Science Confirms Turmeric As Effective As 14 Drugs

Science Finds Ancient Spice Turmeric As Effective As 14 Drugs

Turmeric is one the most thoroughly researched plants in existence today.  Its medicinal properties and components (primarily curcumin) have been the subject of over 5600 peer-reviewed and published biomedical studies.  In fact, our five-year long research project on this sacred plant has revealed over 600 potential preventive and therapeutic applications, as well as 175 distinct beneficial physiological effects. This entire database of 1,585 ncbi-hyperlinked turmeric abstracts can be downloaded as a PDF at ourDownloadable Turmeric Document page, and acquired either as a retail item or with 200 GMI-tokens, for those of you who are already are members and receive them automatically each month.

Given the sheer density of research performed on this remarkable spice, it is no wonder that a growing number of studies have concluded that it compares favorably to a variety of conventional medications, including:

  • Lipitor/Atorvastatin(cholesterol medication): A 2008 study published in the journal Drugs in R & D found that a standardized preparation of curcuminoids from Turmeric compared favorably to the drug atorvastatin (trade name Lipitor) on endothelial dysfunction, the underlying pathology of the blood vessels that drives atherosclerosis, in association with reductions in inflammation and oxidative stress in type 2 diabetic patients. [i]  [For addition curcumin and ‘high cholesterol’ research – 8 abstracts]
  • Corticosteroids (steroid medications): A 1999 study published in thejournal Phytotherapy Research found that the primary polyphenol in turmeric, the saffron colored pigment known as curcumin, compared favorably to steroids in the management of chronic anterior uveitis, an inflammatory eye disease.[ii]  A 2008 study published in Critical Care Medicine found that curcumin compared favorably to the corticosteroid drug dexamethasone in the animal model as an alternative therapy for protecting lung transplantation-associated injury by down-regulating inflammatory genes.[iii] An earlier 2003 study published in Cancer Lettersfound the same drug also compared favorably to dexamethasone in a lung ischaemia-repurfusion injury model.[iv]  [for additional curcumin and inflammation research – 52 abstracts]
  • Prozac/Fluoxetine & Imipramine  (antidepressants): A 2011 study published in the journal Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica found that curcumin compared favorably to both drugs in reducing depressive behavior in an animal model.[v] [for additional curcumin and depression research – 5 abstracts]
  • Aspirin (blood thinner): A 1986 in vitro and ex vivo study published in the journal Arzneimittelforschung found that curcumin has anti-platelet and prostacyclin modulating effects compared to aspirin, indicating it may have value in patients prone to vascular thrombosis and requiring anti-arthritis therapy.[vi]  [for additional curcumin and anti-platelet research]
  • Anti-inflammatory Drugs: A 2004 study published in the journalOncogene found that curcumin (as well as resveratrol) were effective alternatives to the drugs aspirin, ibuprofen, sulindac, phenylbutazone, naproxen, indomethacin, diclofenac, dexamethasone, celecoxib, and tamoxifen in exerting anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative activity against tumor cells.[vii] [for additional curcumin and anti-proliferativeresearch – 15 abstracts]
  • Oxaliplatin (chemotherapy drug): A 2007 study published in theInternational Journal of Cancer found that curcumin compares favorably with oxaliplatin as an antiproliferative agenet in colorectal cell lines.[viii][for additional curcumin and colorectal cancer research – 52 abstracts]
  • Metformin (diabetes drug): A 2009 study published in the journalBiochemitry and Biophysical Research Community explored how curcumin might be valuable in treating diabetes, finding that it activates AMPK (which increases glucose uptake) and suppresses gluconeogenic gene expression  (which suppresses glucose production in the liver) in hepatoma cells. Interestingly, they found curcumin to be 500 times to 100,000 times (in the form known as tetrahydrocurcuminoids(THC)) more potent than metformin in activating AMPK and its downstream target acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC). [ix]

Another way in which turmeric and its components reveal their remarkable therapeutic properties is in research on drug resistant- and multi-drug resistant cancers.  We have two sections on our site dedicated to researching natural and integrative therapies on these topics, and while there are dozens of substances with demonstrable efficacy against these chemotherapy- and radiation-resistant cancers, curcumin tops both lists:

We have found no less than 54 studies indicating that curcumin can induce cell death or sensitize drug-resistant cancer cell lines to conventional treatment.[x]

We have identified 27 studies on curcumin’s ability to either induce cell death or sensitize multi-drug resistant cancer cell lines to conventional treatment.[xi]

Considering how strong a track record turmeric (curcumin) has, having been used as both food and medicine in a wide range of cultures, for thousands of years, a strong argument can be made for using curcumin as a drug alternative or adjuvant in cancer treatment.

Or, better yet, use certified organic (non-irradiated) turmeric in lower culinary doses on a daily basis so that heroic doses won’t be necessary later in life after a serious disease sets in.  Nourishing yourself, rather than self-medicating with ‘nutraceuticals,’ should be the goal of a healthy diet.  [learn more at Sayer Ji’s new collaborative project EATomology]



6 Gross Causes of Food Borne Illness

Updated May 06, 2015.

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See’sMedical Review Board.

It seems every few months we hear of another product that has been recalled due to contamination with one thing or another. Most contaminants cause upset stomach and symptoms similar to those of a stomach bug. But some people end up with serious complications or even die from these outbreaks.

Learn more about common contaminants that often lead to widespread food recalls.

168835127.jpg - PASIEKA/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

E. coli magnified x7000. PASIEKA/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

1.  E. Coli – Escherichia Coli

E. coli is one of the most well known causes of food borne illness and product recalls in the US. It actually isn’t even in the top 5 pathogens that cause food borne illness though.   More »

186450781.jpg - Science Picture Company/Getty Images

Salmonella bacterium. Science Picture Company/Getty Images

2.  Salmonella

Salmonella is the leading cause of hospitalization and deaths from food borne illness in the United States. It is also the second most common pathogen leading to illness from food. It doesn’t just occur in undercooked chicken either. Read up on this dangerous bacteria so you know how to protect yourself.  More »

175132771.jpg - Science Picture Company/Getty Images

Listeria monocytogenes. Science Picture Company/Getty Images

3.  Listeria

Listeria is commonly found in raw milk and processed deli meats or hot dogs. Lately it has been found even in commercially prepared items such asBlue Bell Ice Cream – which prompted a complete recall of all products by the company in April 2015. Although listeriosis is uncommon in healthy people, it poses serious risks to pregnant women, older adults, infants and people with compromised immune systems. More »

125744248.jpg - Science Picture Company/Getty Images

Norovirus – or Norwalk virus. Science Picture Company/Getty Images

4.  Norovirus

Norovirus is a highly contagious pathogen that can affect many people in a short amount of time. It is the leading cause of food borne illness in the United States. Once known as the “cruise ship virus” because of the frequency of outbreaks on cruise ships – this virus is now one of the most common causes of “stomach flu”. It spreads quickly and is especially contagious in areas where many people are in close quarters – such as on cruise ships or in college dorms.  More »

155301169.jpg - BSIP/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Campylobacter jejuni. BSIP/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

5.  Campylobacter

Campylobacter is a common cause of food borne illness but it typically occurs in isolated incidents and does not prompt large recalls. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea (may be bloody), cramping, abdominal pain and fever. These symptoms usually appear 2 to 5 days after exposure to the bacteria. It is more common during the summer and a vast majority of people that get it recover without treatment. It is most serious for people with compromised immune systems.

Most cases of campylobacter occur from eating raw or undercooked poultry. It’s often spread by cutting raw meat on a cutting board and then reusing the same cutting board for produce. According to the CDC, there can be enough campylobacter in just one drop of raw poultry juice to infect a person. More »

155301303.jpg - BSIP/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Toxoplasma gondii. BSIP/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

6.  Toxoplasma Gondii

It is estimated that 60 million of us (in the United States alone) are currently infected with the Toxoplasma parasite. Luckily, most of us will never know it because it doesn’t make us sick. When your immune system is functioning properly it keeps the parasite from making you sick. Unfortunately, people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women are at higher risk for illness from this bug.

The toxoplasma parasite can be found on raw or undercooked meats such as pork, venison or lamb as well as in contaminated water. A common source of infection is cat feces. If you have ever been pregnant and warned not to change or touch cat litter – toxoplasmosis is why.

Those who do get sick with toxoplasmosis may experience “flu-like” symptoms with swollen glands and muscle aches that can last for over a month.  More »

Fusili with Roasted Vegetables


1 large red onion, halved and then sliced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch strips
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch strips
2 green or orange bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch strips
4 fresh plum tomatoes, cut in thin wedges

3 cloves garlic, quartered

1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1 and 1/2 tbsp. olive oil (or more) or canola oil
10 oz. spiral pasta
1/4 cup packed fresh basil, finely shredded
1 tbsp. grated Parmesan
1/2 cup white wine
Oven 400 degrees.  In large roasting pan, combine onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, pepper and olive oil.  Roast in oven for 40 minutes, tossing vegetables after 20 minutes.  Cook pasta – drain – toss with vegetables, wine, basil and Parmesan.
Serves 4.

How do phytochemicals work?


What are phytochemicals?

Phytochemicals are non-nutritive plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties. They are nonessential nutrients, meaning that they are not required by the human body for sustaining life. It is well-known that plant produce these chemicals to protect themselves but recent research demonstrate that they can also protect humans against diseases. There are more than thousand known phytochemicals. Some of the well-known phytochemicals are lycopene in tomatoes, isoflavones in soy and flavanoids in fruits.
phytochemical structures

How do phytochemicals work?

There are many phytochemicals and each works differently. These are some possible actions:

  • Antioxidant – Most phytochemicals have antioxidant activity and protect our cells against oxidative damage and reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Phytochemicals with antioxidant activity: allyl sulfides (onions, leeks, garlic), carotenoids (fruits, carrots), flavonoids (fruits, vegetables), polyphenols (tea, grapes).
  • Hormonal action – Isoflavones, found in soy, imitate human estrogens and help to reduce menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis.
  • Stimulation of enzymes – Indoles, which are found in cabbages, stimulate enzymes that make the estrogen less effective and could reduce the risk for breast cancer. Other phytochemicals, which interfere with enzymes, are protease inhibitors (soy and beans), terpenes (citrus fruits and cherries).
  • Interference with DNA replication – Saponins found in beans interfere with the replication of cell DNA, thereby preventing the multiplication of cancer cells. Capsaicin, found in hot peppers, protects DNA from carcinogens.
  • Anti-bacterial effect – The phytochemical allicin from garlic has anti-bacterial properties.
  • Physical action – Some phytochemicals bind physically to cell walls thereby preventing the adhesion of pathogens to human cell walls. Proanthocyanidins are responsible for the anti-adhesion properties of cranberry. Consumption of cranberries will reduce the risk ofurinary tract infections and will improve dental health.

How do we get enough phytochemicals?

Foods containing phytochemicals are already part of our daily diet. In fact, most foods contain phytochemicals except for some refined foods such as sugar or alcohol. Some foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, beans, fruits and herbs, contain many phytochemicals. The easiest way to get more phytochemicals is to eat more fruit (blueberries, cranberries, cherries, apple,…) and vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, broccoli,…). It is recommended take daily at least 5 to 9 servings of fruits or vegetable. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in minerals, vitamins and fibre and low in saturated fat.

Future of phytochemicals

Phytochemicals are naturally present in many foods but it is expected that through bioengineering new plants will be developed, which will contain higher levels. This would make it easier to incorporate enough phytochemicals with our food.

More Reasons to Eat Your Veggies

List of antioxidants in food

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Foods highest in antioxidants

Food sources[edit]

Regulatory guidance[edit]

In the following discussion, the term “antioxidant” refers mainly to non-nutrient compounds in foods, such as polyphenols, which haveantioxidant capacity in vitro and so provide an artificial index of antioxidant strength – the ORAC measurement. Other than for dietary antioxidant vitamins – vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E – no food compounds have been proved with antioxidant efficacy in vivo. Accordingly, regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration of the United States and the European Food Safety Authority(EFSA) have published guidance disallowing food product labels to claim an inferred antioxidant benefit when no such physiological evidence exists.[1][2]

Polyphenols in foods[edit]

Many common foods contain rich sources of polyphenols which have antioxidant properties only in test tube studies. As interpreted by theLinus Pauling Institute, dietary polyphenols have little or no direct antioxidant food value following digestion.[3] Not like controlled test tube conditions, the fate of flavones or polyphenols in vivo shows they are poorly conserved (less than 5%), with most of what is absorbed existing as metabolites modified during digestion and destined for rapid excretion.[4]

Spices, herbs, and essential oils are rich in polyphenols in the plant itself and shown with antioxidant potential in vitro. Typical spices high in polyphenols (confirmed in vitro) are clove, cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, cumin, parsley, basil, curry powder, mustard seed, ginger,pepper, chili powder, paprika, garlic, coriander, onion and cardamom. Typical herbs are sage, thyme, marjoram, tarragon, peppermint,oregano, savory, basil and dill weed.

Dried fruits are a good source of polyphenols by weight/serving size as the water has been removed making the ratio of polyphenols higher. Typical dried fruits are pears, apples, plums, peaches, raisins, figs and dates. Dried raisins are high in polyphenol count. Red wine is high in total polyphenol count which supplies antioxidant quality which is unlikely to be conserved following digestion (see section below).

Deeply pigmented fruits like cranberries, blueberries, plums, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, figs, cherries, guava, oranges, mango, grape juice and pomegranate juice also have significant polyphenol content.

Typical cooked vegetables rich in antioxidants are artichokes, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, avocados, beetroot and spinach.

Nuts are a moderate source of polyphenol antioxidants. Typical nuts are pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachio, almonds, cashew nuts,macadamia nuts and peanut butter.

Sorghum bran, cocoa powder, and cinnamon are rich sources of procyanidins, which are large molecular weight compounds found in many fruits and some vegetables. Partly due to the large molecular weight (size) of these compounds, their amount actually absorbed in the body is low, an effect also resulting from the action of stomach acids, enzymes and bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract where smaller derivatives are metabolized and prepared for rapid excretion.[3][4]

Physiological context[edit]

Despite the above discussion implying that ORAC-rich foods with polyphenols may provide antioxidant benefits when in the diet, there remains no physiological evidence that any polyphenols have such actions or that ORAC has any relevance in the human body.

On the contrary, research indicates that although polyphenols are good antioxidants in vitro, antioxidant effects in vivo are probably negligible or absent.[5][6][7] By non-antioxidant mechanisms still undefined, polyphenols may affect mechanisms of cardiovascular disease or cancer.[8]

The increase in antioxidant capacity of blood seen after the consumption of polyphenol-rich (ORAC-rich) foods is not caused directly by the polyphenols, but most likely results from increased uric acid levels derived from metabolism of flavonoids.[3][4] According to Frei, “we can now follow the activity of flavonoids in the body, and one thing that is clear is that the body sees them as foreign compounds and is trying to get rid of them.”[4] Another mechanism may be the increase in activities of paraoxonases by dietary antioxidants which can reduce oxidative stress.[9]


Vitamin cofactors and minerals[edit]


Carotenoid terpenoids[edit]

Main article: carotenoid
  • Alpha-carotene – found in carrots, winter squash, tomatoes, green beans, cilantro, Swiss chard
  • Astaxanthin – found naturally in red algae and animals higher in the marine food chain. It is a red pigment familiarly recognized in crustacean shells and salmon flesh/roe.
  • Beta-carotene – found in high concentrations in butternut squash, carrots, orange bell peppers, pumpkins, kale, peaches, apricots, mango, turnip greens, broccoli, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
  • Canthaxanthin
  • Lutein – found in high concentration in spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, beet and mustard greens, endive, red pepper and okra
  • Lycopene – found in high concentration in cooked red tomato products like canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice and garden cocktails, gauva and watermelons.
  • Zeaxanthin – best sources are kale, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, Swiss chard, mustard and beet greens, corn, and broccoli

Natural phenols[edit]

Natural phenols are a class of molecules found in abundance in plants.


Flavonoids, a subset of polyphenol antioxidants, are present in many berries, as well as in coffee and tea.

Phenolic acids and their esters[edit]

  • Chicoric acid – another caffeic acid derivative, is found only in the popular medicinal herb Echinacea purpurea.
  • Chlorogenic acid – found in high concentration in coffee (more concentrated in robusta than arabica beans), blueberries and tomatoes. Produced from esterification of caffeic acid.
  • Cinnamic acid and its derivatives, such as ferulic acid – found in seeds of plants such as in brown rice, whole wheat and oats, as well as in coffee, apple, artichoke, peanut, orange and pineapple.
  • Ellagic acid – found in high concentration in raspberry and strawberry, and in ester form in red wine tannins.
  • Ellagitannins – hydrolyzable tannin polymer formed when ellagic acid, a polyphenol monomer, esterifies and binds with the hydroxyl group of a polyol carbohydrate such as glucose.
  • Gallic acid – found in gallnuts, sumac, witch hazel, tea leaves, oak bark, and many other plants.
  • Gallotannins – hydrolyzable tannin polymer formed when gallic acid, a polyphenol monomer, esterifies and binds with the hydroxyl group of a polyol carbohydrate such as glucose.
  • Rosmarinic acid – found in high concentration in rosemary, oregano, lemon balm, sage, and marjoram.
  • Salicylic acid – found in most vegetables, fruits, and herbs; but most abundantly in the bark of willow trees, from where it was extracted for use in the early manufacture of aspirin.

Other nonflavonoid phenolics[edit]

Other potential organic antioxidants[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ Guidance for Industry, Food Labeling; Nutrient Content Claims; Definition for “High Potency” and Definition for “Antioxidant” for Use in Nutrient Content Claims for Dietary Supplements and Conventional Foods U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, June 2008
  2. Jump up^ EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (2010). “Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to various food(s)/food constituent(s) and protection of cells from premature aging, antioxidant activity, antioxidant content and antioxidant properties, and protection of DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006”. EFSA Journal 8 (2): 1489.doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1489.
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b c Lotito, S; Frei, B (2006). “Consumption of flavonoid-rich foods and increased plasma antioxidant capacity in humans: Cause, consequence, or epiphenomenon?”. Free Radical Biology and Medicine 41 (12): 1727–46.doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2006.04.033. PMID 17157175.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c d David Stauth (5 March 2007). “Studies force new view on biology of flavonoids”. EurekAlert!; Adapted from a news release issued by Oregon State University.
  5. Jump up^ Williams, Robert J; Spencer, Jeremy P.E; Rice-Evans, Catherine (2004). “Flavonoids: antioxidants or signalling molecules?☆”. Free Radical Biology and Medicine 36 (7): 838–49.doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2004.01.001. PMID 15019969.
  6. Jump up^ Gross, P (2009). “New Roles for Polyphenols. A 3-Part report on Current Regulations & the State of Science”. Nutraceuticals World. Rodman Media. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  7. Jump up^ Jonny Bowden, PhD, C.N.S. (16 Dec 2012). “ORAC no more!”. Huffington Post. Retrieved 12 Dec 2012.
  8. Jump up^ Arts, IC; Hollman, PC (2005). “Polyphenols and disease risk in epidemiologic studies”. The American journal of clinical nutrition 81(1 Suppl): 317S–325S. PMID 15640497.
  9. Jump up^ Aviram, M; Rosenblat, M (2005). “Paraoxonases and cardiovascular diseases: pharmacological and nutritional influences”. Current Opinion in Lipidology 16 (4): 393–9.doi:10.1097/01.mol.0000174398.84185.0f. PMID 15990587.
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b Anand, Preetha; Kunnumakkara, Ajaikumar B.; Newman, Robert A.; Aggarwal, Bharat B. (2007). “Bioavailability of Curcumin: Problems and Promises”. Molecular Pharmaceutics 4 (6): 807–18.doi:10.1021/mp700113r. PMID 17999464.
  11. Jump up^ Kurien, Biji T.; Singh, Anil; Matsumoto, Hiroyuki; Scofield, R. Hal (2007). “Improving the Solubility and Pharmacological Efficacy of Curcumin by Heat Treatment”. ASSAY and Drug Development Technologies 5 (4): 567–76. doi:10.1089/adt.2007.064.PMID 17767425.
  12. Jump up^ Nair, Hareesh B.; Sung, Bokyung; Yadav, Vivek R.; Kannappan, Ramaswamy; Chaturvedi, Madan M.; Aggarwal, Bharat B. (2010).“Delivery of antiinflammatory nutraceuticals by nanoparticles for the prevention and treatment of cancer”. Biochemical Pharmacology80 (12): 1833–1843. doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2010.07.021.PMC 2974020. PMID 20654584.
  13. Jump up^ [1][dead link]
  14. Jump up^ Stocker, R; Yamamoto, Y; McDonagh, A.; Glazer, A.; Ames, B. (1987). “Bilirubin is an antioxidant of possible physiological importance”. Science 235 (4792): 1043–6.Bibcode:1987Sci…235.1043S. doi:10.1126/science.3029864.PMID 3029864.
  15. Jump up^ Zawiasa, A.; Szklarek-Kubicka, M.; Fijałkowska-Morawska, J.; Nowak, D.; Rysz, J.; Mamełka, B.; Nowicki, M. (2009). “Effect of Oral Fructose Load on Serum Uric Acid and Lipids in Kidney Transplant Recipients Treated with Cyclosporine or Tacrolimus”.Transplantation Proceedings 41 (1): 188–91.doi:10.1016/j.transproceed.2008.10.038. PMID 19249511.
  16. Jump up^ De Vera, Mary; Rahman, M. Mushfiqur; Rankin, James; Kopec, Jacek; Gao, Xiang; Choi, Hyon (2008). “Gout and the risk of parkinson’s disease: A cohort study”. Arthritis & Rheumatism 59(11): 1549–54. doi:10.1002/art.24193. PMID 18975349.

External links[edit]

Eat Your Veggies

List of phytochemicals in food

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

While there is ample evidence to indicate the health benefits of diets rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, no specific food has been acknowledged by scientists and government regulatory authorities as providing a health benefit. Current medical research is focused on whether health effects could be due to specific essential nutrients or phytochemicals.[1]

The following is a list of phytochemicals present in commonly consumed foods.

Terpenoids (isoprenoids)[edit]

Carotenoids (tetraterpenoids)[edit]


orange pigments


yellow pigments.




Phenolic compounds[edit]

Natural monophenols[edit]



red, blue, purple pigments




A phytoestrogens – seeds (flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, poppy), whole grains (rye, oats, barley), bran (wheat, oat, rye), fruits (particularly berries) and vegetables.[2]



Hydrolyzable tannin[edit]

Aromatic acid[edit]

Phenolic acids[edit]

Hydroxycinnamic acids[edit]


chilli peppers.



wholegrain wheat, rye and barley


The precursor to isothiocyanates[edit]

Aglycone derivatives[edit]

Organosulfides/ Organosulfur compounds[edit]




Other organic acids[edit]

Protease inhibitors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University
  2. Jump up^ Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University
  3. Jump up^ Lignan contents of Dutch plant foods: a database i…[Br J Nutr. 2005] – PubMed Result

Overview of Metabolism


Metabolism is the sum total of all chemical reactions involved in maintaining the living state of the cells, and thus the organism. In general metabolism may be divided into two categories: catabolism or the break down of molecules to obtain energy; and anabolism or the synthesis of all compounds needed by the cells (examples are DNA, RNA, an protein synthesis). The diagram on the left contains a summary of all the types of metabolism that will be examined. In this module, the electron transport chain is examined.

Bioenergetics is a term which describes the biochemical or metabolic pathways by which the cell ultimately obtains energy.

Nutrition is a science that deals with the relation of food substance to living things. In the study of nutrition, the following items must be considered: a) bodily requirement for various substances; b) function in body; c) amount needed; d) level below which poor health results. Essential foods supply energy (calories) and supply the necessary chemicals which the body itself cannot synthesize. Food provides a variety of substances that are essential for the building, upkeep, and repair of body tissues, and for the efficient functioning of the body.

A complete diet must supply the elements; carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and at least 18 other inorganic elements. The major elements are supplied in carbohydrates, lipids, and protein. In addition, at least 17 vitamins and water are necessary. If an essential nutrient is omitted from the diet, certain deficiency symptoms appear.


Foods supply carbohydrates in three forms: starch, sugar, and cellulose (fiber). Starch and sugar are major and essential sources of energy for humans. A lack of carbohydrates in the diet would probably result in an insufficient number of calories in the diet. Cellulose furnishes bulk in the diet.

Since the tissues of the body need glucose at all times, the diet must contain substances such as carbohydrates or substances which will yield glucose by digestion or metabolism. For the majority of the people in the world, more than half of the diet consists of carbohydrates from rice, wheat, bread, potatoes, macaroni.


All life requires protein since it is the chief tissue builder and part of every cell in the body. Among other functions, proteins help to: make hemoglobin in the blood that carries oxygen to the cells; form anti-bodies that fight infection; supply nitrogen for DNA and RNA genetic material; and supply energy.

Proteins are necessary for nutrition because they contain amino acids. Among the 20 or more amino acids, the human body is unable to synthesize 8, therefore, these amino acids are called essential amino acids. A food containing protein may be of poor biological value if it is deficient in one or more of the 8 essential amino acids: lysine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, valine, and threonine. Proteins of animal origin have the highest biological value because they contain a greater amount of the essential amino acids. Foods with the best quality protein are listed in diminishing quality order: whole eggs, milk, soybeans, meats, vegetables, and grains.

Fats and Lipids:

Fats are concentrated sources of energy because they give twice as much energy as either carbohydrates or protein on a weight basis. The functions of fats are to: make up part of the structure of cells, form a protective cushion and heat insulation around vital organs, carry fat soluble vitamins, and provide a reserve storage for energy.

Three unsaturated fatty acids which are essential include: linoleic, linolinic, and arachidonic and have 2, 3, and 4 double bonds respectively. Saturated fats, along with cholesterol, have been implicated in arteriosclerosis, “hardening of the arteries”. For this reason, the diet should be decreased in saturated fats (animal) and increased in unsaturated fat (vegetable).
a) MH + NAD+ —> NADH + H+ + M + energy

b) ADP + P + energy —> ATP + H2O


The minerals in foods do not contribute directly to energy needs but are important as body regulators and as essential constituents in many vital substances within the body. A MINERAL is rather loosely defined as any element not normally a part of the structures of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. More than 50 elements are found in the human body.

About 25 elements have been found to be essential, since a deficiency produces specific deficiency symptoms. All of the minerals required by the human body are probably not known at this time. Although minerals may not be part of the structures of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, they are mixed in the foods in trace amounts during the growing process by uptake from the soil.

Major Minerals Include: calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, and chloride ions.

Other Essential Minerals Include: copper, cobalt, manganese, zinc, magnesium, fluorine, and iodine.


Vitamins are essential organic compounds that the human body cannot synthesize by itself and must therefore, be present in the diet. The term vitamin (vital amines) was coined by Casmir Funk from the Latin vita meaning “life” (essential for life) and amine because he thought that all of these compounds contained an amine functional group.

Vitamins particularly important in metabolism include:

Vitamin A: The yellow and green pigments found in vegetables are called carotenes which are pro vitamins and are converted into Vitamin A. The role of vitamin A in Vision has already been discussed in a previous page.

Vitamin B2 is better known as riboflavin and is widely distributed in many foods. Riboflavin is used to form a coenzyme FAD important in the utilization of oxygen in the cells.

Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid, is also in the B complex of vitamins. Nicotinic acid was first obtained from the alkaloid nicotine in tobacco and was later found in many plant and animal tissues as niacin

Potatoes: In-depth nutrient analysis:


Potatoes, baked
(Note: “–” indicates data unavailable)
1.00 medium
(173.00 g)
GI: high
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Protein 4.32 g 8.64
Carbohydrates 36.59 g 16.26
Fat – total 0.22 g
Dietary Fiber 3.81 g 15.24
Calories 160.89 8.94
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Starch 29.88 g
Total Sugars 2.04 g
Monosaccharides 1.35 g
Fructose 0.59 g
Glucose 0.76 g
Galactose 0.00 g
Disaccharides 0.69 g
Lactose 0.00 g
Maltose 0.00 g
Sucrose 0.69 g
Soluble Fiber 0.95 g
Insoluble Fiber 2.85 g
Other Carbohydrates 30.74 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.01 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.10 g
Saturated Fat 0.06 g
Trans Fat 0.00 g
Calories from Fat 2.02
Calories from Saturated Fat 0.54
Calories from Trans Fat 0.00
Cholesterol 0.00 mg
Water 129.56 g
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Water-Soluble Vitamins
B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B1 0.11 mg 9.17
Vitamin B2 0.08 mg 6.15
Vitamin B3 2.44 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin Equivalents) 3.16 mg
Vitamin B6 0.54 mg 31.76
Vitamin B12 0.00 mcg 0.00
Biotin — mcg
Choline 25.60 mg 6.02
Folate 48.44 mcg 12.11
Folate (DFE) 48.44 mcg
Folate (food) 48.44 mcg
Pantothenic Acid 0.65 mg 13.00
Vitamin C 16.61 mg 22.15
Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A (Retinoids and Carotenoids)
Vitamin A International Units (IU) 17.30 IU
Vitamin A mcg Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE) 0.86 mcg (RAE) 0.10
Vitamin A mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE) 1.73 mcg (RE)
Retinol mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE) 0.00 mcg (RE)
Carotenoid mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE) 1.73 mcg (RE)
Alpha-Carotene 0.00 mcg
Beta-Carotene 10.38 mcg
Beta-Carotene Equivalents 10.38 mcg
Cryptoxanthin 0.00 mcg
Lutein and Zeaxanthin 51.90 mcg
Lycopene 0.00 mcg
Vitamin D
Vitamin D International Units (IU) 0.00 IU 0.00
Vitamin D mcg 0.00 mcg
Vitamin E
Vitamin E mg Alpha-Tocopherol Equivalents (ATE) 0.07 mg (ATE) 0.47
Vitamin E International Units (IU) 0.10 IU
Vitamin E mg 0.07 mg
Vitamin K 3.46 mcg 3.84
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Boron 215.82 mcg
Calcium 25.95 mg 2.60
Chloride — mg
Chromium — mcg
Copper 0.20 mg 22.22
Fluoride — mg
Iodine — mcg
Iron 1.87 mg 10.39
Magnesium 48.44 mg 12.11
Manganese 0.38 mg 19.00
Molybdenum — mcg
Phosphorus 121.10 mg 17.30
Potassium 925.55 mg 26.44
Selenium 0.69 mcg 1.25
Sodium 17.30 mg 1.15
Zinc 0.62 mg 5.64
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Omega-3 Fatty Acids 0.02 g 0.83
Omega-6 Fatty Acids 0.07 g
Monounsaturated Fats
14:1 Myristoleic — g
15:1 Pentadecenoic — g
16:1 Palmitol 0.00 g
17:1 Heptadecenoic — g
18:1 Oleic 0.00 g
20:1 Eicosenoic — g
22:1 Erucic — g
24:1 Nervonic — g
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
18:2 Linoleic 0.07 g
18:2 Conjugated Linoleic (CLA) — g
18:3 Linolenic 0.02 g
18:4 Stearidonic — g
20:3 Eicosatrienoic — g
20:4 Arachidonic — g
20:5 Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) — g
22:5 Docosapentaenoic (DPA) — g
22:6 Docosahexaenoic (DHA) — g
Saturated Fatty Acids
4:0 Butyric — g
6:0 Caproic — g
8:0 Caprylic — g
10:0 Capric 0.00 g
12:0 Lauric 0.01 g
14:0 Myristic 0.00 g
15:0 Pentadecanoic — g
16:0 Palmitic 0.04 g
17:0 Margaric — g
18:0 Stearic 0.01 g
20:0 Arachidic — g
22:0 Behenate — g
24:0 Lignoceric — g
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Alanine 0.13 g
Arginine 0.21 g
Aspartic Acid 1.01 g
Cystine 0.05 g 19.23
Glutamic Acid 0.74 g
Glycine 0.12 g
Histidine 0.07 g 7.78
Isoleucine 0.14 g 11.20
Leucine 0.21 g 7.64
Lysine 0.22 g 8.63
Methionine 0.07 g 10.45
Phenylalanine 0.17 g 19.10
Proline 0.13 g
Serine 0.16 g
Threonine 0.14 g 14.43
Tryptophan 0.04 g 15.38
Tyrosine 0.10 g 13.70
Valine 0.22 g 13.10
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Ash 2.30 g
Organic Acids (Total) 0.94 g
Acetic Acid 0.00 g
Citric Acid 0.80 g
Lactic Acid 0.00 g
Malic Acid 0.14 g
Taurine — g
Sugar Alcohols (Total) — g
Glycerol — g
Inositol — g
Mannitol — g
Sorbitol — g
Xylitol — g
Artificial Sweeteners (Total) — mg
Aspartame — mg
Saccharin — mg
Alcohol 0.00 g
Caffeine 0.00 mg


The nutrient profiles provided in this website are derived from The Food Processor, Version 10.12.0, ESHA Research, Salem, Oregon, USA. Among the 50,000+ food items in the master database and 163 nutritional components per item, specific nutrient values were frequently missing from any particular food item. We chose the designation “–” to represent those nutrients for which no value was included in this version of the database.

Spud Sunday: What’s In A Spud?

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I’ve been called many things in my time, though “Guardian … of the Spud” was a new one.

That title was kindly bestowed by Aoife McElwain (she of I Can Has Cook) in her brand newFoodie News column in the Irish Independent weekend magazine. Needless to remark, it is a moniker that I will wear with pride (and perhaps even, as suggested by some, with an accompanying superhero-style cape).

foodie to follow

So, as Guardian (not to mention Promoter) o’ the Spud, it seemed as good a time as any for a no-holds-barred, down ‘n’ dirty nutritional profile of what is, after all, the world’s most widely cultivated vegetable. So brace yourselves, folks, you’re about to find out that there’s a whole lot more to this tuber than starch. Let the facts begin.


    • For one thing, there’s water, and lots of it. H2O accounts for about 80% of a typical potato tuber, though this percentage can vary significantly depending on the type of potato. Waxy varieties will have a higher water content, floury types, less.
    • The rest of the potato is mostly starch, though I’m guessing you knew that already. Your average potato also contains small amounts of simple sugars, which are important for developing the golden-brown colour of fried and roasted potatoes. Overall, a potato has a lower carbohydrate content than other roots and tubers and a plain boiled potato has less calories than the equivalent weight of plain boiled rice, pasta or bread. Honest.
    • Over time, some of a potato’s starch will convert to sugars when stored below about 10°C, and markedly so at 6°C and below. So it’s best not to store your spuds in the fridge, unless uncharacteristically sweet potatoes are what you’re after.
    • While only 2% of a potato is protein, the protein is high-quality and the potato boasts a good carbohydrate to protein ratio. When compared with rice and cereals, it has a higher lysine content and lower concentrations of other amino acids such as cysteine. For those not averse to a bit of carb-on-carb action, this means that putting rice or pasta on your plate alongside potatoes will actually provide a better quality protein than either one or the other. Who’d-a-thunk-it?
    • Fat content is very low, as is, consequently, the occurrence of fat-soluble vitamins. If your spuds are fried or roasted, however, that’s a fatter matter entirely.
    • Both the flesh and the skin of a potato contain dietary fibre, though (unsurprisingly) there’s a greater concentration in the skin. The skin also prevents or reduces theleaching of vitamins and minerals into cooking water when boiling, so it is better (nutritionally) to peel after boiling, if you’re going to peel at all.

New Potatoes

    • It’s said that when men were dying from scurvy during the Klondike Gold Rush, potatoes were sold for their weight in gold. This had everything to do with the fact that potatoes were, and are, a very good source of vitamin C. 100g of freshly harvested spuds, boiled in their skins, gives about 50% of an adult’s typical recommended daily intake. Long term storage (which is increasingly common) and cooking, especially if potatoes are peeled beforehand, will, however, deplete vitamin C levels.
    • Spuds have much else in their nutritional vitamin arsenal, being well-equipped with B complex vitamins, especially B1, B6 and niacin.
    • There’s a goodly array of minerals, such as magnesium and phosphorous, residing spudside too. They’re particularly rich in potassium, the consumption of which, if thisrecent article is to be believed, may predispose a woman to conceive male children. Many’s the royal spouse who could, no doubt, have done with that information.
    • Sodium quantity is low, which is good for those who need, or want, to avoid excessive amounts in their diet.
    • You’ll find a host of trace elements in a potato, from aluminium to zinc, and its ironcontent can contribute significantly to daily requirements.

Salad blue and highland burgundy red

  • Highly-coloured potato varieties – those with blue, purple, red or even just yellow flesh – are rich in antioxidants, though specific concentrations will vary with different varieties. Recent research has shown that their consumption may lower susceptibility to certain chronic diseases, when compared with eating white-fleshed potatoes.
  • Overall, potatoes are an alkaline food source, with high levels of potash and alkaline salts. This makes them a good thing to eat if you’ve got a hangover, when acidity levels in the body are elevated.
  • While the focus of the book Potatoes, Not Prozac is about managing biochemical imbalances brought about by sugar sensitivity, consuming complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes and their skins, is part of its dietary solution for mental health and well-being.
  • All potatoes contain glycoalkaloids, which can be toxic if present in large quantities. Whilst levels are safe in our cultivated varieties, concentrations will increase with exposure to light. This exposure also results in greening of the potato and, although it’s a separate process, it acts as a useful indicator of increased glycoalkaloid content. What I’m trying to say is, don’t eat the green bits, ok?
  • Finally, If you’ve eaten potatoes for long enough, you’ve probably come across those that show browning or a hollow at the heart of the spud (which occurs due to abrupt changes in growing conditions). These browned centres are known in Irish as cuasán(pronounced coo-a-sawn). My father’s mother’s mother, I’m told, regarded it as a delicacy, while my mother’s father’s father maintained that the best part of the potato was that found around the cuasán. All I can say is that, if it was good enough for them, it’s plenty good enough for me.

Rice Diet Founder Dr. Walter Kempner

In 1934 as a doctor at Duke Hospital, Dr. Walter Kempner starting treating patients with malignant hypertension (very high blood pressure) and kidney disease with what he called “The Rice Diet” when there was no other treatment available anywhere. He gave it the name as patients usually ate a bowl of white rice at every meal. It became obvious to Dr. Kempner that the prevention and treatment of these diseases would be best treated with a no salt added diet. Dr. Kempner found out very early that the low fat content of the diet also enhanced weight loss. When Dr. Kempner tried to have patients maintain their weight by increasing portion size and adding sugars to foods, patients still lost weight. They just couldn’t eat enough calories with so little fat in the diet. The program has continued over the years with the same philosophy of a low-sodium, low-fat diet.

In the 1930′s and 40′s, people that were diagnosed with illnesses such as high blood pressure and kidney disease were offered no hope for long-term survival. These diseases were considered lethal. Dr. Kempner experimented with animal tissue for many years and began to treat human patients in 1939. He began to see unprecedented results starting with a woman who reversed her kidney disease in a few months time and another who was comatose with malignant hypertension who regained alertness. There were no other drugs or treatments available other than this diet.
Dr. Kempner went on to research and publish revolutionary results on the Rice Diet’s dramatic beneficial effect not only on kidney disease and hypertension, but on cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure and diabetes. He retired in 1992 in his 90th year (as Dr. Kempner would say) and he passed away in 1997. The Rice Diet has continued to produce these significant improvements and outstanding medical results for these diseases along with other disorders of lifestyle origin such as sleep apnea, psoriasis, pulmonary hypertension, edema and joint stiffness associated with arthritis.
Here are some of Dr. Kempner’s articles from his bulletins and other journals:
• Treatment of Heart and Kidney Disease and of Hypertensive and Arteriosclerotic Vascular Disease with The Rice Diet (1949)
• Kempner’s Research on Diseases of Blood Vessels, Kidneys, and Heart (1950)
• Treatment of Heart Disease and Kidney Disease with the Rice Diet (April 1951)
• Clinical Notes and The Patient’s Viewpoint (April 1953)
• Progress Report (August 1954)
• Family History (August 1954)
• Analysis of 177 Cases of Hypertensive Vascular Disease (1955)
• The Changing Attitude Toward Vascular Disease (June 1955)
• Who Wants Salt? (June 1955)
• “A Girl with a New Lease on Life” (June 1955)
• Why Rice? (1956)
• How to Be Happy with Rice (August 1956)
• Effect of Rice Diet on Diabetes Mellitus Associated with Vascular Disease (1958)
• Nephritis. Nephrosis. (1958)
• Coronary Artery Disease (1960)
• Diabetes (1962)
• Proofs for Optimism (June 1972)
• Metabolic Diseases: Research, Diagnosis, Treatment (June 1972)
• The Deadly Role of Salt in Kidney Disease (June 1972)
• Obesity (June 1972)
• Sodium-Restricted Diet (June 1972)
• Walter Kempner: A Biographical Note (1974)
• The Rice Diet: Forty Years of Progress (October 1982)
• The Importance of Oxygen Concentration (October 1982)
• The Rice Diet and Arthritis (October 1982)
• “Out of A Clear Blue Sky…” (October 1982)
• Notes of Interest: Cirrhosis of the Liver (October 1982)
• Disappearance of Psoriatic Lesions on the Rice Diet (1986)
• The Sodium/Diabetes Connection (June 1993)
• What the Fireflies Taught Us More Than 50 Years Ago (June 1993)
>> Publications by Dr. Kempner: Additional Listings