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    Archive for the ‘prostate’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Flaxseeds

    I have been looking at the articles you’ve tagged with flaxseed and it looks like you wholeheartedly encourage the addition of ground flaxseed meal to foods.

    However, I wonder if doing this is ultimately beneficial – as you point out, men at risk for prostate cancer should watch their consumption of ALA [alpha linolenic acid].

    Additionally, omega-3 or not, adding fat to foods will increase the calories… for those watching their weight, is this really a smart decision?

    On the other hand, as a vegan, I can attest to difficulty getting nutrients like vitamin B12.

    Do you think that, for vegans, the addition of flax meal is a good idea (even with a diet that incorporates a lot of nuts [in particular, walnuts] and -for cooking- canola oil)?

    — Christine (last name unknown)
    Via the blog

    Keep in mind that most of the findings about high ALA intakes and prostate cancer risk mostly relate to flaxseed oil (which contains very high levels of ALA — approximately twice that of fish oil, and certainly much more than a tablespoon ground flaxseed), not flaxseeds themselves.

    It’s also interesting to note that lignans — the phytochemicals present in flaxseeds but not in flaxseed oil — are believed to play a protective role against some cancers.

    In any case, I stand by my suggestion of adding a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed to one meal or snack every day.

    It’s worth stressing that the benefits of ground flaxseed far outweigh any caloric concerns.

    If someone is interested in cutting calories, flaxseed should be at the absolute bottom of that totem pole, since two tablespoons — which pack in a lot of nutrition — only add up to 70 calories.

    It is always important to keep the concept of “nutrient density” in mind.

    In other words — consider the caloric content of a food in relation to everything else it offers.

    Those 70 calories in two tablespoons of flaxseed are keepers — they contain a lot of vital nutrients not commonly found in a lot of other foods!

    Instead of cutting out the flaxseed, have a few less bites of a less nutritious food eaten later in the day.

    Trust me, you won’t find too many other “real” foods that provide 4 grams of fiber in just 70 calories!

    As far as veganism is concerned, if walnuts and canola oil are consumed on a regular basis, then there is a decent intake of ALA and there isn’t a need to also consume ground flaxseeds.

    That is certainly a minority we are talking about, since 98% of the United States population is not consuming the recommended amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids?

    So, yes, you bet I am a proponent of adding ground flaxseed to foods.

    It’s, at the very least, a start for some people whose Omega-3 intake is currently at zero.

    I am glad you asked this question, though, because it once again goes back to the idea that “more is not better.”

    ALA is a wonderful thing to have in the diet, but overdoing is not healthier than getting the necessary amounts.


    In The News: Low and Non-Fat Milk: The New Enemies

    Here is my take on the recent “skim and lowfat milk pose a higher risk of developing malignant tumors than whole milk.”

    First of all, the findings are rather vague and contradictory.

    On the one hand, we have the following quote:

    “Low-fat or non-fat milk did increase the risk of localized tumors or non-aggressive tumors, while whole milk decreased the risk.”

    That is soon followed by this statement:

    “Our findings do not provide strong support for the hypothesis that calcium and dairy foods increase the risk of prostate cancer.”

    Huh? Isn’t this like accusing someone of cold-blooded murder and then, when questioned on the stand, saying, “Well, I didn’t actually see him carrying the weapon or standing anywhere near the body.”?

    The report also makes no mention of possible theories behind the alleged link between low/non-fat milk and these higher risks. For example, is this due to something being molecularly altered in the defattening process?

    Some people have e-mailed me and asked me if I thought growth hormones and antibiotics in conventional milk could be the culprits behind the findings.

    While a very good question, I don’t see any mention of the low/non-fat milks being conventional and the whole milk in the study being organic, thus I don’t think additives are relevant in this study’s context (although, as you know, I recommend consuming organic milk whenever possible, and if it’s from grass-fed cows, even better).

    Over the past two days I have tried to localize where funding for this study came from, but have come up empty. The cynic in me wonders if a soft drink company provided the moolah behind this research.

    After all, whole milk consumption has decreased considerably over the past few decades, while low/non-fat milk and soda sales have increased.

    Perhaps a sly soda exec thought, “Hmmm…. skim milk drinkers would never go back to whole. Maybe if we start making lower fat dairy seem evil, people would replace it with diet soda.”

    Another interesting tidbit? All food consumption in this study was self-reported, which lends itself to faulty memory, erroneous reporting, and inaccurate data.

    This study reminds me of the recent “diet soda linked to obesity” findings, which the mainstream media immediately pounced on without once thinking that more than likely it wasn’t the soda that was the culprit, but the fact that people accompany that beverage — whether regular or diet — with unhealthy FOODS.

    In this case, I wonder, for instance, if the low/non-fat milk drinkers were also consuming alternative sources of fat containing trans fats (which most certainly have been linked with increased cancer risks and tumor growth). Or, they perhaps had a lower fiber intake (a higher fiber intake is considered one of the best nutritional weapons against the development and progression of prostate cancer)?

    This truly seems like a non-issue that the media has, once again, taken out of context in an attempt to stir up some controversy.

    By the way, apart from a high-fiber diet, I am happy to report that urologists agree that one of the absolute best ways to keep your prostate healthy is to empty it often.


    In The News: Skim & Lowfat Milk: Waist-Friendly, Prostate-Attacking?

    I can’t wait to see how the National Dairy Council responds to this study.

    I unfortunately do not have a working Internet connection at home at the moment, so I will not comment on this study until Friday afternoon. I want to read the research before posting any opinions.

    For the time being, though, I suspect this might be a small molehill erroneously reported as an intimidating mountain.

    More to come tomorrow…


    In The News: Skim & Lowfat Milk: Waist-Friendly, Prostate-Attacking?

    I can’t wait to see how the National Dairy Council responds to this study.

    I unfortunately do not have a working Internet connection at home at the moment, so I will not comment on this study until Friday afternoon. I want to read the research before posting any opinions.

    For the time being, though, I suspect this might be a small molehill erroneously reported as an intimidating mountain.

    More to come tomorrow…


    You Ask, I Answer: Soy Protein & Men

    [Your newsletter on protein] was your best Small Bites issue to date.

    One thing that I was wondering about with regard to soy protein: I’ve heard it is much more beneficial for women and that there are actually some negative health benefits for men who have diets high in soy protein.

    I think it had something to do with the “estrogen” similarities. Any info?

    — Fred Mursch

    Brooklyn, NY

    I have heard this “if I’m eating soy I may as well put on lipstick” worry from other men before.

    If anything, men can actually greatly benefit from including soy protein in their diets, since their diets are generally higher in saturated fat than women’s.

    Replacing some animal protein with soy-based ones provide healthier fats (tofu and tempeh provide some Omega-3 essential fatty acids) along with fiber, phytonutrients, and vitamins and minerals not found in animal meat.

    Here’s the best news, though. Recent research indicates that soy protein’s isoflavones have protective properties against prostate cancer.

    A study published in the Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention Journal earlier this year analyzed soy consumption and prostate cancer risk among 200 Japanese male subjects.

    The results were pretty clear – those with the highest isoflavone consumption also had the highest decrease in prostate cancer risk.

    It is worth adding that these men were eating nutritiously overall. They weren’t having just half a cup of vegetables a day and getting their sory by munching on soy crisps and dining on soy burgers smothered in ketchup and accompanied by French fries.

    What was made very clear was that the addition of minimally processed soy to an already healthy diet proved to be a valuable tool for lowering one’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

    Yes, very large doses of soy protein can cause breast enlargment and even a small decrease of testosterone in men, but to experience these side effects, you would have to down a handful of soy protein supplements, as it would be very hard to get such amounts in a diet that includes a few soy protein options.

    Popping a cup of edamame in your mouth or ordering tofu with your pad thai does not mean you need to start thinking about going bra shopping.


    All-Star of the Day: Apples

    Legend has it they keep doctors away and get teachers on your good side, but it is our bodies that reap the best rewards from apples.

    Apart from packing four grams of fiber into just 80 calories, apples contain a flavonoid (plant pigment) named quercetin, which happens to be one of the top prostate cancer and heart disease warriors.

    A famous Finnish study (published in 1996 in the British Medical Journal) that tracked the nutrition habits of 5,000 adult men and women over a 20-year period found that those who frequently ate foods with high levels of quercetin had a 30 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular complications.

    Another flavonoid named phloridzin — found exclusively in apples — has been found to slow down bone loss during menopause. Just one a day, every day, is enough to help preserve bone structure.

    Antioxidants are substances that help prevent the formation of free radicals (cancer-causing chemicals) in our bodies, and apples are loaded with them! Apples are such superstars that they come in at #2 in the “Fruits With The Highest Amount of Antioxidants” chart.

    Back to fiber for a second. Apple skins contain pectin, a type of soluble fiber that brings on a feeling of satiety, helps the liver produce less bad cholesterol, and flushes out dangerous metals like lead and mercury out of our bodies.

    The fruit itself has insoluble fiber, which keeps yucky stuff — including free-roaming bad cholesterol — moving in the digestive tract.

    The healthiest way to eat an apple is raw and with its skin on. Apple juice is a black hole of nutrients and can’t even begin to compare to to the crunchy goods that grow from trees.


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