From the category archives:


Flax seeds: The Good and The Bad

by Ed

Ground flax seeds are a great nutritional supplement to most people’s diet. Flax oil is not.

The Good:

  • Flax is high in ALA, an essential fatty acid that has some health benefits.

  • Flax is high in protein

  • Flax is high in lignans, a phytonutrient that protects against breast cancer and other estrogen related cancers.

  • Eating ground flax seeds slows the growth of prostate cancer.

  • Flax is a good source of many vitamins.

  • Flax improves cardiovascular and colon health.

The Bad:

  • Most of the benefits of ALA are only realized after being converted to EPA and DHA, which the human body does very poorly. Fish oils are a much better source of these fatty acids.

  • The oils in flax seeds go rancid very quickly. Flax oil is almost useless for this reason. If you use ground flax seeds, it is best to use them immediately after grinding. Otherwise store them in an airtight, opaque container, in the refrigerator.

  • Flax seed oil actually increases the risk of prostate cancer. This may be due to an excess of ALA in the body. Ground flax seeds do not seem to have this problem.

If you are going to eat flax seeds, the ideal amount is about two tablespoons a day, of ground flax seeds. Although flax oil is very unstable, it seems that the seeds are much less so. Apparently it is ok to eat flax seeds after cooking them. People who find raw flax seeds to be too laxative, have no problem with eating them cooked. So put them in muffins or sprinkle them raw on your cereal or salad.

Don’t peel away your health

by Ed

When you peel your fruits and vegetables you are removing some of the most nutritious part of your food. Many of the vitamins, minerals, and cancer fighting phytonutrients are most concentrated in the skins of fruits and vegetables. Skins and peels are also high in fiber. Eating your peels improves your immune system, helps control allergy symptoms, and helps protect your body against cancer and heart disease.

  • Apple peels are a good source of pectin, a fiber that helps control cholesterol and blood sugar. They are also much more concentrated in antioxidants than the rest of the apple, and research has found that they have anti-cancer effects.

  • Potato peels are richer in iron and B vitamins than the flesh of the potato. The peel is also rich in antioxidants, fiber, and potassium.

  • Citrus peels are high in several antioxidant chemicals. The white part of the peel is high in bioflavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory and antihistamine actions. They alsostrengthen the blood vessels and improve the effectiveness of vitamin C. According to Chinese medicine, citrus peels improve digestion.

  • Tomato peels enhance the ability of the body to use the lycopene in the rest of the tomatoes. Lycopene is a well known anti-oxidant that helps to prevent cancer and heart disease.

If you are eating the peels, it is even more important to buy only organic fruits and vegetables. The pesticide residues are not easily washed off.

For more on the benefits of organic produce, see this post.

water with meals

by Ed

There is an email going around about the dangers of drinking cold water with meals. It is highly overstated. Do not worry about it. This is the version I got:

For those who like to drink cold water, this article is
applicable to you. It is nice to have a cup of cold drink
after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the
oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down
the digestion. Once this “sludge” reacts with the acid,
it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine
faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine.
Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer.
It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.

As a practitioner of Chinese Medicine I do agree that it is best to only drink warm water with meals, but I would not worry about cancer. The science in the article above is just not sound. Drinking cold water is fine when exercising, as it is absorbed faster and helps to cool the body down. With meals, however you want to keep the digestive system warm, only because it has to work to warm things up any way. If you have weak or sluggish digestion, it will make a difference.

Exercise against Breast Cancer

by Ed

According to a recent study, 6 hours a week of strenuous exercise may reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer by 23%. The study also found that it does not matter when in life the woman starts exercising. So get out there and start today. Just one more reason we should all be exercising more. More on the study here.

Avoid plastic water bottles

by Ed

Today, almost everybody is carrying a water bottle. That is a great thing, as we need to keep hydrated. Unfortunately, plastic bottles can be very unhealthy. Many of them leach very toxic chemicals, and all are excellent breeding grounds for bacteria.

Over the past few years, the hard carbonate bottles have become more popular. This is partly because, they don’t leave a taste in the water. However they are one of the worst for leaching dangerous chemicals in the water. They leach a chemical that is in the class of hormone disruptors, which cause reproductive defects and cancer.

If you look at the bottom of your plastic bottle, you will see the recycle symbol with a number in the middle of it. The carbonate plastics are number 7. Parents beware, many baby bottles are also made from #7 plastic. #1 plastics are also very toxic.

The safest plastics are numbers 2, 4, and 5. But is you ask me, I would avoid plastic altogether. Switch to glass or stainless steel. Be sure to wash your bottle thoroughly, every day, and let it dry out completely. This will keep germs from building up.