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Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds for Healthy Eyes, Heart, Skin, Hair, Weight Loss & More!

August 30th, 2020

Commonly viewed as a vegetable, pumpkin is scientifically a fruit, as it contains seeds. Nutritionally it is more similar to vegetables than fruits. Pumpkin has a range of fantastic health benefits, including being one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene.

Eye Health:  Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant. It also gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color.  The body converts any ingested beta-carotene into vitamin A.  Vitamin A is essential for eye health and helps the retina absorb and process light. One cup of pumpkin contains over 200 percent of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A, making it an outstanding option for optical health.  Studies show that vitamin A can also strengthen your immune system and help fight infections. (1) (2)

High Antioxidant Content:  Free radicals are molecules produced by your body’s metabolic process. Though highly unstable, they have useful roles, such as destroying harmful bacteria.  However, excessive free radicals in your body create a state called oxidative stress, which has been linked to chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. Pumpkins contain antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These can neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging your cells.  Pumpkin may lower you risk of cancer. (3)  (4)

Heart Health:  Pumpkin contains a variety of nutrients that can improve your heart health.  It’s high in potassium, vitamin C and fiber, which have been linked to heart benefits.  For instance, studies have shown that people with higher potassium intakes appear to have lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of strokes which are both risk factors for heart disease. (5)

Weight Loss:  Pumpkin is rich in fiber, which slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer.  It is low in calories as it is 94% water and contains only 50 calories per cup (245 grams).

Healthy Skin:  Pumpkin is great for the skin for many reasons.  Studies show that carotenoids like beta-carotene can act as a natural sunblock. (6)
Once ingested, carotenoids are transported to various organs including your skin. Here, they help protect skin cells against damage from harmful UV rays (7).
Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C, which is essential for healthy skin. Your body needs this vitamin to make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy. (8).
Moreover, pumpkins contain lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin E and many more antioxidants that have been shown to boost your skin’s defenses against UV. (9) (10)

One cup of cooked pumpkin (245 grams) contains:

Calories: 49
Fat: 0.2 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Carbs: 12 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
Potassium: 16% of the RDI
Copper: 11% of the RDI
Manganese: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
Iron: 8% of the RDI
Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins.

When making pumpkin dishes… Don’t throw away the seeds!


Pumpkin seeds were discovered by archaeologists in caves in Mexico back in 7,000 B.C.  North American Indian tribes were the very first to observe the dietary and medicinal properties of pumpkin seeds.  The nutrition in pumpkin seeds improves with age; they are among the few foods that increase in nutritive value as they decompose. Pumpkin seeds stored for more than five months increase in protein content. They can be consumed raw or toasted, plain or tossed in salads and other fresh or cooked dishes.  Containing a variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium to copper, protein and zinc, pumpkin seeds are extremely healthy and are a good source of B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folates), magnesium, iron and protein.  100 grams of pumpkin seeds contains about 30 grams of protein. They are the most alkaline-forming seed.


Heart Healthy:  Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of healthy fats, fibers and various antioxidants that are beneficial for the heart.  The high levels of essential fatty acids help maintain healthy blood vessels and lower unhealthy cholesterol in the blood.  Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, compounds that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.

Healthy Sleep:  Pumpkin seeds contain Serotonin, a neurochemical which promotes health sleep.  They are also high in Tryptophan, an amino acid that further converts into Serotonin in the body, to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Prostate Health:  High in zinc these seeds are useful for promoting men’s fertility and preventing prostrate problems. The oil in pumpkin seeds alleviates difficult urination that happens with an enlarged prostate.  Pumpkin seeds also have DHEA (Di-hydro epi-androstenedione) that helps reduce the chances of prostate cancer.

Stabilize Blood Sugar – Pumpkin seeds help improve insulin regulation in diabetics and decreases oxidative stress. These seeds are a rich source of digestible protein that helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

Hair Growth:  Pumpkin seeds consist of cucurbitin, a unique amino that may be responsible for hair growth. They also contain vitamin C that also plays a crucial role in hair growth. Apply pumpkin seeds oil on scalp to see the results or just consume a handful of them daily.

Bone Protection:  High in zinc, pumpkin seeds are a natural protector against osteoporosis, since zinc deficiencies can lead to higher rates of osteoporosis.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source vitamin E; they contain about 35.10 mg of tocopherol per 100 g.

Other benefits:  According to studies, pumpkin seeds prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation.  These seeds reduce inflammation and counter arthritis pain without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.  They are also used in many cultures as a natural treatment for tapeworms and other parasites.

Take advantage of the abundance of pumpkins during the fall season and give your health a boost. Enjoy these healthy pumpkin recipes.



Tastes like pumpkin pie in a glass and will satisfy all your pumpkin cravings.  It combines pumpkin purée with almond butter, milk, delicious spices, and honey. It’s an excellent source of filling protein and fiber, plus it provides eye-helping beta-carotene. (Can’t get enough pumpkin?


1 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp almond butter
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
4 ice cubes

Directions:  Blend ingredients together, and enjoy! Serves 1.



HEALTHY PUMPKIN MUFFINS (No Flour, Sugar Free, Oil Free, Dairy Free Gluten Free)

Healthy pumpkin muffins are a better-for-you alternative to traditional pumpkin muffins or pumpkin bread.
Gluten free, sugar-free, oil free, and dairy free. Your taste buds will love the healthy fall flavors.

Prep Time – 20 min
Cook Time – 20 min
Total Time – 32 mins
Servings: 14 muffins
Calories: 123  calories


2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (toasted & ground) * 9.3 ounces
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats (toasted, 2 Tbsp reserved for muffin tops) * 2.8 ounces
1 1/8 cups pumpkin puree * 10.7 ounces
2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
6 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
3/4 cup canned coconut milk or dairy milk (full fat, skim or 1 %,)
2 tsp real vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 ½ tsp pumpkin spice (or 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, and 1/4 ground nutmeg)
½ cup walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, or chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 325. Place all oats on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, stirring once (about 4 to 6 minutes).
Let cool to room temperature. (If you are in a hurry you can skip this step and use plain old-fashioned oats, however the toasting adds flavor.)
Place 2.5 cups of oats in a food processor and blend/pulse until they reach a rough, flour like consistency.
Combine pumpkin puree, eggs, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla. Mix to combine.

Add both ground and unground oats to wet ingredients and allow to sit for 10-20 minutes (this allows the oats to soak and soften).
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just incorporated. (The batter will be very thick.)

Optional: Fold in approximately 1/2 c walnuts, raisins, chocolate chips, or dried cranberries.

Scoop batter into muffin tin, lined with muffin wrappers (makes 12-14 muffins). Fill the muffin tins 7/8 full.
Bake at 350 for about 23 – 25 minutes, a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin should come out clean and the top of the muffin should feel firm.
Recipe Notes
Use parchment muffin liners or lightly spray liners lightly with oil to make the baked muffins easier to remove.



1 small pumpkin
1 onion
3 to 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1.5 cups of vegetable broth
1.5 cups of coconut milk
1/4 tsp turmeric
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Olive oil (to brush on pumpkin flesh)
Pumpkin seeds and fresh rosemary (to garnish)

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F before cutting your pumpkin in half. Spoon out the strings and seeds, saving the seeds for roasting.

2. Using olive oil, brush the flesh of the pumpkin and place the halves skin-side up on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately one hour — a fork should be able to pierce the skin. When cooked, allow to cool.

3. On your stove top, saute garlic and onions until translucent — then add turmeric to toast slightly.

4. Add all remaining ingredients (pumpkin flesh, broth, coconut milk, salt and pepper) and bring to a simmer.

5. Once incorporated, use an emulsion blender to create a smoother consistency and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes.

6. When ready to serve, garnish with rosemary and pumpkin seeds. If you’d like to roast your own, simply toss seeds in olive oil and salt, baking for around 40 to 45 minutes, or until crispy and golden.


For more great recipes, visit BrenDid .com

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



(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.

What Are The Healthiest Holiday Foods?

November 25th, 2015

Making Healthy Holiday Food Choices

It’s estimated that Americans gain at least one pound, and up to five pounds of weight, between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Repeat that for a few years and we look less and less like our high school yearbook photo.

But that doesn’t have to be the case, if we learn what foods to embrace and what foods to avoid.  Here’s a list of both:
Healthy Holiday Foods

The phytochemicals that impart the red color to cranberries are powerful anti-aging antioxidants. They also reduce the ability of bacteria to stick to our cells thereby reducing the risk of urinary infections.

Apples and Applesauce
Contain heart healthy fiber and compounds like quercetin and ellagic acid that are powerful antioxidants and protect against cardiovascular disease and inflammation which is involved in almost all chronic disease.

Dark Chocolate
Seventy percent or more cocoa content contains the most flavonols — helpful plant substances that help protect the heart and arteries.

Green Beans
Naturally low in calories, string beans are loaded with vitamin K, which helps protect your bones. Also, a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. But skip heavy sauces with this vegetable. Try beans lightly tossed with olive oil and lemon.

Nuts are chock-full of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. 

Pumpkin Pie
This rich orange vegetable contains carotenoids for making Vitamin A in the body and fighting free radicals. Pumpkin is also a good source of potassium and fiber.  Beware: most pies are loaded with sugar – use artificial sweetener instead of sugar for a lower calorie dessert.

Yams & Sweet Potatoes
Yams offer carotenoids, potassium, Vitamin C, and fiber. Candied yams are high in sugar. Bake with a bit of brown sugar, or with artificial sweetener, for the taste without the calories. 

And some additional choices that are health and weight friendlier:

  • Whole grains, such as whole-wheat rolls, wild rice, and quinoa
  • Shrimp, lobster, and other steamed seafood
  • Plain or lightly dressed vegetables
  • Meat and poultry without the gravy
  • Salad greens (lightly dressed)
  • Fresh fruit

Foods to Avoid During the Holidays With Possible Substitutes

Swedish meatballs – instead, try some cold cuts like ham or turkey

EggNog – instead, try a cinnamon or other spiced tea

Stuffed potatoes – instead, eat a regular baked potatoe or red potatoes

Creamed spinach – instead, spinach without the cream or broccoli

Pot Roast – instead, breast of turkey or sliced steak

Fruitcake – instead, a fruit tart

Pecan Pie – instead, a fruit tart

Cheese Cake – instead, a slice of pound cake

Croissant – instead, some whole grain bread

Hot Buttered Rum – just leave out the butter, and then spice with nutmeg

Cinnamon Rolls – instead, a slice of toasted whole grain bread with a bit of jelly

Ice Cream – instead, sorbet

Making sensible diet choices is easier than it seems and there’s no time like the present to start.

Here’s to a fun, tasty holiday.

Making healthy diet choices is easier than it seems and there’s no time like the present to start.

Here’s to a fun, tasty and healthy holiday season!


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


Age Old Advice Not to Consume Saturated Fat Has No Basis in Fact or Science

April 21st, 2015

FatI read reams of newly published scientific and medical information published in peer-reviewed journals every month.

Almost every week, I read an article or blog where a physician or registered dietician talks about the dangers and health risks of consuming saturated fats.  I could understand  authors not staying abreast of the research disproving these dangers and risks if it was brand spanking new.  When it is years old, however, there is no explanation other than they have not done their homework.

A small percentage of what we think we know about science, medicine and health is irrefutable and the vast percentage of our knowledge is subject to change, or  a complete revision.

This has happened innumerable times and will continue to happen as new research surfaces. In the past few decades we have seen  the almost unquestionable health benefits of HRT (hormone replacement therapy) challenged and somewhat reversed.

Everyone knows that higher levels of HDL cholesterol are healthy and protective, right?  Now some cardiologists and researchers are challenging this “irrefutable” fact.

Everyone from your physician to your best friend “knows” that consumption of saturated fats causes heart disease…  Well,  based upon all of the most recently published studies that does not seem to be true.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, (Mar. 2010) analyzing over 20 studies  on the risks of consuming saturated fat  found:

“… there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD [coronary heart disease] or CVD [stroke and cardiovascular disease].”

And now a new study just recently completed confirms this and adds a really interesting twist to the “dangers of saturated fats” topic.

An article recently published in the journal PLOS-1  found that increased dietary intake of saturated fats did not cause a rise in the blood plasma level of saturated fats.  But the very interesting take-away from this study was that increasing the percentage of daily dietary intake of carbohydrates did in fact raise plasma saturated fat levels,  which when elevated are known to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Let’s sum up what we have learned and what you should do regarding dietary saturated fats:

1-Consumption of foods containing saturated fats does not increase the risk of heart disease or diabetes because for unexplained metabolic reasons dietary consumption of saturated fats does not raise blood plasma levels of saturated fat which are thought to increase the risk of developing diabetes and/or heart disease, when elevated.

2-Consumption of foods containing high levels of carbohydrates do raise plasma levels of saturated fats, thereby increasing your risk of developing diabetes or heart disease.

According to one of the lead researchers involved in the study “Dietary guidelines that recommend restricted consumption of saturated fats are not smart or scientific.”


My personal diet provides about 65% of my calories from fats, about 25% from protein sources and 10% from carbohydrates.  This is a far cry from the age-old pyramid recommendations to get 50-60%  of your daily calories from carbohydrates.

While I do lift weights, I do very little aerobic exercise except for walking and my body fat percentage stays around 16-17%. (I include this information for those of you who are worried about higher fat consumption causing you to gain weight or body fat).

My total daily caloric intake ranges between 2500-3000 calories.  Women, depending upon their level of activity should generally be in the 1700-2000 calories per day range if they desire to maintain their current weight.

Metabolically and physiologically……………SUGAR FROM CARBOHYDRATES IS THE ENEMY NOT FATS!

I also believe there is enough published quality science indicating that reducing your intake of carbohydrates may also lead to decreased risks of developing cancer, dementia/Alzheimers, vision and hearing loss.

To the Best of Health,


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


That’s “Nuts!” Can One Simple Food Really Do All of That?

December 5th, 2013

1-   Extend My Life by 20%?Nuts Variety

2-   Decrease the risk of dying from heart disease by almost 30%?

3-   Make you skinnier?

All without out counting calories or living in the gym?

You owe it to yourself to read this Prevention Magazine review article, posted on MSN.com of a study tracking 100,000 people over 30 years.

This is some of the easiest to implement, big payoff health advice you will ever read.

Start today!

Click on the link below to read.



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

Study Reveals Important Information for Parents: How You Can Help Your Kids have a Lengthier, Higher Quality of Life

April 26th, 2013

A study, as reported by ScienceDaily.com and other health sites, with results that will appear in the May issue of The American Journal of Medicine, has revealed that people who follow a Western-style diet have a reduced chance for reaching older age in good health and with high functionality.

The study was led by Dr. Tasnime Akbaraly, PhD, Inserm, Montpellier, France; his research team sought to identify dietary factors that can promote ideal aging and prevent premature death.

Dr. Akbaraly noted that “avoidance of ‘Western-type foods’ might actually improve the possibility of achieving an older age,” but more importantly,” achieve a lengthier life that is “free of chronic diseases” allowing the individual to remain highly functional.

What does this mean for parents?

With as many as 5% of children and adolescents affected by migraines and research confirming that dietary factors can trigger those migraines, it’s important to take a close look at your child’s diet.

The typical Western diet is filled with pro-inflammatory foods which lead to an overabundance of inflammation in the body, ultimately causing just about every type of chronic illness and disease, including migraines. Arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, dementia and obesity are just a few among the long list of afflictions.

If you aren’t sure how or why inflammation causes devastating effects on the body, picture a car that is left outdoors in the elements for a period of time. That car will eventually begin to rust and disintegrate. Finally, it falls apart completely. Inflammation works in a similar way in the body. While a little, such as what happens after an injury with swelling, is a natural part of the healing process, uncontrolled inflammation that remains for long periods of time can cause serious damage.

Pro-inflammatory foods that contribute to this overabundance of inflammation include many foods that are typically found in the Western diet, such as:

  • ·        Packaged and processed foods including fast food and packaged desserts or snacks like cookies and cakes
  • ·        Common cooking oils that contain unhealthy fats such as sunflower, safflower and vegetable oil
  • ·        Margarine and heavily processed foods that contain Trans Fats
  • ·        Refined sugar and sugary foods
  • ·        Fried foods
  • ·        Many high-fat dairy products (the exception is kefir and some yogurts like plain Greek-style yogurt)
  • ·        Gluten and refined grains 
  • ·        Feedlot-raised meats, red meat and processed meats

If your child has been eating many of these foods, it would be difficult to force a dramatic change in diet. Instead, consider moderation as a key factor and limit the above items as much as you’re able. Stock your refrigerator with healthy snacks and be sure to follow a healthier diet yourself to set the right example.

By eating more nutritionally rich, high anti-oxidant foods, the symptoms of chronic illness, including migraines, can be greatly reduced as these foods help to neutralize the free radicals that result from too much inflammation. You’ll also be helping to reduce the chances of developing other chronic illnesses and disease.

Encourage as many whole fresh foods as possible. Talk to your child about what he or she likes, and pack a lunch that is based on some of those nutritious foods.

Foods that are especially rich in antioxidants include deeply-pigmented vegetables and fruits. Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and arugula as well as beets, blueberries and any richly colored purple, red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.

Healthy fats like the omega-3 fatty acids in wild-caught salmon and monounsaturated fats found in most nuts and olive oil are also important as they serve to decrease inflammation in the body and ultimately help to achieve optimal health.

As with adults, making gradual diet changes can lead to a happier, healthier, and much higher quality of life for your child now and in the future. No one would want their child to have to live with the constant pain and debilitation that can come with chronic illness and disease. If it can be prevented, doesn’t it make sense to do so sooner rather than later?
To the Best of Health,


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


[Studies] Omega-Essential Fatty Acid Supplementation and Aging

October 12th, 2012

Many of you have read about the health benefits of eating fish due to the levels of omega-3 fatty acids they contain.  Benefits for heart, eye sight, and brain function are just a few of the areas reported in the scientific literature.

Now, a study from Ohio State University, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, reports that a part of our chromosomes (a cellular component that contain our genes) called the telomere may be protected when omega-3 oils are consumed.

The telomere is located at the end of the chromosome and protects it from decaying or unraveling and malfunctioning.  The telomeres tend to decrease in length as we age thus rendering our chromosomes more susceptible to damage and not being able to reproduce our gene sequences efficiently or correctly.

Decreased telomere lengths are associated with the chronic diseases of aging and death rates.  Some researchers think that the decrease in telomere length is due to low levels of chronic systemic inflammation that circulates throughout our bodies and may be responsible for many chronic diseases as well as decreased telomere lengths.  This inflammation can be measured by various markers that indicate the level of inflammation in our bodies. The omega-3 supplementation reduced the levels of some of the better known markers.

It was fascinating to read that taking 1.25 to 2.50 grams a day of EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and DHA (docashexanoic acid, the two important omega-3’s found in fish and Krill oil), reduced systemic levels of inflammation in humans but also increased the telomere lengths as well. (Suggesting that the loss of telomere length may be reversible, indicating a possible anti-aging benefit).

A word to the wise is to be very careful when purchasing omega-3 supplements. In many products the total omega-3 content may be listed as 500-1000mg per soft gel or more, which would make one tend to think that by taking 2-3 soft gels a day, you would be getting the 1.25-2.5 grams a day found to be helpful in the study.

Well, this is not the case, because the therapeutic omega-3’s EPA and DHA are often only a small percentage of the total amount of omega-3’s listed on the label.  For example the supplement panel on the label of an omega-3 supplement may state that each soft gel has a total of 1000mg of omega-3 in it.  But if you read further is may state that EPA and DHA only represent 25% of that total or only 250mg. of EPA and DHA. 

At 250 mg total EPA and DHA in each soft gel, to get 2.5 grams you would have to take 10 of the soft gels not the 2or 3 you might think.

A good omega-3 product should have at least 40% EPA, DHA of the total omega-3 listed in each soft gel.  The higher the percentage the better and the purer the product.



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


January 26th, 2012

I have been adding flaxseeds to my morning protein shake for years, not only do they taste quite good, (sort of nutty) but take a look at the documented health benefits of flaxseeds.

  • • 2012 Journal APPETITE, Jan.5 – Consumption of flaxseed reduces appetite and food intake• Journal PLOS-1 Flaxseed has therapeutic value in type 2 diabetes• J Ren Nutr – Flaxseed improves symptoms of enlarged prostate in men• J Clin Cancer Res. 2005 – Flaxseed reduces tumor growth in patients with breast cancer• Eur J Clin Nutr -2007 – Flaxseed lowers blood pressure in people with high cholesterol

    • Am J Clin Nutr -2009 – Flaxseed lowers circulating total and LDL cholesterol

    • J Urology -2004- Flaxseed reduces prostate growth and PSA (a prostate cancer marker)

    • J Cancer Epidem Biomarkers -2008 – Flaxseed reduces prostate cancer proliferation pre-surgery in men

    • J Soc Integ Onc – 2007 – Flaxseed helps control hot flashes in women not on hormone therapy

    • J Nat Cancer Inst. – Plant lignans (like those in flaxseed) reduced the risk of developing estrogen and progesterone positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women

    Just add one or two heaping tablespoons of ground flaxseeds to shakes, or salads or cereals to get the impressive health benefits described.

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


Certain Pain Killers May Increase Risk of Heart Irregularity

July 9th, 2011

Many chronic migraine sufferers use a lot of pain killers in an attempt to manage their headaches.

A recent study from Denmark indicates that painkillers, like Advil, Motrin, Naprosyn, Aleve and the prescription drug Celebrex, may significantly increase the risk of an electrical irregularity of your heart beat, known as atrial fibrillation.

Though preliminary, this study adds to the list of concerns about using these drugs too often, which is often the case with people who suffer from chronic pain conditions like migraines or arthritis.


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


~ For chronic migraine sufferers, preventing the migraine is clearly a better option than a lifetime of taking pain killing drugs.  To learn about a proven safe and effective option to more safely and effectively manage your migraines, please visit migrelief.com

Consumption of Sugary Beverages For Just 3 Weeks Can Increase Cardivascular Risk Factor

July 2nd, 2011

Read about how even short-term consumption of sugary beverages cause well-known heart risk factors to head in the wrong direction.
(link below)

And the answer isn’t to drink artificially sweetened beverages because they too have recently been shown to result in larger waistline increases in people who consume them.

The answer is to drink water and get used to drinking healthy unsweetened teas or beverages naturally sweetened with either stevia extract or erythritol.
Nutritionists estimate that 40% of the extra 570 calories a day that we consume vs. people in the 1950’s, come from these sugary beverages.

Do yourself a huge favor, switch over to these healthier drinks and protect yourself from heart disease, diabetes, obesity and possible cancer as well.

(Read article below)


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




June 30, 2011 — A small study of men younger than 50 years found that even moderate consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) produces an increase in markers of cardiovascular risk.

After just 3 weeks of sugary drinks, healthy, normal weight (body mass index range, 19 – 25 kg/m) men between the ages of 20 and 50 years saw harmful effects to low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles, fasting glucose, and C-reactive protein, according to the study published online June 15 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The researchers, led by Isabelle Aeberli, PhD, from the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Clinical Nutrition, University Hospital Zurich, and the Human Nutrition Laboratory, Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Health, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, launched the study because it is known that sugary drinks interfere with glucose and lipid metabolism in obese people. However, the effect of lower doses of SSBs in people of normal weight “is less clear.”

One of the goals of the study was to measure the effect of sugar dosages similar to the amount found in commercially available sodas and sweetened drinks, “thereby allowing us to draw clinically relevant conclusions.”

The prospective, randomized controlled trial looked at risk markers in 29 men who consumed drinks with varying amounts of fructose and glucose (which are derived from fruit) and sucrose (which makes up common table sugar). The researchers measured LDL, fasting glucose, and C-reactive protein at baseline and after 3 week-long interventions.

The study involved 6 interventions that ranged from drinks with 40 g of the sweeteners fructose or glucose to beverages with 80 g of fructose, glucose, or sucrose. One group was advised to consume low amounts of fructose.

At all of the levels, fasting glucose and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein increased significantly (by 4% – 9% and 60% – 109%, respectively; P < .05). LDL particle size was reduced in the higher-fructose group by .51 nm (95% confidence interval, −.19 to −.82 nm), and in the higher-sucrose group by .43 nm (95% confidence interval, −.12 to −.74; P < .05 for both). “Similarly, a more atherogenic LDL subclass distribution was seen when fructose-containing SSBs were consumed,” the authors write.

The researchers concluded that even with lower doses (40 g sugar/day), which provided just 6.5% of daily energy in the form of SSBs, adverse effects could be observed with regard to LDL particle size and distribution, waist-to-hip ratio, fasting glucose, and inflammatory markers.

Although the study showed the short-term effect of SSB consumption, it was limited, in that 3 weeks “may not have been long enough to observe significant effects in parameters such as lipoprotein concentrations, insulin resistance, adipokines, body weight, and blood pressure.”

The research will not solve the debate over the health effects of high-fructose corn syrup, which is used in everything from soft drinks to cereals in the United States. Despite the name, high-fructose corn syrup is chemically similar to other sweeteners: All contain glucose and fructose in roughly equal amounts.

Am J Clin Nutr. Published online June 15, 2011. Abstract