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Who says we have to suffer...to live a healthy happy vibrant life?

Red wine and dark chocolate... might seem decadent...but these guilty pleasures also might help us live longer...and healthier lives. Red wine and dark chocolate definitely improve an evening..but they also contain resveratrol..which lowers blood sugar. Red wine is a great source of catechins..which boost protective HDL cholesterol. Green tea? Protects your brain..helps you live longer..and soothes your spirit.

Red Wine, Green Tea and Dark Chocolate, the blog, is about living the good life...a life we create with our thoughts and our choices...and having fun the whole while!

I say lets make the thoughts good ones..and let the choices be healthy...exciting...and delicious! Bon Appetit!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tylenol use during pregnancy is linked to ADHD and behavior problems.


A study published in the journal Pediatrics finds that Tylenol (acetaminophen) taken by women during their pregnancy may raise the risk of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and similar disorders in their children up to 40%—and the risk is higher as use increases. The more acetaminophen the mother takes, the higher the risk in her child.

The study’s authors say it is plausible that the drug may interrupt fetal brain development by interfering with maternal hormones or through neurotoxicity. 


This isn’t the first study to note the connection between a mother’s Tylenol use and her child’s reaction to the toxic drug. Last year a troubling study showed that women taking acetaminophen during pregnancy increased the risk of their children having serious behavior problems at age 3 by an overwhelming 70%.

It is simply not worth the risk, to use acetaminophen. Every year, 78,000 people go to the emergency room from intentional or accidental acetaminophen overdose; 33,000 are hospitalized, and about 450 die.
  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The greatest dietary mistake of the 20th century....was NOT saturated fat.

No it was the wrecked balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 intake. 

Dietary fats have become completely deranged in the last 100 years. Enter trans fats. Enter concentrated animal farming operations and feeding soybeans and corn to fatten up beef, pork and chickens. We've run amok. and it is time to correct things.

We have a tendency to obsess about fat in our culture. We’ve recently seen an about face in recommendations regarding saturated fat. Saturated fat was the dietary bogeyman for the last few decades and now research is suggesting that it may not be as harmful as we thought. Really? So butter is ok now? Yes and it always has been. Margarine was a health scam perpetrated by greedy oil companies. Greed...oil... sound familiar? But in all of this back and forth on fats in our diet one point remains painfully obvious.
Today, people are eating way too many Omega-6 fatty acids. Mostly from corn and soybeans and their oils that dominate the western diet.
At the same time, consumption of animal foods high in Omega-3 is the lowest it has ever been. To make matters worse the animals we eat are no longer roaming free on the range eating omega-3 rich grass, they are raised on feed lots and fattened up with omega-6 loaded (you guessed it) corn and soybeans.
The net effect is we now consume a grossly distorted ratio of these polyunsaturated fatty acids. Setting our sugar insanity aside for the moment, this is arguably one of the most damaging aspects of the modern Western diet.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats are essential components of the human diet. Our bodies don’t have the ability to manufacture them and therefore we must get them from the foods we eat everyday. Allow me to introduce you to the Omegas.

If the Omega-3s and Omega-6s are missing from our diet, we develop a deficiency and become sick. That is why they are termed the “essential” fatty acids.
However, these fatty acids are different than most other fats. They are not simply used for energy or stored in tissue; they are biologically active and play crucial roles in survival events like blood clotting and inflammation, brain cell communication, and even regulation of heart rhythm.
But here is a problem. Omega-6s and Omega-3s don’t have the same effects. Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, while Omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory effect. Omega-6s promote unhealthy clotting and narrowing of blood vessels while Omega-3s have the opposite effect.

Don’t get me wrong. Omega-6s are not all bad. In the body inflammation is essential for our survival. It helps our bodies fight infection and recover from trauma, but inflammation allowed to go unresolved can also cause severe damage and contribute to disease when the inflammatory response is exaggerated or excessive.
Today we realize that unresolved, chronic inflammation may be setting the biochemical stage allowing the development of the most challenging diseases we face today, including heart disease, obesity and metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, asthma and many types of cancer.
Put simply, a diet that is high in Omega-6 but low in Omega-3 increases inflammation, while a diet that includes balanced amounts of these fats governs inflammation appropriately.

So again, the issue is that people who eat a typical Western diet are eating way too many Omega-6s relative to Omega-3s.

A good way to figure out what is healthy for humans, is to look at populations that are healthy and don’t have all these Western diseases.
Good luck finding developed countries that fit that description. The sad truth is, every country that eats an industrial diet gets sick. Our food practices today erode our health and send our health care costs skyrocketing upward. Bully for hospitals and drug companies, but not so great for you and me.
Therefore, to find dietary guidance we must look at non-industrial populations like the most recent hunter-gatherers.
Hunter-gatherers who eat mostly deer, elk, and other land dwelling animals have a. Omega-6 to Omega-3 3 ratio of 2:1 to 4:1, while the Inuit, who ate mostly Omega-3 rich seafoods, had a ratio of 1:4.
All of these populations enjoyed good health. They did not suffer from the chronic diseases we face today.
Keep in mind that none of these populations were eating a lot of Omega-6. We need to consider that we will not fix our own health by continuing to consume high levels of omega-6 and simply adding omega-3. Getting a daily small balanced amount of both is probably best. Emphasis on balanced.
Anthropological evidence also suggests that the ratio of Omegas human beings evolved with is closer to 1:1, while the ratio today is around 22:1 or worse. Meaning 22 times more omega-6 than what we are genetically programmed to handle.

Not only are modern people eating much less Omega-3 from animal sources, they are eating huge amounts of processed seed and vegetable oils which provide ridiculously high levels of Omega-6.
The technology to extract seed and vegetable oils is twentieth century technology.  Evolutionarily speaking we simply have had no time to genetically adapt to these high amounts of Omega-6.
Soy is the major culprit here. Here is a chart that shows the dramatic increase in soybean oil consumption in the USA, from zero to 11 kilograms (24 pounds) per person per year.



Soybean oil is currently the biggest source of Omega-6 fatty acids in the USA, because it is abundant and dirt cheap. Don’t even get me started on government subsidies for soy and corn.  Thus soy oil, and to a slightly lesser extent corn oil are used in all manner of processed foods. Unfortunately processed foods make up an ever-increasing part of daily food intake in developed countries, so we are literally stuffing our cells and tissues with excessive omega-6.
The amount of Omega-6 fatty acids found in body fat stores has increased by more than 200% in the past 50 years alone.

So the unbalanced fats that we are eating are leading to structural changes, in our body fat stores, cell membranes, tissues and organs everywhere in the body. Continuing on this path is suicidal.
A high amount of Omega-6 in cell membranes is strongly associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease, partly due to the pro-inflammatory effects, but also due to lipid imbalances and unwarranted clotting.

There have been several controlled trials where people were directed to replace saturated fats like butter with Omega-6 rich vegetable oils. Instead of having healthier hearts, the dietary changes backfired and they had a significantly increased risk of heart disease.

A high Omega-6 intake is also associated with violence and depression, while Omega-3s improve all sorts of mental disorders like depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Consumption of vegetable oils high in Omega-6, and a precipitous drop in omega-3 levels is simply the reality of food policy and production changes over the past 100 years. There is a tsunami of evidence that this is causing serious harm.

Fortunately, optimizing your intake of the most important Omega-3 fatty acids is relatively simple.

The single most important thing you can do to reduce your Omega-6 intake is to avoid processed seed and vegetable oils high in Omega-6, as well as the processed foods that contain them.
Here is a chart with some common fats and oils. This is why I prefer using olive oil in the kitchen. To reduce your intake of Omega-6 you need to avoid all of these oils that have a high proportion of Omega-6 (blue bars).


You can see that all of these plant oils are much higher in Omega-6, relative to Omega-3. In fact Omega-3 in plant oils is virtually non-existent. Mind you I said to reduce Omega-6 not eliminate it. Omega-6 is essential for health, it is the overconsumption, the loss of balance that is the issue.

Animal foods are the best sources of the preformed Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. And they provide omega-6 too. Think fish and grass fed beef and pork.
The problem is that commercially raised animals are fattened up with grain-based feeds of mainly soy and corn. If those grains fatten up cows what must they be doing to us?
Feeding soy and corn to cows, pigs and chickens reduces the Omega-3 content, so the fats in the meat are mostly Omega-6. Therefore, if you can afford it, grass fed or wild meat is definitely optimal. However, occasional consumption of conventionally raised meat is healthy, as long as it is not processed.

It is also best to buy pastured or omega-3 eggs, which are much healthier than eggs from hens that were fed grain-based feeds.

By far the best and healthiest way to increase your Omega-3 intake is to eat seafood at least twice per week or ideally, even more often. Fatty fish like salmon is a particularly good source. Sardines, mackerel, herring and tuna are good choices too. Wild caught fish is best, but eating farmed fish is much better than eating no fish at all.
If you eat a lot of conventionally raised meats and/or don’t eat much seafood, then I strongly suggest you take a fish oil supplement.


And when you are choosing supplements, please be aware of this. There are some plant sources of Omega-3, like flax and chia seeds. However, these contain a type of Omega-3 called ALA. ALA does not confer the heart, eye and brain benefits of its longer cousins EPA and DHA. And humans are inefficient converters of ALA into the active forms, EPA and DHA. So be sure you either eat fish or take a supplement that provides EPA and DHA. Adults need between 1000 and 4000 mg EPA/DHA daily and children under the age of 10 need 200-1000 mg EPA/DHA daily for best results. Teenagers should be dosed as adults.

And finally for the geeks in the room, here is a nifty chart showing the metabolic pathways of Omega-6 and Omega-3s.
~enjoy!



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kale Salad with Currants, Balsamic and Parmesan

Ingredients

1 large bunch or 2 small bunches kale, torn into bite size pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice from 2-3 lemons
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup currants or 1/3 cup other dried fruit
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Directions:

Wash the kale well. Those curly leaves can be full of sand. Tear kale pieces off the main fibrous center stem. Add the kale to a large mixing bowl, season with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Massage with your hands making sure to coat the kale with oil. This will begin to break down the tough kale cell structure.

Grate the zest and squeeze the juice of the lemons over the massaged kale. Add the balsamic vinegar. Add the currants, toasted pine nuts, parmesan and toss to combine. Serve with a pinch of red chili flakes, if desired.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

A spicy delicious recipe for roasted vegetables from one of my favorite food blogs.

Chili Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Coconut Sauce

Photo credit to floatingkitchen.net


Ingredients
For the Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained 1 cauliflower head, cut into bite sized florets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 - 2 tablespoons Harissa (North African Chili Paste) Recipe follows.

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh mint, roughly chopped
For the Coconut Sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk (I recommend the full fat version) 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground coriander
Pinch of salt 



For the Coconut Sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk (I recommend the full fat version) 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground coriander
Pinch of salt 


Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet toss the cauliflower and chickpeas with the olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin seeds. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven. Add the harissa and toss gently until everything is evenly coated. Start with 1 tablespoon of the harissa, adding more for your taste preferences (I used almost 2 tablespoons). Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together all of the ingredients for the coconut sauce.

To serve, drizzle the coconut sauce over the warm harissa-coated cauliflower and chickpeas.
Sprinkle with the fresh mint. Serve immediately.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

Harissa North African Chili Paste

Photo credit to floating kitchen.net



3 ounces dried Mexican chiles 1 tsp. caraway seeds
3/4 tsp. coriander seeds
3/4 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. fresh mint leaves 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
5 garlic cloves
Juice of 1 lemon

3-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Remove and discard the stems and the seeds from the chiles. The easiest way to do this is with your hands (I recommend wearing disposable gloves). The stems should just snap right off and the seeds will easily shake out. Place the chiles in a medium bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let them soak in the water for about 30 minutes. 

Toast the caraway, coriander and cumin seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat, about 2- 4 minutes or until they become fragrant, stirring frequently to prevent them from burning. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Once cooled, grind the toasted seeds along with the mint in a spice/coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. 

Drain the soaked chiles. Place them in the bowl of your food processor with the blade attachment along with the ground spices, salt, garlic cloves, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Process until a smooth, thick paste forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. It will take a couple minutes, so be patient. You can also add another tablespoon of olive oil to keep things moving. 

Transfer the paste to a small, seal-able jar (I like mason jars). Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil over the surface. Seal the jar and transfer it to your refrigerator. The harissa will keep for up to a month. As you use the harissa, add a fresh layer of olive oil to keep the surface covered. 

Recipe from www.floatingkitchen.net

 

The Cancer Fighting/Promoting Power of Foods.


No single food can reduce your risk of cancer, but the right combination of foods may help make a difference. At mealtimes, strike a balance of at least 2/3 plant-based foods and no more than 1/3 animal protein. This "New American Plate" is an important cancer fighting tool, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Check out better and worse choices for your plate.



Fighting Cancer With Color
Fruits and vegetables are rich in cancer-fighting nutrients - and the more color, the more nutrients they contain. These foods can help lower your risk in a second way, too, when they help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight. Carrying extra pounds increases the risk for multiple cancers, including colon, esophagus, and kidney cancers. Aim for five to nine servings a day, prepared in a healthy way.
The Cancer-Fighting Breakfast
Folate is an important B vitamin that may help protect against cancers of the colon, rectum, and breast.  You can find it in abundance on the breakfast table. Fortified breakfast cereals and whole wheat products are good sources of folate. So are orange juice, melons, and strawberries. 
Folate the rest of the day.
Other good sources of folate are asparagus and eggs. You can also find it in chicken liver, beans, sunflower seeds, and leafy green vegetables like spinach or romaine lettuce. According to the ACS, the best way to get folate is not from a pill, but by eating enough fruits, vegetables, and enriched grain products.

Cancer Fighting Tomatoes.
Whether it's the lycopene -- the pigment that gives tomatoes their red color -- or something else isn't clear. But some studies have linked eating tomatoes to reduced risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer. Studies also suggest that processed tomato products such as juice, sauce, or paste increase the cancer-fighting potential.

Tea  especially green tea, may be a strong cancer fighter. In laboratory studies, green tea has slowed or prevented the development of cancer in colon, liver, breast, and prostate cells. It also had a similar effect in lung tissue and skin. And in some longer term studies, tea was associated with lower risks for bladder, stomach, and pancreatic cancers.


Grapes and grape juice, especially purple and red grapes, contain resveratrol. Resveratrol has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In laboratory studies, it has prevented the kind of damage that can trigger the cancer process in cells. There is not enough evidence to say that eating grapes or drinking grape juice or wine can prevent or treat cancer.

Water not only quenches your thirst, but it may protect you against bladder cancer. The lower risk comes from water diluting concentrations of potential cancer-causing agents in the bladder. Also, drinking more fluids causes you to urinate more frequently. That lessens the amount of time those agents stay in contact with the bladder lining.

Beans are so good for you, it's no surprise they may help fight cancer, too.  They contain several potent phytochemicals that may protect the body's cells against damage that can lead to cancer. In the lab these substances slowed tumor growth and prevented tumors from releasing substances that damage nearby cells.

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale. These members of the cabbage family make an excellent stir fry and can really liven up a salad. But most importantly, components in these vegetables may help your body defend against cancers such as colon, breast, lung, and cervix.

Dark green leafy vegetables such as mustard greens, lettuce, kale, chicory, spinach, and chard have an abundance of fiber, folate, and carotenoids. These nutrients may help protect against cancer of the mouth, larynx, pancreas, lung, skin, and stomach.

Curcumin is the main ingredient in the Indian spice turmeric and a potential cancer fighter. Lab studies show it can suppress the transformation, proliferation, and invasion of cancerous cells for a wide array of cancers.

How you cook meat can make a difference in how big a cancer risk it poses. Frying, grilling, and broiling meats at very high temperatures causes chemicals to form that may increase cancer risk. Other cooking methods such as stewing, braising, or steaming appear to produce fewer of those chemicals. And when you do stew the meat, remember to add plenty of healthy, protective vegetables.

Strawberries and raspberries have a phytochemical called ellagic acid. This powerful antioxidant may actually fight cancer in several ways at once, including deactivating certain cancer causing substances and slowing the growth of cancer cells.

The potent antioxidents in blueberries may have wide value in supporting our health, starting with cancer. Antioxidants fight cancer by ridding the body of free radicals before they can do their damage to cells. Try topping oatmeal, cold cereal, yogurt, even salad with blueberries to boost your intake of these healthful berries.

Sugar may not cause cancer directly. But it may displace other nutrient-rich foods that help protect against cancer. And it increases calorie counts, which contributes to overweight and obesity. Excess weight can be a cancer risk. Fruit offers a sweet alternative in a vitamin-rich package.

Limit alcohol to slash cancer risk. Cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, and breast are all linked with drinking alcohol. Alcohol may also raise the risk for cancer of the colon and rectum. The American Cancer Society says that even the suggested daily limit of 2 drinks for men and 1 for women elevates the risk. Women at higher risk for breast cancer may want to talk with a doctor about what amount of alcohol, if any, is safe based on their personal risk factors.