From the March 2007 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

Raw nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients. They contain lignans, bioflavonoids, minerals, and other antioxidants that protect the fragile freshness of the fats therein; they also contain plant proteins and plant sterols that naturally lower cholesterol. And because nuts and seeds supply certain fibers, phytochemicals, phytosterols, and bioactive nutrients not found in other foods (such as polyphenols and arginine), they have other beneficial effects that prevent blood vessel inflammation.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected and novel findings in nutritional epidemiology in the past five years has been that nut consumption offers such strong protection against heart disease. Several clinical studies have observed beneficial effects of diets high in nuts (including walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and other nuts) on blood lipids.1 A review of 23 intervention trials using nuts and seeds demonstrated convincingly that eating nuts daily decreases total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.2 Not only do nuts and seeds lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, they can help normalize a dangerous type of LDL molecule (the small, dense LDL particles that damage the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels).3

Ellagitannins (ETs) are dietary polyphenols with potent antioxidant and other cancer chemopreventive activities that are found in berries, nuts (especially walnuts), and seeds.4 Walnuts can reduce Creactive protein and harmful plaque adhesion molecules, two significant markers of inflammation in arteries. The result is improved, and even restored, endothelial function (which includes the elastic property of arteries that allows dilation when necessary to meet an increased demand of blood).According to the researchers, walnuts are the first food to show such cardiovascular benefits.5

Eating nuts provides more benefits than simply lowering cardiovascular risk factors, such as lowering blood glucose or cholesterol levels. Studies on nuts show that they actually decrease the end point of cardiovascular death and increase overall life span.6 So far, five large prospective cohort studies (the Adventist Health Study, the Iowa Women Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, the Physicians’ Health Study, and the CARE Study) have examined the relation between nut consumption and the risk of atherosclerotic heart disease, and all have found a strong inverse association.

Notably, the protective effect of nut consumption on heart disease is not offset by increased mortality from other causes. In fact, nut consumption has been found to be inversely related to all cause mortality in all tested populations, including whites, blacks, and the elderly. Eating nuts and seeds offers a well-documented intervention for increasing longevity.

The beneficial effects of nut consumption observed in clinical and epidemiologic studies underscore the importance of distinguishing the differences between different types of fat. Most fats in nuts are mono and polyunsaturated fats that lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. However, the favorable fat issue does not alone account for the health benefits of nuts and seeds. Most importantly, these powerful health benefits are not achieved when nut or seed oils are substituted for whole nuts and seeds as a caloric source.

Based on the data from the Nurses’ Health Study, it was estimated that substitution of the fat from one ounce of nuts for equivalent energy from carbohydrate in an average diet was associated with a 30% reduction in heart disease risk, and the substitution of nut fat for saturated fat was associated with 45% reduction in risk.

Frank Hu, M.D., possibly the leading researcher on the value of nuts in the American diet and an associate of Walter Willett at the Harvard School of Public Health, says, “Our epidemiological studies have shown that eating about one ounce of nuts a day will reduce the risk of heart disease by over 30 percent.”

How Dr. Willett, who co-authored many of the studies that documented the value of eating nuts and seeds, can put oil instead of nuts at the base of his food pyramid, is beyond comprehension. Clearly, even respected research physicians make recommendations based on social, economic, and political motivations even when the science says something completely different.

Powerful Findings
The Physicians Health Study is the most fascinating and perhaps most important of the studies. It found that nuts and seeds do not just lower cholesterol and protect against heart attacks; components of nuts apparently have anti-arrhythmic and anti-seizure effects that dramatically reduce the occurrence of sudden death.7 These beneficial rhythm stabilizing effects of nuts and seeds are not merely due to the amount of omega-3 fatty acids they contain, but also to other beneficial qualities of these natural foods.

When 21,454 male participants enrolled in the U.S. Physicians’ Health Study were followed for an average of 17 years, researchers found a lower risk of sudden cardiac death and other coronary heart disease end points after controlling for known cardiac risk factors and other dietary habits. When compared with men who rarely or never consumed nuts, those who consumed nuts two or more times per week had reduced risks of sudden cardiac death by over 50 percent.8

Sudden cardiac death is not a heart attack. This means that the consumption of nuts powerfully reduces the chance of having a life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. People who have heart disease do not always die of heart attacks; they die of an irregular heartbeat that prevents the heart from pumping properly. Removing nuts and seeds from one’s diet may actually increase the risk of one of these fatal rhythm disturbances.

Witnessing Success

During my 16 years of medical practice, the most common reasons patients have come to see me have been high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, angina, diabetes, and being overweight. People following my nutritional advice have seen dramatic improvements in their conditions. They have lost weight, their blood pressure and cholesterol have normalized, and their atherosclerosis has reversed itself in impressive and often dramatic fashion. All of these individuals were advised to include raw nuts and seeds in their diets Continue Reading...

Tips for Eating Out

In the spirit of Eating to Live on the Outside, The Cardio Blog offers up some pretty sound tips for eating out. Here’s a few I liked:
  • Preview the menu, if possible, and make a healthy choice in advance. The key here is sticking to your choice -- no backing out last minute for the Alfredo-covered steak
  • Ask questions on how it's prepared, how big the portion is and what's in it.
  • Order the dish with the most vegetables, and of course choose the veggies or salad over the fries as a side
How about that first one. Sound familiar?

It's Like Totally a Gym!

I didn’t realize it until I read this article, but gyms aren’t really setup for teenagers. Take my gym for example. It’s got lots of classes and amenities for adults, childcare, and seniors programs, but not much for teeny-boppers. What a great business opportunity. Make gyms “cool” for teenagers. Nora Isaacs of The New York Times reports:
Conceived for teenagers, Overtime Fitness has a rock-climbing tower, a lounge area with a flat-screen television and a study room with Internet access and books like “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens,” where teenagers can get academic tutoring and attend seminars on health, stress management and relationships.

Harried parents head to the gym with a purpose: to get in a solid block of cardio, then get out. Quick.

Teenagers think differently. They want a place to chill after school with pals, where they can go online, watch reruns of “The Munsters” and maybe even break a sweat. After a snack.

“Sometimes in the middle of our workout, we head down to the 7-Eleven to buy a hot dog,” said Suliman, a sophomore at Los Altos High School.

Until recently, health clubs passed over the hard-to-please teenage set and even had policies to keep them out. After all, what club manager wants to herd cats? But in the last year, smaller gyms have started wooing the MySpace generation. Most of the effort so far involves adding a teenagers-only lounge and Internet access, and creating centers with workout equipment, foosball tables and juice bars.
Heck, some of that stuff sounds cool to me, well, not everything. That mid-workout hotdog’s got to go. Gag!

Weightlifting and Health

Considering I spent thirty-minutes lifting weights this morning, this report makes me smile. Howard Schneider of The Washington Post explains weightlifting is an important part of everyone’s workout. Read on:
You can now add weightlifting to the creeping set of obligations. It's not explicit in the government's overall guidelines, but the more detailed suggestions from agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a couple of rounds of resistance training each week. (And that includes you cardio junkies out there because aaaallllll thaaaaatttt time on the treadmill won't guarantee that you can sit up straight when 27 becomes 77.)

This won't make a lot of us happy. The basic exercise recommendations are pretty easy to cope with: Take a walk. Ride a bike. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Weightlifting, on the other hand, conjures the threat of being stuck next to some grunting mesomorph who will one day be governor. The chance of injury is greater. The advice gets confusing and may include a lecture about how, if you don't disrupt the Z lines between your sarcomeres, it's a waste of time.

It's manageable, however, if you understand some basics. The reason there is so much varying advice -- over what exercises to do, how frequently and how intensely -- is that this is an enterprise that should be tailored to your goals and your body. Cardio focuses on training just one muscle, the heart. There are more than 600 others that need attention.
For more on exercise, enjoy these posts:

School Kids Win Better Veggies

When I was in school, I remember wondering if that slop ice-cream scooped onto my plate still had a pulse—yeah, scary. Let’s face it, for many of us, school food is still a painful memory, but what if we didn’t something about? That’s exactly what a group of students at William V. Wright Elementary School in Las Vegas did. They took on the lunch ladies—and won! CNN reports:
"A little boy said, `Anything, anything, I'll even eat broccoli,"' said Connie Duits, the lunch lady. "So that one touched my heart."

The children were careful to offer praise as they expressed their concerns.

"Dear Mrs. Duits, The food is so yummy and yummy. But there are one problem. It is the green beans," wrote Zhong Lei.

"We love the rest but we hate the green beans," wrote Viviann Palacios.

The Las Vegas students undertook the exercise in mini-democracy after the class read a book called "Frindle," in which a boy contemplates organizing a boycott of the cafeteria.

"I asked the kids, 'Is that a respectful way of doing it?"' Christopulos said. "And they said, 'Oh, not at all."'

As a result of the students' campaign, the food service department of the Clark County School District sent staff to the school to see what alternatives they preferred.

With a handful of reporters watching, two dozen students sat down Monday to a veritable salad bar of cooked, frozen and canned vegetables, from baby corn to cherry tomatoes, and filled out a survey.

Because of cost restrictions, the children's only real choices were between canned and frozen green beans, corn, cooked or raw carrots and cooked or cold peas.

Corn and carrots were popular; cooked peas, not so much.
Very encouraging if you ask me! Hey, I just realized, this is basically the opposite of those zany Meat Pie Pushing Mamas.

Dog Attacks Cabbage

Well, the cat wasn’t interested, but the dog had no problem ripping into some cabbage. Take a look: