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Are Baby Carrots Real Food? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Sunday, May 22, 2016


Have you ever wondered where baby carrots come from? Are they a separate, diminutive species of carrot, or are all those internet rumors true--that baby carrots are “manufactured” by grinding up all the broken and ugly big carrots that can’t be sold in the package and processing them into the “baby” carrots?

Let me set the record straight.  Baby carrots are real carrots.

Baby carrots are the brainchild of a Bakersfield, CA farmer who was losing 70% of his carrot crop to waste due to imperfect looking carrots that he couldn't sell.  In the late 1980's he came up with the idea to peel and cut the carrots that were too twisted or knobbly into pieces small enough to make use of their straight parts.  He bought an industrial green-bean cutter, which just happened to cut things into two-inch pieces. Thus was born the standard size for a baby carrot.  In 1989, he sold the "mini carrots" to a local supermarket, and the rest is history.  Today baby carrots account for over 80% of all retail carrot sales.  They are an economic juggernaut!

The technique for growing, peeling and cutting carrots into "babies" has been perfected.  Today, the carrots used to make baby carrots are not the misfits.  They begin as full-size, long and slender carrots which have been bred for size, diameter, and uniform color—a hybrid carrot that combines the best qualities of more than 250 known commercial carrot varieties. To get the best tasting carrots, they are allowed to grow almost to full maturity before harvesting. The ideal carrot is about 5/8-inch in diameter and 14 inches long, a length that allows the carrot to be cut into four 2-inch pieces to make baby carrots.

After being cut, the carrot pieces go through a peeler to remove their skins. While going through the peeler, they tumble together (like a rock tumbler), so the edges get “polished” by other carrots during the process.  This is why baby carrots are smooth and uniform looking.

 So there you have it.  Baby carrots are real food.  Continue to enjoy them as snacks and in your meals.

Fruit Flies Fed Organic Diets Are Healthier Than Flies Fed Nonorganic Diets PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael McCaffrey   
Saturday, May 21, 2016



A new study out of Dallas shows that fruit flies fed organic diets are healthier than those fed nonorganic diets.

The two primary measurements of health where fertility and longevity.

The study came from the lab in Southern Methodist University. Where SMU biologist Johannes Bauer said that “While these findings are certainly intriguing, what we now need to determine is why the flies on the organic diets did better, especially since not all the organic diets we tested provided the same positive health outcomes,” said Bauer.

They don’t know why the flies on the organic diet did better – that will involve more research.

The findings, “Organically grown food provides health benefits to Drosophila melanogaster,” have now been published in the open access journal PLOS One. Buaer and Ria Chhabra, a high school student, co-authored the paper with Santharam Kolli, a research associate at SMU. The article is available from PLOS One online at

Because of the low costs associated with fly research and the fly’s short life cycle, researchers use fruit flies to study human diseases such as diabetes to heart function to Alzheimer’s disease.

The flies were fed extracts made from organic and conventional potatoes, soybeans, raisins and bananas. They were not fed any additional nutritional supplements. The researchers tested the effects of each food type independently and avoided any confounding effects of a mixed diet.

Source:here’s the link to the source article.

Go Nuts! Harvard Study Shows A Handful a Day Keeps the Doctor Away PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Nut study picWhenever I’m asked what type of “energy bar” I recommend for snacking, I say that the best way to get energy and satisfy hunger is to eat a handful of nuts, not a bar.  Nuts are high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants—all of the necessary components of a healthy balanced meal. And according to new results from two long running Harvard studies published in the November 21, 2013 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, that handful of nuts will likely add years to your life by cutting your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease.  And if you eat a handful of nuts every day, you’ll likely keep the pounds off too.

The researchers found that people who ate nuts every day lived longer, healthier lives than people who didn’t eat nuts. The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29 percent in deaths from heart disease — the number one cause of death in the United States.  But they also saw a significant reduction —11 percent — in the risk of dying from cancer.

The findings were collected over 30 years from the 120,000-person Nurses’ Health Study, which has been following up with volunteers since 1976, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, involving more than 50,000 men and dating back to 1986.  Participants were asked every few years how often they had eaten a serving of nuts: never or almost never, one to three times a month, once a week, two to four times a week, five or six times a week, once a day, two or three times a day, four to six times a day, or more than six times a day.

The findings showed that people who ate just one ounce of nuts a day seven or more times per week had a 20 percent lower death rate from a variety of causes such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and respiratory illness.  In all the analyses, the more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to die over the 30-year follow-up period.

Just eating nuts every once in a while lowered the death rate by 7 percent over 30 years.

Eating nuts once a week lowered the death rate 11 percent.

People who ate nuts five to six times a week had a 15 percent lower death rate.

And people who ate nuts gained less weight over time than people who didn’t, which shows that eating nuts does not necessarily pack on pounds.  However, portion control is key.  Eating too much of any food can affect weight loss efforts.

As a good source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and several potent antioxidants, nuts are one of nature's nutrient-rich foods.  The study found that it doesn’t matter what type of nuts were eaten--almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts, pistachios, etc—they all had life-saving effects.

Other smaller studies have found that people who eat nuts have all sorts of biological benefits: less inflammation, which is linked to heart disease and cancer; less fat packed around the internal organs; better blood sugar levels; lower blood pressure — and even fewer gallstones.  In 2003, on the basis of findings from those smaller studies, the Food and Drug Administration concluded that for most nuts, eating 43 grams a day, or about 1.5 ounces, as part of a healthy diet, may reduce the risk of heart disease.  One ounce of nuts is the equivalent of about a handful.  Since each nut has a different weight, the number of nuts per ounce differs.  Here's a handy chart to help you keep your portion in check:

nut chart full

nut handful

I always recommend eating nuts in their raw form, not roasted.  Roasting nuts destroys their healthy fats and turns them rancid.  If you have a difficult time digesting nuts it’s probably because they need to be soaked first.  When soaked, nuts are ten times more nutritious and much easier for your digestive system to break down than in their raw unsoaked form. You can read more about soaking nuts here.

Soaking Nuts for Good Health PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Saturday, May 14, 2016

soakednuts-and-seeds-in-seiveNuts and seeds are two power foods that can bestow some serious health benefits—including weight loss, patient reduced levels of inflammation, reduced risk of heart disease and reduces risk of type 2 diabetes.  However, as a way of preserving and protecting them in the wild, Mother Nature designed them to be quite difficult to digest, and even toxic. 


You see, locked inside all seeds (nuts, grains, and legumes are seeds of plants too) is the genetic material to grow an entire new plant. As you might imagine, Mother Nature would want to protect a seed from anything that might want to consume it before being able to reproduce itself.  Therefore, seeds were equipped with an arsenal of self defense mechanisms known as anti-nutrients, which are contained in the outer seed coat (or bran, in the case of grains).  These toxic anti-nutrients keep insects, predators, bacteria, viruses or fungi, from destroying seeds prematurely.

These anti-nutrients also act as built-in growth inhibitors—a preservation system that allows the seeds to remain dormant for long periods of time.  This is why they can be kept in a dormant state in seedbanks for decades without any damage to their DNA. The anti-nutrients protect the seed until conditions are right to start the growth cycle.  In order to sprout, plants need moisture, warmth, time and slight acidity in the soil or water. 

When placed in water or planted in the ground, a seed will begin to germinate.  Once the germination process starts, natural enzyme activity eliminates the anti-nutrients from the outer seed coating and transforms the long-term-storage properties of the seed into simpler molecules that are easily digested. This is why soaking nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes has been an important part of traditional food preparation for thousands of years. Soaking mimics the natural germination process that occurs in nature.  What’s more, this process unlocks important enzymes and nutrients that are unavailable to us when the seeds or nuts are not soaked.


Before I go into how to soak your nuts and seeds, I want to explain what the anti-nutrients are, why they can be harmful to your health and why soaking is an important practice. The main anti-nutrients are: enzyme inhibitors, phytates, and lectins.

Enzyme inhibitors
Plant seeds, especially nuts and seeds, contain enzyme inhibitors that ward off predators. These inhibitors block enzyme function, particularly the enzymes required to digest proteins, which can put a real strain on the digestive system if consumed in excess.  The inability to digest proteins can lead to chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, impaired digestion, immune suppression, increased allergies, severe intestinal issues and declined mental function.

Phytates (Phytic Acid)
The most known anti-nutrient found in nuts, seeds, and grains is phytic acid (or phytate), a compound that protects the plant seed from premature germination. When you eat foods containing phytates, they combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption.  Phytates also have the potential to block protein absorption.


Over time, regularly consuming foods that contain phytates can lead to serious mineral deficiencies and cause a wide array of health problems including bone loss, digestive issues, autoimmune diseases, allergies, skin irritations, decaying teeth, and hormone disruption.

However, seeds, nuts, and grains contain an enzyme called phytase, which is activated by soaking and breaks down phytic acid.


Lectins are basically carb-binding proteins that are present in nearly all foods, both plant and animal.  In plants, they act as built-in pesticides that nature intended for warding off predators (humans included).  These types of lectins are highly concentrated in grains (especially wheat), beans (especially soybeans), and nuts. When consumed in large quantities, they are very harmful to the small intestine. They stick to the lining of the small intestine and damage the sensitive villi that are responsible for transporting nutrients into the bloodstream.


Over time, lectins lead to a condition called “leaky gut syndrome” which means that the delicate lining of the small intestine has become so damaged and perforated that undigested food particles,  proteins, toxins and other pathogens are able to “leak” into the bloodstream and bind to tissues and organs throughout the body. This triggers inflammation  in the body as a way to protect the affected tissue. Because of this, lectins are also linked with autoimmune disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disorders, fibromyalgia, arthritis, lupus and many others.


Soaking and Sprouting Increases Nutritional Content

soaking cashewsIf all this sounds like a hazard to your health, it is!  Many people suffer from the effects of antrinutrients beacuse they eat a large amount of grain foods that have not been soaked or sprouted.  Nuts and seeds are typically eaten in small quantities compared to grains, but it is still important to soak them as well.  When soaked, the vital proteins, vitamins (especially B vitamins), enzymes and minerals are unlocked, making them ten times more nutritious than in their raw unsoaked form. Our not-so-distant ancestors understood this very well. They never consumed these foods without soaking, sprouting, or fermenting them first.  

How to Soak Nuts and Seeds


Place the raw nuts or seeds in a glass jar or bowl and cover them with water of the correct temperature (see the chart below).  Note: If the chart indicates warm water,  it only needs to be warm initially.  You don’t have to keep the water warm for the entire soak time. 

Add a pinch of salt or apple cider vinegar, and allow them to soak according to the chart below.

Drain off the water and DRY the soaked nuts or seeds by blotting them dry with a towel and then spreading them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven with the oven light on.  DO NOT TURN ON THE OVEN.  You can leave them in the oven all day to dry while you are away.  The light will create a very low heat (no higher than 120 degrees) and will allow them to dry, but won’t harm the delicate oils contained within them. 

You may also dry them in a dehydrator.

When you store soaked nuts or seeds, make sure they are completely dry, otherwise they will go moldy very quickly.   Soaked nuts and seeds should also be stored in the refrigerator.


                                 Nut and Seed Soaking Guide

                                            (soaking times are in hours)

soaking TABLE 

Natural Hormones in Cow's Milk from Industrial Dairies Linked to Cancers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Thursday, May 12, 2016

cowsThe evidence that milk from conventionally raised cows wreaks havoc on our health keeps mounting.  We already know that rbST, a synthetic growth hormone that is injected into conventionally raised cows to increase their milk production, has been associated with an increased risk of breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancers in humans.

Now a study out of Harvard University shows that a naturally occurring hormone, called estrone sulfate, in milk from cows raised in factory farms is also causing cancers, particularly hormone-dependent cancers of the testes, prostate, and breast.

Dr. Ganmaa Davaasambuu, Ph.D., the lead author of the study, is quoted as saying in the Harvard University Gazette "The milk we drink today is quite unlike the milk our ancestors were drinking. The milk we drink today may not be nature's perfect food."  She and her Harvard colleagues compared raw milk from her native Mongolia to pasteurized milk produced from large scale feeding operations in the U.S. and other countries.

The milk our ancestors drank is more like the raw milk from traditional herding societies like Mongolia, where the cows are only milked for human consumption during certain times of a cow's pregnancy or after the cow has given birth.

The concentration of estrone sulfate in the milk is low during the first four months of a cow's pregnancy, but rises significantly in the later months of pregnancy, and then drops again after giving birth and while lactating.  For this reason, cows in traditional herding societies only milk their cows after they have given birth, for about five months out of a year.

The pasteurized milk that most people drink today is taken from cows raised in modern dairy farms where they are milked about 300 days a year.  For much of that time, the cows are pregnant.  The later in pregnancy a cow is, the higher the concentration of estrone sulfate in her milk, as well as much higher levels of other hormones.

Ganmaa and her Harvard colleagues conducted two pilot studies. One compared levels of hormones and growth factors in American milk (whole, whole organic, skim milk, and UHT - ultra-high temperature - milk) to raw milk from non-pregnant lactating cows in Mongolia. Much to their chagrin pasteurized milk contained roughly 33% more estrone sulfate than raw milk.

They also conducted another study that looked at third-graders in Mongolia. After a month, the hormone levels jumped among the children fed commercial U.S. milk.

Earlier studies conducted by others have also shown that eating dairy heightens the risk of some cancers.  One study compared diet and cancer rates in 42 countries. It showed that milk and cheese consumption are strongly correlated to the incidence of testicular cancer among men ages 20 to 39. Rates were highest in places like Switzerland and Denmark, where cheese is a national food, and lowest in Algeria and other countries where dairy is not so widely consumed.1

Ganmaa is quoted as saying: "Cancer rates linked to dairy can change quickly. In the past 50 years in Japan, rising rates of dairy consumption are linked with rising death rates from prostate cancer - from near zero per 100,000 five decades ago to 7 per 100,000 today. Butter, meat, eggs, milk, and cheese are implicated in higher rates of hormone-dependent cancers in general. Breast cancer has been linked particularly to consumption of milk and cheese. In a rat study, rats fed milk show a higher incidence of cancer and develop a higher number of tumors than those who drank water."2

These findings lead to many concerns about milk and dairy consumption.  Raw milk can be a supremely healthy food, which is why half a million Americans buy raw milk from local dairies.  In fact, raw grass-fed organic milk from cows milked at the proper times is linked to improved health by aiding in digestion from the active cultures present in the raw milk, healing autoimmune disorders, and boosting overall immunity, which can help prevent cancer.3

If you are concerned about the quality of the milk and dairy products you consume, you should strongly consider this evidence.  Switching to raw milk may be the best alternative. To find out more about raw milk and to find a dairy near you, go to


1.  Corydon Ireland, "Hormones in Milk Can Be Dangerous," Harvard University Gazette, December 7, 2006,
2.  Ibid.
3.  Jonathan Benson, "Harvard study: Pasteurized Milk From Industrial Dairies Linked to Cancer," February 27, 2012,

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