Beware McDougall and Esselstyn followers. Those who choose no-fat or low-fat dressings for vegetables or salads may miss out on a significant amount of vitamins and nutrients, say U.S. researchers.

Lead author Mario Ferruzzi, a Purdue University associate professor of food science, and colleagues fed subjects salads topped off with saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat-based dressings and tested their blood for absorption of fat-soluble carotenoids -- beneficial compounds such as lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.

The carotenoids are associated with reduced risk of several chronic and degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes blindness, Ferruzzi said.

In the study, 29 people were fed salads dressed with butter as a saturated fat, canola oil as a monounsaturated fat and corn oil as a polyunsaturated fat. Each salad was served with 3 grams, 8 grams or 20 grams of fat from dressing.

The study, published online in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, found monounsaturated fat-rich dressings required the least amount of fat to get the most carotenoid absorption, while saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat dressings required higher amounts of fat to get the same benefit.

The soybean oil rich in polyunsaturated fat was the most dependent on dose -- the more fat on the salad, the more carotenoids the subjects absorbed. The saturated fat butter was also dose-dependent, but to a lesser extent, the study said.

Monounsaturated fat-rich dressings, such as canola and olive oil-based dressings, promoted the equivalent carotenoid absorption at 3 grams of fat as it did 20 grams, suggesting the lipid source may be a good choice for those craving lower fat options but still wanting to optimize carotenoids, Ferruzzi said.

I personally use extra virgin olive oil on my salads, and I also drizzle it on some steamed vegetables, such as yellow crrookneck squash and any kind of green bean. There is no foundation to bashing extra virgin olive oil. All of the research shows that it's good.

They're among the earliest known foods. Archaeological evidence suggests that tree nuts were a major part of the human diet 780,000 years ago. Several varieties of nuts, along with the stone tools necessary to crack them open, have been found buried deep in bogs in the Middle East. Rich in energy and loaded with nutrients, nuts and, particularly, their cargo of omega-3 fatty acids are thought to have been essential to the evolution of the large, complex human brain.

Researchers have long linked consumption of tree nuts, despite their significant fat content, to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and even Parkinson's disease. Now comes evidence that they also improve cognition in general and specific ways. Most have high concentrations of vitamin E, the B vitamins (including folate), antioxidants, minerals such as magnesium, as well as omega-3 fats, all of which support myriad functions of the nervous system.

Test best

Crack open some walnuts and improve your ability to think critically. Researchers find that eating a high concentration of walnuts (half a cup a day) boosts inferential verbal reasoning, especially the ability to distinguish true from false. An array of compounds in walnuts, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin and varied antioxidative polyphenols, protect the central nervous system and speed synaptic transmission. The significant supply of alpha-linolenic acid is essential for stability of neuronal membranes, through which all neuronal actions transpire.

Memory tracks

Although not strictly tree nuts -- they are the seed of a fruit related to plums -- almonds may help save your memory. Mice rendered temporarily amnesiac were more apt to remember their way around a maze 24 hours later if they first consumed an almond paste.

The evidence suggests that almonds slow the decline in cognitive abilities linked to Alzheimer's disease. Investigators attribute the memory effects to the presence of the essential amino acid phenylalanine and L-carnitine, believed to boost neurotransmitters essential to memory.

Waist not

A hefty handful of Brazil nuts can spare the obese the vascular damage associated with adiposity. An excess of fat tissue stimulates low-grade inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which can lead to cardiovascular disease.

With high levels of unsaturated fatty acids and bioactive substances that combat inflammation -- selenium, phenolic compounds, folate and magnesium among them -- Brazil nuts improved microcirculation, lowered cholesterol levels and normalized blood lipid profiles without causing weight gain in 17 obese female adolescents.

Almond joy

For the world's 20 million diabetics, almonds may improve blood- sugar control while decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. In a randomized controlled study, a team of Chinese and American researchers found that four weeks of an almond-augmented diet improved blood lipid levels, abolished a postprandial rise in glucose levels and reduced body fat in 20 patients with Type 2 diabetes.

The magnesium, fiber, monounsaturated fat and polyphenols in the nuts all contribute to the improvements in glycemic control.

Extended action

Pecans may slow the rate of age-related motor degeneration. University of Massachusetts scientists fed two versions of a nut- rich diet to rats specifically bred to develop motor-neuron decline. All pecan-fed animals outperformed control animals on subsequent tests of activity, and those fed the highest percentage of nuts outran them all. The researchers believe the high concentration of antioxidant vitamin E shields neurons from degenerative conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease.

The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting held in Houston was the site of a presentation on June 23, 2012 of the finding of a protective effect for higher levels of the steroid hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) against the risk of cardiovascular events in men. DHEA, produced by the adrenal glands, acts a precursor to the hormones estradiol and testosterone. Previously, other research studies have suggested an association between increased DHEA levels and a reduction in heart disease risk.  

Åsa Tivesten, MD, PhD of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and colleagues analyzed data from 2,416 men between the ages of 69 and 81 years enrolled in the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Sweden study, which was designed to evaluate risk factors for several diseases. Blood samples obtained upon enrollment were analyzed for DHEA and DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S)--the sulfate ester of DHEA which is the form of the hormone that occurs predominantly in the blood.

Over a five year follow-up period, 485 cases of fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular events were documented. Having a higher serum DHEA was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events, as was having a higher level of DHEA-S. Men whose DHEA-S was among the lowest one-fourth participants had a 25 percent higher risk of events compared to the rest of the subjects, and those whose levels of both DHEA and DHEA-S were among the lowest fourth had a 34 percent higher risk of any major cardiovascular event, and a 41 percent higher risk of a cerebrovascular event compared to the remainder of the group.

"Our findings may be the result of DHEA-S being protective, or that lower DHEA-S level is a marker for poor general health," stated Dr Tivesten, who is an associate professor at the University of Gothenburg. "More research is needed to understand underlying mechanisms and to evaluate the potential benefits of hormone replacement."

   I have been taking DHEA 25 mgs for some years.  I also test my blood level once a year to make sure that it is in the optimal range.  And keep in mind that my goal is to maintain it at a level consistent with a young man, not a man my age (61).  And it has been staying good and high. Yet, my PSA has been staying nice and low. I believe wholeheartedly in DHEA replacement, but I think it should be done responsibly, with blood monitoring.

This is an interesting take by Dr. John Cannell, the head of the Vitamin D Council. Although he avidly endorses Vitamin D3 supplements, and usually in high doses of 5000 IUs daily and sometimes more, he also thinks that people should continue to get some sunshine. He points out that we should not presume that Vitamin D production is the only health benefit of sunshine. And he points to the fact that in an experimental animal model of multiple sclerosis, that Vitamin D3 supplements plus sun exposure work better than Vitamin D3 supplements alone. That means that sunshine may be doing more than producing Vitamin D.

So, by all reasonable means (which means using D3 supplements, and not D2 and not tanning lamps) get your Vitamin D. But, don't stop taking reasonable sun baths. Of course, you shouldn't bake or burn, but get a few minutes of exposure over your nearly unclad body on a regular basis. The following is by Dr. Cannell:  

 

It’s becoming increasingly clear that strict avoidance of ultraviolet (UV) light significantly increase the risk of dying from internal cancers. Yes, the risks of developing one of the major cancer killers increase when we avoid the sun. In fact, Dr. Tuohimaa and company recently showed that the risk of developing almost all varieties of fatal internal cancers is less in those who spend time in the sun. 

Apparently, none of the organizations and government agencies with “avoid the sun” campaigns considered the possibility that avoiding the sun would harm anyone. Seemingly, no one thought about how UV light might help us. No one remembered that humans evolved in the sun, living naked in the sun for almost all of our two million years on the planet. Only in recent years did we start avoiding the sun. In other words, we started messing with Mother Nature.

 

"When the government and medical organizations began to tell us to avoid the sun in the early 1980s, they literally forgot to tell us to take a vitamin D supplement."

Furthermore, when the government and medical organizations began to tell us to avoid the sun in the early 1980s, they literally forgot to tell us to take a vitamin D supplement to make up for the vitamin D we’d no longer be making via the sun. Since so much vitamin D is made by the sun, you’d think the experts would have said, “Oh yes, be sure to take a vitamin D supplement if you avoid the sun.” Neither medical organizations nor the government did so.

Before you decide to just take a vitamin D supplement and completely avoid the UV light, think about a Greek word. It’s “hubris,” which means overbearing pride, presumption, or arrogance. If you decide simply to take a pill while completely avoiding all UV light, you are arrogantly assuming that modern science understands all of the beneficial effects of UV light and that the only good that UV light does is make vitamin D. You take pride that science is complete and knows everything. The Greeks abhorred such hubris and believed that the gods often punished it.

Let me give you an example. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a terrible disease. Dr. Becklund and Professor Hector Deluca of the University of Wisconsin were the first to discover that vitamin D retarded progression of an animal model of MS called “experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis” (EAE). While vitamin D suppresses the progression of EAE, continuous treatment with artificial ultraviolet radiation (as in sunbeds) works even better. He concluded that ultraviolet light was likely suppressing EAE independent of vitamin D production, and that vitamin D supplementation alone cannot replace UV light in an animal model of MS. If true in humans, it means that UV light contains something good in addition to vitamin D.

The wisest course is to get safe, short, reasonable, and regular full-body exposures during the warm months and judiciously use low-pressure UV beds and vitamin D supplements in the winter, recognizing that scientists and doctors don’t know everything. In fact, they got us into this vitamin D deficiency epidemic in the first place. Keep in mind that your ancestors evolved naked on the savannahs of equatorial Africa, eating bugs and roots from the ground with the sun shining directly overhead. Humans have a long evolutionary bond with the sun. When, with hubris, you sever the relationship between yourself and UV light, proceed at your peril.

I am in conflict with those that say extra virgin olive oil is bad. And don’t get me wrong: I don’t think we should pour it over food like water. It is oil, and we should respect that and use it appropriately, which is moderately. But used moderately, I think it is very good, and I use it moderately myself- every day. My opponents point out that even olive oil has some saturated fat- but I don’t consider that a bad thing. They point out that olive oil has the same caloric density as other fats, ignoring the fact that olive oil has been shown to be “thermogenic” and not inclined to induce bodily fattiness. There are plenty of people who use olive oil regularly and stay lean. And they point to some studies that they consider indicative of a negative effect from olive oil. Of course, they just ignore the many studies that show positive effects.

But, just last month a study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition about olive oil which had a truly impressive finding.

It found that people who ate olive oil had a lower risk of dying.

You have to realize that we can talk about specific factors like HDL, LDL, endothelial function, etc. but the bottom line always comes down to one thing: staying alive. So, when you have a study in which a group of people stayed alive better, that’s as good as it gets when it comes to outcomes. And that’s why I suspect that the opponents of olive oil are not going to talk about this study.  

A study published online on May 30, 2012 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found an association between greater olive oil intake and a lower risk of dying over an average of 13.4 years of follow-up.

Spanish researchers analyzed data from 40,622 men and women residing in Spain who were aged 29 to 69 years upon recruitment to the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Spain). Interview responses concerning foods and drinks typically consumed were analyzed for olive oil and caloric intake.

Over a follow-up period beginning in 1992-1993 and ending 2006-2009, there were 416 deaths from cardiovascular disease, 956 cancer deaths and 417 deaths from other causes. Cause of death was not determined for 126 subjects. Participants whose olive oil intake was among the top one-fourth of participants had a 26 percent lower risk of dying of any cause and a 44 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease compared to those who did not consume olive oil. While there appeared to be no protection conferred by olive oil against the risk of dying from cancer, the risk of mortality from causes other than cancer or heart disease was reduced by 38 percent for those whose olive oil intake was greatest. However, the authors remark that there is evidence that olive oil may be protective against specific types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.

Olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E and phenolic compounds such as hydroxytyrosol, which is one of the most powerful antioxidants known, all of which may play a role in the protection against chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease. The authors note that olive oil has been shown to improve systemic inflammation and glycemic control in randomized clinical trials.

"To our knowledge, this is the first prospective study to show that olive oil consumption reduces the risk of mortality in a healthy Mediterranean population," the authors announce. "Our findings provide further evidence on the effects that one of the key components of the Mediterranean diet has on mortality and support the need to preserve the habitual use of olive oil within this healthy dietary pattern.”

This is not a blog about cooking. It’s about vegetables that love heat, that is, growing in it.

I live in Central Texas where the summers are long and hot. We basically have two short growing seasons: a  short Spring season when the temperatures are mild and favorable, and a short Fall season when the temperatures are mild and favorable. With a little effort, you can keep some vegetables growing all winter, such as kale, collards, and spinach. And there are also a few vegetables that can keep going in the 100 degree and higher days of summer.

And, I like the idea of having something fresh from the garden throughout the year. And now that June is upon us, which is definitely full-blown summer in Texas, let’s talk about heat-loving vegetables.

1) Black-eyed peas- I have written about black-eyed peas before,  and I consider them one of the joys of summer. Most people have never seen them, let alone eaten them, at least not the way I do. I eat them fresh! In the pod, and including the pod. When you pick them fresh and young from the garden, you can do that. I pick them when they are still green, yet with a nice row of peas. (I refer to the peas as biceps because that’s what they remind me of, a row of bicep muscles).  Then I steam the whole thing for about 10 to 15 minutes. They make very good eating. Sometimes, as you chew them up, there is a little bit of stringy residue that you might want to spit out, or not. It’s up to you. Overall, they are less fibrous than, say, corn on the cob. So, if you can eat the latter, you can eat the former.  And they are very nutritious, chock-ful of everything, including protein. It's rather like getting the benefits of a high-protein food and also getting the benefits of a green vegetable at the same time.    

Plus, black-eyed peas love the heat. As long as you water them, they’ll grow all summer no matter how hot it gets. But, to prolong the harvest, you do need to stagger them. Perhaps plant another row every two weeks so that they keep coming all summer.

Another thing I do with black-eyed peas is mature some pods to save for seed. The seeds I planted this year were actually my own seeds from two years ago. And I am going to save seed again this year for planting next year.

2) Okra-I love okra. I love all kinds of okra. This year I have two varieties: the classic Clemson okra and the beautiful red burgundy okra.  Both are very delicious. And nutritious. Okra is loaded with minerals, particularly calcium.  The great thing about okra is that it only takes one planting in the Spring.  Once they start bearing, they keep bearing all summer. No need to stagger them. They just keep going and going and going all the way until fall.

The secret to enjoying okra is to cook it right. I steam it, but I watch it very closely. If you undercook it, it won’t have the nice flavor and texture, but if you overcook it, it gets slimey. It usually takes right around 5 minutes to come out perfect. 

And another great thing about okra is that it calls for absolutely no butter or oil. It just doesn’t need it. You might want to use a little smattering of sea salt. But that’s all. Nothing else.  Delicious!

And okra is definitely a vegetable that is worthwhile to grow at home. Store-bought okra is rarely any good, and I rarely ever buy it. The reason is that they chill it too much. Okra does not like cold temperatures, and even the refrigerator is too cold for it.  And it will start to blacken when you chill it excessively, and that’s why supermarket okra often has black edges. If you have to store okra at home, your best bet is to wash it, cut off the ends, steam it for just a minute to blanch it, and then freeze it. It will keep very well that way for months and taste just as good as fresh.  Blanching and freezing of okra is a much better idea than prolonged refrigeration.

And okra is so easy to grow. And it grows fast.  But, I’ll warn you that if you start too early in the Spring, it may germinate, but as long as temperatures are cool, it won’t grow much early on. It does have to be hot to thrive. But once it does get hot, look out: because okra takes off like a weed.

So, there is no advantage to planting okra early. Wait until it’s at least in the 80s during the day.   

3) Malabar spinach-this is a variety of spinach, from Asia, that grows all summer and loves the heat.  However, it is not actually related to spinach, and it doesn’t even taste like spinach.  It tastes very mild. It’s not a bad taste, but there just isn’t much to it. However, like all green leaves, it’s very nutritious.  People don’t usually eat it raw; they usually cook it. But, you shouldn’t overcook it because then it will get mushy.  A very quick steaming is all it needs.  Tonight, for instance, I had whole grain pasta with tomato sauce and Malabar spinach. I also included some basil from the garden. Well, actually, the herbs we grow in a planter box. 

Malabar spinach is also a very beautiful plant. It grows as a vine with tiny pink flowers. And it will climb up anything nearby. For instance, I have tomato cages nearby, and it’s climbing up those tomato cages like crazy. And it will grow and thrive all summer long no matter how hot it gets. I say it’s nice to have a leafy green from your garden even when it’s hot. And Malabar is very easy to grow. It has no disease problems and not much in the way of insect problems either.  

We also grow the standard vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, squash, and green beans, but the only one of those that stands a chance of over-summering are peppers.  Tomatoes don’t set fruit in the 90s or higher. Squash gives it up once it gets very hot, and green beans play out as well.  Right now, we are swimming in tomatoes, and we’ve done well with all of them. But, I suspect that by July, it will be mainly okra, black-eyed peas, and Malabar spinach that comprise our mid-summer garden.  

This is a book by a Danish medical doctor named Peter C. Gotzsche, and below is a review of it by a surgeon and vein specialist named Bob DuPriest. So, what follows is Bob’s writing:

 

  • *   *    *     *     *     *     *    *     *     *     *    *     *     *     *    *

This is a great book. If you are interested in breast cancer you must read it. If you have concerns about ethics in medical research and the influence of self-interest, power, or money on research and publication, this is the book for you. If you are a woman undergoing routine screening, you will want to read this. If you are a physician that deals with cancer or women you must read this book.

This is the personal story of an heroic Danish researcher who was asked by the Danish Board of Health to “take a look at” breast cancer mammographic screening because of a pending vote. The book details a 10 year odyssey and battle to expose the truth and lies and harms of routine mammographic screening. Peter Gotzsche discovered that no one knew, or at least no one was discussing, the harms of screening, and further, that the benefits were vastly overrated.

The basic premise of screening, “find cancer early, treat it when it is small, results will be better,” is highly suspect. Does screening decrease the number of mastectomies? No, and you will discover why. What has happened to the incidence of breast cancer since screening has started? Why is there such an increase in the number of women being treated for non-malignant breast disease (called intraductal or lobular cancer in situ)? Has screening decreased the amount of advanced breast cancer? Clue: no. Why does a decrease in 5 year breast cancer mortality mean nothing?

If you start to get bogged down in the book, jump to the last few chapters. To see current recommendations from Dr. Gotsche see this: http://www.cochrane.dk/screening/mammography-leaflet.pdf

Finally, Dr. Gotsche will explain how to decrease the incidence of breast cancer by one-third.

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I, Dr. Cinque, haven’t read this book myself yet, but I know that many medical voices have questioned the efficacy of routine mammography. And keep in mind that it entails a significant amount of radiation to the breast- which is a carcinogenic factor- although less so today than years ago due to advances in the x-ray technology. And some have argued that the mashing of the breast tissue against the mammography plate might be having the effect of dispersing cancer cells and causing metastasis.

I can only tell you that if I were a woman, I would definitely not undergo routine mammography.

 

New research into prostate cancer has revealed that surgery has little or no benefit in extending the lives of patients.

The study, which has not yet been published, compared surgically removing the prostate gland with 'watchful waiting' and found there was little difference between the two.

Experts are believed to be 'shaken' by the news because thousands of men could have gone through painful and unnecessary surgery.

One expert, who did not want to be named, told the Independent newspaper: 'The only rational response to these results is, when presented with a patient with prostate cancer, to do nothing.'

The Prostate Intervention Versus Observation Trust (PIVOT), led by Timothy Wilt, started in 1993 and analysed 731 patients over 12 years.

It found that those who had an operation to treat the cancer had less than three per cent chance of survival compared with those who had no treatment.

The results were presented at a meeting of the European Association of Urology in Paris in February and were met with a stunned silence.

One urologist said that it definitely was not a finding the medics would be eagerly tweeting about.

Cancer of the prostate is the most common male cancer and affects 37,000 men every year with up to 10,000 deaths.

In half of all cases it is slow growing with suffers living for many years and often dying of another disease.

 

It is believed some specialists are now questioning whether the disease should be considered a cancer at all.

The surgery, known as radical prostatectomy, can often leave patients impotent or incontinent.

A consultant urologist at Guys and St Thomas' NHS Trust said that older men with typical prostate cancer are not usually offered surgery at all. However, he added that besides watchful waiting there is the option of radiotherapy, which should be considered. 

Dr Kate Holmes, head of research at the The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: 'Early data from the Pivot trial certainly suggests that surgery to remove the prostate does not provide any significant survival benefit for men with low to medium risk of prostate cancer.

I, Dr. Cinque, say that if you are not in pain and you can pass your urine normally, don't even think about having surgery. And I would be wary of radiation treatment as well. Instead, change your diet to an unrefined, plant-based one, take high-dose Vitamin D3 and other anti-cancer supplements, exercise, and leave your prostate alone. You don't want to mess with it.

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