Healthy Foods Category

Nuts – A Great Source of Vitamins, Antioxidants, Fiber & Healthy Fat – Great Recipes for Roasting!

January 6th, 2018

Nuts are nutritious snacks which have been linked to lower cholesterol, better heart health, weight control, and even a lower cancer risk.  Compared to people who avoid nuts,  those who eat nuts on a regular basis also tend to have:

Lower systolic blood pressure
Fewer risk factors for metabolic syndrome and a lower risk for diabetes
Better cardiovascular health
Reduced mortality risk by 23%
Greater longevity

 

A 30-year long Harvard study found that:

People who ate a small handful (approximately 1 ounce or 28 grams) of nuts seven times per week or more were 20 percent less likely to die for any reason, compared to those who avoided nuts.

Eating nuts at least five times per week was associated with a 29 percent drop in mortality risk from heart disease, and an 11 percent drop in mortality risk from cancer.A Dutch study of 120,000 men and women ages55-69 for 10 years researchers found that people who ate just 10 grams of nuts each day had a 23 percent lower risk of death from any cause.A Dutch study of 120,000 men and women ages 55-69 for 10 years researchers found that:

People who ate just 10 grams of nuts each day had a 23 percent lower risk of death from any cause.
43 percent decrease in neurological disease, 30 percent decrease in diabetes and 39 percent decrease in respiratory disease plus fewer deaths due to cancer and heart disease.Nuts per ounce (28.5 grams):
49 pistachios, 23 almonds, 10 macadamia, 20 pecans halves, 16 cashews, 14 walnut halves, 16 cashews

RAW NUTS VERSUS DRY ROASTED/SALTED NUTS 

I don’t know how many people actually monitor their daily salt intake, but limiting salt consumption to no more than 2,500 mg/day is recommended.   For those who are sensitive to salt for blood pressure reasons, perhaps no more than 1,500 mg/day is better, and eating raw forms of nuts would be preferable.

But studies have shown that dry roasting of most nuts does not reduce their health benefits.
So if you like the taste of raw nuts, go with them but if you don’t, then dry roasted nuts that are either not salted or lightly salted are the way to go. Either way you get in your daily one ounce of your favorite nuts.

I suggest switching between your favorite nut choices because they all have slightly different nutritional make-up.  Pecans for example, a one ounce serving of pecans includes over 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, potassium and zinc.  Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ranked pecans in the top 20 out of 100 foods for antioxidant capacity.  Walnuts contain a number of neuro-protective compounds, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants.

HOW TO ROAST NUTS AND TASTY RECIPES:

Below you will find tasty recipes for; Rosemary Roasted Walnuts, Roasted Almonds with Honey & Cinnamon, Maple-Chipotle Spiced Nuts, Pumpkin Pie Spiced Almonds, Sweet, Salty, Spicy Party Nuts, Maple Citrus Roasted Pecans, Cocoa Cardamom Espresso Roasted Almonds and more.

Roasted nuts are delicious and make healthy snacks, party treats and great gifts.  Roasting nuts deepens their flavor making them even more nutty and complex.

Dry Roasting vs. Roasting
There are two basic ways to roast nuts in the oven – dry or with a small amount of oil. Roasting nuts with a touch of oil is a really nice way to add flavor and crispness. You can use a neutral oil like grape seed oil, or match the oil to the nut such as almond oil or walnut oil. Various spices can also be added to the oil for flavored nuts. Roasting in oil is great when adding nuts to salads, or when using as a garnish. Dry roast the nuts if they are going to be used in baking recipes because the extra oiliness can throw off the recipe.
If a recipe requires chopped, roasted nuts, chop AFTER roasting as it is easy to burn chopped nuts during the roasting process. Warm nuts also chop more cleanly and with less flaking.
ROASTING NUTS IN OIL
Ingredients:
Nuts (any amount)
Oil (a neutral oil such as grape seed or a nut oil, almond, walnut etc.)

Equipment:
Heavy baking tray or cake pan
Plate or tray for cooling

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F
Spread nuts in an even layer on the baking sheet.
If you are roasting the nuts with oil, drizzle a small amount over the nuts and toss to coat evenly. A cake pan can be used for small amounts allowing you to shake the pan to evenly distribute them.
Use as little oil as possible, starting with just a teaspoon or two.
Roast in oven for 5 minutes.
Remove after 5 minutes to check, and stir so that the outer nuts are moved towards the middle and the middle nuts are moved towards the edges. If using a cake tin, gently shake to redistribute.
Check the nuts again after 3 minutes. You are looking for the color to be a few shades darker. Return to the oven and check again in 3 more minutes. If they need longer, give another stir. Nuts rarely take longer than 15 minutes to properly roast, usually closer to 8 to 12 minutes.
Check for doneness. Remove from the oven and cool by immediately transferring to another plate or baking sheet. DO NOT COOL ON THE TRAY THEY WERE BAKED ON or you run the risk of scorching them.
ENJOY!
Note: While roasting, nuts can go from “just right” to “burnt” in under a minute… so monitor carefully.

Tasty Variations – Roasted Nut Recipes
Sweet and Spicy Party Nuts, Roasted Almonds with Honey and Cinnamon, Spiced Rosemary and Thyme Nuts, Maple-Chipotle Spiced Nuts, Pumpkin Pie Spiced Almonds, Maple Citrus Roasted Pecans, Cocoa Cardamom Espresso Roasted Almonds and more…

You may use any type of nut or combination with the recipes below.

Recipe #1 – Roasted Almonds with Honey and Cinnamon

Ingredients:

¼ cup honey
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
12 ounces shelled almonds
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ teaspoon salt
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325-degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or baking liner. In a skillet warm honey, cinnamon and ginger over low heat, stirring until combined. Add almonds and stir to coat almonds. Remove from heat. Sprinkle in brown sugar and salt and combine. Spread coated almonds on lined baking sheet and bake at 325-degrees F for 12-15 minutes. Slightly adjust cook time to toasted/roasted preference. Allow to cool, tossing a couple of times as they cool to avoid them sticking together. Break apart once cooled before storing.

Recipe #2 – Spiced Rosemary and Thyme Nuts 

Ingredients:

3 c. large whole nuts – such as 1 c. cashews, 1 c. pecans, and 1 c. almonds
2 T. olive oil
2 T. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 300°. Place nuts in a medium heat-proof bowl. Pour oil into a small heavy saucepan and place over medium-low heat until warm. Do not let it get too hot – the oil will burn. Add rosemary and thyme and stir until aromatic, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in cumin and cayenne pepper. Pour the flavored oil over the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle with sugar, salt, and black pepper. Stir again. Transfer to a jelly roll pan or a baking pan with sides. Bake for about 15 minutes total, stirring after the first 10 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

 

Recipe #3 – Italian Rosemary Garlic Spiced Nuts

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (you could cut the amount of olive oil in half, if preferable)
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 teaspoons flaky sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix up the nuts in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix the olive oil with the seasonings. Pour the oil mixture over the nut mixture and stir to coat all the nuts. Spread the nuts out onto a rimmed baking sheet. A 11 x 15 jelly roll pan works really well for this. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the nuts are lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

 

Recipe #4 – Maple-Chipotle Spiced Nuts

Ingredients:

2 (6-ounce) packages pecan halves
1 (6-ounce) can whole natural almonds
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chipotle seasoning
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 egg whites
Cooking spray
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 F. Combine pecans, almonds and next 3 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in maple syrup and egg whites, stirring well. Spread evenly onto a foil-lined baking sheet coated well with cooking spray. Bake at 325 F for 10 minutes. Stir mixture and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp. Cool and break into pieces, if needed.

Recipe #5 – Pumpkin Pie Spiced Almonds

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp. agave nectar, honey or maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions:
Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is preheating, pour 1 cup almonds into a large mixing bowl. Add your cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt — toss to coat. Drizzle the agave and vanilla extract on the almonds and stir until all almonds are coated with the spices and sweetener. Spray a foil lined cookie sheet with cooking spray and spread the almonds on the sheet in a single layer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, flipping once, until almonds are roasted. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Recipe #6 – Maple Citrus Roasted Pecans

Ingredients:

8 ounces raw pecan halves
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (preferably grade B – the darker, more flavorful syrup)
pinch of fine sea salt
1 teaspoon orange extract
pinch of ground ginger
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the middle. Place nuts in a single layer on a parchment or Silpat lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast until fragrant about 10 minutes. Flip once during with a pair of tongs. Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees F. In a medium sauce pan bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil over medium high heat. Turn off the heat. Toss roasted pecans in the mixture with a heat proof spatula. Evenly spread the pecans back onto the lined cookie tray. Be sure they are in a single layer. Bake nuts for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let the nuts cool before serving. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe #7 – Sweet, Salty, Spicy Party Nuts

Ingredients:

1 cup untoasted walnut halves
1 cup untoasted pecan halves
1 cup unsalted, dry roasted almonds
1 cup unsalted, dry roasted cashews
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Combine walnut halves, pecan halves, almonds, and cashews in a large bowl. Add salt, black pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper; toss to coat. Heat the sugar, water, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted. Cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Slowly pour butter mixture over the bowl of nuts and stir to coat. Transfer nuts to the prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Bake nuts in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Stir nuts until the warm syrup coats every nut. Spread into a single layer, return to the oven, and bake until nuts are sticky and roasted, about 6 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

Recipe #8 – Rosemary Roasted Walnuts

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups walnuts
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the olive oil, rosemary, brown sugar, salt, and cayenne in a small mixing bowl. Whisk to combine well.

 

Recipe #9 – Barbecue Roasted Mixed Nuts

Ingredients:

3 c. mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts etc.)
1 egg white
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Instructions:
Heat oven to 325°F. Line 15x10x1-inch baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, extending foil over edges.
Melt butter in oven in foil-lined pan. Combine sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon and salt in bowl; set aside. Place egg whites into bowl. Beat at high speed, scraping bowl often, until soft peaks form. Continue beating, gradually adding sugar mixture, until stiff peaks form. Gently stir in nuts and orange zest. Spread nut mixture over melted butter in pan. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, 25-30 minutes or until nuts are browned and no butter remains. Cool completely. Store in container with tight-fitting lid.

Recipe #10 – Cocoa Cardamom Espresso Roasted Almonds

Ingredients:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom (for a more subtle cardamom flavor, use just 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste
3 cups raw almonds
Instructions:
Preheat your oven to 275°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicon liner or parchment paper, and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, cardamom, and salt. Whisk to remove any lumps. In a larger mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla bean paste until frothy. Add the almonds and toss in the egg mixture. Pour the sugar and cocoa mixture into the almonds and stir until the almonds are evenly coated. Transfer the almonds to the prepared baking sheet, and spread into an even layer. Roast for about 40 – 45 minutes, stirring every 10 – 15 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet, continuing to stir occasionally. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe #11 – Chai Spiced Roasted Almonds

Ingredients:

3 cups whole almonds
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Few drops of water
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon chai spice mix (or half cinnamon, half ginger would work)
Pinch salt
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper and set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white, vanilla bean paste, and water until frothy. In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, chai spice mix, and salt. Add the almonds to the whisked egg mixture and stir to evenly coat all of the almonds. Add the sugar and spice mixture, and toss until all of the almonds are covered. Spread the almonds out on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring twice. Spread the almonds out on waxed paper or parchment paper to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Not only are roasted nuts great snacks and party treats, they make great gifts. Place in small half pint mason jars, labeled and decorated, or in plastic bags tied up with ribbon.

 

To the Best of Health,

 

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

Enjoying Thanksgiving Heartburn-Free, Tips for Avoiding GERD Over the Holidays.

November 23rd, 2017

Thanksgiving is one of the holidays that revolves around food and can be challenging for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, heartburn or acid reflux.

What is heartburn?  It is the burning, bloated feeling in the chest and sometimes throat that is caused by the leaking of stomach digestive juices containing acid and pepsin (a digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins) into your esophagus (the tube connecting your throat to your stomach) and sometimes this reflux travels up into the throat which can irritate both your throat (larynx) and voice box (pharynx), cause difficult, painful swallowing, and lead to coughing, phlegm and hoarseness. When these symptoms develop in the throat instead of the chest cavity they are referred to as extraesophageal reflux (outside of the esophagus or LPR/ laryngopharyngeal reflux).

It is pepsin that causes most of the tissue damage to the esophagus, throat and voice box because it breaks down the protein structure in our tissues.  When left untreated GERD can lead to Barrett’s syndrome which is pre-cancer of the esophagus.

Though reflux can occur during the day, by standing up, gravity helps keep it somewhat under control but when we lie down at night its much easier for the stomach juices to flow back into the esophagus and start the symptoms discussed above.

If you are often bothered by heartburn and GERD (or possibly LPR) you may take antacid medications to try to control the acid and burning symptoms by using the most popular drugs for this purpose which are known as PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors) these are drugs like Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec.

It is not healthy to be on these drugs for longer than a month or two yet many people are threatening their health by being on them for much longer periods of time.  These drugs have been shown to:

1.  Increase the risk of early death,

2.  Increase the risk of kidney disease, heart disease, bone fractures, dementia, and infections.

3.  Decrease absorption of important compounds like magnesium, iron and vitamin B-12 to name a few.

So here’s what to do:

1-      Never eat within 2 ½-3 hours of going to bed.

2-      Sleep with your upper back and head raised

3-      Try to sleep as much as possible on your left side – The anatomy of your stomach makes it much more difficult for gastric juices to flow into the esophagus when you are on your left side.

4-      Decrease your use of the PPI’s slowly over 2 weeks and replace with H2 blocker like Zantac or Pepsid if you need relief and wean off those as you proceed with the other recommendations

5-      Don’t eat your next days first meal for at least 15 hours after your last meal from the previous night.  This in essence gives you a 15 hour fast which calms down your digestive symptoms, lowers the risk of reflux, and helps with blood sugar and weight control for added benefit.

6-      Consider adding a forkful of natural sauerkraut during the day. It helps the stomach to maintain healthy acid levels and adds many good bacteria that can offset ingested pathogenic bacteria that can get into the stomach, release gas and cause pressure that can force the gastric juices to reflux into the esophagus.

7-      Eliminate as much sugar as you can from your diet.  In addition to the danger of sugar to your overall health, it has been associated with GERD.  The same applies to processed meats and foods.

8-      Try using ½ teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in ½ glass of warm water for relief. Gargle it your mouth for a few seconds and then swallow it.  If your stomach acid levels are sufficient you should burp in no more than one or two minutes.  Often “too little” stomach acid is the cause of reflux and NOT “too much.”  Even if you have too little acid in your stomach when it refluxes it still burns, so it is the act of refluxing not necessarily that you have too much stomach acid!  In fact too little acid leads to poor control of gas-producing bacteria and the gas pushes the stomach juices into the esophagus.

If you need additional relief during the same day, instead of taking more medicine or another dose of baking soda, try swallowing a glass of 8.8 alkaline water which is sold in supermarkets.  The combo of baking soda and alkaline water works very well together for both GERD and LPR.

9-      If you have LPR symptoms and the above after a month or so hasn’t brough much relief, you can add a ½ teaspoon of sodium alginate to your ½ teaspoon of baking soda in warm water.

Though the sodium alginate does not dissolve too well in water, mix it as best you can, it will be clumpy but swallow it anyway.  The sodium alginate and the baking soda combo form a harmless bridge that covers the stop of your stomach fluids and prevents them from flowing backward into your esophagus.

TIPS TO ENJOY A HEARTBURN FREE THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY

Juicy turkey, savory stuffing, creamy casseroles, and buttery mashed potatoes make the perfect spread for a traditional Thanksgiving table, but if you suffer from GERD, these rich, indulgent foods, can aggravate acid reflux and lead to hours of discomfort long after you’ve put away the leftovers.

The key to enjoying a heartburn-free holiday lies in knowing which foods to choose and which ones to avoid.  Also, eating too much overall or within a short time can trigger reflux,  Here are some tips for a heartburn-friendly Thanksgiving meal:

Choose lean cuts of turkey – Turkey is relatively safe for GERD sufferers, but try to choose cuts of white meat instead of dark, as they contain less fat. You can also limit the fat content by removing the skin and keeping the gravy to a minimum.

Fix mashed potatoes with chicken broth – Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving tradition, but when you load them up with butter and sour cream, they become a reflux nightmare. Adding chicken broth to your mashed potatoes gives them a rich flavor without ramping up the fat content.

Season stuffing with herbs – Everyone loves a heaping scoop of warm, savory stuffing, but if it’s seasoned with garlic and onions, it’s likely to cause heartburn. Prepare your stuffing with a variety of freshly chopped herbs instead.

Make casseroles with low-fat ingredients – If your casserole recipe uses a cream soup base, you can instantly make it more heartburn-friendly by using low-fat condensed soup. Look for other ingredients that come in low-fat or fat-free varieties like cream cheese, sour cream and whipping cream.

Skip the alcohol – It may be tempting to indulge in a glass of wine or champagne at dinnertime, but alcohol is a major heartburn trigger. Keep your beverage heartburn-friendly by sticking to water, non-citrus juice or decaffeinated tea. You can still participate in holiday toasts with a glass of sparkling cider or club soda!

Go easy on dessert – It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving dinner without the pumpkin pie, but just one slice has over 300 calories and 14 grams of fat.  Keep the fat content to a minimum by choosing a smaller slice, skipping the whipped cream, and removing the buttery crust from the back portion of your pie.

Have a wonderful and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.

To the Best of Heath,

 

Curt Hendrix, M.S. C.C.N., C.N. S.

 

The Truth About Eggs and Cholesterol

June 20th, 2017

How many times have you heard (perhaps even from your physician) to limit the consumption of eggs because they contain a lot of cholesterol and that by eating too many eggs, you will negatively affect your cholesterol levels?

Well, for those of you who love eggs but feel guilty eating them, there is some really good news.  All of those warnings about egg consumption were JUST PLAIN WRONG!

First of all, for about 70% of people, consuming cholesterol in your diet (from any source) has absolutely no meaningful effect on your cholesterol levels! There are several studies proving this and NOT one study showing that dietary cholesterol causes heart disease.

Secondly, it has been shown in the 30% of people whose cholesterol levels rise modestly when consuming eggs, that their LDL cholesterol particle size gets bigger….AND THIS IS A GOOD THING.

Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez of the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences summarized the results of egg consumption on blood cholesterol levels. In children aged 10-12, in men aged 20-50, in premenopausal and postmenopausal women, in whites and Hispanics:  two or three eggs per day has little or no effect on the blood cholesterol levels of over two thirds of the population. (1)

But there was even good news in the less than 1/3 of the population whose cholesterol did go up with egg consumption.  Their good and bad cholesterol went up equally and there was no change in their ratio of LDL to HDL or even the ratio of LDL to total cholesterol both of which are considered much more important than total cholesterol levels.

But the good news continued. It turns out that the LDL in egg eaters actually became safer. When LDL particles are small and dense, they can more easily penetrate into the lining of your arteries and cause plaque. The LDL in egg eaters got larger and fluffier making it safer and less susceptible to damage from oxidation and less susceptible to causing plaque in the arteries.

In addition, other health benefits of eggs are:

1- Eye health – May help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts because of lutein and zeaxanthin levels they contain
2- Provide high quality protein and essential amino acids
3- Contains Vitamin D
4- Possible breast cancer prevention – in one study, 6 eggs per week reduced risk by 44%
5- Healthy hair and nail due to high sulfur content

 

Click here to listen to my radio segment about cholesterol, discussed on the Dr. Tony O’Donnell Show!

 

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix,  M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

(1)-Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006;9:8-12.

Life Extension Smoothie – Powerful & Important Health Benefits

May 29th, 2017

I created the Life Extension Smoothie to provide some of nature’s most protective, healing and perfect nutrients to protect against those factors that cause aging and disease.  There are numerous benefits to combining ground organic flax-seed, omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids and blueberries in a delicious protein smoothie.  These benefits are described below following the recipe.

LIFE EXTENSION SMOOTHIE

  • 8 oz. (227 gm) Frozen Blueberries
  • 2 Tbs (30 gm) Ground Flax Seed Powder
  • 1 Tbs (15 ml) Barlean’s Omega Twin (Organic Flax & Borage oils)
    • May substitute another brand or just flax oil)
  • 1 scoop  MRM Natural Whey Protein Powder (low carb and no sugar or artificial sweeteners)
    • May substitute with any nutritious  low/no sugar whey protein powder.  A vanilla protein powder will add to it’s delicious taste.
  • 16 oz. Water (474 ml)
  • 1 tsp (5 gm) Cinnamon Powder
  • 4 Ice cubes (adjust to preferred thickness)

Blending Instructions

Add the ice, blue berries, flax-seed powder first, then add the oil and cool water.  Blend on low for about 10 seconds, then on high for a minute or more.  Drink first glass.  Re-blend for 20-30 seconds, drink balance.

Health Benefits:

Flax Seed Powder – Flax is a blue flowering plant that has attracted the attention of medical researchers around the world.  Not only is it a source of two different kinds of dietary fiber (soluble & insoluble, each with different health benefits), it is also a source of powerful, health promoting Omega-3 essential fatty acids.  Flax seed is the single highest source of”LIGNANS” which protect our body against cellular damage and unhealthy cellular changes.  Flax seed has been studied for the following conditions: heart disease, prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, esophageal cancer, oral cancer, menopause, PMS, kidney disease, constipation, Irritable Bowel syndrome, diabetes, peptic ulcer, hemorrhoids, weight loss and mineral absorption.

Flax Seed Oil – Flax oil contains Omega 3 essential fatty acids or EFA’s.  These are the “anti-fat” fats that make foods like flaxseed and certain cold water fishes like salmon, herring and mackerel so healthy. The EFAs are the good fats that fight the bad fats we get in our diet from junk food and processed foods that are almost impossible to avoid.  The highest quantities of Omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is present in flax-seed.  ALA is the parent from which EFA and DHA (the healthy fish oils) are derived.  ALA converts to compounds called prostaglandins. These compounds can be either inflammatory and anti-inflammatory. ALA converts to anti-inflammatory types of prostaglandins and since most degenerative disease all have inflammatory components, ALA is a welcome ally.  In fact studies have shown that ALA prevented platelets (red blood cells) from clumping together which can be a factor in heart attack. It has been known to increase the elasticity of heart arteries, and lowers risk of heart attack and stroke. A study also showed that women who have breast cancer had very low levels of ALA in their breast tissue compared to women with healthy tissue.

Borage Oil – Borage is a plant whose flowers and leaves as well as the oil from its seeds are used as medicine.  Borage seed oil contains a high content of the essential fatty acid known as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is part of the inflammatory mediation process and therefore the oil might be expected to have an impact on a variety of diseases and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, and atopic eczema.  Combined with fish oil, borage seed oil has shown improvement in bone density in a study of elderly osteoporotic women.  A study also concluded that GLA may hold promise for treatment of diabetic neuropathy.

Every cell in our body is enclosed by a cell membrane which plays a role in determining many cell functions, including what healthy or unhealthy things get in or out of our cells. Almost 25% of the cell membrane is conmposed of what should be healthy “phospholipids” (good fats).  Unfortunately because you get so very little of the good fats from sources like flax oil and borage oil, and so many of the bad fasts from the typical western diet, that the body uses what it has (the bad fats, disease-causing trans and saturated fats) and incorporates the bad fats into these very critical cell membranes.  The very nature, integrity and function of the cell membrane worsens, and a critical mechanism that we rely on to stay healthy and stay alive is seriously changed and compromised.

THE GOOD NEW IS... By switching to a combination of flax-seed oil and borage oil (such as Barlean’s Omega Twin or various brands of the individual oils combined), the body will begin to incorporate the “good fats” back into your cell membranes and re-establish cell membrane integrity and give you back the powerful protection that healthy cell membranes provide to our bodies. Matter of fact, the very process of AGING is associated with organic and biological changes in things like cell membranes.  These EFA’s by protecting cell membrane integrity are combatting some of the cumulative negative effects of aging and poor dietary habits.

Blueberries – All fruits and vegetables contain varying amounts of some powerfully protective and health promoting compounds called phytochemicals.  One class of phytochemicals, “flavonoids” has an impressive range of heath benefits.  Blueberries seem to have the most impressive combination of phytochemicals, especially flavonoids compared to other fruits and vegetables.  A 2017 double-blind, placebo-controlled trial has shown that blueberries can improve some aspects of cognition in older adults. Studies also suggest blueberries can inhibit the growth of liver cancer growth, and can help preserve cognitive function in post-menopausal women and decrease their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.   Blueberries also have amazing anti-oxidant powers that can protect you and your loved ones from most of the illnesses and diseases we all worry about.

We all know that we need oxygen to stay alive.  But one of the byproducts resulting from the burning of oxygen is the production of potentially dangerous and unstable molecules called “FREE RADICALS”  These free radicals are missing an electron and want to get that missing electron from somewhere in our bodies.  They do this by attacking a healthy cell. This attack can cause the cell to die or to mutate… Neither option is a good choice!  Fortunately both our bodies and certain foods can provide us with antioxidants that can neutralize these dangerous free radicals before they attack our cells.  Because there are many different types of free radicals the real trick is to know which of the many antioxidants can neutralize as many of the different types of free radicals as possible.  This is where the simple blueberry shines. The United States, National Institutes of Health found that blueberries containing antioxidants may act to protect the body against damage from oxidative stress, one of several biological processes implicated in aging and in the development of a number of neurodegenerative diseases.  Compared to 40 other fruits and vegetables measured for their anti-oxidant activity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has ranked blueberries, by far and away the best.

Cinnamon – Proven health benefits of cinnamon are:  high source of antioxidants, contains anti-inflammtory properties, protects heart heath, fights diabetes, helps defend against cognitive decline and protects brain function, may help lower cancer risk, fights infections and viruses, while protecting dental health and freshening breath naturally.

Whey Protein – Whey protein is considered a complete protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids and is low in lactose content. People commonly use it as supplementation, alongside resistance exercise, to help improve muscle protein synthesis and promote the growth of lean tissue mass. Whey protein enhances immune function, may lower blood pressure, treat type-2 diabetes, reduce inflammation, may be beneficial for inflammatory bowel disease, and enhance the body’s antioxidant defenses as well.

The “Life Extension Smoothie” makes it easy for people to incorporate these incredibly healthy ingredients and nutritional treasures into their diet effortlessly. Enjoy.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

Paying Attention to Your Gut Pays Off!

May 26th, 2017

Gut Health & ProbioticsMany people might be surprised and intrigued to learn that we have what could be considered a second brain or additional nervous system located in our gut. Our gastrointestinal tract works hard to keep us healthy and happy but we can face major health consequences when our gut health is compromised.

Our gut is an entire ecosystem of bacteria and yeast, some are beneficial while others are toxic. The human body contains about 100 billion bacteria cells. Only 10% of the cells in our body are human, the rest are microbial. Keeping this system healthy and balanced is crucial to our short and long-term health and even our longevity.

The Role of Probiotics in Gut Health
A probiotic is any food or substance that maintains or restores the balance of healthy and unhealthy microorganisms like bacteria and yeasts in our gut.  Since the number of microorganisms in our gut outnumber the human cells in our body, you can begin to imagine why maintaining a healthy balance or correcting dysbiosis (an unhealthy balance of pathogenic organisms to healthy ones) is very important.  Other than our skin, our gut is our primary contact with the outside world and a major entry point for pathogenic organisms.  A very large percentage of our immune response is based upon phenomenon that occur in our gut (lymph tissue, white blood cells etc).

Dysbiosis has been associated with: heart issues, diabetes, obesity, chronic fatigue and cancer.  It can also lead to depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autoimmune diseases, and Alzheimer’s just to name a few.  This link may be due to intestinal bacteria’s ability to make small molecules (called metabolites) that can reach the brain and impact how it works.

The plethora of microorganisms in our gut communicate with our brains via chemicals, hormoness, enzymes and specific nerve connections between this gut-brain axis which is referred to as the enteric nervous system or second brain.  This could explain such expressions as: having a gut feeling, or doing a gut check.

Some evidence suggests that it is not the presence or absence of one bacteria that makes up a healthy gut, but rather the diversity of bacteria.  Because there are dozens or more of good microorganisms in our guts, I feel that food sources of probiotics are far favorable to taking probiotics supplements because they have multiple strains of the different probiotics which are naturally occurring and much more likely to provide over-all balance.

The best sources of probiotics are from fermented foods.  Originally fermentation was used to naturally preserve foods so they would last longer but the process also significantly enhanced the concentration of healthy probiotic microorganisms as well.

Probiotic Food sourcesFermented foods which are EXCELLENT SOURCES of multiple types of probiotics are:

·         Kefir – Kevita is a brand I am not associated with, but really like.  It is a sparkling, low sugar, high probiotic drink that comes in many flavors.

·         Sauerkraut – Tastes great and comes prepackaged or in jars carried by supermarkets and health-food stores.

·         Red Miso Paste – If you like miso soup you will enjoy its taste as well.  You can eat the paste by itself or mix it with something.  I like mixing it with sauerkraut.

·         Organic Yogurt – I prefer yogurt that is low in sugar and organic or made from goat’s milk.  You can sweeten the yogurt with natural non-caloric sweeteners like stevia or erythritol or a combination of the two.

Beware of Antibiotics
When pathogens enter our body, they can sometimes cause infections, which are often treated with antibiotics.  Unfortunately, antibiotics kill off both good and bad gut microorganisms thus creating an imbalance/dysbiosis.  Poor diet and especially too much sugar can have the same effect.

Paying attention to your gut pays off!  Our food choices greatly influence our bacteria population.   Supplementing with probiotics or adding probiotics foods daily to your diet while trying your best to eat more plant-based foods and to reduce sugar consumption can lead to large and noticeable improvements in your over-all health, extend your life and increase your sense of physical and cognitive wellbeing.

To the best of health,
Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

 

Are You Taking 500-1,000 Mg of Vitamin C Daily?

April 12th, 2017

When we are run down, stressed or actually sick, our bodies burn through vitamin C at an alarming rate.  Once your vitamin C levels drop, your immune system becomes more compromised which could lead to other health issues.

This explains why we are able to tolerate much larger than normal doses of vitamin C than we would normally require when we have a cold or flu or other infections.

Interestingly, in healthy people who regularly consume vegetable and some fruits and/or supplement with vitamin C, recommended vitamin C levels are around 70 micromoles per liter yet these levels drop precipitously when we have a health problem.  For examples these levels drop to:

42 in diabetics

31 during pneumonia

<24 in cancer patients

27 in arthritic patients

Oxidative stress and systemic inflammation will also deplete vitamin C levels.

As these levels drop our immune function will also suffer.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C at 90 mg. is enough to prevent scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency but woefully too low to provide optimal levels of this vitamin.

I recommend 500-1000 mg/day of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) which is 5-11 times the recommended RDA.  Regular, inexpensive ascorbic acid is all that is necessary and don’t get caught up in all of the advertising hype about fancy and much more expensive forms of vitamin C being better or more bioavailable.

Vitamin C is protective on so many levels.  In addition to strongly supporting immune function, other proven benefits are:

1-      Protects against CVD (Cardiovascular Disease)

2-      Reduces the risk of stroke

3-      Protects our cells against radiation damage

4-      Protects against damage to our DNA

5-      Beneficial adjunctive cancer therapy (intravenous Vitamin C is often given to cancer patients).

6-     Beneficial anti-inflammatory

7-      Powerful antioxidant that also protects and restores other antioxidants

8-      Protects connective tissue, bones, arteries and skin

9-      Crucially beneficial to wound healing

10-   May reduce the duration and severity of the common cold and in higher doses may reduce flu symptoms

Vitamin C is one of the most important supplements to include in your diet to keep your body functioning properly. Whether you eat lots of fruits and vegetables or take it in caplet or powdered form, make sure to get at least 500-1,000 mg. double that if you are a smoker or drinker and don’t be afraid to really increase your intake when you are sick.

 

Click here to listen to my radio segment as we discuss Vitamin C on the Dr. Tony O’Donnell Show!

 

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

YES! Dark Chocolate is Really Healthy… just don’t over-do it!

April 1st, 2017

An ever increasing number of studies support the various health benefits of eating ½-1 ounce of dark chocolate a day. (14-28 grams a day)

Buy chocolate that contains at least 65% cocoa and the higher the better/healthier with some products getting as high as 85% cocoa.

Here is a summary of some of the health benefits the most recent studies are attributing to the powerful antioxidant polyphenol compounds called flavonoids found in dark chocolate. (It’s the cocoa component of dark chocolate that contains these healthy compounds.  Milk chocolate contains considerably less cocoa content and it has more fat and sugar, so that’s NOT the way to go.)

The health benefits of dark chocolate:

  • Reduction in heart disease by as much as 37%
  • Protection against the aging effects of free radicals on our cells
  • 20% reduction in risk of stroke
  • Mild to moderate reductions in blood pressure
  • Protect and enhance vision due to increased blood flow to the eyes
  • Enhances mood and protects against depression
  • Preliminary reports stating cancer protection
  • Harvard study reports a one year increase in life expectancy
  • May protect skin against harmful UV effects of the sun
  • May reduce inflammation in the body and markers of inflammation like C-Reactive-protein (CRP)

Recent studies, published in well-respected science journals, state that moderate consumption of dark chocolate but not other kinds of chocolates like milk chocolate or white chocolate, can yield some important health benefits.

“Dark chocolate”, also called “plain chocolate” or “black chocolate”, is chocolate produced with either zero or much less milk than milk chocolate, to which sugar and fat are added.

Dark chocolate is synonymous with semisweet and extra-dark (that contains even higher levels of cocoa) is also referred to as bittersweet.

The percentage of cocoa, in dark and extra-dark chocolate, is significantly higher than the cocoa levels in milk chocolate.

This is significant for at least 2 reasons:

1 – Milk is thought to interfere with the absorption, into our bodies, of the healthy and naturally occurring antioxidants, called polyphenols, which are found in the cocoa derived from the cocoa bean. Cocoa levels in dark chocolate can get as high as 90% or more. Levels in milk chocolate can be significantly less than 35%.

2 – The higher % of cocoa in dark chocolate results in higher levels of the antioxidants which are thought to yield some of the health benefits of dark chocolate that will be discussed below.

 

Studies – Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure.

Another paper, published by Italy’s National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research, showed that the antioxidants in dark chocolate consume destructive free radicals that associated with heart disease and other chronic degenerative diseases. This research also showed that milk either in the chocolate or consumed with the chocolate will interfere with the absorption of the antioxidants in the dark chocolate and reduce or eliminate their potential benefits.

Therefore, do not consume milk at the same time you eat dark chocolate. A reasonable portion of dark chocolate would be about 75- 100 grams or about 2 ½-3 ½ ounces. But remember, this amount dark chocolate would contain about 370-530 calories, so try to eliminate another desert of similar caloric content if you start consuming dark chocolate.

 

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N.,  C.N.S

 

 

 

HEALTHY EASTER EGGS – Hunting for the Truth About Eggs and Cholesterol

March 31st, 2017

Easter Eggs ImageHow many times have you heard (perhaps even from your physician) to limit the consumption of eggs because they contain a lot of cholesterol and that by eating too many eggs, you will negatively affect your cholesterol levels?

Well, for those of you who love eggs but feel guilty eating them, there is some really good news.  All of those warnings about egg consumption were JUST PLAIN WRONG!

First of all, for about 70% of people, consuming cholesterol in your diet (from any source) has absolutely no meaningful effect on your cholesterol levels! There are several studies proving this and NOT one study showing that dietary cholesterol causes heart disease.

Secondly, it has been shown in the 30% of people whose cholesterol levels rise modestly when consuming eggs, that their LDL cholesterol particle size gets bigger….AND THIS IS A GOOD THING.

Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez of the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences summarized the results of egg consumption on blood cholesterol levels. In children aged 10-12, in men aged 20-50, in premenopausal and postmenopausal women, in whites and Hispanics:  two or three eggs per day has little or no effect on the blood cholesterol levels of over two thirds of the population. (1)

But there was even good news in the less than 1/3 of the population whose cholesterol did go up with egg consumption.  Their good and bad cholesterol went up equally and there was no change in their ratio of LDL to HDL or even the ratio of LDL to total cholesterol both of which are considered much more important than total cholesterol levels.

But the good news continued. It turns out that the LDL in egg eaters actually became safer. When LDL particles are small and dense, they can more easily penetrate into the lining of your arteries and cause plaque. The LDL in egg eaters got larger and fluffier making it safer and less susceptible to damage from oxidation and less susceptible to causing plaque in the arteries.

In addition, other health benefits of eggs are:

1- Eye health – May help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts because of lutein and zeaxanthin levels they contain
2- Provide high quality protein and essential amino acids
3- Contains Vitamin D
4- Possible breast cancer prevention – in one study, 6 eggs per week reduced risk by 44%
5- Healthy hair and nail due to high sulfur content

 

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix,  M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

(1)-Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006;9:8-12.

Fruit Infused Water – A Great Way to Stay Hydrated and Beat the Heat

July 31st, 2016

 

Recipes Fruit Infused WaterSummer is in full swing and with rising temperatures comes the need for everyone, especially migraineurs to stay well hydrated.  Helping to prevent migraines is only one of the benefits to drinking plenty of water.  Water helps with controlling calories, energizing muscles, and keeping your skin looking good.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water helps keep your body temperature normal, lubricates and cushions joints, protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, and gets rid of wastes through urination and perspiration.

Your body needs more water in hotter climates, on hotter days and when your more physically active.  If you think you are not getting enough water, carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. Choose water over other beverages when eating out and freeze water in a freezer safe bottle for icy cold water all day long.  To jazz it up a bit, make your own fruit infused water.

Fruit Infused Water

Making your own fruit-infused waters is a great alternative to drinking sugary sports drinks and sodas with additives and dyes.Fruit infused water doesn’t really require a specific recipe. You can experiment by making small or large batches and adding as much or as little fruit as you would like to increase flavor and sweetness.  Let your concoction stand for 2 to 8 hours then enjoy!Popular fruits:  raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, pineapple, oranges, lemons, limes, and cucumbers.Popular herbs:  mint, basil and rosemaryAdd your favorite ingredients to a 1/2 gallon pitcher of water, cover and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.  Or make by the glass.

Mango-Ginger Water
This is a delicious drink that boosts your metabolism, acts a natural pain reliever for migraines to menstrual cramps, aides in digestion and boosts your memory.
Ingredients:  1 inch Ginger Root, peeled and sliced + 1 cup Frozen Mango (or fresh)
Drop into a pitcher of water and cover with 3 cups of ice.  The ice is important to hold down the ingredients to help infuse the water.  Chill 1-3 hours and enjoy!

OTHER GREAT FRUIT AND HERB COMBINATIONS FOR FLAVORFUL WATER

Ginger-Lemon-Mint Water
1 lemon slice, 2 sprigs mint, slice of fresh ginger (2 oz)

Strawberry-Lemon-Basil Water
4-6 strawberries, 1/2 lemon sliced, and a small handful of basil, scrunched.

Blueberry Orange Water
2 mandarin oranges, cut into wedges, handful of blueberries.
Squeeze in the juice of one mandarin orange and muddle the blueberries to intensify flavor.

Raspberry-Lemon
1 cup of raspberries and 1/2 lemon sliced.

Mango-Pineapple
1 cup cubed mango and 1 cup cubed pineapple.

Cucumber-Lemon
Cucumber slices and lemon wedges.

Rosemary-Grapefruit Water
1/2 grapefruit sliced, several springs of rosemary.

Lemon-Jalapeno-Cilantro Water
1 lime sliced, 1 halved jalapeno, and fresh cilantro to taste.
Cover and let sit over night in the refrigerator.

Watermelon-Mint-Lime Water
1 lime sliced, 2 sprigs mint, 1 cup watermelon chunks.

Watermelon-Mint Water
1 cup watermelon chunks and 2 sprigs mint.

Many stores carry various “Infusion Water Bottles” but any container may be used.

 

Fruit infused water bottles

 

 

On The Fence About Eating Fish? Worried About Mercury?

March 4th, 2016

Plate of Fried Salmon fillet and spices

If you have reduced or eliminated fish intake due to concerns about mercury it’s probably a big mistake.  The government and alleged experts just got it all wrong!

Most people have read about the multiple health benefits of eating seafood. Many of these benefits are derived from the essential fatty acids like EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and DHA (docahexanoic acid) which are found in higher amounts in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies and lake trout. In addition, seafood is an excellent source of quality protein and vitamin D.

 

Just some of the reported benefits of fish include:
·         Heart health
·         Brain health,
·         Mental health,
·         Eye health
·         Reduced risk of auto-immune diseases

Fish may increase grey matter in the brain and protect it from age-related deterioration and may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. The essential fatty acids in fish are very anti-inflammatory and systemic inflammation is fundamental to the development and progression of most chronic degenerative diseases.

In my opinion, the consumption of the right types of fish and vegetables are the foundational components of a life extending-longevity diet.

The question is, “How did we ever get to the point where we thought it might be a good idea to limit fish consumption because of mercury levels?”

To understand how fish consumption and mercury content incorrectly became something to be concerned about and how this “misguided information and subsequent poor advice” (which by the way, the FDA has subsequently reversed) came about we have to go back over 12 years ago to a study that was published about the effects of maternal fish consumption on children born in the Faroe Islands, a group of islands halfway between Iceland and Norway.1

The study found that maternal consumption of seafood had a modest negative effect on young children’s brain and possibly heart function.  No negative effects of mercury in seafood on adults were stated.

Based upon these results, the National Research Council set standards for limiting seafood consumption in pregnant women and in 2004 the EPA and FDA released guidelines proposing that women wanting to become pregnant or already pregnant limit their fish consumption to 12 ounces a week (28.4 grams per ounce for those using metric).

These guidelines-warnings caused millions of young women to severely cut back on fish consumption, if not eliminate it completely, thinking they were protecting their unborn children.  This reaction to these guidelines was probably not protective and very possibly harmful.

As it turns out, the maternal seafood consumption in the Faroe Islands was 85% pilot whale and this fish was known to have excessively higher levels of mercury and toxins than most any other sources of ocean seafood and was pretty much a phenomenon related to this culture and had little or no application to the types of seafood being eaten by the rest of the world.

An interesting side-bar is that the Harvard Chan School was involved in this study. The take-away is that studies can be misleading, confusing and potentially dangerous if reviewed in a vacuum and not put into proper perspective, especially when contradictory studies exist (no matter how prestigious the reputation of the researchers.)

The media and ecology groups ran wild publicizing and writing about this misleading study, and what was incorrectly aimed only at reducing seafood consumption in pregnant or soon to be pregnant women quickly spread to include everyone.

Large numbers of pregnant women either reduced seafood consumption or eliminated it completely.  We will discuss how these pregnant women may have inadvertently negatively impacted the brain development of their soon to be born children by reducing seafood consumption.

Then 10 years later (2014) based upon a review of existing data and two new studies demonstrating the substantial health/brain benefits of fish consumption by pregnant women on the brain development of their newborns, the FDA reversed it’s 2004 guidelines and released the following proposed draft of new guidelines:

June 10, 2014 – Release

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued draft updated advice on fish consumption. The two agencies have concluded pregnant and breastfeeding women, those who might become pregnant, and young children should eat more fish that is lower in mercury in order to gain important developmental and health benefits. The draft updated advice is consistent with recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Previously, the FDA and the EPA recommended maximum amounts of fish that these population groups should consume, but did not promote a minimum amount. Over the past decade, however, emerging science has underscored the importance of appropriate amounts of fish in the diets of pregnant and breastfeeding women, and young children.

“For years many women have limited or avoided eating fish during pregnancy or feeding fish to their young children,” said Stephen Ostroff, M.D., the FDA’s acting chief scientist. “But emerging science now tells us that limiting or avoiding fish during pregnancy and early childhood can mean missing out on important nutrients that can have a positive impact on growth and development as well as on general health.”

An FDA analysis of seafood consumption data from over 1,000 pregnant women in the United States found that 21 percent of them ate no fish in the previous month, and those who ate fish ate far less than the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends—with 50 percent eating fewer than 2 ounces a week, and 75 percent eating fewer than 4 ounces a week. The draft updated advice recommends pregnant women eat at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces (2-3 servings) per week of a variety of fish that are lower in mercury to support fetal growth and development.

“Eating fish with lower levels of mercury provides numerous health and dietary benefits,” said Nancy Stoner, the EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Water. “This updated advice will help pregnant women and mothers make informed decisions about the right amount and right kinds of fish to eat during important times in their lives and their children’s lives.”

Before issuing final advice, the agencies will consider public comments, and also intend to seek the advice of the FDA’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee and conduct a series of focus groups.

The public can provide comment on the draft advice and the supplemental questions and answers by submitting comments to the Federal Register docket or by participating in any public meetings that may be held. The comment period will be open until 30 days after the last transcript from the advisory committee meeting and any other public meetings becomes available. The dates of any public meetings, as well as when the public comment period will close, will be published in future Federal Register notices at www.federalregister.gov.

We (the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency) are issuing this advice to encourage women to eat recommended amounts and types of fish. Recent reports show many pregnant women in the United States are not consuming fish in amounts recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. This advice is being issued now to encourage women who are pregnant (or may become pregnant) or breastfeeding and young children to eat more fish and to eat a variety of fish from choices that are lower in mercury. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, the federal government’s evidence-based nutritional guidance to promote healthy eating, now recommends that “women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consume at least 8 and up to 12 ounces of a variety of seafood per week, from choices lower in methyl mercury.” 

There is longstanding evidence of the nutritional value of fish in the diet. Fish contain high quality protein, many vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, are mostly low in saturated fat, and some fish even contain vitamin D. The nutritional value of fish is especially important during growth and development before birth, in early infancy for breastfed infants, and in childhood.

Two important studies that caused the guidelines to be corrected were done in the Seychelle Islands and Barcelona Spain.

The Barcelona study found that pregnant women who ate 3-4 servings of fish (21 ounces weekly or approximately 600 grams) on a weekly basis may benefit the brains of their  to be born children and may even reduce the risk of autism.  The study tracked 2000 women from their first trimester up until their kids turned 5 years old. The researchers found that the children whose mothers consumed fish at the level had almost 3% higher IQ’s than those children whose mothers consumed less.  There were NO signs that mercury had any negative effect on these children.2

The Seychelle Islands study was published in The American Journal of Epidemiology.  This study was carried out by scientists from the University of Rochester Medical School. The researchers continue to monitor multiple areas of brain and cognitive function of these children every few years and to date; they are healthy and show no negative effect of their mothers eating high levels of mercury containing fish.3

Dr. Gilbert Ross, medical director of the American Council on Science and Health stated – “Their exposure to fish with high mercury content has, so far, had no negative measurable effects……..”I would counsel the American public to not be afraid of eating fish, despite the allegations of advocate groups and some of our government agencies,” Ross advised. “These are merely hypothetical risks. In contrast, fish consumption has empirically proven to be very beneficial. Among other benefits, fish consumption helps combat heart disease, arrhythmias, and cognitive decline in old age.”

Dr. Philip Davidson, the lead researcher of the study stated, “The body of evidence so far indicates that there are no detectable effects in young children,” Scientists will continue to monitor the children to ensure negative effects do not manifest themselves later in life.”

At this point, a reader might ask why is mercury, a known toxin, not having a measurable negative effect on the development of these children?  Often times in medical research the mechanism of action of a compound or drug is not well known or understood, regardless of whether or not its effect is health promoting or health compromising.

In this case we have an ingredient, mercury (actually methyl mercury the form found in seafood) that is not exhibiting the negative effects on development that were anticipated to show up before these studies started.

Some unproven but plausible explanations are being suggested:

1-    It is well established in the medical literature that DHA (Docosahexanoic acid one of the omega-3 essential fatty acids found in fish) is important to normal neurological/brain development in young children.

It could be that the high levels of DHA consumed by eating fish multiple times per week, out strips any negative effects of mercury.

2-    It is proposed that almost all fish that are low in mercury, have a high selenium-to-mercury ratio and that is protective.  One theory explaining this is that mercury interferes with selenium related enzymes that are necessary for healthy neurological development.  When the amount of mercury exceeds the amount of selenium present, this healthy function of selenium is interrupted.

Another legitimate question would be – “What about the other toxins in seafood that have been reported to be dangerous? Specifically PCBs. (polychlorinated biphenyls) and dioxins.

Once again a paper was published talking about the high levels of PCBs found in farmed Salmon.  Once again the media jumped all over this and bloggers who are either not qualified to properly analyze the reporting of science based studies and statistics (or if they are qualified just didn’t do their homework) gave the fish eating public something else to be worried about.4

Well it turns out, that when the entire paper (not just the abstract) is read, the data showed that even though farmed salmon had a higher content of PCBs than wild salmon, its level was only about 2% of the level where governmental agencies thought it was of concern.  JUST 2%!!!  Meat and dairy levels are significantly higher!

So the accurate message to be derived from this study is that levels of PCBs in all the salmon tested were very low and that wild salmon was even lower than farmed salmon.  The take away is – Eat whatever source of salmon you can afford.  There are plenty of benefits from eating farmed salmon as well.

What about mercury from other sources besides fish?  Well a recent study done by the same Saychelle Island researchers tracked the impact of mercury amalgams (fillings) in pregnant woman on the develop of their children at birth and for the next five years. They found no negative effects in this study as well.4

Just to keep things in proper prospective, it is always possible that tracking kids from 5-15 years is not long enough for mercury related issues to crop up, but the benefits are very real and any future risks are currently at the very best just hypothetical.

Your call to action is – Eat around a pound and a half of low mercury seafood a week (refer to the list).  Both children and adults who do are likely to be substantially healthier and in my opinion, have a greater chance of living longer.

I wish you a long, vibrant, and happy life.

Curt Hendrix M.S. C.C.N.  C.N.S.
Chief Science Officer, Akeso Health Sciences LLC

 

References:  

(1)  Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1997 Nov-Dec;19(6):417-28.   Faroe island study

Cognitive deficit in 7-year-old children with prenatal exposure to methylmercury.
Grandjean P1, Weihe P, White RF, Debes F, Araki S, Yokoyama K, Murata K, Sørensen N, Dahl R, Jørgensen PJ.

1Institute of Community Health, Odense University, Denmark. p.grandjean@winsloew.ou.dk

(2)  Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Feb 1;183(3):169-82. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwv195. Epub 2016 Jan 5.  Barcelona study

Maternal Consumption of Seafood in Pregnancy and Child Neuropsychological Development: A Longitudinal Study Based on a Population With High Consumption Levels.
Julvez J, Méndez M, Fernandez-Barres S, Romaguera D, Vioque J, Llop S, Ibarluzea J, Guxens M, Avella-Garcia C, Tardón A, Riaño I, Andiarena A, Robinson O, Arija V, Esnaola M, Ballester F, Sunyer J.

(3)  JAMA. 1998 Aug 26;280(8):701-7. Seychelles Study

Effects of prenatal and postnatal methylmercury exposure from fish consumption on neurodevelopment: outcomes at 66 months of age in the Seychelles Child Development Study.
Davidson PW1, Myers GJ, Cox C, Axtell C, Shamlaye C, Sloane-Reeves J, Cernichiari E, Needham L, Choi A, Wang Y, Berlin M, Clarkson TW.

1University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, NY 14642, USA. pdavidson@cc.urmc.rochester.edu

(4)  Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2013 Sep-Oct;39:57-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ntt.2013.07.003. Epub 2013 Jul 13.

Neurodevelopmental outcomes at 5 years in children exposed prenatally to maternal dental amalgam: the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study.
Watson GE1, van Wijngaarden E, Love TM, McSorley EM, Bonham MP, Mulhern MS, Yeates AJ, Davidson PW, Shamlaye CF, Strain JJ, Thurston SW,Harrington D, Zareba G, Wallace JM, Myers GJ.

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