Secret Sugars

24 01 2015

I’ve been mulling around in my mind the subject of sugar for quite awhile. There is so much to say about sugar – there are books on it – and internet research is endless. So how to narrow down the topic and avoid getting bogged down in all the history, chemistry, and controversy? I decided to write about what bugs me – it’s not the sugar found in nature, but all the sugar added to processed foods, and even “healthy” foods that is the problem. I consider sugar in store-bought food “secret” because I’m always so surprised at the number of grams of sugar on the labels.

Now, I don’t want to rain on your food parade, or mine for that matter, because you can’t avoid sugar and sugar tastes good! You know the old adage, “everything in moderation;” well the problem is there is so much more sugar in foods than we realize, it’s easy to go way past moderation. I just want to raise my sugar IQ (and yours) and be more conscious of it in our food choices.

The Best And Most Thorough Article on Sugar

One of the reasons I kept putting off writing about sugar is that there is SO MUCH to cover. Then I found this website, and I realized I didn’t need to write an article on everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-sugar-but-were-afraid-to-ask. That article already exists! Steve Kamb has written an engaging, interesting, and easy to read article on SUGAR. Please read it – it really covers all the bases!! I thought I’d hit some of the highlights:

Sugar has many aliases. Agave nectar, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, organic evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar, syrup. Whew! No wonder it’s hard to avoid. And that doesn’t even count all the simple carbohydrates we consume that the body converts to sugar!! Highly processed foods such as white bread and french fries have almost the same effect on blood sugar as regular sugar. Basically, the more refined (processed) the food, the more likely it’ll be to get converted quickly to sugar in our body.

High fructose corn syrup IS worse than other sugars. There isn’t that much difference between regular sugar (equal parts fructose and glucose) and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS – 55% fructose and 45% glucose), but the body metabolizes glucose and fructose differently. Glucose goes right in to the bloodstream and every cell can use it; fructose causes fat to accumulate in the liver. In this case, “a calorie is a calorie” does not compute. (Steve Kamb does not have this specific info in his article although he is right about HFCS being worse than other sugars.) I learned more about sugar from The Great Cholesterol Myth (see below).

Fruit juice is sugar-water. In my commissary where I do most of our food shopping, there is one whole side on a row, from beginning to end, filled with all kinds of fruit juices. All loaded with sugar! Why is there so much fruit juice for sale? Technology is the simple answer. Once pasteurization came along, fruit juice was able to last longer and ship far distances without spoiling. Personally, we’ve cut orange juice from our diet – even the Not from Concentrate! It’s sugar-water.

I know I wrote an article on juicing, but now we’ve even cut down on that! While you’re getting lots of nutrients, the sugars in fruit and veggies aren’t left behind with the pulp. More hidden sugar! Of course, it makes sense because one time I tried making soup from all the ground pulp and no amount of spices could make it taste good – we had drunk all the sugars! Obviously, some fruits are better than others in terms of sugar content, but whole fruits are better than juice any day because at least you get the fiber, too. Apples, pears, blueberries, and grapefruit have much less sugar than pineapple, cantalope, and mangoes.

Sugar is Addicting. As Steve Kamb says, the short answer to the question if sugar is addicting, is, yes it is! Basically, we are not genetically designed to consume the amount of sugar that we are currently eating.  For that reason, our brains get that ‘happy feeling’ from sugar and it can override the “I’ve had enough” mechanism. Don’t despair – he offers tips on how to get control of the sugar in your diet.

It Has How Much Sugar?

Looking at my cupboard, here is a sampling of what I found:

Bertolli Organic Traditional Spaghetti Sauce: 7g/1/2 cup

100% Pure Maple Syrup: 47g/1/4 cup (we do have pancakes occasionally)

Pace Medium Picante Sauce: 2g/2 tsp (multiply that for sure!)

Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans: 12g/1/2 cup (the 3-serving can would feed 2 people – multiply that)

Heinz Ketchup: 4g/1 TBSP (multiply that! – contains HFCS)

Pomegranate Juice: 32g/1 cup (justify that because I use half that in a smoothie and it’s high in anti-oxidants)

Original V8 Juice: 6g/1 cup (replaced OJ in our house many moons ago)

Haagen Dazs Sea Salt Caramel ice cream cup: 26g (rare occasions!)

A really interesting list is on the Summer Tomato blog – she highlights the amazing amount of sugar in popular foods!

How Much Sugar is Okay?

If a food contains more than 15 grams per serving, you can consider it dessert according to Marion Nestle! Oops! In the old days, Americans consumed about 9 grams of sugar per day (1822); in 2012, Americans consume on average 150 grams of sugar per day! Can you believe Americans eat over 130 pounds of sugar a year? The American Heart Association recommends that women limit their sugar intake to no more than 6 teaspoons per day, which provides about 100 calories (25 grams), and men should limit sugar intake to no more than 9 teaspoons, or about 150 calories (37.5 grams).

The Institute of Medicine, a charter of the National Academy of Sciences, provides sugar recommendations different from those of the American Heart Association. The IOM states that added sugars should account for no more than 25 percent of the calories you eat. If you are on a standard 2,000-calorie diet, this means that you should be eating no more than 500 calories from sugar, or 125 grams. That seems pretty high to me and out of step with what I’ve been reading.

It’s not apples to apples, but the USDA recommendations state that the combination of added sugars and solid fats — which include butter, lard and margarine — should provide no more than 5 to 15 percent of daily calories (about 75 grams). Fat is not as evil as we’ve been led to believe by the way, but that’s for another article.

I think there’s a realistic, happy medium in there somewhere.

Why is Sugar Such a Big Deal?

Part of the problem with sugar is that it contains no minerals, no fiber, no enzymes, no vitamins. Nothing. It just tastes good. And, basically, too much sugar makes us fat, diabetic, gives us rotten teeth, and is a MAJOR cause of metabolic disease, including heart disease. Here is a pretty intense list of all the problems too much sugar can cause according to Dr. Nancy Appleton:

Since I started this article many months ago, I have read the book The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease and the Statin-Free Plan That Will. Drs. Bowden and Sinatra make a very well-documented argument about the true causes of heart disease. There are four major causes of  heart disease and sugar is one of them! I’ll be reviewing the book in another article – it is excellent! I gave this book to everybody in my family for Christmas! There’s an Amazon link below if you’re interested – especially if you’re on a statin!

Bottom Line

Basically, we’re cutting our sugar intake in an effort to stay healthy and trim. The consumption numbers they recommend sound tough, but I think cutting out candy, sodas and fruit juices knocks that number way down. I’m not over worrying about sugars from fruits and vegetables, but we’re reading labels for added “secret” sugars and just trying to be more conscious and aware. You gotta pick your poison! Haha!


I did not get into the discussion of wine and alcohol and sugar content – mainly because the fact that there is sugar in alcohol is not a secret. However, you should definitely calculate the amount of sugar you’re drinking at the cocktail hour in to your overall diet. If you’re curious about sugar content in wine, here’s a good article from The Washington Post:


Bread . . .And Other Processed Foods

18 06 2013

I guess I shouldn’t have expected a simple definition for something as complicated as processed foods. In searching the internet, Livestrong uses the FDA’s definition of processed foods which defines every food as processed if it isn’t raw. By that definition, if you cook some vegetables and add spices, you just processed your food. The subject of processed food is much more convoluted than that!

I got interested in the subject when I read  Melanie Warner’s book, Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal. What an eye opener! She defines processed food as “something that could not be made, with the same ingredients, in a home kitchen. In your home kitchen.” I’m not going to do a book report or give away all the juicy details, but I am going to hit some highlights. Warner also states that “processed foods are designed to be irresistibly delicious and appealingly convenient, but the more you know about the story of food additives, the more hollow the appeal seems.” According to Warner, it’s food preparation and food additives that determine if foods are processed. Her book gives new, real meaning to the phrase “avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store.”

Labels Make For Some Interesting Reading!

Melanie Warner’s definition becomes clear when you start reading ingredient labels. After you read her book, I predict you will read the labels of everything you buy. Let’s take bread for an example. A couple years ago, I gave up white bread (empty food and calories) and felt good about my switch to whole wheat bread high in fiber. I read the part of the label identifying the amount of fiber, protein, etc. and I honestly didn’t give it much more thought than that. I trusted Pepperidge Farm to bake a healthy product. Well here is the label for Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Whole Wheat bread: Unbromated stone ground 100% whole wheat flour, water, wheat berries, wheat gluten, sugar, yeast, raisin juice concentrate, soybean oil, wheat bran, contains 2 percent or less of: unsulphured molasses, wheat flakes, honey, lower sodium sea salt, cultured whey milk, distilled vinegar, salt, enzyme modified soy lecithin, wheat flour. It doesn’t seem that bad but with all the additives, it’s definitely processed. Now compare the ingredients of Great Harvest‘s whole wheat bread: fresh-ground whole wheat flour, water, yeast, salt, honey. The same ingredients you would use at home. Definitely simpler, and definitely not processed. So I am frequenting Great Harvest more often now. Or, if you’re Uncle Ed (my sister’s husband), you make your own bread! He’s taught all the cousins, too! Or, if you’re lucky and live on the West Coast, you can get Dave’s Killer Good Seed Bread.

I also took a new look at those Chi Chis whole wheat flour tortillas I have been buying for years, too (instead of the white flour tortilla). Ouch. Ingredients: Whole wheat flour, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid), water, soybean oil, salt, sodium bicarbonate, mono & diglycerides, sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium aluminum sulfate, fumaric acid, potassium sorbate, corn starch, soy flour, sodium propionate, calcium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate, guar gum, cellulose gum, arabic gum, sorbic acid, l-cysteine. Ugh. All in order to create a consistent, pliable, soft tortilla that won’t mold. Guess what I did? I made my own flour tortillas the other night. They were easy and pretty good. Ingredients? Organic wheat flour, salt, baking powder, lard, and water.

One more example: Packaged shredded cheese. This is another instance where I have enjoyed the convenience without paying attention to the ingredients. Safeway’s Essential Everyday Mexican style Cheddar Jack cheese contains: mild cheddar cheese (cultured pasteurized mil, salt, enzymes, annato (color)), monterey jack cheese (cultured pasteurized milk, salt, enzymes), potato starch and powdered cellulose added to prevent caking, natamycin (a natural mold inhibitor). These may not be bad for you, but there’s certainly more in the bag than cheese. I’ve already started using my grater again! And the word natural? According to Warner, “no legal definition exists for what’s natural and what’s not. The FDA has never defined the term, despite its unbridled use and a dozen court cases where food companies have been sued for using it.”

Soy. Soy. Soy.

Soy is a huge subject in her book. The reason why is that soybeans, and specifically soy protein, are fundamental to today’s food processing. Soy is planted all over the United States and it is big business. For example, those chicken nuggets in the freezer section are up to 25% soy protein infused. She states that Tyson’s 100% Natural chicken nuggets are made with 18 ingredients. You can certainly make more chicken nuggets if you start adding stuff to them. Plus, the chemical processes used to make soy additives are fascinating and alarming. Tofu and edamame are okay, but look out otherwise. And those fake soy hot dogs for vegans? I looked at the label the other day. After reading Pandora’s Lunchbox, I wouldn’t touch them with a 10-foot pole – not that I ever did!

Fast Food.

Obviously, everybody knows fast food is generally thought to be unhealthy. I haven’t had a McDonald’s cheeseburger in eons, nor a Wendy’s cheeseburger, or other fast food (okay, twice a year I get a sourdough breakfast jack at the Jack in the Box in Idaho). However, I did think I was making a healthy choice by going to Subway and getting the 6″ turkey sub with no cheese, salt and pepper, spinach, tomato, banana peppers, olives, and red hot sauce on a honey oat roll. Uh oh! When you go to Subway anywhere in the country, you want the same Subway sandwich you order at home, right? Well, in order to guarantee that consistency, it turns out Subway is just another fast food joint! For example from Pandora’s Lunchbox, “In order to get dough to survive all this puffing up and thrashing that happens inside machines, “dough conditioners” are needed. Subway’s bread contains five of them: sodium stearoyl lactylate, monoglycerides, diglycerides, ascorbic acid, and dactyl tartaric ester of monoglyceride, known as DATEM. Without these ingredients, Subway’s dough would break down, losing its elasticity and sticking in gooey clumps to the machines.” Get her book and read the whole Subway story, including all about the turkey!

Why Should We Care?

In our modern world, we are bombarded with chemicals. I don’t think we should be expected to be bombarded with chemicals and additives in our food. If you check Warner’s index for Pandora’s Lunchbox, here are the listings under cancer: “aldehydes, BHA, chemical interactions, fiber, Kellogg’s views about, omega balance, phytomins, soybeans, sweeteners, vitamins and minerals, Wiley’s concerns.” Let’s look at BHA on the index list in her book. It’s a preservative, “short for butylated hydroxyanisole, and is on California’s Proposition 65 list of cancer- or birth-defect-causing chemicals. The Department of Health and Human Services has placed it on a list – a relatively short one – of substances ‘reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.’ Manufacturers have switched to BHT (also on the list), but you can find BHA in Tang, tropical punch, Kool-Aid lemonade, DiGiorno pepperoni pizza, and McDonald’s sausages and breakfast steak.” We can’t control everything, but we can control the food we eat. Obviously, the more we create in our own kitchen, and avoid all those food additives, the better it has to be for us. Warner does use an example of a family who tried the 10-day food challenge from the 100 Days of Real Food program. You don’t have to do a challenge to get a lot out of this website. It is loaded with ideas, tips, and recipes to help reduce and eliminate our dependence on processed foods. If you’re interested, it’s the perfect place to start. Another great website that I was recently introduced to by Doc Newman (a former Navy doctor) is It’s loaded with food, nutrient, and cooking information and ideas. He recommends it to all his patients.

You CAN Find Healthy Convenience Foods in the Grocery Store

It’s not my intention to turn you off of grocery store food. While I am trying to cook more from scratch, and as much as we try to eat more healthily everyday, we all give in to convenience foods and fast food – that’s life in the fast lane. However, all is not lost if you don’t feel like cooking and want to be healthy! There are a lot of companies making the effort to produce good foods without a lot of processing and additives including Bertolli, Mariani, Dr. Praeger, Amy’s, La Pasta, many Trader Joe’s items, and more. Below is a sampling of some of the prepared foods I’ve found.

Feeling like pizza? I like Amy’s Cheese Pizza. Ingredients are: organic unbleached wheat flour with organic wheat germ and organic wheat bran, filtered water, part-skim mozzarella cheese (pasteurized part-skim milk, culture, salt, enzymes (without animal enzymes or rennet)), organic tomato puree, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic honey, sea salt, organic red onions, expeller-pressed high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, yeast, spices, organic garlic, black pepper. Add fresh spinach, mushrooms, red onion, chopped tomatoes, shredded carrots, and chopped peppers and you have a delicious, filling veggie pizza. She also has a vegan No Cheese Pizza.

Mary’s Gone Crackers are truly delicious and contain: organic short grain brown rice, organic whole quinoa, organic brown flax seeds, organic brown sesame seeds, filtered water, organic black pepper, sea salt, organic wheat free tamari (water, whole organic soybeans, salt, organic alcohol or organic vinegar). Yummy with cheese or hummus!

When I don’t feel like making my own (I make my own pasta, too), I buy Michael Angelo’s Vegetable Lasagna. The box label reads: Tomatoes (tomatoes, salt), vegetable blend (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, spinach), mozzarella cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), ricotta (whole milk, whey, vinegar, salt), past (durum semolina), water, imported romano cheese (pasteurized sheep’s milk, cultures, rennet, salt), olive oil, honey, salt, garlic, spices. Not bad for packaged, frozen food!

Since I don’t grill hamburgers anymore, I’ve turned to veggie burgers. Amy’s California Veggie Burger contains: organic mushrooms, organic onions, organic bulgur wheat, organic celery, organic carrots, organic oats, filtered water, organic walnuts, wheat gluten, organic potatoes, sea salt, expeller-pressed high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, organic garlic. Believe it or not, they taste delicious!

Read All About It!!

Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal is a quick read and it is comprehensive. Melanie Warner leaves no stone unturned in the history of food and food processing in America. With meticulous detail and thoroughness, in an interesting and readable format, she describes food processing techniques (she personally visited plants), takes an exhaustive look at soy and soy protein in processed foods, interviews food experts, and uses name brand foods and fast food chains to illustrate her points.

It will change the way you shop and the way you cook. Guaranteed.

Dr. Brad’s Reading List for Health and Life

19 04 2013

The following post is from my mother’s doctor in Seattle. He has cancer and has created a website to communicate to his patients what he’s doing to treat his cancer, etc. What a great reading list he has compiled about food, health, and cancer. I think there is something here for everybody who wants to find ways to lead a healthier life, but especially for people who are fighting cancer. I have created a list of the books with links at the end of the post to make it easier to check out the book or books you might be interested in or to order them if you are interested. I was especially pleased to see Forks Over Knives on his list – a little validation for what I have been discovering and that he also uses a Blendtec blender (can get at Costco for about $329). 🙂 He closes his post with some words of wisdom about how to lead a full, happy, healthy life. I wish Dr. Brad all the best! If you would like to learn more about Dr. Brad, here is the link to his Caring Bridge page:

Dr. Brad’s Post:

Written Apr 11, 2013 12:14pm

People have been curious about what health measures Krista and I have been taking in addition to chemotherapy and following doctor’s orders.  There have been many changes around here and sharing them is likely to be of help to others.  Had I started along this road earlier, I would probably be a healthier person today.  I have historically had a deep interest in cancer and cancer research.  In medical school I spent two summers working on the cancer research ward and clinic at Yale Medical Center.  My medical school advisor was a Pediatric Oncologist, and we spent a lot of time together on the hospital wards of children with cancer.  I actually came flirtingly close to becoming an oncologist but decided that practicing general medicine would bring a greater variety of experiences to my life.

Treating my cancer has been a multipronged approach.  I feel that dealing with such a disease is a matter of using all modalities at your disposal and being open to alternatives from multiple sources.  A recent and well written book, The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjea, gives an overall history of cancer that is very helpful at putting cancer into perspective. The author points out time and time again that cancer treatment should be creative and flexible.

There have been dramatic changes in my life since my diagnosis, and the biggest changes are around food choices.   The book, The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell, is a real eye opener for starters.  Watching the documentary, Forks Over Knives, also presents a lot of nutritional information that is not yet common knowledge.   I have seen enough patients with gluten sensitivity and other issues associated with wheat that reading Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health written by William Davis makes for interesting, informative reading.  Another book, Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal, is startling and makes one look at food choices very carefully.

Our Blentec three-horsepower blender has become a standard feature in our kitchen.  Eating a wide variety of bona fide organic vegetables and fruits – seeds, skin, and all – is our primary goal.  We eat them raw, lightly steamed, and blended, and the majority of our meals are vegetarian.  We are fortunate to live in Seattle where it is possible to buy almost everything organic.  There are three books written by Qigong master, Jeff Primack, that have helped us better understand the healing qualities of natural foods: Conquering Any Disease: the Ultimate High-Phytochemical Food Healing System;  Food-Healing, Cooking with Qi; and Smoothie FormulasSpecific Foods For Specific Diseases. (These are available at There is clearly some trial and error involved in finding healthy recipes that taste good enough to eat. Fortunately, we have found a number of immune boosting smoothies that I actually like!!  Krista has been inspired by Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. and has found dozens of delicious vegetarian recipes at  A family member dealing with breast cancer sent us a cookbook, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, which is full of tasty recipes.   Our copy came complete with tags on her favorite tried-and-true recipes. (God bless you, Carol!!)

Regrettably, we live in an age of countless chemical additives and fast food traps, BUT we can educate ourselves and make wiser choices about what we bring into the house and what we eat on a regular basis.  These changes can happen incrementally over time, but we can no longer ignore the link between disease and how we eat. I have given up caffeine and carbonated beverages, but I was relieved to see several good studies showing that the occasional glass of Pinot Noir has an excellent antioxidant effect. With that in mind, going for higher quality wine and less quantity seems to be the right balance.

Three other books I have found very interesting:

Perfect Health: The Complete Mind Body Guide by Deepak Chopra MD.  This book was recommended by the High Voodoo Priestess of New Orleans and I was unwilling to mess with her recommendations.

Anti cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD. This is a true story written by a thoughtful physician and scientist who has had cancer several times.  He has a lot to say and writes well.  He also agrees with the healthful effects of red wine so he is my kind of guy.

The Quantum Doctor: A Quantum Physicist Explains the Healing Power of Integral Medicine by Amit Goswami PHD.  I saw this adorable man speaking on Channel 9, and I think he is onto something.  He feels that with a conscious, integrative perspective there need be no conflict between using standard allopathic medicine and other modalities of alternative medicine.

If you do all of this: love and appreciate your family and friends, find meaning in life, exercise on a daily basis, get enough rest, follow doctor’s orders, and eat wisely, then general health is certainly fostered and cancer cells will hopefully remain in check or disappear altogether!

Be well!

Dr. Brad

Dr. Brad’s Reading List

The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer:

The China Study:

Forks Over Knives:

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health:

Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal:’s+Lunchbox%3A+How+Processed+Food+Took+Over+the+American+Meal

Conquering Any Disease: the Ultimate High-Phytochemical Food Healing System:

Cooking with Qi:

Smoothie FormulasSpecific Foods For Specific Diseases:

Eat to Live:

The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen:

Perfect Health: The Complete Mind Body Guide:

Anti cancer: A New Way of Life:

The Quantum Doctor: A Quantum Physicist Explains the Healing Power of Integral Medicine:

Virgin Coconut Oil: Miracle Oil?

4 03 2013

It’s amazing when you are researching a subject on the internet and one thing leads to another and then you learn about something you’ve never heard of before – it’s like pulling a thread on an old sock. I got interested in the subject of this post – coconut oil – when I wrote about fats and oils. There is so much to learn about coconut oil and I found it all fascinating. For example, I was wowed by what I learned about the possible relationship between coconut oil and Alzheimer’s. Maybe you will be too. Shall we get started?

Coconut Oil is Bad For You Isn’t It? NO!

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, the corn and soybean industry led a propaganda campaign against coconut oil and bad-mouthed it as a highly saturated fat (which it is) and that it was making everybody fat and was bad for the heart, etc. Of course it turns out that’s not true, and the vegetable and seed oils they were pushing turn out to be trans fats, which really are bad for you. I remember checking labels and being very wary of coconut oil. Every so often, I would make Thai food and had to use coconut milk in the recipes – it tasted delicious but I knew it wasn’t good for me. So, I guess the soybean/vegetable oil business won the oil war! How wrong they were – and they knew it! It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that people started asking questions.

There are Fats and Then There are Fats

The saturated fat in coconut oil contains fatty acids called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. In fact, coconut oil is nature’s richest source of medium-chain triglycerides. In contrast, most vegetable and seed oils contain fatty acids called long-chain triglycerides or LCTs. What’s the difference? Basically, LCTs end up stored as fat in the body and as cholesterol in the arteries. MCTs, on the other hand, are quickly digested and go straight to the liver where they are converted to energy and are never stored as fat. With a reduction in carbs, coconut oil consumption can actually help with weight loss!

Let’s take a closer look. Coconut oil consists of more than 90% of saturated fats with traces of some unsaturated fatty acids, such as monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Here’s a breakdown:

Saturated fatty acids: Lauric acid (more than 40%), followed by capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids: Linoleic acid.
Monounsaturated fatty acids: Oleic acid.
Polyphenols: Coconut contains gallic acid, which is phenolic acid. (responsible for the fragrance and the taste)
Certain derivatives of fatty acids like betaines, ethanolamide, ethoxylates, fatty esters, fatty polysorbates, monoglycerides and polyol esters.
Derivatives of fatty alcohols like fatty chlorides, fatty alcohol sulphate and fatty alcohol ether sulphate.
Vitamins: Vitamin-E and Vitamin K and minerals such as iron.

Lauric Acid is the Secret Ingredient

Lauric acid is in abundance in coconut oil and . . .breast milk! Lauric acid turns in to the compound monolaurin when it is processed through the liver. Monolaurin is responsible for strengthening our immune systems to help keep us healthy and to resist disease. A lot of research has been done on lauric acid and monolaurin but basically it disrupts the fatty membranes of “offending” or invading organisms which deactivates them or kills them. So, the same substance in mother’s milk that protects infants from viral, bacterial or protozoal infections is also found in coconut oil to help adults fight disease! Coconut oil is the best source of lauric acid, but it is also found, in lesser amounts, in milk and bay leaf.

The Health Benefits of Coc0nut Oil

The health benefits of coconut oil are too numerous and the research too vast to cover in detail in this post. The most comprehensive review of coconut oil that I’ve read is Dr. Bruce Fife’s book, The Coconut Oil Miracle. In a very readable fashion, he explains coconut oil, the chemistry of fats, and discusses in detail all the health benefits of coconut oil and how to use it in your life. ( Coconut oil is not a panacea for all ills and if you’re not exercising or you’re eating a lot of junk food, it is definitely not going to help. I consider coconut oil to be one part of a good health care regime. Generally speaking though, coconut oil (ingested or applied topically) is thought to:

– Support killing viruses (flu, herpes, measles, etc.), bacteria (ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, etc.), and fungi and yeast (candidiasis, athlete’s foot, diaper rash)
– Support and aid immune system function.
– Provide a nutritional source of energy
– Improve digestion and absorption of nutrients
– Improve cholesterol ratio and protect against atherosclerosis and other heart disease
– Function as a protective antioxidant
– Support thyroid function
– Form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward off infection and reduce symptoms associated with psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis, and dry skin in general
– Promote healthy looking hair and complexion; and help control dandruff

Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s

One of the most compelling things I stumbled upon in my research was Dr. Mary Newport’s personal story about her husband’s early onset Alzheimer’s and coconut oil. It’s definitely controversial, but because of the possible relationship between insulin, synapses, brain, and memory, some are actually calling Alzheimer’s Type 3 diabetes. Scientists say  that Alzheimer’s patients’ brains have lower levels of insulin and are insulin resistant. It’s kind of technical, but simply put, scientists at Northwestern discovered that a certain protein (ADDL) binds to synapses in the brain wrecking the receptor for insulin. With the synapses closed off, insulin can’t get in to the brain and convert to glucose, which feeds the brain, and memory fails. Basically, the brain is starving. This is where Dr. Newport’s story comes in. It turns out there is an alternative fuel for the brain in the form of ketone esters, organic chemical compounds. A study from the 1960’s showed that the brain easily switches over to using ketone bodies during starvation when glucose supplies are used up. And guess what? Ketones are metabolized in the liver after you eat medium chain triglycerides – found in coconut oil! Ketone esters can be manufactured in the laboratory but it’s very expensive to produce large quantities and since they come from “nature”, can’t be patented, and therefore pharmaceutical companies can’t profit (an old story). Research and fundraising is going on now, but until they find a way to produce the needed quantities at optimum strength levels, the next best thing is coconut oil.

In short, Dr. Newport’s husband went for testing and couldn’t draw a clock. She stumbled on coconut oil and started putting it in his oatmeal. Two weeks later, he drew another clock but it actually started to look like a clock. And two weeks later, it was an even better clock. His story may be an anomaly, or it may mean real help for Alzheimer’s patients. To be clear, he’s not cured; but he is better. Research is ongoing.

The videos listed below are of this couple’s experience with early onset Alzheimer’s. They take some time to watch, but I found them fascinating. Also, google “Alzheimer’s and coconut oil” and other videos will pop up to view about other people’s experiences.

Coconut Oil Basics

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and melts at 76 degrees.

The chemical makeup of virgin coconut oil is pretty standard but depending on how it’s processed, the amount of lauric acid can vary from brand to brand. As stated above, most virgin coconut oils contain at least 40% lauric acid. Manufacturers of extra virgin coconut oils claim to have 50% or more lauric acid.

There are approximately 117 calories per TBSP of coconut oil. As far as dosage is concerned, I found this on the Livestrong website: “No recommended dose of coconut oil exists, but Pacific Islanders’ traditional diet provides several grams of lauric acid, or at least 1 tbsp. coconut oil, daily. Between 10g to 20g lauric acid daily may benefit your health, suggests lipid biochemistry expert Dr. Mary G. Enig. Coconut oil contains 50 percent lauric acid, so 1 tbsp. coconut oil provides around 7g lauric acid. This means 1 to 3 tbsp. daily is an appropriate dose.”

When you are shopping for coconut oil, you want to be sure to buy virgin coconut oil as opposed to plain coconut oil. In general, plain coconut oil may have been cleaned with chemicals before processing, and is then put in a centrifuge which removes the smell and flavor. You want to avoid consuming this type of coconut oil as it doesn’t contain all the fatty acids you want and may actually contain some trans fats. Look for Virgin Coconut Oil or Extra Virgin Coconut Oil when you go shopping. Also, in my experience, they are all organic as well.

Coconut oil does not form harmful by-products, such as trans fats, when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do. I have replaced all oils except olive oil with virgin coconut oil in my cooking. I use it on baked asparagus, homemade french fries, frying eggs, a big glop in my smoothie, in fish marinades, in my oatmeal, popping popcorn, in all baking that calls for oil – you name it. At first I noticed the gentle, slightly sweet flavor, for example when eating eggs; but now I don’t notice it at all anymore. Actually, I regularly take a spoonful and eat it just like candy and let it float around and melt in my mouth. It’s good! I still use olive oil in salad dressings and when a recipe must have it, or for dipping. Remember, olive oil only develops trans fats when it’s cooked.

Coconut oil is excellent for hair care and skin care. I keep a jar of virgin coconut oil in the bathroom. After showering, I take a glob in my hand, it melts quickly, and I rub it on my legs and arms. It absorbs quickly and is another way to get it in to your system. I have not tried it on my hair yet. I just discovered a product called Capriclear. Capriclear is a spray-on skin care product that is fractionated coconut oil (see Wikipedia below) and is supposed to help with dry skin and eczema. ( It’s especially good for people who find they are allergic to coconut oil but need skin care help.

It is possible to be allergic to coconut oil and you’ll just have to determine that for yourself.

Shopping for Coconut Oil

Virgin coconut oil is pretty common on most grocery store shelves now, even at the commissary. In the beginning, I ordered online, then I found it at the commissary but I don’t think it’s the best (Spectrum), and I’ve also purchased it at the Vitamin Store. But now, I’ve found it at Costco! Costco sells extra virgin coconut oil in a big tub and it is comparatively inexpensive and delicious. I currently have Nutiva Extra Virgin Coconut oil that I brought home from the Costco in Seattle which my sister found. I checked our Costco here in Virginia and they have it too – but a different brand.

Spectrum now makes a spray coconut oil which replaces the Pam-type sprays. It’s worked out great for baking – you do have to run it under hot water each time because the nozzle gets clogged when the can is cold.


Obviously, there is so much to know and learn and discover about coconut oil. Also, there’s so much to know scientifically about diet, oils and how they break down in cooking, and the chemistry of it all. I think that’s one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to do another post (aside from travel and a couple other issues – with a little procrastination thrown in there) – it’s easy to get bogged down on how to present so much information briefly and accurately! SO, I highly recommend you checking out Dr. Fife’s book, mentioned above, and all of my resources below! You’ll start pulling that sock thread too!,8599,1673236,00.html

Time to Go Organic?

9 08 2012

Wow! I just listened to this TEDx talk by Robyn O’Brien about America’s food supply! I’ve heard about growth hormones before but never really knew what it meant in our food supply and frankly, didn’t question enough. She has a great talk about food allergies and why they are so prevalent now.

Did you know:

• that it was in the mid-90s the food industry introduced manufactured proteins (growth hormones) in to our food supply to maximize crops and profits?

• that Canada, Australia, and 27 European countries banned them in milk because they had never been tested, but the U.S. decided they hadn’t been proven dangerous so allowed them?

• that the U.S. has the highest rate of breast and prostate cancer than any country in the world and that 9 out of 10 incidences of breast cancer are environmentally triggered?

• that in 1996 soy, used to fatten livestock, was engineered further to withstand the effects of insecticides?

• that corn seeds have been engineered to release their own insecticide when planted and that corn is now regulated by the EPA because of these insecticides?

• that Kraft, Coca-Cola, and Walmart, to name a few, manufacture and sell different products to countries who don’t allow the manufactured proteins?

The talk is about 17 minutes long – it’s so fascinating, you won’t notice the time going by! I guess it’s time to get serious about going organic – I think I just never paid attention to exactly why I should!

Have Blender, Will Travel

19 07 2012

Some might say I’ve turned in to a fanatic. I would say that I just love what I eat and I want to eat what I want to eat no matter where I am! Hank and Kate Sanford gave me a darling, sturdy Navy blue and gold canvas bag. It’s a great carry-on and the perfect size for my Blendtec blender. My blender is well-traveled having been to Seattle, Sun Valley, Idaho, Honolulu, Hawaii, and San Diego, California, so far this year. It’s getting ready to go with me again to Nashville and Seattle next week! I take it to these places because I know I’ll have a fridge to store all my ingredients.

Why do I take my blender with me?

Well, as you know, I’ve changed my diet – especially what I eat for breakfast. No more milk and cereal – it’s either oatmeal and grapefruit or my delicious smoothies. (Actually, I’ll fry a couple eggs in coconut oil on the weekend.) I believe these smoothies are a big part of my weight loss and have taken me and Cutler down the road to good health – I don’t like to get too out of sync while I’m gone from home. Most airports just let it on through, but a few want to check out the motor – I haven’t been apprehended yet! Once I get to my destination, I hit the local grocery store on the way in, and I’m set.

My latest smoothie recipe:

1 banana, a big handful of spinach, a handful of baby carrots, a few strawberries (or any leftover fruit), a cup of frozen wild blueberries, pomegranate juice, a splash of kefir, a half scoop of whey protein, a teaspoon of chia seeds, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and a handful of ice cubes. Hit the “smoothie” button and voila – a delicious, satisfying smoothie. I fixed one down at the beach for Tom Church’s 10 year old daughter and she loved it. After she had about half of her glass, I said, “And you can’t even taste the spinach and the carrots, can you?” You should have seen her face!

Other diet bits and pieces:

• Cutler and I have eaten no meat at home since I saw “Forks Over Knives”! I thought it would be really hard, but actually I’ve just substituted fish for chicken, don’t miss steak at all, and we love pasta dishes. We’ve discovered veggie burgers and black bean burgers – it’s all good. I don’t think any of our guests have even noticed!! Cheese is still in the diet so that keeps menus pretty flexible. I make killer fish tacos!

• Quesadillas used to be a quick and easy  lunch and I now I eat a piece of fruit (oranges are filling) and some whole wheat whole grain bread with natural peanut butter. It’s more about having food stick to the sides than enjoying a delicious, satisfying meal. It’s the philosophy of eat to live, not live to eat.

• Raw almonds and walnuts are handy snacks.

• Coconut oil is delicious drizzled on corn on the cob. Excellent on asparagus with garlic salt baked in the oven, too.

• When we are at friends’ houses and meat is the main dish, I will eat it. I control the portion, I enjoy it (I don’t freak out), and I just eat more of the veggies and salad. (Remember, I changed my diet because I went off the statins. I’m not philosophically against meat, it’s all about the LDL/HDL.)

• Basically, breakfast and lunch are minimalist and dinner with the main course, a couple veggies, salad, and fruit is very satisfying. Sometimes we’ll add whole grain breads. Tonight’s menu? Wild-caught cod (marinated in olive oil, lime juice, red onion, cilantro, spices), roasted garlic quinoa, corn on the cob (with drizzled coconut oil), fresh green beans, and salad (with a whole avocado). To be completely truthful, this will be the first time I’ve served quinoa – saw it in the commissary (after my Superfoods posting) and decided to try it. Be careful opening the package – those little grain buggers will fly all over the place! Notice all the Superfoods in this menu? 🙂

• Recent meat experiences: 1) We were on the golf course a few months ago in San Diego, and a hot dog with ketchup, mustard, relish, and onions sounded yummy so I had a bite of Cutler’s – believe it or not, it did not taste as good as I thought it would, and 2) I recently ordered a shredded beef taco at Taqueria Poblano – an old favorite; it was delicious, but it didn’t satisfy to the core – I think I can live without it. My point is, I think that once you let go of some of those animal fats, they truly lose their power of taste and satisfaction.

• At restaurants, I have no trouble finding something satisfying on the menu. Just the other night at Fairfax Army Navy CC, I had the Spinach Salad with 5 shrimp. The shrimp were grilled and delicious and the spinach salad was excellent. I didn’t feel like I missed anything (such as french fries, mashed potatoes, steak, etc.) – I didn’t feel denied.

Do you have any menu/diet stories to share?

Look for my next posting soon: Coconut Oil – it’s amazing!

Superfoods are Superduper!

12 07 2012

In tooling around the internet, I started to see articles on Superfoods, so I began searching the internet with the keyword “superfoods”. It seemed like every magazine and website had their own list of the top Superfoods – all with many of the same items, but also all with different suggestions, too. Some lists emphasized general health, some focused on weight loss, etc. How to know about all the Superfoods? How to find them all? How to incorporate them all? I decided to compile a list of all the Superfoods from all the websites I found. The list became kind of onerous (and time-consuming) –  the Superfoods are listed in the order identified most often and descending to the “one list wonders.” (I am sure there are more Superfoods out there, however I believe I have identified the most common and most powerful.) But before I get to the list, I want to answer this question:

What is a Superfood? Why Eat Them?

In general, a Superfood contains nutrients that have shown health benefits and are present in that food in a quantity to make a difference. Superfoods can help your body create homeostasis. Homeostasis is the state of alkalinity balance your body seeks to achieve. Everyday our bodies are bombarded by toxins, chemicals, additives, preservatives, and other pollutants. When your body’s metabolism is out of balance and overly acidic, free radicals run amok. The result can be inflammation, pain, illness, fatigue, and increased risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. By consuming Superfoods, you give your body the best chance to be healthy by consuming the vitamins and nutrients it needs in quantities that can make a difference.

The term “Superfoods” is not in common use by dietitians and nutrition scientists. Some nutritionists dispute that particular foods have the health benefits often advocated in articles and magazines. There is no legal definition of the term and some will say it is a term that has become misleading because it is being used as a marketing tool.

Regardless, the fact remains that “Superfoods” are all natural and not processed. If you can try to get some of these foods in to your regular diet, it can only be a good thing. Just Google “Superfoods Menus” and you’ll get lots of ideas on how to incorporate them in to your daily diet. I believe the more we can eat natural foods and avoid processed foods – the middle of the grocery store – the better off we will be. Something else to ponder: if you’re getting all your vitamins and nutrients from your diet, do you need supplements? I don’t know, but it’s something to think about.

Superfoods are not hard to get: all of these Superfoods are available at your local grocery store.

The List

The foods listed below are pretty common sensical and there aren’t too many surprises. I did find it interesting that celery, lettuce, grapes, zucchini, and squash, to name a few, weren’t on any list anywhere. Also, I learned that you can get calcium from many plant-based foods – not just dairy. Some of the foods in parentheses were only listed once, but because they fell in a “super” group, I included them in the group rather than list them individually under the One List Wonders. Also, at the bottom of this posting is a listing of definitions in case you want to know a bit more about some of these chemical terms.

1a. Nuts and Seeds (pistachios, almonds, flaxseed, pine nuts, walnuts, sesame, almond butter, hemp, chia seeds). Nuts are loaded with calcium, antioxidants, antiinflammatories, and Omega-3 fatty acids which help burn fat and satisfy hunger cravings. The two most mentioned nuts were almonds and walnuts.  Raw almonds are a great source of Vitamin E, magnesium, protein, fiber, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Avoid all the flavored or roasted almonds – you’ve lost all the good stuff. Walnuts contain the most alpha-linolenic omega -3 fatty acids of all the nuts. They’re also a great source of antioxidants, vitamin E, selenium, and magnesium. A good way to incorporate flaxseed, hemp, and chia seeds is to stir them in to oatmeal, sprinkle on your salad, or mix into casseroles. Chia seeds are the newest Superfood to hit the internet, but they’ve been around since ancient times. They’re gluten-free, loaded with omega-3 and calcium, and have more protein ounce-for-ounce than beans. Sesame seeds contain unique plant compounds, sesamin and sesamolin, which help lower cholesterol; also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.

1b. Dark, leafy green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens, green juice, asparagus). Dark, leafy greens are an excellent source of iron, vitamin A, lutein for eye health, glutathione, and potassium – and low in calories. Broccoli (high in Vitamin K) and spinach are definitely the top-mentioned veggies in this category. These vegetables boost the immune system and help fight cancer. Kale is the super star in this category: it’s rich in Vitamins A, B, C, calcium, lutein and zeaxanthin (for your eyes), indole-3 carbinol (protect against colon cancer), iron, and chlorophyll.

2a. Omega-3 Fish (wild-caught salmon, sardines). Salmon is a lean fish loaded with hearth-healthy monounsaturated fats (EPA and DHA), is a high quality protein, and contains astaxanthin (caratenoid) and other antioxidants. Wild-caught sardines are low in mercury, high in vitamin D and calcium, and are also an excellent source of omega-3.

2b. Blueberries (goji, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry). Blueberries were virtually on every list I found. Fresh or frozen, they are high in fiber and loaded with antioxidants. Anthocyanins (flavonoid), the compound that makes blueberries blue, may have anti-diabetic effects as well. New research also suggests blueberries might protect the heart muscle from damage.

3. Beans (lentils, garbanzo, pinto, kidney, white, black). Virtually all types of beans are nutrient powerhouses. They’re high in folate acid and antioxidants that stop cell-damaging free radicals implicated in causing cancer and Alzheimer’s. Beans are also high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Lentils help prevent insulin spikes that cause your body to create excess fat.

4. Fruit (Oranges, pears, grapefruit, bananas, apples, kiwi, figs, citrus zest). An “apple a day keeps the doctor away!” Apples are a powerful source of antioxidants including polyphenols, flavonoids, and Vitamin C, as well as a good source of fiber. Fuji apples have the highest total of antioxidants. Be sure to eat the skin for maximum benefit (that goes for pears, plums, peaches, etc). The fiber and antioxidant content of apples are linked to lowering the risk of heart disease, and the prevention of lung cancer and Type II diabetes. Kiwi is extremely rich in Vitamin C, and contains folate, potassium, fiber, carotenoids, polyphenols, glutathione, and pectin. Citrus zest (from the skin of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit) reduces the risk of squamous-cell skin cancer by 30% (Univ. of AZ study), and acts as a detoxifying agent. High in fiber and packed with Vitamin C, oranges help you feel full longer. Bananas, rich in potassium, are loaded with “resistant starch” – a healthy carb that boosts metabolism and burns fat. Besides being a good source of fiber and protein, grapefruit contains a compound that can lower insulin (a fat-storage hormone). Figs are an excellent source of fiber, calcium, and potassium.

5a. Grains (whole wheat, quinoa, pearl barley, spelt, buckwheat, buckwheat pasta, brown rice). In “Forks Over Knives,” whole grains are identified as essential to a heart healthy diet. Whole grains are high in magnesium, B vitamins, fiber, and manganese. Quinoa was the winner in this group – it’s considered a complete protein because it contains essential amino acids for tissue development. It’s also higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc than other grains. A plus for many these days is that it’s gluten-free. Pearl barley also contains “resistant starch”. Brown rice is a low-energy-density food which means it’s heavy and filling but low in calories – a great substitute for white rice! Spelt, an ancient grain, is a good source of protein, manganese, and copper. Buckwheat pasta is high in fiber and, unlike most carbs, contains protein.

5b. Dark Chocolate. Everybody likes seeing this on the list! Full of heart healthy monounsaturated fats and flavonoids, this antioxidant has been found to help reduce blood pressure, improve bad cholesterol, and helps muscle fatigue. Also helps curb cravings for high-calorie desserts. It’s still high-calorie, so a couple bites will do.

6. Alliums (Garlic, onion, leeks, shallots, horseradish). Alliums can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, have antibiotic properties, and research suggests they inhibit the growth of the prostate, stomach, and colon cancer cells. Horseradish contains glucosinolate (fights cancer and kills bacteria), calcium, potassium, and Vitamin C. Shallots have a probiotic ingredient called fructo-oligosaccharides that helps with digestion, as well as abundant antioxidants. Garlic contains allicin which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties (and gives it its smell). Also rich in Vitamin C, B6, and manganese – and food tastes better.

7a. Oats. Whole grain oats are one of the best sources of soluble fiber which helps reduce cholesterol (lowers total and LDL) and is also an excellent grain for diabetics because it has less impact on blood-sugar than other grains. It’s also a great resistant starch.

7b. Yogurt. Like milk, it’s an excellent source of  calcium, phosphorus, and protein. Unlike milk, yogurt contains probiotics – the good bacteria your digestive system needs to process and benefit from food you eat. Also helps stave off hunger by keeping blood sugar levels steady.

7c. Avocado. The monounsaturated fat in avocados is oleic acid which is a good fat that helps lower cholesterol and helps prevent cancer. Avocados are high in fiber and lutein, and ounce for ounce top the charts for folate, Vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium (twice the amount found in a banana) which helps guard against heart disease and stroke.

7d. Green Tea. Green tea tops the list for antioxidants that inhibit the growth of cancer and its ability to lower cholesterol. It’s full of a metabolism-boosting compound called EGCG which prevents damage to heart muscles, stimulates the body to burn calories and decrease body fat – all helping in fighting the effects of aging.

8. Pomegranate. Pomegranates are phytochemical superstars with anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to lower blood pressure, fight atherosclerosis, and improve cardiovascular health by reducing oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol. They’re loaded with folate, too. How to eat it though?! To get to the seeds of a whole pomegranate (they’re ripe in the fall), cut the top of the fruit and cut the rind vertically (from top to bottom) in about four places. Then put the fruit in a bowl of water or a clean water-filled sink. Peel away the sections of the fruit, releasing the seeds from the bitter white membrane. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the water and the remaining part of the fruit will float. You can then use the seeds as a snack, in salads or salsa, or put them in a blender or food processor to make juice. If you don’t want to bother with that, POM pomegranate juice is a great choice – add ice and sparkling water and it’s great to sip. (Note: cranberry juice is high in phytochemicals, too.)

9a. Eggs. Free-range, cage-free eggs are best. One egg contains 9 amino acids, protein, lutein and zeaxanthin (for your eyes), choline (for your brain, nervous- and cardiovascular systems), and naturally occurring B12.

9b. Cinnamon. It has been elevated to Super Spice because it contains one of the highest antioxidant levels of all herbs and spices and has anti-inflammatory properties. Because of it’s positive effect on blood glucose levels, it seems to help people with Type II diabetes. In one study, arthritis patients experienced noticeable relief ingesting 1/2 tsp every day.

9c. Honey. We all know honey soothes sore throats. But’s it’s also an excellent antioxidant (the darker the honey, the more antioxidants) and can treat gastrointestinal problems – it contains oligosaccharides which increase the good bacteria in your colon.

10a. Pumpkin/Pumpkin Seeds. Pumpkin contains beta-carotene and potassium. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that helps rejuvenate skin, protect your vision, and may even reduce the risk of arthritis. Potassium is a mineral involved in lowering blood pressure and maintaining healthy bones. Use fresh or canned (no-sugar-added) pumpkin in stews, soups, pies, or pureed as a side dish — or add a scoop to some nonfat vanilla yogurt for a yummy snack. Pumpkin seeds lead the nuts and seeds category in containing phytosterols – a natural compound that lowers cholesterol. Also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and iron.

10b. Olive Oil. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. Remember from the previous posting that it is best to use in dressings and drizzling as heating changes the fats in to less healthy fats.

10c. Tomatoes. Lycopene in tomatoes makes them a powerful antioxidant to help decrease the risk of prostate, breast, lung, and stomach cancers. Even the yellow jelly around the seeds has the benefit of  keeping blood cells from clumping. Interestingly, canned tomatoes contain more lycopene than those off the vine.

10d. Seaweed. Seaweed does not absorb the toxins and pollutants that contaminate fish. Its large concentration of minerals help boost energy and strengthen the immune system. Also, it’s loaded with compounds that help lower blood pressure, thin the blood, kill bacteria, and help cure ulcers. Seaweed is part of the “Caveman Diet” that Dr. Wahl (“Minding Your Mitochondria”) ate that helped “cure” her M.S. Some types of seaweed include hijiki, wakame, kelp, and nori.

10e. Soy (tofu, etc.) Studies indicate that eating soy daily may reduce your risk of osteoporosis, menopausal symptoms, Alzheimer’s disease, certain cancers, and kidney disease. This excellent protein also lowers cholesterol.

11a. Spices (ginger, cayenne, black pepper, oregano, turmeric, tarragon). Sources say spices boost metabolism. Oregano is the top spice with its levels of antioxidants. Turmeric, a primary ingredient in curry, is an excellent digestive aid and anti-inflammatory which helps arthritis. Also, turmeric is being studied for treatment of Alzheimer’s – it may support the immune system to clear the amyloid protein which clogs up the brain. Tarragon can be used in place of salt if you are watching your sodium intake.

11b. Coconut Oil.  It’s labeled “Virgin Coconut Oil,” but maybe it should be called “Miracle Oil!” The next posting I’m going to do will be about Virgin Coconut Oil. Here’s a little taste of what you’ll learn about coconut oil: Half of the fat content in coconut oil is lauric acid (found in breast milk). Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties.

11c. Sweet Potatoes. Sweet potatoes are one of the best vegetables to eat because they are high fiber and high in beta-carotene, Vitamins A, C, and B6, potassium, manganese, and anti-oxidants. Their anti-inflammatory properties help improve asthma, allergies, and arthritis.

11d. Red Wine. Yay! Red wine is loaded with polyphenols and antioxidants that protect against cancer, heart disease, and age-related memory loss. Resveratrol in red wine helps stop fat storage.

11e. Chile Peppers. These peppers are full of compounds called capsaicinoids, the source of their spicy heat, which have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-cancer, and heart-healthy qualities. Studies have been shown them to be an effective treatment for inflammation such as arthritis.

11f. Other Vegetables (red bell peppers, beets, plaintains, dried superfruits, rhubarb, cabbage, potato, cauliflower). Plaintains provide “resistant starch” and are a great source of fiber and vitamins C and A. They are also high in vitamin B6, magnesium and folate. Cabbage and cauliflower are in the cruciferous family of  vegetables (kale, broccoli, etc.) and are rich in phytochemicals, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

One List Wonders

Popcorn – This whole grain snack contains antioxidants and is rich in polyphenols. Of course you have to be careful what you add to this otherwise dry snack.

Whey Protein Concentrate – A by-product of milk and cheese, it was only mentioned on one list, but it’s a pretty powerful Superfood. It’s a high-quality protein that helps insulin work better, preserves lean body tissue, supports the immune system, helps with blood pressure, and is a rich source of amino acids. Also maximizes your glutathione levels – your body’s most powerful antioxidant and is in every cell in your body. A high-quality whey protein must be cold-pressed, derived from grass-fed cows, hormone- and chemical-free, and no artificial sweeteners and sugar.

Organic grass-fed butter – Discussed oils and fats in the previous blog, but butter is a healthy fat as opposed to butter substitutes.

Miso – Excellent source of low-calorie protein, it also contains vitamin B12 and zinc.

Borage Oil – Comes from the borage seed and contains gamma-linolenic acid, an Omega-6 fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties.


Caratenoid – very simply, plant-based, and scavenge free radicals. Flavonoid – plant-based antioxidant with cancer-fighting properties. Polyphenol – condensed tannin found in all families of plants with antioxidant properties. Glutathione – a molecule (cysteine, glycine and glutamine) found in every cell in the body, critical for detoxification and keeping the immune system strong. Phytochemical – a group that includes antioxidants, flavonoids, flavones, isoflavones, catechins, anthocyanidins, isothiocyanates, carotenoids, allyl sulfides, polyphenols found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.