Health News
The Skinny on Obesity PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Thursday, July 12, 2012






skinnyonobesityimage

How did the entire world get so fat so fast?  That's the question Dr. Robert Lustig poses in the first segment of "The Skinny on Obesity", a 7-part short-video series produced by the University of California, San Francisco, Mini Medical School for the Public.

In 2009 Dr. Robert Lustig, the leading expert on childhood obesity, sparked a national dialogue about sugar, calling it a toxin that has fueled the global obesity epidemic.  As a doctor, he has a compelling way of explaining how sugar affects the body.  In this 7-part series from UCTV, Dr. Lustig and two of his UCSF colleagues tease out the science behind this alarming claim.  What I found the most valuable in this video are the simple animated depictions of how the body works, and also Dr. Lustig's easy to understand explanations. 

I think you will find it highly educational and extremely valuable in helping you understand how to get a grip on this important aspect of your health.  If you want recipes  and a healthy eating plan to help you put it all into practice, you can find that in my book The Science of Skinny.

The video series is presented in seven short segments that can be watched at your leisure, and also includes two bonus segments.  CLICK ON THE ABOVE IMAGE TO WATCH.  Here's a preview of each of the series topics:

Episode 1  (12 minutes)  An Epidemic for Every Body
The debut episode of this 7-part series debunks the theory that obesity only affects the "gluttons and sloths" among us and is, in fact, a public health problem that impacts everyone.  I love his explanation of why a calorie is not a calorie!

Episode 2  (9 minutes)  Sickenly Sweet
Dr. Lustig illustrates the overabundance of sugar in today's processed convenience foods and explains how our bodies metabolize these sugars in the same way as alcohol or other toxins, causing damage to the liver and other organs.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Episode 3  (8 minutes) Hunger and Hormones A Vicious Cycle
Sugar impacts the brain just as much as the waistline. In this episode, Dr. Lustig explains the biochemical shifts that sugar causes, making us store fat and feel hungry at the same time.  The animations are great, and Dr. Lustig is convincing.

Episode 4  (8 minutes) Sugar: A Sweet Addicition
If you don't believe sugar is addictive, this episode will help you understand the cycle of addiction that sugar causes in the brain, much in the same way as drugs and alcohol. Sugar addiction can be just as tough to overcome as any other addiction.

Episode 5  (7 minutes) Generation XL
What a mother eats while pregnant can affect her child's weight.  Although born normal weight, or even underweight, and alarming number of children become overweight at 6 months or older.  An unnerving trend of obese infants is just one indication that obesity can be passed on from mother to fetus. This installment looks towards the next generation, with an emphasis on preventive care and pre-natal health.

Episode 6 (7 minutes)  A Fast Paced, Fast Food Life
This episode explores how our fast paced lifestyles create stress that is a key contributor to today's obesity epidemic. Practical and effective solutions are offered that don't involve dieting and exercise, however they need to be combined with that type of healthy lifestyle.

Episode 7  (8 ½ minutes) Drugs, Cigarettes, Alcohol and Sugar?
The experts crack down on the country's agricultural policy and food industry, which have made it nearly impossible to avoid sugar in our daily diet, and suggestions for possible remedies.  Some of this information was covered in my article Time to Regulate Sugar?

 
Cool New Products Showcased at Natural Products Expo West 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Natural Products Expo West SignNatural Products Expo West is the annual premier trade show for the organic and natural products industry, and the largest of its kind in the world.  This was my fifth time attending Expo West, and every year I am so excited to walk the aisles of the Anaheim Convention Center to see what's new and innovative in terms of food products, supplements, body care products, pet food, clothing, and much, much more .  One of my favorite perks of attending the expo is that I come home with a gazillion samples and a whole new supply of reusable shopping bags with my favorite company's logos on them.  This year I snagged at least 10 really cool bags and a T-shirt from KIND Healthy Snacks.  One year I lucked out by getting a very cute women's T-shirt from Larabar, which I still covet like a rare gem. 

The expo is mostly for buyers and employees of retail and online stores, looking for new and innovative items to stock their shelves, but many others are welcome to attend, including bloggers, health professionals and nutritionists (like yours truly), and anyone who is remotely affiliated with the natural products industry.  This year's expo drew more than 60,000 attendees and hosted over 3,000 exhibits, so there was plenty to do, see, smell, and taste.  In addition to walking the aisles of the convention hall checking out all the new stuff, the expo also offered a morning yoga class, educational seminars, networking events, exhibitor-hosted parties, and a concert.  This year's concert featured Ziggy Marley, who also had a booth at the expo to showcase his new coconut oil products (more on those later).

Dee with Patricia_2012Many of the biggest names in health attend Expo West, and although it's a huge event, it is also surprisingly intimate.  In previous years, I've had the opportunity to personally meet such nutritional greats as Ann Louise Gittleman, Dr. Michael Murray, Udo Erasmus, Jordan Rubin, and of course the "First Lady of Natural Health" Patricia Bragg.  Often times, the creators of the products are in their booths greeting people and/or signing books.  I've met Bob of Bob's Red Mill and Mary of Mary's Gone Crackers.  Brenda Watson, founder of Renew Life Digestive Care supplements, was in her booth this year doing a book signing, and Lara of Larabar was briefly spotted on the show floor as well.  Also this year, I had the blessed opportunity to get a personal introduction to Marilu Henner of TV and stage fame, and author of many books, including The Total Health Makeover.  It was an honor beyond belief.  You just never know who you're going to meet!

 
A highlight of this year's expo was the Bragg 100th Anniversary Party on Saturday night.  Patricia Bragg and her staff hosted an elegant Hawaiian-themed celebration, commemorating both 100 years of success in creating a line of natural organic foods, books, and recipes, but also to honor the legacy of her father, Paul Bragg, who opened the very first natural foods store in the country in 1912.  It was such an honor to be a part of the celebration.  If you'd like to read more about it click here (when you get to the site, you may recognize the man standing in the center of the pic as my hubby Michael!).

Below are my comments on of some of the Expo’s noteworthy products.  Some may not be in stores yet, but keep your eyes peeled or go online to order:

COCOMOJOE (raw bars, raw granola, and caramel corn)
www.cocomojoefoods.com

Not since I first tasted Larabar many years ago, have I tasted anything more amazing in a bar, raw or otherwise, than COCOMOJOE.  And I've tasted many a bar in the years between. Of all the foods I tasted during my time at expo, none could compare to COCOMOJOE products, which also include granola and caramel corn.  They were truly THE BEST, and I really hope that the owner and creator, Joe, got some buyers to carry his awesome creations.

cocomojoeproductsWhat makes COCOMOJOE products so yummy AND healthy is that Joe uses the miracle of coconut products to improve their taste and nutritional value.  Dried coconut, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and coconut nectar are all part of the high quality ingredients used in the products.


The current offerings are JOEBAR, COCOMO JOE ORGANIC GRANOLA, BABYBAR, and COCOMO CORN.
JoeBar is an organic raw gluten free food bar.  I tasted the coffee Joebar and the green Joebar. Simply amazing!  The BabyBar smaller smaller size version of Joebar made of most of the same ingredients, without walnuts or any added fruit or flavor. It's 1"x3" and is the perfect size, taste and texture for children teething age and up.

Cocomo Joe Raw Granolas are the best organic granolas you will find anywhere.  They're not just sweet, they actually have real flavors. Most granolas contain canola typically overly sweetened with agave, honey, or evaporated cane juice.  Not Cocomo Joe granola - they use coconut oil and coconut sweeteners.  I'm telling you, there's nothing like it anywhere!


Finally, the Cocomo Corn was beyond description in its authenticity and flavor.  I could not believe how good it was.  Thank goodness the free samples were small because I could have definitely overindulged in that delectable treat. Made with organic popcorn, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, and coconut oil, it has an amazing caramel taste without any stickiness.  The best part about it is the low glycemic index of coconut sugar and nectar, which is 35, well below the threshold for diabetics.

On the company's Facebook page, their mission statement reads: To put great food made with the best ingredients out in the world so people have a better choice of what they're putting in their body. To make food to the highest standards of taste and quality. To ask people to eat slowly, and eat less.

What food company tells you to eat less?!!!  COCOMOJOE is onto something and they're doing it in a very conscious way.  Bless you, Joe!  I wish you the best of success.

Bragg Live Food Products
www.bragg.com

Patricia Bragg spotted a 2008 feature story on me in Quick and Simple Magazine where I revealed that one of my all-natural secret weapons for losing 100 pounds (and keeping it off) is apple cider vinegar.  She looked me up in the phone directory and called me at home!  Since then we've been friendly, I see her every year at Expo West, and I still tout her products every chance I get.

As previously mentioned, this year the Bragg company celebrates 100 years of promoting health through organic foods - a legacy seemingly immune to the natural product industry's race to introduce the "next big thing".

The Bragg Motto is "You are what you eat, drink, breathe, think, say, and do". Patricia is a living example of this.

Bragg has introduced 365 products over the past century.  Their current product line focuses on the perrenial raw apple cider vinegar, flavored vinegar drinks, extra-virgin olive oil from Greece, salad dressings and marinades, liquid aminos, sprinkle seasonings, and a digestive enzyme supplement. All products are organic, vegan, and gluten free.

This year Bragg introduced three new flavors of bottled vinegar drinks: Sweet Stevia, LimeAde and Ginger Spice.  I couldn't stop drinking them while I was visiting the Bragg booth. They are all excellent, as are all of the Bragg products.

And this year, Patricia is especially proud of one Hollywood celebrity's endorsement of Bragg vinegar.  She proudly showcased the following flyer throughout the weekend.  Go Patricia!

Ziggy Marley's Cocomon
www.ziggymarleycocomon.com

These are the first flavor-infused coconut oils I've ever seen.  Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?  Why didn't I think of this?  The coconut oil is high quality, organic, cold-pressed, unrefined, and non-deodorized.  It's infused with natural extracts of curry, orange-almond, and lemon-ginger.  He also has an original plain coconut oil. The flavor-infused oils lend wonderful flavors to whatever is cooked in them or whatever you spread it on.  Truly marvelous!

Green Valley Organics Lactose-Free Yogurt, Kefir and Sour Cream
www.GreenValleyLactoseFree.com

From the same folks who bring you Redwood Hill Farms Goat Yogurt, Green Valley Organics is dedicated to producing the purest, best tasting milk for their lactose-free dairy products.  The secret to how they make it lactose-free?  They add the natural enzyme lactase to the milk, which breaks down the lactose into easily digested simple sugars, glucose and glalactose.  No chemicals are used, and the nutritional components of the milk are not altered in any way.  Although I prefer my yogurt to be full-fat rather than low fat, these are good organic products for those who are lactose intolerant but who desire eating these types of dairy products.

Dahlicious Lassi
www.dahlicious.com

I really liked Dahlicious Lassi - a drinkable yogurt made from the milk of rBST-free grass-fed cows.

The name lassi comes from India, and the traditional drink has a 4,000 year history.  Now it's made in Vermont.  The yogurt is flavored only with real fruit, and is seriously probiotic.  Each batch is cultured for 12 hours and contains billions of live probiotic cultures - about ten times more than other yogurts.  This was truly a unique product, I didn't see anything else like it at the expo.  The owner, shown here, is a really nice guy too.

The company is fairly new, so you may not find it in stores just yet, but you can order it online from their website.

Brothers-All-Natural Fruit Crisps
www.brothersallnatural.com/brothers-all-natural-fruit-crisps

I rarely approve of "healthy" snack foods, but this is one I can give a thumbs up to.  It is nothing more than real fruit and spices.  It's made by gently removing the water from the fresh fruit through a state-of-the-art FREEZE-DRIED process, and transforms it into a yummy, not-too-sweet crispy snack.  No added sugar, nothing artificial.  The only thing that could be better would be if the fruit were organic.  Other than that, this is a great pick for trips, school lunches, and snacks.  These are widely available, I picked up a package at my local Circle K a week after the Expo!

Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Frozen Waffles
www.foodforlife.com

Leggo my Eggo better move over - here comes Food for Life's frozen sprouted grain waffles.  The company has been serving high quality sprouted grain bread and all-natural baked goods for over 40 years.  Well known for the Ezekiel 4:9 brand, their products are the gold standard for healthy.  These waffles won't be out until May, but you'll definitely want to try them once they make their way into your local health food store!

To Your Health Sprouted Flour Company
www.organicsproutedflour.net

Want to make your own sprouted grain bread, but don't want to deal with sprouting your own grains? You can order online from this family-owned business located in a small farm setting in rural Alabama. Buy the sprouted grains and mill them into flour yourself, or let them mill the sprouted grains for you.  Their sprouted flour is freshly milled from organic grains -- wheat, spelt and rye. The grains are sprouted, dried and milled at a very low temperature to maintain enzymes, vitamins and minerals. The sprouted flour is milled to order. It never sits on the shelf or in a warehouse. This ensures the freshest, most nutritious whole grain flour possible. Their website has lots of great info and recipes.  Check it out!

Bluapple
www.thebluapple.com

Tired of your fruits and veggies going bad before you have a chance to eat them?  If so, Blueapple may be your solution. 

The produce industry has known for years that ethylene gas, released by fruits and vegetables, accelerates spoilage.  The attractive apple-shaped blue plastic container holds an absorbent pouch that traps the ethylene gas in your refrigerator and extends the useful storage life of your produce up the three times longer.

The Bluapple is designed to work for three months in a typical home refrigerator produce or storage container.  The active ingredient does not wear out, but continues to absorb ethylene until is has reached it capacity. The absorbent pouches can be replaced, allowing you to reuse the plastic Blueapple for years.  I've got these in my refrigerator at home, and they do work great.  You'll find them in the produce section of your natural food market or other grocery stores.  The product works so well, it got an endorsement on the "The Doctors" television show.

 
Time to Regulate Sugar? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Friday, February 03, 2012

CLICK HERE OR THE ABOVE IMAGE TO VIEW THIS NEWS PROGRAM

Dr. Robert Lustig has become my nutrition hero.  A leading pediatric endocrinologist and childhood obesity specialist at the University of California, San Francisco,  School of Medicine, he has been publicly sounding the alarm on the health threat of sugar consumption since 2009.  While he is not the first professional to speak out about the dangers of sugar, he is certainly the loudest and most compelling, with mounting scientific evidence to back his claims.  Last night, he made the national news.

In a positional paper published yesterday in the journal Nature, Dr. Lustig and two other experts from UCSF proposed that sugar in all forms - especially white refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and any fructose-containing sweeteners - are as perilous to public heath as alcohol, and justify regulating them as controlled substances.
 
The main impetus for their proposal came from a United Nations report last September that revealed that for the first time in human history, more people worldwide are dying from chronic non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, than from infectious diseases.  These diseases pose a greater health burden worldwide, contributing to 35 million deaths annually, and the scientific evidence is proving that sugar is a primary cause for these diseases.  Additionally, while many people think that obesity is the root cause of these diseases, up to 40% of normal weight people develop diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and triglycerides, cardiovascular disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

"The UN announcement targets tobacco, alcohol and diet as the central risk factors in non-communicable disease," wrote the researchers. "Two of these three -- tobacco and alcohol -- are regulated by governments to protect public health, leaving one of the primary culprits behind this worldwide health crisis unchecked."

Dr. Lustig eloquently explained all of these fructose-related health issues in his popular lecture that has gone viral on YouTube, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth," which I wrote about a few months ago.  He explains that our bodies process fructose in much the same way they process alcohol and other poisons. In the paper the researchers provide a long list of deadly effects from excessive consumption of fructose that can cause many of the same health problems as alcohol consumption, including hypertension, insulin resistance, high cholesterol levels, pancreatitis, obesity, malnutrition, liver dysfunction, and addiction.

One aspect that the researchers pointed out in their paper is that sugar is nearly unavoidable in our food supply.  In recent years, sugar has been added to nearly all processed foods, limiting consumer choice.  The counter-argument made by the sugar industry that it is a matter of personal responsibility is flawed - people who want to stay away from sugar and limit their intake have a difficult time because it is so pervasive.  Dr. Lustig points out that he sees obese six-month-olds in his clinic.  How can a six-month-old possibly be responsible for their obesity?  It is not a matter of personal responsibility; he arugues,  it is a matter of too much sugar in everyday foods.

Dr. Lustig and his co-authors recommend implementing ways to reduce sugar consumption by limiting sugar access -- strategies like enacting sugar taxes, placing age limits on food purchases and limiting advertising of sugar-sweetened foods.  I am loudly cheering these researchers for bringing this issue to national attention. It is long overdue and everyone needs to know how devastating sugar consumption is for our health.  I see this step as the beginning of a wave of sugar reform worldwide, in the same way that alcohol and tobacco have been controlled.  Let those who want to willingly consume sugar do so when they are of an age that they can make that decision for themselves.  Let's keep it out of the mouths of babes and those of us who choose not to destroy our health by eating sugar.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS NEWS PROGRAM

 
Agave Nectar: Healthy or Not? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Friday, February 03, 2012

agaverootOver the past two years I've been hit with a barrage of inquiries pertaining to agave. From emails to message board postings and questions at nearly every one of my public lectures, people want to know what my thoughts are concerning agave. In my book Plan-D: The Amazing Anti-Diet, I wrote about the health benefits of raw blue agave nectar and listed it, among other natural sweeteners, as a healthy choice for occasional use. But new information has arisen in the last few years concerning agave, which is why I am writing this article. Since the publication of my book in 2009, I have changed my stance on agave, and I want to give you the facts so that you can make your own decision about whether or not to consume it. Whatever you decide, please know that I do not now, nor have I ever, condoned the daily use of any natural sweetener containing sugars.

I have done a lot of my own reading and research, relied on my scientific knowledge and instinct, and have done a lot of soul searching before publicly giving an educated answer to the question of whether or not agave is a healthy choice.

Agave was first introduced into the health food world in the mid-1990's and quickly became the darling of the natural sweetener kingdom. Marketed as a low glycemic alternative to refined sugar, bottles of the sweet syrup commercially produced in Mexico began showing up on store shelves in the U.S. It also became the sweetener of choice for many health food products such as ice cream, bottled drinks, ketchup, granola, muffins, cookies, energy bars and chocolate. It was widely embraced by the vegan community, and the raw food community heralded the raw version of agave nectar.

Agave plantAgave is a succulent plant, similar to aloe, which grows primarily in Mexico. There are hundreds of species of agave, each having their own features. One thing they have in common is a large root base with long pointy leaves coming out of it. The bulb root, or heart of the agave plant, looks like a very large pineapple and is called the piña.

Although manufacturers have claimed that the nectar is taken directly from the succulent leaves straight into the bottle, apparently that is not the truth. Most agave nectar is not made from the sap of the agave plant, but from its large root bulb.

According to several sources, there are two ways in which the commercial agave nectar is manufactured. One way is to collect the hearts from several different species of agave by cutting off their leaves. The hearts are shredded, pulped, then "subjected to high pressure steam in order to make it easier to extract the juice. The juice is then filtered to create light and dark varieties. Next, the extracted and filtered juice is heated to create thermic hydrolysis, which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars, very much like boiling maple sap to get maple syrup. For the raw agave, the temperature is controlled for this stage to remain below 118°F.(1)

The other way is to use a specific species of agave called salmiana. When the plant is seven or eight years old, it produces a long flower stem called a quiote. Soon after the quiote first appears, it is removed, leaving a hole in the center of the plant. The plant tries to heal this wound, and aguamiel collects in the hole. Agua means water, and miel, honey. This aguamiel is the true nectar of the agave plant. It is not the sap of the leaves, but the juice the plant stored to prepare to grow its quiote.

The aguamiel is carefully removed using a gourd and a suction device. The aguamiel is placed in an evaporator to remove moisture. If the vacuum evaporator is controlled to stay below 115° F then it is called raw nectar, and if it is not controlled, evaporation proceeds more quickly, and this creates regular, not raw, agave.

The resulting syrup is next hydrolized using enyzmes. So rather than using a heat process, this type of agave is produced using an enzyme process with organic enzymes to convert the carbohydrates into sugars. Finally the agave is filtered, which results in a light syrup. (2)(3)

Syrup is the more accurate word to use for the commercially produced agave; it is not nectar.

The controversy over agave came about because the process that many, if not most, agave producers use to convert the carbohydrates into sugars is similar to that by which cornstarch is converted into high-fructose corn syrup. The agave is subject to an enzymatic process that converts the carbohydrates into a fructose-rich syrup - anywhere from 70 percent fructose and higher. For comparison, the high-fructose corn syrup used in sodas is 55 percent refined fructose.(4)

Some agave nectar can contain up to 90 percent fructose, which unfortunately is a form of isolated concentrated fructose, not the type that exists in fruits and vegetables. In fruits and vegetables, the naturally occurring fructose occurs in very small amounts, nowhere near the amount that is in a teaspoon of agave or high fructose corn syrup. Fructose in fruit was originally called "levulose." It is accompanied by enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin. Isolated fructose made from enzymatic conversions lacks amino acids, vitamins, minerals, pectin, and fiber. As a result, the body doesn't recognize isolated fructose the way it recognizes levulose. Levulose is digested in the intestine, but isolated fructose is digested in your liver, which is why it does not produce much of a glycemic effect. But that doesn't mean its healthy.

Too much fructose going into the liver is converted into triglycerides or stored as fat in the liver. Too much fat in the liver leads to insulin resistance. In 2010, the Glycemic Research Institute announced that it had legally "delisted" and placed a ban on agave for use in food and beverage products, due to results of five years of clinical trials showing negative effects on diabetics. Manufacturers who use agave in products have been warned that they could be liable for any health issues related to agave consumption.

A 2008 study out of Duke University showed that daily consumption of fructose-containing foods or drinks has been associated with a disease called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Fatty liver is a degenerative disease of the liver whereby the liver cells are literally choked to death by globules of fatty substances within them. This organ becomes enlarged and swollen with greasy deposits of fatty tissue. The term nonalcoholic is used because this type of liver disease is occurring in people who do not consume alcohol, such as children. Yet, in many respects, the nature of NAFLD is similar to what is seen in liver diseases of alcoholics who consume excessive amounts of alcohol.

A 2010 follow-up study, published online in Hepatology, goes one step further and links increased consumption of high-fructose corn syrup to the progression of liver injury, such as fibrosis (scarring in the liver), among people who already have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The concern is that continued consumption of fructose will lead to more serious liver damage. Most people with NAFLD feel well and are not aware that they have a liver problem. Nevertheless, this disease can be severe and can lead to cirrhosis, in which the liver is permanently damaged and scarred and no longer able to work properly.

For this reason, I do not advocate the use of agave. It is unfortunate and disappointing if you have been using agave under the belief that it is a healthy natural sweetener. If so, don't feel bad. For several years, I was duped right along with you.

miel de magueyIf you do want to use agave, there is a natural unprocessed agave product that is made in Mexico. It's called miel de agave, or miel de maguey - a molasses-like syrup made by boiling the agave sap - but its availability is limited and it is expensive to produce. I once saw a bottle of it on the shelf at my local Whole Foods Market with a hefty price tag of twenty dollars!

You'll still see plenty of bottles of agave on the shelves of health food stores, but unless it's miel de mahuey, you should just walk on by. As for agave in "healthy foods," you should pass on those, too.

If you're looking for a low glycemic replacement for agave, you may want to try a relatively new product on the market made by Coconut Secret called "coconut nectar."  Coconut nectar is not made from the actual coconut, but rather from the little white flowers that grow on the coconut tree, called coconut blossoms.  The blossoms contain a sap that can be pressed out, then evaporated at low temperatures to allow the sap to thicken into a nectar.  According to the "Coconut Secret" website, coconut nectar is raw and low glycemic (GI=35), containing amino acids, minerals and vitamins.  This has become a favorite of mine and my alternative to agave.  It has a mild sweet taste and is very versatile.

Other alternatives to agave are brown rice syrup, raw honey, and pure maple syrup.  These are all healthy natural sweeteners.  But just remember, sweeteners are for occasional use, not daily!

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1) Rami Nagel, "Agave: Nectar of the Gods?" Weston A. Price Foundation, April 2, 2009, http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/agave-nectar-of-gods.

2) Ibid.

3)"Method of producing fructose syrup from agave plants (United States Patent 5846333)". 1998-12-08.

4) Sally Fallon Morell and Rami Nagel, "Agave Nectar: Worse Than We Thought," Weston A. Price Foundation, April 30, 2009, http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/agave-nectar-worse-than-we-thought.

 
Eight Healthy Foods for 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Sunday, January 01, 2012

If you're making a commitment to eat more healthfully in 2012, you'll want to know about some of the top foods that will help you achieve your goal.  From reducing cancer risk and heart disease, to aiding in weight loss and boosting your immune system, incorporating the following foods into your meals this year can help you live a longer, healthier and happier life.

Parsley
You should think of parsley as a vegetable and eat it often.  Parsley contains two classes of unusual components that provide unique health benefits. The first type are volatile oil components and the second type are antioxidants called flavonoids.  Parsley's volatile oils - particularly one called myristicin - have been shown to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies, and particularly, tumor formation in the lungs. Myristicin has also been shown to activate glutathione, the powerfully helpful compound involved in liver detoxification. The activity of parsley's volatile oils qualifies it as a "chemoprotective" food, and in particular, a food that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens (especially those found in cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke). Parsley's volatile oils are also what gives it its legendary ability to freshen your breath at the end of your meal.

The flavonoids in parsley are strong antioxidants that protect against free radical damage to the cells. In addition to its volatile oils and flavonoids, parsley is an excellent source of two other antioxidant nutrients, vitamin A and vitamin C, that are also important for the prevention of many diseases, including lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke, and alleviating rheumatoid arthritis.

Enjoy raw parsley sprigs added to salads or soups, or sprinkle chopped parsley on top of scrambled eggs. Toss it into rice or quinoa, and use dried parsley in recipes.

Chia Seeds
These tiny brown seeds are packed with omega 3 fatty acids, great for maintaining healthy energy levels. They are also said to help lower blood pressure and the risk of inflammation, as well as helping slow down premature ageing by reducing the risk of free-radical damage to the skin.

Sprinkle Chia seeds on salads, include them in your dipping sauces or salad dressings, throw them in stews or heat them up until they go soft and gel-like and then use as a spread for sandwiches or include in baking recipes.

Raw Cacao and Dark Chocolate
Raw cacao is the number one antioxidant food in the world: thirty times higher than red wine and twenty times higher than green tea. It provides good amounts of magnesium, chromium, and iron, which are the top three mineral deficiencies in the United States. It is also extraordinarily high in vitamin C, and is one of the best sources of natural fiber.

An immense amount of research has demonstrated that the antioxidants in raw and dark chocolate can prevent heart disease, reduce blood pressure, enhance brain function, lift depression, improve blood sugar levels, ease chronic fatigue syndrome, suppress coughs, and more.

 

The form of cacao with the highest antioxidant power is raw cacao powder.  Blend it into smoothies or drink as hot cocoa. Next best is raw cacao nibs. These can be added to yogurt or smoothies. They also work great as an alternative to chocolate chips in trail mix or cookies.  Unsweetened cocoa powder and unsweetened baking chocolate also have high amounts of polyphenols, as does dark chocolate that has at least 80 percent cacao content and not more than 6 grams of sugar per serving.

 

Avocadoes
Avocadoes contain the vitamins and minerals of green vegetables, the protein of meat, and provide one of the healthiest forms of beneficial fat. One medium size avocado contains a whopping 15 grams of fiber, making it one of the most fiber-rich fruits on the planet.

Avocadoes are high in fat, but it's the good kind of heart healthy monounsaturated fat, which helps to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. Avocadoes are also high in beta-sitosterol, a phytochemical that reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from foods. The fat and fiber in avocadoes also helps you lose weight. Add avocadoes to sandwiches, salads, smoothies, or mash up an use as an alternative to mayonnaise.

Asparagus
Known for its use in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism, as well as its cancer-fighting abilities, asparagus is also a very powerful detoxifying vegetable.  Asparagus contains high concentrations of a compound called asparagine. This compound quickly cleanses the body of toxins, leaving asparagine's distinct odorous residue in the urine.  For this reason, it was once thought that asparagus itself was toxic, but we now know that when the urine smells funny, the vegetable is doing its job well!

 

Raw or cooked asparagus can be added to soups, stir-fries, scrambled eggs, omelets, and casseroles.  It can also be tossed into pasta or rice, and makes a great pizza topping.

 

Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
One of the more interesting nutritional qualities legumes have is their high amount of a special type of carbohydrate called "resistant starch." A "resistant starch" is so named because it resists the enzymes that normally break down starches during digestion, allowing it to move all the way down to the large intestine without being digested.  Once it arrives in the large intestine, probiotics (good bacteria) feed on the starch and produce a compound called butyrate which has been shown to prevent colon cancer. 

But there is another interesting effect of resistant starch that is important for those who want to lose weight. Resistant starch reverses the order in which the body typically burns food for energy.  Usually when you eat a meal that contains carbohydrates and fat, the carbohydrates are burned for energy first, and the fats get stored for energy later (typically on our butt, hips and thighs!).  But because resistant starch doesn't get digested until it gets to the colon, the fat gets burned for energy first, before it has a chance to be stored. Because of this digestive anomaly, eating foods that contain the highest amount of resistant starch will help your body resist the accumulation of fat. Research shows that just by eating one meal a day containing resistant starch, a person can burn 20 to 25 percent more fat, and this increase is sustained throughout the day: even if only one meal contains resistant starch.  Also, this fat burning effect is sustained as long as you keep eating foods containing resistant starch on a daily basis.

 

Classic meals such as beans and rice, a bean burrito or taco in a whole wheat or corn tortilla, split pea or lentil soup, bean dips (hummus), hearty mixed-bean chili, and bean salads are great ways to enjoy legumes.

 

Cruciferous Vegetables
This special family of vegetables consists of  cabbages, broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, collards, kale mustard greens, radishes, rutabega, turnips, and Brussels sprouts.  These vegetables, alternatively called the "Brassica" family, contain multiple nutrients and phytonutrients that are essential in helping to burn fat, especially the dreaded belly fat. 

The cruciferous vegetables contain more phytochemicals with impressive and powerful anticancer properties than any other vegetable family.  These vegetables are also high in fiber, making them a serious nutritional weapon against high cholesterol and colon cancer.

Carrots
Carrots provide the highest amount of vitamin A than any of the other vegetables.  Two carrots provide roughly 4,050 RE (retinol equivalents), or roughly four times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A.  In a study of 1,300 elderly Massachusetts residents, those who had at least one serving of carrots each day had a 60 percent reduction in their risk of heart attacks compared to those who ate less than one serving of these carotene-rich foods each day. Extensive studies suggest that a diet including as little as one carrot per day could conceivably cut the rate of lung cancer in half. In addition to cancer and heart disease, diets rich in beta carotene also appear to offer protection against developing type 2 diabetes.

Carrots are wonderful either raw or lightly cooked, and make a great addition to muffins, salads and soups.

 
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