Food/Healthy Cooking

“If you don’t eat this one food, you will die sooner….”


“Buying this one common item at the supermarket could save your life….”


“5 Foods that can help you Live to 100….”


In an effort to boost web traffic, sell more products or newspapers or magazines, editors often exploit readers’ emotions with Armageddon-impending, you’re-a-sucker-if-you-don’t-read-this news headlines.


In the vast, largely unregulated, billion-dollar empire of nutrition, online supplement companies need to prey on human emotion to sell pills, powders and other products that are cleverly marketed and implied that they are absolutely necessary for being healthy.

Along with gluten-free foods, so-called ‘superfoods’ have generated lots of buzz through the web, popular TV shows, and in books authored by doctors and other authority figures. Food marketers are labeling more and more items as superfoods in order to move product.

Are all superfoods hyped?

No. There are legitimate superfoods. The problem is that the most common and more affordable superfoods are not marketed as such, while other foods, especially, those that convey exoticicism--in name and geographic origin--are heavily promoted as superfoods.

But this group of superfoods typically cost significantly more and offer the same benefits as more common superfoods. So let’s divide superfoods into two groups:

--Common superfoods

--Exotic superfoods

Before giving examples of each category, though, with the intention of helping you improve your health and saving you money, let’s answer the fundamental question….

What is a superfood?

A superfood contains an impressive amount of phyto- (plant) nutrients. There are several thousand phytonutrients including a few of these categories that you may have heard of:


Many people are familiar with carotenoids, which give pigment to foods like…you guessed it, carrots. The common denominator for all classes of phytonutrients (also called ‘phytochemicals) is that they have been clinically proven to be powerful antioxidants. This means that superfoods protect your cells and DNA from getting mutated by free radicals that could occur from food, lifestyle or environmental factors.

Many researchers and their studies have confirmed what non-credentialed, holistic health advocates have been preaching for decades: natural plant foods have powerful antioxidant properties.

What are common superfoods?

All leafy greens, such as spinach, kale and broccoli are superfoods. So are yellow-orange vegetables such as pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots. Citrus fruits are also loaded with phytonutrients, though they are to be avoided in large amounts (limit yourself to a cup per meal or snack) if you need to control your blood sugar levels.

Some types of tea and even wine have powerful phytonutrients. So do beans like soybeans. Eggs also have phytonutrients. Even though eggs come from chickens and chickens are not plants (unless it’s a rubber chicken made from a rubber tree), chickens eat twigs, stems and other components of organic plant matter.

Other animals that have plant-derived antioxidants include wild salmon and grass-fed beef. Omega-3 essential fatty acids, another mass-marketed nutrition label, are not technically considered a phytonutrient antioxidant superfood because at its core, it’s just a fat. But wild salmon and pasture-raised beef eat algae and grass, respectively, which provide the source of the Omega-3’s.

Research concludes that Omega-3’s encourage antioxidant enzyme activity, essentially giving a super boost charge to the antioxidants in their fight against free radical damage that can potentially lead to cancer.

The bottom line with common superfoods is that they are readily available in not only high-end health food stores but supermarkets as well. Common superfoods have high ORAC scores (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), meaning they are powerful antioxidants. Other superfoods might also contain essential fatty acids, enzymes, and of course, vitamins and minerals, as well as protein and a complete profile of essential amino acids, which form the building blocks of protein.

What are exotic superfoods?

It seems that approximately a decade ago, blueberries and other berries were suddenly touted as a superfood. A short time later, berries and other fruits with exotic names became trendy superfoods. Think: mangosteen, goji berries (from the Himalayan plateau), pomegranate juice, açai (from Brazil) and chia seeds, to name a handful.

Is it bad to buy exotic superfoods? If you have the money, go for it. But to reiterate, many common superfoods have exceptional free-radical fighting abilities and may equal or even surpass exotic superfoods in their abilities to ward off cancer or other chronic diseases.

Common fruits, vegetables, grasses and non-hybridized grains as well as nuts and seeds all can be considered superfoods. In other words, foods that are found in nature and not processed, or very minimally so--and not overcooked--are superfoods.

Every food found in nature contains a unique biochemical profile. You don’t have to travel to Tibet and cultivate your own goji berries for optimal health; you might not even need to buy them at your local market to live a long life, either. But if you have a couple bucks to spare, exotic superfoods can spice up your life.

This blog, written by Judd Handler, was originally published here:


Before you run off to your friendly cannabis-card-prescribing doctor complaining of dubious aches and pains in hopes of scoring some high-grade medical marijuana, consider taking another form of weed.


The weed I’m talking about is one you can’t smoke, although it is available in edible form. No, the weed I suggest trying isn’t only legal in Washington state and Colorado; this weed is legal in all 50 states. It might not get you high like THC but it contains documented scientific medicinal benefits.


And though the finished product is also green in color, this weed, before it’s cultivated, appears brown in color. I’m talking about seaweed, and for centuries, seaweed has been a staple of Japanese diets.


Researchers studying centenarians (people living into their 100s), specifically on the Japanese island of Okinawa, discovered that its inhabitants thrived on a low-calorie diet, mostly consisting of vegetables, fruits  and fish.


Okinawans, the researchers discovered, also consumed a hefty amount of sea vegetables, including seaweed, eating on average, 4-6 grams per day of it.


Other populations that consume seaweed and are free of chronic diseases that plague modern industrialized societies such as the U.S. also include the Chinese and Koreans (though many countries in Southeast Asia are experiencing increasing rates of obesity as Western diets are adopted).


What is it about seaweed that is so healthy?


Seaweed, which is actually algae, not a plant, contains compounds called “fucoidans,” which among other functions stimulate cell-to-cell communication, tissue regeneration and immune function. Considered a marine superfood, the American diet is all but void in consumption of fucoidans.


Fucoidans may help prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, neurological diseases and viral infections, and possibly arthritis.


Most supermarkets contain an Asian food section. Look for ‘wakame’, which is a type of wild seaweed. Not all seaweed is created equal, however. Some seaweeds are harvested from polluted bodies of water. But chances are, with a little research, you can find out if a particular company uses wild seaweed from clean sources. Or, next time you go out for sushi, order the seaweed salad as an appetizer. Ask if it’s wakame/wild seaweed.


You won't need a prescription for it.



Last week, I was in denial, having started my Fit Friday blog as I always do, by exclaiming, "Happy Fit Friday!", but truth was, I was so dejected, angry, sad and hopeless about the school tragedy in Connecticut. 
I wanted to give everybody a respite from the horrendous news, but now I feel I can no longer ignore it. 
Over the last week, I've been seriously contemplating relocating to another country, somewhere that doesn't have an epidemic of gun violence. Costa Rica sounds good: warm weather, beautiful country, good surf and, with the exception of petty crime, a tradition of peace, so much so, it lacks even a national army. 
Why would I want to live in a country, the good ol' U.S. of A, the supposed home of liberty and freedom, where I can buy an assault weapon online with no background check (click here if you don't believe me) but I can't buy raw milk. 
Not only can I not buy raw dairy of any kind, but for some of those that try to sell it like this Amish dairy farmer in Pennsylvania or this food co-op in Los Angeles, and many other places, doing so may result in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raiding these places with guns-a-blazing. 
Raw dairy is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet--so long as it comes from grass-fed, pastured (but not Pasteurized!) cow, sheep or goats. Raw milk, butter and cheese is loaded with antioxidants and supremely healthy fats, critical to keep us warm and healthy, especially now that winter is upon us. 
On the FDA's website, it states that 1500 people from 1993 to 2006 became sick as a result of raw milk. That comes out to a whopping 115  people a year during that time frame. Over 40,000 people a year die in traffic accidents, yet we don't ban cars. Almost 450,000 a year die from smoking in the U.S. and obviously we don't ban cigarettes. 
By far, more people die every year from getting struck by lightning than consuming raw milk. According to Naturopathic Doctor David Getoff, nobody who has consumed strictly grass-fed raw milk has died. Yes, you can get sick from raw milk that came from grain-fed cows (remember: cows aren't designed to eat grains like corn). 
The FDA likes to brag that pasteurization kills harmful bacteria. Yes it does, and then some; it kills all bacteria. Many people with chronic digestion issues need the good, friendly bacteria that's abundant in raw dairy to kill off the harmful bacteria. 
Many people who can't consume regular, pasteurized dairy, find that they can slowly reintroduce and digest raw dairy with no complications. 
I could go on and on about the benefits of raw dairy but I want you to enjoy your weekend. It just sickens me and saddens me that good-hearted law-abiding citizens who are trying to sell a product that can improve the health of the American consumer get raided at gunpoint by the federal government. 
And for those who voted Democrat, thinking that party cares more for the average person, consider that every single U.S. Democratic Senator voted against ending FDA raids on raw dairy farmers. (Republicans weren't much better; only 15 of them voted to end the raids.) 
I hope you're as outraged as I am at these raids and all the others. Assault weapons are fine, and evidently, so is an assault on our personal choice on what to eat. 
And don't get me started about this stupid end-of-the-world Mayan Apocalypse......
Take it easy, have a happy healthy weekend and Merry Christmas!
Judd Handler
Author of Living Healthy: 10 Simple Steps
Read My Health Articles Here
Like my Healthy Living page on Facebook


Walking for exercise.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are fast approaching. Let the battle of the bulge begin!

OFF THE COUCH: Taking just a 10-minute walk after a meal can do wonders. (Photo:_staticnomore/Flickr)
For millions of Americans, the holidays bring lots of stress as well as a heaping serving of extra calories that seems to go right to the gut.
But it doesn’t have to be so. Here are some simple tips to follow to help youprevent weight gain over the holidays:
Go take a hike! After dinner, that is….
It’s quite common for people this time of year to surrender to the shorter days, cold nights and hectic schedule of the holiday season. The urge to hibernate is very strong, especially for those who live in colder climates.
But even if you don’t have time to hit the gym, certainly there’s time for an after-meal walk. Involve the whole family if you can. Even taking just a 10-minute walk after a meal can do wonders for balancing blood-sugar levels, perhaps even more so than taking a walk before a meal.
Feasting on a holiday dinner and then succumbing to the magnetic powers of the couch and TV is a guarantee that you will gain unwanted weight.
If you feel the powerful urge to retreat to the living room and watch some football after Thanksgiving meal, do so only after taking a walk after you eat.
This is perhaps the best way to ensure that you won’t pack on as much weight over the holidays. Make an after-meal walk part of your routine every day, especially after dinner.
Got a ton of dishes to do? Leave them be, until you get back from your walk.
And don’t use the cold weather as an excuse. To quote the British adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”
So break out the fleece and start making after-dinner walks a nightly ritual, just like brushing your teeth.
Don’t wait until after New Year’s to start an exercise routine
If you are feeling motivated to begin an exercise regimen, don’t wait until after Jan. 1 to start. Use the next few weeks to boost your metabolism, so that you can eat some extra calories here and there over the holidays without feeling guilty and gaining weight.
In the beginning stages of an exercise program, the body’s physiology makes rapid changes. It’s only after several weeks or months after working out that “plateaus” occur and the body doesn’t respond to exercise as much.
If you have an aversion to going to the gym, begin an exercise routine today, not only by going for daily post-dinner walks, but also when you are watching TV, do some simple strength-training exercises during commercial breaks.
A typical 30-minute show on network TV contains nearly 10 minutes of commercials. If you do modified pushups on your knees during the commercial breaks and begin this routine now, overindulging a little over the holidays will have a negligible impact on how much bodyfat you’ll gain.
Don’t stuff yourself with stuffing
Starchy foods like stuffing and mashed potatoes have a tendency to easily convert into sugars. Unless you’re going to go for a power walk or uphill hike after a holiday meal, cut down on the serving size of these starches so they don’t go to your waistline.
Limit the portion of starches to the size of your fist. If you don’t like the feeling of being bloated and overstuffed after a holiday meal, stop eating when you feel three-quarters full.
To ensure adequate fiber intake and vitamin content, make sure the one food you’re indulging in is vegetables (not potatoes). You can even put a little bit of butter on veggies like asparagus to feel satiated.
The bottom line to weight gain over the holidays is calories in versus calories out. If you consume more calories than you burn off, you will gain weight. That being said, however, eating a larger serving of turkey is the lesser of two evils. Protein doesn’t convert into sugars like potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce does.
So eat lots of veggies, enjoy your turkey and limit simple starches.
And don’t forget the post-meal walk! Your belly will thank you for it.
Judd Handler is a wellness coach. He offers complimentary wellness consultations. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. His website is


What is the paleo diet?

Here's a definitive guide to what the paleo diet is, what it's not and what critics are saying.

MEAT: The paleo diet encourages healthy portions of protein. (Photo: Tobyotter/Flickr)
Over the last few years, a diet that Homer Simpson would dream and drool over has become increasingly popular.
No, the diet doesn’t involve scarfing down mass quantities of donuts, but it does involve eating lots of meat. Mmmm, meat. (Insert Homer’s drooling noise here).
While the “Donut Diet” hasn’t won any waistline-slimming converts yet, the Paleo diet has. Also known as the “Paleolithic” or “Caveman” diet, the Paleo diet consists of foods that many think didn’t exist before the advent of modern agriculture, which most historians say occurred around 10,000 years ago.
What’s on the Paleo diet menu? Basically, anything that flies, swims, runs and crawls, along with leafy vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Crawls? Yes, crawls. Insects were thought to be commonly eaten during the Paleolithic era, which began roughly 2.5 million years ago.
Don’t worry though, if you decide to go Paleo, you won’t have to eat any creepy-crawlies; the modern nutritional plan that is the Paleo diet allows for contemporary adaptations.
You won’t have to go hunting for a saber-tooth tiger or other wild game, although lean meats like venison and bison are highly encouraged, as is grass-fed beef.
Why go Paleo?
The theory goes that chronic wellness problems such as obesitydiabetes, stroke, hypertension, heart disease and the like all stem from modern diets.
Proponents of the Paleo diet shun all grains and even legumes (beans), citing their relatively recent invention on the human evolutionary scale. Dairy products are also avoided because animal husbandry wasn’t widely adapted until the agricultural revolution of 10,000 years ago.
Sugar, refined salt (think of table salt at a restaurant) and processed oils are also a no-no on the Paleo diet.
Those who have gone Paleo believe that modern humans are still genetically wired to thrive on the foods eaten by our Paleolithic ancestors.
Human genetics, proponents of this diet believe, have scarcely changed since our forefathers were foraging and hunting during their brief lives.
Criticism of the paleo diet
The short life span of most Paleolithic humans serves up a heaping portion of food for thought for those who question the merits of the Paleo diet.
Maybe Paleolithic people didn’t experience chronic illness because they didn’t live long enough to develop them, some opponents of the Paleo diet argue.
Mainstream health organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association are not going to jump on the Paleo diet bandwagon anytime soon. Both groups would certainly cite the high fat and high cholesterol consumption as potentially problematic.
A study by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also questions the logic of the Paleo diet by pointing out that it’s almost impossible for modern humans to acquire the wild game that Paleolithic humans subsisted on — when’s the last time you saw a glyptodont at your local market?
The study also questions if meat was indeed the primary source of fuels during the Paleolithic era. It was only near the poles that populations consumed most of their calories from flesh (think: Eskimos); elsewhere, the study’s authors contend, humans during this time received most of their nutrition from plant-based sources.
There are plenty of other criticisms of the Paleo diet. Some critics believe it’s not an environmentally sustainable model. Sure, grass-fed beef is good for us, containing healthy amounts of the essential fatty Omega 3 acid, but mass amounts of pasture-fed cattle won’t be able to feed the world’s population en masse.
Also, Cavemen were often engaged in intense physical activity like hunting and hauling boulders. Sitting at a desk all day and then conveniently going to the supermarket to buy food isn’t quite the Paleolithic experience.
Archaeological digs in Israel also refute the commonly-held belief among Paleo dieters that legumes didn’t exist during the Paleolithic era.
Despite its many criticisms, plenty of Paleo dieters have leaned up their physiques. Exercise, of course, is a critical component of their success.
So could Homer Simpson lose weight if he went Paleo? Probably, yes —i f he had the willpower to avoid the donuts. Mmmm. Donuts.
Judd Handler is a Certified Metabolic Typing Nutritionist and a graduate of the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition program. He provides complimentary wellness consultations. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Chicken eggs

Our expert evaluates the best sources of protein to build muscle for both meat eaters and vegetarians.

Photo: Public Domain Photos/Flickr
Whether it’s to repair and build muscle tissue after a workout, or to manage blood sugar levels or other dietary concerns, finding the best sources of protein can be tricky.
Many proteins are ranked according to how much our bodies can utilize and absorb the amino acids, which form the building blocks of protein in everything from not only our muscles, but also our skin, teeth, hair and nails.
Because every person has a unique biochemistry, and therefore different dietary needs, presenting a one-size-fits-all list of the best protein sources should be taken with a grain of salt.
Beef rollsMany bodybuilders’ protein standard is the Biological Value (BV) scale. Unlike dietary fats and carbohydrates, proteins contain nitrogen. The BV scale measures protein quality by calculating the nitrogen used for tissue formation divided by the nitrogen absorbed from food.
A whole egg ranks 100 on the scale. But don’t jump to conclusions assuming that you will digest 100 percent of the protein in an egg; it’s just a base number with which researchers compare other proteins.
Not all BV scales are the same. There are dozens of factors which could influence outcomes of how high a protein ranks.
According to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, researchers Jay R. Hoffman and Michael J. Falvo from the College of New Jersey rank the following sources of protein on their BV scale, with BV scores in parenthesis:
  • Whey protein (104)
  • Whole chicken egg (100)
  • Milk (91)
  • Beef (80)
  • Casein (77; Casein is the second primary protein milk besides whey, it’s processed into curds and cheese.)
  • Soy protein (74)
  • Wheat gluten (64)
What are other high-ranking sources of protein on the BV scale?
According to Wikipedia’s entry on Biological Value, other sources of protein on the scale include:
  • Rice (83)
  • Fish (76)
  • Tofu (74)
Should I be skeptical about the Biological Value scale?
Yes, for a variety of reasons. Whey protein products have the highest ranking on the BV scale — up to 150 on some scales — making it the best source of protein, but not necessarily for everybody. Just because a certain food ranks tops on the scale doesn’t mean that everybody can easily digest the protein. Millions lack the lactase enzymes needed to absorb one of the highest-ranked items on the BV scale: milk.
Another problem with the BV scale is that it doesn’t take into consideration how the foods, specifically animal proteins, are raised. Although beef ranks high on the scale, research is hard to come by in determining if, for example, grass-fed, pasture-raised beef has a different score than feed-lot, factory-farmed beef.
Why are vegetarian sources of protein on the bottom of the scale? 
It’s not because the bioavailability scale was funded by a pro-carnivore lobbying group. It’s because vegetarian sources of protein are almost always incomplete proteins. Not getting all nine essential amino acids from foods can potentially cause serious health and developmental problems.
Yogurt, granola and fruitThere’s a good reason that you don’t see bodybuilders chugging wheat protein smoothies (which don’t exist) after a workout, or pea protein shakes (which do exist).
Vegetarians need to learn how to combine foods to ensure they are getting the complimentary proteins. Beans and rice is the most common example. Some others include:
  • Macaroni and cheese (not a good idea if you already have a pasta belly)
  • Spaghetti and broccoli (same caution as above; opt for quinoa spaghetti instead)
  • Yogurt and granola (eat only full-fat, preferably plain-Greek yogurt so you won’t get a blood sugar crash)
  • Toast and almond butter (try a gluten-free bread, which is better for reducing bloating)
Final caution about best sources of protein
Consider the source of your protein. Opt for grass-fed beef and cheese sources; wild-caught cold-water fish; blended, pre-digested whey; fertile organic eggs; and organic chicken. Vegans would do well to get lots of supplemental vitamin B12 and rice protein and/or hemp protein shakes. Unless you’re doing hardcore bodybuilding, you don’t need triple-digit-level grams of protein because excess protein can lead to unhealthy levels of ammonia in the urine.
Judd Handler is a health and lifestyle coach and certified Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist in Encinitas, Calif.
Photos: FotoosVanRobin/Flickr; grongar/Flickr


Best foods for weight loss

There's no perfect weight-loss food, but we've got the skinny on five that will help you shed a few pounds.

Photo: iStockphoto
Editors love articles with catchy titles like “How to drop 50 pounds in two weeks!”
The truth is, though, that with any one-size-fits-all approach to diet, there will be some winners and some losers because everybody has a unique biochemistry.
Even the universally well-regarded orange, which is high in vitamin C, could be one of the best foods for weight loss for one person but for someone else, eating lots of oranges could push them out of whack.
But certainly there must be some foods that benefit everybody, regardless of individual biochemistry? We’re glad you asked. Here’s a partial list of some of the best foods for weight loss:
Green, leafy vegetables
Spinach and other leafy greens help you lose weight because they're low in calories but nutrient-dense. Most people think that to lose weight, you have to eat a plain bowl of spinach with no dressing or other healthy, boring veggies.
But if you eat two or three salads a day and add a little something to the healthy greens — try a small amount of natural protein and fat (for example: a fist-sized portion of lean turkey with a tablespoon or two of olive oil) — you’ll feel full for longer and won’t be tempted to binge two hours later.
Eating just two medium-sized apples contains about 10 grams of fiber — about a third of your daily suggested intake.
Fiber, of course, helps things moving along in the digestive tract. Pectin, the soluble fiber in apples (also found in plums and oranges), aids in elimination, perfect for those who experience constipation.
An apple is comprised mostly of water — 85 percent. Apples will make you feel full longer. Make sure, however, not to eat just an apple as a snack. To get the most bang for your buck, apply the leafy green salad approach. To feel full longer and avoid eating more calories, you’ll want to combine protein and fat, say a small serving size of cheese. This will help balance your blood sugar levels. If you want to lose weight, make sure to have no more than the equivalent size of four playing dices.
Flaxseed oil
Containing the highest amount of Omega 3 essential fatty acids of any vegetable oil, flaxseed oil is a fat that can help you burn fat. It also helps metabolize carbohydrates and regulate insulin levels.
Make sure though that you refrigerate flaxseed oil shortly after you buy it. Containing very little saturated fat, it can quickly turn rancid. Even refrigerated, it’s best to consume a bottle within three weeks. Don’t cook with flaxseed oil. If you do, it won’t be one of the best foods for weight loss; it could be one of the worst foods for you as it will quickly oxidize and cause free radical damage.
Try pouring a squirt in a blender along with other healthy smoothie ingredients like whey protein powder. Speaking of which….
Whey protein powder
Milk is composed of two proteins: casein and whey. Whey is more soluble, and thus more easily digestible. Whey protein is considered the “gold standard” of protein, as it ranks highest on the biological value scale (a measure of how absorbable a protein is), even slightly higher than an egg.
So how does this make whey one of the best foods for weight loss? Leucine, an essential amino acid only found in certain foods like whey protein, can promote more lean muscle, which can lead to more fat and calorie burning.
Adding a handful of berries and a dab of flax oil to a whey protein powder shake will help manage weight by helping you feel full longer. Whey can be more effective than regular cow’s milk in promoting satiety because milk is higher in sugar than whey protein powder.
The most critical and abundant component of our bodies — up to 70 percent of a human being is comprised of water — can help us lose weight.
Drinking two glasses of water before each meal can help you feel fuller quicker. You’ll end up eating less calories, perhaps shaving off more than 100 calories each meal, which is 300 calories per day and 2,100 calories per week and 8,400 calories per month.
There are 3,500 calories in a pound. That’s over two pounds you could lose per month just by drinking water before each meal. Try drinking 10-20 minutes before a meal so you don’t dilute your digestive juices.
Judd Handler is a health writer who lives in Encinitas, Calif.



Once feared because of cholesterol, eggs are now prized for their nutritional value and considered by some to be the gold standard of protein sources.

EGG-CELLENT: Eggs have a lot going for them nutritionally. (Photo: katerha/Flickr)
Over 75 billion eggs are produced in the U.S. each year. That’s a lot of omelets. Most people know that eggs contain protein, but what else? Here are some egg nutrition facts.
A single large egg laid by a hen contains 70 calories, as well as:
  • 5 grams of fat (2 grams saturated)
  • 6 grams of protein
  • 0.5 grams of carbohydrate
More than 60 percent of calories in an egg come from dietary fat. About 35 percent come from protein. But when it comes to eggs, here’s the question many people debate: should I eat the yolk?
To eat the yolk or not?
Fat-phobic dieters usually chuck the yolks before they reach the frying pan, but what many egg-white-only eaters don’t realize is that about half the protein in an egg is found in the yolk.
Egg yolkThere are other benefits of eating the yolk as well.
Choline, though not a highly-touted nutrient in diet articles, plays an essential role in fetal brain development. Pregnant women need to eat the yolks to help prevent birth defects. Two whole eggs contain 250 milligrams of choline, about half the recommended daily value.
Yolks also contain two other nutrients that pregnant women need, including B vitamins, crucial for fetal nervous system and spinal cord development. The other nutrient is iron. Though an egg has only 5 percent daily value of iron, the iron found in eggs is a healthy mix of both sources of iron—heme and non-heme.
Eating two eggs, then, supplies a pregnant or breast-feeding woman with 10 percent daily value of iron, lowering the chance of developing anemia, something to which pregnant and breast-feeding women are more susceptible.
What if I’m not pregnant or breast feeding?
You should still eat the whole egg. In addition to the B vitamins, almost the entire amount of the following vitamins and minerals are found in the yolk:
  • calcium
  • iron
  • zinc
  • selenium (nearly 25 percent of daily value)
  • phosphorous (10 percent of daily value)
  • Vitamins A, D, E, and K (the fat soluble vitamins)
The yolks also contain heart-healthy Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids.
And yet another reason to eat the whole egg is that yolks contain the full spectrum of essential amino acids. Eating only the whites will require food combining to make sure you get the complementary essential amino acids.
But what about cholesterol? Don’t the yolks contain a lot of it?
To some doctors and nutritionists, yes, an egg yolk may indeed have a lot of cholesterol. One whole egg contains approximately 200 milligrams of cholesterol, or roughly 70 percent of suggested daily values.
Don’t panic if you just gulped down a three-egg omelet. Your body naturally produces cholesterol for a variety of purposes, including making sex hormones, Vitamin D, and bile acids to help digest fat.
If you eat foods containing cholesterol, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to produce it.
Conservative recommendations usually allow for one whole egg per day.
Yolks also contain the antioxidant lutein, which is thought to promote eye health.
Are eggs the best source of protein?
Eggs are considered by many the gold-standard of protein, especially for an all-natural source of food. One egg contains for an average person, over 10 percent of the daily value for protein.
More than 90 percent of a whole egg’s protein is absorbable by the body, which scores eggs way up high on the protein bioavailability scale.
Many bodybuilders place whey protein on a higher muscle-building pedestal than eggs, but whey protein isn’t a whole food like an egg.
Eggs cost roughly 25 cents each, making them one of the least expensive sources of complete protein, plus they’re easy to cook. Being a naturally-nutritiously dense food, it’s no wonder eggs have been eaten for thousands of years.
Judd Handler is a nutrition and lifestyle coach in Encinitas, Calif., where he ate a three whole-egg omelet earlier this morning. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


gluten free waffles

A health expert gives us the low-down on gluten, gluten-free diets and celiac disease.

STAY HUNGRY: Should you choose to go gluten-free, you can still have goodies like these gluten-free waffles. (Photo: jenn.b/Flickr)
By now, you've probably come across at least one product in a supermarket labeled "gluten-free."
These products have become more prevalent in recent years but you still may not know what "gluten-free" means. In fact, you're probably not sure what gluten is.
The prefix of the term "gluten" gives away its definition. Think of gluten as a glue-like substance that gives wheat and other products their chewy structure.
Although the science is much more complex than the definition, gluten can be defined, in lay terms, as the sticky protein substance in wheat.
Gluten is found in dozens of wheat-based products. It's also prevalent in rye as well as oats and barley (bad news for beer drinkers).
The chewy structure that is gluten might be pleasing to our palette, but it is detrimental to the one in 200 people who are estimated to have celiac disease, which according to the Center for Celiac Disease Research at the University of Maryland, is one of the most common life-long disorders in western countries.
People with celiac disease suffer from a laundry list of symptoms, including diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating and other symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is now being recognized by some researchers as being caused by celiac disease.
In people with celiac disease, gliadin, a glycoprotein found in gluten, attacks the small intestine lining and causes damage to the tiny villi, which absorb nutrients. As a result of the body's inability to take in enough vitamins and minerals, autoimmune disorders can arise.
If you suffer frequently from headaches or migraines, or get sick a lot, or get skin rashes, you may have celiac disease or some other form of intolerance to gluten.
What's wrong with gluten?
Scientists say that for millennia humans subsisted on a diet consisting of nothing but wild game and meat as well as fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds. It's only been since the Neolithic period (about 9500 BCE) that humans began cultivating wheat.
In evolutionary terms, that's the equivalent of a blink of an eye for when wheat was introduced into the modern diet.
To carry the metaphor further, it's been a fraction of a fraction of a blink of an eye that our food sources have been pumped with lots of wheat products and byproducts, all of which contain gluten.
Our guts are simply not adapted to digest gluten and break it down into individual amino acids.
About one in seven people have gluten sensitivity — that's 30 to 40 percent of the U.S. population. People with gluten intolerance are scientifically known as Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitive (NCGS).
Dr. Vikki Petersen, author of a new book, "The Gluten Effect," says that one of her missions is to dispel the myth that if you don't have celiac disease, you have nothing to worry about.
Don't reach for the Wheat Thins just yet, she cautions.
"Just because you don't have villous atrophy in the small intestine doesn't mean gluten isn't causing deleterious effect on your health," says Petersen, a chiropractor and clinical nutritionist.
With the increasing prevalence of gluten in our diets, Petersen says that there is now an increased risk of our genetics "flipping on" an anti-gliadin response.
This, predicts Petersen, will likely lead to more cases of celiac disease and autoimmune disorders caused by gluten intolerance.
"When you lump them together, autoimmune disorders are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.," says Petersen, "and gluten is a major culprit."
Petersen says that in the past, it was thought that you either have a genetic predisposition to gluten intolerance and celiac disease or you won't ever develop it. Research from just last year, she says, reveals this may not be the case.
She notes that since the 1970s, celiac disease has increased four fold and the disease was rare as recently as the 1950s.
Petersen says that due to the increased preponderance of toxins in our environment and food chain, gluten-free diets won't be considered merely a health fad.
"More and more people will suffer from the ill-effects of gluten-containing diets and will have to consume a 100 percent gluten-free food program," she says.
Is gluten-free enough?
"We should strive to eat as much organic and natural foods as we can to ensure proper health," Petersen says. "This includes increasing the amount of vegetables and gluten-free complex carbohydrates like quinoa, millet and brown rice."
Adopting a gluten-free diet, however, doesn't necessarily mean that those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities will improve their health.
"One out of every three celiac disease sufferers fails to heal," says Petersen.
The culprit? Healing the gut takes more than switching from regular chocolate chip to gluten-free chocolate-chip cookies.
"There are secondary effects of gluten to consider, such as other food sensitivities, like dairy," says Petersen, who recommends those with celiac disease or NCGS get tested for secondary infections such as parasites, yeast overgrowth, amoebas and other nasty microscopic digestive invaders.
She also recommends taking a daily probiotic (human strain) with a micro-organism count of at least 20 billion — more if you have an infection.
Don't feast on gluten-free snacks. Instead, treat them as you would any other guilty-pleasure: a once-in-a-while treat. If you suffer from low energy and a myriad of health problems and tend to eat a lot of wheat and baked goods, consider going on a gluten-free diet.
It may be just what the doctor ordered.
Judd Handler is a graduate of the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition program, a curriculum that includes testing for mucosal barrier integrity of the small intestine. His website

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