By Dr. Mercola
Despite strong opposition, on June 24 the US Senate passed the Fast Track bill1,2 (known as Trade Promotion Authority or TPA) that gives the President carte blanche to negotiate and finalize free trade deals in complete secrecy, which brings us one step closer to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP, which appears to be nothing short of a corporate takeover of global powers, has the legal ability to thwart all future attempts at protecting the public from genetically engineered (GE) foods, and for this (and many other reasons) mustbe stopped.
As explained by Ben Beachy and Ben Lilliston in recent interviews, the TPP, which involves the United States and 11 other countries around the Pacific Rim, is a vast expansion of terms already found in the notoriously unpopular North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
If ratified, the TPP will have tremendous ramifications for our health, economy, and environmental protections—not to mention the loss of individual, state, and national rights, as it sets up binding rules that supersede US law.
As noted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation3 (the primary concern of which is the TPP's impact on digital regulations), we have but one narrow window of opportunity left.
The Fast Track legislation does force the White House to release the final trade agreement text 60 days before Congress votes on it, giving us a two-month long window to dissect it and convince our lawmakers not to ratify it.
In the meantime, we need to continue hammering our representatives, driving home the message that we will not accept a yes vote on TPP. Nor will we accept a yes vote on the Pompeo bill, which would also eliminate state rights to label and regulate GMOs.
- Find your congressman by clicking this link
- Write down what you will say. You can use facts in this article and other articles discussing the free trade deal, but tell them to oppose the TPP when it comes up for vote
- Rehearse what you will say
- Remember to be respectful
So please, contact your member of Congress and tell them to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). While Fast Track passed, we may still prevent the TPP from becoming reality if we can convince Congress to vote against the ratification of it.
The time to apply pressure is right NOW. In addition to the source above, you can also find contact information for your state's Congressman and additional information on the TPP via StopFastTrack.com, and ExposetheTPP.org.
Dissenting Lawmakers Punished
While it's quite clear that contentious legislation slides through easier when enough palms have been greased, it's rare to hear lawmakers speak out about it, and rarer still to hear them talk about retaliation when they refuse to go along with lobbying efforts.
Rep. Mark Meadows was stripped of his position as House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee chairman after voting against the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill—one of two bills that originally had to pass in order to advance Trade Promotion Authority.
Days later, Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) reinstated him, saying:4
"A number of people have asked me to reconsider that decision. Having spoken with Mark Meadows several times during the past week, I think we both better understand each other.
It is in the best interest of the committee to move forward together. Therefore, I have asked Mark to continue in his role as sub-committee chairman."
According to the Washington Examiner:5
"The reversal is a victory for the dozens of conservative lawmakers who regularly buck the GOP leadership on key legislation because they believe it violates promises they made to constituents.It also comes on the same day that House GOP freshmen decided not to remove Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., as their class president after he voted against advancing the trade bill.
Many conservatives, including Meadows and Buck, belong to the newly formed House Freedom Caucus, which met this week to discuss ways they can defend themselves against retaliation by the GOP leadership. GOP leadership turned to punitive measures after the majority of the Republican conference complained to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that the rebel group was never punished for continually defying the leadership on key votes."
In addition to Meadows, three other Republicans were removed from the Republican whip team for voting against Fast Track. None of them have been reinstated.
Corporate Takeover of United States Threatens on Two Fronts
It's quite clear that thwarting all efforts to label and/or restrict GE foods is now among the prime objectives on both the national and global level. Not only will the TPP dampen such efforts, the Pompeo "DARK" Act (HR 1599, "The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act"6,7,8) specifically preempts states' rights to create their own GMO food labeling laws.
It should come as no surprise that the Grocery Manufacturer's Association (GMA) has played an integral role in the creation of this draconian bill, seeing how far it has gone already to keep you in the dark about the contents of your food.
Not only was it caught in an illegal money-laundering scheme during the Washington State GMO labeling campaign in 2013, designed to hide the identities of the donors to their anti-labeling campaign, it also (unsuccessfully) sued Vermont for passing a GMO labeling bill. The GMA is nothing if not a workhorse for Monsanto.
The latest expanded version of the Pompeo bill also preempts any and all state and local regulation of GE crops, and further weakens federal oversight.9 So, not only would it nullify existing regulation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), it also prohibits future laws from even being considered.
What does all of this tell you? If GMOs were as safe as proponents claim, why would the industry go to such lengths, at such great expense, to deny consumers the right to know they're eating them, and to strangle regulatory oversight?
Moreover, rather than simply labeling foods containing GMOs, Pompeo's bill would require the creation of a USDA non-GMO certification program similar to its National Organic Program—essentially shifting all of the costs over to those who want to declare that their foods are not GMO.
But why should foodmakers using historically "normal" and genetically unadulterated ingredients be the one shouldering the cost of certification and labeling instead of labeling GMOs? This entire system is backasswards. If GMOs were labeled, as they rightfully should be, there would be no need for GMO-free labeling, which is really just a workaround to give consumers what they want—the right to make an informed purchasing decision.
GMO Safety Based on Flawed Arguments
The arguments for GMO safety are inherently flawed. The primary ingredients derived from GE crops for human consumption is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)—the number one source of calories for Americans—sugar from GE sugar beets, and highly processed industrial vegetable oils from soy and cottonseed. All of these ingredients have been clearly demonstrated by science to be primary causes of disease in the US, producing obesity, heart disease, cancer, and chronic poor health.
So even if these crops weren't genetically modified, they would be a health disaster, but adding resistance to a toxic poison like glyphosate turns these foods into a health time-bomb. Researchers have convincingly shown that these crops absorb more glyphosate than treated non-GE crops.10
Glyphosate was recently classified as a Class 2A "probable human carcinogen" by the World Health Organization's (WHOs) research arm on cancer, and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) admits foods are not tested for glyphosate residues due to the high expense of doing so.11 So, GE corn, soy, cottonseed, and sugar beets are known to contain higher levels of a probable carcinogen, which the government does not test for—that in and of itself is cause for labeling GMOs. Yet no one has addressed these basic and indisputable points on safety during any of the Pompeo bill hearings. The fact that so many lawmakers are willing to sacrifice public health for Monsanto's financial gain is astounding.
Monsanto Invests in More Toxic Chemicals
Monsanto began as a war chemical company, and it shows no signs of changing its ways. Not only is it trying to buy Syngenta, the world's largest pesticide producer, it also plans to invest at least $1 billion in a dicamba pesticide production facility.12 Dicamba-13 and 2,4-D-resistant GE crops are in the pipeline since glyphosate resistance has spread among weeds, and yet again Monsanto proves it is in the business of selling toxins, not food.
Monsanto's new Roundup Ready Xtend cotton and soybeans are engineered to be resistant to a combination of glyphosate and dicamba, while Dow AgroSciences' new breed of Enlist Duo corn and soybeans are resistant to a combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D.
Remember, glyphosate has now been classified a probable human carcinogen. Recent research also shows that Monsanto's Roundup formulation promotes antibiotic resistance by priming pathogens to more readily become resistant to antibiotics. The World Health Organization's cancer research agency also recently placed 2,4-D on its list of Class 2B "possible" carcinogens. As reported by Greenwire.14
"According to a press release from the International Agency on the Research of Cancer, there is 'strong evidence' that 2,4-D induces oxidative stress, a mechanism that can cause damage to human cells, and moderate evidence that 2,4-D suppresses the immune system, based on animal studies."
Basically, the vast majority of the corn and soy found in American processed foods is grown with carcinogens, and the chemical technology industry now running the food industry is hell-bent on not disclosing these toxic facts—and our politicians are letting them get away with it. Adding insult to injury, Monsanto is now performing linguistic gymnastics in an effort to hide the exact nature of these toxins by referring to them as "seed and crop protectants" instead of herbicides and pesticides.15
The chemical technology industry as a whole is also trying to rename and rebrand itself to disguise its true nature. On June 17, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) renamed itself the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.16 Basically, they want to remove the idea of "industry" from the industry, as this word has acquired increasingly negative connotations associated with world domination and lack of concern for anyone but share holders.
Protect Your Right to Know
In a short but excellent and to the point op-ed published by The Hill,17 Mark Mellman sums up the current situation by saying:
"Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) is moving a bill dubbed the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, which would make it illegal for states to require labels indicating whether foods contain genetically modified organisms, quashing states' rights.
It also makes a mockery of another right: Do you believe you have the right to decide for yourself whether to eat GMO foods?...[D]enying consumers the right to know what's in their food makes it effectively impossible for consumers to exercise their right to decide.p
Members jumping on Pompeo's bandwagon are not only flouting common sense, they are defying public opinion. Eighty-eight percent of voters favor 'requiring labels for foods that have been genetically modified or contain genetically modified ingredients,' with more than 70 percent saying they are strongly in favor.
Just 6 percent of the electorate oppose requiring labels... In standing against GMO labeling, Pompeo and the other members supporting his bill are standing with less than 6 percent of the electorate...
So what's Pompeo's purpose?...[H]e says he worries that labeling will increase food prices. Really? Printing the words 'Contains GMOs' will raise the price of food? Companies regularly change their labels and don't hike their prices. Does the cost of a box of Wheaties go up every time a new champion is pictured on the front of the box? The federal government is already requiring changes to be implemented soon in nutrition labels. Piggyback GMO labeling on that and the incremental cost is literally zero."
Take Immediate Action: Tell Your Congressman to Vote NO on Pompeo's Bill, HR1599
More than 60 other nations, including Russia and China, already require GE foods to be labeled, and nearly 90 percent of Americans want GMO labeling. Pompeo's bill simply MUST be stopped, but to do so we need everyone to put pressure on your federal representatives. Demand they vote NO on the Pompeo bill. We need to do everything we possibly can to prevent it from passing, so please, take action now! Tell your representative to support consumer and state rights by rejecting Rep. Pompeo's bill, H.R. 1599.
What You Need to Know About Trade Agreements and Fast Track
Driving GMOs and Monsanto’s Roundup off the Market
By Dr. Mercola
Across the US and much of the world, farmers are planting Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) “Bt corn,” which is equipped with a gene from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
It produces Bt toxin—a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them. In addition to Bt corn, Monsanto also created Roundup Ready corn and soy, which are engineered to withstand contamination with otherwise lethal doses of Monsanto's herbicide Roundup.
Yet, genetic modification isn’t only being used to create plants with built-in pesticides and herbicide tolerance. Plants and animals alike are also being genetically engineered to express pharmaceutical products and various other traits.
‘Pharming’ Turns Plants and Animals into Drugs
“Pharming,” or modifying plants and animals with pharmaceuticals began around the year 2000 and has steadily increased since.
Like all genetic modification, this is a highly experimental process that could have disastrous outcomes if the end products become intermingled with the natural environment. As reported by Nutrition Prescription:1
“In animal pharming the host animals’ DNA is genetically engineered to express a pharmaceutical in the animals milk... hopefully.
For example, a cow or goat can be genetically engineered to give milk that will provide medication. Specific examples include vaccinations, blood clotting medications, and medications that fight eye and lung infections.
It’s a risky prospect for the animal because the genetic engineering disrupts normal gene function and DNA processes. Of course there are animal rights issues here, however the major concern is that food systems could become contaminated with pharmaceutical products.
…Pharming projects are also being conducted with plants, using corn and potatoes bioengineered with, for example, cystic fibrosis and antibacterial medications. The biotech companies are in France and Germany, but they work with farms in the US…
Major concerns with bio-pharming are, again, that food or feed crops may become contaminated with the pharmaceutical products, and also that the products may have negative effects on natural ecosystems.”
Vaccines in Your Milk?
In 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first drug produced by livestock that had been bioengineered to express a human gene. In that case, the protein was extracted from the milk of GM goats.
In 2012, researchers introduced DNA coding for the malaria parasite into the goat genome linked to milk production. The DNA was supposed to "switch on" only in the mammary gland when the goat produces milk.
The experiment was geared toward producing a malaria vaccine for third-world countries, with the ultimate goal being that eventually children will be able to become vaccinated simply by drinking the milk.
As we've seen in the past with genetically modified plants, genetically engineered vaccine-producing animals might enter the food supply unexpectedly -- exposing unintended recipients to the vaccine.
Or the animals might escape and breed with others, passing these bioengineered genes on with unpredictable consequences. Even the technology itself is risky at best, because when animals are exposed to foreign DNA, literally anything can happen…
Lamb with Jellyfish Gene Enters the Food Supply, Probably Eaten
A perfect example of the seriously lacking safety surrounding GMOs occurred in France late last year. Researchers were working with a sheep, Emeraude, that had been genetically modified with the green florescent protein gene of a jellyfish.
The gene reportedly helped the researchers study the sheep heart while looking for ways to restore heart function after heart attacks.
A ewe of the GM sheep, Rubis, which would therefore also carry the jellyfish gene, was then mixed with non-GM sheep and sent off to a slaughterhouse, where it most likely ended up in the food supply for human consumption. This is thought to have occurred in October 2014 in the Paris region.2
Adding another layer to the story, it doesn’t look like this was a mistake. Rather, it’s thought one of the researchers intentionally did away with the GM lamb as a “malicious act” after an internal dispute. According to the Washington Post:3
“…allegedly, the modified lamb was purposefully mixed in with non-modified sheep and sent off to a slaughterhouse… INRA [the National Institute for Agronomic Research] representatives blame the tension between researchers at the facility for the act, and have suspended one individual pending an investigation.”
INRA was quick to say there was no risk to public health from the experimental meat, but no safety studies were given to back up this assessment. The sheep were being produced for research purposes only, so it’s likely no safety assessments on consuming the animals were conducted. It’s also illegal to sell GM food in France.
GM Corn Modified with Hepatitis B Vaccine Grown with Little Oversight
Clearly the supposed safeguards in place to keep experimental GM crops and animals separate from the food supply are not working. In many cases, many experimental GM crops are not getting the oversight necessary to prevent environmental or public-health catastrophes.
GM “pharmaceutical” corn that is being used in an experimental trial for hepatitis B vaccine is being grown in an environmentally sensitive area along California’s central coast, just 100 feet from a critical habitat for threatened wildlife species.
According to data obtained by Hearst Newspapers under Freedom of Information laws, already two ‘incidents’ have been reported. SF Gate reported:4
“At a secret location among the vineyards of California's Central Coast, a plot of genetically engineered corn is producing proteins for industrial and pharmaceutical uses, including an experimental vaccine for hepatitis B.
The altered corn is growing with federal approval 100 feet from a steelhead stream in San Luis Obispo County, in designated critical habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog.
Agriculture Department inspectors have reported two ‘incidents’ at the site, including conventional corn sprouting in a 50-foot fallow zone, but the findings did not rise to the level of a fine or even to a formal notice of noncompliance for the company that planted it, Applied Biotechnology Institute Inc.”
The founder and president of Applied Biotechnology, John Howard, had previously founded another biotech company that has been banned from GMO trials because of contaminations in the Midwest that required a half-million bushels of soybeans and 150 acres of corn to be destroyed.5
GMO Trials Often End up Contaminating Nearby Land, But US Government Allows Them Anyway
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is tasked with overseeing GMO trials, typically takes a decidedly “industry-friendly” approach. In one unusual case, APHIS gave Gebbers Farms of Washington an approximately $20,000 fine for growing GM apples less than 100 feet from conventional apple trees.
The farm had already been previously cited for the same, along with failure to keep proper records and keep animals away from the test plot.6 This fine was a rarity, and according to investigations by Hearst, one of just two civil penalties issued since 2010, despite nearly 200 notices of non-compliance.
Issues uncovered by Hearst include paperwork violations, lost seeds, and GM plants growing where they’re not allowed. Monsanto alone, which conducted about one-quarter of the field trials in the US, has received 35 notices of non-compliance from 2010 to 2013.
They received one civil penalty in 2010 after experimental GM cotton was ginned, making its way into cottonseed meal and hulls that were consumed by livestock. Inspection reports revealed many problems with GM trials that show the challenges, and the impossibility, of keeping GM crops restrained to a designated area:7
- Heavy rains washed out test plots, increasing risks of GMO dispersal
- Wild pigs and cows have eaten GM crops, including GM sugarcane and GM corn, in once case after a gate was accidentally left open
- Government researchers planted GM barley in the wrong county and also moved GM soybeans across state lines without authorization
- An automobile plowed through a test plot of corn and was abandoned about a mile away (with GM corn found in the ditch)
The Risks of GM Crops Are Already Known…
While the risks of consuming foods that contain pharmaceutical drugs or genes from creatures typically not eaten have yet to be fully disclosed, there's very convincing evidence that GM foods, including those already on the market in the US, spell nothing but trouble for your health. In one review of GMOs -- an analysis of 19 animal studies -- it was revealed that nearly 10 percent of blood, urine, organ, and other parameters tested were significantly influenced by GMOs, with the liver and kidneys faring the worst.
In a human feeding study on GM foods, seven volunteers ate Roundup-ready soybeans. These are soybeans that have herbicide-resistant genes inserted into them in order to survive being sprayed with otherwise deadly doses of Roundup herbicide. In three of the seven volunteers, the gene inserted into the soy transferred into the DNA of their intestinal bacteria and continued to function long after they stopped eating the GM soy. In addition, Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, has documented at least 65 serious health risks from GM products of all kinds. Among them:
- Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce
- Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells
- The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning
- Several US farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties
- Investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products
Nutritional differences are also apparent. A 2012 nutritional analysis of GM versus non-GM corn showed shocking differences in nutritional content. Non-GM corn contained 437 times more calcium, 56 times more magnesium, and 7 times more manganese than GM corn. GM corn was also found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup), compared to zero in non-GM corn. The EPA “safe” level for carcinogenic glyphosate in American water supplies is 0.7 ppm, and organ damage in animals has occurred at levels as low as 0.1 ppm
From a regulatory perspective, GM crops are considered “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM counterparts. This means, in essence, that they are essentially the same, with no meaningful differences for your health or the environment. Yet, the problem, and it’s a major one, is that research has shown GM crops are not substantially equivalent to their conventionally grown counterparts, and they’re already being unleashed into the environment.
The FDA has (so far) not required labeling of GM foods because they are deemed to be “substantially equivalent” to non-GM foods. It is also due to substantial equivalence that no oversight or long-term safety testing has been required of GM crops.
Help Support GMO Labeling
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and had labeled it a probable carcinogen.
Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost” the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.
The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.
Recently, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) has reintroduced a bill (HR 1599) that would preempt states' rights to enact GMO labeling laws. This bill would create a federal government program to oversee guidelines for voluntary labeling of products that do not contain GMOs. It would specifically prohibit Congress or individual states from requiring mandatory labeling of GMO foods or ingredients. It would also allow food manufacturers to use the word "natural" on products that contain GMOs.
The Pompeo bill, ironically named "The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act," is proposing nothing if not inaccurate labeling of foods, by preventing you from ever learning which foods may contain GMOs. Critics of the bill have dubbed it the DARK Act, aka "Deny Americans the Right-to-Know" Act, which is exactly what the bill does.
Stopping the passing of the Pompeo bill is THE most important action anyone concerned about GMOs can possibly take right now, and the outcome will quite possibly determine the future of agriculture. It's the choice of a regenerative or degenerative food system; a choice of monoculture or diversity, of obesity or wellness, pollution, or nutrition.
TAKE ACTION NOW! Your local representatives need to hear from you! Please contact them today by CLICKING HERE.
Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
Non-GMO Food Resources by Country
Together, Let's Help OCA Get the Funding They Deserve
Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.
Watch Out: These Foods Seriously Mess With Your Health
A Challenge to Monsanto—Will the Biotech Giant Respond?
By Dr. Mercola
Every five years, the US Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) convene a 15-member panel to update the nation's dietary guidelines.
The panel's mission is to identify foods and beverages that help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, promote health, and prevent disease. In addition to guiding the public at large, the guidelines significantly influence nutrition policies such as school lunch programs and feeding programs for the elderly.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) scientific report is an integral part of this process, as it serves as the foundation for the development of the dietary guidelines.
Another remarkable turnaround is the Advisory Committee's revised stance on fats. As noted in a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) paper,5 the latest advisory report reverses nearly four decades of nutrition policy.
"[The new DGAC report] concluded, 'Reducing total fat (replacing total fat with overall carbohydrates) does not lower CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk…
Dietary advice should put the emphasis on optimizing types of dietary fat and not reducing total fat.'
Limiting total fat was also not recommended for obesity prevention; instead, the focus was placed on healthful food-based diet patterns that include more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and dairy products and include less meats, sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, and refined grains...
In finalizing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, the US Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services should follow the evidence-based, scientifically sound DGAC report and remove the existing limit on total fat consumption."
Research has consistently demonstrated that low-fat diets do not prevent heart disease. On the contrary, the low-fat craze has undoubtedly done more harm than good, as your body needs healthy fat for optimal function.
Unfortunately, the DGAC doesn't go so far as to set the record straight with regards to saturated fats, as it makes no firm distinction between healthy saturated fats and decidedly unhealthy trans fats.
Still, if the DGAC's conclusions on total dietary fat consumption make it into the HHS and USDA's final 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which will be published later this year, it will certainly be a step in the right direction.
Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Ditches Cholesterol and Total Fat Limits
Healthy fat and cholesterol have, for decades, been wrongfully blamed for causing heart disease, and it's like a breath of fresh air to finally see the advisory committee is taking note of the accumulated science.
With regards to cholesterol, the panel concluded it "is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption," noting the absence of a link between dietary cholesterol and heart disease.
Until now, the American dietary guidelines have recommended limiting dietary cholesterol to 300 milligrams (mg) per day, which amounts to about two eggs. As noted by Steven Nissen, chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic:
"Many of us for a long time have believed the dietary guidelines were pointing in the wrong direction. It is long overdue."
Similarly, the report recognizes that reducing total fat intake has no bearing on heart disease risk either. Nor does it reduce your risk of obesity. Instead, mounting research shows that sugar and refined grains are in fact the primary culprits.
Saturated fats are actually important for optimal health, and those with insulin/leptin resistance may need upwards of 50-80 percent of their daily calories from healthy fat—far more than the upper limit suggested by current federal guidelines.
As noted by Forbes Magazine:6
"[T]he recommendation to have no more than 35 percent of your calories coming from fats is over. 'Placing limits on total fat intake has no basis in science and leads to all sorts of wrong industry and consumer decisions,' said Dariush Mozaffarian, one of the authors of the new [JAMA] paper.7
"Modern evidence clearly shows that eating more foods rich in healthful fats like nuts, vegetable oils, and fish have protective effects, particularly for cardiovascular disease.
Other fat-rich foods, like whole milk and cheese, appear pretty neutral; while many low-fat foods, like low-fat deli meats, fat-free salad dressing, and baked potato chips, are no better and often even worse than full-fat alternatives. It's the food that matters, not its fat content."
A High-Quality Fat Diet May Be Key to Weight Management
The idea that a low-fat diet would help you lose weight has been proven wrong. Low-fat recommendations are likely to do more harm than good across the board, but may be particularly counterproductive if you're trying to lose weight.
Contrary to "conventional wisdom," mounting evidence clearly shows a high-fat, low-carb diet can be exceptionally effective for weight loss—provided you're eating the right kinds of fats. Sources of healthy fats include:
Olives and olive oil (for cold dishes) Coconuts and coconut oil (for all types of cooking and baking) Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk Raw nuts, such as macadamias and pecans Organic pastured egg yolks Avocados Grass-fed meats Palm oil Unheated organic nut oils
While trans fats found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils do promote heart disease, saturated fats are not only essential for proper cellular and hormonal function, they also provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet.
The high-fat, low-carb combination is therefore ideal because when you cut down on carbs, you generally need to replace that lost energy by increasing your fat consumption. By boosting total fat and reducing non-vegetable carbs, you effectively "reset" your body to burn fat instead of sugar.
Not only can this promote highly efficient weight loss, you don't have to feel like you're starving to do it. Fat (which burns slower than sugar) is far more satiating, effectively cutting hunger pangs. This was recently demonstrated in an Australian study8,9 published in Obesity Reviews. The researchers found that people who were on ketogenic (high-fat, low-carb) diets experienced a gradual reduction in overall appetite, despite the overall cut in calories.
According to the authors:
"Although these absolute changes in appetite were small, they occurred within the context of energy restriction, which is known to increase appetite in obese people. Thus, the clinical benefit of a ketogenic diet is in preventing an increase in appetite, despite weight loss, although individuals may indeed feel slightly less hungry (or more full or satisfied).
Ketosis appears to provide a plausible explanation for this suppression of appetite. Future studies should investigate the minimum level of ketosis required to achieve appetite suppression during ketogenic weight loss diets, as this could enable inclusion of a greater variety of healthy carbohydrate-containing foods into the diet."
Research into the health benefits of ketogenic diets has also revealed a number of other beneficial effects besides weight loss. Diabetes, epilepsy, and even cancer may benefit from a high-fat, low-carb diet. Drs. Thomas Seyfried and Dominic D'Agostino have both investigated the effects of ketogenic diets on cancer, coming to the conclusion that it effectively "starves" cancer cells, as cancer needs glucose to thrive.
The Importance of Omega-3 Fat
Another healthy fat that most people get too little of is the omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Approximately 60 percent of your brain is composed of fats—25 percent of which is DHA. Omega-3 fats such as DHA are considered essential because your body cannot produce them, so you must get them from your daily diet. Aside from benefiting your brain, they're also a potent anti-inflammatory.
Recent research10,11 shows omega-3 supplementation can help reduce inflammation in people with chronic kidney disease, but chronic inflammation is a hallmark of most chronic disease, including but not limited to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and cancer. So omega-3 is important for general, overall health, and can be beneficial no matter what chronic health condition you're afflicted with.
Swedish researchers recently found that seniors who eat plenty of fish and vegetables live longer than those who do not. As reported by Reuters:12 "Among more than four thousand 60-year-old men and women, those with the highest blood levels of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), which come from fish and plants, were significantly less likely to die from heart disease or any cause over about 15 years than those with the lowest levels."
Generous amounts of PUFAs are found in fatty fish such as salmon and herring. They're also found in avocados, olives, and raw nuts. Unfortunately, the vast majority of fish is too contaminated to eat on a frequent basis. Most major waterways in the world are contaminated with mercury, heavy metals, and chemicals like dioxins, PCBs, and other agricultural chemicals, which is why, as a general rule, I no longer recommend getting your total omega-3 requirements from fish.
Instead, I recommend taking an animal-based omega-3 fat such as krill oil on a regular basis, while simultaneously limiting damaged omega-6 fats found in vegetable oils and processed foods. These two strategies will help normalize your omega-3 to omega-6 ratios, which is an important consideration for optimal health.
If You Want to Eat Fish, Choose Wisely
That said, I do make one exception when it comes to eating fish.
The nutritional benefits of wild-caught Alaskan salmon or sockeye salmon, I believe, still outweigh the risk of potential contamination. The risk of sockeye accumulating high amounts of mercury and other toxins is reduced because of its short life cycle, which is only about three years. Bioaccumulation of toxins is also reduced by the fact that it doesn't feed on other, already contaminated, fish.
Moreover, neither Alaskan salmon nor sockeye salmon are allowed to be farmed, which is another safety factor. For a less expensive alternative to salmon fillets, look for canned salmon labeled "Alaskan salmon." If you want to be on the safe side, you may also consider taking some chlorella tablets along with your meal. Chlorella is a potent mercury binder and if taken with the fish will help bind the mercury before you are able to absorb it, so it can be safely excreted in your stool.
Besides wild-caught salmon, smaller fish with short lifecycles also tend to be better alternatives in terms of fat content, so that's another alternative if you want to eat fish. A general guideline is that the closer to the bottom of the food chain the fish is, the less contamination it will accumulate. Good choices include sardines, anchovies, and herring.
Cheese Is a Health Food
Cheese has long been demonized courtesy of its saturated fat content, but as the saturated fat myth has come under increasing scrutiny, this food may soon experience a revival as well. Many recent studies into the health effects of cheese have come to exonerating conclusions. Joanna Maricato, an analyst at New Nutrition Business, recently told FoodNavigator-USA:13
"Nutritional science, like all sciences, is constantly evolving. In the past, studies focused on analyzing individual nutrients and their effects on the body. Now, there is a growing tendency to look at foods and food groups as a whole, without pre-judgments based on their content of an individual content of an individual nutrient. As a consequence, amazing results are appearing from studies on dairy and particularly cheese, proving that the combination of nutrients in cheese has many promising health benefits that were never considered in the past."
Indeed, cheese—especially when made from the milk of grass-pastured animals—is an excellent source of several important nutrients, including:
- High-quality protein and amino acids
- High-quality saturated fats and omega-3 fats
- Vitamins and minerals, including calcium, zinc, phosphorus, vitamins A, D, B2 (riboflavin), and B12
- Vitamin K2 (highest amounts can be found in Gouda, Brie, Edam. Other cheeses with lesser but significant levels of K2: Cheddar, Colby, hard goat cheese, Swiss, and Gruyere)
- CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a powerful cancer-fighter and metabolism booster
Even if you're lactose intolerant, there are many cheeses you will likely tolerate as most of the lactose is removed during the cheese making process. There is a major difference between natural cheese and processed "cheese foods," however. Natural cheese is a simple fermented dairy product made with just a few basic ingredients — milk, starter culture, salt and an enzyme called rennet. Salt is a crucial ingredient for flavor, ripening, and preservation.
You can tell a natural cheese by its label, which will state the name of the cheese variety, such as "cheddar cheese," "blue cheese," or "brie." Real cheese also requires refrigeration. Processed cheese or "cheese food" is a different story. These products are typically pasteurized and otherwise adulterated with a variety of additives that detract from their nutritional value.
The tipoff on the label is the word "pasteurized." A lengthier list of ingredients is another way to distinguish processed cheese from the real thing. Velveeta is one example, with additives like sodium phosphate, sodium citronate, and various coloring agents. A final clue is that most don't require refrigeration. So, be it Velveeta, Cheese Whiz, squeeze cheese, spray cheese, or some other imposter — these are NOT real cheeses and have no redeeming value.
Raw Cheese from Pasture-Raised Animals Is Best
Ideally, the cheese you consume should be made from the milk of grass-fed animals raised on pasture, rather than grain-fed or soy-fed animals confined to feedlot stalls. The biologically appropriate diet for cows is grass, but 90 percent of standard grocery store cheeses are made from the milk of cows raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Not only does raw cheese have a richer flavor than cheese made from pasteurized milk, as heat destroys enzymes and good bacteria that add flavor to the cheese, grass-fed dairy products are also nutritionally superior:
- Cheese made from the milk of grass-fed cows has the ideal omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratio of 2:1. By contrast, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of grain-fed milk is heavily weighted on the side of omega-6 fats (25:1), which are already excessive in the standard American diet. Grass-fed dairy combats inflammation in your body, whereas grain-fed dairy contributes to it.
- Grass-fed cheese contains about five times the CLA of grain-fed cheese.
- Because raw cheese is not pasteurized, natural enzymes in the milk are preserved, increasing its nutritional punch.
- Grass-fed cheese is considerably higher in calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, C, D, and E.
- Organic grass-fed cheese is free of antibiotics and growth hormones.
Take-Home Message: You Need Unprocessed Saturated Fat—It's Good for You
Focusing your diet on raw whole, ideally organic, foods rather than processed fare is perhaps one of the easiest ways to sidestep dietary pitfalls like excess sugar/fructose, harmful trans fats, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and other harmful additives, while getting plenty of healthy nutrients. The rest is just a matter of tweaking the ratios of fat, carbs, and protein to suit your individual situation. One key though is to trade refined sugar and processed fructose for healthy fat, as this will help optimize your insulin and leptin levels.
Healthy fat is particularly important for optimal brain function and memory. This is true throughout life, but especially during childhood. So, if processed food still make up the bulk of your meals, you'd be wise to reconsider your eating habits. Not only are processed foods the primary culprit in obesity and related diseases, including insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, processed foods can also affect the IQ of young children. One British study14 revealed that kids who ate a predominantly processed food diet at age three had lower IQ scores at age 8.5.
For each measured increase in processed foods, participants had a 1.67-point decrease in IQ. Another study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics15,16,17 also warns that frequent fast food consumption may stunt your child's academic performance. For more detailed dietary guidance, please see my optimal nutrition plan. It's a step-by-step guide to feeding your family right, and I encourage you to read through it. I've also created my own "food pyramid," based on nutritional science, which you can print out and share.
Saturated Fat Phobia Lacks Scientific Basis
Heart of the Matter—How We Got So Far Down the Wrong Track in Our Efforts to Prevent Heart Disease
By Dr. Mercola
Ganoderma lucidum is a medicinal mushroom commonly known as lingzhi in China and reishi in Japan. As written in Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects:1
"In Chinese, the name lingzhi represents a combination of spiritual potency and essence of immortality, and is regarded as the 'herb of spiritual potency,' symbolizing success, well-being, divine power, and longevity. Among cultivated mushrooms, G. lucidum is unique in that its pharmaceutical rather than nutritional value is paramount."
In other words, this mushroom is valued for its medicinal effects above all else. It has been used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years. One of its more useful compounds is ganoderic acid (a triterpenoid), which is being used to treat lung cancer, leukemia, and other cancers.2
New research also suggests the mushroom may be useful in reducing weight gain and may even be a promising natural therapy for obesity.
Medicinal Mushroom Shows Promise for Weight Loss
Mice fed an unhealthy diet reached 42 grams in weight after two months. However, when the mice were also fed a high dose of the mushroom extract, they only reached 35 grams. Levels of inflammation and insulin resistance were also reduced.3
It's thought the lingzhi mushroom extract reduces obesity in mice by modulating the composition of their gut microbiota. The mushroom acts as a form of prebiotics that encourages the growth of beneficial microbes.
Previous research in humans has shown that lean people tend to have higher amounts of various healthy bacteria compared to obese people. For example, one 2011 study found that daily intake of a specific form of lactic acid bacteria could help prevent obesity and reduce low-level inflammation.4
Similarly, gut bacteria have also been shown to impact weight in human babies. One study found babies with high numbers of bifidobacteria and low numbers of Staphylococcus aureus -- which may cause low-grade inflammation in your body, contributing to obesity -- appeared to be protected from excess weight gain.5
Two other studies found that obese individuals had about 20 percent more of a family of bacteria known as firmicutes, and almost 90 percent less of a bacteria called bacteroidetes than lean people.
Firmicutes help your body to extract calories from complex sugars and deposit those calories in fat. When these microbes were transplanted into normal-weight mice, those mice started to gain twice as much fat. This is one explanation for how the microflora in your gut may affect your weight.
In fact, the featured study also found that the mushroom extract favorably decreased the firmicutes-to-bacteroidetes ratios in the mice, thus helping to reduce body weight.
The researchers even showed that transplanting feces from the mushroom-fed mice to other mice, a process known as horizontal feces transfer, helped the other mice to lose weight as well.6
Adding Mushrooms to Meals May Also Help You Eat Less
Another reason mushrooms may be beneficial for weight loss is because they are naturally rich in umami flavor. The flavors come from glutamic acid, which, in your body is often found as glutamate.
Umami is valued for making foods taste better. When an umami-rich food like seaweed is added to soup stock, for instance, it makes the broth heartier, more "meaty," and more satisfying.
Umami has a bit of a dark side in that it is chemically similar to the synthetic food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG is added to foods to give them more of that sought-after umami flavor and, indeed, both umami and MSG target the same receptors in your body.
One study found that adding MSG to soup stimulated appetite initially, but then increased post-meal satiety.7 Ultimately, this led the study participants to eat less throughout the day. This is clearly not something I recommend, considering all the health risks of MSG (and, in fact, MSG has been linked to weight gain).
However, there are naturally umami-rich foods that you can add to your diet to increase your satiety while boosting your nutrition as well, and mushrooms are one of them.
Research has shown substituting red meat with white button mushrooms can help enhance weight loss,8 and, as mentioned, mushrooms also provide healthy dietary fiber that acts as prebiotic platforms for the growth of probiotic organisms in your gut, which is very important for digestive health and weight management.
Shiitake mushrooms are particularly rich in umami flavor (this is why they're often used in place of meat in sandwiches), so try adding them to soups, stews, salads, sandwiches, and practically anything else.
Shiitake Mushrooms: Another Medicinal Mushroom Worth Eating
Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are a popular culinary mushroom used in dishes around the world. They contain a number of health-stimulating agents, including lentinan, the polysaccharide for which it was named.
Lentinan has been isolated and used to treat stomach and other cancers due to its anti-tumor properties, but has also been found to protect your liver,9 relieve other stomach ailments (hyperacidity, gallstones, ulcers), anemia, ascites, and pleural effusion.
One of the more remarkable scientific studies demonstrating shiitake's antitumor effect was a Japanese animal study,10 in which mice suffering from sarcoma were given shiitake extract. Six of 10 mice had complete tumor regression, and with slightly higher concentrations all 10 mice showed complete tumor regression. Shiitake mushrooms also demonstrate:
Reduced atherosclerosis11 Antiviral (including HIV, hepatitis, and the "common cold") effects Antibacterial effects Antifungal effects Blood sugar stabilization Reduced platelet aggregation Cholesterol-lowering properties12
The compound lentinan in shiitake mushrooms has been found to increase the survival rate of cancer patients.13 And, in fact, in Japan the top two forms of alternative medicine used by cancer patients are a mushroom called Agaricus subrufescens (aka Agaricus blazei and Agaricus brasiliensis) and shiitake mushroom extract.14
Shiitakes Are Known for Their Immune System Benefits
Shiitake mushrooms have impressive immune system-regulating properties. Long-chain polysaccharides, particularly alpha and beta glucan molecules, are primarily responsible for the mushrooms' beneficial effect on your immune system.
Research suggests, for instance, adding one or two servings of dried shiitake mushrooms was found to have a beneficial, modulating effect on immune system function.15
A study published in the Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, found shiitake extracts also stimulate the function and activation of macrophages, which are white blood cells involved in your body's initial response to infection.
Research has also revealed that a shiitake mushroom extract may help to eliminate infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) – a finding that makes perfect sense, since a strong immune system is typically all that is needed to clear up an HPV infection. As reported by Prevent Disease:16
"No health benefit is better documented for shiitake mushroom than immune support. In fact, the immune support track record for this mushroom is fascinating. On the one hand, numerous studies have shown the ability of whole shiitake mushrooms to help prevent excessive immune system activity.
On the other hand, an equal number of studies have shown the ability of shiitake mushrooms to help stimulate immune system responses under certain circumstances. In other words, from a dietary perspective, shiitake mushrooms appear able to enhance immune function in both directions, giving it a boost when needed, and cutting back on its activity when needed."
Mushroom Quality Impacts Their Nutritional Value
Ideally, you'll want to look for organically grown mushrooms, or those you know were grown in non-polluted forests, because they absorb and concentrate whatever they grow in — good OR bad. This is what gives mushrooms their potency, for better or worse. Mushrooms are known to concentrate heavy metals, as well as air and water pollutants. The medium in which they're grown in also important.
The US has about 200 commercial growers of shiitake mushrooms, for example, about half of which are grown in a natural forest setting using downed hardwood trees as the cultivation medium, according to The George Mateljan Foundation.17 The rest are grown in sawdust, and this is an important distinction. For starters, mushrooms grown outdoors in the sunlight contain far more vitamin D than mushrooms grown indoors. While indoor-grown shiitakes contained about 110 IUs of vitamin D per 100 grams, those ground outdoors in the sun (with the gills facing up) contained 46,000 IU. 18 Further, according to Prevent Disease:19
"The polysaccharides in log-grown shiitakes are readily available to the body, but sawdust-grown mushrooms may not have sufficient density to be absorbed and used as effectively. The hardwood logs organically and naturally provide all the nutrients that make the shiitake prized as a gourmet mushroom and a health food. Japanese consumers pay less than $4.00 a pound for sawdust-grown shiitakes, but will give $40 a pound and more for log-grown.
Most shiitakes available in the supermarket are grown on sawdust. The log-grown shiitakes go primarily to chefs and pharmaceutical companies. Consumers, who are not aware of the difference, are currently paying the same amount for both types, even though the wholesale price of sawdust-grown shiitakes is about half that of log-grown shiitakes. Log-grown shiitakes have a meatier texture and will vibrate when shaken.
The gills on log-grown shiitakes and on high-quality sawdust-grown mushrooms will be pure white and unbroken. A package of natural shiitakes will usually contain mushrooms of different colors, shapes, and sizes, and the mushrooms will have short stems. The mushrooms from artificial logs may all have the same conical shape, pale color and markings (or no markings). Low-quality sawdust-grown mushrooms with bulbous stems, yellow, broken gills and an ammonia-like smell should be avoided."
One way to know what you're getting is to grow your own. You can find a variety of DIY garden kits available online, which will eliminate any questions about what kind of mushroom you're eating.
More Reasons to Eat Mushrooms…
Mushrooms are not only capable of bolstering immune function and potentially fighting cancer. Aside from being rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium and minerals, mushrooms are excellent sources of antioxidants. They contain polyphenols and selenium, which are common in the plant world, as well as antioxidants that are unique to mushrooms. One such antioxidant is ergothioneine, which scientists are now beginning to recognize as a "master antioxidant."
Mushrooms also provide valuable nutrients than many are deficient in, including B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. One dietary analysis found that mushroom consumption was associated with better diet quality and improved nutrition.20 The beta-glucan in mushrooms even plays a role in fat metabolism and may help support healthy cholesterol levels. Shiitake also contains eritadenine, which has strong cholesterol-lowering properties.21 For more information, check out the infographic below.
Embed this infographic on your website:
Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the code.
Mushrooms Are Not a Silver Bullet for Weight Loss
Although mushrooms do show promise for supporting a healthy weight, they will not act as your "silver bullet" to magically make pounds melt away. Most overweight Americans have some degree of insulin and leptin resistance. Generally, in order for you to significantly gain weight, you must first become leptin resistant. Leptin is a hormone that helps you regulate your appetite.
When your leptin levels rise, it signals your body that you're full, so you'll stop eating. However, as you become increasingly resistant to the effects of leptin, you end up eating more. Many people who are overweight also have an impairment in their body's ability to oxidize fat, which leads to a low-energy state.
Dr. Richard Johnson's research clearly shows that refined sugar (in particular fructose) is exceptionally effective at causing leptin resistance in animals, and it's very effective at blocking the burning of fat. If you are insulin or leptin resistant, as long as you keep eating fructose and grains, you're programming your body to create and store fat...
This is one of the key reasons why, if you are overweight (which means you are also likely insulin or leptin resistant), it would be prudent for you to restrict your fructose consumption to about 15 grams of fructose per day from all sources. Not only will this help you to avoid additional weight gain, it will also help you to avoid further metabolic dysfunction.
You may find this fructose chart helpful in estimating how many grams of fructose you are consuming each day. Dietary sugar, especially fructose, is a significant "tripper of your fat switch," however, if you are serious about losing weight, you'll need a comprehensive plan that includes the following. This plan will help most people lose weight but, also, it will help you to gain metabolic health. So even if your weight is normal, you can follow this plan to ensure that you're metabolically healthy as well.
- Eliminate or strictly limit fructose in your diet, and follow the healthy eating program in my comprehensive nutrition plan.
- You can also use intermittent fasting strategically with this program to greatly boost your body's fat-burning potential. Intermittent fasting helps reset your body to use fat as its primary fuel, and mounting evidence confirms that when your body becomes adapted to burning FAT instead of sugar as its primary fuel, you dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease. Exercising in a fasted state (such as first thing in the morning) will bring it up yet another notch. A simple way to get started with intermittent fasting is to simply omit breakfast, making lunch the first meal of your day.
- Engage in high-intensity Peak Fitness exercise to burn fat and increase muscle mass (a natural fat burner). Also, strive to sit less (much less, such as only three hours a day) and walk 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day in addition to your regular exercise program.
- Address the emotional component of eating. For this I highly recommend the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which helps eliminate your food cravings naturally.
Mushroom: The "Antioxidant Superstar" Chinese People Eat Daily
Could Mushrooms Aid in the Treatment of Cancer?
By Dr. Mercola
It wasn't long ago when chia seeds were most well known for being spread onto animal-shaped terra-cotta pottery and growing into green "ch-ch-ch-chia" pets, with the lush greenery filling in for fur. However, those tiny chia seeds are useful for far more than making novelty items; they're incredibly beneficial for your health.
Chia seeds, which are members of the Salvia Hispanica family, along with mint, were a prized food to the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. "Chia" is the ancient Mayan word for strength, and the tiny seeds were valued for their energy-boosting properties.1
Today they're gaining popularity as a functional food item that supplies an impressive variety of nutrients in just a small dose, such as two tablespoons. Although they're mostly grown in Mexico and Bolivia, in 2014 the first US company growing chia seeds was established.
Originally, the seeds were being targeted as equine feed, but their benefits to four-legged animals extend to humans as well.
A Rich Source of Healthy Fats and Nutrients
Chia seeds are a quick and easy-to-use source of protein, healthy fats, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, all rolled into one neat package. Although they have similar health benefits to flax seeds, chia seeds may soon edge these out because they don't have to be ground prior to consumption, and they don't go rancid as quickly either.
In fact, chia seeds are said to last up to two years with no refrigeration, courtesy of the high levels of antioxidants they contain.2 Drew Rosen, nutrition and cooking teacher at New York City's Whole Foods Market Tribeca, told ABC News:3
"Chia seeds are going to absolutely replace flax seeds… They're the absolute best source of omega three fats on the market, hands down, when you consider the ratio of omega three to omega six."
Their high concentration of the plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is one of their major claims to fame. Chia seeds contain up to 40 percent oil, with 60 percent comprised of omega-3.4
ALA is considered essential because your body can't make it, so you need it in your diet—or its long-chain animal-based derivatives (like the omega-3 found in seafood and krill oil).
While chia seeds have been found to increase levels of both ALA and another omega-3 fat EPA, they don't increase the omega-3 fat DHA. While your body can convert ALA into DHA/EPA, it does so at a very low ratio, and only when sufficient enzymes (that many people are deficient in) are present.
This is why consuming animal-based omega-3s in addition to plant-based omega-3s is very important. That being said, the ALA omega-3s in chia seeds have been linked to a number of health benefits, including:5
Lowering triglycerides and supporting healthy cholesterol levels Lowering blood pressure and heart disease Anti-inflammatory activity Liver-protective properties Anti-diabetic action Protection against arthritis, autoimmune disease and cancer
In addition, chia seeds contain a number of additional phytochemicals, each with its own unique benefits. This includes myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol, known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties, and caffeic acid.6
Chia Seeds May Promote Weight Loss and Reduce Risk of Chronic Disease
In a study of 67 metabolic syndrome patients, those who drank a beverage containing chia seeds for two months experienced weight loss as well as a reduction of triglycerides and blood glucose levels.7
It's thought that the combination of fiber and protein in chia seeds, along with the gel-like texture it takes on when combined with liquid, contributes to feelings of fullness and satiety.
Among people with type 2 diabetes, supplementing with chia seeds for 12 weeks resulted in reduced systolic blood pressure and significant decreases in A1C, a measure of a person's average levels of blood glucose.8
Fibrinogen, a natural clotting agent that when lowered improves blood flow, was also decreased, as was an inflammatory marker called hs-CRP, which went down by 40 percent. What else is healthy about chia seeds?
Chia seeds contain about 10 grams of fiber in just two tablespoons. Mounting research suggests a high-fiber diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, likely because it helps to reduce your risk of a number of chronic diseases.
This includes type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Most people need upwards of 32 grams of fiber a day, but most Americans get nowhere near this amount.
Just two tablespoons of chia seeds provide 18 percent of the daily recommended value for calcium, 35 percent for phosphorus, 24 percent of magnesium, and about 50 percent for manganese. These minerals are important for bone health and as reported by SF Gate:9
"These nutrients help you prevent hypertension and maintain a healthy weight, and are important for energy metabolism and a part of DNA synthesis."
8 Ways to Use Chia Seeds in Your Diet
One of chia seeds' greatest qualities is how easy they are to use. They have a mild flavor that makes them adaptable to a variety of recipes, and they're gluten-free, which is perfect for those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or who are simply trying to avoid gluten.
If you're wondering how to incorporate them into your diet, TIME recently featured 8 delicious ways.10
1. Chia Seed Pudding
When chia seeds are soaked in water overnight, they take on a tapioca-like texture. Add some cinnamon or other spices and a bit of stevia, if you like, for sweetness and you'll have a pudding-like treat that can be eaten morning, no one or night.
For added crunch, add sliced raw almonds to the top. You can also try the Chia Pudding Parfait recipe, which was adapted from Vegan.com, below:11
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp. Himalayan or sea salt
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp. Himalayan or sea salt
- Measure out chia seeds, coconut milk, extracts, and honey. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or even overnight so the chia seeds absorb the moisture and become thick and gelatinous, like a pudding.
- Spoon into a glass or parfait cup.
- Add your favorite toppings and enjoy.
Chia seeds can be added to virtually any dish, from raw yogurt to applesauce to smoothies. Keep in mind that they will take on a gelatinous texture after they mix with a liquid, so if you prefer a crunch, sprinkle them on just before eating.
3. On-to-Go Snacks
While I suggest you use chia seeds in homemade items, there are ready-made pouches that contain chia seeds as a primary ingredient. Watch out for the sugar content of these, but if you're in a pinch they can make a decent snack on-the-go, even for kids.
4. Chia Spread
You can blend chia seeds with berries and stevia to make your own homemade jam. You won't need pectin because chia seeds gel-up just fine on their own.
5. Healthy "Breading"
If you're looking for a healthy, gluten-free breading for fish, meat, or vegetables, chia seeds make an excellent addition. Try them blended with finely ground nuts and your choice of spices for a delicious breadcrumb replacement.
6. Body Scrub
Chia seeds work well as an exfoliant and buffing agent to add to your beauty care routine. Spa Index has a simple recipe for a homemade exfoliating scrub using just three ingredients:12
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Mix the ingredients together and store in a clean jar.
- To use, dampen face and apply scrub in a circular motion to damp face.
- Allow the mixture to set for two minutes before using a wet washcloth to remove.
- Splash cold water on your face when you've finished.
- Store in fridge for 3-5 days.
7. Fuel Up After Exercise
Chia seeds are known for enhancing strength and vigor, so try adding them to your post-workout whey protein shake.
8. Chia Sprouts
Sprouts may offer some of the highest levels of nutrition available, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes that help protect against free radical damage. Many of the benefits of sprouts relate to the fact that, in their initial phase of growth, the plants contain more concentrated amounts of nutrients. Chia seeds are no exception, and you can easily grow chia sprouts at home to use raw in salads and sandwiches.
Chia Seeds: Does Black or White Matter?
Chia seeds come in two colors, black and white. Both colors contain similar amounts of nutrients like omega-3s, protein, and fiber, although the darker chia seeds may contain more antioxidants. Consuming a mix of the two colors is likely ideal. According to the Nutritional Science Research Institute, which has conducted studies to determine the effects of chia seeds in adults:13
"First we analyzed the white chia. Then we analyzed the dark seed. Although the nutrition analysis was almost identical we discovered that the darker chia had an additional important antioxidant, quercetin. It is well known that darker foods have more antioxidants than lighter ones. This proved to be so in the ORAC analysis. The dark seed tested at 80 micromoles TE/g and the white seed test at 70 micromoles TE/g. Our analysis showed that omega-3 chia contained one of the highest levels of omega 3s found in any food.
It also turns out to have the highest amount of antioxidants we have ever measured, equal to or greater than dark berries like blueberries. Chia seed has an ORAC of 98 micromoles TE/g for the dark seed and 70 micromoles TE/g for the light seed. It is one of the most powerful whole food antioxidants we know… NSRI has conducted extensive analyses on this food product and found it to be a versatile, user-friendly, exceptional and unique low-calorie source of omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants, complete protein, iron, calcium, and magnesium."
A Word of Caution About Chia…
If you have a history of dysphagia, or trouble swallowing, you should use some caution, especially when consuming dry chia seeds. There is at least one case study of a patient who swallowed a tablespoon of dry chia seeds, chased it with water and experienced intense dysphagia. The seeds can quickly form a gel-like ball that can partially block your esophagus, requiring medical treatment to remove. According to study authors:14
"When added to liquid, dry chia seeds immediately begin to form a hydrogel capsule, absorbing up to 27 times their weight in water."
So while chia seeds are a quick and easy-to-use superfood that can add valuable nutrition to your diet, do use caution when consuming them, particularly if you have esophageal restrictions or are giving them to children.
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