Kid-Friendly Snacks, Dips and Spreads

Kid-Friendly Snacks, Dips and Spreads
By Heather McDougall
Below are some of my children’s favorite snack foods. They are growing boys and eat often, so I always have at least of couple of these dip and spread recipes ready-to-go in the fridge. All of these can be served with carrots, sugar snap peas, red bell pepper, steamed broccoli, boiled and chilled red potatoes, crackers, or whole wheat bread or bagels, which I also always have on hand. All of these recipes pack well for school lunches or for any outdoor adventure. I find that if I am prepared there is less chance for requests of not-so-healthy foods when we are out. Next month, I will feature kid-friendly lunchbox recipes.

Favorite Pre-packaged Snacks for Kids
Corn Thins
Baked Tortilla Chips
Popcorn with Bragg’s and Nutritional Yeast
Dried Fruit without Sulfur
Fruit Leather sweetened with fruit juice

Some of our favorite crackers:
Mary’s Gone Crackers
Whole Foods 365 Baked Woven Wheats
Edward & Sons Baked Brown Rice Snaps – Tamari Seaweed, Tamari Sesame, Black
Real Foods Corn Thins

Eggless Egg Salad

Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Chilling Time:  2 hours
Servings:  Makes 1 ¾ cups

12.3 ounce package extra firm silken tofu
¼ cup tofu mayonnaise (see below)
¼ cup minced celery
¼ cup finely diced white onion
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dill weed
¼ teaspoon salt

Place the tofu in a bowl and mash with a fork or bean masher until crumbled, but not smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Tofu Mayonnaise

12.3 ounce package firm silken tofu
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate.
This will keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 week.

Red Pepper Aioli

Use this as a dip for raw veggies, or as a spread for crackers or bread.

Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Chilling Time:  1 hour or longer
Servings:  makes 2 cups

12.3-ounce package soft silken tofu
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
dash salt
½ cup roasted red peppers

Place the tofu in a food processor and process until fairly smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and process until very smooth (this may take several minutes).  Refrigerate at least 1 hour for flavors to blend. Note, you may either buy the red peppers already roasted in a jar (just be sure they are not packed in oil) or you can make your own.


There are many variations of Hummus in most supermarkets and natural food stores. Many of them have added olive oil and most have tahini. Some people are convinced that Hummus without tahini is just not Hummus. However, I have been making no tahini Hummus for years and it is delicious, plus it is healthier for your body. If you can’t stand the thought of Hummus without tahini, then add 1 tablespoon of it to this recipe, realizing that you are also adding some fat to the recipe.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Servings: makes 1 1/2 cups

1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 tablespoons water
dash sea salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until very smooth. Add additional water to change the consistency of the hummus, if desired.

Hints: Add other ingredients to this basic Hummus, for flavor and variety.
1/2 cup roasted red peppers plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
1-2 teaspoons chopped jalapeno pepper

Mock Tuna Spread

Servings: makes 2 cups
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup Tofu Mayonnaise
salt to taste

Place the beans in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped, or mash with a bean masher. Don’t let them get to a smooth consistency.
Place in a bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Add a bit more Tofu Mayo if you want a creamier spread. Add salt to taste. Chill to blend flavors.
Two tablespoons of pickle relish may be added to this spread to jazz it up.

Creamy Dill Tofu Dip

I always have a batch of this in the refrigerator. My boys love it with steamed broccoli.

1 package Creamy Dill Dip by Simply Organics
3 cups Tofu Sour Cream

Tofu Sour Cream

2 12.3 ounce packages silken tofu
4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until very smooth and creamy. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow flavors to meld, one day is even better.

Spinach Dip

My mom and I have been making this dip for many years.  We like it on crackers or as a dip for fresh vegetables — artichokes are my boys’ favorite. This can also be served in a bread bowl.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes
Chilling Time:  1-2 hours
Servings:  makes about 2 cups

12.3-ounce box silken tofu
1 package (1.1 ounce) Fantastic Foods Vegetable Soup & Dip mix
½ package (10 ounce) frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
¾ cup tofu sour cream (recipe above)

Place the tofu in a food processor and process until very smooth.  Scrape into a medium sized bowl.  Add the soup mix and stir well.  Add the spinach and stir again until well mixed.  Stir the tofu sour cream into this mixture, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to blend.

Simple Bean Dip

This is such a simple dip that you won’t believe it can taste so good.  Make it a day ahead of when you plan to use it so the flavors can blend.  Serve with baked tortilla chips, baked pita chips or on bruschetta or crackers.  We also like it with cold, boiled potatoes as a snack.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes
Servings:  variable

2 – 15 ounce cans black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh mild salsa
salt to taste

Place the beans and salsa in a food processor and process until smooth.  Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Hints:  Vary this dip by using different salsas or beans.  To make bruschetta, slice bread quite thin, rub with a cut clove of garlic, if desired, and toast in the oven or on a grill until crisp.

Pumpkin Muffins

I bake these in silicone muffin cups, medium size. I let the muffins cool for about 10
minutes, then just pop them out of the muffin cups. No sticking ever!

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 muffins

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup Lighter Bake fat replacer
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer mixed in
4 tablespoons warm water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Combine all wet ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well until smooth. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix well (do not over-mix). Spoon batter into muffin cups. It will fill 12 medium muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes.

Hints: Use a whisk when mixing the egg replacer with the water and beat until frothy. Then add to the other wet ingredients. Ener-G egg replacer is a flour product, available in many natural food stores. It is used for leavening and binding. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, it is done. If you don’t have silicone baking pans, these may be made in any non-stick muffin tins or baking pans. Allow to cool before removing from pans. Lighter Bake is a fat replacer made by Sunsweet.  It can be found in many supermarkets or online at



2013 John McDougall All Rights Reserved
Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center
P.O. Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402


An Independent Critique of Low-carb Diets

February 2013
Volume 12 Issue 2

An Independent Critique of Low-carb Diets: The Diet Wars Continue
Part 3

In the September and October 2012 McDougall newsletters, I presented readers with articles addressing the dangers of low-carbohydrate diets, which are also popularly known as Paleo and Primal diets and as Atkins-type diets. Please take this opportunity to read these articles.

In this article I look at some specific populations who lived before the globalization of the western diet and explore the health of a number of cultures that lived both on low-carbohydrate (meat, poultry, fish, egg, and milk) based diets and high carbohydrate (rice, corn, and potato) diets.

I present findings on the health of the nomadic populations from the Steppes in Central Asia and the Pampas in South America who lived the “low-carbers dream”, subsisting on enormous amounts of grass-fed meat and milk. Their ways of eating did not protect them from obesity, heart disease, and cancer. On the other hand, I present populations from Asia-Pacific and Africa, subsisting almost entirely on plant foods (up to 95% of calories from carbohydrates), which were lean, muscular and largely free of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

The Nomadic Kirghiz and Dzungarian Plainsmen

In the 1920’s, Kuczynski reported on the nomadic plainsmen of the Kirghiz and Dzungarian Steppes in Central Asia and estimated that they consumed an astonishing 20 liters of fermented mare’s milk, and between 10 to 20 pounds (4.5 to 9kg) of meat per day.1 2 Lack of systematically documented dietary data however suggests that these findings could have been slightly overestimated, as evidently has been the case for early researcher’s estimates of the Masai’s intake of milk, meat, cholesterol and total energy.3Nevertheless, these nomadic plainsmen consumed enormous quantities of organic pasture raised animals foods, perhaps among the largest ever documented.

Kuczynski noted that these nomads, evidently largely as a result of their diet experienced a high incidence of obesity, premature extensive atherosclerosis, contracted kidney, apoplexy, arcus senilis, and gout.4 5 In specific, Kuczynski asserted that:2

They get arteriosclerosis in an intense degree and often at an early age as shown by cardiac symptoms, nervous disordes, typical changes of the peripheral vessels, nephrosclerosis and, finally, apoplectic attacks. Even in men thirty-two years old I frequently observed arcus senilis.
The Nomadic Kirghiz Plainsmen

Kuczynski compared the diet and health of these nomadic plainsmen with Russian peasants, who had an apparent low incidence of these conditions while consuming a vastly different diet. Their diet was based on soup, bread, pickles, potatoes, with very little meat, but consumed large amounts of alcohol.5 In comparison to the nomadic plainsmen, Kuczynski asserted in regards to these Russian peasants that:2

Repeatedly I found at the age of about seventy years no signs of arteriosclerosis, no arcus senilis, etc.; they were men of youthful appearance, with no grey in their still abundant growth of hair, and with their sexual functions still intact.

For more information regarding the health of nomadic populations, Don Matesz has previously posted aninformative review addressing the high rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer among the modern, still largely nomadic Mongols consuming diets rich in organic pasture raised animal foods.

The Native Indonesians

In 1916, Cornelis D. de Langen observed that the native Javanese, the indigenous people of the Indonesian island of Java who consumed a diet which was ‘mainly vegetarian with rice as the staple, that is very poor in cholesterol and other lipids’, had very low levels of serum cholesterol and incidence of coronary heart disease.6Conversely, de Langen observed that their Javanese counterparts who worked as stewards on Dutch passenger ships and consumed traditional cholesterol laden Dutch food had much higher levels of serum cholesterol and incidence of coronary heart disease.7 Blackburn noted in regards to de Langen’s classical findings from Indonesian hospitals that:6

Pursuing this clinical impression, he reviewed 10 years of admissions charts and found only 5 cases of acute gallbladder disease among many thousands of patients passing through the medical wards and only 1 case on the surgery service among 70,000 admissions surveyed.

Following these observations, de Langen stated in regards to the rarity of vascular disease among the Javanese that:6

thrombosis and emboli, so serious in Europe, are most exceptional here. This is not only true of internal medicine, but also on surgery, where the surgeon needs take no thought of these dreaded possibilities among his native patients. Out of 160 major laparotomies and 5,578 deliveries in the wards, not a single case of thrombosis or embolism was seen.

These findings closely resemble observations from over 15,000 operations carried out in Norway during the period around World War II, where the changes in incidence of post-operative thrombosis was consistent with changes in the availability of cholesterol laden foods [reviewed previously]. Blackburn also noted in regards to de Langen’s 1922 experiment, which is regarded as apparently the first ever systematic feeding experiment of diet in relation to serum cholesterol levels, that:6

…he found an average 40 mg/dl increase in cholesterol in 5 Javanese natives who were shifted from a rice-based vegetarian cuisine to a 6-week regimen high in meat, butter, and egg fats.

These findings were reproduced decades later in hundreds of tightly controlled feeding experiments, firmly establishing that dietary cholesterol and isocaloric replacement of complex carbohydrates and unsaturated fat by saturated fat raises LDL and total cholesterol in humans.8

In 1908, Williams noted in regards to the findings of early doctors who practiced in Indonesia and the rarity of cancer among the Javanese that:9

…a single example of a malignant tumour in a native being esteemed a great rarity.

The Okinawans

In 1949, a government survey found that in Okinawa, known to have the highest concentration of centenarians in the world, the population consumed about 85% of their total energy intake from carbohydrates, with the staple at the time being the sweet potato. The dietary survey also showed that the Okinawans derived about 9% of their energy intake from protein and less than 4% of energy from all sources of animal foods combined (Table 1).10 These findings were largely consistent with previous dietary surveys dating back to 1879 and 1919.11


In 1946, Steiner examined autopsies of 150 Okinawans, of which 40 were between the age of 50 and 95. Steiner noted only seven cases of slight aortic atherosclerosis, all of which were found in those over the age of 66, and only one case of calcification in the coronary arteries. In 1946 Benjamin reported similar findings from a study of 200 autopsies on Okinawans.12

Even in 1995 the observed rates of coronary heart disease and dietary related cancers, including that of the colon, prostate, breast and ovarian in Okinawa were not only many fold lower than that of the United States, but even significantly lower than that of mainland Japan.10 This may be explained by the likelihood that these diseases are slowly progressive diseases and therefore the more traditional Okinawan diet consumed several decades prior would still have played a major role in the development and manifestation of these diseases.13 14 15

The Papua New Guineans

The Papua New Guineans traditionally subsisted on a plant based diet, of which a number of varieties of sweet potatoes typically supplied over 90% of dietary intake. They also grew a number of other crops including corn, as well as sugar cane which was consumed as a delicacy. Pig feasts are organised a few times a year, but at which pork is not consumed in excess of 50 grams. A dietary survey on the Papua New Guineans highlanders estimated that carbohydrate accounted for 94.6% of total energy intake, among the highest recorded in the world. Total energy intake was adequate, however only 3% of energy intake was derived from protein (25g for men and 20g for women), yet there was no evidence of dietary induced protein deficiency or anemia. Furthermore, this surveyed population was described as being muscular and mostly very lean, physically fit and in good nutritional state.16 17 They also drank ‘soft’ water which is considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It was estimated that tobacco was smoked by 73% of males and 20% females. Also, the highlanders spend up to twelve hours a day inside a smoke-filled house due to centrally placed open wood fires with little ventilation and no chimneys in their homes, resulting in a very high exposure to hazardous smoke in this population.16

Despite cardiac risk factors including high exposure to smoke and soft drinking water, a number of authors observed a great rarity of incidence of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and stroke among the traditional Papua New Guineans, but also noted an increase in incidence paralleling the Westernization of the nation. In 1958, Blackhouse reported on autopsies of 724 individuals between 1923 and 1934 and found no evidence of heart attack incidence and only one case of slight narrowing of the coronary arteries. However, it has been suggested that this study was selective as only a small portion of the autopsies were performed on females or the elderly. In 1969, Magarey et al. published a report on the autopsy results of 217 aortas and found a great rarity of atherosclerosis. The authors noted that the prevalence and severity of atherosclerosis was less than had been reported in any previously investigated population.18 In 1973, Sinnett and Whyte published findings from a survey of 779 highlanders using electrocardiograms among other methods, and found little probable evidence of coronary heart disease, and no clinical evidence of diabetes, gout, Parkinson’s disease, or any previous incidence of stroke.16

For a population that consumed virtually the highest intake of carbohydrates out of any population to also have virtually the lowest incidence of atherosclerosis and diabetes ever recorded highlights the vital importance of the health properties of specific carbohydrate rich foods. These findings further question certain ‘carbohydrate-induced dyslipidemia’ hypotheses, emphasized by certain researchers, who perhaps intentionally do not always take the quality of carbohydrate rich foods into careful consideration.19

In 1900, Sir William MacGregor reported in the Lancet in regards to the observed rarity of cancer among the native Papua New Guineans, asserting that:20

For nine and a half years I never saw a case in British New Guinea ; but at the end of that time there occurred an example of sarcoma of the tibia in a Papuan, who had for seven or eight years lived practically a European life, eating tinned Australian meat daily.

In 1974, Clezy brought to attention the rarity of mortality from colorectal cancer among the Papua New Guineans, for which the observed annual rate per 100,000 was 0.6 for men and 0.2 for women. These rates were 100 fold lower than that of many developed nations during the same time period, although this could have been in part explained by underdiagnosis.17

Even in more recent statistics after modest changes towards a western diet, the Papua New Guineans still had among the lowest rates of hip fractures in the world, which Frassetto et al. observed was more than 50 fold lower than that of the Scandinavian nations.21 Although these researchers ascribed the worldwide differences in rates of hip fractures to the ratio of vegetable to animal protein, evidence from prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials, as well as experimental animal models suggests that saturated fat may be at least as great, if not an even greater contributor to poor bone health.22 23 24 2526

The Tokelauans and Pukupukans

In the video below, Plant Positive reviews the diet and health of the Tokelauans and Pupukans whose diet is rich in coconuts, as well as the diet and health of other South Pacific island populations.

The Tokelauns, and more on the Masai

A 1908 Review on the Causation of Cancer

In 1908, William Roger Williams published an extensive review of the medical literature and documentations from a large number of populations around the world before the widespread use of intensive farming practices. Williams observed that compared to the nations with carnivorous dietary patterns there was a significantly lower incidence of cancer among the nations subsisting predominantly on a plant-based diet. He also noted that groups within nations with carnivorous dietary patterns that largely abstained from animal foods, such as nuns, monks, slaves and prison inmates had a similar low incidence of cancer.9

Williams reported on the cancer rates of the area inhabited by the Gaucho of the Argentina Pampas, another nomadic population that subsisted predominantly on organic pasture raised animal foods, noting that:9

Cancer is commoner in Argentina which comprises the pampas region inhabited by the Gauchos, who for months subsist entirely on beef, and never touch salt than in other parts of South America. On the other hand, among the natives of Egypt, who are of vegetarian habits, and consume immense quantities of salt, cancer is almost unknown.


The Nomadic Argentinean Gaucho

These findings are largely consistent with modern reviews from prominent health authorities, including the report from the expert panel of the World Cancer Research Fund that produced convincing evidence that red meat is a major risk factor for cancer and that dietary fiber provides significant protection [reviewed previously]. However, these findings raise questions as to whether the Egyptians plant-based diet that is centered on wheat provides significant protection against salt sensitive cancers. In regards to the cancer incidence among the different ethnic groups of Egypt, Williams quoted from a 1902 publication in the British Medical Journal authored by Dr. F. C. Madden of Cairo that:9

The consensus of opinion among medical men in Egypt is, that cancer is never found either in male or female, among the black races of that country. These include the Berberines and the Sudanese, who are all Mussulmans, and live almost entirely upon vegetarian diet. Cancer is fairly common, however, among the Arabs and Copts, who live and eat somewhat after the manner of Europeans.

Williams also observed that the increases in incidence of cancer within populations coincided with increases in animal food intake. For example, in regards to the observed marked increase cancer incidence among the Native American’s after gaining easier means to hunt buffaloes, Williams asserted:9

In this connexion it should be borne in mind, that in their primitive condition these savages had no horses and no firearms ; consequently it was no easy matter for them to kill the fleet buffaloes, on which they mainly depended for subsistence ; hence, in their primitive condition, they were generally less well nourished than when, after contact with whites, they had, by the acquirement of horses and firearms, become assured of a constant supply of their favourite food [coinciding with an increase in cancer incidence].

Historical Overview of the Reversal of Chronic Diseases

In 1903, John Harvey Kellogg, the founder of the Kellogg Company asserted:

Dr John Bell, who was, about a hundred years ago [now two hundred years ago], professor in a leading college in London, wrote that a careful adherence to a vegetarian dietary tended to prevent cancer. He also stated that in some cases persons who had already acquired cancer had been cured by adherence to a non-flesh dietary. When I first read this book, I did not agree with the author; I thought he was mistaken; but I have gradually come to believe that what he says on this subject is true.

These findings are consistent with Dr. Dean Ornish’s on-going Prostate Cancer Lifestyle Trial which has already produced strong suggestive evidence of reversal of prostate cancer growth.27 These findings are also consistent with experiments showing that dietary restriction of methionine, typically found in higher quantity and bioavailability in protein rich animal foods compared to unprocessed plant foods can inhibit and even reverse human tumor growth in animal models and in culture [reviewed previously].

Publications producing evidence of regression of atherosclerosis in humans dates back to the periods following both the World Wars in Scandinavia and the low countries of Europe, where a number of researchers found a trend between changes in intake of cholesterol laden foods throughout periods of food scarcity in the war and changes in the severity of atherosclerosis at autopsy [reviewed previously]. Several decades later during the 1960’s and 70’s experiments involving modest dietary and lifestyle changes or drugs produced the first angiographic evidence of modest regression of atherosclerosis.28

In experimental animal models, the first suggestive evidence of regression of atherosclerosis came from rabbit models produced by Anichkov and colleagues during the 1920’s. Beginning from 1957 much more substantial evidence of regression was produced in rabbits and then later replicated in a number of other species, including non-human primates.29 30

In 1970, Armstrong et al. published the first study producing substantial evidence of regression of atherosclerosis in non-human primates. Armstrong et al. induced severe autopsy proven atherosclerosis in Rhesus monkeys resembling that of human atherosclerosis by feeding a diet with 40% of energy from egg yolks for 17 months. The egg yolks were then removed from the diet of the remaining monkey’s and replaced by either linoleic acid rich chow or sugar rich low fat chow for three years reducing serum cholesterol to 140 mg/dl and resulting in a marked regression of atherosclerosis.28 31 These results were later reproduced in well over a dozen experiments in various primate species in which severe atherosclerosis was induced typically by feeding diets rich in dietary cholesterol and saturated fat and then reversed the process either by removing these atherogenic components, or by other means which significantly reduce serum cholesterol.30

During the late 1980’s, Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn began reversing atherosclerosis, and more importantly greatly decreased the number of reoccurring cardiac events in participants who adhered to a plant-based diet and often other lifestyle modifications.32 33 34 35 More recently Dr. Esselstyn has replicated his initial findings in around 200 participants over the period of a decade, with publication pending results showing a phenomenal success rate of a 99.5% reduction in reoccurring cardiovascular events [reviewed previously].

Caldwell Esselstyn on making heart attacks history

2013 John McDougall All Rights Reserved
Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center
P.O. Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402

McDougall Breaking News

NEJM Study Promotes Olive Oil and Dismisses Low-fat Diet

Your friends are reading today (February 26, 2013) The New England Journal of Medicine article about how adding olive oil and nuts to their usual diet will reduce their risk of heart attacks by 30 percent. This article has also told them that a low-fat diet fails to help (again). Stroke was the only problem where the tested Mediterranean diet made a real difference. The diet had no effect on heart attacks or death rates overall. The popularity of this message proves once again that “people love to hear good news about their bad habits.” They are reassured that simply by adding more olive oil and nuts you will improve your health…cutting out the brie and beef stroganoff are secondary thoughts.

The article begins by saying, “The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and cereals; a moderate intake of fish and poultry; a low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets; and wine in moderation, consumed with meals.” Of course, this diet is an improvement over the usual fare consumed in the US and Europe, and that is why benefits were seen. The study lasted five years and involved about 7,447 people, ages 55 to 80, in Spain.

There was no reason to say the low-fat diet is a failure based on this research, because participants in the “low-fat” group made no real change in their diets. In the “low-fat” group, total fat consumption decreased insignificantly from 39 to 37 percent. Why was so little effort placed on teaching and then testing a really healthy low-fat diet like mine (the McDougall Diet is 7 percent fat), and then comparing it with the Mediterranean diet? There was no financial interest in pursuing this end. The vested interest was in selling olive oil and nuts. Two companies supplied the olive oil (Hojiblanca and Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero), and the nuts came from a nut producer in Spain (La Morella Nuts) and the California Walnut Commission. Plus many of the authors have extensive financial ties to food, wine, and other industry groups.

One major disadvantage of replacing saturated fats (meats and dairy) with olive oil and nuts is that there is no weight loss from exchanging one type of fat for another: “The fat you eat is the fat you wear.” When this same group of researchers published their earlier findings in 2006 they found that their “olive oil” group lost less weight than did the “low-fat” group (0.19 Kg) and the “nut” group lost about the same (0.26 Kg) as the “low-fat” group in 3 months.1 (Remember they were not really following a low fat diet.) With the McDougall diet we have found an average weight loss of five times as much, 1.6 Kg (3.5 pounds), in a week and participants are encouraged to eat as much as they want, buffet style.

The obesity-causing effects of all that olive oil are also seen in the countries in southern Europe. When 54 obese women in a Mediterranean country were studied, they were found to be following a diet low in carbohydrates (35% of the calories) and high in fats (43% of the calories)…and 55% of the total of these fats came from olive oil.2 Overweight and obesity lay the foundation for type-2 diabetes and degenerative arthritis of the lower extremities, as well as cancer, heart disease, and strokes.

Does Olive Oil and Eating Nuts Really Prevent Heart Disease?
Common knowledge is using olive oil (monounsaturated fat) and eating nuts (polyunsaturated fats) are protective against heart disease, but there is evidence that questions the real life benefits:

* Serial angiograms of people’s heart arteries show that all three types of fat—saturated (animal) fat, monounsaturated (olive oil), and polyunsaturated (omega-3 and -6 oils)—were associated with significant increases in new atherosclerotic lesions over one year of study.3 Only by decreasing the entire fat intake, including poly- and monounsaturated-oils, did the lesions stop growing.

* Dietary polyunsaturated oils, both the omega-3 and omega-6 types, are incorporated into human atherosclerotic plaques; thereby promoting damage to the arteries and the progression of atherosclerosis.4

* A study in African green monkeys found when saturated fat was replaced with monounsaturated fat (olive oil), the olive oil provided no protection from atherosclerosis.5

* One of the most important clotting factors predicting the risk of a heart attack is an elevated factor VII. All five fats tested—rapeseed oil (canola), olive oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, and butter—showed similar increases in triglycerides and clotting factor VII.6

Most likely, the heart benefits of a Mediterranean diet are due to it being a nearly vegetarian diet. The Mediterranean diet is a good diet in spite of the olive oil and added nuts.7

I believe the reason this New England Journal of Medicine study shows benefits is because the people in the Mediterranean diet group reduced their intake of meat and dairy foods and increased their intake of starches (cereals and legumes), vegetables, and fruits. The inclusion of olive oil and nuts was not a “magic pill” that spared their ailing arteries from forkfuls of bacon and eggs. However, the reader should consider these findings of this study important because they do show that people can change their diets when instructed to do so and that removing animal foods from the diet is beneficial. But recommending more olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fish is not the message people deserve to hear. They need to know that a truly healthy diet provides the bulk of the calories from traditional starches, like rice, corn, and potatoes. Commercialism needs to be eliminated when life and death issues for you and your family are at stake.

1) Estruch R, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Corella D, Salas-Salvado J, Ruiz-Gutierrez V, Covas MI, Fiol M, Gomez-Gracia E, Lopez-Sabater MC, Vinyoles E, Aros F, Conde M, Lahoz C, Lapetra J, Saez G, Ros E.Effects of a Mediterranean-Style Diet on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Randomized Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2006 Jul 4;145(1):1-11.

2) Calle-Pascual AL, Saavedra A, Benedi A, Martin-Alvarez PJ, Garcia-Honduvilla J, Calle JR, Marañes JP. Changes in nutritional pattern, insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance during weight loss in obese patients from a Mediterranean area. Horm Metab Res. 1995 Nov;27(11):499-502.

3) Blankenhorn DH, Johnson RL, Mack WJ, el Zein HA, Vailas LI. The influence of diet on the appearance of new lesions in human coronary arteries. JAMA. 1990 Mar 23-30;263(12):1646-52.

4) Felton CV, Crook D, Davies MJ, Oliver MF. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and composition of human aortic plaques. Lancet. 1994 Oct 29;344(8931):1195-6.

5) Rudel LL, Parks JS, Sawyer JK. Compared with dietary monounsaturated and saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat protects African green monkeys from coronary artery atherosclerosis. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1995 Dec;15(12):2101-10.

6) Larsen LF, Bladbjerg EM, Jespersen J, Marckmann P. Effects of dietary fat quality and quantity on postprandial activation of blood coagulation factor VII. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1997 Nov;17(11):2904-9.

7) Keys A. Mediterranean diet and public health: personal reflections. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Jun;61(6 Suppl):1321S-1323S.

©2013 John McDougall All Rights Reserved
Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center P.O. Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402

Mediterranean Diet Can Cut Heart Disease

Mediterranean Diet Can Cut Heart Disease, Study Finds
About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals, a large and rigorous new study found.
The findings, published on the New England Journal of Medicine’s Web site on Monday, were based on the first major clinical trial to measure the diet’s effect on heart risks. The magnitude of the diet’s benefits startled experts. The study ended early, after almost five years, because the results were so clear it was considered unethical to continue.
The diet helped those following it even though they did not lose weight and most of them were already taking statins, or blood pressure or diabetes drugs to lower their heart disease risk.
“Really impressive,” said Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. “And the really important thing — the coolest thing — is that they used very meaningful end points. They did not look at risk factors like cholesterol of hypertension or weight. They looked at heart attacks and strokes and death. At the end of the day, that is what really matters.”
Until now, evidence that the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of heart disease was weak, based mostly on studies showing that people from Mediterranean countries seemed to have lower rates of heart disease — a pattern that could have been attributed to factors other than diet.
And some experts had been skeptical that the effect of diet could be detected, if it existed at all, because so many people are already taking powerful drugs to reduce heart disease risk, while other experts hesitated to recommend the diet to people who already had weight problems, since oils and nuts have a lot of calories.
Heart disease experts said the study was a triumph because it showed that a diet is powerful in reducing heart disease risk, and it did so using the most rigorous methods. Scientists randomly assigned 7,447 people in Spain who were overweight, were smokers, had diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease to follow the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat one.
Low-fat diets have not been shown in any rigorous way to be helpful, and they are also very hard for patients to maintain — a reality born out in the new study, said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
“Now along comes this group and does a gigantic study in Spain that says you can eat a nicely balanced diet with fruits and vegetables and olive oil and lower heart disease by 30 percent,” he said. “And you can actually enjoy life.”
The study, by Dr. Ramon Estruch, a professor of medicine at the University of Barcelona, and his colleagues, was long in the planning. The investigators traveled the world, seeking advice on how best to answer the question of whether a diet alone could make a big difference in heart disease risk. They visited the Harvard School of Public Health several times to consult Dr. Frank M. Sacks, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention there.
In the end, they decided to randomly assign subjects at high risk of heart disease to three groups. One would be given a low-fat diet and counseled on how to follow it. The other two groups would be counseled to follow a Mediterranean diet. At first the Mediterranean dieters got more intense support. They met regularly with dietitians while the low-fat group just got an initial visit to train them in how to adhere to the diet followed by a leaflet each year on the diet. Then the researchers decided to add more intensive counseling for them, too, but they still had difficulty staying with the diet.
One group assigned to a Mediterranean diet was given extra virgin olive oil each week and was instructed to use at least 4 tablespoons a day. The other group got a combination of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts and was instructed to eat about an ounce of them each day. An ounce of walnuts, for example, is about a quarter cup — a generous handful. The mainstays of the diet consisted of at least 3 servings a day of fruits and at least two servings of vegetables. Participants were to eat fish at least three times a week and legumes, which include beans, peas and lentils, at least three times a week. They were to eat white meat instead of red, and, for those accustomed to drinking, to have at least 7 glasses of wine a week with meals.
They were encouraged to avoid commercially made cookies, cakes and pastries and to limit their consumption of dairy products and processed meats.
To assess compliance with the Mediterranean diet, researchers measured levels of a marker in urine of olive oil consumption — hydroxytyrosol — and a blood marker of nut consumption — alpha-linolenic acid.
The participants stayed with the Mediterranean diet, the investigators reported. But those assigned to a low-fat diet did not lower their fat intake very much. So the study wound up comparing the usual modern diet, with its regular consumption of red meat, sodas and commercial baked goods, to a diet that shunned all that.
Dr. Estruch said he thought the effect of the Mediterranean diet was because of the entire package, not just the olive oil or nuts. He did not expect, though, to see such a big effect so soon. “This is actually really surprising to us,” he said.
Not everyone is convinced, though. Dr. Caldwell Blakeman Esselstyn Jr., the author of the best-seller “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure,” who promotes a vegan diet and does not allow olive oil, dismissed the new study.
His views and those of another promoter of a very-low-fat diet, Dr. Dean Ornish, have influenced many to try to become vegan. Former President Bill Clinton, interviewed on CNN, said Dr. Esselstyn’s and Dr. Ornish’s writings helped convince him that he could reverse his heart disease in that way.
Dr. Esselstyn said those in the Mediterranean diet study still had heart attacks and strokes. So, he said, all the study showed was that “the Mediterranean diet and the horrible control diet were able to create disease in people who otherwise did not have it.”
Others hailed the study.
“This group is to be congratulated for carrying out a study that is nearly impossible to do well,” said Dr. Robert H. Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado and a past president of the American Heart Association.
As for the researchers, they have changed their own diets and are following a Mediterranean one, Dr. Estruch said.
“We have all learned,” he said.

Dr. Attwood’s Low-Fat Prescription for Kids

Dr. Attwood’s Low-Fat Prescription for Kids
(Viking hardcover; Penguin paperback)

(click on bookcover to see larger image size)

“It is almost never too late — or too early — to begin making changes in our diet and life-styles. Dr. Attwood’s Low-Fat Prescription for Kids is a very useful step in that direction.”
— Dean Ornish, M.D.president and director of Preventive Medicine Research Institute, author of Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease and Eat More, Weigh Less.

early 70 percent of children who consume a typical American diet have fatty deposits in their coronary arteries – the earliest sign of coronary heart disease — by the age of twelve. This disease, along with diet-related cancer, accounts for more than half of their premature deaths as adults. But until now, parents inspired to change their own high-fat eating habits have received mixed messages about whether low-fat is the way to go with their kids.

Drawing from more than thirty years of experience in preventive nutrition in one of the largest pediatric practices in the country, and from numerous studies from around the world, Dr. Charles Attwood offers proof that a low-fat diet for children over the age of two protects them from serious illnesses later on. He joins a growing number of experts in challenging the nutritional guidelines of organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He also debunks the twelve most common pediatric-diet myths — such as the one that says kids need to eat red meat to get sufficient protein — and maps out a realistic four-stage switch to a meatless, complex-carbohydrate-based diet, after which the “fat taste” virtually disappears. Included are tips on getting started, food shopping, eating out, school lunches, and menus — plus recipes, with nutritional analyses, already kid-tested.

“Dr. Attwood is making a major contribution to humanity by teaching children about diet. I highly recommend his work.” 
— Deepak Chopra, M.D., author of Ageless Body, Timeless Mind.

“If we are at all serious about prolonging life and lowering our death rates, the place to start is not after these lethal diseases strike, in middle or old age, but by studying Dr. Attwood’s book and implementing his suggestions when our children are young. His work is thorough, clear, and persuasive.”
— Dr. Benjamin Spock.

“Makes an insightful and eloquent statement to parents that proper nutrition is, indeed, the best medicine that you can give your children, and that their future health depends on it. In fact, nutritional medicine is the medicine of the twenty-first century.”
— Dr. Art Mollen, syndicated health columnist and author of The Anti-Aging Diet.

“A well-researched, practical guide for parents and an invaluable resource for pediatricians as well. When we invest in better foods for our children, the payoff is a lifetime of good health and productivity. Dr. Attwood shows how to go about it.”
— Neal D. Barnard, M.D., president, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

“To have your child grow up healthy into adolescence and beyond, Dr. Attwood’s book gives you precisely the right prescription. All you have to do is follow it.”
— Ernst L. Wynder, M.D., president, American Health Foundation.

“Magnificent! I couldn’t put this book down!”
— Frank A. Oski, M.D., Chairman of Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University.

“Our best-seller.”
— EarthSave, Santa Cruz, CA.

“A dynamite book! It should be in every home in America.”
— David Essel, “David Essel – Alive”
America’s # 1 Rated Positive Radio Talk Show. Westwood One, 300 Cities.

The 9 nastiest things in your supermarket

a package of ground beef

Photo: danieljordahl/Flickr

1. “Pink slime”
The gross factor: The meat industry likes to call it “lean finely textured beef,” but after ABC News ran a story on it, the public just called it what it looks like — pink slime, a mixture of waste meat and fatty parts from higher-quality cuts of beef that have had the fat mechanically removed. Afterwards, it’s treated with ammonia gas to kill Salmonella and E. colibacteria. Then it gets added to ground beef as a filler. Food microbiologists and meat producers insist that it’s safe, but given the public’s reaction to the ABC News report, there’s an “ick” factor we just can’t overcome. The primary producer of pink slime just announced that it’s closing three of the plants where pink slime is produced, and Kroger, Safeway, Food Lion, McDonald’s and the National School Lunch Program (among others) have all pulled it from their product offerings.
Eat this instead: Organic ground beef is prohibited from containing pink slime, per National Organic Program standards, so it’s your safest bet. If you can’t find organic, ask the butcher at your grocery store whether their products contain the gunk.
2. Vet meds in beef
The gross factor: Hankering for a burger? Besides a hefty dose of protein, a 2010 report from the United States Department of Agriculture found your beef could also harbor veterinary drugs like antibiotics, Ivermectin, an animal wormer linked to neurological damage in humans, and Flunixin, an anti-inflammatory that can cause kidney damage, stomach and colon ulcers, and blood in the stool of humans. Still hungry? We didn’t think so.
Eat this instead: Look for beef from a local grass-fed beef operation that rotates the animals on fresh grass paddocks regularly, and inquire about medicine use. Typically, cows raised this way are much healthier and require fewer drugs. The meat is also more nutritious, too. If you’re in the supermarket, opt for organic meats to avoid veterinary drugs in meat.
Related on The 15 grossest things in your food
3. Heavy metal oatmeal
The gross factor: Sugary and calorie-laden, those convenient instant-oatmeal packets all have one thing in common. They’re sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which, according to tests from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, may be contaminated with mercury. The group tested 55 samples of HFCS and found mercury in a third of them at levels three times higher than what the average woman should consume in a day.
Eat this instead: Buy yourself some instant oats, which cook in less time than it takes to microwave a packet of the sugary stuff, and add your own flavorings, like fresh fruit or maple syrup. And buy HFCS-free versions of other foods, as well. The artificial sweetener lurks in seemingly all processed foods.
4. Filthy shrimp
The gross factor: Food safety experts refer to imported shrimp as the dirtiest of the Seafood’s Dirty Dozen list, and it’s not hard to see why when you consider the common contaminants: Antibiotics, cleaning chemicals used in farmed shrimp pens, residues of toxic pesticides banned in the U.S., and pieces of insects. Less than 2 percent of all imported seafood is inspected — clearly, that’s a problem.
Eat this instead: Look for domestic shrimp. Unfortunately, 70 percent of domestic shrimp comes from the Gulf of Mexico, and the recent oil spill may have long-term impacts on its shrimp stocks. But shrimp can be purchased from Texas, the East Coast, Maine and the Carolinas, so you still have options.
Related on 3 surprising reasons to give up soda
5. MRSA in the meat aisle
The gross factor: Hard-to-treat, antibiotic-resistant infections are no joke. Superbug strains like MRSA are on the rise, infecting 185,000 people — and killing 17,000 people — annually in the U.S. Thought to proliferate on factory farms where antibiotics are overused to boost animal growth, a January 2012 study from Iowa State University found that the dangerous organisms wind up in supermarket meat, too. The dangerous MRSA strain lingered in 7 percent of supermarket pork samples tested. The bacteria die during proper cooking, but improper handling could leave you infected. The spike in superbug infections is largely blamed on antibiotic abuse in factory farms that supply most supermarkets.
Eat this instead: The Iowa state researchers found MRSA in conventional meat and store-bought “antibiotic-free” meat likely contaminated at the processing plant. Search to source meat from small-scale producers who don’t use antibiotics or huge processing plants.
6. Pregnancy hormones in a can
The gross factor: Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that acts like the hormone estrogen in your body, is used to create the epoxy linings of canned food. What food processors don’t tell you is that the chemical was created over 70 years ago as a drug that was intended to promote healthy pregnancies. Though it was never used as a drug, the food industry saw no problem adding this pregnancy drug to a wide range of products, including canned food linings and plastic food containers. “Low levels of BPA exposure has been linked to a wide range of adverse health effects, including abnormal development of reproductive organs, behavior problems in children, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic changes that result in altered insulin levels, which leads to diabetes,” says Sarah Janssen, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. And its use in canned food is the number one reason why 90 percent of Americans have it in their bodies.
Eat this instead: Look for products in glass bottles or aseptic cartons. Canned food manufacturers are in the process of switching over to BPA-free cans, but because those cans are produced in facilities that also produce BPA-based can linings, there’s no way to keep BPA-free cans from becoming contaminated.
7. Bacteria-infused turkey
The gross factor: Turkey marinated in MRSA? It’s true. A 2011 study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that half of the U.S. supermarket meat sampled contain staph bacteria, including potentially lethal MRSA. Turkey was the worst offender: Nearly 80 percent of turkey products samples contain staph bacteria. Pork (42 percent) was next in line in terms of bacterial contamination, followed by chicken (41 percent), and beef (37 percent). Researchers ID the overuse of antibiotics as the culprit.
Eat this instead: If you serve meat for Thanksgiving, invest in an organic, pastured turkey, such as one from Ayrshire Farm in Maryland.
8. Moldy berries
The gross factor: If pregnancy hormones in your canned fruit isn’t enough to make you turn to fresh, consider this: The FDA legally allows up to 60 percent of canned or frozen blackberries and raspberries to contain mold. Canned fruit and vegetable juices are allowed to contain up to 15 percent mold.
Eat this instead: Go for fresh! When berries are in season, stock up and freeze them yourself to eat throughout the winter. To freeze them, just spread fruits out on a cookie sheet, set the sheet in your freezer for a few hours, then transfer the berries to a glass jar or other airtight, freezer-safe container.
9. Rocket fuel in lettuce
The gross factor: Lettuce is a great source of antioxidants, and thanks to the great state of California, we can now eat it all year long. However, much of the lettuce grown in California is irrigated with water from the Colorado River. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Colorado River water is contaminated with low levels of perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel known to harm thyroid function, and that perchlorate can be taken up inside lettuce plants. A separate study from the Environmental Working Group found perchlorate in 50 percent of store-bought winter lettuce samples.
Eat this instead: Perchlorate is hard to avoid, but some of the highest levels in the country have been found in California’s agricultural regions. If you eat locally and in season, you can ask your local farmers whether it’s a problem in their irrigation water supply.

More Red Meat, More Mortality


Risks: More Red Meat, More Mortality
Published: March 12, 2012

Eating red meat is associated with a sharply increased risk of death from cancer and heart disease, according to a new study, and the more of it you eat, the greater the risk.

The analysis, published online Monday in Archives of Internal Medicine, used data from two studies that involved 121,342 men and women who filled out questionnaires about health and diet from 1980 through 2006. There were 23,926 deaths in the group, including 5,910 from cardiovascular disease and 9,464 from cancer.

People who ate more red meat were less physically active and more likely to smoke and had a higher body mass index, researchers found. Still, after controlling for those and other variables, they found that each daily increase of three ounces of red meat was associated with a 12 percent greater risk of dying over all, including a 16 percent greater risk of cardiovascular death and a 10 percent greater risk of cancer death.

The increased risks linked to processed meat, like bacon, were even greater: 20 percent over all, 21 percent for cardiovascular disease and 16 percent for cancer.

If people in the study had eaten half as much meat, the researchers estimated, deaths in the group would have declined 9.3 percent in men and 7.6 percent in women.

Previous studies have linked red meat consumption and mortality, but the new results suggest a surprisingly strong link.

“When you have these numbers in front of you, it’s pretty staggering,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Frank B. Hu, a professor of medicine at Harvard.

Scientist who saved the world

Sherwood Rowland, the scientist who saved the world

F. Sherwood Rowland
It’s not often you can say that someone saved the world — and mean it literally.

But that’s the case with F. Sherwood Rowland. The UC Irvine chemist, who died Saturday at 85, was one of three scientists who won the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry, The Times reported, for their work “explaining how chlorofluorocarbons, ubiquitous substances once used in an array of products from spray deodorant to industrial solvents, could destroy the ozone layer, the protective atmospheric blanket that screens out many of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.”

In hindsight, it seems straightforward: Bad stuff was eating away a vital part of Earth’s environment. So get rid of it.

But it wasn’t so simple in 1974, when Rowland and fellow scientist Mario Molina published their concerns in the journal Nature.

As The Times says, the findings “were met with scorn by the chemical industry and even by many scholars. For a decade, Rowland and Molina persevered to prove their hypothesis, publishing numerous scientific papers and speaking to sometimes hostile audiences at scientific conferences. It took almost 15 years for the international scientific community and chemical industry to accept the pair’s findings.”

Hmmm, starting to remind you of a little something called “climate change,” is it?

But here’s something of a vital difference between the ozone debate and the current climate change one:

Manufacturers began to phase out chlorofluorocarbons in the late 1980s, prompted by the discovery of an ozone “hole” over Antarctica that formed each winter in response to weather conditions and the falling worldwide levels of ozone. The Montreal Protocol, a landmark international agreement to phase out CFC products, was signed by the United States and other nations in 1987.

The protocol was proof that nations could unite to address common environmental threats, Rowland contended. “People have worked together to solve the problem,” he said.

Rowland was right then.  Nations did unite to address a common environmental threat.

But have we taken that lesson to heart?  Will we accept the scientific consensus on climate change and work together to save the planet?

Or will it continue to be a political football, at least in the United States, where too many politicians are opting for short-term partisan gains at the risk of the planet’s future?

Donald Blake, a colleague of Rowland’s at UC Irvine, told The Times that Rowland considered the phase-out of CFCs his greatest achievement.

It would be a shame if Rowland won the ozone battle — but the rest of us lost the war for Earth’s survival.



Calcium Without the Cow
Charles R. Attwood, M.D., F.A.A.P.

 note from the school dietitian was handed to me by a young mother of a 7 year old boy. “Billy’s diet has come to our attention,” it read, “because he no longer selects milk in the cafeteria.” He had recently given up milk at my suggestion because it worsened his asthma and eczema. The note went on to conclude, “Milk is absolutely necessary for for protein and calcium!” This last sentence was heavily underlined. I quickly realized how concerned Billy’s mother was, because there was also a history of osteoporosis among several elderly members of her family.


This dilemma is encountered most frequently by families who are trying to reduce saturated fat and animal proteins in their diets. They’ve read that both may increase the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, but worry about calcium balance and bone density if milk, the chief source of saturated fat for children, is discontinued. I often reassure concerned parents that some bowing of their child’s legs is normal up to the age of 3, and is not due to a calcium deficiency or rickets. Dental decay in early childhood, causes the same concern, but ironically it is partially due to the frequent bathing of the teeth with milk, rather than a calcium deficiency.

Why is this paranoia so common among Americans? The milk-calcium-bone density myth has been created and perpetuated by the intense lobbying of the dairy industry throughout the lifetimes of most adults living today.

Throughout kindergarten and grade school, most of the nutrition teaching aids were supplied by the American Dairy Council. As a result, most parents, teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges, and significantly, members of congress grew up with the not unbiased view that milk is a necessary and wholesome food for both children and adults. The council’s most effective campaign tool has been to link milk, calcium, and bone density.

To further confuse the consumer, milk and infant formulas have been fortified with vitamin D, which is necessary for proper calcium absorption. It may also be obtained by eating sardines, herring, salmon, tuna, egg yolk, and fish oils. However, none of these are necessary, because it’s manufactured in adequate amounts by exposure to as little as 10-15 minutes of sunlight about three times a week. Rickets may be prevented in children getting no sunlight–such as the totally disabled, by a vitamin D supplement, if the parents do not wish to feed them fortified milk.

The true connection between milk and strong bones isn’t exactly what the dairy industry has been telling us all these years. Calcium balance, the relationship between the intake and loss of the mineral determines bone density, mostly during childhood and adolescence. Good bone density attained by the age of 18 usually lasts a lifetime for people consuming a balanced plant-based diet and remaining physically active. Milk and other dairy products, although rich in calcium, are high in animal protein, which has been shown to create calcium loss through the urinary tract. A 1994 National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference concluded that calcium balance and bone density depended at least 3O percent on the ratio of intake to loss, not on calcium intake alone. According to a report in Science magazine in 1986, evidence is accumulating that calcium intake (considered alone) is not related to bone density

This may explain why countries consuming the most milk also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis. Exceptions exist, but a common determining factor seems to be the high protein consumption in populations who require very high levels of calcium intake. For instance, the RDA of calcium in the United States is up to 1,200 mg daily. This is much higher than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 500 mg. for children and 800 mg for adults. Areas of the world where dietary protein is very low have low national recommendations. In Thailand, for example, the recommended daily intake of calcium is only 400 mg. for all ages. Elderly South African Bantu women, who consume a very low protein diet (5O grams daily, compared with 91 grams for Americans) and only 450 mg. calcium daily, have no osteoporosis despite the calcium drain of nursing an average of 10 children. On the other hand, Eskimos, consuming a very high protein diet (250-400 grams) of fish, and a calcium intake of over 2,000 mg daily, have the highest rate of osteoporosis in the world!

Now, let’s take a new look at milk and dairy products as a calcium source, regardless of their protein content. Calcium expressed as mg. per 100 calories instead of per gram show milk and cheese at the bottom of the list and green vegetables at the top (see chart).


At first glance, one may conclude, “but I would have to eat so much more spinach or kale to get adequate calcium.” Not so, individuals on a plant-based diet generally eat as many total calories as meat and dairy-eaters. In other words, adequate amounts of vegetables are BETTER SOURCES OF CALCIUM THAN MILK AND CHEESE. Also, consider that a cup of broccoli contains about the same amount of calcium as a cup of milk. But wait! Haven’t we been told that many green vegetables contain oxalic acid, which reduces the absorption of their calcium. This too, has been exaggerated by the dairy lobby. A 1990 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that greens such as broccoli and kale have high levels of calcium which is absorbed at least as well as that in milk. Excellent calcium balance on a non-dairy diet is easily attained because ALL vegetables and legumes contain calcium, and collectively it’s more than adequate. This calcium stays in the bones, unlike much of that from the high protein-containing dairy products.

Now it begins to make sense. In cultures where the most protein is consumed, the calcium requirement for good bone density and protection against osteoporosis may be UNATTAINABLY high, without supplements — it’s a Catch-22. But for the majority of the world population, and among those consuming a plant-based diet in Western countries, calcium requirements for normal bone density are easily obtained without milk or other dairy products. Milk, it now seems clear, is not the solution to the malady of poor bone density. It may be a part of the problem, and you can have your calcium without the cow.

Want to avoid dementia?

Eat Less Meat, Dairy To Protect Brain

Eat Less Meat, Dairy to Protect Brain


We’ve said it all along, and the research supports it. Want to avoid dementia? Then avoid meat and dairy. It’s so mainstream, it’s on the front of

Here’s an excerpt:

Eating a diet rich in healthy fats and
limiting dairy and meat could do more than keep
your heart healthier. It could also help keep you
thinking clearly.

New research shows that sticking to the
Mediterranean diet, previously shown to reduce
heart and other health issues, also may help
lower the risk of having small areas of dead
tissue linked to thinking problems. Known as
brain infarcts, they’re involved in vascular
dementia, the second most common form of
dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease.

“We’ve got these diseases of aging that cause
disability, cost a ton of money to treat and
manage, and wreck people’s lives,” said Dr.
Gregory Cole, a professor of medicine and
neurology at the University of California, Los
Angeles, who was not involved in this new study.
“You’ve got to get in there and figure out what
actually works for prevention, and not have
people guessing.”

A Mediterranean diet includes a lot of fruit,
vegetables and fish, olive oil, legumes and
cereals, and fewer dishes containing dairy, meat,
poultry, and saturated fatty acids than other
diets. It also involves small to moderate amounts
of alcohol.

A Mediterranean Diet has less of what’s bad for you in it. It’s definitely better than the Standard American Diet, but not nearly as good as a healthy plant-based diet.

The closer you eat to a 100% plant-based diet, the healthier you can be.