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and Other Health Facts and Tips
Fishermen in the vicinity of Okinawa should have been well within the limits of the population most at risk for cancer after the dropping of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombs. Strangely, they lived cancer-free. After decades of research, immunologists have concluded that the high seaweed content in the local diet was a major contributing factor to this minor miracle. Seaweed is neither readily obtainable for most of us nor likely to set our mouths watering; but seaweed extract, or seanol, is available in pill form and can be purchased online from a number of vendors.
One of our favorite “bad boys” of the antioxidant world is the rugged prickly pear cactus, or nopal. The red pears (or apples) themselves are tasty if and highly nutritious: just be careful to remove all the thorns! But the plant’s real secret is in the slimy green flesh beneath the tough rind of its leaves. This hard-won morsel is far less pleasing to the palate than the red fruit, but it can be diced and added to any number of dishes with happy culinary results. It tends to bring out the taste of surrounding spices and to disappear within them. Try adding it to omelets or pizzas. Pickled nopalitos are also available at many grocery stores in the Southwest and may be eaten right out of the jar.
The antioxidizing properties of green tea have been recognized for years. Alas, the bitter taste of China and Japan’s answer to dark brown Indian tea is an acquired habit. However, the two varieties of tea may be mixed together for those who prefer India, often producing a very pleasant result. Recent research also indicates that green tea is good for the heart.
Seekers of healthy antioxidants are sometimes befuddled by the two words “curcumin” and “cumin”. Despite the narrow resemblance in spelling, these two spices are not the same. Curcumin may be found in the bright yellow seasoning turmeric, and is a powerful antioxidant. Its effects are maximized when even a slight amount of black pepper is added. Curcumin and cumin are both found, by the way, in the curry powder distinctive to East Indian dishes.
All antioxidants are heart-healthy, but two that are frequently mentioned are onions and garlic. Of course, there are certain social risks that one runs by indulging liberally in benefits of these cardiac champions. The good news is that you don’t have to eat them raw: cook them into your food and they become both more digestible and less intimidating to surrounding noses. Alternatively, be sure that everyone in your group (and especially anyone whom you hope to know better as the evening progresses) eats what you eat.
Bone and Joint Health
Bananas are high in potassium, and potassium is essential for maintaining good bone health and reducing the pain of such annoyances as bone spurs.
Avocados are also surprisingly high in potassium. They’re a welcome addition to the taste of a great many salads, so bringing them on board one’s daily diet is not a challenge.
Everybody knows about carrots and eyes—you just never see a rabbit wearing glasses!
Eggs, too, turn out to be good for the eyes besides having numerous other benefits (such as being a terrific source of protein for young athletes). Not too long ago, we were being warned against eggs and dairy products… but your grandmother was right all along!
Many name-brand toothpastes use baking soda as a whitening agent, and it was indeed employed in bygone times as a dental cleanser. (Don’t scrub too hard, though, if you want to keep a little enamel.) The anti-bacterial properties of sodium bicarbonate are actually good for more than removing stains, and perhaps for more than fighting cavities. Some old-timers claim that baking soda is a treatment for cancer throughout the body. The Irish famously love to dust their soda bread in the stuff.
Things to Avoid
We can no longer lead a life free of electro-magnetic radiation; if you’re reading these words, then a screen is transmitting them in front of you. We can and should, however, reduce needless exposure to electronic gadgetry. Its long-term effects are little known and less studied (probably because so much money is invested in flooding the market with yet more high-tech conveniences: serious researchers would probably disappear without a trace). Plenty of anecdotal evidence has nevertheless collected over the years. Rabid cellphone-users developing brain cancer, women who keep their cells in a shirt pocket developing breast cancer, computer nerds having their faces and arms covered with moles at an early age… one of our contacts who worked around electricity for many years even testifies that he cannot wear a watch now because it loses or gains hours every day! Be judicious. Anything you can do in your routine to reduce EMR is helpful.
Here’s some very sad news, especially for those who love fruit: the insecticides sprayed liberally upon strawberries, apples, and tomatoes are so effectively soaked up that a mere washing, or even peeling, cannot eliminate ingestion of carcinogenic chemicals. Buy organic if you can afford to; or better yet, grow your own. They don’t have that spotless look, but they taste better!
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