Wakame Seaweed Salad May Lower Blood Pressure

Wakame Seaweed Salad May Lower Blood Pressure
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Seaweed salad is put to the test for hypertension.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

I used to think of seaweed as just a beneficial whole food source of minerals—like iodine, for which it is the most concentrated dietary source. And, indeed, just a half-teaspoon of mild seaweeds, like arame or dulse, or two sheets of nori a day, should net you all the iodine you need for the day.

But, “the intake of seaweeds is advised” not only as a whole food source of iodine, but also, evidently, “for the prevention of lifestyle-related chronic diseases.” Based on what?

Well, you’ll see this kind of reasoning: the Japanese live long, and they eat seaweed. And so, they speculate that seaweed might have something to do with it, based on suggestive reports. But, when you see lists, like this, of all the supposed biological activities some food has, you want to know is this based on clinical data (meaning on actual people) or so-called preclinical data (based on test tubes and lab animals)? When a study like this is published, talking about the “Effects of seaweed-reconstructed pork diets” on rats, what do you do with that information? Seaweed is one of the ingredients they’re trying to use to improve the “image” of meat products. So, they try to add grape seeds, or flax seeds, or walnuts, or purple rice or, whatever this is. I had to look it up: thong-weed. How’s that for an image booster?

You can look at epidemiological studies (meaning looking at populations). And, indeed, Japanese preschoolers who eat seaweed tend to have lower blood pressures, suggesting seaweed might have beneficial effects—which would make sense, given all the minerals and fiber. But, you can’t prove cause and effect with that kind of study. Maybe it was the other components of the diet that went along with the seaweed-eating.

It’s even harder to do these kinds of studies on adults: so many people are on high blood pressure medications. University of Tokyo researchers took an innovative approach by comparing the diets of people on low-dose, versus high-dose, versus multiple blood pressure medications. And, although they all had artificially normalized blood pressure, those that ate the most fruit and sea vegetables tended to be the ones on the lower doses—supporting a dietary role for seaweed. But, why not just put it to the test?

A double-blind crossover trial found that seaweed fiber lowered blood pressure, apparently by pulling sodium out of the system. I know they couldn’t use real seaweed, because then you couldn’t fool people with a placebo; but, why not just, like, put whole powdered seaweed in pills? This was finally attempted, ten years later.

Compared to doing nothing, they got beautiful drops in blood pressure. But, if you look deeper into the study, they desalinized the seaweed—meaning they took out two-thirds of the sodium naturally found in it. So, that still doesn’t tell us if eating seaweed salad is actually going to help with blood pressure. What we need is a randomized controlled trial with just plain, straight seaweed. But, no one had ever done that study—until this study out of Ecuador.

Six grams of wakame, natural sodium and all, led to a significant drop in blood pressure, especially in those who started out high. Side effects were all minor, and what one might expect increasing fiber intake. And, the nice thing about whole food, plant-based interventions is you sometimes get good side effects as well, such as the resolution of gastritis—stomach inflammation that they’d been having—as well as the disappearance of chronic headaches.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Silentpilot via Pixabay. Image was modified.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

I used to think of seaweed as just a beneficial whole food source of minerals—like iodine, for which it is the most concentrated dietary source. And, indeed, just a half-teaspoon of mild seaweeds, like arame or dulse, or two sheets of nori a day, should net you all the iodine you need for the day.

But, “the intake of seaweeds is advised” not only as a whole food source of iodine, but also, evidently, “for the prevention of lifestyle-related chronic diseases.” Based on what?

Well, you’ll see this kind of reasoning: the Japanese live long, and they eat seaweed. And so, they speculate that seaweed might have something to do with it, based on suggestive reports. But, when you see lists, like this, of all the supposed biological activities some food has, you want to know is this based on clinical data (meaning on actual people) or so-called preclinical data (based on test tubes and lab animals)? When a study like this is published, talking about the “Effects of seaweed-reconstructed pork diets” on rats, what do you do with that information? Seaweed is one of the ingredients they’re trying to use to improve the “image” of meat products. So, they try to add grape seeds, or flax seeds, or walnuts, or purple rice or, whatever this is. I had to look it up: thong-weed. How’s that for an image booster?

You can look at epidemiological studies (meaning looking at populations). And, indeed, Japanese preschoolers who eat seaweed tend to have lower blood pressures, suggesting seaweed might have beneficial effects—which would make sense, given all the minerals and fiber. But, you can’t prove cause and effect with that kind of study. Maybe it was the other components of the diet that went along with the seaweed-eating.

It’s even harder to do these kinds of studies on adults: so many people are on high blood pressure medications. University of Tokyo researchers took an innovative approach by comparing the diets of people on low-dose, versus high-dose, versus multiple blood pressure medications. And, although they all had artificially normalized blood pressure, those that ate the most fruit and sea vegetables tended to be the ones on the lower doses—supporting a dietary role for seaweed. But, why not just put it to the test?

A double-blind crossover trial found that seaweed fiber lowered blood pressure, apparently by pulling sodium out of the system. I know they couldn’t use real seaweed, because then you couldn’t fool people with a placebo; but, why not just, like, put whole powdered seaweed in pills? This was finally attempted, ten years later.

Compared to doing nothing, they got beautiful drops in blood pressure. But, if you look deeper into the study, they desalinized the seaweed—meaning they took out two-thirds of the sodium naturally found in it. So, that still doesn’t tell us if eating seaweed salad is actually going to help with blood pressure. What we need is a randomized controlled trial with just plain, straight seaweed. But, no one had ever done that study—until this study out of Ecuador.

Six grams of wakame, natural sodium and all, led to a significant drop in blood pressure, especially in those who started out high. Side effects were all minor, and what one might expect increasing fiber intake. And, the nice thing about whole food, plant-based interventions is you sometimes get good side effects as well, such as the resolution of gastritis—stomach inflammation that they’d been having—as well as the disappearance of chronic headaches.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Silentpilot via Pixabay. Image was modified.

165 responses to “Wakame Seaweed Salad May Lower Blood Pressure

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  1. I’ve read that only asians, for the most part, have the bacteria (macrobiome) to properly digest seaweed.
    And by properly digest I mean….”to properly breakdown the seaweed to allow usability of the
    nutrients and such in seaweed.”

    Some sort of genetic trait asians have? Evolutionary?

    Truth in this?




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    1. It would seem that gut flora has more to do with what one eats as opposed to genetic factors. Asian populations are better able to handle seaweed in their diets precisely because they eat more seaweed so their gut flora adapts accordingly:

      “Recent studies analyzed the gut flora of people across multiple countries and continents and identified two enterotypes. Enterotypes correlate with our diet and can change as our diet changes. Diets rich in animal protein and saturated fat are associated with the Bacteriodes enterotype, while diets rich in healthy carbohydrates are associated with the Prevotella enterotype.”
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/microbiome/




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      1. So did the Okinawans have both of these types of enterotypes? How about some of the other cultures (longest lived)
        that include animal products/fish in their diet? Do they also have a healthy, varied enter type that of both baceriodes and prevotella?




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        1. Since only around 1% of their diet was animal products, not a very significant amount. All the blue zones are similar, high on plants and very minimal animal products, so the good bacteria dominate.
          Since cutting out seafood when going WFPB I use seaweed frequently for their similar flavors and reaped benefits, so I doubt if ethnicity has anything to do with it. Besides, non Asian coastal populations around the world have utilized seaweeds just as long. I’m from New England and you couldn’t have a clambake without it!




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          1. Mmmmm clams. I remember those. Hey Christmas is coming! heh. How ya doing V tater? I made it back home ok. Tis spring and the flowers are blooming like crazy here ; )




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            1. Spring in November! What a concept! Christmas? Bah humbug! It’s finally getting cool enough here to enjoy being outside again, gotta love it! Talk to ya soon!




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              1. Middle of NZ North Island. We have lots of earthquakes and a few sheep and rugby. Thats a game where men run up and down the field for 80 mins….and then the All Blacks win




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          2. Same. I had a preference for oysters though. I remember my dad and I got 100 oysters one time when we were at the beach when I was a kid, and ate them over a couple days. Raw of course. I’m sure my body is still trying to rid itself of the mercury, PCB’s and other toxic crap from those things.




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      2. And, apparently, the seaweed/gut bacteria macrobiome evolved over thousands and thousands of years, unlike, I think, the enteretype issue you are referencing that has more to do with our gut bacteria changing quickly, daily, weekly, due to the diet. Apparently seaweed might be a different issue, and for whatever reason takes a culture thousands of years to adjust.




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    2. Hehemann et al, 2010. Transfer of carbohydrate-active enzymes from marine bacteria to Japanese gut microbiota. Nature, 464(7290), pp.908-912.

      Marine bacteria have long possessed the ability to digest the complex carbohydrates unique to seaweed. During their long history of eating seaweed, one gene responsible for this ability was transferred from a marine bacteria (Zobellia galactanivorans) to a common gut microbe (Bacteroides plebeius) in Japanese individuals. This appears to have happened a number of times, as numerous porphyranases and agarases (seaweed digesting enzymes) are found in the gut bacteria of Japanese, but absent from North American gut bacteria.




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      1. Yeah, I think i had read this somewhere else a ways back. Darryl, does this imply that those without the porphyranases and agarases therefore do not have the ability to properly digest seaweed? Is this select group
        of Japanese the only ones capable?




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        1. I’d expect other populations that habitually consume seaweed would have similar lateral gene transfers from marine bacteria to the colonic microbiota. 10% of Spaniards tested also had a glycosidase of marine origin in their gut microbiota, and one can find traditional paella recipes that include seaweed. Perhaps inhabitants of coastal Ireland and Scotland have (or had) seaweed digesting genes in their gut microbiota after centuries of consuming Irish moss. We just don’t know. For the rest of us, those odd seaweed complex carbs become bulking fiber, rather than fermentable fiber.




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          1. Laverbread is also a traditional food in Wales and some other parts of Western Britain. It is available in UK supermarkets (Tesco’s). So, the genes may not be that uncommon.




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      2. What do you think of this lab’s work showing many seaweeds are quite contaminated? http://labs.naturalnews.com/heavy-metals-chart-Superfoods-Sea-Vegetables.html

        What is about the structure of seaweeds and mushrooms that promotes their absorption of minerals, heavy metals, radionuclides? Don’t radionuclides displace corresponding minerals that plants or animals would otherwise uptake?

        As for Japan’s seaweed, what radionuclides would be more likely to collect on the sea’s ground as opposed to collecting in the water and thus travelling with the currents? What about strontium, which we know was released?

        As for cesium 137, which was also released by the continuing Fukushima disaster, it’s now made its way to our North American shores, and our Canadian scientists are starting to measure cesium in Pacific salmon. So far, those levels are “thousands of times below the maximum allowable [level] of cesium in our drinking water,” they say. New data should be out soon. https://eatandbeatcancer.com/2016/03/11/anti-cancer-news-fukushima-updatehow-safe-are-north-americas-salmon/




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    1. Unfortunately, most natural food will contain at least trace levels of pollutants, even those grown organically in ‘natural’ soil. It doesn’t mean, however, that this is always a palpable cause for concern. Theoretically, even though all seas and oceans are polluted to a degree, sea vegetables are low in the food chain, so there is less bio-accumulation of most contaminants.

      The biggest concern in seaweed is inorganic arsenic. Hijiki is known to have high, potentially harmful levels, but moderate consumption of most other sea vegetables, including wakame, shouldn’t pose a significant risk:
      https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/science/surveillance/documents/Survey%20of%20inorganic%20arsenic%20in%20seaweed%20and%20seaweed%20.pdf

      I don’t know if seaweed that’s grown in indoor tanks is commercially available (similar to microalgae used for DHA/EPA pills), but that might become a safer alternative one day.




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      1. All good points. I do worry because seaweed tends to be along the shores where runoff is a problem. I guess it depends where the stuff is harvested.




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    2. The scores of pollutants is frightening, but Fukushima comes to mind as the most overt, not to mention all the other atomic waste that gets dumped into the “bottomless” depths because out of sight, out of the jurisdiction of regulatory eyes!




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    1. The ingredient label on a prepared frozen seaweed salad, as thawed at your local sushi restaurant:

      wakame, agar, high-fructose corn syrup, vegetable fat and oil, sugar, sesame seeds, salt, vinegar, glucose syrup or starch syrup (“Mizuame”), hydrolyzed protein, cloud ear mushroom, red pepper, glucose, seasoning (amino acid, etc.), acidulant, food coloring (Yellow #4 and Blue #1)




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      1. The way that Japanese typically eat wakame is not in the form of the “wakame” seaweed salad that is pictured at the start of the video, it is in the form of unprocessed, plain wakame in miso soup or stews. The stuff pictured is not something that home cooks can make easily. Dried or fresh wakame, on the other hand, is easily reconstituted and is ubiquitous in Japanese home cooking. I am certain that all of the studies cited done in Japan by Japanese were referring to actual wakame and not to the wakame, agar, high-fructose corn syrup stuff pictured in this video.




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      1. Satsuma and Fabian: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I didn’t notice a problem myself, but since two of you did, it is worth investigating. I sent this onto the NutritionFacts staff.




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        1. Personally, I am not really bothered by it as I can still view the information that is presented in the video. Dropped frames only affect the video in a cosmetic way. This video by Dr. Greger is still good and informative to viewers.




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  2. This appears to be a small study that hasn’t been replicated (with seaweed that hasn’t been desalinized). Given the high sodium content of commercially available seaweed, I still feel reluctant to try it.

    I’m already doing as many lifestyle things as I can to lower my BP such as eating a whole plant vegan diet, restricting sodium, drinking hibiscus tea, consuming fax seeds daily, avoiding BPA, doing daily aerobic exercise, and exercising with hand grips. Anyone have any other ideas?




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    1. Hello! You are doing everything exactly right. Dr. Greger suggests “beans, whole grains, other legumes, beets, beet juice, cocoa, flaxseeds, greens, hibiscus tea, purple potatoes, and the seaweed, wakame,” in his hypertension page. Have you tried Vitamin D and Magnesium (watch out for diarrhea)? How long have you been on a low sodium diet? Since they add Iodine to salt, I have avoided it, and I developed in my opinion low Iodine levels. I had just one half teaspoon of salt and could no longer feel my heartbeat in my chest. I have since fallen in love with some salt. It takes at least a gram of salt a day to be healthy. I love Iodine. Dr. Greger recommends it. Beware of its heart benefits. Doctors say it is ideal to not be able to feel your heartbeat. Perhaps it is Iodine that modulates this.




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      1. I get regular sun in season and currently take one of Dr. Fuhrman’s multi capsules. (He recommends two per day.) This gives me a small amount of added magnesium, 1000 IU of D, and about half the DV of iodine. I also have a tiny pinch of kelp on most days. I haven’t tried added magnesium or beets. Maybe I should take two capsules instead of one because I do worry about iodine, and maybe I should give beets a try. I now consume virtually no so salt at all and don’t miss it. I’ve decreased it over the years and over the last six years or so it’s been almost zero. I do eat a square of unsweetened cocoa on most days. Thanks for your ideas!




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        1. If you lick your palms do you taste salty? The saltier your palms the more sodium you need. It is possible, according to orthomolecular psychiatrists, to be sodium deficient.




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    2. Potassium
      Blood pressure response to changes in sodium and potassium intake: a metaregression analysis of randomised trials

      Sodium reduction (median: -1.7 g/d) was associated with a change of -2.54 mmHg in systolic blood pressure…Corresponding values for increased potassium intake (median: +1.7 g/d) was -2.42 mmHg

      In the context of a WFPB diet, increasing potassium means favoring tubers and beans over cereal grains as staple calories, more greens & tomatoes, and using “lite-salt” (50/50 mix KCl & NaCl) where possible. I mail-order sun-dried tomatoes (the most concentrated potassium source) in bulk, and they’re my main “dried fruit”.




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        1. Just note that the inexpensive ones (~$7/lb) are generally Turkish and will have added salt. One can find salt free sun-dried tomatoes (~11/lb), which are a better option for those seeking to increase potassium to reduce blood pressure. Other processed tomato products are usually problematic, though low-sodium V-8 uses “lite” salt (50/50 KCl/NaCl) so isn’t bad for those seeking to increase their K/Na intake ratio.




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    3. I would suggest that you give it some time. Studies on plant based diets & BP show it can take years to improve. In working with patients at McDougall clinic we see a significant improvement fairly quickly. This is consistent with reversal of inflammation on proper diet see video: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/plant-based-treatment-for-angina/. It takes longer to clear out the cholesterol blockages. Pulling it all together in one video see http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die-from-high-blood-pressure/. As your pressures are improving you want to avoid over treatment. Dr. McDougall’s November 2009 newsletter article might be of interest as work with your clinicians. It is available free on his website. Happy Holiday and keep tuned to NF.org.




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      1. Thanks Don. I’ll definitely check out the newsletter. I’ve been eating a plant based diet for over forty years. I’ve improved it as I’ve learned new information (perhaps slowly), but I’ve been eating as well as I can for maybe seven or eight years. My total cholesterol was 115 when I last checked about ten years ago, but my BP rises over the course of the day and in the evening can get into the 140’s or on occasion even higher. This really bothers me, but I’d prefer not to take meds.




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    4. As Dr. McDougall would say, “don’t sweat the details.” In my case, 40 years of a disgusting and abysmal diet was not going to be fixed in a couple of weeks. But, after 16 years vegan and 1 year WFPB, I am fitter, leaner, and healthier than I was in my teens. I must say though, that the switch to WFPB really made a dramatic and visible change.




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    5. wow – you are really doing a whole lot. I”m impressed and good for you. I would echo what others have already posted. Beets and beet juice (as already noted) are great for relaxing blood vessels, opening them up and allowing for more flow. (don’t forget cooked beet greens! :-) I add canned beets (rinsed) to my nightly salads and I also have fallen in love with roasted beets. Roast just like a potato and remove skin afterword – yummy also in a salad with a horseradish or tarragon sauce (made with soft tofu) and a few chopped dates.
      Also – Chef AJ recommends using Benson’s salt free substitute called Table Tasty. They make a whole line of salt free spice mixes:
      http://www.bensonsgourmetseasonings.com/ with no icky additives.
      Here’s a list of high potassium foods:
      https://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/high-potassium-vegetables.php

      I don’t know if this helpful to you or not, but I very drastically reduced my grains. Although I am committed to WFPB, I am not as active as I used to be (getting older) and don’t burn off all the calories. So I make my carbohydrate base out of root vegetables and squashes instead of grains. The whole vegg, I feel, has more nutritional value than rice or pasta. So i now pour pasta sauce over cooked winter squash like Kobacha. It helps me to control my weight more easily. So I do not know if this switch in my diet is related, but I have since seen another drop in my blood pressure since this change. I started at 130/80 (pre-WFPB), dropped to 120/75, and more recently am at 110/65. I cook without salt but do add salt on top of the food, if I would like, just before it goes in my mouth. So I get the satiation of salt without all of the salt throughout the food. I also measure my salt allotment each day. The salt I use equates 1500 mgs (suggested amount/day) to 3/4 tsp which I put in a little salt dish in the kitchen. This is what sprinkle on my food. When it’s gone, its gone and no more for that day. However, I rarely finish it each day.
      If you try the kobacha squash, know that you can cook the skin and all and eat the skin as it is very tender and most vegg skins are loaded with nutrients.
      I hope this might be helpful to you. And good luck! :-)




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      1. And, . . oh ya, . . .this might be obvious, but don’t eat in restaurants. The two things restaurants just dump in food are salt and grease. Probably obvious but bears repeating. The only thing I will eat in a restaurant is steamed vegg and steamed rice. Then I can control what I put on it.
        Have a great live-Turkey day :-)




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      2. I also started to cut down on the processed grains Jeanne. I think the whole cooked grains are better than the whole grain flours. ( As we saw in one of the recent videos too. Better to feed your intestinal bacteria and then let them feed you.) I also notice I got a little leaner. I have my whole beet pasta sauce over polenta instead of whole wheat pasta now. Every Monday night. That’s tonight! Yea!




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          1. That’s right. I forgot about those. I’ve seen a number of alternative grain and bean pastas on the market recently. Will try. But I must say, polenta is hard to beat.




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              1. I buy the Frieda’s brand polenta Gatherer. http://www.friedas.com/organic-polenta/ It’s organic, fat free, and available just about everywhere. Pretty darn cheap too. It’s fully cooked so all you have to do is heat it up. I bake it on a piece of parchment paper in the oven at 300F for 30 minutes but you could do it in the microwave in a couple minutes.




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              2. Hi Gatherer – When i was a child my Mother would make us corn meal mush for breakfast. It’s the same thing as polenta and the recipe is on the side of Quaker Corn Meal boxes: http://www.target.com/p/quaker-yellow-cornmeal-for-baking-cooking-24-ounce/-/A-14777587?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Grocery+Essentials+Shopping&adgroup=SC_Grocery&LID=700000001170770pgs&network=g&device=c&location=9028745&gclid=CjwKEAiA9s_BBRCL3ZKWsfblgS8SJACbST7DmaxwnT9YnAwcKxLZRM6g0dIPiVXiPzojJrxoxRDjTBoC87rw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

                But it’s basically 4C water, 1C corn meal, 1 tsp salt. Boil water, cook corn meal till thick. My Mother would put it in a bread pan (same thing she baked bread in, about 4″ w x 9″ long or so rectangle pan). She’d let it cool then slice it and fry it to a crisp and serve with maple syrup and butter, like pancakes. I think these days I would broil it to crisp it up or just warm a slice in the microwave and serve with whatever strikes your fancy. Any summer fruit or canned plums would be good with a little maple syrup if you like a sweet take on it. If more savory dish is desired you could slather some green chile on top with smoked paprika, chopped onions, cilantro and tomatoes and make it a TexMex kind of thing. . . or . . .well the list could go on and on. One can make up a pan and eat it all week :-)




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                1. I wonder if it would be healthier to use blue corn meal? You would think it would have more anti-oxidant power. I think the blue even has more fiber, but then maybe that would make it not taste as good?




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        1. Hiya – your meals looks just great. Love it!
          Yes, I had cut out the processed grains (flours) years ago but kept the whole grains in my diet. Along with the legumes it was just too many calories for me. Both my weight and triglycerides went up. Fuhrman’s book suggests that if that’s the case to go to a ‘beans-n-greens’ diet, which I did. I found it very helpful. McDougall also states that if the weight becomes an issue to scale back on the grains and increase green and yellow vegetables. But what I have found is that I eat grains or root vegetables or squash but not all of them all the time. It’s a matter of more energy in than energy out . . . happens when we age :-) So I have to make choices and I have learned how to make this WFPB diet work for me. This is also what I love about this site – we get to share ideas that we can all benefit from. Thank you for yours!




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      3. Jeanne: Thank you for the reminder about the Benson’s spices. I’m a fan of Chef AJ and have been meaning to try that brand, but kept forgetting. So as not to forget again, I just ordered some! :-)




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        1. Thank you for doing that!! Because I am in the exact same boat as you!! I have been meaning to do it and just have not. So – like you – I pulled the cord! But here’s what I found (in case anyone else is inspired) – If i ordered one jar of Table Tasty the postage fee was $4.95. If I ordered 3 jars, the postage fee was the same. It increased when I ordered 4 or more. So I went ahead and ordered 3 jars and will use a couple of them for stocking stuffers for the holidays.
          Benson’s other spice mixes look really good I think. Might have to experiment there. :-)




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        1. RJS – I can’t believe I forgot this. . . since you’re working on your blood pressure, Dr. Esselstyn has some helpful info that I made note of after watching one of his 1.5 hr presentations. I’ll cut to the chase for you so you don’t have to hunt it down. If you’ve got cardiovascular issues, his strong suggestion is no added fats, not nuts or avocados, etc. until your issues have resolved. It takes a while for the body to clear the goop out of our veins and arteries. Read his book Prevent Reverse Heart Disease if you haven’t already. But anyway, we already talked about beets – because they relax the arteries and add nitric oxide to our bodies. There are other vegetables besides beets that he recommends because his research shows that eating these veggies allows the body – the gut – to create additional NO after chewing them. So his recommendations, besides beets, are: arugula, kale,spinach, and swiss chard. These veggies – according to Esselstyn – also dampen down the inflammation in the body. Can’t believe I forgot to include this before. Hope it helps. cheers!




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          1. Thanks again, Jeanne. Very thoughtful of you to respond. I do eat a moderate amount of nuts and seeds, probably several handfuls daily. I read Dr. Esselstyn’s book quite a while ago. Since then it seems the literature has been kinder to nuts and seeds. But I have a problem, so I’ll give that a try for a couple of months and see what happens. I do eat lots of dark greens. I loosely fill my Vitamix canister with chard, spinach, and kale every morning. Then I add an orange, a carrot, mixed frozen berries and/or cherries, a handful of almonds, two tablespoons of flaxseed, and a cup of hibiscus tea. (The taste is amazing.) For lunch I eat a large salad with dark greens, and for dinner it’s usually quinoa, beans and tomatoes with spices. There’s no salt anywhere, but I do snack on raw nuts. I’ve even thought of trying the Kempner diet (fruit and rice only), but I’m not quite there yet.




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      4. Jeanne, here’s what my polenta and beet sauce looks like. The sauce is just a quart of tomatoes, 4-5 whole beets with greens, an onion, crushed garlic, herbs and spices. Cooked down and served over baked sliced polenta with a side of https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/24ef85ec5f4b4792131c4975909fb525a0ea7d3f7dbc0b043da5e7f675882d4f.jpg green beans. Probably about 600 calories on the plate, 0 grams fat. My home baked, whole grain buckwheat bread probably adds another 150 calories and a gram or 2 of fat. (Sorry, image got rotated.)




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        1. I love delicata as well, especially the size of it. I often can’t find it unfortunately. Which is one of the reasons I went to kabocha. I used to go to butternut squash often but got tired of muscling it with that tough skin, trying to cut into it, the knife slipping, etc. The kobacha is so user-friendly :-). I love your link to the pilgrims version of pumpkin pie – leads to a whole bunch of vegan ideas.
          Also, . .. don’t throw out the seeds of any winter squash. Boil them for 10 minutes (helps to remove the slimy gooey stuff) then drain and let air dry for a bit. They will still have a little sliminess to them . . but that’s good! Because you then sprinkle them with granulated onion, garlic, and/or chipotle pepper (or whatever strikes your fancy) and the sliminess helps the powders to stick. Throw them in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes or so and you have a nice crunchy high protein snack. You can also do a sweet version of the seeds as well with a little sugar, cinnamon, clove . . . or whatever.
          Thanks for that pumpkin idea. . . I think I’m going to have to try it for the holidays this year.




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    6. Hawthorn berry tea can lower BP; don’t know if it will work any better than hibiscus (supposed to be the same stuff at work – anthocyanins). From my own experience, I can drink hibiscus tea but hawthorn berry tea drops my BP too low. Wild blueberries might be helpful (anthocyanins and pterostilbene).




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        1. It tastes good (to me, anyway) – a bit like black tea. I wish I could drink it. If this were a nicer, safer world, I’d send you the box I have in my cupboard.




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        2. PS – Just an fyi – some vegans / vegetarians supplement with taurine (lots of people don’t like the idea of supplements and I understand why…).




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    1. If you use wakame, soak it, until it plumps up, discard the soaking water, cook it in water until bitterness is gone. I make a very simple dressing with some apple cider vinegar and fresh grated ginger, and add powdered wasabi (Japanese horseradish), fresh horseradish, grated is also nice but quite intense to work with. The ginger/horseradish seems ot go very well with the wakame.Sprinkle a few seeds on top and voila! For the tanginess, broccoli sprouts could also be nice….




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    1. If it is seaweed then there is no concern from the vegan crowd but if it is fish then sure they are worried about contamination. I am sure that there is no bias.




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      1. broccoli: There is always some concern when it cones to contamination. When relevant, NutritionFacts covers contamination in plants and warns people accordingly.

        However, if you read up on the well known, uncontested phenomenon called “bio accumulation”, you will understand why such concerns are often (not always, but often) less of an issue for plants compared to animals. It’s not bias. It’s biology 101.




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          1. broccoli: Please review my post above. The point is understanding the phenomenon called bioaccumulation. Understanding bioaccumulation will help you to understand why contaminants in animals are often more of a concern than contaminants in plants.
            .
            That doesn’t mean that we aren’t concerned with plant contaminants when it is an issue. It just means that there is no bias involved (like you insinuated) when people on this site make note of animal contamination. Perhaps you have heard: “The dose makes the poison.” There are other videos on this site which talk about contamination in some types of seaweed. Again, no bias…




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            1. Not only does he ignore bioaccumulation, he ignores the thousands of nutrients found in seaweed compared to very little found in fish. Fish has DHA but there are better ways to get DHA without all the baggage that comes with fish. But I think this is a situation where no matter how many times these things are pointed out to him, it’s just never going to sink in, unfortunately.




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      2. Thanks broccoli, but if the sea around Japan is contaminated with radiation, which seems to be the case, then surely, any seaweed harvested from that area is going to be radioactive. After emailing the supplier of the Nori I’d been purchasing and had been rather partial to for some years, I decided to refrain from consuming it any longer as the company said that the Nori’s radioactivity readings were within legal limits. I was under the impression that our food should be completely devoid of ANY radioactivity.




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        1. Nick, I appreciate your concerns. And everyone needs to make decisions for which they are comfortable. I myself was concerned.

          However, we are subject to radiation from many sources, including various electronics, cell-phone towers, microwaves and our sun on a daily basis. So, while it is very wise to limit exposure and mitigate risk, there is opportunity to manage it. This Nature article from almost two years ago may calm some fears. They report on research that was done on various foods in the Fukushima region in 2012. It seems that within a year of of the disaster, radiation levels in all food sources measured returned to pre-quake/nuclear reactor disaster levels. Interestingly, mushrooms, tea leaves and boar tended to be the most significantly affected. Boars tend to eat mushrooms, evidently.

          http://www.nature.com/news/fukushima-data-show-rise-and-fall-in-food-radioactivity-1.17016




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            1. Hi Nick,

              Well, it is simply a report with some speculation/opinion that is also two years old now. As per radioactive testing, the significant issues/readings seem to be essentially resolved back in 2012, one year after the disaster. So, we are now over 4 1/2 years beyond that time. Due to dissipation and the break-down of radioactive isotopes going through their natural ‘half-life’ process, it seems very likely that absent a new leak, there should be nothing of concern by eating some seaweed. I personally am not concerned about it. I suspect Australia stopped testing in 2014 because it was no longer an issue in their eyes. The US FDA evidently still tests, perhaps randomly, shipments from that area, and in 2014 provided an update:
              http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm247403.htm

              If you are still concerned, it might be fun to buy a geiger counter on eBay or Amazon. There are some fairly inexpensive options! Hope you get to a good place on this issue. Best, Lee.




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  3. I would like to know what the Dr or anyone thinks of Olive Leaf tea for blood pressure, it seems to be quite the powerful tea to drink with reported benefits to blood pressure and blood sugar. Feels like a good alternative or addition to hibiscus for that. Relevant links being

    https://draxe.com/olive-leaf-benefits/
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_leaf
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4227229/

    Anyone got any thoughts on this extract or teas effectiveness or safety. I’m starting to try having a cup of day to see if it has any effects. It’s a lovely tasting tea that is similar in flavour to green tea so it’s nice to drink regardless of any benefits. Just want to be sure it will be safe to regularly consume. Cheers!




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    1. i do not think that anybody knows for sure.

      However, olive leaf extract is also touted as an effective anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. Like any other antibiotic therefore, it has the potential to kill off our intestinal flora and thereby adversely affect our health. I have seen claims that olive leaf extract somehow magically only kills bad bacteria/viruses.fungi and leaves our good microbes unharmed. However, I have not seen any evidence that this is so and, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, suspect that it is just a marketing claim and/or wishful thinking.

      Consequenty, I would stay clear of the olive leaf extract supplements. However, one cup of tea per day shouldn’t be a problem (although I am not aware of any studies of the long term effects of this practice). As far as BP is concerned though, would one cup daily be a big enough dose to have a therapeutic effect?

      I had high BP before going WFPB and drank a daily cup or two of powdered cacao, beetroot, amla and ginger. It seemed to have an effect and the taste wasn’t too bad.




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      1. Thanks for the reply Tom! It’s the exact issues that you state on the olive leaf being an antibiotic that concerns me about it affecting good bacteria in the body that is my only real concern. I too have seen some mention of it being shown to be ineffective against “good” bacteria. I’ll try to find the links to that and see if any actual studies are published on this. I believe it was just in vitro tests showing its ineffectiveness vs other things being shown to be very effectively destroyed by the compound.

        I’m currently up to 2 cups of olive leaf tea a day most days at the moment. I’m re-brewing with the same leaves for the second cup so can tell it’s weaker in flavour. I will look for any studies showing effectiveness of the tea alone but clearly it will be less than eating the extract directly. Some study I saw showed the active compound contents in different sets of leaves could vary by a factor of 10 so again two teas wouldn’t necessarily be alike.

        Anecdotally I enjoy drinking the stuff. It has a light green tea like flavour with a sweet finish. I used to love green, white and oolong teas but have stopped taking them as I tried to cut out caffeine. Similarly to green tea I found that the drink had an immediate relaxing effect within minutes of drinking it. Admittedly this could be subjective or placebo but I’ll take that as a bonus.

        Blood pressure wise I’m not particular high blood pressure but am incredibly variable. I have my own white coat syndrome as my readings can go from ~140/90 to 120/80 within 2-3 minutes whilst I try to calm myself mid reading. I’ve been vegan and WFPB vegan since January and have been drinking 2-3 cups of hibiscus tea since then on most days, alongside a small glass of beetroot juice most nights and coconut water when possible to try and offset the sodium which at home is reduced but eating out is still relatively high but below the (admittedly too high) national limit recommendations. Generally my pressures have been coming down as I’ve lost weight but still often start at 140/90 or a little above if I’m somehow agitated. The last month or so my readings were all staying much closer to 135/85 to 140/90 most weekends (only measure when off from work) which to be honest could lead to me worrying about it more and keeping it high. I’d read that too much b12 can effect calcium levels which could affect BP and this was one of the only things alongside getting colder for winter that had changed. To test this I switched from the Dr’s recommended 250mcg a day to my veg1 supplements 25mcg in the morning, fortified milk and yogurt midday and evening and ending with a 10mcg pill in the evening. Which should have me at the same levels with only ingesting 35mcg via supplements. It did actually seem to help a little, bringing readings down but at the same time not long after I found out about olive leaf tea and thought I’d give it a go. Since having the tea for 1.5 weeks now I’ve had some of the lowest BP readings ever and have found it again much easier to get readings around 120/80 eventually. Best readings (obtained in separate readings for sys/dys) being 117/77. Now obviously this could all be placebo, calmness and just random changes. I do also have the body cardio weighing scales which measure Pulse Wave Velocity and have seen subtle but definite improvements in that since taking the tea as well. I need to try and eliminate these changes and see if I see any problems returning. I’ll switch back to 250mcg b12 and stop the tea over the next week or so and see what I’m left with.

        I would like to see some coverage on olive leaf on here though as it does seem there’s a lot of research being done with it seeming to have great benefits. Hopefully it’ll be on the Dr and teams radar!

        Cheers!




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        1. Thanks Jim. I’d be interested to see any studies you might find on this and your personal results.

          Years ago, I bought from the US some olive leaf extract pills for blood pressure control after reading about its benefits in the Life Extension Foundation magazine and elsewhere. However, by the time they arrived, I had gone off the idea because I had not been able to find any confirmation that they were safe vis-a-vis intestinal flora. They are still sitting around in a cabinet somewhere. I can’t recall that olive leaf tea was available at that time though.

          Yes, my BP readings can be variable also. I can go from 139/85 to 113/70 in the same 5 minute session. As you say, the key is consciously relaxing. Of course, being a Brit myself originally, I still drink lots of plain black tea (plus black coffee most days) so my caffeine intake is probably quite high which doesn’t help.. I do like the cacao plus beetroot powder drink when i remember to take it.

          The other thing that you might want to try that doesn’t involve supplements or special teas is a simple hand grip or stress ball.
          “Squeezing the grip for a few minutes a day has been shown to lower blood pressure as much as a first-line antihypertension drug.”
          http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/squeezing-your-way-to-lower-blood-pressure




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          1. Tom, thanks so much for the info. I’ve spent a few hours digging around for the hand exercise options. It seems the 30% of maximum grip held stable for 2 minutes is key for best results. The most expensive device for this is £500 which is frankly ridiculous. Trying to find a comfortable enough dynamometer that lets you manage this is proving tricky. Found a simple pnuematic one up to 30 psi but I don’t believe this is high enough for typical maximum compression strength of a “healthy” adult (think 70 or so is where that limit may be though most devices read out in kg weight instead of psi so it’s hard to find exact matches).

            May try a cheaper option to try it, the results sound pretty nice if they’re attainable.

            I’ll try to collect any more info on olive leaf that I can find, just been too busy to collect that all together this last day or so.

            Any other diet based hacks I’d try. I brought some dried amla powder and tried a little in water to taste and test. Taste wasn’t great and I thought it made me feel a bit off. To be honest that was most likely in my head (again) but still it’s sat unused in my cupboard ever since.

            I wish I could get my BP down to 110/70 on some occasions. I tend to be higher on the whole but struggle to get much below 120/80. Still got a bit more weight left to lose as I hit 24 BMI nearly, which should hopefully help. Do about an hour exercise every weekday but could clearly do more and perhaps more intense workouts if had the time. Exercise bike and swimming would be good to try.

            Anyways good to hear from others wrestling with BP too. One day I’ll hopefully hit the promised land BP limits!

            Cheers!




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            1. Yes, I’d like to get mine down a bit also. However, the data indicates that mortality risk only increases significantly at 140/90 and above.
              https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138604/

              And even male (pygmy) hunter gatherers average around 130/85 so I don’t stress too much about reaching much lower figures than these. I’d probably have to give up my tea and ramp up my exercise regime to drive my current 113/74 lower.
              http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/27/1/108

              i think the important things are a healthy diet and lifestyle (which you appear to be following). The BMI and BP improvements will follow in time.

              When I can remember, I take a stress ball with me every time I go for a walk and squeeze that. Of course, it is possible to go even lower tech than that and just breathe properly
              https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16231755
              http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/stress-raising-your-blood-pressure-take-a-deep-breath-201602159168

              You could also try getting herbert Benson’s book The Relaxation Response from the library. Or just Google it to get the key message.

              Good luck




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              1. I think your 113/74 BP doesn’t really need to go any lower really… I believe this was the optimum level that is listed on here… the link to defining normal BP is interested.. I think there was a video on here about it too… it does look fairly compelling that in that study at least you need to get your BP above the 140/90 threshold to start to have significant problems.. Clearly the line on this site is to aim for lower, that going lower from even good BP is always beneficial. I wonder what leads to the discrepancy. Have other studies been released since to counter it, or perhaps ones for strokes or heart attacks themselves but not mortality. Still its reassuring to a degree, though thankfully aside from the bad readings i do I’m usually a fair way off of 140/90. I think for now I’ll just try to concentrate on getting more readings below 120/80… they’re pretty rare events for me at the moment so if I can make them happen more often then I’m making progress!

                Those pygymy hunters seem to get a relatively high salt diet, with the two groups tested having a BP and salt intake difference. Seems to prove that relatively high meat and salt can give a fairly traditional western BP profile, just without it perhaps going quite as bad as it can do on a bad western diet. Guess we don’t have access to any populations that eat more vegan diets in that sort of scenario.

                I’ve ordered a cheap electronic hand dynamometer for £22 to try and see if i can more closely replicate that really expensive device’s approach of 30% of maximum force held constantly for 2 minutes at a time. You seemed to say that you were squeezing the stress or tennis ball when walking, which surely won’t hurt.. but I do believe that to do the isometric exercise for these benefits requires constant squeezed pressure, preferably at this 30% amount. I believe its important that the arm is steady too, as part of it is the load without traditional load on the arm that seems to lead to this benefit.. Who knows. I’ll get to see if there’s any results from it, though apparently it could take weeks of doing it most days to see any results.

                Also brought some Hawthorne tea after someone mentioned it on here. Will leave that to maybe try at a later date as until then I’m going to start mixing things up, like stopping drinking the olive leaf tea as I’ve nearly run out of my first pack. I’ll probably try to switch back to 1 larger B12 dose too, but i guess I should stagger these changes to look for any differences with only 1 variable.

                Thanks again.




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                  1. Hi Tom. A quick update on adventures in BP. I brought a cheap hand strength meter which tells you the grip amount you’re applying. This allows me to replicate that much more expensive device by measuring my max grip strength of each hand and then applying 1/3 of this force constantly for 2 minutes on each hand with 1 minute of rest between each exercise. You alternate right, rest, left, rest, right, rest and finally left. Having the meter readout shows you that we are terrible at holding the same grip strength without any feedback, your grip quickly drops off.

                    I’m doing it every day now when I can remember. The gripper is meant for short usage and isn’t that comfortable so your hand hurts as well as your muscles. My blood pressure readings however have never been better. 108 / 77 is the best reading so far, but I’m often around 115 / 78.

                    Just wanted to say it may be worth trying the same as i can’t imagine you can replicate the same exercises without the strength meter giving you feedback. Also you’re meant to otherwise be at rest when doing these exercises and I remember you saying you used your squeeze ball whilst walking.

                    Thanks for putting me onto this stuff, very happy… as ever hoping for more reduction on diastolic but nearly there!!!

                    Cheers!




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                    1. Thanks Jim. That is interesting.

                      Yes, I use a stress ball or tennis ball and just squeeze it when walking . To be honest though, that is primarily because an orthopaedic specialist advised me to exercise my hands for a condition I have.

                      However, OI might try a hand strength meter (they are pretty cheap) and see what happens.

                      All the best.




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      2. ” I have seen claims that olive leaf extract somehow magically only kills bad bacteria/viruses.fungi and leaves our good microbes unharmed. ”

        But isn’t that exactly what garlic does? But still we shouldn’t assume that all plant foods will behave the same as garlic. I just don’t know if I would call it “magical” when garlic can do it.




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        1. Thanks. I don’t know if that is what garlic does because I have not seen any studies that show that garlic exclusively affects only harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi. In truth, it is not clear to me how that would work or how it is even possible. How you seen any studies demonstrating this? I’d be very interested to see some evidence of this.

          And some garlic proponents do say “Since garlic acts as an antibiotic, large quantities of it can affect the gut flora and deplete the friendly bacteria. As with other antibiotics, you need a good supply of probiotics to get your gut back into balance. The best way to do this is by consuming fermented foods that contain plenty of probiotics. ”
          http://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/common-mistakes-when-using-garlic-as-an-antibiotic/




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    2. Respectfully, I have a slightly different take on olive leaf extract than Tom. I have been following the evidence on this one for a few years. I believe that the evidence is accumulating on the benefits of olive leaf extract. Much of what I have seen is not related to marketing. I could buy an olive plant for $10, and I like the way it looks. They are easy to grow here, but processing for the actual olive fruits is difficult. I already make a few herbal medicines, and in my opinion it’s not very hard to make extract out of the leaves. My olive tree is growing and when it gets big enough, I plan on making olive leaf extract out of it amazingly inexpensively. This will be a form of pruning the tree. I will also know exactly what’s in it. If for some reason, the evidence does a 180, and it is somehow not beneficial, it is an inexpensive landscape plant.
      John S
      PDX OR




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      1. I remember from my Denver days people there grew Russian olive, which was hardy to cold and crazy weather. Does anybody know if that olive has the same benefits as the presumably Mediterranean variety?




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        1. It’s not related to the olive tree. It just has leaves that sort of look like them hence the name. It is a healthy yet invasive berry in the intermountain West. Several related plants also have healthy berries. Berries are the best kind of fruit to eat for health, but you’d have to find these or grow them, as I have never seen them in stores. I grow several related berries. Don’t try to drink tea from the leaves or make extract out of it until you hear of reliable evidence of its health benefits, of which I’ve heard none.
          John S




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          1. John S – Thank you! I don’t think the Mediterranean type olive grows this far north (coastal Washington State), so I was just curious. My blood pressure is fine anyway, but maybe I should tell my California cousin who does have a blood pressure problem.




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            1. I live right across the river in Portland. I don’t think that growing the leaves or the plant would be hard, but a crop of olive fruit might be difficult. Should be easy for you cuz in California.
              John S




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              1. Wow! A neighbor! Thanks. If you grow olives in Portland I can probably do it in Olympia. Maybe I’ll give it a try. Our yard is a hodgepodge of everything anyway, so what’s another tree?




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      2. Thanks for the reply John. If you can post any research you’ve found that may be interesting for folks here it’d be great to see. I’ll have a dig around too. Olive leaf prepared for tea does seem to be quite expensive, certainly more so than hibiscus tea that I get. You can get non organic dried olive leaves for much less but I believe the drying prep for tea is a bit more precise. On the short term it’s not too bad whilst I try it out – £5 per 20 cups with the one I’ve tried so far.

        I replied in more detail to Tom above, but would be interested to hear more about any studies done. As I said there I hope to have the nutrition facts team cover the leaves at some point as it does seem to be quite an impressive leaf and active compound set. Perhaps they are just waiting on more robust studies.

        We have a baby olive plant in our garden, too small to do anything with but I did think about it when I started trying them out. Good luck with your growing!!

        Cheers.




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  4. This is what confuses me: the one study in which they de-salinized the seaweed. I was eating seaweeds & miso soups regularly. Then, my BP started spiking (i assumed due to miso, which has a lot of sodium) & was causing nosebleeds (which i’m susceptible too). I cut out miso & it’s helped a lot, but with that, i also discarded seaweeds, thinking that probably was a good thing. So, i’m confused about sodium content in seaweed & its relation to BP. Thoughts? Thank you!




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    1. HI Sophie, it is true that miso has masses of salt. Despite the reported benefits of wakame in the study, they used 6 grams of wakame daily, not clear to me if that was dried or fresh or rehydrated. In any case, 6 grams of wakame would not make very much salad at all. I think if you do eat wakame try to get some that has good accurate labelling for the sodium content and that way you can see how much sodium you would get if you eat a reasonable portion of wakame, then you can figure out for yourself it it is worth making a regular part of your diet. Personally I like seaweeds, got used to them when I lived in Japan, but now our poor oceans are so polluted, I do still eat them but not systematically, just when I feel like it, and always with a little moment of hesitation when I think about the pollution. I hope that is helpful.




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    2. According to Whfoods, the sodium in miso is not harmful and does not rise blood pressure.

      http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=114

      Miso is typically considered to be a high-sodium food, since one teaspoon of miso often contains 200-300 milligrams of sodium. However, recent research has shown that in spite of its high-sodium content, miso does not appear to affect our cardiovascular system in the way that other high-sodium foods sometimes can. In recent animal studies, for example, identical concentrations of salt (sodium chloride) obtained from miso versus table salt were discovered to have very different impacts on blood pressure. High-salt diets that derived their high salt level from table salt raised blood pressure in these animal studies, but high-salt diets that derived their high salt from miso did not. Recent human studies on miso intake among Japanese adults have also shown that miso-containing diets tend to lower risk of cardiovascular problems, despite the high-salt content of miso. Reasons for this unique relationship between miso and our cardiovascular system are not yet clear. However, some researchers have speculated that the unique soy protein composition of miso (including peptide building-blocks of protein that get formed from soy proteins when the beans are fermented) is one of the key reasons for the cardiovascular support provided by miso.




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      1. Thank you brocolli! It’s very interesting. I find all the miso, seaweed info so confusing for this reason & my own experience that my BP seems to spike after eating it (as evidenced by nosebleeds)… I’ll have to study the link you noted. Thanks again!




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  5. So an older buddy of mine has creeping BP… creeping up… I made a smoothie concoction of beet root juice, carrot, celery, ground flax seed and hibiscus tea. Now I’ll add a bit of wakame to the mix… I must admit the contrast of sweet beetroot/carrot and salty wakame is quite nice… We will see if it helps. I know it can’t hurt !! YMMV..
    m




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  6. I would guess 6 grams of dry seaweed. The serving size on a 2 oz bag of dry seaweed is 7.5 grams. Which makes about eight 7.5 gram servings. When you add water, the bowl of seaweed is pretty big.




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  7. I’ve read there are concerns about heavy metals in sea vegetables. Some of them have warnings about this on the package. Do the benefits outweigh the risk? Has Dr Greger addressed this specifically?




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    1. WHFoods recommends buying sea vegetables that are certified organic due to toxicity risks.
      http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=264

      “We continue to include sea vegetables among the World’s Healthiest Foods because of their incredibly rich mineral content and other unique health benefits and because the toxicity risks described above can be prevented through the purchase of certified organic sea vegetables! Because most certified organic sea vegetables can be purchased in dried form and reconstituted at home, they can often be ordered from outside of your local area and shipped to you at a relatively low cost.”




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      1. I’m a little confused as to what organic means when it comes to sea vegetables, perhaps someone could help clarify. Aren’t they grown in seawater as well? And isn’t all seawater polluted, at least to an extent, and isn’t the water itself the main source of contaminants in seaweed? Does organic seaweed need to be tested for various contaminants and conform to certain requirements?

        I really have no idea.




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          1. Thank you.

            I still don’t know how effective these requirements are in ensuring those organic sea vegetables are safer, or what is the actual difference, on average, in the level of contaminants between organic and non-organic.




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      2. Interesting. I’m on a whole food vegan diet and currently add iodized sea salt to my food to make sure I get enough Iodine. I eat very little processed food, so my overall salt intake is still relatively low. I’ve considered replacing this with sea vegetables but I’m unsure what is the greater risk.

        So then, what would be the healthier choice overall – Iodized sea salt or organic sea vegetable?




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        1. Interesting question and I bit of dilemma I agree. On the one hand I believe that iodized sea salt is purified, free of contaminants, and a predictable source of iodine. On the other hand, sea salt doesn’t offer the additional health benefits that Dr. G. has highlighted from eating seaweed. I am also under the understanding that seaweed is not necessarily a realiable source of iodine, in that the amount of iodine can be widely variable. Perhaps a combination of using both products you identified is ideal?




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    2. You are right, and this is a huge concern regarding sea vegetables as well as other foods, like fish that are often contaminated with heavy metals. One has to be very judicious of any seaweed coming from Japan since the Fukushima quake and Tsunami as there was so much nuclear waste that was released. Likewise, there has been concern about some of that waste which has eventually made its way to the Pacific Northwest and that it make have effected the aquaculture there as well. Do your homework regarding where your food comes from and see if they have done the appropriate testing. You are certainly asking the right questions!




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  8. I just read this article that came out of bmj recently. It seems to imply that pre- diabetes can be reversed with high protein diet compared to a healthy high carb diet. I was hoping Dr. Greger could read the article and give his thoughts. I have learned so much from Dr. Greger and am grateful for his website and constant efforts to make everyone healthy.

    Obesity studies
    Original research
    Remission of pre-diabetes to normal glucose tolerance in obese adults with high protein versus high carbohydrate diet: randomized control trial

    Frankie B Stentz1, Amy Brewer1, Jim Wan2, Channing Garber1, Blake Daniels1, Chris Sands1, Abbas E Kitabchi1




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    1. Hi Rachel,

      I am a volunteer moderator for Dr. Greger. Thank you for sharing this recent article! After reviewing the article we can see that the general guidelines for both groups was based upon the American Diabetes Association, but no specifics for what sources of carbohydrates and protein were actually eaten. Therefore, we are unsure which sources of each of these macronutrients helped to contribute to the study results. Either way, a key component for the study was the maintenance of lean muscle mass through adequate protein intake, which automatically improves glucose tolerance. I am sure Dr. Greger will be reviewing this study soon!




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      1. Thank you for reviewing the article, Dr. Belus. It appears that the participants were fed foods such as milk, eggs and fish which were healthy in the opinion of the researchers, but those were actually unhealthy foods associated with many health risks.

        As the participants were obese and might be at risk for diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease, it was prudent to ensure the participants follow a healthy diet that could minimize their health risks. For example, dietary fat sources focused on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, that is, plant oils, semiliquid margarine, nuts; dietary CHO sources emphasized whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes; and dietary protein sources included lean meats, fish, chicken, eggs and non-fat dairy foods, that is, fat-free milk and low-fat cheese. The dietary principles are consistent with the guidelines of the Institute of Medicine and American Diabetes Association.

        http://drc.bmj.com/content/4/1/e000258.full




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        1. I find it suspicious that both groups were eating 30% fat and there was only a 15% difference in carbohydrate intake between the two. Without an example mealplan, it’s hard to know what exactly the participants were eating. They can call eating fried corn chips “a healthy diet based on whole grains and polyunsaturated plant oils”




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          1. BB – I find your suspicions to be very well founded. I just hate seeing “information” of this ilk where high carb diets are compared to high protein diets with no details as to what the nature of the carbs or proteins actually are. And the fat level, as you pointed out, is a huge consideration in my mind as well. This type of “research” does nothing to clarify the nutritional questions of our times.




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    2. It is certainly very interesting and I agree that it would be useful to have comments from Dr G.

      Some observations are:
      1/ all the subjects were obese and prediabetic. Despite weight loss, subjects remained obese throughout the test period. The HPLC group averaged 40.5 BMI at start and 37.3 at finish. The LPHC group were 37.4 and 33.8.

      That is, they had damaged metabolic and endocrine systems. Obesity has a number of effects including on hormonal and lipid mechanisms eg “The greater rate of hepatic cholesterol synthesis in obese individuals suppresses the expression of hepatic LDL receptors (LDLR), thereby reducing hepatic LDL uptake. Insulin resistance develops as a result of adipose-tissue induced inflammation, causing significant changes in enzymes necessary for normal lipid metabolism. In addition, the LDLR-mediated uptake in obesity is attenuated by alterations in neuroendocrine regulation of hormonal secretions (e.g. growth hormone, thyroid hormone, and cortisol) as well as the unique gut microbiota, the latter of which appears to affect lipid absorption.”
      http://advances.nutrition.org/content/2/3/261.full

      2. The World Health Organization recommends that no more than 30% of total calories should come from fat so both groups were eating a borderline high fat diet (30% of calories). Also the high carbohydrate diet was only 55% carbs while the low carb group ate 40% carbs. The IOM recommends that 40-65% of calories should come from carbs consequently some people argue that a low carb diet delivers fewer than 40% of total calories in the form of carbs, and high carb diets (eg the Okinawan diet) are those in which carbs deliver more than 65% of total carbs. According to this interpretation, both diet groups were consuming a moderate carb diet.

      3. There have been other studies of obese diabetic people (note not prediiabtic) consuming the same macronutrient ratios ie either 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbs or 15% protein, 30% fat and 55% carbs. The results were not the same as reported in the BMJ study
      ” In the high-carbohydrate group, hemoglobin A1c decreased (from 8.2% to 6.9%, P<.03), fasting plasma glucose decreased (from 8.8 to 7.2 mmol/L,low asteriskP<.02), and insulin sensitivity increased (from 12.8 to 17.2 μmol/kg/min, P<.03). No significant changes in these parameters occurred in the high-protein group,:
      http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S0002-8223(05)00010-6/abstract

      4. Other studies of diet and diabetes have shown that diabetes can be controlled and remission achieved on high carbohydrate dietsespecially if fat intake is minimised. This evidence goes back a long time eg
      http://plantbasedresearch.org/sites/default/files/files/Singh-Lancet.pdf
      Note that some of the older evidence is affected by the fact that the distinction between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes was not fully recognised until 1959 and failure to achieve full remission in all patients in older studies may be due to the fact that some patients were Type 1 diabetics.
      http://www.diabetes.org/research-and-practice/student-resources/history-of-diabetes.html?referrer=https://www.google.com.ph/

      So, yes, interesting but why did the study at 3 above, using exactly the same macronutrient ratios in diabetics, demonstrate better results for the high carb group and no effect on diabetes parameters for the high protein group? Perhaps the results were confounded by the fact that the BMJ study used weight loss diets and the persons in the HPLC group were initially more obese. i don't know We do know that high protein diets long term are associated with increased mortality risk eg
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275061106_High_dietary_protein_intake_is_associated_with_an_increased_body_weight_and_total_death_risk

      It is also important to remember that diet has different effects on lean and obese people so even if these results are actually meaningful, they would not necessarily provide a guide to healthy eating for people with normal BMIs eg
      "One characteristic clearly associated with susceptibility to diet is leanness; many studies show that total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations respond more strongly to dietary fat and cholesterol in lean subjects than in obese subjects."
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16256004




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    3. 1. As Tom noted, the subjects in this study were not just obese, but morbidly obese (BMI over 40, and over 35 if they have serious medical issues caused or made worse by their weight). But in the study design section they note that only 38 of 178 subjects met all the screening criteria (basically weren’t already really sick). As noted by Dr. Greger when fat cells become too stuffed full of fat some of that fat spills back into the blood stream so the internal environment of these people is likely very unlike those at or near their healthy weight. As such it is not at all clear how the effects on this super sub-sub-sub set of not too sick morbidly obese people apply to people normal weight or slightly overweight people with reduced insulin sensitivity.

      2. The diets of both groups was a weight loss diet with a 500 kcal/day calorie deficit. I could not find a baseline break down of the percentage of the three macronutrients of the participants so I went to the Nation Center for Health Statistics. The national average for adults over 20 years old is 49% carbohydrates, 16% protein and 33% fats. The study does say that the average calories for both HP and HC diets is 1800. This implies that the average caloric intake at baseline was 2300 calories or 22% fewer calories per day.

      So shifting both calories and composition results in the following macronutrient amounts and % changes from baseline:
      Baseline (16% protein, 33% fat, 49% carbs): protein = 92 g, fat = 84 g, carbs = 282 g
      HC (15% protein, 30% fat, 55% carbs): protein = 68 g (-26%), fat = 60 g (-29%), carbs = 248 g (-12%)
      HP (30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbs): protein = 135 g (+46%), fat = 60 g (-29%), carbs = 180 g (-36%)

      Mixing both calorie reduction and macronutrient ratio changes gives some potentially confounding results. The national baseline is already pretty close to the high carbohydrate group with only a 1% reduction in protein, a 3% reduction in fats, and a 6% increase in carbs. But when you factor in the 500 calorie reduction the absolute amounts of all three drop, even carbohydrates. So the “high” carbohydrate group saw a 12% reduction in the number of grams of carbohydrates a day. The carbohydrates all of these folks ate at baseline was almost certainly all processed. The study says that the supplied meals during the study focused on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. That should have a very positive effect, but how was the impact of these better quality carbohydrates effected by the HC group consuming 12% less of them?

      The high protein group on the other hand dramatically increased the number of grams of protein by 46% compared to the national average. Also the HP group ate 36% fewer grams of carbohydrates than the national average.

      And both groups ate 29% fewer grams of fat than the national average. And as for carbohydrates, the quality of the fat was improved with more mono and poly unsaturated and less saturated fat. As we know from many other studies it is lipotoxicity that is responsible for insulin resistance. So it is as likely or even more so that any changes seen had a lot to do with the changes in amount and type of fats eating.

      So was the difference seen between the two groups due to the more grams of protein or fewer grams of carbohydrates? And what was the effect of a nearly 30% reduction in the amount of fat consumed?

      3. There were only 12 participants in each arm! And while they may have been randomized between the two arms, this was anything but a random group of obese people. 178 people signed consent forms, but only 38 met all the screening criteria: young (20-50), obese (BMI 30 to 55) with prediabetes but not full diabetes (fasting glucose 145 mm or diastolic > 100 mm), and normal or borderline high triglycerides (> 400 mg/dL) and cholesterol (LDL > 160 mg/dL).

      4. Even with the tight qualifying criteria, this was a very unusual group of morbidly obese people. All 24 people who completed the trail started with total cholesterol around 165, an LDL around 106 and HDL around 45. Triglycerides also were tightly clustered around 107-110. Also very unusual is that the standard deviation of the participants around these values was very very small. The BP was elevated at between 126-130/81, but again with little variation. Basically the study weeded out those who suffered the worst metabolic disorders and who might have benefited the most from changes in diet.

      In summary, this was a small study with participants who not only were very different than the average person but also very different than the average obese person. Also the study mixed changes in macronutrient ratios with changes in total calories with changes in the quality of the foods consumed. Thus the implication in their conclusions that it was the higher protein in the high protein diet that was responsible for the 100% remission of the participant’s pre-diabetes is not merited.

      And the uniqueness of this group of subjects means that there is little to indicate that the response to the dietary changes observed in high protein group is reflective of how non-obese people or even other obese people suffering from the metabolic disorders commonly seen in obese people.

      Bottom line, I don’t see how this study says anything useful about what we as a nation should be eating.




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      1. Thank you Tom and Jim for a very thorough and helpful analysis. Thanks to all those who replied. since I have been very strongly influenced by all of Dr. Greger’s presentation of the research, I find myself surprised any time I see someone on a high animal protein diet becoming healthier. That’s why this study really bothered me especially because I am in the medical profession and this article was emailed to me so that I could recommend it to my pre-diabetic patients.




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  9. hello. I have a question. I’m in my last year of high school and i’m working on my final paper. I’m doing a source research on the influence of a vegan diet on the metabolism, zoomed in on the vascular system. there is so much information available that i fail to make a clear list of the important points. I already found information about ldl/hdl and lowering plaque in the arteries. also about the importance of dietary fibers. for now I’m not getting any further. I not only want to explain this through merely experiment results, but also through the metabolic processes like cell respiration, glycolyses, citric acid cycle etc. I’m not sure where and when all these process take place and when they cross with the importance of the vascular system. Maybe somebody can help me with this, explaining which processes/nutrients/etc. are the most important in this subject, so i can see clearly which points to focus further on.




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    1. There are many different types of completely vegetarian diets. These can range from diets simply comprising beer and chips, through diets consisting of white bread and other refined carbohydrates and processed foods, to diets based on whole plant foods (the fruit,vegetable and whole grain approach). They have very different metabolic effects.
      Perhaps, if you are narrow down your dietary focus, you can then look at the effects of specific types of food eg fruit, vegetable and whole grain consumption.




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      1. yes, a vegan diet can also be just junk food. i study the effects of whole foods. i now discuss the effect per nutrient, like fibers, vitamins, protein etc. I just don;t need to get lost too much in details. thank you for your help!




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    2. Hello – You have chosen a very large topic which will lead you into a giant myriad of biochemical detail. Some people spend their entire lives teasing out the topics you’ve touched on. The knowledge in this area is very complex, broad, and deep. I’m going to suggest that you read the book Whole by T.Colin Campbell, Ph.D.
      Have fun!




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    3. The important thing to understand is the results of eating plants, whole or minimally processed vs. animal parts and pieces and products along with highly processed plant derivitives such as sugar and oils and “enriched” flour.

      That’s the biggest picture.

      Focusing down to the understanding of the biochemisty of the details is quite complex and could be beyond the scope of High School work. It is a great area to examine as previous science relied way too much on “scientific method” where only one variable could be manipulated. This cannot work with the myriad of variables involved in human nutrition. But times are changing and researchers are learning to look at bigger pictures because there is no end to the variables that could be manipulated. There are enough studies in just a FEW of these videos to lead you lots of minute details as those you seek, but you might have to narrow your focus in order to do justice to them.

      I suggest perusing the videos here and looking at the reference materials in those areas you have particular interests. It’s all here.




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      1. thank you for your help! I’ll only focus on the effect of whole/minimally processed foods. yes, i really need to keep it more ‘high-school-ish’, i always get lost in the details and want to know more and then i get confused and work on it for ages. thx!




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    1. Evaluation of radiation doses and associated risk from the Fukushima nuclear accident to marine biota and human consumers of seafood

      Doses in all cases were dominated by the naturally occurring alpha-emitter 210Po and that Fukushima-derived doses were three to four orders of magnitude below 210Po-derived doses. Doses to marine biota were about two orders of magnitude below the lowest benchmark protection level proposed for ecosystems (10 µGy⋅h−1). Such doses are comparable to, or less than, the dose all humans routinely obtain from naturally occurring radionuclides in many food items, medical treatments, air travel, or other background sources.




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    1. Your statement makes it clear that you didn’t see the study results in the video or transcript.

      HERE, let me save you that trouble: [from transcript]

      Six grams of wakame, natural sodium and all, led to a significant drop
      in blood pressure, especially in those who started out high. Side
      effects were all minor, and what one might expect increasing fiber
      intake. And, the nice thing about whole food, plant-based interventions
      is you sometimes get good side effects as well, such as the resolution
      of gastritis—stomach inflammation that they’d been having—as well as the
      disappearance of chronic headaches.




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  10. I haven’t checked the book, but the app has seaweed counting toward ‘other vegetables’ and not toward the 2 servings of ‘greens’ for daily dozen. This is perplexing to me and I would appreciate anyone’s explanation. Keeping fresh greens is tough, and dried seaweed is abundant and economical for me to obtain.




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    1. Typically most people do not consume huge amounts of seaweed in the same amounts as they do the amount of greens that would be considered one serving. Most vegan diets recommend eating one to two pounds of greens per day. If you eat a pound of seaweed that would probably count as a green. A pound of seaweed would probably make you want to check to see that your sodium and iodine intake was not too high and also check for heavy metal contamination.




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    2. Robert Ballard: This was such an interesting question that I asked the NutritionFacts staff to see if they had an idea. Kristina came up with a possible idea that I think makes a lot of sense.

      In the following video, http://nutritionfacts.org/video/avoiding-iodine-deficiency-2/ , Dr. Greger points out that it can be relatively easy to get too much iodine. See veggies are the best source of iodine (with a few exceptions), but you don’t want too much either. On the other hand, greens like say kale, have a much higher intake safety zone. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/overdosing-on-greens/ So, maybe Dr. Greger is being cautious in putting seaweed in the greens category as we typically think of greens as something we can eat a whole lot of and not worry.

      I’m not sure this 100% addresses your question, and I don’t think Dr. Greger himself has commented on the question. This is speculation. But even if it is not Dr. Greger’s actual answer, I think that it is something to keep in mind. If I get a better answer, I will pass it on.




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      1. Overdosing on Greens video speaks soundly on the excessive iodine intake issue with seaweed in comparison to greens – indeed I had opportunityto go back to ‘How Not to Die’ which has the unlimited refills ‘prescription’ for greens where sea weed warrants care. How Not to Die also references red light ingredients that are packaged with snacking sea weed as well, so my quest for convenience is pretty much moving on… HN2Die speaks to frozen greens for convenience and revisiting has me grasping the nutrient absorbing pairing benefit with a green light fat… Although not as convenient as dried seaweed snacks packaged in a desk drawer i plan to start greens in the workplace freezer with nuts and a bullet blender to make quick and dirty smoothies…




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        1. Robert Ballard: I’m a huge fan of frozen veggies! Someone else has been my souix (sp?) chef – washing, chopping and even basic cooking. All I have to do is thaw and eat or use in a recipe. Good luck and thanks for the additional feedback/letting us know what you decided.




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  11. For an oil – free wakame salad , try Ponzu(vinegar made from a Japanese citrus fruit ), soy sauce, and squeezed grated ginger juice with some grated roasted sesame seeds. Add some thinly sliced cucumber (paper thin) for texture.




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  12. I have no down that seaweed on its own has health benefits, but I am bit skeptical that literally “seaweed salad” always does. Seaweed salad recipes often call for added sugar and salt/soy sauce. Have the health benefits of seaweed salad as such been measured, or just of the seaweed itself?




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  13. My question is about the effects of sauerkraut on blood pressure. It does contain salt. So that is “bad.” But fermented foods are supposed to be beneficial for our microbiome. I would really like to know because I make my own delicious sauerkraut and teach it to others in my vegan cooking classes. I was hoping to get some insight in this video about seaweed, since it also contains salt. Any specific information about eating sauerkraut would be much appreciated!




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  14. What about dangerously high levels of iodine in certain sea weeds? I thought wakame was one to avoid. Dr. Greger has been careful to warn people about iodine levels in seaweed other than nori.




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