March 7th, 2007 - Barbara Feiner
In yesterday’s blog post, I covered a study on garlic that appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers found raw garlic, as well as garlic supplements, did not appear to lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels—contrary to some product claims.
Does this mean you should cut down on garlic purchases when shopping at your local natural and organic food store?
No, say Mary Charlson, MD, and Marcus McFerren, PhD, MD, of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. They wrote an accompanying editorial in Archives, noting garlic has been used since ancient times to treat cardiovascular and infectious diseases.
“While garlic has been evaluated for its anti-infective, antioxidant and anticancer properties, a large number of recent basic and clinical studies have focused on its potential effect in preventing cardiovascular disease,” they write. Although the recent study’s authors “convincingly demonstrate that raw garlic and two popularly used supplements do not reduce LDL cholesterol more than 10 milligrams per deciliter when used for six months vs. placebo for six months, the results do not demonstrate that garlic has no usefulness in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
“Garlic is one of the top-selling dietary supplements in the United States,” they continue, “in part because familiarity with garlic as a food gives consumers confidence that garlic supplements are safe. In general, they probably are. Do they prevent cardiovascular disease? The jury is still out.”
Book Pick of the Day: Growing Great Garlic: The Definitive Guide for Organic Gardeners and Small Farmers
Read More:Garlic May Still Have Cardiovascular Benefits
February 22nd, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Yesterday, I explored the health benefits of adding mushrooms to your diet to help ward off colds and the flu this season.
If you’re pressed for time and need a quick dinner solution, check out the organic mushroom soup mixes from Snohomish, Washington-based FungusAmongUs Inc. Three flavors (all organic) are available: Moroccan Porcini & Green Lentil, Smoked Oyster Mushroom Chowder and Spicy Shiitake & Vegetable.
Each box makes four hearty servings. The company also sells a dozen varieties of bulk dried mushrooms, mushroom-growing kits for organic gardening, truffle-infused olive oil and organic seasonings.
You can buy FungusAmongUs products nationwide at major natural and organic food stores, including Whole Foods Market, Fred Meyers, QFC, PCC, Town and Country Markets, Food Pavilion and Madison Markets. If you can’t find the soups locally, you can order three boxes online for $15 (plus shipping).
Read More:Organic Mushroom Soup Mixes
February 21st, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
I never get colds—something of which I’m irrationally proud. But I had a doozy two weeks ago, accompanied by fever and a complete lack of energy. This bug has been going around, and it finally caught up with me.
But mushrooms may be the latest organic food to offer some protection during cold and flu season, according to Chef Colin Roche, chair of the culinary arts department at the North Miami campus of Johnson & Wales University.
“During the height of cold and flu season, Americans are seeking ways to ward off the sniffles,” he says. “Certain foods can boost your immune system and help alleviate cold and flu symptoms. Eat more mushrooms—particularly the Oriental varieties such as shiitake. Mushrooms contain special compounds that have been found to bolster the immune system. Mushroom soup would be an excellent choice because it is not only a hot liquid (which warms the throat and impairs viral replication), but one with the ability to boost your body’s immune response.”
Mushroom Recipes from Organic Authority
Organic Mushroom Bisque
Latin Tomato and Huitlacoche Soup
Roasted Organic Wild Mushrooms on Pita Toasts
Wild Mushroom and Black Truffle Organic Risotto
Organic Mushroom Salsa
Wild Mushroom, Winter Root, Chicken Pot Pie
Read More:An Organic Mushroom a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
January 20th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
I’ve been writing this week about the joys of cooking with fresh wasabi, as well as favorite organic wasabi products. In fact, during this time of year, many individuals turn to spicy foods like chili peppers and wasabi to clear their sinuses as they endure seasonal allergies, a winter cold or the flu. It seems like a perfectly sensible approach to personal care—but you may be setting yourself up for trouble.
According to the latest research, eating wasabi and other spicy foods offers brief relief, causing your nose to run, itchiness to disappear and your sinuses to drain. But in reality, your nasal congestion will worsen, making you even more miserable. Here’s why: Allylisothiocyanate—the pungent ingredient found in wasabi, horseradish and mustard—causes a transient burning sensation in the nose, and the dilator naris muscle temporarily allows more air to enter. Receptors within the nose then tell your brain that you’re breathing easier.
Unfortunately, your nose is fooling your brain. Eating spicy foods ultimately produces greater nasal congestion and increased mucus production, according to a clinical study conducted by Drs. David S. Cameron and Raul M. Cruz of the Department of Head and Neck Surgery at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, California.
So, Mom may have known best after all: Drink plenty of fluids, particularly hot beverages like organic tea and chicken soup (often referred to as “Jewish penicillin”).
“For a long-term effect, we recommend rinsing the sinus cavity twice a day with a saline solution,” says Dr. Mark Kerner, an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) with offices in Encino and Northridge, California. “See a qualified otolaryngologist who specializes in sinusitis if the problem continues.” He or she will want to rule out a bacterial sinus infection.
Read More:Spicy Foods & Your Sinuses