Food GOLD: Turmeric is just as effective as 14 pharma drugs but suffers from NONE of the side effects

Image: Food GOLD: Turmeric is just as effective as 14 pharma drugs but suffers from NONE of the side effects

What if you could replace all the pills in your medicine cabinet with just one herb? Depending on what you take and why, that may be possible with turmeric. Its main component, curcumin, boasts enough health-enhancing properties to keep pharmaceutical execs up at night.

In fact, this herb is so powerful that it has been at the heart of more than 12,000 peer-reviewed biomedical studies. Researchers have found more than 800 different therapeutic and preventive uses for curcumin. Here is a look at just a few of the drugs to which it compares favorably, as outlined by Green Med Info.

Metformin (for diabetes)

Diabetes numbers continue to climb as Americans grapple with obesity, and that means more and more people are taking Metformin – and taking on its scary risks as well. However, a study in the journal Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Community found that curcumin has value in treating diabetes; it is between 500 and 100,000 times more powerful than Metformin when it comes to activating AMPK, which raises glucose uptake. Studies have also shown that it has a 100 percent efficacy rate in preventing those with pre-diabetes from developing full-fledged diabetes.

Lipitor (for cholesterol)

A 2008 study revealed that curcumin compares favorably to atorvastatin, which you may know as Lipitor, when it comes to dealing with the endothelial dysfunction behind atherosclerosis while reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Other studies have shown that it can impact triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol. While most of the studies so far have been done in animals, it is believed that it could have the same effect in humans, although the right levels have yet to be established.

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Prozac (for depression)

A study in 2011 found that curcumin compares favorably to the antidepressants fluoxetine (Prozac) and imipramine when it comes decreasing depressive behavior. Best of all, it doesn’t carry the serious side effects that Prozac does, which include sleep problems, tremors, headaches, nausea, a lower sex drive, and suicidal ideation. In addition, it’s well-tolerated by patients.

Researchers believe it works on depression by inhibiting monoamine oxidase, the enzyme that has been linked to depression when it’s present in high amounts in the brain. It also raises levels of calmness-inducing serotonin and dopamine.

Oxaliplatin (for chemotherapy)

A study published in the International Journal of Cancer looked at curcumin’s effects in stopping colorectal cell lines from proliferating. The researchers discovered the herb compared favorably to the chemotherapy drug oxaliplatin. Other studies are underway exploring the impact curcumin has on various types of cancer after animal studies showed it could help prevent illnesses like skin, stomach and colon cancer in rats.

Anti-inflammatory medications

Curcumin is also great for inflammation, which is at the root of many chronic illnesses today such as cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, degenerative diseases, and heart disease. A study published in Oncogene identified it as an effective alternative to drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen given its strong anti-inflammatory effects, fighting inflammation at the molecular level. Meanwhile, in a study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin worked even better than anti-inflammatory drugs.

Curcumin is so effective at addressing such a vast array of conditions that it’s hard to discuss it without sounding like you’re exaggerating. However, turmeric is truly “food gold” and it’s something well worth making a conscious effort to consume more of. You might not be ready to clean out your entire medicine cabinet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start adding this spice to your food. It pairs well with a variety of dishes, soups, salads, stews, and smoothies; consuming turmeric with fats is ideal, and make sure you add a pinch of pepper to boost its bioavailability.

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Berries are some of the best anti-cancer foods you’ll ever find

Image: Berries are some of the best anti-cancer foods you’ll ever find

If you’re constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce your cancer risk, welcome to the club. With so many different types of cancer to worry about and so few safe and effective treatments, prevention really is better than cure. Most natural foods possess anti-cancer benefits to some degree, but if you want to get the most benefits, you should head straight for the berry aisle at your grocery store or farmer’s market.

Your first clue that berries possess remarkable properties is their color. Many fruits that are deep purple, red and blue get their shade from anthocyanins. These powerful antioxidants help fight free radicals and curb the oxidative stress and inflammation at the heart of many types of cancers as well as degenerative diseases.

While they boast a lot of useful benefits, like preventing the buildup of plaque in arterial walls that can lead to heart disease, anthocyanins’ crowning achievement is their ability to prompt various types of cancer cells to kill themselves. They also have the power to interfere with tumors’ abilities to resist chemotherapy, helping make this often-ineffective treatment that much more useful.

It’s no surprise, then, that acai berries, with their incredible antioxidant content, have been shown in studies to inhibit cancer. They can be especially useful when fighting colon cancer; a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that acai could suppress the growth and reproduction of colon cancer cells in humans by a remarkable 90 percent.

That doesn’t mean you should seek acai at the expense of other berries, however. Bilberries might not be as glamorous as other superfoods, but they are still worthwhile, especially in those who have breast or intestinal cancer cells as studies have shown they can cause cell death in these cancers. Also known as the European blueberry, they are like smaller versions of the typical blueberry and can be used in any way you would use the more familiar fruit.

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Another more obscure berry, the chokeberry, puts many other fruits to shame. According to a 2012 study in Oncology Reports, the berries were able to cause malignant brain tumor cells to die. That study looked at the combination of these berries and curcumin. While curcumin fared well when it came to inducing cell death, chokeberries were completely lethal to the cancer cells while also inhibiting the expression of genes that help cancer to spread.

Raspberries, meanwhile, offer a double-pronged approach to fighting cancer. In addition to their high anthocyanin content, they also have a high amount of ellagitannins, enabling them to limit colon cancer cells’ invasiveness and spur cell death in prostate, breast, oral and cervical cancer. Ellagic acid attacks cancer from several angles, acting not only as an antioxidant but also helping to slow cancer cell reproduction and deactivate carcinogens.

Berries’ benefits extend beyond their antioxidant abilities

The American Institute for Cancer Research points out that berries are also excellent sources of vitamin C, which has been shown to help protect against esophageal cancer. They also contain a lot of fiber, which can lower your risk of colorectal cancer.

When you consider all these benefits, combined with the fact that berries happen to be delicious, it might be tempting to get as much of them into your system as possible. Eating berries is unlikely to hurt you, unless you happen to be allergic to them. However, it’s important to keep in mind that berries contain astringent tannins, so taking high doses of very concentrated berry extracts could be damaging over time. Use common sense and talk to a naturopath if you’re concerned about striking a healthy balance.

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Dramatically reduce your breast cancer risk by simply eating more cruciferous vegetables

Image: Dramatically reduce your breast cancer risk by simply eating more cruciferous vegetables

The odds of a woman developing breast cancer are downright frightening, with one out of every eight women expected to develop invasive breast cancer at some time in her life. Although there’s no way to guarantee you won’t be one of them, there are quite a few things you can do to stack the odds in your favor.

As the second leading cause of death in the U.S., cancer has been the subject of a lot of research. One thing that scientists have consistently found to reduce a person’s chances of developing breast cancer is consuming cruciferous vegetables. Epidemiological studies have found that women who eat cruciferous vegetables each day can reduce their breast cancer risk by as much as 50 percent.

Experts believe that cruciferous vegetables have this effect because they are high in an organosulfate compound known as sulforaphane. Studies have shown that sulforaphane can not only lower your risk of getting cancer and reduce the inflammation that can trigger the disease, but it also kills cancer cells outright. This overachieving compound can also prevent the DNA changes that lead to cancer and deactivate enzymes that transform pro-carcinogens into active carcinogens.

A 2007 Johns Hopkins University study found that sulforaphane inhibits the growth of four different types of breast cancer cells. It’s not just women who can benefit; it has also been shown in studies to significantly slow the development of prostate cancer in men. For example, one study showed that consuming just 60 milligrams of sulforaphane per day in the form of broccoli sprouts was enough to slow the doubling rate of prostate cancer by 86 percent.

In addition to reducing breast cancer and prostate cancer risk, studies haves demonstrated that sulforaphane supports gut health, helping people to maintain a healthy digestive system. It can also help enhance your body’s natural detox process, and it has even been shown to reduce muscle pain after exercise. Another study found that it helps prevent the type of oxidative damage seen in the body that leads to immune system decline as people age.

The best way to get sulforaphane

If you’d like to get these benefits for yourself, there are lots of cruciferous vegetables to choose from, including broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, Broccoli sprouts, bok choy, and watercress. It’s easy to incorporate these vegetables into your diet, and there are enough different options that you won’t have to worry about getting tired of eating the same thing all the time.

However, if you want to get the most bang for your buck, experts say you should turn to broccoli sprouts. Just 140 grams of the raw sprouts are enough to give you the amounts of sulforaphane seen in many of these studies. If you can’t find organic broccoli sprouts in your local farmer’s market or grocery store, you can make them yourself easily with broccoli sprouting seeds and a glass jar.

Although it’s better to eat cruciferous vegetables raw if you’re looking for their cancer-fighting benefits, it is okay to cook them as long as you don’t overdo it. Avoid boiling them as this inactivates the enzyme that transforms the glucoraphanin in the vegetables into sulforaphane. Instead, steam them lightly for no longer than four minutes.

As more information comes to light about simple dietary changes that can reduce our risk of disease, one can only hope that breast cancer will be far less common in the future than it is now. Consuming the foods that lower your cancer risk should be part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle, but it’s safe to say that eating cruciferous vegetables requires such a small effort for such a great potential reward.

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An ancient pear endemic to Italy is a little-known superfood with high concentrations of antioxidant compounds

Image: An ancient pear endemic to Italy is a little-known superfood with high concentrations of antioxidant compounds

The Apennine mountains of central Italy are home to an ancient and rare variant of the European pear (Pyrus communis) called the Cocomerina pear. A study conducted by local researchers revealed that this pink-fleshed pear is a superfood bursting with natural antioxidants.

“Cocomerina” is derived from “cocomero,” the term for watermelon. This variant of pear is called that because of its sweet-smelling and pink flesh, which grows more vivid in color as the fruit ripens.

It is one of the so-called “ancient fruits,” which are very old and only found in a few small areas. The Cocomerina variant of the European pear is restricted to the Apennine area of Romagna and Tuscany. The early-ripening cultivar is harvested in August, while the late-ripening one is collected in October.

Many pears contain large amounts of anthocyanins, flavonoids, and polyphenols.  These plant-based compounds have powerful antioxidant properties that protect cell tissue and membranes from free radicals. (Related: The strange-looking tropical fruit graviola is a POWERFUL superfood against cancer.)


Researchers from the Universita di Urbino – Carlo Bo (UdU Carlo Bo) studied the nutritional value of the Cocomerina pear. They harvested ripe specimens of the early-ripening cultivar, as well as both ripe and unripe examples of the late-ripening cultivar.

The cores were removed from the sample fruits before they were chopped up and prepared into fruit extracts. Each extract was analyzed to determine the amount and types of anthocyanins, flavones, flavonoids, flavonols, and polyphenols that it contained.

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Armed with the knowledge of the bioactive plant compounds present in the fruits, the researchers tested the extracts for their antioxidant activity. They measured the effectiveness of each extract when it came to scavenging DPPH free radicals, as well as its capacity to absorb oxygen radicals.

Furthermore, they evaluated the ability of the extracts to prevent inflammation. In the 5’-lipoxygenase assay, they measured the amount of extract required to inhibit 50 percent of the inflammatory activity of lipoxygenase.

Phytochemical content of Cocomerina pear extract

To begin with, the UdU Carlo Bo researchers noted the different amounts of phytochemicals found in the cultivars of the Cocomerina pear. The late-ripening cultivar has higher levels of polyphenolic compounds. Likewise, its ripe fruits contain more polyphenols than unripe samples.

The unripe fruits of the late-ripening cultivar have the best number of flavonoids. Interestingly, the ripe fruits of both ER and LR strains contain similar levels of flavonoids.

When it came to flavones and flavonols, the ripe fruit of the early-ripening cultivar demonstrated the highest level. Dihydroflavonol levels were much higher in the late cultivar, however.

Comparison of the unripe and ripe fruits of the late-ripening cultivar showed that the levels increased alongside the maturity of the fruit. So ripe fruits of the Cocomerina pear contains more phytochemicals than unripe fruits.

The amount of anthocyanin in late-ripening cultivar is 126 times greater than in the early-ripening one. Ripe LR cultivars contain more anthocyanins than unripe ones.

Free radical scavenging and antioxidant activity

All three extracts were able to scavenge DPPH free radicals. The ethanolic extracts made from the unripe and ripe pears of the late-ripening cultivar were much more effective.

Next, the extracts were also effective at inhibiting the activity of the inflammatory enzyme 5’-lipoxygenase. Again, the late-ripening cultivar’s extracts displayed greater effectiveness.

The antioxidant activity was greatest in the ripe fruits of the late-ripening cultivar. When compared with commercial pear cultivars, the Cocomerina pear extracts showed comparable or superior activity.

The researchers concluded that the Cocomerina pear possesses significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. These health benefits could encourage the conservation and recovery of this ancient fruit.

For more stories about cocomerina pear and other fruits that serve as superfoods, check out

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Is Seaweed the Next Superfood?

I stared for a while at the placid face of Long Island Sound before I could make out Bren Smith’s farm. It was a warm, calm morning in September. Sixty buoys bobbed in rows like the capped heads of synchronized swimmers. It wasn’t until Smith cut the engine of his beat-up boat, Mookie, that I knew for sure we had arrived. The farm, a three-acre patch of sea off Stony Creek, Connecticut, starts six feet underwater and descends almost to the ocean floor. From the buoys hang ropes, and from the ropes hang broad, slippery blades of sugar kelp, which have the color and sheen of wet Kodak film.

At first, the local fishermen thought that Smith was growing some kind of marine hemp; that seemed cool. When they found out it was seaweed, they ribbed him relentlessly. Smith, in any case, prefers to call his produce “sea vegetables.” He also raises mussels, scallops, clams, and oysters in lantern nets shaped like accordions and stacked pyramids. He pulled up a lantern net full of twenty thousand black-and-orange scallops, two months old, the size of M&M’s. The net was covered in murky, greenish clumps of seaweed, crawling with sea squirts, little crabs, and translucent shrimp. “The farm is a reef for hundreds of species,” he said, cutting off a hank of seaweed—Gracilaria—for me to try. It crunched, filling my mouth with the taste of lobster juice. “This is what you want to see,” he said. “This is good, restorative ocean farming.”
Seaweed, which requires neither fresh water nor fertilizer, is one of the world’s most sustainable and nutritious crops. It absorbs dissolved nitrogen, phosphorous, and carbon dioxide directly from the sea—its footprint is negative—and proliferates at a terrific rate. Smith’s kelp can grow as much as three-quarters of an inch a day, maturing from pinhead to ten-foot plant in the course of a winter, between hurricane seasons. It is resilient, built to take a lashing, but if a storm wipes out the crop he can just start over. Every year, he harvests between thirty and sixty tons of it, about the same per-acre yield as a potato farmer. Plentiful, healthy, and virtuous, kelp is the culinary equivalent of an electric car. “You’re not just gaining nutrition, you’re also gaining absolution from guilt,” Mark Bomford, the director of the Yale Sustainable Food Program, says. “This is your get-out-of-anxiety-free card.”

As industrial land-based agriculture becomes increasingly untenable—environmentally destructive and at the same time vulnerable to drought and changing weather—we are being pushed out to sea. Smith says, “The question is, Are we going to do it right or wrong?” He calls his system, which uses the entire water column, a “3-D farm,” and he would like to see it become the dominant form of aquaculture. He would like to see kelp—a potential source of human food, biofuel, and animal feed—supplant crops like corn and soy. In October, his farm design, which he has made open-source, won a prize given by the Buckminster Fuller Institute for innovative solutions to urgent global problems. Not long before that, he was honored by Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, where he showed up without realizing that he had a twelve-inch fillet knife in his backpack.

But Smith’s ambitions extend beyond reshaping an industry. In his vision, kelp farming can rehabilitate the ocean’s threatened ecosystems, mitigate the effects of climate change, and revive coastal economies. With thirty thousand dollars of start-up money and a boat, he figures, an out-of-work fisherman can make seventy thousand dollars a year. “There are no jobs on a dead planet,” he likes to say. Two years ago, he started GreenWave, a nonprofit through which he trains fishermen to be kelp farmers. Smith plans to form a twenty-five-farm co-operative revolving around a seafood hub near New Haven, with processing equipment, a seed bank and hatchery, value-added venders making kelp smoothies, and a Beyond Fish market, where the only fish available will be barramundi, fed on seaweed. In the often overwhelmingly grim conversation about ocean health—some scientists predict fishless oceans by 2050—Smith’s hopeful narrative is good for morale, promising that we can eat and thrive in an ever more populous and warming world. “It’s important to know that there’s a way to still sustainably work within the ocean,” May Boeve, the director of the climate-focussed advocacy group, says. “It’s not a lost cause.”

All Smith needs to do is to invent a new cuisine based on filter feeders and seaweed. He is starting with the East Coast offices of Google. “I use ocean vegetables at the center of the plate and garnish the plate with those restorative water-cleansing shellfish,” Michael Wurster, the culinary director, told me. “My users are conscious about what they eat, where it comes from, and how it was raised.” For others, though, there are some challenges. Sliminess is not a property that most Americans appreciate in food. “What is that disgusting oobleck?” was the comment that greeted the slick heap of kelp spaghetti I served to a preschooler not long ago. Howard Fischer, a hedge-fund manager who personally invests in regenerative agriculture and restricts himself to foods that meet those criteria, told me, “People who are eating with their minds first will be the early adopters, but there are no guarantees here.” When I asked Boeve about her taste for kelp, she said, “I need a little more time with it. I’m more of a bivalve person myself.”
The morning after taking me to the farm, Smith was back in Stony Creek to meet a fisherman he was recruiting to grow kelp for the co-op. Smith, who is five feet five, bald-headed, and bulk-shouldered, like the lobsters he spent his adolescence hauling from the sea in traps, was wearing dirty jeans, suspenders, and a blue T-shirt that said “Kelp Is the New Kale.” He was drinking water from an old whiskey bottle. He has epilepsy, triggered by two things he likes and one that he can’t avoid: alcohol, caffeine, and not getting enough sleep. Before he was a full-time farmer, he drove a lumber truck and sold pieces of the Coney Island boardwalk stencilled with obscure words like “petrichor” (the smell of rain on dry earth) and “limerence” (tingly infatuation) to tourists in Union Square. Once, while he was working at a table saw, a board flew in his face and knocked him out. He still has a scar running across the bridge of his nose. After the accident, he found that he had developed an allergy to shellfish. He has never learned to swim.
The fisherman, David Blaney, had driven down from Point Judith, Rhode Island, where his family has been farming and fishing the coast for three hundred years. His people used to fertilize their crops with seaweed, insulate their houses with it, and eat it in hard times. He is sixty-seven, white-bearded, taciturn; around his neck he wore the tooth of a mako shark that tried to kill him when he caught it while long-lining for tuna off the Grand Banks. In the course of his career, he said, he’d trawled for cod on huge boats known as Big Green Dump Trucks and, when the cod ran out, for swill like butterfish and whiting; then there was only squid to catch, then nothing much at all. “The past ten years, the way fishing’s been, I’ve branched out,” Blaney said, stepping onto Smith’s boat. “Marine survey, marine safety. But I’ve got nephews and kids myself who would like to go back to making a living from the sea.”

Smith threaded his boat through the Thimbles, a collection of tiny private islands, some big enough for only a single house. It was low tide. An osprey sat on top of a long stick that served as a mooring. We passed the rusty barge where Smith proposed to his wife, Tamanna Rahman, a graduate student in nursing at Yale, last year. Smith and Blaney talked shop: to anchor the buoys, Smith recommended mafia blocks and mushrooms; Blaney, a diver, thought he might secure them with giant screws. When they got out to the farm, Smith stopped the boat and, using a hook, hauled up a line of kelp. He explained the process of thinning out the growth. “It’s just like, you know, farming,” he said, abashed before a man who had spent his career chasing monsters. “The smaller ones we sell as baby leaf kelp—it’s real thin, sort of translucent, and has a subtler, slightly sweeter base.”

“I’ve got a lot of fishermen looking at me like, You’re gonna do what?” Blaney said. “The other day in the coffee shop, someone referred to me as Captain Kelp, and I’m thinking, I don’t think I like that.” But, he said, with the warmer water driving lobsters from southern New England and the glory days of fish-hunting over, some of his skeptical colleagues might be persuaded to follow him. (Two-thirds of Rhode Island’s commercial lobstermen have left the business in the past decade.) He had credibility, he said, by virtue of still being alive after decades at sea. “Kelp noodles—it’s an economical and clean way to produce good protein,” he said. “What’s the problem?”
Blaney pulled off a piece of kelp and bit into it. To most fishermen, seaweed is a net-fouler, inimical. He chewed thoughtfully. “I know this old captain who used to say, ‘Now we’re going to shake weed till our heads fall off,’ ” he said.

Smith said, “It might be better than the fish in the net.”

In kelp, Smith has found what he calls “ecological redemption.” He was born in 1972 in Newfoundland, where his American parents had gone during the Vietnam War. His father, a linguist, wrote one of the first contemporary Inuttut dictionaries. His mother, who graduated from the Sorbonne, raised him and his sister and later became the managing editor of the French-textbook division at Houghton Mifflin. When Smith was in grade school, the family moved to Massachusetts; his parents divorced, and Smith, then fourteen, dropped out of school and moved in with his girlfriend and her mother in Section 8 housing. He worked as an emergency-room janitor on the night shift at a hospital, dabbled in selling acid and cocaine, and hung out on the docks with Hell’s Angels. “Bren was a tough kid who could take care of himself,” Sylvia Madrigal, his mother’s partner, wrote to me in an e-mail. (His mother died in December.) “The more dangerous the task, the better.” Talking up his “Newfie” roots, Smith found it easy to get work on boats. He started on a lobster boat out of Lynn, up the coast from Boston. It went out every day at 3:30 A.M. and returned at 5 P.M., after which he’d bring lobsters to his mother’s office and sell them at a markup.

At seventeen, Smith says, he went to Alaska, where he fished for cod in the Bering Sea and in illegal waters off the coast of Russia; the cod went to McDonald’s. “We were throwing millions of pounds of bycatch over because we only had permits for a couple of kinds of fish,” he told me. “It was like a sea of death around the boat. I’m not an environmentalist”—he considers conservation alone to be an inadequate response to climate change, and insensitive to people’s need to eat and work—“but I loved the sea, and wanted to spend my whole life working at sea. It was just clearly not sustainable.” When the cod stocks crashed and Newfoundland’s job market went with them, Smith saw it as the beginning of the end of wild fish. He returned to Newfoundland to try aquaculture, which promised both a solution to a food problem and a familiar way of life, but he was quickly disillusioned. “It was Iowa pig farming at sea,” he said.
Between fishing gigs, Smith finished high school and enrolled at the University of Vermont; he graduated in 1996 with a degree in English and religion. By 2000, he was living in an Airstream in the woods near New Haven, trying to feed himself by growing fish from pet-store stock in plastic tubs. One day, he read in the paper that some of the historic shelling leases near the Thimble Islands—so-called king’s grants, which had gone fallow after an oyster die-off in the nineties—would be made available. He got one, for fifty dollars an acre, and dropped some oyster cages on the seabed. During the next decade, he built a business, Thimble Island Oyster Company, around the allure of artisanally produced, eco-friendly filter feeders from an idyllic spot. He added clams, scallops, and mussels, and started a community-supported fishery program, with subscription customers.

Then came the one-two punch of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, with storm surges that buried his entire crop in three feet of mud. He lost years’ worth of produce and half his gear, and nearly drowned trying to recover the rest. “I decided that this was the new normal—I was going to exist in extreme weather and changing water temperatures,” he said. “I started searching around for different species to grow and different ways of growing them.” He pulled the lantern nets off the seafloor and hung them in the water column so they could swing in a storm and not get swamped. He drew a line around the farm: he would grow only species, like his filter feeders, that were delicious and restorative.

That is how he found kelp. Charles Yarish, a leading seaweed expert at the University of Connecticut who has successfully manipulated the life cycle of sugar kelp and studies its bioextractive capabilities, agreed to breed the plants in his lab. Yarish’s lab is a library of species, a series of chilly walk-ins with brightly lit shelves of flasks holding acid-green tendrils, mossy puffballs, scab-red tufts. Smith picks up the seedlings, on thin twine wrapped around PVC pipe, and unspools them on his underwater lines when the water temperature drops into the low fifties, usually by late fall. There could come a day when the water in the Sound is too warm for kelp to thrive; Smith will adjust. “It wasn’t just adding another species,” he told me. “It was the beginning of adding another ten thousand species.”

One afternoon, Smith invited me to the house that he and Rahman recently bought in Fairhaven, a neighborhood of New Haven that was once known as Clam Town, back when it was the nexus of the booming East Coast oyster trade. The house, a Victorian Gothic overlooking the river, was built in 1875 by an oyster kingpin; there is a shucking room in the basement, and Smith and Rahman still find shells in their garden. Smith took off his boots on the back porch before entering the kitchen, where Rahman was cleaning mussels at the sink. Her family is from Bangladesh; she grew up in L.A.’s Koreatown, eating the kinds of things that Smith pulls off his nets. She met Smith at a dinner party thrown by one of his customers. “Bren tried to woo me with his clams,” she said. “I made this amazing Thai dish and then an hour later broke out in hives. It was my first allergic reaction.” They have EpiPens placed strategically around their house.
Soon it was time to eat, at a table laden with seaweed and its cohabitants. There were bright-green flakes of roasted sea lettuce on cucumber, seasoned with salt that Smith harvests from the farm. The butter was flecked with yellow-green chunks of kelp, like the terrazzo floor in an old bank. Rahman found a tiny slipper shell in her mussels; Smith told her she could eat it, a bonus delicacy. The main course was fra diavolo, but instead of linguine it was made with kelp noodles. It tasted fresh and briny, like the breath in your nose on a windy day at the beach. “There’s a learning curve with it,” Rahman said delicately. She is the foodie of the family, but it was clear that she still had her doubts.

“We’re picking one of the toughest food types to convince Americans to eat,” Smith said. “But we have no choice.” In his opinion, there is nothing inherently delicious about kale, so bitter, tough, and leathery; we learned to love the stuff because Gwyneth Paltrow told us to and Dan Barber gave us recipes. But, much as kale needed Barber and his ilk to turn it from a T-bone garnish into a way of life, kelp will need a chef to make us desire it.

Seaweed is the unlovely name for marine macroalgae, an enormous, varied family of more than ten thousand species. Most are benthic: they attach to rocks, seabed, or other seaweeds with a clamplike structure called a holdfast. They come in brown, red, and green; some iridesce. Mating, they use eyespots, release pheromones, or extrude slime. Certain species can reproduce vegetatively. They can come equipped with floats so that their leaves—called blades—stay close enough to the surface to photosynthesize. Instead of rigid cell walls like those found in land plants, seaweeds’ cell walls are rich in sugars to help them bend rather than break in swells. These sugars—known as alginates, carrageenans, and agars—thicken, bind, and emulsify toothpaste, shampoo, skin cream, and countless industrial foods, including most ice cream.

The ocean covers seventy per cent of the earth and produces less than two per cent of our food. To grow the rest, we use almost forty per cent of the world’s land and nearly three-quarters of our fresh water. “We haven’t begun to explore the ocean as a food source,” Mike Rust, an aquaculture scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told me. “If you want a glimpse of the future, the best one is Jules Verne’s ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ ”—where Captain Nemo feeds his crew exclusively on food harvested from the ocean. Nearly half the world’s ocean-farmed product is seaweed. Most of the industry, which is worth some six billion dollars, is in Asia, where seaweed has long been welcome on the plate. “If you were to extrapolate one of those Asian seaweed farms, it becomes incredible pretty quickly,” Rust said. “You get speculative numbers, like, you could replace all agriculture with less than one per cent of the oceans’ surface area.”
Seaweed can be rich in protein, Vitamin B12, and trace minerals. Iodine and omega-3 fatty acids, which many seaweeds have in abundance, are essential for brain development; some researchers believe seaweed may have played a role in the rise of Homo sapiens. Archeologists have posited a “kelp highway,” to describe the coastal migration of the early Americans, some fourteen thousand years ago. Among modern Westerners, it has largely been treated as the food of last resort, a hedge against starvation that lingers nostalgically in corners of authentic cooking after the crisis wanes. An exception to this is purple laver (nori, in Japan), which the Welsh make into cakes and cook in bacon fat, and which the British food writer Jane Grigson said is “the one seaweed we can decently count in English or Welsh cooking as a vegetable.” Now that our brains are big enough to have devised a million ways to eat too much, seaweed could come to the rescue again. A recent study from the University of Newcastle found that the alginates in brown seaweed may inhibit the uptake of fat. Jamie Oliver, the British chef, recently lost almost thirty pounds and attributed it to seaweed, and to drinking only on weekends.

But seaweed’s most compelling property may be its ability to scrub, absorbing excess nitrogen and phosphorous, deposited in the water by agricultural runoff and wastewater, and dissolved carbon dioxide from combusted fossil fuels. (More than a quarter of the CO2 released into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean.) Too much nitrogen and phosphorous can cause algal blooms, which, when they go bust, leave deoxygenated dead zones where little can survive. Excess carbon contributes to ocean acidification, which dissolves coral reefs and harms shell-forming creatures on which many of the fish we eat depend. Research on aquaculture in Asia has shown that one ton of dried kelp can contain as much as a third of a ton of carbon. Rust has estimated that if we can accelerate seaweed production by fifteen per cent a year (the current growth rate is nine per cent) by 2050 that biomass will be able to remove eighteen per cent of the nitrogen and sixty-one per cent of the phosphorous contributed to the ocean by fertilizers annually, and will take up six per cent of the ocean’s emissions-related carbon.
Still, it would take decades of aggressive planting to lower atmospheric CO2 below three hundred and fifty parts per million, the level that most climatologists say is necessary to avert planetary disaster. Seaweed might have a more meaningful influence in highly sensitive areas, such as coastal waterways. In Puget Sound, where the pteropods—tiny marine snails known as sea butterflies—are showing signs of dissolution from intensifying acidity and dead zones have been spotted, a study is under way to measure how seaweed cultivation may alter the local chemistry. The study will also look at potential problems associated with seaweeds’ spongelike powers. Hijiki, the spiky brown seaweed often served at Japanese restaurants, is known to have elevated amounts of arsenic; according to Kelp Watch, which was established after the Fukushima nuclear disaster to monitor radioactive isotopes in kelp from Mexico to Alaska, kelp is a powerful concentrator of cesium. A primary goal of the research in Puget Sound is to propose ways to safely direct seaweeds into the human food stream. “We need to create a culinary bow wave for sea vegetables,” Betsy Peabody, one of the investigators, told me.

An era of seaweed eating can start to seem inevitable—penance for the golden days of corn and cars and cows. Paul Greenberg, who has written extensively about the collapse of fish stocks, told Business Insider last year, “If I could buy kelp futures, I would.” Given the exigencies of feeding the planet, it might be preferable to other available alternatives. “It’s not worms and it’s not bugs, so that’s positive, right?” he said to me. “I don’t think anyone is going to stick their finger down their throat and say, ‘Blech, kelp—I don’t want to eat it.’ ” Cheryl Dahle, the founder of Future of Fish, says, “We eat things now we never would have imagined eating twenty years ago. We eat dogfish. It’s called dogfish, for crying out loud! If we can develop a market for snakehead fish—an exotic, invasive aquarium species—out of the Chesapeake, we can create a market for kelp.”

At Oregon State University, researchers have decided that bacon might be a more effective marketing vehicle than guilt, idealism, or fear. In July, the university created a small media frenzy when it announced that it had patented a strain of dulse that tasted like bacon when cooked. It was a bit like announcing that you’d discovered a variety of orange that could be squeezed into juice—vegan restaurants have been selling “D.L.T.s” for years—but that didn’t stop ABC News from calling dulse “the Holy Grail of seafood.”

“It’s bacon or sex, those are the two things that drive the world, as far as I can tell,” Christopher Langdon, the marine biologist who grew the dulse, told me when I visited him at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, in Newport, Oregon. He is British, with rosy cheeks and a subdued twinkle. Twenty years ago, he started cultivating dulse in tanks of bubbling seawater to see if it would make an effective feed for farmed abalone. He observed some unusual traits—rapid growth, a distinct pompom-like morphology—and continued to experiment with nutrients, population density, and turbulence. The strain that he patented, called C3, grows by eighteen per cent a day.
Dulse is a delicate pinkish-red seaweed, sometimes called red kale, which the Irish ate during the famine. It is still wild-harvested in Ireland and the United Kingdom. “I’ve had a wonderful call from someone in Ireland who told me he only collects dulse when the moon is full,” Langdon said. “He had all these recipes—they add dulse to potatoes, and that’s apparently one of their favorite combinations.”

A year ago, Chuck Toombs, a boisterous instructor at Oregon State’s business school, stopped by Langdon’s lab. When he learned that dried dulse sold for sixty dollars a pound at Whole Foods, he got inspired. “I kept thinking about it, driving home to Portland,” he told me. “Sixty dollars a pound! How much can we grow, and what can we make of this stuff? I want to sell bales to Costco.” Toombs quickly ran some numbers and estimated that eleven thousand acres of kale were planted in the United States last year. “Producing indoors under artificial light, we think we could produce the same amount of dulse in a building the size of Home Depot,” he said. He recently launched a business selling dulse salad dressing at natural-food stores.

Langdon took me to see the tanks—turbid vats roiling with tangles of dulse. “Here’s the C3,” he said, breaking off a piece for me. I took a bite. It was ticklish, like escarole, with the toothfeel of a Twizzler; beneath the strong salt flavor, it tasted slightly nutty. “Our next project is to develop a culture system where you can grow dulse on land, without a continuous supply of new seawater. The idea is a dulse farm outside London, Berlin, Paris, or Tokyo to supply restaurants with fresh dulse every day.”

For the U.S. market, seaweed snacks may prove to be the point of entry—and the first battleground with kale. According to Food Navigator, an industry publication, the category is growing by about thirty per cent each year, with sales for 2014 as high as five hundred million dollars, compared with the kale-chip business, which is worth two hundred million. SeaSnax—organic, non-G.M.O.-certified nori sheets basted in olive oil and dusted with salt—have edged out cheddar bunnies on certain West Coast playgrounds. Ocean’s Halo seaweed products have made it even further: at Whole Foods they’re sold in the chips section. The company, in Burlingame, California, was founded by Mike Shim, a Korean-American former Yahoo employee, and Robert Mock, a Texan who became addicted to the nori sheets his son snacked on but wished that they were crunchy, like Doritos. With the natural-foods market growing faster than the conventional one, Shim thinks the seaweed-snack business can develop along the lines of coconut water, which is now a billion-dollar industry. “We’re only two years old and we’re selling millions of dollars’ worth of seaweed snacks a year,” he says. “We’re really focussing on mainstreaming seaweed for the American consumer.”
In Portland, at Oregon State’s Food Innovation Center, a young chef with a large mustache had been assigned to create dulse-related products to introduce to the public. (His previous post was at the Nordic Food Lab, an offshoot of Rene Redzepi’s restaurant Noma, where he ate a lot of jellyfish, wild herbs, and dulse ice cream.) To emphasize dulse’s bacon flavor—from naturally occurring glutamates—he cold-smoked it and then fried it in grapeseed oil. “This could be a big part of pushing meat to the side of the plate,” he said. It was a greasy dark green—heat brings out the chlorophyll—and intensely salty. Using meat glue to create a slab, he’d managed to get it chewy. It wasn’t bacon, but it wasn’t bad.

Bren Smith believes that seaweed can be the cheapest food on the planet, the fish sticks of the future. “We are going there,” he said. “The question is, Will it be cod-liver oil, or will it be delicious?” In late August, he had a breakthrough: he met Brooks Headley, a punk drummer turned pastry chef who recently opened Superiority Burger, an un-earnest vegetarian burger joint in the East Village.

At the end of the first week of September, Smith was at the train station in New Haven, wearing clean jeans and a green hat, swaggering like Popeye. He had two Whole Foods bags, each containing a box labelled “Sea Greens: Baby Kelp Leaf,” looped over his arms, and a tray of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee balanced in his hands. We were on our way to see Headley. “I bet this is the first time domestically grown kelp has ever been on Metro North,” he said.

A few days earlier, the Times had given Superiority an impassioned review, comparing it to Momofuku in the early days. Tonight, Headley was going to serve Smith’s kelp, both the fresh product Smith had with him and some frozen noodles he’d been working with all week. Smith showed me a picture of a five-dollar side that Headley had designed: a scribble of bright-green kelp noodles and roasted carrots in barbecue sauce, served with bread crumbs and a dash of lemon in a paper boat. “Maybe exactly what kelp needs is a little punk rock,” Smith said. “Not hippy vegans.”

The restaurant is tiny, six seats in three hundred square feet, including the kitchen. Headley, wearing a black knit cap, greeted us among boxes of the day’s produce. “When we started playing around with the kelp, I didn’t expect it to be so sturdy,” he said. “It seems like it’s going to wilt into spinach. But the texture is still there, even after it’s seared on the flattop.” He was practically bouncing. “I’m so excited,” he said. “This is, like, new.”
Smith said, “The reason the structure is so good is that in the winter it’ll freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw-freeze.”

A skinny cook with white-blond hair and an Orioles cap said, “It reminded me of pad-Thai noodles.”

Headley agreed. “There’s also like a gummy-bear quality to it. That gelatiny snap. Texture and mouthfeel is a huge thing for us. We try to do things that are gut-level fast-food satisfying without being meat.” He gave us some kelp to try: one extremely long noodle piled like cat-mauled knitting yarn, topped with a heap of carrots and smothered in a re-creation of K.C. Masterpiece.

Superiority is open from six to ten and serves two hundred and forty people—one a minute—every night. Around five, a mob started to form outside the door. A ten-year-old boy with fair curly hair and braces, wearing a Decemberists T-shirt, pushed his nose against the glass. When he finally got in, he was giddy with delight. He had made his family come from Carroll Gardens to try the food. Of course he had ordered the kelp. “Everyone in my class thinks seaweed is disgusting,” he said. “They’re horrified.” He went on, “I’m the adventurous eater in the family. I hate the SeaSnax. It’s not like real seaweed. It’s over-salted, over-olive-oiled. My sister likes anything that tastes normal. True story: if we put a plate of SeaSnax in front of her she’d eat the whole thing.”

“You used to like them, too,” his mother said.

“I used to like them.”

“Seaweed’s very mainstream now,” his father added. “Well, mainstream in Brooklyn.”

The kelp and carrots sold out in three hours. Smith seemed to have found his man: a crowd-pleaser with indisputable anti-establishment bona fides. “I’ve never had any kale in house,” Headley said. “I’m actually not a big fan of raw kale.”

As much as we need seaweed, it may need us more. Tom Ford is a marine biologist and the director of the Bay Foundation, which works to reforest the giant kelp in Santa Monica Bay, three-quarters of which has vanished since 1950. I met Ford in his office, which is a trailer on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, where he also teaches. Scuba gear hung on the walls.

On his computer he showed me a presentation called “Kelp! I Need Somebody.” It opened with an aerial shot taken two years ago of light-blue, kelpless water off Honeymoon Cove, at the southern end of the bay. Like others around the world, this kelp forest had been devastated. Around the time of the Second World War, industrial harvesters came in, seeking alginates, and unwittingly took off the growth zone of the plants, slowing their recuperation. (The harvesters pulled out in 2006.) Now there is the additional stress of sewage and storm runoff from a megalopolis. But the largest problem is the purple sea urchin, which loves to eat giant kelp. In the eighteen-fifties, with sea otters, the urchins’ primary predators, hunted nearly to extinction for their fur, the purple urchins began experiencing a population boom. The dead kelp forest, these days, is called an urchin barren.
Ford refers to seaweed-sequestered carbon as “gourmet carbon,” but not because he’s trying to get people to eat it. The kelp forest is a potential carbon sink—problematic carbon, embodied, makes its way up the food chain until it reaches an apex predator, such as a shark, which when it dies sinks to the ocean floor—and it also rebuilds a decimated ecosystem, providing a place for fish to breed and feed, and for migrating gray whales to hide their young. The fishermen get reëmployed, and the coast is protected from storm surges and erosion. Besides, a kelp forest is an ecological refuge that can be installed in the only real estate that is readily available. “Where am I going to plant the giant forest in the middle of L.A. to sequester carbon?” Ford said.

For the past two years, Ford and his colleagues have been bringing the forest back to life. Their method is simple: dive down with a hammer and smash most of the urchins they see. It has been remarkably effective, and thirty-four acres have been restored. One socked-in morning this fall, Ford picked me up in a truck to take me to Honeymoon Cove so I could see it for myself. He is from eastern Pennsylvania. The first time he saw giant kelp while diving, he was terrified. “It was the biggest, darkest, shadowiest thing I’d ever seen in the ocean,” he said. “Scared the hell out of me.”

We drove through a neighborhood of gracious houses with deep lawns, where the for-sale signs were from Sotheby’s, and parked by a steep cliff. Below us was a rocky beach and the Pacific, spit-white at the edge, then chalky, then blue. In wetsuits, we picked our way down a hundred and fifty feet of switchbacked trail. Ford stepped gingerly; he is afraid of heights. On the beach, he walked me to the water’s edge, which was piled with gloopy decomposing kelp. Flies buzzed all around. “This is how most people experience kelp,” he said. He picked up a dried-out holdfast, like a nest. Inside it was a small sea star.

Diving in the kelp is a biologist’s dream. “You can be sixty feet down, looking up at these giant columns of kelp spreading out on the surface, and these golden shafts of light, like light through a stained-glass window,” he said. “There are hundreds of species around you. It’s like flying through the forest.” We waded into the water and put our flippers and masks on. I ducked my head under and gazed. Two years ago, it was rocks and urchins. Now kelp was everywhere, ochre-colored, thirty feet tall, flailing like tube dancers outside a car wash. Three bright-orange Garibaldi fish swam past, then a group of opaleye, then five kelp bass. I came up to the surface and dove down again, plugging my nose with one hand and using the other to pull myself down the length of a plant. The water was milky with kelp slough. Southern sea palms swooshed and swayed as the waves tumbled over them. At the surface, Ford held up a loose piece of kelp, shaggy and decrepit with a small holdfast—it was sporifying. “More spores,” he said. “Go, go, go.” ♦

Three superfoods that deliver unbelievable nutrition

We live in a world where malnourishment is not necessarily due to a lack of food. In fact, many people in North America, who have good access to food and manage to keep their bellies full, are undernourished. This is primarily due to poor agricultural practices and food processing that have delivered mostly inferior food choices to the consumer.

However, if you consume clean sources of the following superfoods, you can start to nourish your body more effectively, and enjoy better health.



Chlorella is still a relatively obscure superfood, but hard-core health enthusiasts have been enjoying this nutrient dense powerhouse for years. Besides being an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and a complete source of protein, chlorella has other beneficial qualities that also facilitate detoxification.

What exactly does chlorella have up its sleeve in terms of nutrition? Check out this nutritional profile:

  • A rich source (58%) of highly digestible, complete vegetarian protein.
  • A potent source of chlorophyll, the lifeblood of plants.
  • Rich in vitamin A, C, E, and K, and one of the few whole food sources of vitamin D.
  • Contains the entire vitamin B-complex.
  • An exceptional source of iron and zinc, as well as a good source of magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, and potassium.
  • Abundant in beta-carotene, lutein, and polysaccharides.
  • Contains essential fatty acids including gamma linolenic acid (GLA).
  • Rich in enzymes and phytonutrients.

Since chlorella is such a detoxifying food, introduce it very slowly to avoid excessive cleansing symptoms. For more information on the healing benefits of chlorella, visit the first source below.

Bee pollen

Bee pollen is considered one of nature’s most complete foods and can help correct diets that are nutrient deficient or imbalanced due to its comprehensive and balanced nutrient profile. It contains one of the richest known source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, hormones, enzymes, and fats, as well as significant quantities of natural antibiotics.

Take note of the spectrum of nutrients in bee pollen:

  • A rich source of carotenoids (that convert to vitamin A)
  • Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12
  • Vitamin C and E
  • Calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, silicon, sulphur and 59 other trace minerals
  • 22 amino acids, which contain five to seven times the amino acids found in equal weights of beef, milk, eggs or cheese
  • Enzymes including amylase, catalase, cozymase, cytochrome, dehydrogenase, diaphorase, diastase, lactic acids, pectase and phosphatase

Since bee pollen can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people, please introduce it slowly if you choose to consume it. For more information on the healing benefits of bee pollen, visit the first source below.

Goji berries

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are native to southeastern Europe and Asia and have been nicknamed “red diamonds” for their unusually high nutritional content. Traditional Chinese medicine was likely the first system to realize their potent healing qualities, but the West has caught on to this well-known “superfruit”, and has started incorporating them into their diet.

What nutrition do goji berries have to offer? Check out this profile:

  • 18 amino acids, including all eight essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
  • Six essential Fatty Acids (EFAs).
  • 21 trace minerals including calcium, copper, germanium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and zinc.
  • Vitamin A, B-complex, C, and E.
  • A superior form of a wide range of antioxidants, including zeaxanthin, SOD (superoxide dismutase), polysaccharides, germanium, and beta-carotene.

Since the goji berry is part of the nightshade family, those, who deal with any type of inflammation, may want to avoid it.

For a more comprehensive list of impressive and nutrient dense superfoods, visit 8 Superfoods That Can Heal Your Body and 8 Steps to Health.


10 reasons to take spirulina every day.

We talk a lot about “superfoods” here at NaturalNews because there are literally thousands of nutrient-dense superfood options from which to choose, all of which contain a unique array of disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other healing components. But the one superfood that stands out among the rest — and the one that you should be taking every single day for your health — is spirulina, a special type of blue-green algae that is loaded with chlorophyll and a host of other life-giving nutrients.\


Spirulina is particularly rich in 1) infection-fighting proteins that have been scientifically shown to increase the production of disease-combating antibodies within the body. Since spirulina is composed of nearly 70 percent protein, the highest among all other foods, it is particularly effective at boosting the production of macrophages, a type of white blood cell that fights and prevents infection.

A 2005 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that spirulina helps 2) inhibit allergic reactions as well, particularly among those suffering from allergic rhinitis. It turns out that regularly taking high doses of spirulina can help allergy sufferers experience dramatic improvements in their allergy symptoms.
As far as blood health is concerned, spirulina has been shown to be an effective 3) treatment for anemia. In his book Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, author Paul Pitchford explains how spirulina and numerous other forms of micro-algae effectively boost production of red blood cells, particularly when taken in combination with vitamin B12.

Rich in both phycocyanin and chlorophyll, spirulina is also a powerful 4) blood purifier. Not only do these two important nutrients promote blood cell growth, but they also rejuvenate the existing blood supply. Chlorophyll in particular is nearly identical to hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for cleansing the blood and transporting oxygen to cells.

Because it contains all eight essential amino acids and 10 other non-essential amino acids, the antioxidants beta carotene and zeaxanthin, B complex vitamins; dozens of trace minerals, the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid, pathogen-targeting proteins, and beneficial probiotic bacteria, spirulina is also unmatched in its ability to 5) boost the immune system

These same nutrients also help to

 6) detoxify the cells and body of heavy metals and other toxins. A powerful chelating agent, spirulina tends to reach deep into bodily tissues and root out toxins like mercury, radiation, arsenic, cadmium, pesticides, synthetic food chemicals, and environmental carcinogens. Spirulina also assists in the transport of essential nutrients across the blood-brain barrier to replace the voids left by these toxins.)

A 1988 study out of Japan and several others have found that spirulina helps to 7) lower cholesterol levels and mitigate the underlying inflammation problems that cause cholesterol to accumulate in the bloodstream. Supplementing with spirulina daily effectively reduces blood serum levels of cholesterol, which means cholesterol is being deposited throughout the body where it needs to be rather than in arterial walls where it can cause cardiovascular problems.

Overweight or obese individuals trying to lose weight may also derive benefit from spirulina’s ability to 8) promote weight loss. Not only can supplementing with spirulina help you shed the extra pounds, but it may also assist in the growth and development of lean muscle mass, particularly because of its extremely high ratio of bioavailable protein.

Many people who supplement with spirulina tend to notice dramatic improvements in mental health and cognitive acuity. Because it contains exceptionally high levels of the L-tryptophan, an amino acid that produces the brain neurotransmitters melatonin and serotonin, spirulina is an unprecedented 9) brain chemistry balancer that can help improve mood, boost memory, and promote feelings of calm and happiness.)

Spirulina’s diverse array of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and cleansing nutrients also helps to 10) nurture healthy skin and hair. By targeting the detrimental factors that contribute to hair loss, saggy skin, and other side-effects of aging, spirulina can help rejuvenate your body’s largest organ from the inside out. Topical spirulina creams can also help tone and improve skin health.

To experience the maximum benefits of spirulina, it may be necessary for some people to consume as many as several grams or more per day of this nutrient-dense superfood. Just be sure to purchase only reputable brands of spirulina such as Cyanotech’s Nutrex-Hawaii Spirulina Pacifica, which is cultivated and harvested in such a way as to avoid contamination with toxic microcystins.

Ginger may protect the brain from MSG toxicity, says fascinating research.

For thousands of years, ginger has been hailed as a superfood for its healing properties that aid every system of the body. The oils that ginger contains are antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, and ginger has even been found to inhibit cancer growth. Now a study has actually proven that ginger can reverse the damage done by monosodium glutamate, or MSG, a known harmful excitotoxin.

Comforting Hand

After injecting pure MSG into rats for 30 days, researchers found subsequent withdrawal caused adverse effects including significant epinephrine, norepinephine, dopamine and serotonin depletion. Low levels of these important neurotransmitters can be detrimental to health.

MSG is widely used as a cheap flavor enhancer in many processed foods. While MSG may seem tasty for the scant time that its on your tongue, every bite comes with a potential kitchen sink of negative side effects, including headaches, migraines, eye damage, fatigue, drowsiness, depression, numbness, muscle spasms, nausea, rashes, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, difficulty breathing, anaphylaxis and seizures, just to name a few.

Subsequent to injecting lab rats with MSG, researchers injected ginger root extract for 30 more days and were able to completely reverse the neurotransmitter depletion and brain damage that MSG caused. Not only that, but the positive effects of 
ginger were maintained even after scientists stopped administering it!

A wealth of independent studies show that MSG should be avoided at all costs. Also popularly printed on food labels as hydrolyzed protein, torula or autolyzed yeast, soy or yeast extract and soy protein isolate among some 40 other names, scientists have found that consuming MSG even in low doses can cause blood glutamate levels to fluctuate abnormally high and then stay there. Anyone suffering from a disease or immunity issue that would contribute to a weakened blood-brain barrier is then much more susceptible to the chemical seeping into his or her brain and doing damage. Studies have effectively linked MSG consumption to several neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

In a 2008 
study published in the Journal of Autoimmunity, researchers actually concluded, “we suggest that MSG should have its safety profile re-examined and be potentially withdrawn from the food chain”.

As a cheap flavor enhancer, MSG holds more benefits for food companies than for consumers.

Despite overwhelming evidence of MSG’s detrimental health effects, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to claim the substance is “generally recognized as safe.” The FDA admits that it has received reports from people who have suffered the adverse effects from MSG, but the organization claims, “However, we were never able to confirm that the MSG caused the reported effects.”

Truth in Labeling Campaign co-founder Jack Samuels has commented that “the staff at the FDA are unbelievably fantastic in their ability to write in a way that deceives the public, but loosely based on fact. We refer to such writing as half truths. Read the FDA points carefully and you will see how MSG can be hidden in foods.”

On the other hand, ginger’s neuroprotective role can be added to a basket of healthful properties. With an oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) score of 28,811, ginger has an extraordinarily high ability to quench oxygen free radicals. After exposing breast cancer cells directly to crude ginger extract in a laboratory for example, researchers found the cells were rendered unable to reproduce. This treatment had the added benefit of leaving the healthy cells unaffected, something allopathic medicine with its chemotherapy treatments that indiscriminately target all cells, even healthy ones, cannot claim. Ginger is also a 
natural pain reliever, digestive aid and detoxifier. In short, it’s amazing.

The list of ginger’s health benefits – not just as a brain protector but as a full-body protector – cannot be overstated.