Monthly Archives: May 2015
Crustless Asparagus Quiche
Yield: 8 servings | Serving Size: 1 slice | Calories: 72 | Total Fat: 3 g | Saturated Fat: 2 g | Previous Points: 1 | Points Plus: 2 | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 49 mg | Sodium: 120 mg | Carbohydrates: 3 g | Dietary Fiber: 1 g | Sugars: 2 g | Protein: 7 g
- 2 cups sliced asparagus
- 6 egg whites
- 2 whole eggs
- 1/3 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup (low-fat) feta cheese, optional parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Kosher or sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and pour into a quiche pan or 9-inch glass pie plate.
Bake at 350° for approximately 45 minutes or until filling is set.
Health and Wellness Associates
Slow Cooker Cheesy Spinach Lasagna Recipe
Yields: 12 servings | Serving Size: 3-4 cup size slice or 1/12th of total recipe | Calories: 269 | Previous Points: 5 | Points Plus: 7 | Total Fat: 9 g | Saturated Fat: 4 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 19 mg | Sodium: 302 mg | Carbohydrates: 34 g | Dietary Fiber: 5 g | Sugars: 11 g | Protein: 12 g |
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 (5 ounce) package baby spinach or 6 cups packed baby spinach
- 2 (24 ounce) Jars marinara sauce, no sugar added
- 1 cup reduced fat ricotta cheese
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1 cup (part skim) mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 12 whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked (break in half)
- Fresh basil for garnish
Add oil to a large skillet, add spinach and cook over low heat just until wilted, about 3-5 minutes.
Combine in a medium bowl ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, and oregano.
Add 1 cup marinara to the bottom of the slow cooker. Next, add a layer of broken lasagna noodles, spread 1/4 of cheese mixture over noodles, next top with 1/4 of wilted spinach. Repeat the layers until all the ingredients are used up. I prefer to add cheese last.
Cover and cook until noodles are al dente and cheese is bubbly. Cook on low-heat 4-5 hours or high heat 2-3 hours. Remove the lid and add parmesan to the top. Turn off the slow cooker and allow the casserole to sit for 15 minutes before cutting. Serve garnished with fresh basil and additional parmesan, if desired.
Recommend a 6 quart slow cooker, or approximately that size.
Health and Wellness Associates
Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo ChileSalsa,
Yellow Rice and Spicy Black Beans
- Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa:
- 1 pound tomatillos, husked
- 1 white
onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole
- 4 garlic
teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 cup
chopped cilantro leaves
- 1/2 lime, juiced
medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves,
- 1 1/2
teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock,
- 1 deli
roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded
ground black pepper
- 10 large
pound Monterey Jack cheese,
- 2 cups
- Chopped tomatoes and
cilantro leaves, for garnish
Black Beans, recipe follows
Rice, recipe follows
- Spicy Black Beans:
- 2 cups
(about 1 pound) dried black beans,
picked over, soaked overnight
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
medium onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper,
- 2 cloves
- 1 bay
ground black pepper
- Yellow Rice:
- 2 cups
- 4 cups
- 2 cloves garlic,
teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 bay
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
For the salsa:
On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and
jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices
on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add
the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still
Meanwhile heat a 2 count of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion
and cook until soft and caramelized – this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the
garlic and cumin then cook for a
further minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn’t burn
then gradually add the chicken stock to make a veloute. Continue stirring over
a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat,
add half of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped
cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and
Change the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F and begin assembling the
dish. Take a large baking dish and smear
the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Now take the flour
tortillas and briefly flash them over the stove-top flame (or put them briefly
under the broiler if using an electric stove). Using a shallow bowl, coat each
tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix. Put a scoop of the shredded
chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the
shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to
enclose it. Using a spatula place the
tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the
tortillas. Finally pour over some more of the salsa and top with the remaining
shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked
on top. Garnish, cilantro and
Serve hot with Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice, the remaining tomatillo
salsa, sour cream and
fresh guacamole, if
Spicy Black Beans:
In a large pot, soak beans overnight covered in water by 2 inches. Drain and set aside.
In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic,
and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the beans and cover with water by about 1-inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the
heat, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the
beans are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Taste the beans and season
with salt and pepper.
Put all the ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot, stir well, and bring to a
boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook over
low heat until the rice has absorbed the water, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove
from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the garlic and bay leaf, fluff with a fork, and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence
Health and Wellness Associates
In an emergency, performing CPR for 38 minutes or longer improves someone’s chance of surviving a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association. Don’t stop pumping! Continuing CPR improves the chances that the survivor can make it through with normal brain function. Fewer than 10% of cardiac arrests survive. Pumping the heart helps the return of the body pumping blood on its own while delivering critical oxygen to the brain. Don’t take time to blow into the lungs without a team effort as the few seconds it takes to do so drops the circulation to the brain and can result in brain damage. The action of pumping the chest will often bring enough air into the lungs to keep oxygen levels up. I recommend that everyone take a CPR class – chances are that you will use it…
Health and Wellness Associates
Breast Cancer and Iodine
One out of seven women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Many studies have found a strong association between thyroid abnormalities caused by lack of iodine and breast cancer. A mere 30 years ago, iodine consumption was much higher and only one in twenty women developed breast cancer. In Japan, the breast cancer rates are well below the US rates. This is because they consume lots of seafood, kelp, and other iodine-rich foods as a regular part of the diet. The average intake in Japan is about 12 mg (12,000 mcg) a day. Now look at Americans who get about 50 times less iodine than Japenese in their diets. The only iodine comsumption is iodized salt which many people have been convinced is bad for you. It is NOT! Salt at fast food restaurants is bad for you. If you are not getting at least 12mg of iodine/iodide a day, you are falling behind. If you are deficient in iodine (90% or more of Americans are), it will take more than 12mg a day for a few months to catch up.
Health and Wellness Associates
Aquaponics: Is this promising, sustainable farming method the urbanized future of agriculture? We talk a lot around here about food and its importance in sustaining life. But how do we as humans continue to sustain the viable production of food itself, particularly in a world where natural resources seem to be getting increasingly more scarce? One of the answers to this question may be aquaponics, a unique method of growing food that utilizes the normal functions of both plants and fish to grow high volumes of food in compact spaces. If you are an urban-dweller, you may have already come to appreciate the availability of fresh produce and other goods at your local farmers market, products that primarily come from local farms and greenhouses. But what if we told you that aquaponics is also responsible for bringing fresh food to your table? It’s true. Everything from greens and herbs to beans and legumes can be grown in aquaponic environments, which just so happen to work especially well in urban environments where land is limited. “Aquaponics is a method of combined fish and vegetable farming that requires no soil,” explains Roman Gaus from The Atlantic Cities about the process. “The farmer cultivates freshwater fish (aquaculture) and plants (hydroponics) in a recirculating water system that exchanges nutrients between the two. Wastewater from the fish serves as organic fertilizer for the plants, while the plants clean the water of fish feces and urine.”
Growing organic food in small spaces with aquaponics
Because aquaponics is essentially a closed system, with the exception of fish food having to be cultivated or purchased separately, it can function independently, and without many of the normal inputs required for traditional farming. This means that a well-designed aquaponics system can be installed and operated virtually anywhere, including in dense urban environments — high-rise rooftops, the tops of parking structures, and even basic parking lots are just a few examples of the many locations where high-output aquaponics systems can work. This is good news for the many urban farmers with limited access to clean, unpolluted growing soils. A well-designed aquaponics system with stacked growing pods is capable of growing high volumes of fruits and vegetables — according to Gaus, a 2,700-square-foot greenhouse farm he is currently building on a rooftop in Basel, Switzerland, is expected to produce more than five tons of fresh vegetables and roughly one ton of fish per year. Even better is the fact that, compared to conventional fish farming methods, aquaponics uses 90 percent less freshwater and requires significantly fewer added nutrients to raise the same amount of fish. Likewise, fruits and vegetables can be grown effectively without the need for pesticides and other synthetic chemicals and inputs, all of which are known to destroy the environment and human health when used in conventional agriculture settings. “We are only beginning to understand the vast potential of aquaponics rooftop farming in the city,” adds Gaus. “I am convinced that it will prove a working, robust, and scalable solution to feed growing urban centers in the 21st century.”
Health and Wellness Associates
AARP: 10 TESTS TO AVOID AT THE
According to the March 2014 AARP
Bulletin, doctors are warning that some of the medical tests routinely
taken by Americans do more harm than good, waste billions of health care
dollars annually and could endanger your health or even your life. Some
of the tests that are overused by prestigious panels of doctors include annual
Pap smears, regular PSA tests, regular EKG’s, and even routine yearly
physicals. Doctors are saying that the overuse of such tests can lead to
dangerous side effects, pain, radiation exposure, unnecessary surgery, even
The American Board of Internal
Medicine Foundation asked more than 50 medical societies—of family
doctors, oncologists, cardiologists, and other specialists—to identify tests
and treatments that are often unnecessary. AARP is a consumer partner
with this campaign, called Choosing Wisely.
Wisely partner is John Santa, M.D., medical director at
Reports, and he says that these screening tests often yield false-positive
results that lead to a spiral of unneeded invasive procedures, medications and
even surgeries. If you have symptoms or certain risk factors, these tests
can be valuable—even life-saving—but they’re performed on far too many people.
stress tests, and other imaging tests, after heart procedures:
Many people who have had a heart bypass, stent or other
heart procedures want to be reassured that their hearts are functioning
properly, which is understandable because they feel as if they’ve had a brush
with death. A common way to reassure their patients is for doctors to
perform tests like a nuclear stress test or other tests, to make sure their
hearts are beating strongly. But according to William Zoghni, M.D.,
performing these tests every year or even every two years in patients without
symptoms rarely results in any change in treatment. “More testing is not
necessarily better,” he says.
In fact, it can lead to unnecessary invasive procedures
and excessive radiation exposures without helping the patient improve.
Instead, patients and doctors should focus on what does make a difference in
keeping the heart healthy: managing weight, quitting smoking, controlling blood
pressure and increasing exercise.
or exercise stress test
A survey of nearly 1,200 people ages 40 to 60 who have
never had heart diseases or any symptoms found that 39% had an EKG over the
previous five years, and 12% said they had an exercise stress test. The
problem with this is that someone at low risk for heart disease could be 10 times
more likely to get a false-positive result than to find a real problem, says
John Santa of Consumer Reports, which conducted the 2010 survey. This
could lead to unnecessary heart catheterization and stents. Instead, have
your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. If you’re at risk for
diabetes, have your blood glucose level checked, as well.
screen for prostate cancer
Cancer is always scary, but the PSA test often finds
slow-growing cancers that won’t kill men. “The evidence is extremely
convincing that in a man with usual risk and no symptoms, the PSA test causes
more harm than benefit,” says Reid Blackwelder, M.D., president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
He also says that as a result of the test, men often have ultrasounds, repeat
lab tests and even biopsies for a problem that isn’t there—an estimated 75% of
tests that show high PSA levels turn out to be false alarms. When men do
have treatments like surgery or radiation, 20-40% end up with impotence,
Not all doctors agree with AAFP’s recommendation against
routine PSA screening, but many agree that the test is overused. Even the
Urological Association, which supports the use of PSA testing, says
that it should be considered mainly for men age 55 to 69. TheAmerican Society of Clinical Oncology recommends against PSA testing
for prostate cancer screening in men with no symptoms when they are expected to
live less than 10 years. A recent study published in the journal Cancer
found that Medicare spent almost $450 million a year on PSA screenings,
one-third of which was for men over the age of 75.
PET scan to
diagnose Alzheimer’s disease
Until recently, the only way to accurately diagnose
Alzheimer’s was during an autopsy. In the last few years, doctors have
begun using PET scans with a radioactive dye to look for beta-amyloid protein that
is found in the brains of people with the disease. Although this test has
promising use for research, there are serious questions about whether it should
be used on those who complain of fuzzy memory. PET scans in older people
consistently find the protein in 30 to 40% of people whose memories are just
Although beta-amyloid plaques are present in all of
those who have Alzheimer’s, it’s not known if or when everyone with the plaques
will develop the disease, says Peter Herscovitch, M.D., president-elect of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.
What’s more, even if a PET scan could accurately diagnose the disease,
it’s untreatable. If you’re concerned about your memory, the better
course would be a complete medical evaluation by a doctor who specializes in
diagnosing and treating dementia. Many other medical conditions, like
stokes, thyroid deficiencies and vitamin deficiencies can cause the same
symptoms, and these are treatable.
X-ray, CT scan or
lower back pain
Unfortunately, back pain is incredibly common—80% of
people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. It can be
both excruciating and debilitating. Of course, people want to know what’s
wrong with them. Here’s the catch: The best imaging machines in the
world often can’t tell them what’s wrong. Many older people with no back
pain can have terrible-looking scans.
Most back pain goes away in about a month and imaging
tests tend to lead to expensive procedures that often don’t help
recovery. One study found that people who got an MRI during the first
month of their back pain were 8 times more likely to have surgery than those
who didn’t have an MRI—but they didn’t get relief any faster. If you
don’t feel better in a month, talk to your doctor about other options like
physical therapy, yoga or massage. But if you’re experiencing numbness or
weakness in your legs, you have a history of cancer or you have had a recent
infection, see your doctor as soon as you can.
Yearly Pap tests
The yearly Pap smear is
a common part of women’s health checklists, but it doesn’t need to be.
Women at average risk only need them every three years, since cervical cancer
generally takes 10 to 20 years to develop. If women have also had
negative tests for the human papillomavirus (HPV),
which is now known to cause the cancer, they only need a Pap test along with
the HPV test every five years. And women older than 65 who have had
several normal Pap tests in a row can stop having them altogether. Do
note, however, that a yearly visit to an ob-gyn stays on the to-do list.
Bone density scan for women before age 65 and men before
For the estimated 10 million people—mainly women—in the U.S.
who have osteoporosis,
bone-strengthening medications can lower the chances of breaking a bone.
But many experts argue that for those age 50 to 65 who have osteopenia—mild
bone loss—testing and aubsequent drug prescriptions may be a waste of time and
money. Not only is the risk of fracture often low, medications like Fosamax (alendronate) and Boniva (ibandronate) have been linked to
throat or chest pain, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, muscle pain, bone loss
in the jaw and thigh-bone fractures. And there’s scant evidence that
people with osteopenia get much benefit from the drugs.
To help keep your bones strong, try walking and
weight-bearing exercises, says Blackwelder. Get enough calcium and
vitamin D in your diet. If you smoke, quit.
Follow-up ultrasounds for small
Many women receive repeated ultrasounds to verify that
ovarian cysts have not become cancerous, but current research says that these
tests are not necessary. For one thing, premenopausal women have harmless
ovarian cysts regularly. For another, about 20% of postmenopausal women
also develop harmless cysts.
“The likelihood of these small simple cysts ever
becoming cancer is exceedingly low,” says Deborah Levine, M.D., chair of the
American College of
Radiology Commission on Ultrasound and a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School.
In postmenopausal women, only cysts larger than 1
centimeter in diameter need a follow-up ultrasound. For premenopausal
women, who typically have benign cysts every monthly when they ovulate, cysts
smaller than 3 centimeters aren’t even worth mentioning in the radiologist’s
report, Levine says.
Colonoscopy after age 75
Most people should have screening for colon cancer at
age 50 and then every 5 to 10 years after that, if the first test is
normal. By age 75—if you’ve always had normal colonoscopies—you can stop
taking this test altogether. That should be good news, because a colonoscopy can
cause serious complications in older people.
“Just the preparation for colonoscopy can be
exceptionally harsh,” says James Goodwin, M.D., director of the Sealy Center on Aging at University of Texas Medical Branch,
who studies overuse of colonoscopies. Some patients become incontinent or
experience weeks of pain, diarrhea and constipation. In worst cases, the
procedure can perforate the colon. Despite such risks, recent studies
have found that substantial numbers of people over 75, even over 85, are still
getting screening colonoscopies.
To protect your colon, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables
and whole grains for fiber. Cut down on fatty foods, red meat and
processed meats. Lose weight if you’re overweight and exercise.
Sound familiar? It should, because that’s the best advice for protecting
the rest of your body—and mind—as well.
There’s little evidence that having an annual checkup
can keep you healthy. Many tests that doctors regularly perform—to
diagnose anemia, liver disease or urinary tract infections, for example—don’t
make sense unless there’s a reason to suspect a problem. “A healthy
52-year-old does not need to see the doctor once a year,” says Jeremy Sussman,
M.D., an internist for the VA system and assistant professor at the University of Michigan
who was on the
of General Internal Medicine task force for making the ChoosingWisely recommendation.
“We certainly don’t think people should never see
doctors—quite the opposite. We question the value of seeing someone for
the sake of seeing someone.” Your specific needs should determine how
often you go to the doctor’s office, he adds. If you have an illness that
needs treatment, you should see your physician. And do talk to your
doctor about how often you need to have your blood pressure and cholesterol
tested. “Our real point is, don’t do these things for the sake of a calendar,” he says. “Do them for the sake of
Health and Wellness Associates
What’s in Your Chicken Nuggets?
Do you ever think about what’s really inside your favorite chicken nugget?
Experts suggest that most of the ingredients that these tiny chicken bites
contain are used by industries and not in foods for human consumption. They
contain other ingredients that are distinctly unhealthy, reading about them
might make you reconsider your decision to eat chicken nuggets. Let’s have a
more detailed look into such ingredients:
According to the official McDonald’s website their chicken nuggets contain
soybean oil with TBHQ, citric acid for preservation, and dimethylpolysiloxane
as an anti-foaming agent. These ingredients are all chemicals that are
artificially synthesized for industrial use.
Dimethylpolysiloxane is a commonly used industrial agent in
preparation of sealants. It’s made of silicone and used as an anti-foaming
agent in caulking. It has various safety concerns associated with it. It is
also used in breast implants as a filler and an important component in Silly
TBHQ is a petroleum derivative which is added to perfumes
and oil field chemicals as a stabilizer. It can create tumors in the stomach.
In experiments conducted on lab animals it was found that these ingredients,
especially TBHQ, when given in high dosages cause severe damage to DNA. TBHQ is
also linked with carcinogenic effects in various studies. Other problems that
can be caused by TBHQ include nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, collapse,
delirium, and feelings of suffocation. It may also lead to liver damage and
McNuggets also contain sodium aluminum phosphate and baking powder. Research
has associated these ingredients with Alzheimer’s disease because of the
presence of aluminum. The soybean oil used to prepare chicken nuggets is
altered chemically to make it more stable and has been associated with numerous
Canola oil and corn oil are also some of the more harmful ingredients in
nuggets. These oils are extracted from some of the most widely genetically
modified crops. The oils are heated at very high temperatures during manufacturing
therefore cause inflammation and harm to the body.
Nuggets also contain ingredients like calcium sulphate which is used in plaster
of Paris, it’s certainly not something that should be used in food items.
Chicken nuggets do not decompose even after several days which makes it clear
these are not real food but processed chemicals. Decomposition of wholesome
real foods that promote health is inevitable. Studies find that only 50% of
McNuggets is actual chicken, the other half is made of sugars, corn derivatives,
synthetic ingredients, and leavening agents.
In an article by Dr. DeShazo and Dr. Bigler’s published in the American
Journal of Medicine, the authors looked into Chicken McNuggets under the
microscope and their findings were shocking. The majority of the nuggets are
FAT rather than lean muscles and this product contains substantial amount of
bone, intestine, skin, and nerve tissues.
The way of obtaining chicken by fast food giants has been highly debatable
and various concerns have been raised regarding their production of chicken and
ways of processing it. There are bitter truths associated with other fast foods
such as French fries and hamburgers.
It is quite disturbing to know that toxic oils, harmful chemicals and
genetically modified ingredients are part of chicken nuggets. All the
information mentioned above is only about nuggets. It doesn’t say a word about
the sauce that comes with it and its simple to make out how unhealthy they are.
No matter how much you like them you need to say goodbye to them if you want to
stay healthy and keep your children healthy.
Source: American Journal of Medicine
Health and Wellness Associates
For the first time, a government advisory committee included a mention of caffeine in its recommendations for the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Rather than suggesting it be eliminated, however, the report said Americans could safely consume up to five cups of coffee a day, or approximately 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, with no detrimental effects.1
It’s a definite sign of the times. Coffee shop chains have been growing more than 10 percent annually, compared to 2 percent a year for fast food chains. There are about 20,000 coffee shops in the US, although 75 percent of the coffee brewed daily is actually consumed at home.2
Overall, more than 75 percent of US adults drink coffee, and 58 percent do so daily.3 Most coffee drinkers, however, did not start drinking coffee because they believed it was good for their health. In fact, many probably drink it assuming it is not.
If you’re a coffee drinker, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. There is one less dietary habit you have to worry about, as it turns out coffee may be good for you after all.
Even the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans may soon reflect this, a recommendation that was based on an evaluation of multiple meta-analyses and other studies evaluating the link between coffee and chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
The more research that comes out, the more it seems clear that coffee – in its organic, black, and unadulterated form – is a beverage you can enjoy while benefitting your health.
Coffee May Be Good for Your Heart
The coffee plant and its seeds (coffee beans) contain a natural blend of polyphenol antioxidants (including chlorogenic acids), bioflavonoids, vitamins, and minerals that all work together to offer some impressive health-promoting benefits, and even help neutralize the harsher effects of the caffeine that coffee naturally contains.4
The first slew of studies has to do with coffee and heart health. One meta-analysis that included data from 11 studies and nearly 480,000 people found drinking two to six cups of coffee a day was associated with a lower risk of stroke.5 That study noted:
“The phenolic compounds in coffee possess antioxidant capacity and can inhibit the oxidative modification of low density lipoprotein cholesterol, thereby reducing the atherosclerotic process.
…moderate coffee consumption (1–3 cups/day in the United States or 3–4 cups/day in Europe) was associated with a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease in women… Ample evidence also indicates that coffee consumption is inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”
Further, in a study of more than 25,000 people, those who drank a moderate amount of coffee – defined as three to five cups daily – were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries than those who drank no coffee or more coffee daily.6
A large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term “hardening of the arteries.” Coronary artery calcium can be a significant predictor of future heart disease risk.
In addition, one study showed moderate coffee drinking reduces your chances of being hospitalized for heart rhythm problems.7 Another study found it may trigger a 30 percent increase in blood flow in your small blood vessels, which might take some strain off your heart.8
Could Coffee Lower Your Risk of Cancer?
While a number of individual studies have suggested coffee consumption might increase your cancer risk, when multiple studies are analyzed, such as is the case with meta-analyses, the association disappears, and, in fact, becomes protective.
For instance, one 2007 meta-analysis found an increase in consumption of two cups of coffee per day was associated with a 43 percent reduced risk of liver cancer9 — a finding that has been confirmed by more recent research.
Not to mention, coffee appears to have additional benefits for liver health, slowing down the progression of liver disease to cirrhosis, improving responses in people with hepatitis C, and lowering the risk of death in people with cirrhosis.10
The potential benefit of coffee for liver health appears so strong that researchers have stated daily coffee consumption should be encouraged in people with chronic liver disease.11
Another meta-analysis involving 59 studies revealed an increase in consumption of one cup of coffee per day was associated with a 3 percent reduced risk of cancers.12 According to the researchers, “coffee drinking was associated with a reduced risk of bladder, breast, buccal and pharyngeal, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, hepatocellular, leukemic, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.”13
There’s even research showing coffee consumption could lower your risk of skin cancer. Drinking four cups of caffeinated coffee daily might reduce your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.14
According to researchers, “coffee constituents suppress UVB-induced skin carcinogenesis, induce cell apoptosis, protect against oxidative stress and DNA damage, reduce inflammation in epidermal cells, and inhibit changes in DNA methylation.”15
Women who consumed more than three cups of coffee a day had a significantly lower risk of basal cell carcinoma (non-melanoma skin cancer) than those who consumed less than one cup per month.16
Coffee Has Multiple Potential Anti-Cancer Pathways
How might coffee lower cancer risk? Researchers noted in the journal BMC Cancer:17
“Roasted coffee is a complex mixture of more than a thousand chemicals. Many constituents in it could potentially alter cancer risk through several biological mechanisms. Coffee is the major source of caffeine which has been reported to both stimulate and suppress tumors, depending upon the species and the phase of administration.
There are two specific diterpenes in coffee, cafestol and kahweal, which produce biological effects compatible with anticarcinogenic properties, including the induction of phase II enzymes involved in carcinogen detoxification, specific inhibition of the activity of phase I enzyme responsible for carcinogen activation, and stimulation of intracellular antioxidant defense mechanisms.
Polyphenols are an important ingredient in coffee, such as lignan phytoestrogens and flavonoids and polyphenols are found to exhibit anticarcinogenic properties in several studies.
Caffeic acid has the ability to inhibit DNA methylation in cultured human cancer cells and is associated with inactivation of various pathways involved in the tumorigenic process, including cell cycle regulation, inflammatory and stress response and apoptosis.
Coffee is also a major source of the chlorogenic acid that contributes to its antioxidant effect. Intake of chlorogenic acid has been shown to reduce glucose concentrations in rats and intake of quinides, degradation products of chlorogenic acid, increases insulin sensitivity.
Chronic hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance are confirmed markers of high risk for some cancer sites.”
Coffee Might Benefit Your Brain Health and Lower Your Risk of Premature Death
In addition to the news that coffee might be good for your arteries, your liver, and your risk of cancer, several other studies have also yielded promising results regarding coffee and chronic disease. For instance:18
- Multiple Sclerosis: Drinking four to six cups of coffee a day is associated with a lower risk of multiple sclerosis, as is drinking a high amount of coffee over five to 10 years. According to researchers, “Caffeine has neuroprotective properties and seems to suppress the production of proinflammatory cytokines.”19
- Dementia: Caffeine also promotes production of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, and triggers the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, thereby improving your brain health.
Among people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), those with higher blood levels of caffeine (due to coffee consumption) were less likely to progress to full-blown dementia.20 “Caffeine/coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or delayed onset, particularly for those who already have MCI,” the researchers said.
- Parkinson’s Disease: Higher coffee and caffeine intake are associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.21
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has even shown that coffee consumption is inversely associated with premature death. In other words, the more coffee drank, the lower the risk of death became, including deaths from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections.22
Tea Consumption Might Lengthen Your Life, Too
While there are more coffee drinkers than tea drinkers in the US (about 183 million compared to 173.5 million, respectively),23 many still enjoy sipping on tea …and this is another healthy habit. In fact, many centenarians around the world drink tea frequently, according to the Blue Zones project, which is documenting lifestyle habits of communities with high numbers of centenarians.24 As described in Dan Buettner’s book, The Blue Zones Solution, in Okinawa, Japan, jasmine tea and green tea are popular.
On the island of Ikaria, another concentrated area for centenarians, tea is brewed daily using fresh-picked herbs, such as rosemary, wild sage, oregano, marjoram, mint or dandelion. When Buettner had the tea analyzed, he found anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties.25 Tea has been enjoyed for close to 5,000 years.
It was reportedly discovered in 2737 BC when tea leaves accidentally blew into Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung’s pot of boiling water.26 Tea has been used traditionally as a beverage and healing tonic ever since. Like coffee, modern-day research has also confirmed tea’s myriad of health benefits:
Reduced Mortality and Chronic Inflammation
Drinking green tea is associated with reduced mortality due to all causes, as well as mortality due to heart disease. Research also shows holistic benefits to green tea consumption, including lower blood pressure, oxidative stress, and chronic inflammation.27
Green tea improves both blood flow and the ability of arteries to relax, with research suggesting a few cups of green tea each day may help prevent heart disease.28 Study results also show EGCG can be helpful for the prevention of arteriosclerosis, cerebral thrombus, heart attack, and stroke—in part due to its ability to relax your arteries and improve blood flow.29
Type 2 Diabetes
One study found people who consume six or more cups of green tea daily had a 33 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who consumed less than one cup per week.30
There is some evidence that long-term consumption of green tea catechins is beneficial for burning fat and may work with other chemicals to increase levels of fat oxidation and thermogenesis.
Green tea polyphenols combined with a form of vitamin D called alfacalcidol could boost bone structure and strength, according to a new study in mice. The mixture may reverse damage to bones caused by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced chronic inflammation, which could in turn reduce the risk of osteoporosis.31
Catechins in green tea could help protect you against glaucoma and other eye diseases, as research found that the compounds travel from your digestive system into the tissues of your eyes. During the study, the catechins found in green tea were absorbed into various parts of the eyes anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours after rats were given tea.32
Green tea components have been shown to downregulate the expression of proteins involved in inflammation, cell signalization, cell motility and angiogenesis, while an association between green tea intake and decreased risk of cancers (including ovarian and breast33) have been reported.34
Previous research has shown that green tea polyphenols act on molecular pathways to shut down the production and spread of tumor cells.35 They also discourage the growth of the blood vessels that feed the tumors. EGCG even acts as an antiangiogenic and antitumor agent, and helps modulate tumor cell response to chemotherapy.36
If You Drink Tea, Be Careful of Contaminants
Green tea plants are known to be especially effective at absorbing lead from the soil, which is then taken up into the plants’ leaves. Areas with excessive industrial pollution, such as China (where nearly 90% of the world’s green tea is produced),37 may therefore contain substantial amounts of lead.38
While the lead in the tea leaves is not thought to leach very effectively into the tea you end up drinking, if you’re consuming Matcha green tea (which contains the entire ground tealeaf), one of my favorites, it’s especially important that it comes from Japan instead of China.
Both black and green teas are also naturally high in fluoride, even if organically grown without pesticides. This is because the plant readily absorbs fluoride thorough its root system, including naturally occurring fluoride in the soil.
According to fluoride expert Jeff Green, who sadly passed away unexpectedly last year,39 there are reports of people who have developed crippling skeletal fluorosis from drinking high amounts of iced tea alone.40 If you live in an area with fluoridated drinking water, as the majority of Americans do, then you could be getting a double dose of fluoride when you drink tea.
When selecting tea of any kind, it should preferably be organic (to avoid pesticides) and grown in a pristine environment because, as mentioned, tea is known to accumulate fluoride, heavy metals, and other toxins from soil and water. A clean growing environment is essential to producing a pure, high-quality tea. Another quick tip? Add a squirt of lemon juice to your cup. Previous research has demonstrated that vitamin C significantly increases the amount of beneficial catechins available for your body to absorb.
On the other hand, while adding lemon juice is beneficial, adding milk is not. The proteins in milk may bind to and neutralize the antioxidants in tea, such that its health benefits are significantly reduced.“41
The Healthiest Coffee Is Black and Organic
For many people today, “coffee” has become synonymous with heavily sweetened, chocolate-, vanilla-, or caramel-flavored beverages. But if you are dousing your cup of Joe in creamer, non-dairy creamer, sugar, and other sweeteners and flavorings, you are missing out on the therapeutic benefits and potentially harming your health. The natural blend of polyphenol antioxidants are part of what makes coffee so healthy.
However, some research suggests that adding dairy to your coffee may interfere with your body’s absorption of beneficial chlorogenic acids.42 Meanwhile, if you add sugar to your coffee you’ll spike your insulin levels, which contributes to insulin resistance.
If you’re interested in the health benefits, drink your coffee black, without sugar, non-dairy creamer or cream, or flavorings. If you really can’t stand your coffee black, you could try adding non-dairy alternatives like coconut milk or a natural sweetener like stevia.
As for buying organic, do so whenever possible. Coffee beans are one of the most heavily pesticides-sprayed crops. So, you should select only coffee beans that are certified organic. Remember, you will obliterate any positive effects if you consume coffee that’s been doused in pesticides or other chemicals.
Whenever possible, purchase sustainable “shade-grown” coffee to help prevent the continued destruction of our tropical rain forests and the birds that inhabit them. There are many who say shade-grown coffee tastes better as well. In addition, you’ll want to purchase whole bean coffee that smells and tastes fresh, not stale; if your coffee does not have a pleasant aroma, it is likely rancid.
Grind it yourself to prevent rancidity, as pre-ground coffee may be rancid by the time you get it home. If you use a “drip” coffee maker, be sure to use non-bleached filters. The bright white ones are chlorine-bleached, and some of this chlorine will leach from the filter during the brewing process.
Bleached filters are also notoriously full of dangerous disinfection byproducts, such as dioxin. Finally, while it appears coffee in moderation is beneficial, be careful not to overdo it, as some studies have found adverse effects when about 10 cups a day or more are consumed. When referring to a “cup” of coffee, most research considers it to be five to eight ounces with about 100 mg of caffeine.
In contrast, a small cup at many coffee houses starts at 12 ounces while a large cup may hold 20-24 ounces. Finally, pregnant women should probably not drink caffeinated coffee. Public health agencies suggest pregnant women limit daily caffeine to 200 mg (or about two cups of coffee a day).
However, caffeine can significantly impact the growing fetus. It is able to freely pass through the placenta, and since caffeine does not provide any benefits to your baby, only potential hazards, I strongly recommend pregnant women avoid ALL forms of caffeine.
Health and Wellness Associates