Good Salt, Bad Salt

More and more people are realizing that the world cannot sustain itself with the current food system. With all these “convenience” foods available today, it is by no mistake that the majority of the “Western” civilization is morbidly sick. “Disease” is increasingly problematic. We can’t sit back and ignore it anymore because it is starring us right in the face. Even our government institutions are forced to tune-in to this unfortunate reality. There is a growing understanding that the world will not be able to sustain itself if we keep following this regrettable trend. In order to turn the tide, we have to take a look at some of the most fundamental things that are driving this tendency. To gain a better perspective, we first have to reflect on our eating habits.

In this never-ending list of food-like products on the market, “salt” (sodium) is in almost anything and everything that is pre-packaged. Given what is available in most of our grocery stores today, it is extremely hard to avoid, unless of course we are well versed in the subject matter. We will try our best to give you the necessary information in order to help you make more informed choices when buying salt.

   What is Salt (Sodium)?

Salt as many refer to it as, is commonly known as table salt or rock salt. On the other hand, sodium is understood more so in scientific circles; it is a metallic element with a symbol Na and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of alkali metals within “group 1” (Wikipedia). For the purposes of this article, we will focus most of our discussions on the former – salt; however, both definitions should not be treated as mutually exclusive.

   The Problem with Salt in Our Diet Today

With regard to food consumption, the issue of quantity is becoming much more problematic. Salt is being consumed in large portions today, due to the fact that much of it is hidden in many of the “foods” we eat on a daily basis.

The recommended daily intake of salt is currently set at 1500 mg/day with an upper level of 2300 mg/day. The problem is most people who live in “Western society” consume much more salt than the recommended levels prescribed by our governments. In some cases, people are consuming double or even triple the upper limit (2300 mg/day). Can you believe that? If this is not a strong enough signal that our food system is heavily broken, I don’t know what is.

On top of the amount of salt being consumed, there is also the issue of the kind of salt that is being consumed. As discussed above, most people understand salt as table salt or rock salt (purchased at the local supermarket). The problem with these particular salts is that they are by no means good for you! The reason is because “table salt”, as we understand it, consists mainly of sodium chloride – a substance by which has very little benefit to us on its own. Much of the over consumption of salt is also attributed to hypertension (high blood pressure) and thus heightens our risk of stroke and/or heart attack. Further to this, much of the salt consumed is present (often times in large quantities) in much of the ready-to-eat foods on the shelf. Isolated salts such as Monosodium glutamate and the like dominate many of the isles in a grocery store. The sad part is that most people don’t have a clue what these ingredients are; fortunately there is a growing awareness thanks to all those who are passionate about nutrition and health.

   The Importance of Salt

With all the bad press on salt these days, it is important not to discount all forms of salt altogether. The majority of salt that is out on the market today it highly processed, however, there are healthier options we can use.

Who says we have to eliminate salt from our diet completely? This is a foolish notion. We can still enjoy the taste, but we have to ensure that we are cognizant both of the quantity and kind being consumed. Salt plays an important role in many bodily functions. In its whole, unadulterated form, salt provides the body with many key micronutrients (minerals). In some circles, people may refer to salt as electrolytes. Salt helps us restore the minerals we lose through perspiration and physical activity. In this regard, full spectrum salt such as Celtic sea salt, deep sea Hawaiian sea salt or Himalayan salt are suitable salts to be consuming; however, we must also be cognizant of the amount we consume; after all, they contain sodium to.

   “Good” vs. “Bad” Salt

As we have described above, all salts are not created equally. In an effort to help you differentiate between “good and bad” salt, we have listed below some examples of both varieties.

   Good Salt

As previously described, full spectrum salts such as Himalayan saltCeltic sea salt, or deep sea Hawaiian sea salt, are certainly healthier options if you want to season your food because they contain nearly all minerals your body is composed of. For this reason, these forms of salt have not been processed in anyway, leaving them close to their original state. Conventional table salts on the other hand have been heavily processed (heated) which eradicates the minerals that were previously present within them – thus the reason why iodine was re-added to table salt because it longer existed after processing.

If you are someone that cannot consume any form of salt altogether there are other options you can take advantage of. Salt can be found in many foods such as celery, chard, or sea vegetables. We always encourage you to first seek out your need to satisfy your body’s cry for minerals through food before other alternative forms of salt are considered. This is not to say that you can’t still enjoy salt; we all just have to make sure we are aware of how much we are consuming.

On top of the over consumption of salt, people who suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) tend to have an improper balance of salt/potassium ratio. By this reason, those who are trying to bring down their blood pressure, consuming less salt as a first step is certainly beneficial; however, if you want to maximize the healing process, it is wise to infuse your diet with more potassium rich foods such as prunes, apricots, bananas, avocados and the like. It is recognized in certain circles that if one has too much salt in their diet they will have large bags under their eyes. On the other side of the spectrum however, if one has too much potassium, they will develop dark circles under their eyes. In assessing your situation, make sure to always observe your body.

   Bad Salt

“Bad salt”, as previously noted, can wreck havoc on one’s body. Salt in any isolated form such as the conventional table salt or rock salt which has been heavily processed / treated, has been stripped of all its vital nutrients. As a result, our body’s cannot find any relief in satisfying the demand for nutrients and thus we continue to over consume salty foods that have been processed – resulting in a rather vicious cycle.

                               Himalayan salt

This being said, it is wise to resist the temptation of prepackaged foods as much as we can while seeking out healthier options. If this isn’t feasible, we should always strive to look at the food labels and avoid any products which have sodium or sodium isolates such as MSG listed in them.

People are becoming aware of Monosodium glutamate (MSG), and, as a result, industry has scrambled to find ways around this bad representation. Consequently, many foods still have MSG in them even though it is not listed in the ingredient list. Click here  to find a list of ingredients that disguise themselves under a completely different name altogether.

It is appalling to see the amount of salt being consumed today and it is equally sad to see what it is doing to the population. Incidences of hypertension and other related illnesses are skyrocketing around the globe. Once we have all agreed to come to the realization that the majority of these cases are tied to our diets, only then can we truly “cure” this unfortunate trend through prevention by following a proper diet. When in doubt, listen to your body – as you know yourself better than anyone. Let us not be jaded by conclusions or theories from the objective world. Always look to yourself for the answers; they are always there.

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Night Eating Syndrome

   By Cathy Leman, MA, RD, LD

If you’re unfamiliar with night eating syndrome (NES), you may question whether it even exists. I know I did. A solid sleeper, I couldn’t imagine heading for the kitchen during the night, let alone actually ingesting food. But I started to hear more about night eating, and then clients striving to lose weight began to share details of their own struggles—only they didn’t call it NES. A bit ashamedly, they shared that they routinely got up to eat during the night, often didn’t remember eating, and had to eat in order to get back to sleep. This called for further investigation. I wanted to find out more about this phenomenon and what, if anything, I could do to help.

   Definition, Prevalence, and Characteristics

NES is characterized by a lack of appetite in the morning, overeating at night, and waking to eat throughout the night.1 Seen as a delay in the circadian rhythm of food intake while retaining a normal sleep-wake cycle, it is defined by two core criteria: the ingestion of at least 25% of daily calories after supper and/or awakening to eat at least three times per week.2 First identified some 50 years ago, yet only recently familiar to healthcare professionals and the public, NES can disrupt lives and damage health.

Experts estimate that 1.1% to 1.5% of the general population, 6% to 16% of patients in weight-reduction programs, and 8% to 42% of bariatric surgery candidates experience NES. The prevalence of NES appears to be similar across genders or is slightly more prevalent in men.3

One of my male clients has an unhealthy lipid profile, including triglycerides in the 800s and a body mass index of 35. At least five nights per week, he falls asleep easily, only to wake one hour later and head to the kitchen for something to eat, unable to get back to sleep until he does so. As the stress in his life has escalated in recent months, so have his NES behaviors.

Alicia* is a young woman in recovery due to an eating disorder. Initially she experienced behaviors that paralleled those of my other NES clients, but she progressed from eating only in the kitchen to keeping food in her room and then ultimately to stashing food next to her on her twin bed. When she woke up, she would eat in an almost dreamlike state until she fell back to sleep.

   Possible Causes

Single photon emission computed tomography has shown significant elevation of serotonin transporters in the midbrain of night eaters. Elevations in serotonin transporter levels lead to decreased postsynaptic serotonin transmission and should impair circadian rhythms and satiety.3 While elevated serotonin transporters contribute to the brain chemistry component, depression, anxiety, hostility, and stress are strongly implicated in NES. These negative emotions, merged with the guilt and embarrassment associated with such unconventional eating patterns, form a perfect psychological storm that exacerbates the problem.

Which comes first: psychological issues that trigger this disordered eating pattern or disordered eating patterns that trigger depression and anxiety? According to Overcoming Night Eating Syndrome: A Step-by-Step Guide to Breaking the Cycle, many people report that their night eating began during a period of stress. Though Alicia was never “officially diagnosed” with NES, through eating disorder counseling, she learned that her night eating behaviors were linked to her high anxiety and the comfort she received from eating.

For others, the cause may not be clear. Research suggests that heredity may offer a clue, so recommending that clients delve into their family history may afford surprising insights. Additionally, an imbalance in the hormonal relationship that regulates sleep and stress levels may also affect patterns of eating and sleeping.2

   Identification and Recognition

NES is not always recognized by health professionals, is still relatively new to healthcare providers within all disciplines, and is often overlooked. The May/June 2009 issue of the European Eating Disorders Review highlights a study in which patients reported low recognition and high levels of dismissal of NES by their doctors. Frequently, the signs and symptoms may be mistaken for other conditions or identified simply as bad habits.

The 14-item Night Eating Questionnaire is a reliable method for identifying NES. Remember that not every night eater has all of the signs of NES. For clients whom you suspect may be experiencing the syndrome, the questionnaire can help them initiate a discussion with a physician or therapist and serves as validation of their concerns. Additionally, a study published in the January 2008 issue of Eating Behaviors found the Night Eating Questionnaire to be an efficient, valid measure of NES severity.


Just as night eating is recognizable, it is also treatable.4 Alicia’s RD/therapist team first worked to get the food out of her room and then to decrease the number of calories she consumed when she did experience a night eating episode. Alicia no longer struggles with NES. “Now, whenever I wake up in the middle of the night, I never even think about eating,” she says.

But not every individual with NES is as fortunate. The European Eating Disorders Review study also reports that most patients (61% of the 103 polled) were “not at all satisfied” with their doctor’s treatment of NES.

Once NES has been identified, there are a variety of treatment methodologies available. Encouraging the client to increase physical activity and follow a consistent exercise program, maintain a food diary, and keep records of bedtimes, awakening times, and thoughts about night eating is a good first step. A sleep study can also help identify other disruptive sleep conditions, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, snoring, or night terrors. Counseling or psychotherapy that employs therapeutic approaches such as cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, or psychodynamic therapy may be critical for clients with high levels of stress, depression, or anxiety.1,5

Research on the benefit of medications for NES is in its early stages; however, encouraging studies support the use of sertraline (Zoloft), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, as a well-tolerated drug that offers effective treatment.6

   Providing Affirmation, Guidance, and Help

Nutrition professionals routinely screen for nighttime snacking but may not consider overnight eating. For clients who are struggling but embarrassed to mention the behavior, your identification and affirmation of NES can be liberating. For bewildered clients who awaken to remnants of food and empty containers, the discussion can provide relief; they’ll appreciate your insight and helpful suggestions.

If the Night Eating Questionnaire results suggest the presence of NES, discuss the previously described methodologies with your client. Consult Nutrition professionals routinely screen for nighttime snacking but may not consider overnight eating. For clients who are struggling but embarrassed to mention the behavior, your identification and affirmation of NES can be liberating. For bewildered clients who awaken to remnants of food and empty containers, the discussion can provide relief; they’ll appreciate your insight and helpful suggestions.

If the Night Eating Questionnaire results suggest the presence of NES, discuss the previously described methodologies with your client. Consult Overcoming Night Eating Syndrome for journaling exercises and guidance in working with therapists, as well as engaging the help of roommates and family members.

— Cathy Leman, MA, RD, LD, is a nutrition therapist, freelance writer, speaker, and nutrition consultant. She is the author of two booklets, Nutrition at Work and Eat Healthy, Live Healthy, and her passion is teaching people how to balance food and fitness for life.

Name changed to protect identity


1. Allison KC, Stunkard AJ, Thier SL. Overcoming Night Eating Syndrome: A Step-By-Step Guide to Breaking the CycleOakland, Calif.: New Harbinger Publications; 2004.

2. Goel N, Stunkard AJ, Rogers NL, et al. Circadian rhythm profiles in women with night eating syndrome. J Biol Rhythms. 2009;24(1):85-94.

3. Stunkard AJ, Allison KC, Lundgren J. Issues for DSM-V: Night eating syndrome. Am J Psychiatry. 2008;165(4):424.

4. Allison KC, Stunkard AJ. Treatment of night eating syndrome. In: CM Grilo, JE Mitchell, eds. Treatment of Eating Disorders. New York: Guilford; in press.

5. Allison KC, Stunkard AJ. Self-help for night eating syndrome. In: Latner JD, Wilson GT, eds. Self-Help Approaches for Obesity and Eating Disorders: Research and Practice. New York: Guilford Press; 2007: 310-324.

6. O'Reardon JP, Allison KC, Martino NS, et al. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of sertraline in the treatment of night eating syndrome. Am J Psychiatry. Am J Psychiatry

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Fish Oil - Miracle Cure

Fish oil has been touted as the latest breakthrough supplement that contributes to latitude of health benefits. It has gained popularity among cardiologists, athletes and the everyday person. There are varying degrees of evidence to back up the many claims made about fish oil and while the jury is still out on some of the claims, there are many benefits to supplementing with fish oil.

It is important to understand how fish oil produces its effects. The main benefit is the high omega-3 content derived from the fish oil. More specifically, Docosa Hexanoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosa Pentanoic Acid (EPA) are two key omega-3 fatty acids that produce anti-inflammatory effects in our bodies, while omega 6 fatty acids produce pro-inflammatory effects. The reason omega-3 supplementation may be effective is the high content of omega-6 in the Standard North American Diet (19). The ideal ratio is approximately 1:1 and 1:3 of omega 3-to omega-6, whilst the average North American has a ratio closer to 1:21! (19). One mistake many people make is supplementing with flaxseeds. Flaxseeds have a high content of omega 3 fatty acids; unfortunately only about 5% of the omega 3 fatty acids in flaxseeds get converted to the usable form of DHA and EPA.

Inflammation has recently been suspected to be a culprit in the current rise of chronic diseases and dysfunctions such as CVD, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and obesity. Reducing inflammation to appropriate levels is essential to maintain optimal health; the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may be a key factor in reducing inflammation.

Some of the health benefits include:

   Heart Health

Because there is a strong correlation between omega-3 and decreased risk of CVD, it is being considered as a diagnostic test. Inflammation is a major factor in CVD, and omega-3 fatty acids are believed to change the environment in the endothelium (artery walls) to decrease the inflammation.

   Hypertension and Ischemic stroke

Australian research states that omega-3 supplementation may reduce blood pressure. DHA was reported to be the biggest contributor to this effect. The study showed that the risk of ischemic stroke was reduced, which may be attributed to the decrease in hypertension as well as the improved elasticity of the arterial membrane.

   Healthy Lipid Profile

In research studies, sufficient intake of omega-3 fatty acids showed an improved blood lipid profile in test subjects, decreased triglyceride levels, increased HDL and decreased LDL. It has been suggested the omega-3′s speed up the rate at which your body clears the “bad” lipids and improves the ratio of LDL to HDL in a favourable manner.

   Brain Function

Omega-3′s may increase brain development in childhood as well as contribute to brain function in adulthood. The deficiency of DHA and EPA may also be a factor in cognitive impairment. Omega-3′s may also play a significant role in preventing and treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson Disease.


   Autoimmune and Arthritis

Omega-3 rich fish oil was found to be highly effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis while simultaneously reducing the need for arthritis medication. Other studies also reveal promising results for other autoimmune-related disease treatments using fish oil.

   Weight loss

In a study involving overweight women, it was found that omega-3′s may be beneficial as a weight loss aid by increasing post-prandial satiety. The subjects reported feeling full with a lower food intake compared to the control group. Another study found improved body composition in young males supplementing with fish oil.

   Ok I get it, so how much should I take?

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends getting fish oil through the consumption of fish. In theory, this is a great idea; in practical terms it is’ not always possible. Salmonids (salmon, rainbow trout, etc.) and other cold-water fish (cod, sardines, etc.) do have a high yield of EPA/DHA, but are also very commonly farmed and usually fed a diet high in soy as well as genetically modified corn (both high in omega-6 as well as containing other toxins). This nullifies the beneficial effects of fish oil through consumption of fish. Using high quality fish oil from a reputable company helps circumvent this potential problem.

The recommended dose of omega-3 intake is set at 0.7g daily for healthy individuals and 1g daily for individuals at risk of CVD. This translates to 2-3 grams per day of a high quality fish oil supplement. These dosages are considered acceptable, but may be far from optimal. Robb Wolf, author of “Paleo Solution” recommends 2-4 grams of EPA/DHA per day or 6-12 grams of a fish oil supplement per day. However, it isn’t recommended to begin taking 12 grams of fish oil capsules immediately. Fish oil tends to cause fishy belches as well as diarrhea when taken in high doses. However, beginning with a lower dose with meals and slowly increasing the dosage should decrease these side effects. More importantly, do not forget that it is the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 that most important, not the total fish oil intake. If your diet consists of foods with low quality fats that are filled with omega 6 fatty acids, you will most likely require more fish oil. However, if your diet is devoid of omega 6 fatty acids, you will most likely require less. It is best to consult your physician for testing to determine your dosage.

   What are some trusted sources? What about mercury?

Reputable brands are generally better quality and the EPA and DHA content should be sufficient. Brands such as Carlson, Natrasea, and Progressive are considered reliable sources. However, it is best to avoid low quality products because they often use inferior oils as well as residual products left behind by the manufacturing process.

A 2006 ConsumerLab evaluation of 42 commercially available fish oil supplements found that all were free of mercury, PCBs and dioxins.

   Who shouldn’t take fish oil?

Fish oil is contraindicated for individuals suffering from haemophilia or who take blood thinners. Consuming more than recommended dosages of Omega-3 fish oil may lead to symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems, aching joints, and bleeding gums.

   Personal experience

Though fish oil has not prevented a major medical illness in my life, I do find it to be very beneficial when I am under a lot of physical stress. Fish oil and Vitamin D (with K2) are the two supplements that I always travel with. Unless you live in Alaska and eat fresh fish daily, there is a good chance that you can benefit greatly from supplementing with fish oil in your diet.

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How Garlic Can Save Your Life

Research on garlic indicates that it may provide an ideal low-cost and safe alternative to drugs and vaccines in reducing the three most common causes of death in the world.

In a world mesmerized by the false promises of pharmaceutical industry marketing copy, as well as inundated with aggressively marketed dietary supplements, many of which are manufactured by the same companies making a killing off patented chemicals (Bayer owns One A Day, Pfizer owns Centrum), it is reassuring to know that the kitchen pantry will never fail us...

Inexpensive, time-tested, safe and delicious, many spices are attaining recognition for being, quite literally, 'life saving,' which is likely one reason why, in ancient times, many were worth their weight in gold.

This time around, the health benefits of ancient 'folk remedies' like garlic are being confirmed by straight-laced men and women in lab coats. Which, when it comes to the conventional medical establishment, blighted as it is by the epistemological disease known as myopia, is considered the only valid way to ascertain the truth. Never mind the countless millions of people who, since the beginning of time, have used a different standard of proof: if it works and it is safe, then its true.

We all know that garlic is not shy to make its presence known. The smallest culinary dose is enough to suffuse the entire body with its aroma. Garlic also permeates the research literature: the biomedical database known as MEDLINE, provided by the National Library of Medicine, contains  4245 study abstracts on garlic.

A cursory perusal of the literature there indicates that garlic has a significant role to play in preventing or treating well over 150 health conditions, ranging from cancer to diabetes, infection to plaque buildup in the arteries, DNA damage to mercury poisoning.

In fact, a strong argument can be made (pun intended) that expanding the availability of garlic around the world as both a food and a medicine could prevent millions of deaths annually. According to World Health Organization statistics, the populations of poorer countries die manly from causes directly connected to communicable infectious diseases, which incidentally are not caused by a lack of vaccines, rather, primarily through under-nutrition and malnourishment, lack of sanitation and hygiene, as well as the adverse physiological consequences of the depression and stress associated with poverty. The greater use and availability of garlic might provide a perfect alternative to global vaccine initiatives, the use of which are driven less by compelling scientific research, and more by political and economic forces. Garlic is easier to acquire and distribute, and can often be grown by the affected persons or communities affected, making it essentially free.

   Garlic Versus #1 Cause of Death for the Poorest Countries

1.   Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus
2.  Thrush (Fungal overgrowth in oral cavity)
3.  Cytomegalavirus Infections
4.  Mycotoxin-associated aflatoxicosis
5.  Helicobacter Pylori infection
6.  Candida (Yeast) infection
7.  Klebseilla infection
8.  HIV-1 infection
9.  Vibrio infection
10.  Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, multi-drug resistant
11.  Clostridium infections
12.  Viral Infections: Herpes Simplex 1 and 2, Parainfluenza virus type 3, vaccinia virus, vesicular stomatitis virus and human rhinovirus type 2.
13.  Group B Streptococcus Infection
14.  Pseudomonas Aerigonosima, including drug-resistant strains

This is an impressive smattering of research, but it is likely only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to garlic's ability to fight infection. Remember, a lack of scientific proof does imply a lack of efficacy. Given that conventional antibiotics are not only failing, but driving bacteria and viruses into greater lethality, we can't wait around for the multi-billion dollar clinical trial-based drug approval process to turn its attention to a non-patentable natural substance. Such a profit-oriented approach would be highly unethical.

   Garlic Versus the Developed World's #1 and #2 Killers

The research on shows garlic has value in 167 health conditions or disease symptoms, but the greatest density of research indicates garlic's role in preventing and/or treating Cardiovascular Disease and Cancers, the two primary causes of death within high-income countries.

This is an interesting finding. The drug industry has been fantasizing about a so-called 'polypill' for quite some time, an idea involving mixing various patented medicines together for a condition like heart disease (e.g. blood pressure, cholesterol, blood thinner), but to no avail. Patented chemicals have far too many side effects, so when you mix them together, you only compound their multitudinous chemical toxicities. Natural substances, on the other hand, and especially those which play a role in culinary traditions as "spices," appear to have the opposite karma. Namely, they have far more 'side benefits' than 'side effects.'

   Garlic's cardioprotective effects include:

1.  Retards progression of arterial plaque
2.  Beneficially decreases white adipose tissue, increases white adipose tissue around heart muscle
3.  Protects against clotting
4.  Positively modulates blood lipids
5.  Vasodilator
6.  Reduces blood pressure
7.  Antioxidant
8.  Endothelial Dysfunction
9.  Vascular Inflammation

   Here is a quick review of the cancers that garlic has been found to kill:

1.  Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
2.  Acute Myeloid Leukemia
3.  Basal Cell Carcinoma
4.  Breast Cancer
5.  Cervical Cancer
6.  Colon Cancer
7.  Endometrial Cancer
8.  Gastric Cancer
9.  Leukemia: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
10.  Liver Cancer
11.  Lymphoma
12.  Melanoma
13.  Osteosarcoma
14.  Pancreatic Cancer

Garlic, like so many other complex foods, contains a wide range of phytocompounds that articulate at least 150 distinct physiological responses in the mammalian body.

How can this be so?

One explanation is that all foods contain not only physical building blocks, e.g. carbs, proteins, lipids, and are not only a source of energy (caloric content), but contain gene and epigene regulatory information. There are 'packets' of energy and information contained within the conformational state of the biomolecules found within these plant tissues. Our co-evolution with the plant kingdom for the past half a billion years has resulted in the very genetic/molecular fabric of our body depending on certain key compounds from plants in our diet, delivered in natural form, not irradiated, overly-cooked, petrochemically-farmed. Garlic's ability to fit like a key, into many different types of locks (an impossible feat for monochemical 'magic bullets'), reflects an likely infinitely complex intelligence in the relationship between plant and animal species. Which speaks to how important foods are not simply as 'medicine,' but that from which our bodily health grows organically, and without which disease is a natural consequence.

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Aspartame - the hidden enemy

U.S. dairy industry petitions FDA to approve aspartame as hidden, unlabeled additive in milk, yogurt, eggnog and cream

You probably already know that the FDA has declared war on raw milk and even helped fund and coordinate armed government raids against raw milk farmers and distributors. Yes, it's insane. This brand of tyranny is unique to the USA and isn't even conducted in China, North Kora or Cuba. Only in the USA are raw milk farmers treated like terrorists.

But now the situation is getting even more insane than you could have imagined: the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have filed a petition with the FDA asking the FDA to alter the definition of "milk" to secretly include chemical sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose.

Importantly, none of these additives need to be listed on the label. They will simply be swept under the definition of "milk," so that when a company lists "milk" on the label, it automatically includes aspartame or sucralose. And if you're trying to avoid aspartame, you'll have no way of doing so because it won't be listed on the label.

This isn't only for milk, either: It's also for yogurt, cream, sour cream, eggnog, whipping cream and a total of 17 products, all of which are listed in the petition at

As the petition states:

IDFA and NMPF request their proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity to allow optional characterizing flavoring ingredients used in milk (e.g., chocolate flavoring added to milk) to be sweetened with any safe and suitable sweetener -- including non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame.

This is all being done to "save the children," we're told, because the use of aspartame in milk products would reduce calories.

   Aspartame is the excrement of GM bacteria

In 1999, The Independent published an article entitled "World's top sweetener is made with GM bacteria," which revealed that Monsanto was knowingly adding aspartame to soft drinks in the United States - and that aspartame is made from GM bacteria. This report, which remains one of the earliest disclosures on aspartame in a mainstream newspaper, received little attention after its publication - possibly because its implications were underestimated at the time - and it has long been forgotten.

Since 1999, the world has become a little more attentive to Monsanto and aspartame, but ignorance still abounds about the latter's genesis. While more and more people are starting to awaken to aspartame's destructive effects on our health, do they know how it is actually made? Fortunately, a 1981 patent for aspartame production, once confined to the drawers of patent offices, is now available online for everyone to see - and it confirms everything that Monsanto was happy to tell us in 1999 before their meteoric growth necessitated greater prudence.

   The production process

The patent, which is entitled Process for producing aspartame and is credited to Bahl, Rose, and White, summarizes the process as follows:

"The artificial sweetener aspartame, a dipeptide with the formula Asp-Phe-me, is produced using a cloned micrcorganism [sic]. A DNA which codes for a large stable peptide comprised of the repeating amino acid sequence (Asp-Phe)n is inserted into a cloning vehicle which in turn is introduced into a suitable host microorganism. The host microorganism is cultured and the large peptide containing the repeating Asp-Phe sequence is harvested therefrom. The free carboxyl group of the large peptide is benzylated and then hydrolysed to benzyl Asp-Phe dipeptides. This dipeptide is methylated and then debenzylated to form aspartame."

This scientific jargon obfuscates (perhaps deliberately) a truly disturbing process:

1.)  'Cloned microorganisms' (which the patent later reveals to be genetically modified E. coli) are cultivated in tanks whose environments are tailored to help them thrive.

2.)  The well-fed E. coli cultures defecate the proteins that contain the aspartic acid-phenylalanine amino acid segment needed to make aspartame.

3.)  The proteins containing the Asp-Phe segments are 'harvested' (i.e. lab assistants collect the bacteria's feces).

4.)  The feces are then treated. This includes a process of methylation (adding an excess of the toxic alcohol, methanol, to the protected dipeptide).

While common sense dictates that this abomination doesn't belong anywhere near our bodies, the patent's authors made no secret about their belief that aspartame constitutes a safe and nutritious sweetener:

"Aspartame is not only sweeter than sucrose, but is preferable as a food to sucrose. While sucrose can provide the body with little more than energy, aspartame is composed of amino acids, the building blocks of body proteins, and like other proteins is broken down by the digestive enzymes in the stomach to its constituent amino acids thus providing nutritive value. [...] For these reasons, aspartame holds significant promise in replacing sugar as a sweetener."

   Milk industry specifically asks to HIDE aspartame from consumers

Astonishingly, the dairy industry is engaged in extreme doublespeak logic and actually arguing that aspartame should be hidden from consumers by not listing it on the label. Here's what the petition says:

IDFA and NMPF argue that nutrient content claims such as "reduced calorie" are not attractive to children, and maintain that consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims. Further, the petitioners assert that consumers do not recognize milk -- including flavored milk -- as necessarily containing sugar. Accordingly, the petitioners state that milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can "more easily identify its overall nutritional value."

In other words, hiding aspartame from consumers by not including it on the label actually helps consumers, according to the IDFA and NMPF!

Yep, consumers are best served by keeping them ignorant. If this logic smacks of the same kind of twisted deception practiced by Monsanto, that's because it's identical: the less consumers know, the more they are helped, according to industry. And it's for the children, too, because children are also best served by keeping them poisoned with aspartame.

Consumers have always been kept in the dark about pink slime, meat glue, rBGH and GMOs in their food. And now, if the IDFA gets its way, you'll be able to drink hormone-contaminated milk from an antibiotics-inundated cow fed genetically modified crops and producing milk containing hidden aspartame. And you won't have the right to know about any of this!

The FDA confirms this "secret" status of aspartame, stating, "If the standard of identity for milk is amended as requested by petitioners, milk manufacturers could use non-nutritive sweeteners in flavored milk without a nutrient content claim in its labeling."

   This is a clue to stop drinking processed milk and milk products altogether

There's a bigger story here than just the industry hoping to get FDA approval to secretly put aspartame in milk products while not listing aspartame on the label.

The bigger question is this: If an industry is pushing to hide aspartame in its products, what else is it already hiding?

How about the pus content of its dairy products?  How about its inhumane treatment of animals who are subjected to torture conditions and pumped full of genetically engineered hormones? How about the fact that homogenization and pasteurization turn a whole food into a dietary nightmare that promotes obesity, autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular disease?

There are lots of dirty little secrets in the dairy industry of course, and that doesn't even get into the secret closed-door conversations to encourage the FDA to destroy the competition of raw milk.

The only rational answer to all this is to stop buying and consuming processed dairy products, period!

I gave up ALL milk products many years ago and have never looked back. I drink almond milk, not pus-filled pasteurized cow's milk. (Click here for a recipe to make your own almond milk at home.) I don't eat yogurt. If I want probiotics, I get them from tasty chewable probiotics supplements such as Sunbiotics. I parted ways with processed dairy products many years ago, and as a result, my cardiovascular health, skin health, digestive health and stamina have all remained in outstanding shape.

There's also a philosophical issue here: Don't buy products from an industry that habitually LIES about everything. The dairy industry is like a mafia. They actively seek to destroy the competition, keep consumers ignorant and monopolize the market. They run highly deceptive ads with ridiculous claims like, "drinking milk helps you lose weight" and other nonsense.

The U.S. dairy industry is steeped in deception at every level, and now they want you and your children to unknowingly drink aspartame that's secretly blended into the product.

The dairy industry is to food as Lance Armstrong is to sports. It's all a big lie, laced with secret chemicals and false claims.

Stop drinking milk. Stop financially supporting the food mafia.

How about its inhumane treatment of animals who are subjected to torture conditions and pumped full of genetically engineered hormones? How about the fact that homogenization and pasteurization turn a whole food into a dietary nightmare that promotes obesity, autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular disease?

There are lots of dirty little secrets in the dairy industry of course, and that doesn't even get into the secret closed-door conversations to encourage the FDA to destroy the competition of raw milk.

The only rational answer to all this is to stop buying and consuming processed dairy products, period!

I gave up ALL milk products many years ago and have never looked back. I drink almond milk, not pus-filled pasteurized cow's milk. (Click here for a recipe to make your own almond milk at home.) I don't eat yogurt. If I want probiotics, I get them from tasty chewable probiotics supplements such as Sunbiotics. I parted ways with processed dairy products many years ago, and as a result, my cardiovascular health, skin health, digestive health and stamina have all remained in outstanding shape.

There's also a philosophical issue here: Don't buy products from an industry that habitually LIES about everything. The dairy industry is like a mafia. They actively seek to destroy the competition, keep consumers ignorant and monopolize the market. They run highly deceptive ads with ridiculous claims like, "drinking milk helps you lose weight" and other nonsense.

The U.S. dairy industry is steeped in deception at every level, and now they want you and your children to unknowingly drink aspartame that's secretly blended into the product.

The dairy industry is to food as Lance Armstrong is to sports. It's all a big lie, laced with secret chemicals and false claims.

Stop drinking milk. Stop financially supporting the food mafia.

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The Milk Battle, Part 2

   Health Benefits of Raw Organic Sheep's Milk

Although in the United States, sheep milk is not as popular as cow milk, sheep milk and its products are widely consumed in other parts of the world, especially in the Mediterranean. In fact, Greek feta cheese and Italian ricotta cheese are made from sheep milk. Sheep milk is rich in many nutrients; however, it is not recommended that you drink it raw. The Food and Drug Administration states that drinking raw milk is a health risk because it can contain bacteria such as E. coli. The FDA also assures that pasteurization does not degrade the milk's nutritional quality in any way.

   Protein and Carbohydrate

Sheep milk is richer in protein than either cow or goat milk -- it contains about two percent more. Protein from mammalian milk is of high quality because it contains all essential amino acids. Getting enough protein is important because your body needs it to grow and repair itself. Sheep milk is also higher in lactose than cow and goat milk and is therefore not recommended for lactose-intolerant individuals.

   Energy and Fat Content

Sheep milk contains roughly double the amount of fat than cow and goat milk. It also contains considerably more calories, and therefore might not be the best choice for persons trying to lose weight. However, sheep milk also contains higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid than either cow or goat milk, reports the 2007 issue of "Small Ruminant Research." Research indicates that conjugated linoleic acid can promote fat loss, as documented in the January 2010 issue of "Nutrition and Metabolism." This issue also reported that conjugated linoleic acid can improve blood lipid levels and may help prevent diabetes.

   Vitamin and Mineral Content

Sheep milk is higher in vitamins and minerals than either cow or goat milk. For example, it contains considerably more vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Vitamin C is essential for proper immune function and for collagen synthesis; riboflavin is needed for good vision; vitamin B-6 participates in the metabolism of amino acids; vitamin A is needed for healthy vision and healthy body linings; and vitamin D is essential for bone health. In addition, sheep milk has almost double the calcium content of either cow or goat milk. Calcium is the main mineral in bone and teeth.

   Organic Advantage

Whenever possible, choose organic products. These products are produced in a more environmentally friendly way and the welfare of the animals is better. Organic sheep milk is also nutritionally superior to non organic. A study reported in the August 2010 of the "Journal of Dairy Research" found that milk from organic sheep had higher levels of monounsaturated fat, conjugated linoleic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids. All these nutrients exert health-promoting benefits including protection from heart disease.

   Rice milk

Rice milk is a kind of grain milk processed from rice. It is mostly made from brown rice and commonly unsweetened. The sweetness in most rice milk varieties is generated by a natural enzymatic process, cleaving the carbohydrates into sugars, especially glucose, similar to the Japanese Amazake. Some rice milk kinds may nevertheless be sweetened with sugarcane syrup or other sugars.

   Comparison to dairy milk

Compared to cow's milk, rice milk contains more carbohydrates, but does not contain significant amounts of calcium or protein, and no cholesterol or lactose. Commercial brands of rice milk, however, are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin B3, and iron.

Rice milk is often consumed by people who are lactose intolerant, allergic to soy or have PKU.  It is also used as a dairy substitute by vegans.

   Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is a crucial part of a plant-based diet because it is a vegan replacement for milk that doesn’t require much compromise — it boasts a creamy consistency and a delicious taste. Coconut milk is extraordinarily versatile and serves a variety of purposes in the kitchen. From breakfast to dinner and savory to sweet, coconut milk has a place in your diet. It is packed with vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6 as well as iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. And its benefits don’t end in the gut. Coconut milk makes for an effective beauty product as well. The following 15 uses for coconut milk are sure to convince you to make it a daily fixture in your life.

Coconut milk contains 89 milligrams of magnesium per cup, which makes it a rich source of a mineral that helps to calm the nerves and maintain normal blood pressure. Magnesium blocks nerve cells from becoming overactive by virtue of becoming stimulated by calcium. Calm nerve cells reduce contraction of muscles and make you feel more relaxed.

Coconut milk is not a good source of calcium. It contains just over 38 milligrams of calcium per cup compared to regular milk’s 300 milligrams in the same serving size. But while it may not be able to give dairy a run for its money in terms of calcium, it is a rich source of phosphorus. With 240 milligrams of phosphorus per cup, coconut milk contributes to strong bones.

Coconut milk contains a fatty acid called lauric acid, which is quite valuable to the human body. When it enters the body, lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, which is a compound that has antiviral and antibacterial properties. For this reason, coconut milk consumption could fight infections and viruses.

Despite its saturated fat content, coconut milk can actually help to reduce cholesterol levels if you are used to cooking with butter and dairy-based creams. The truth is, not all saturated fats are created equal. Coconut milk raises cholesterol levels,  but its lauric acid boosts HDL (good) cholesterol, which improves the HDL-LDL (bad) cholesterol ratio. So while the better option may be to reach for an unsaturated fat, if choosing among saturated fats, coconut milk is the best of the bunch. The fats in coconut milk are also easier for the body to break down and metabolize and contain healthy fats including omega 6 essential fatty acids.

Coconut milk contains selenium, which is an antioxidant that relieves arthritis symptoms. Selenium controls free radicals and  decreases the risk of joint inflammation.

Benefit from the nutrients and fats in coconut milk with a hair treatment. Massage coconut milk into your scalp and use your fingers to brush the milk through hair strands. Once covering your hair and scalp, wrap your hair in a towel and let the coconut milk sit for an hour or two. The longer it sits, the more deeply the moisturizing and strengthening effects of coconut milk will penetrate. You could also warm the milk up prior to application to jump start the assimilation of nutrients.


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The Milk Battle

   Goat Milk vs. Cow Milk

Dairy farmers had quite a marketing plan back in the 1980’s that made them more than 13 billion dollars in recent years. With commercials touting milk mustaches and encouraging little kids to drink their milk (even if it’s chocolate, and full of refined sugar), should we question if cow’s milk is really that ‘good’ for the body? Many people don’t believe in drinking milk at all, but much of the world drinks more goat’s milk than cow’s milk, so what’s up with the American addiction to the cow? In this match of goat milk vs. cow milk, which will come out on top?

We begin life relying on our mother’s milk, and breast feeding research makes it clear  that feeding babies with breast milk far exceeds anything made by Similac, so perhaps our obsession with cow’s milk comes from this strange correlation. Maybe not. The bottom line, though, is that the rest of the world drinks goat’s milk because it is simply better for the human body. Here’s why:

You don’t have to homogenize  goat’s milk; it is naturally homogenized. Homogenization is a process done to cow’s milk to equally distribute the fat molecules so that when you purchase a jug from your grocery store it doesn’t have milk curd (milk cream) floating on the top of your milk.

            Goat's milk contains less calories than the cow variety

If you put two glasses of fresh goat’s and cow’s milk in the refrigerator overnight, the cow’s milk separates, and the goat’s milk does not. Homogenization of milk also causes fat cells to break, releasing a free radical called Xanthine Oxidase. As we know,  free radicals aren’t good for you; they cause DNA mutations, among other things.

Cow’s milk sold in stores and not purchased fresh from a dairy farm is also pasteurized in order to kill any pathogenic bacteria, but this also kills all the good bacteria that contribute to healthy gut flora and proper digestion – of everything you eat, but also the cow’s milk you drink. Enzymes and vitamins A, D, and C are also eradicated in the process of pasteurization, and this is why Vitamin D is often added back into cow’s milk. Pasteurization kills the life out of the food, so it basically becomes nutritionless.

Goat’s milk is about 85% less allergenic  than Cow’s milk, so people suffer intolerance less often. In children under three in the United States, milk is one of the most allergic foods!

Goat’s milk is a lot easier to digest than cow’s milk and most closely matches the human body. The simplicity of digesting goat’s milk has to do with how fat is digested in the body. Basically, the fat molecules in goat’s milk are smaller, and therefore easier to stomach. Goat’s milk also contains less lactose, so there is less likelihood of developing an intolerance.

Goat’s milk is just better for you, overall. It has a greater concentration of essential fatty acids such as linoleic and arachidonic acid than cow’s milk along with higher amounts of vitamin B-6, vitamin A, and niacin. The milk also has higher levels of bioavailable iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium which results in the restoration of altered haematological parameters and better levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH).

‘Both cows’ and goats’ milk contain similar levels of calcium and most other vitamins and minerals,’ says Jennifer Lowe of the British Dietetic Association.

But when it comes to vitamin B12 — which is important for the formation of healthy red blood cells — cows’ milk wins hands down.

Half a tumbler of cows’ milk contains nearly two thirds of the recommended daily intake — you’d have to drink nine times that amount of goats’ milk to get the same levels,’ says Lowe.

Some children given goats’ milk have been found to have B12 deficiency (symptoms include fatigue and weakness).

However, goats’ milk may boost iron absorption more effectively than cows’, according to a study last year from the University of Granada in Spain.

The study also found goats’ milk contained higher levels of zinc and selenium, which help the immune system.

Furthermore, many fans of the milk claim that those with an allergy to cows’ milk can happily pour goats’ milk on their cereal.

But this may not be the case.

If you have an allergy to cows’ milk — around five per cent of the UK population is thought to be affected — you’re likely to have a similar response to goats’ milk, and sheep’s milk, too.

‘The protein that causes an allergy is very similar in all these types of milk,’ says Lowe.

People who claim to be intolerant to lactose, the natural carbohydrate in milk, often swap cows’ for goats’ milk.

But Lowe points out that, ‘the two actually contain similar levels of lactose — 4.1 per cent in goats’ compared with 4.7 per cent in cows’ — so switching to goats’ milk won’t make any difference to your symptoms.’

Instead those people with a lactose intolerance should opt for a dairy-free alternative such as soya milk. But could goats’ milk help you shed the pounds?

When it comes to calories and saturated fat, there’s little difference between cows’ and goats’ milk.

A 100ml serving (about half a tumbler) of whole fat cows’ milk provides 67 calories and 3.9 grams of fat, while goats’ contains 60 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.

The semi-skimmed versions of both contain around 45 calories and 1.7 grams fat.

However, although it may not be a great help to slimmers, some claim that goats’ milk helps to minimise abdominal bloating.

Goat's milk contains less calories than the cow variety

It’s true that its fat globules are generally smaller than those in cows’ milk so the body’s digestive enzymes can break it down more rapidly — however, there’s no confirmed link with reduced abdominal bloating.

Other more tried and tested methods of reducing bloating include avoiding foods such as onions and cauliflower, which are known to be a cause of the problem.

Experts also recommend trying to avoid ‘gulping’ too much air when drinking and eating.

They advise chewing with your mouth closed, not talking and eating at the same time, and sitting down when you eat.

Drinking lots of fluids is also important, and some experts believe that consuming foods and drinks with probiotic ‘friendly’ bacteria may also help.

And last year’s study at the University of Granada found goats’ milk contained a significant amount of oligosaccharides, compounds that reach the large intestine undigested and act like prebiotics, enhancing the growth of healthy ‘probiotic’ gut flora that wards off infections.

There’s been a 40 per cent rise in demand for goats’ milk for children in recent years, the result of an increase in the numbers said to be either allergic to dairy or unable to digest it.

But goats’ milk is not for babies and young infants — the proteins are too concentrated for young children to digest and some sources of it are unpasteurised, raising the risk of bacterial infection, diarrhoea and sickness.

According to the Department of Health: ‘Infant formulas and follow-on formulas based on goats’ milk protein have not been approved for use in Europe’.

So when you’re considering whether to switch to goat, it seems that sticking with old-fashioned cow may be better for your health — as well as your wallet.

Will continue...

Part 2 - link here

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Vitamins and Minerals: How to Get What You Need

   What are micronutrients?

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals found in food that nourish your body and help keep you healthy.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), adult Americans do not typically get enough of the following nutrients:

~ Calcium
~ Potassium
~ Fiber
~ Magnesium
~ Vitamins A, C and E

Try to incorporate more of these nutrients in your daily diet. Keep in mind that it's best to consume a variety of foods, instead of just taking a multivitamin, to make sure that your body is able to absorb the micronutrients properly. If you are unable to get all the nutrients you need from food alone, ask your doctor if dietary supplements are right for you.


Your body needs calcium to build strong bones and teeth in childhood and adolescence. As an adult, you need calcium to maintain bone mass. According to the USDA, the average American adult (eating roughly 2,000 calories per day) should get 1,136 milligrams of calcium each day.

The following foods are good sources of calcium:

~ Nonfat or low-fat yogurt (8 ounces = 345-452 milligrams)

~ Nonfat or low-fat cheese (2 ounces = 400 milligrams)

~ Low-fat milk (1 cup = 290 milligrams) or skim milk (1 cup = 306 milligrams)

~ Fish and seafood such as sardines (3 ounces = 325 milligrams), pink salmon (3 ounces = 181 milligrams) and ocean perch (3 ounces = 116 milligrams)

~ Beans such as soybeans (1/2 cup = 130 milligrams) and white beans (1/2 cup = 96 milligrams

~ Spinach (1/2 cup = 146 milligrams)

~ Oatmeal (1 packet = 99-110 milligrams


A diet rich in potassium helps your body maintain a healthy blood pressure. The USDA recommends that the average American consume 4,044 milligrams of potassium each day.

The following foods are good sources of potassium:

~ Sweet potatoes (1 sweet potato = 694 milligrams) and regular potatoes (1 potato = 610 milligrams)

~ Beans such as white beans (1/2 cup = 595 milligrams), soybeans (1/2 cup = 485 milligrams), lima beans (1/2 cup = 484 milligrams) and kidney beans (1/2 cup = 358 milligrams)

~ Nonfat yogurt (8 ounces = 579 milligrams) or low-fat yogurt (8 ounces = 531 milligrams)

~ Skim milk (1 cup = 382 milligrams) or low-fat milk (1 cup = 366 milligrams)

~ Fruit such as bananas (1 medium banana = 422 milligrams), peaches (1/4 cup = 398 milligrams), cantaloupe (1/4 medium melon = 368 milligrams), and honeydew melon (1/8 medium melon = 365 milligrams)

~ Fish such as halibut (3 ounces = 490 milligrams), yellowfin tuna (3 ounces = 484 milligrams), rockfish (3 ounces = 442 milligrams) and cod (3 ounces = 439 milligrams)

~ Tomato paste (1/4 cup = 664 milligrams), puree (1/2 cup = 549 milligrams), juice (3/4 cup = 417 milligrams) and sauce (1/2 cup = 405 milligrams)


Magnesium is a nutrient that helps your body produce energy, and helps your muscles, arteries and heart work properly. According to the USDA, the average American adult should get 380 milligrams of magnesium each day.

The following foods are good sources of magnesium:

~ Vegetables such as pumpkin (1 ounce = 151 milligrams), spinach (1/2 cup = 81 milligrams) and artichokes (1/2 cup = 50 milligrams)

~ Bran cereal (1 ounce = 103 milligrams)

~ Beans such as soybeans (1/2 cup = 74 milligrams), white beans (1/2 cup = 67 milligrams), black beans (1/2 cup = 60 milligrams), navy beans (1/2 cup = 48 milligrams) and great northern beans (1/2 cup = 44 milligrams)

~ Tofu (1/2 cup = 47 milligrams)

~ Brown rice (1/2 cup = 42 milligrams)

~ Nuts such as brazil nuts (1 ounce = 107 milligrams), almonds (1 ounce = 78 milligrams), cashews (1 ounce = 74 milligrams) and peanuts (1 ounce = 50 milligrams)

   Vitamin A

Vitamin A is associated with vision development and cellular growth and maintenance.

The following foods are good sources of vitamin A:

~ Organ meats such as liver and giblets (3 ounces = 1490-9126 micrograms)

~ Vegetables such as sweet potatoes (1 medium potato = 1096 micrograms), pumpkin (1/2 cup = 953 micrograms), carrots (1/2 cup = 679 micrograms), spinach (1/2 cup = 573 micrograms) and turnip greens (1/2 cup = 441 micrograms)

~ Cantaloupe (1/4 medium melon = 233 micrograms)

   Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps the body form collagen (which is the main protein used as connective tissue in the body) in blood vessels, bones, cartilage and muscle.

The following foods are good sources of vitamin C:

~ Fruits such as guava (1/2 cup = 188 milligrams), oranges (1 medium orange = 70 milligrams), kiwi (1 medium kiwi = 70 milligrams), strawberries (1/2 cup = 49 milligrams), cantaloupe (1/4 medium melon = 47 milligrams), papaya (1/4 medium papaya = 47 milligrams), pineapple (1/2 cup = 28 milligrams) and mango (1/2 cup = 23 milligrams)

~ Vegetables such as raw red sweet pepper (1/2 cup = 142 milligrams), raw green sweet pepper (1/2 cup = 60 milligrams), Brussels sprouts (1/2 cup = 48 milligrams), broccoli (1/2 cup 38 milligrams), sweet potatoes (1/2 cup = 34 milligrams) and cauliflower (1/2 cup = 28 milligrams)

   Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which is a nutrient that helps fight damage to the cells in the body.

The following foods are good sources of vitamin E:

~ Nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds (1 ounce = 7.4 milligrams), almonds (1 ounce = 7.3 milligrams), hazelnuts (1 ounce = 4.3 milligrams), pine nuts (1 ounce = 2.6 milligrams), peanuts (1 ounce = 2.2 milligrams) and brazil nuts (1 ounce = 1.6 milligrams)

~ Turnip greens (1/2 cup = 2.9 milligrams)

~ Peanut butter (2 tablespoons = 2.5 milligrams)

~ Spinach (1/2 cup = 1.9 milligrams) and avocado (1/2 avocado = 2.1 milligrams)

~ Tomato paste (1/4 cup = 2.8 milligrams), sauce (1/2 cup = 2.5 milligrams) and puree (1/2 cup = 2.5 milligrams)

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Healthy Nuts

The fatty, salty, creamy, savory taste and texture of nuts make them a popular snack, accompaniment with beer and ingredient in a host of dishes. But given their high calorie and fat contents, many people still shy away from eating nuts regularly.

Now, a new report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adults who incorporate nuts into their diets don't have to limit their consumption. A review of 31 studies about eating nuts found that people who added nuts to their diets and who replaced other foods with nuts lost more weight (an average 1.4 pounds more) and reduced their waist sizes by more than half an inch.

"Although the magnitude of these effects was modest, the results allay the fear that nut consumption may promote obesity," wrote the researchers, according to Reuters Health. "Our findings support the inclusion of nuts in healthy diets for cardiovascular prevention."

But weight loss isn't the only benefit found in almonds, walnuts, cashews and the like. Here are a few other health reasons to chow down on the snack:

   Stress Reduction

Of course nuts can't make your deadline or huge credit card bill go away, but the nutrients in several types of nuts can help protect your body against the damaging physical effects of being stressed out. One study looked at nuts rich in alpha-linolenic acid, like walnuts, and found that they had a heart-protective benefit during times of acute stress -- which are known to cause cardiovascular strain.

And almonds, thanks to high vitamin E, vitamin B and magnesium content can bolster your immune system when you're stressed, reported Women's Health.

   Heart Health

Nuts, like almonds, hazel nuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts and cashews can all play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease, according to a Harvard review. That's because nuts may help reduce LDL cholesterol (more on that later), and incorporate a dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and fiber, which has a heart-protective effect. Nuts are also rich in arginine, an amino acid that converts to nitric oxide in the body and helps blood vessels to relax.

   Lung Cancer

A diet rich in pistachios may provide some protection from lung cancer, according to preliminary research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference.

The researchers theorize that the nut's richness in gamma-tocopherol,  a type of vitamin E, may be the key to cancer protection, although further research is required.

   Weight Maintenance

The 2013 review of nut health benefits found a modest improvement in overall weight, but several studies have found that nuts can play a role in weight maintenance. That's because nuts are satisfying -- a "high satiety" food  -- that is metabolized slowly by the body, thanks to high fiber counts. In other words? Snackers are more satisfied after eating nuts than after eating foods of comparable caloric value, but less nutrient density.


A walnut a day may keep bad cholesterol away, according to a 2010 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine that found a 7.4 percent reduction in "bad" LDL cholesterol and an 8.3 percent reduction in the ratio of LDL to HDL, reported WebMD. What's more, triglyceride concentrations declined by more than 10 percent.

   Prostate Cancer

Brazil nuts, which are high in the mineral selenium, may provide some protection against advanced prostate cancer, according to preliminary research presented at the American Association of Cancer Research. The research was conducted on a Dutch cohort study and found that men with high levels of selenium, tested from toe nails, were 60 percent less likely develop advanced prostate cancer within 17 years.

   Brain Health

Thanks to the healthy dose of vitamin E that nuts can deliver, they are considered a brain food -- helping to prevent cognitive decline that happens with age. Peanuts (even though they are legumes, we commonly group them with nuts), in particular, may be a good choice because they are high in the B-vitamin folate, which improves neural health, reducing risk of cognitive decline.

Beyond protecting against age-associated problems, a British Journal of Nutrition study found that walnuts may improve working memory (not just reference memories), problem-solving and motor function -- at least in rats!

   Men's Reproductive Health

For men looking to start a family, walnuts may have an effect on sperm quality, reported HuffPost Healthy Living's Amanda L. Chan. Eating about two handfuls of nuts, one UCLA study found, could improve the quality of sperm, in terms of its "vitality, motility, and morphology," the researchers reported.

What's more, pistachios may play a role in reducing erectile dysfunction, according to a study in the International Journal of Impotence Research.

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