Coconut Oil — A Miracle Food?

Coconut Oil — A Miracle Food?

Indigenous populations who continue to live their traditional lifestyle are not at risk when eating the whole coconut as part of their traditional diet. As Western foods are introduced into the diet, new risks emerge for these indigenous populations for the typical Western chronic diseases.

Read More HERE…

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil

What you need to know about coconut oil

According to a recent survey, 72% of Americans classify coconut oil as a “healthy food.” But is that really true?

A 2017 American Heart Association panel reviewed the evidence on which fats in foods raise—and which lower—the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The experts’ findings: “We conclude strongly that lowering intake of saturated fat and replacing it with unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, will lower the incidence of CVD.” Yet many people have heard that saturated fats are harmless.

Why saturated fat matters

Ignore headlines like “Butter is Back” and claims that saturated fat isn’t as bad as researchers once thought. Some of those headlines were triggered by studies with serious flaws.

“The evidence that saturated fat causes atherosclerosis and heart disease is compelling,” says Frank Sacks, professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and head of the heart association panel. “It’s consistent across randomized trials, large observational epidemiologic studies, and animal studies.”

That’s because saturated fat increases LDL—or low-density lipoprotein—cholesterol (also called “bad” cholesterol). “LDL cholesterol is a cause of heart disease,” Sacks explains. “It’s not a risk factor. It’s a direct, absolute cause.”

Several lines of evidence have nailed LDL as a culprit.

“We know that LDL is the main carrier of cholesterol in the blood, and it enters into the walls of major arteries and deposits cholesterol there,” says Sacks. “And that sets off a chronic inflammatory reaction, which helps lead plaque to build up in arteries.”

Are the saturated fats in coconut oil different?

Roughly 80 percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated. Yet some people claim that coconut oil doesn’t raise LDL. Not true, says Sacks.

“The evidence is straightforward. Some of the short-chain saturated fatty acids in coconut oil don’t raise LDL cholesterol. But they don’t counteract the effects of the oil’s longer-chain fatty acids, which do increase LDL cholesterol. So coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol in the same way that, say, butter does.”

In a 2016 paper, researchers reviewed the evidence from seven small trials that compared coconut oil to monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils, like olive or soybean. They found that LDL cholesterol levels were higher when people ate coconut oil. The increase was statistically significant in six of the seven studies.

Granted, no large trials have tested coconut oil’s impact on heart disease. “In the absence of any 10,000-person study, we have to go on the best available evidence, which shows that coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol,” says Sacks.

Is this a call for avoiding all coconut oil in our diet? If you are using dairy, meat, cheese, already food sources high in saturated fat, using coconut oil would only be hastening your heart disease. However, if you are a vegan, or on a diet low in fat normally, using coconut oil sparingly should not be a problem.

The above information was extracted from an article written by Caitlin Dow, August 27, 2018, Healthletter, published by Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit publisher of Nutrition Action Healthletter, 1220 L ST NW Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005.

Research referenced in the above article came from Circulation, Vol. 136, No. 3, June 15, 2017, Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory from the American Heart Association, Frank Sacks, and et al.

The concluding paragraph was written by Charles Cleveland, MPH, Health Education Resources, Inc.

Photo: Pixabay,

Unexpected Food Dyes Hiding in Your Holiday Treats?

Unexpected Food Dyes Hiding in Your Holiday Treats?

Temptation abounds during the holidays, but sugar and saturated fat are not the only reason to be wary of holiday treats. Even natural-looking colors, like brown and white, can contain hidden synthetic dyes that carry risks, from cancer to hyperactivity in children. Unnecessary synthetic dyes trigger adverse behavior in some children.

Thinking about using some marshmallows for treats over the holidays? Read the label before buying, some of them have blue # 1 dye. What about chocolate, isn’t it naturally colored? For some reason Nesquik thought it needed Blue #1, Red #40, and Yellow #6 in it’s hot chocolate?

Synthetic food dyes cause behavioral risks in sensitive children. They’ve been around for decades and are found in everything from pudding to potato chips to soft drinks. Their use has gone up fivefold in the past 50 years, which means people are consuming a lot of junk foods.

But recent studies linking food coloring to hyperactivity in kids is causing some experts to call on the FDA to ban foods containing them — or at least require a warning label.

Some of the studies are difficult or imperfect. But there is this body of literature that does suggest that food colorings are not as benign as people have been led to believe, according to Andrew Adesman, developmental and behavioral pediatrics expert.

Not surprisingly, there are countries that have banned or significantly regulated a number of artificial food dyes that are still widely available in the US — a fact that definitely makes one raise an eyebrow or two. If you’d like to err on the side of caution and avoid these specific food dyes, here are three of the most worrisome dyes you might not want your children eating.

FD&C Yellow #6

In the UK, it’s called Sunset Yellow FCF or E110. It’s petroleum-derived, which does not inspire much confidence.

FD&C Red 40

This is a hugely popular red dye, and is found in tons of US food products. You may also see it listed as Allura Red, Food Red 17. Interestingly, it was banned in countries including Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Sweden at one time, but since the EU allows it in food products; food manufacturers now remove it on a voluntary basis.

FD&C Yellow 5

When you see the generic ingredient “color,” this artificial azo dye is typically what is being described. You can also find it listed on labels as Tartrazine, CI 19149, Acid Yellow 23, Food Yellow 4, and E102. Of all the azo based food dyes, this is the one that some UK studies have determined causes the most intolerant and allergic reactions.

In general, for your health and the health of your children be cautious of any ingredient label that states, “color added.”

December 18, 2017

Frequency of Meals and Weight Loss

Frequency of Meals and Weight Loss

Eating” by Sole Treadmill is licensed under CC BY

A study by researchers from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health and the Czech Republic has found that the timing and frequency of meals play a role in predicting weight loss or gain.

Using information gleaned from more than 50,000 participants in the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2), the researchers discovered four factors associated with a decrease in body mass index: eating only one or two meals per day; maintaining an overnight fast of up to 18 hours; eating breakfast instead of skipping it; and making breakfast or lunch the largest meal of the day. Making breakfast the largest meal yielded a more significant decrease in BMI than did lunch.

The two factors associated with higher BMI were eating more than three meals per day —snacks were counted as extra meals — and making supper the largest meal of the day.

As a practical weight-management strategy, Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, recommends eating breakfast and lunch, skipping supper, avoiding snacks, making breakfast the largest meal of the day and fasting overnight for up to 18 hours.

A postdoctoral research fellow at Loma Linda University School of Public Health when the study was conducted, Kahleova is director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, DC.

Do we really use that much sodium to salt our foods at home?

Do we really use that much sodium to salt our foods at home?

You have probably noticed how when anyone is identified as having high blood pressure their physician advises them to cut back on using salt. But just how much does it help if you stop using salt at your dinner table?

Researchers at the University of Minnesota and elsewhere have meticulously charted the sources of sodium in the diets of 450 representative adults living in Alabama, California, and Minnesota.

The volunteers recorded everything they ate and drank for four days and provided duplicate samples of the salt they added to food to during cooking and eating. In some cases, they even turned in samples of their tap water. The result is the most detailed picture of the sources of dietary sodium in the U.S. diet in 25 years.

Where the sodium came from

The men and women consumed an average of 3,501 mg of sodium from all sources. That’s about 50 percent more than the recommended amount.

Sodium in supermarket and restaurant foods accounted for 71 percent of the total amount of sodium in their diets. That was far more than the next biggest source: the sodium naturally found in food, which amounted to 14 percent.

Next was the sodium added to foods prepared in the home, such as adding salt to boiling pasta: a daily average of about 200 mg or 6 percent of the total. Tap water, dietary supplements, and medications added less than 1 percent.

The sodium added during meals at the dinner table?

The 450 men and women in the study added a daily average of 170 mg, just 5 percent of the day’s sodium. Store-bought foods and restaurant meals provided 14 times that much! So the salt shaker seems to have a only a minor role in our sodium over-indulgence.

Other findings: The least amount of sodium consumed was by women, college graduates, the normal or underweight, and residents of California and Minnesota. Alabama residents added three to four times as much sodium to their food at the table as California and Minnesota residents.

The lesson from this study

“The sodium that we’re getting in our diet is largely coming from processed foods and from foods we eat in a restaurant,” says Wendy Post, an editor at the journal Circulation which published the study.

One way to deal with this is “for our patients to read food labels and to make smart choices when they are shopping for processed foods in the supermarket,” she suggests. Another “is for food manufacturers to decrease the amount of sodium in the products they are making.” And restaurants should “notify their clientele of what foods are potentially lower in sodium and calories.”

Sodium recommendations

The American Heart Association recommends that consumers should limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams a day (1,500 mg for people with prehypertension or high blood pressure).

The saltiest six foods, based on earlier surveys: bread and rolls, cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches.

Source: Circulation 135: 1775-1783, 2017.

David Schardt in: Salt in Food, May 15, 2017

Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit publisher of Nutrition Action Healthletter, 1220 L ST NW Suite 300 | Washington, DC 20005




If you need 5 good reasons to eat more fruit – here’s a winner’s list.

  1. They are nutrient rich

Fruit is always high in vitamin C, and if it’s watermelon you also get a good supply of carotenoids, or a banana for potassium, and berries for lots of fiber too. All fruit is good, not only for rich sources of vitamins, but also for their health enhancing flavonoids and phytochemicals.

  1. They are low in calories

Fruit is usually low in calories per serving; they are typically 85% water. Fruits are great for satiety, you feel fuller eating whole fruit, compared to sauces or juices (like apple sauce, juice).

  1. They protect the heart and brain

Studies show eating fruit helps lower systolic blood pressure by 8 to 14 points, about the same as some drugs. It may be the result of the potassium in fruit, which is known to lower blood pressure. For years studies have consistently shown that those who eat more fruit have a lower risk of heart attack or stroke.

  1. They offer convenience

Most fruits come nearly ready to eat. A quick wash, peel or cut a few slices and you are enjoying their sweetness in just seconds. Fruits keep well too, if it’s whole, normally they need no refrigeration.

  1. They are inexpensive

Fresh fruit in season is relatively inexpensive. Bananas are cheap year around. With modern transportation an amazing variety of fruit is almost always available; be sure to get your healthy share.

Gardening for Health

Gardening for Health

You may have heard that a little bit of dirt never hurt anyone, but now a recent study by Michigan State University gives evidence that spending a few hours a week digging in the dirt can help reduce stress and create a mental clarity while also helping to prevent conditions like heat disease and even colon cancer.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that moderate-intensity level activity roughly three hours a week can reduce the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, depression and several other conditions. The CDC considers gardening to meet the moderate-intensity level, and their research shows gardeners are more likely to spend an additional hour engaged in activity than someone doing regimented exercises like running.

Mental Contentment

A study conducted in the Netherlands suggests that gardening can be better stress fighter than many other leisure activities. In the study, groups of people completed stressful tasks. Once the tasks were complete, half the group read indoors for 30 minutes and the other half worked in the garden for 30 minutes. The gardening group reported being in a better mood than the readers and had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Another European study showed that the “effortless attention” of gardening may help improve symptoms related to depression. Effortless attention, a theory popularized by University of Michigan researchers in the 1980s, simply means the ability to enjoy an activity or surroundings with a type of focus that freely flows from the mind and body, requiring little thought. Contrast effortless attention to a ball player or musician being in the “zone.”

The simple, repetitive movements of tending the garden along with the exposure to the sights, sounds and smells associated with being outdoors, provided improvement for the research subjects participating in the study. After three months of gardening, roughly six hours a week, the participants showed marked improvement in their depression symptoms. For some, the improvements lasted for several months after the program/gardening ended.

Physical Demands

Establishing a garden is great for your cardiovascular health. Hauling the wheelbarrows of soil, compost and mulch can be good exercise for the heart, and if your garden is sizable enough, using a hoe to dig up weeds can provide an additional cardiovascular benefit.

The most common actions associated with gardening – digging, planting, weeding and watering – help reinforce the limberness in hands, arms and shoulders. This type of exercise was found to be more rewarding for some than going to the gym, because of the results gained. Weeds were pulled, vegetables and flowers were planted then enjoyed, and you see the results of your efforts every time. The CDC estimates that up to 350 calories are burned with 30 to 45 minutes of gardening.

Other Benefits

The medical journal Biological Psychiatry reported that simply getting fresh air may help prevent Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The fresh produce adds obvious nutritional benefits by increasing the amount of fresh food eaten by the gardeners.

Caring for a garden is a good way to introduce children to the concepts of responsibility and reward for working.

Adapted from Sam’s Club, Healthy Living Made Simple, February 2017

Natural Flavors

Natural Flavors

The words “natural flavor,” or some slight variation is used more often today, and especially with many food products that we used to take for granted was nutritious.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whose job is to protect the public health by assuring the safety of our nation’s food supply. It seems that many of the regulations they create are very broad and tends to favor food manufacturers. Here is the FDA definition of “natural flavor”. It is “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.” That really opens up a huge door for food manufacturing companies to add all kinds of concoctions and not be required to disclose the real ingredients because they can call it a “natural flavor” or “flavoring”.

Natural flavorings are typically prepared in a laboratory by individuals who identify the chemical factors in foods that give them their taste. These experts then isolate the chemicals that do the job so they can be added to the target food item. Hundreds of different compounds can be involved in a simple natural flavor such as cherry or vanilla or tomato.

This means it is possible for a food that seems to be vegetarian or vegan to have natural flavors that come from animals, such as beef flavoring in fast food French fries.

Any of the plants or animals mentioned in the FDA definition could have been grown with or subjected to any number of hazardous and artificial ingredients, such as pesticides and herbicides.

Food manufacturers are not required by the FDA to tell you what is in their natural flavor formulas. That doesn’t mean you can’t contact the company and ask, but you may be told it is proprietary information.

If you want true natural flavor, avoid processed foods and stick to the real food—whole fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, beans, nuts, and legumes. Growing your own food as much as possible eliminates a whole host of problems. When purchasing manufactured foods take time to read the label carefully. One shortcut you can start with is if the ingredients list is longer that 6-10 items, it might be better just to put it back on the shelf.


From a satisfied customer:

“I want to thank you for the speedy service your company provided to us. We were able to use the banners for our 6th annual Let’s Move Day. Many Thanks.”


Expo at the US Capitol

Expo at the US Capitol

A few weeks ago Hartland Institute obtained a special permit and do health expo screening at the US Capitol building parking lot.  Numerous Congressional staff assistants went through the screening and expressed appreciation for the service.



Sugar in Food vs. Substitutes

Sugar in Food vs Sugar Substitutes
Michael F. Jacobson • January 1, 2015

What are sugar substitutes?

Sugar substitutes are sweet substances or products that have no calories or far fewer calories than regular sugar (sucrose). Some are artificial, and some are derived from natural sources. They are also called sugar-free sweeteners, no- or low-calorie sweeteners, artificial sweeteners, non-nutritive sweeteners, or high-intensity or high-potency sweeteners.

Why even bother substituting for sugar?

Most everyone enjoys a sweet. And sugar is not toxic. Small amounts are perfectly safe. However, many people eat far too much sugar (and here we mean table sugar, raw sugar, high-fructose corn syrup—HFCS—and other sugary food ingredients). Sugar provides “empty calories”—calories devoid of vitamins, protein, and other nutrients. Too much sugar, especially in beverages, causes tooth decay and obesity and is also linked to heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome (larger waistline, higher blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides, and lower “good” cholesterol). In addition, the more sugar and sugary foods you eat, the less room there is in your diet for foods that contain valuable nutrients.

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume not more than 6 teaspoons, and men not more than 9 teaspoons, of added sugar per day. The association also recommends that most children and adolescent girls consume less than 5 teaspoons, and adolescent boys less than 9 teaspoons, of added sugars per day. No matter what your age, you would exceed those limits by drinking just one 20-ounce soft drink, which contains nine or more teaspoons of added sugar (usually in the form of HFCS).

Isn’t sugar healthier for you than high-fructose corn syrup?

No. There is no significant nutritional difference between sugar and HFCS. Both contain about half fructose and half glucose. (High-fructose corn syrup got its name because it is high in fructose compared to corn syrup, which is mostly glucose.) Neither contains any vitamins or minerals. All the other sweeteners, often used in “health foods,” including evaporated cane juice, honey, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, barley malt syrup, and juice concentrates, contain negligible amounts of nutrients.

What are the different ways that sugar can appear on the food label?

Sugar takes many forms: high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, corn sugar, honey, agave, raw sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, date sugar, invert sugar, maple syrup, fruit juice concentrate, evaporated cane juice, and ingredients ending in “ose,” including dextrose or glucose, sucrose, fructose, isomaltulose, high-maltose corn syrup, and trehalose.

Which foods contain sugar substitutes?

We get most of our artificial sweeteners from diet (no- and lower-calorie) soft drinks and other sugary beverages, but sugar substitutes are being used in a wider and wider variety of foods, often without any disclosure on front labels. Read ingredient lists carefully!

You can also find sugar substitutes in products such as pharmaceuticals, toothpaste, mouthwash, and chewable vitamins.

How can I tell if a food or drink contains a sugar substitute?

You can’t trust foods’ front labels to disclose “diet” or the presence of sugar substitutes. To be sure, check the ingredient listings on the labels. Many foods called “diet” or “sugar-free” contain sugar substitutes … but sugar substitutes may also be in cereal, snacks, bread, yogurt, prepared meals, and other foods that are not called “diet” or “sugar-free.”

Sources: Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health. A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009; 120:1011-20. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192627

American Heart Association. Dietary recommendations for healthy children. Dietary-Recommendations-for-Healthy-Children_UCM_303886_Article.jsp; Accessed May 13, 2014.

BCC Research LLC. The market for high-intensity sweeteners is expected to reach nearly $1.9 billion In 2017. pressroom/fod/market-high-intensity-sweeteners-expected-reach-nearly-$1.9-billion-2017; accessed May 28, 2014.

Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit publisher of Nutrition Action Healthletter, 1220 L ST NW Suite 300 | Washington, DC 20005

What’s with all of the Confusion about Fat in Food?

Does saturated fat increase your risk of heart disease or not?

Michael F. Jacobson • August 30, 2014

Confused Nutrition Action readers have been asking me how we could have gotten it so wrong on saturated fat. Why didn’t we see that the villain in the heart disease story isn’t saturated fat, but sugar? And how could the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute have missed that too?
The chorus of those claiming our position is wrong includes:

• New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman (“Butter is Back,” ran his headline),
• journalist Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, and
• the author of TIME magazine’s June 23rd cover story (“Eat Butter. Scientists Labeled Fat the Enemy. Why they were wrong”).

The May and June issues of Nutrition Action explored this topic, but I want to highlight a few points that have contributed to the confusion.

The debate over which is worse, sugar and white flour or saturated fat, has been percolating for years. But the pot boiled over in March 2014, when an “exhaustive new analysis” (as The New York Times put it) was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The meta-analysis reported that people had the same risk of heart disease whether they ate a diet high in saturated fat (in meat, dairy, and tropical oils) or one high in polyunsaturated fats (in foods like soybean oil, mayo, salad dressing, and fish). Newspapers, magazines, and talk shows just couldn’t resist a man-bites-dog story line like that.

Since then—and you haven’t read about it in TIME or the Times—that study has been blasted by leading heart disease researchers.

In a letter published in the Annals, these researchers and CSPI’s Bonnie Liebman pointed out a crucial flaw in the meta-analysis, which combined the results of clinical trials that replaced saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat: it included a trial in which some of the saturated fat was replaced with high-trans margarine. Trans fat increases the risk of heart disease. (The authors buried the trans detail in a supplement to the article available only online.)

Removing that one trial from the meta-analysis reverses the results and shows that people who replaced saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats had a lower risk of heart disease. (Those trials and other controlled studies, not the 1950s Seven Countries Study that Teicholz dwells on in her book, are the evidence that experts rely on.)

Dog bites man. No story. Some contrarians also argue that America’s obesity epidemic was caused by those who advocated a low-fat diet. Food companies—and consumers—they maintain, replaced fat with sugar, which is what made us fat.

There’s just one problem: we didn’t replace fat with sugar. Most low-fat or fat-free foods on shelves contain no more sugar (or carbs) than their higher-fat counterparts. What’s more, over the past 40 years, we’ve been eating more fat, not less.

Looking for a culprit for the obesity epidemic? Blame it on the billions spent on ads for sodas and fast food, on the 1,000+-calorie restaurant meals, and on the 24/7 availability of cheeseburgers, fries, shakes, pizzas, burritos, fried chicken, movie theater popcorn, muffins, nachos, soda pop, etc.
It doesn’t take an exhaustive new analysis to see that.
Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit publisher of Nutrition Action Healthletter, 1220 L ST NW Suite 300 | Washington, DC 20005

Obesity’s Leading Causes

by Dr. Neal Barnard

For the first time since 2004, obesity rates are climbing in the United States.

The news – recently released in a CDC report – took many by surprise. How could this have happened, headlines wondered, despite widespread national efforts to prevent obesity? In spite of Let’s Move? In spite of a 25 percent drop in consumption of sugary, full-calorie sodas over the last two decades?

There are plenty of reasons to exercise and plenty of reasons to limit sugar, but the truth is, neither would be enough to stem the obesity epidemic. Studies show that exercise, despite all its benefits, cannot compensate for poor eating habits when it comes to weight loss.

For the most part, too much sugar and too little exercise sugarcoat the real issue at hand: We’re eating meat and dairy products in quantities that our grandparents never imagined.

Obesity was all but unheard of a century ago in the United States. By 1970, about 11 percent of the population qualified as obese. Today, that number stands at 36 percent. So what did happen?

Since 1970, our overall energy intake has risen by about 500 calories per day. Where are most of these extra calories coming from? The bulk is from meat, eggs, dairy products, and added fats, which account for an extra 287 calories every day. That adds up to about four extra pounds per year.

Let’s rewind another 60 years. Compared to 1909, we now consume 60 more pounds of meat per person each year. Cheese consumption has soared from just four pounds per person in 1909 to more than 30 pounds today, making it a leading source of saturated fat in Americans’ diets.

Eating 100 more pounds of meat and cheese – along with saturated fat and cholesterol – every year has, not surprisingly, only made us gain weight and get sick.

Decades of science confirm that our waistlines would benefit from simply moving the animal products off our plates. Last year, my colleagues and I analyzed 15 major studies and concluded that vegetarian diets consistently lead to weight loss, even without calorie restriction or exercise. And long-term observational studies show that vegetarian—especially vegan—populations are the trimmest and healthiest on the planet.

It’s time to stop the sweet talk: Meat and dairy are the real drivers of the obesity epidemic, and setting them aside will help solve it.

Consider purchasing one of these items to help you help others avoid this serious health challenge:


Are Multivitamins a Waste of Money?

“Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements,” declared a leading medical journal. “Enough is enough.”

The journal was reacting to two disappointing studies on multivitamins. In the first, doctors who were given a daily multivitamin (Centrum Silver) for  12 years did no better on memory tests than those who got a placebo. In the second, heart attack patients who got a multivitamin for one to five years were no less likely to have a second heart attack than those who got a placebo (though half the patients stopped taking the pills before the study ended).

It may be sensible for some people to not bother with multivitamins, especially if they’re paying top dollar for overpriced pills. But it’s not good advice for women who are or may become pregnant or for men or women whose diets run short on key nutrients.

Multivitamins and the prevention of cancer

“To say that multivitamins have no benefit is an oversimplification,” says JoAnn Manson, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “The Physicians’ Health Study II found a significant reduction in cancer incidence.”

In that trial—which randomly assigned roughly  14,600 men aged 50 or older to take Centrum Silver or a placebo for  11 years—the vitamin takers had an 8 percent lower risk of cancer than those who took the placebo.

The researchers didn’t find a drop in any single cancer, especially prostate cancer, the one most likely to strike older men. But that may not mean much.

“The launch of the study occurred just as PSA screening for prostate cancer was increasing,” explains Manson. “So this screening was picking up mostly early prostate cancers before there was time to see any effect of the vitamins, plus the large number of prostate cases dwarfed other cancers.”

In fact, the study found a  12 percent lower risk of cancers other than prostate.

More important for older men?

There were hints  in the Physicians’ Health Study II that vitamins may have mattered more to some men than others.

“When we looked at results by age group, we saw that men 70 and older experienced an  18 percent reduction in cancer,” notes Manson. “And there was a similar reduction in cancer in the men who had a lower intake of fruits and vegetables when they entered the study.”

The trial also found a 27 percent lower risk of a new cancer in men who had been previously diagnosed with cancer.

“So overall, there was a benefit from multivitamins in men who were less likely to have a healthful diet and in older individuals who often have problems with absorption, medications, or illnesses that could interfere with optimal nutritional status,” explains Manson.

What about people who aren’t male physicians?

Doctors are typically healthier than the average American. “Physicians are not representative of the overall population,” says Manson. “They tend to have better diets and higher socioeconomic status, so they’re probably the least likely group to benefit from multivitamins.”

And the Physicians’ Health Study II tested men only.

“How can we not do a trial that evaluates multivitamins in women?” asks Manson. “At least a third of women take multivitamins regularly. We need to know the benefits and risks.”

We may find out in a few years. Manson is co-directing a new trial—the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamins Outcomes Study (COSMOS)—which will give cocoa flavanols or a placebo to  18,000 women (aged 65 or older) and men (aged 60 or older) for four years. It will also give them either Centrum Silver or a placebo. The trial will look at cognitive function, diabetes, physical performance, and other outcomes. Stay tuned.

Earlier vitamin supplement studies

But what about earlier trials of vitamins that came up empty…or found that people who took vitamins had a higher risk of disease?

“Other vitamin supplement trials have usually tested a megadose of an isolated micronutrient, which is not ideal,” says Manson.

“For example, taking very high doses of beta-carotene may interfere with the absorption or bioavailability of other carotenoids that may be more important than beta-carotene. And some antioxidant vitamins—like vitamin E— can be pro-oxidants at high levels.”

Testing a basic multivitamin is different.

“It has more than 20 vitamins and minerals at levels that prevent nutritional deficiencies,” says Manson. “So it’s more likely to reduce the risk of cancer in individuals who have suboptimal diets.”

The bottom Line: It may be worth taking an ordinary multivitamin to get enough vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and (if you could become pregnant) folic acid. A multi may also lower the risk of cancer in men, but the jury is still out in women.

Sources: Ann. Intern. Med. 159: 806, 2013; Ann. Intern. Med. 159: 797, 2013; Ann. Intern. Med. 159: 850, 2013; JAMA 308: 1871, 2012.

Urinary Incontinence…

Is Caffeine a Cause of Urinary Incontinence?

If your morning coffee is causing urinary incontinence, kick the caffeine habit and exercise your pelvic muscles.

“We found a moderate increased risk of developing at least weekly incontinence in caffeine consumers, but only in women who consumed at least 450 milligrams a day,” says Mary Townsend, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

You’d get 420 mg in one Starbucks Venti coffee (24 ounces) and 520 mg in two tall coffees (12 ounces each). “Caffeine was related only to urgency incontinence leaks that occur with a sudden need to go to the bath room not with stress incontinence,” she notes. That’s a leak that typically occurs with coughing or exercise.

Caffeine is linked to urinary incontinence in men, too. In a nationally representative study of U.S. adults during 2005-2008, men who consumed at least 250 mg or more of caffeine a day were 72 percent more likely to experience moderate to severe urinary incontinence than men who consumed little daily caffeine.

Avoiding caffeine may help. In a small 2014 study in the United Kingdom, eleven women newly diagnosed with an overly active bladder consumed caffeinated drinks for two weeks and decaffeinated drinks for two weeks in random order while keeping three-day diaries about their symptoms. Their sense of urgency and their frequency of urination declined significantly during the weeks consuming decaffeinated beverages.

How might caffeine cause urinary incontinence?

It may be a diuretic.

A diuretic increases the amount of urine created by the kidneys. The most commonly known diuretics include coffee, tea, and beer.

Health Education Resources recommends the safest urinary incontinence is prevention, by not using caffeinated beverages at all. Try making your drink water, it’s calorie free, cost mostly free, and no side effects. It cleanses your body of toxins, it helps maintain normal bowel function, it energizes your muscles, and it even helps keep your skin looking good.

Author: Bonnie Liebman in: Caffeine in Food, May 29, 2015

Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit publisher of Nutrition Action Healthletter, 1220 L ST NW Suite 300 | Washington, DC 20005


Foods to Prevent Stroke

Magnesium-Rich Foods to Prevent a Stroke

Among foods to prevent a stroke, magnesium-rich foods are a good choice

Researchers looked at seven studies that followed a total of roughly 240,000 people for eight to 15 years. The risk of an ischemic stroke was 9 percent lower for each 100 milligrams of magnesium the participants reported eating per day.

That’s consistent with a 2015 study that tracked nearly 181,000 nurses for more than 21 years and found a 17 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke among the women who consumed the most magnesium (around 400 mg a day) compared with those who consumed the least (around 230 mg a day). 

What is an ischemic stroke?

An ischemic stroke is the result of a blood clot that decreases the amount of blood flow to the brain. Approximately 85 percent of strokes are ischemic strokes.

Neurons in the brain require oxygen more than most other cells because of their energy needs. Considering that there are only two primary sources of blood flow to the brain (the internal carotid arteries and the vertebral arteries), a blood clot can do severe damage in a short amount of time.

Brain tissue deprived of oxygen can quickly lead to cell death. 

Prevention is key. Once a stroke begins, brain tissue is already dying.

Magnesium is found in a variety of good foods. Among the best sources:

  • leafy greens
  • beans
  • nuts
  • tofu
  • yogurt
  • whole grains.

Most daily multivitamin-and-mineral supplements can fit only about 50 to 100 milligrams of magnesium into their pills, so don’t rely on multis for most of your daily magnesium. The Recommended Dietary Allowance is 320 mg for women—and 420 mg for men—over 30. Note: More than 350 mg of magnesium from dietary supplements may cause diarrhea and stomach cramps.

How does magnesium lower the risk of stroke?

Magnesium-rich foods may help to lower blood pressure, which lowers the risk of stroke. What’s more, people who get more magnesium from food have lower insulin levels and a lower risk of diabetes. And magnesium is one of the few minerals that have been tested in randomized trials for its impact on the risk of diabetes.

For example, when German researchers randomly assigned 32 overweight people with insulin resistance to take either magnesium (365 milligrams a day) or a placebo for six months, fasting blood sugar dropped and insulin sensitivity improved in the magnesium takers. “The smaller randomized trials suggest benefits for glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity,” says JoAnn Manson, director of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “It’s possible that taking a magnesium supplement could reduce your risk of diabetes, but larger randomized trials are needed to prove it.”

What to do: It’s worth eating magnesium-rich foods, even though it’s too early to know for certain if magnesium prevents strokes, because this may also help prevent diabetes. Whole grains, such as quinoa, wild rice, and wheatberries are rich in magnesium, versatile in the kitchen, and most are relatively easy to prepare.

Bonnie Liebman • May 28, 2015

Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit publisher of Nutrition Action Healthletter, 1220 L ST NW Suite 300 | Washington, DC 20005


Brown Rice Rules!

Diabetes and Diet: Brown Rice Rules

Brown rice may help protect you from developing diabetes

Why choose brown rice over white?

Researchers tracked nearly 200,000 men and women for 14 to 22 years. Those who ate at least 5 servings of white rice per week had a 17 percent higher risk of Type 2 diabetes than those who ate less than one serving a month. In contrast, people who ate at least two servings of brown rice a week had an 11 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes than those who ate less than one serving a month.

A separate study found that among women who already had diabetes, those who ate the most bran (around 10 grams per day) had about a 35 percent lower risk of dying of heart disease than those who ate the least bran (1 gram per day). It didn’t matter if the bran came from whole grains or was added to meals as bran itself.

What to do: Switch from refined to whole grains. Brown rice may protect against diabetes because it has more fiber, vitamins, and magnesium and other minerals than white rice, and because it raises blood sugar less than white rice does. However, other whole grains, like bulgur and whole-grain pasta, raise blood sugar even less than brown rice.

Bonnie Liebman • May 16, 2013

Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit publisher of Nutrition Action Healthletter, 1220 L ST NW Suite 300 | Washington, DC 20005




Arsenic in My Rice???

Arsenic in My Rice???


Arsenic Found in Almost Every Rice-containing Food

The less arsenic you ingest, the better

In September 2012, Consumer Reports magazine found “troubling” levels of inorganic arsenic in almost every rice-containing food it tested.

Arsenic is found in a wide range of foods, including fruits and vegetables, chicken, and grains. Rice takes up arsenic from soil and water more readily than other grains do.

In the Consumer Reports tests, a quarter cup of uncooked white rice ranged from roughly 1 microgram to 7 micrograms of inorganic arsenic, while brown rice ranged from 4 micrograms to 10 micrograms. (Brown rice tends to have more arsenic than white rice because the metal concentrates in the bran.) Rice cakes ranged from 2 micrograms to 8 micrograms per serving, while hot and ready-to-eat rice cereals ranged from 2 micrograms to 7 micrograms.

Arsenic is a known human carcinogen.

“Ingestion of inorganic arsenic in drinking water can cause cancer of the skin, bladder, lung, liver, and kidney,” says Allan Smith, director of the Arsenic Health Effects Research Program at the University of California, Berkeley.

That’s based on studies in people who were exposed to large amounts of arsenic for many years. In Bangladesh, people who drank tap water that contained 50 to 149 micrograms of arsenic per liter for 20 to 30 years, for example, were 44 percent more likely to die of cancer than those who drank water with less arsenic.

Americans are exposed to much lower levels. How concerned should we be? There isn’t enough data to set a limit on inorganic arsenic in food, says the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limits the total amount of arsenic in drinking water to 10 micrograms per liter. (A liter is roughly a quart.) But some 2 percent of U.S. drinking water has more than twice that much. (Check with your water utility for arsenic levels in your community’s drinking water. To get rid of arsenic at home, you’ll need an under-the-sink reverse osmosis filter. A pitcher or faucet filter won’t do.)

Bottom Line: Consumer Reports recommends that adults eat no more than 1½ to 2 cups of cooked (brown or white) rice a week. (For arsenic levels by brand, see

You can remove about half the arsenic in your rice by rinsing it, cooking it in six parts water to one part rice until it reaches eating texture, then pouring off the extra water.

Sources: Epidemiology 20: 824, 2009; J. Environ. Monitor. 11: 41, 2009.

David Schardt • June 25, 2013

Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit publisher of Nutrition Action Healthletter, 1220 L ST NW Suite 300 | Washington, DC 20005

Amazing Kale

Amazing Kale


Hail to Kale!

Have you heard the latest about the benefits of Kale?

Here is a list of the newly uncovered benefits of this hardy green, referred to by some as a “superfood:”

Steaming kale provides special cholesterol-lowering benefits. When steamed, the fiber-related components in the vegetable bind together better with bile acids in the digestive tract. Because of this, it’s easier for bile acids to be excreted, resulting in lowered cholesterol levels. Raw kale also has cholesterol-lowering benefits, just not as much.

It has been known that kale has some risk-lowering cancer benefits; and the list has recently extended to at least five additional types of cancer: bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from glucosinolates in kale play a primary role in achieving these risk-lowering benefits.

Kale is now recognized as providing comprehensive support for the body’s detoxification system. New research shows that the ITCs made from kale’s glucosinolates can help regulate detox at a genetic level.

Researchers have discovered over 45 different flavonoids in kale. Kale’s flavonoids combine both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits in a way that gives kale a leading dietary role with respect to avoidance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.

You’ll want to include kale as one of the cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis if you want to receive the fantastic health benefits provided by the cruciferous vegetable family. At a minimum, include cruciferous vegetables as part of your diet 2-3 times per week, and make the serving size at least 1-1/2 cups.

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around and one way to be sure to enjoy the maximum nutrition and flavor from kale is to cook it properly. We recommend Healthy Steaming kale for 5 minutes. To ensure quick and even cooking cut the leaves into 1/2″ slices and the stems into 1/4″ lengths. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes to enhance their health-promoting qualities before steaming.

This article was taken from The World’s Healthiest Foods website,

Dinner with the Doctor helps the community

Dinner with the Doctor helps the community


“Dinner with the Doctor” is attracting many individuals from the community to the Dunlap, Tennessee SDA church. Charles Cleveland (HER President), is host of the program and has a great team of church members who do a fantastic job of presenting a tasty plant based diet. The program is conducted on the 2nd Monday evening of the month and alternates between a full dinner meal one month and a night of multiple food demonstrations the next month; all programs include a health lecture also.

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