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The Powerful Punch of Pumpkin Seeds

Posted on Tue, Nov 07, 2017 @ 02:46 PM

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, have gained quite a bit of popularity. Roasting pumpkin seeds has become a notable tradition, especially throughout the Halloween and Thanksgiving seasons. But these delicious seeds can also be enjoyed raw or roasted, unhulled or naked, salted or plain. In any form, they are certainly among the elite of all seeds.

Nutritional Profile

One nutritional element that sets pumpkin seeds apart from their clan is the tremendous amount of protein they offer. At 7 grams per ounce, pumpkin seeds become an important source of plant-based protein.

The seeds are also an excellent source of critical minerals. They supply 42% of the RDA of manganese, an important nutrient for bone metabolism, antioxidant function, and cognitive health. Each ounce of pumpkin seeds offers 150 mg of magnesium, one of the most deficient nutrients in our diets and an underlying problem in multiple health concerns. Phosphorus, iron, and copper are found in significant amounts, aiding in the body’s antioxidant systems and making pumpkin seeds a good tool for those struggling with anemia. Finally, pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin K, supplying 18% of the RDA.

In addition to vitamins and minerals, pumpkin seeds provide a variety of phytonutrients including phenolic acids, carotenoids, phytosterols, and squalene, which are shown to exert numerous therapeutic properties such as antioxidative, hypoglycemic, anticancer, antihypertensive, cardioprotective, antilipemic, gynoprotective, and anthelmintic.

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Tags: prostate, blood glucose, skin health, cholesterol, cardiovascular health, insulin resistance

Hooray for Hazelnuts

Posted on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 @ 01:53 PM

For people following a strict Paleo diet, almonds get all the love. Owing to the restriction on legumes, peanuts and cashews are out, so almonds figure prominently in snacks, whether eaten as is, or as almond butter with fruit, or ground up almond meal in an endless variety of grain-free cookies, cakes and other baked goods. As for other nuts, low carbers with the financial means may make pricey macadamias a regular staple in their snacking. (Dr. Robert Atkins called macadamia nuts a low carb dieter’s best friend!) Besides being just plain delicious, these nuts are high in monounsaturated fats and are rich sources of micronutrients. Another nut that fits all these criteria is the hazelnut.

Hazelnuts, also called filberts, consist primarily of monounsaturated fat, with tiny amounts of saturated and polyunsaturated fats. One ounce provides about 13 grams of monounsaturated fat, with just 1.3 grams saturated and 2.2 grams of polyunsaturated. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is a whopping 87, but with the total amount of polyunsaturated fat at just over 2 grams, this really isn’t an issue as long as someone isn’t getting the vast majority of their caloric intake from hazelnuts. (Anyone who can afford to do that should share their investing tips!)

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Tags: diet, paleo, cholesterol, CVD, cardiovascular health

Brazil Nuts – No Longer Banished to the Bottom

Posted on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 @ 10:30 AM

Now that dietary fat is no longer public enemy #1, healthy high-fat foods are reclaiming their rightful and delicious place in people’s meals. For starters, Time magazine publicized the exoneration of butter not long ago, and then there’s coconut, which is rich in health-promoting medium-chain triglycerides, and fatty fish, rich in DHA. No one needs to feel guilty for indulging in fat-heavy guacamole, and let’s not forget nuts.

A hefty body of research indicates that nut consumption is associated with good cardiovascular health, possibly owing to their complement of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. An ounce or two of mixed nuts makes for a great snack, but in a container of almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, peanuts and cashews, it seems like one nut, in particular, tends to get left behind, and that’s Brazil nuts. All the rest are carefully selected until all that’s left lingering at the bottom are those large, oblong Brazils.

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Tags: MCT, Antioxidant, detoxification, Thyroid, fat, CVD, cardiovascular health, essential fatty acids

Fermented Foods – A Fitting Revival

Posted on Tue, Aug 22, 2017 @ 05:16 PM

A revival of ancient fermented foods is being rekindled, and while it may seem like a fashionable trend inspired by the hippie era, its roots run deeply through all cultures and all historical ages. In fact, fermentation is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. It was not until the rise of commercial food preservation that fermentation took a back seat and quality fermented foods are now sadly obsolete from many homes.

In ancient times, salting, drying and fermenting were the sole means of preserving foods from microbial growth and contamination. Pickling foods with vinegar and preserving fruits with sugar followed later. As the 1800s rolled around, cellars, caves and cool streams were used to freeze or cool foods, while a French confectioner, Nicolas Appert, was discovering how heating and cooling could seal jars, unveiling the first canned food. Today, modern preservation methods include pasteurization, vacuum packing, irradiation, artificial food additives and electroporation (pulses of a strong electrical field). Ancient preservation methods were not only sustainable and environmentally responsible, but they did not carry the carcinogenic risks associated with our modern methods of preservation.

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Tags: Probiotics, immune support, Antioxidant, bacteria, microbiome, GI Health, antimicrobial, cardiovascular health

Sunlight Exposure – Benefits Beyond Vitamin D

Posted on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 @ 04:46 PM

“Public health advice has tended to concentrate on the dangers of sun exposure despite the absence of any data that increased sun exposure correlates with raised all-cause mortality.”

Wright and Weller, 2015 

People sometimes like to think in extremes. When too much fat was deemed “bad” for us, a plethora of fat-free products flooded the market to great popularity. Now that fat—saturated fat, in particular—has been exonerated of crimes against humanity, there’s a trend of people loading butter and coconut oil into their coffee or tea. And the association between excessive sun exposure and greater risk for skin cancer has made some people terrified to leave the house without a visor and a thick layer of sunscreen applied to every inch of exposed skin. But is this really the best way to approach life? Being afraid of exposure to the source of heat and light energy that quite literally makes plant and animal life on our planet possible?

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Tags: vitamin d, skin health, depression, Serotonin, blood pressure, cardiovascular health

Dairy & the (Full) Fat Wars

Posted on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 @ 06:37 PM

“The emerging scientific evidence indicates that the consumption of regular fat dairy foods is not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and inversely associated with weight gain and the risk of obesity. Dairy foods, including regular-fat milk, cheese and yogurt, can be important components of an overall healthy dietary pattern.”

Arne Astrup, et al., 2016

The fat wars continue to rage. Olive oil, avocado and salmon get a free pass, but lard and tallow will kill you. And don’t even think about using heavy cream in your coffee or eating full-fat yogurt! (Good luck finding any amidst the shelves full of low-fat and fat-free anyway.)

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Tags: diet, stroke, cholesterol, fat, CVD, cardiovascular health

Gluten-free Fearmongering – Coming Around Like Clockwork

Posted on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 @ 03:54 PM

Another gluten study, another internet uproar.

This happens so regularly, you can almost set your watch by it.

What’s caused the fuss this time around? A study published in the BMJ, whose authors concluded, “the avoidance of gluten may result in reduced consumption of beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk. The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without celiac disease should not be encouraged.”

It’s becoming increasingly laughable that respected researchers are still arguing that some kind of harm might befall people without overt celiac disease who choose to avoid gluten anyway. Surely they’re aware of the growing body of evidence—not to mention several thousand patient case studies—demonstrating that one need not have their intestinal villi destroyed as the sole arbiter of intolerance to gluten. Sure, maybe that’s one of the most severe reactions to gluten in those who are sensitive to it, but let’s not negate its effects on the skin, its contribution to irritable bowel conditions, and its possible connection to schizophrenia. And that’s the short list! Gold-standard, placebo-controlled RCTs or not, healthcare professionals can no longer deny the list of nagging symptoms—some serious, others more mild—that patients report resolution of upon going gluten-free. Headaches, eczema, anxiety, lions, and tigers and bears, oh my! (Joking aside, you get the point.) 

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Tags: diet, paleo, gluten, Diabetes, mental health, cardiovascular health, insulin resistance

Spirulina – The Amazing Algae

Posted on Thu, Jun 08, 2017 @ 04:14 PM

Spirulina.

The mere mentioning of the word brings to mind the bulk foods section in a health food store or co-op, where this dark green powder stands out among the browns and beiges of brown rice, buckwheat, spelt, and quinoa. Its bold emerald color is the visual expression of the extraordinary array of nutrients it holds. It’s a key ingredient in many greens powders and is included in some commercial kombuchas and other bottled drinks, where the vibrant green almost automatically screams “healthy”! But what, really, is spirulina?

Spirulina is a cyanobacterium – a blue-green algae, which is cultivated worldwide and used as a nutritional supplement for humans as well as in aquaculture and livestock farming. (It is often added to poultry feed to increase the nutrient content.) This is no surprise, considering spirulina’s nutrient density. It’s loaded with iron, copper, manganese, riboflavin and thiamin, and has lower but still impressive amounts of niacin, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals. There has been some controversy over whether algae is a suitable source of B12 for vegans. Some algal species do produce B12; however, not all of these are true B12. Chlorella organisms produce true B12, but spirulina produces a pseudo-B12, which researchers have determined is an inactive compound and therefore not appropriate for maintaining healthy B12 status in individuals who avoid animal products entirely.

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Tags: immune support, protein, Diabetes, cancer prevention, cancer, Antioxidant, cardiovascular health

Unusual Vegetables Worth Exploring

Posted on Tue, Jun 06, 2017 @ 03:37 PM

As the season of farmer’s markets, tailgate markets and neighborhood gardens are in full swing, the large variety of produce delightfully tempts creative consumers to stray from their usual fare. Others confidently stick with familiar items and scarcely even glance at the unusual shapes and colors sported by some of the more uncommon species of vegetables. However, these unconventional vegetables are often packed full of health-promoting nutrients that compliment that more conventional choices.

Endeavoring to try different selections of fruits and vegetables not only increases the variety of flavors and textures in the diet, but also improves the daily nutrient panel. Far too many consumers limit their dietary choices, leaving gaps in their nutrition. 

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Tags: Diabetes, cancer prevention, cancer, Antioxidant, microbiota, gut health, vegetables, cardiovascular health

Crash Course on Copper

Posted on Wed, May 17, 2017 @ 12:52 PM

Precious and not-so-precious metals have an interesting relationship with the human body. While some—such as gold, silver and platinum—look nice on the body in the form of jewelry, others have important roles in the body. For example, silver is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial and antiviral agent. Gold is found in the body in miniscule amounts (one estimate puts it at about 0.000021 pounds), but nobody’s quite sure what it’s doing there, if anything. But with copper, now we’re talking. While silver can be beneficial for health in certain circumstances, it’s not required in human physiology. This is where copper outshines its more lustrous cousin, as copper is essential for human life.

Copper participates in a surprising array of enzymatic reactions that affect numerous tissues and systems, but first and foremost, owing to its role in facilitating the action of cytochrome c oxidase, copper is essential for sustaining human life at the most basic and fundamental level – generation of ATP via the electron transport chain. Without that, it wouldn’t much matter what else copper does in the human body.

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Tags: zinc, bone health, cardiovascular health, energy

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