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Saturday
May012010

Asian Coleslaw

Cabbage is chock full of nutrients including vitamin C and indoles, important cancer-fighting compounds. In addition, red cabbage also contains anthocyanins, the purple pigment with strong antioxidant activity commonly found in blueberries. In the winter months, cabbage is an abundant nutritional resource when other fresh produce is either expensive or unavailable. This recipe calls for a lot of salt, but it is used in this dish to soften the cabbage. Then it is thoroughly rinsed off so the recipe doesn't provide too much sodium. This coleslaw is colorful and makes a delightful accompaniment to any meal, fish or vegetarian main dish. The garnish of minced scallions and toasted sesame seeds brings out the flavor of the slaw and adds additional crunch.

Ingredients

1 medium head green cabbage
1 medium head red cabbage
3 tablespoons sea salt
3 large carrots
1/4 cup minced scallions
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Dressing:
2/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons dark-roasted sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Discard the outer leaves of cabbages. Cut heads in quarters; remove and discard cores. Slice cabbage thinly or shred in a food processor. Layer the cabbage in a large bowl with the sea salt. Toss to distribute salt evenly and let cabbage sit for 1 hour to soften.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the carrots and grate them into thin shreds.
  3. Drain off any liquid produced by the cabbage and rinse the cabbage well in several changes of cold water to remove excess salt. Taste the cabbage; if it is still too salty, rinse it again.
  4. Add carrots to the cabbage and mix well.
  5. Whisk the rice vinegar, brown sugar and sesame oil together in a small bowl.
  6. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and mix well. Let chill.

Garnish with minced scallions and toasted sesame seeds before serving.

Food as Medicine: When cabbage is sliced or chopped, anti-carcinogenic compounds called glucosinolates are formed, but cooking denatures the enzyme that creates these compounds, stopping their production. So to maximize its healthful properties, cabbage should be eaten raw (as in this recipe) or cooked for less than five minutes.

Thursday
Apr292010

Vitamin E in Contact Lenses May Help Fight Glaucoma

One basic approach to improve therapies for glaucoma is to keep eye drops used to treat the disease in contact with the eye longer than current methods permit. (Glaucoma, a form of optic nerve damage, is second only to cataracts as a cause of vision loss and blindness.) Researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville found that special contact lenses treated with vitamin E can keep glaucoma medication near the eye much longer than is presently possible. In general, within two to five minutes of putting drops in the eye, tears wash the drug away so that only about one to five percent of it reaches the targeted tissue, said Anuj Chauhan, Ph.D., the research team leader. Incorporating vitamin E into contacts creates a barrier that slows the escape of the drug. In animal studies, the vitamin E packed lenses kept the drugs in close proximity to the eyes 100 times longer than most commercial lenses, the researchers said. Dr. Chauhan noted clinical trials of the vitamin E lenses could be completed within a year or two. She presented the findings at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in March in San Francisco.

Learn more about glaucoma and vitamin E.

Wednesday
Apr282010

Loneliness and Your Blood Pressure

If you're over 50 - and lonely - you may need to watch your blood pressure. New research from the University of Chicago shows that, over time, a sense of loneliness can raise blood pressure, regardless of other risk factors including body mass index (BMI), smoking, alcohol use, race and income level. The researchers also looked at the effects of depression and stress on blood pressure and found that neither explained the increases seen over the course of four years in people who perceived themselves as lonely. A total of 229 individuals age 50 to 69 participated in the five-year study. They included whites, African Americans and Latinos who were part of a long-term study on aging. The blood pressure increase attributable to loneliness didn't show up until two years into the study and continued to increase until four years later, the researchers said. They reported that the loneliest people in the study registered blood pressure increases 14.4 millimeters of mercury higher than the blood pressure of the most socially contented participants. The study was published in the March, 2010, issue of Psychology and Aging.

My take? I'm not surprised at these findings. There is ample medical evidence that people who fail to establish meaningful connections have more illness. As a social species, we are not well equipped to live as isolated, separate beings. Health is wholeness, and wholeness implies connectedness - to family, friends, tribe, nation, humanity, the Earth, and whatever higher power you conceive of.

Tuesday
Apr272010

A Note on Peas

Peas are a good source of vitamins K and C, manganese and fiber.They are naturally sweet and a delicious addition to any spring meal. Plus they may help promote bone, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal health. No matter which variety of peas you choose, buy them as fresh as possible - they are best enjoyed by eating them the same day.

 

Try this recipe with peas: Stir-Fried Rice with Tofu.

Monday
Apr262010

Acupuncture Used in Unusual Ways

Proper placement of these tiny needles can ease fears of having dental work done and can help restore the sense of smell after a viral infection. English doctors reported in the March 29, 2010 issue of Acupuncture in Medicine that five minutes of acupuncture relieved anxiety about seeing the dentist in 20 patients who had suffered from dental phobia for two to 30 years. The participant's nervousness levels were measured before and after acupuncture on the Beck Anxiety Inventory, a standard, validated test of these symptoms. Meanwhile, a small study including 15 patients whose sense of smell was impaired after a viral infection found that eight of them improved with acupuncture, compared with two given vitamin B complex, a treatment sometimes used to address loss of smell after colds or flu. The researchers from the University of Cologne in Germany said that while their findings must be confirmed in further studies, the 50 percent response rate to acupuncture they observed was better than results with vitamin B and better than rates of spontaneous remission. The study was published in the April issue of Otolaryngogology - Head and Neck Surgery.

Learn more about acupuncture as a wellness therapy.

Sunday
Apr252010

Vitamin K and Cancer Risk

Vitamin K regulates normal blood clotting by helping the body transport calcium. It also may help reduce bone loss, decrease risk of bone fractures and may prevent calcification of arteries and other soft tissue. And now researchers in Germany suggest that individuals with higher intake of one of the two types of vitamin K are less likely to develop and die of cancer, particularly, lung and prostate cancers. These findings come from an investigation including more than 24,000 Germans between the ages of 35 and 64, none of whom had cancer when they enrolled in the decade-long study. Over time, the researchers found that the study participants with the highest intakes of vitamin K2, found in meat and cheese, were 28 percent less likely to have died of prostate, lung, colon or breast cancer than the men and women with the lowest intakes of K2, even after such lifestyle and risk factors as age, weight, exercise habits, smoking and fiber and calcium consumption were taken into account. The researchers noted that in the lab K2 has been shown to promote the process by which abnormal cells in the body self-destruct. The study was published online March 24, 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Learn more about vitamin K.

Saturday
Apr242010

Vitamin D and Skin Color

Can vitamin D have more benefit for one ethnic group than another? A new study from Wake Forest University School of Medicine suggests that it might. Researchers looking at the relationship between calcified plaque in large arteries (a measure of atherosclerosis) and vitamin D levels in black patients found that higher circulating levels of "D" were associated with more calcium in artery walls. The investigators noted that this is the opposite of what is expected to happen in white patients and suggests that normal levels of "D" may be different between blacks and whites (the normal range was established in white patients). They also said that despite having lower intakes of both calcium and vitamin D than whites, blacks naturally have lower rates of osteoporosis and far less calcium in their arteries than whites. Moreover, the researchers noted that black patients with diabetes have half the rate of heart disease as whites when provided equal access to health care (in the community at large, blacks have higher rates of heart attack than whites, perhaps due to unequal access to health care). The researchers cautioned physicians against advising blacks to supplement with vitamin D until the effects of the additional "D" on blood vessels and heart disease in blacks are better understood. The study was published in the March, 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

My take? This study raises a provocative issue - whether the vitamin D levels we consider normal and healthy apply to all racial groups. Clearly, more research is needed to further investigate the results seen by the Wake Forest team. In the meantime, blacks supplementing with "D" on their own might discuss their individual heart disease risks and the pros and cons of taking "D" with their physicians.

Thursday
Apr222010

Earth Day 2010

Today is Earth Day, a time to celebrate and pay respect to our planet. If you want to join the millions of people around the world who are making small but significant changes to help sustain our ecosystem, try these tips, courtesy of www.earthday.net:

  • Use energy-efficient light bulbs, which result in the emission of less carbon dioxide (CO2) than regular light bulbs
  • Consider a hybrid car, drive less, and get regular tune-ups - all can reduce CO2 levels and improve fuel efficiency
  • Eat locally farmed foods that are grown organically, as these are free of pesticides and less harmful to the earth
  • Buy recycled products - and recycle your trash. In addition, try to purchase products that use minimal packaging

Small steps and individual responsibility can make a huge difference all over the world - get started today, and encourage others to do the same!